Concierge to give agents edge in China

Select Australian agents and their clients are expected to gain a better understanding of Chinese property purchasers, following the launch of a new initiative by a major real estate network.

LJ Hooker has established a designated concierge in mainland China, who will field enquiries from Chinese buyers about its listings in Australia and New Zealand, and help local agents respond to them.

Speaking to Real Estate Business, LJ Hooker CEO Georg Chmiel said being able to screen buyers in China was a key difference to the standard model of having a Chinese-speaking salesperson in an office.

“It’s someone sitting in China, who is able to screen buyers, who’s able to support offices in Australia and New Zealand if they want to sell properties which suit the Chinese market, someone who’s able to help with the organisation around property expos," he said.

“It’s adding to the skill that our salespeople have, which is understanding what the vendor wants and knowing about the property and how to deal with the buyer.

“By adding this element, there’s someone on the ground who’s able to look at the buyers if required because there are a lot of enquiries coming in but it’s absolutely important that there’s some form of screening mechanism, so it helps the buyer find a property that’s perfect for them.”

The new service has been provided through LJ Hooker’s partnership with leading Chinese international property portal Juwai.com.

Appointed in the new role is marketing and real estate expert Jessie Zhong, a Chinese native who is fluent in English.

Mr Chmiel said the announcement of a China-based concierge has already been positively received by LJ Hooker franchisees.

“One minute after the announcement, I had nine offices saying, ‘Wow, this is amazing’ and since then it hasn’t stopped, so the leads have been flowing already," he said.

“It’s a great outcome for our network, it’s a great extension to the partnership with Juwai, and it’s been extremely well received by our group in Australia and New Zealand.”

Juwai.com co-CEO Andrew Taylor said LJ Hooker’s concierge service would help Chinese buyers, but its biggest impact would be in helping Australian vendors find new sources of buyers.

“The property concierge will make Australian and New Zealand LJ Hooker agents more effective at selling and give them a boost when pitching to vendors for their listings," said Mr Taylor.

"LJ Hooker is solving the practical obstacles that can sometimes stop a transaction. They are making sure every enquiry gets followed up, no matter what language it is in."

Australia is the second most popular country for Chinese property hunters. According to Juwai.com, Chinese nationals have invested an estimated $5.4 billion in Australian real estate in the 2012/2013 financial year.

The Foreign Investment Review Board has reported that Chinese investment in Australian property has climbed 75 per cent over the recent two years. 

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