Sotheby's seeks more top agents
Despite the slow market, Hong Kong Sotheby's International Realty is still growing its sales team to expand its international group in Hong Kong, so that it can cover constant inquiries and offer the best possible service to each client.
"We are always looking for new talent and motivated agents," says Teresa Chau, head of the firm's Mandarin desk. "We look for leaders who can efficiently guide our clients to their final goal. Candidates have to have a strong work ethic, a desire to be successful and great people skills. They also need to be self-driven, service-oriented, organised, multi-lingual and willing to work on evenings and weekends."
At Sotheby's, agents are employed under one of two models. "The first is the full-time model, which includes a basic salary and share of commission," Chau says. "The second model is freelance, which provides agents with a higher share of commission, but no basic salary."
Sotheby's Mandarin desk was created to cater for mainlanders keen to invest in local property. Staff on the desk are all native Chinese agents who speak fluent Putonghua. "Our consultants have no language barrier and no problem understanding the culture and mentality of mainland buyers," Chau says. "The desk is an essential bridge to reach mainland clients. They will travel to serve clients in the mainland when it is necessary."
Since the government introduced buyer's stamp duty (BSD) for non-Hong Kong permanent residents investing in the city's residential property, the number of mainland buyers has gone down. However, according to Angie McIntosh, real estate consultant at Sotheby's, the rental market remains relatively stable.
"I primarily work in rental properties and the impact of BSD to this side of the business has been minimal," she says. "However, housing budgets have noticeably come down over the last few years, but this is more to do with the global economic downturn."
It's a competitive market out there and McIntosh believes offering her clients a high level of customer service is a key factor to generating repeat business and referral clients.
"It's about listening to your clients' needs, but not being afraid to think outside the box and have a 'wild card' option up your sleeve," she says. "This could be an area or style of property they initially didn't consider, or an option that pushes their budget but you know ticks all their boxes. Good communication, people skills, a lot of patience and knowing the market and what each area or neighbourhood has to offer are also good assets for a successful agent."
She adds that being a real estate consultant can be a considerable challenge at times, but is made easier by having the right motivation. "What motivates me is my clients, particularly the new arrivals to Hong Kong," she says. "It is satisfying to know that I have made an important contribution to them in settling into a new country, and receiving positive client feedback makes it all worthwhile."