Discreet estate agents for discerning clients
For a company that has a property-client portfolio that includes royalty, superstar footballers, celebrities and billionaires, real estate agents with very specific and special skills are required, says Chris Liem, owner and principal of luxury broker Engel and Völkers Hong Kong.
"Our clients are mainly high net worth and discerning individuals looking for distinct properties," Liem says.
Most of the property purchases made by the firm's clients are either a lifestyle choice or an investment decision, but the buyers typically have a distinct perspective. "Our clients are usually looking for properties that offer a preference, such as refinement and elegance, security, comfort or convenience," Liem says.
Hence, Engel and Völkers agents must always observe discretion when working with clients, Liem says.
"It is important that our agents understand what motivates our clients and identify their preferences, but they must also respect their privacy," he says.
Because of these requirements, Engel and Völkers' agents must have a good level of business knowledge coupled with real-world life experience, he adds.
The firm's staff also tend to have had successful previous careers. They must also be confident working with clients who have high expectations. "I don't think our clients would feel very comfortable talking to a fresh graduate or someone who is new to the industry," Liem says.
Founded in Germany in 1977, Engel and Völkers has grown into a global real estate broker that specialises in high-end residential and commercial real estate, as well as premium yachts.
To maintain its competitive edge, the firm emphasises training and market education, Liem says. For example, with Greece, Portugal and Spain offering property buyers generous visa-linked incentives, Engel and Völkers has brought Portuguese lawyers to Hong Kong to brief its agents about the new regulations.