You must have seen people wearing suits and holding some brochures in their hands, with their work cards dangling around their neck, when you are waiting for the bus or hanging around on the street. They would approach you without noticing and asked if you had any plan to buy a house. They worked pretty hard, but could only complete a deal after thousands of such attempts.
The real estate agent business rises and falls along with the real estate market. When the real estate market flourishes, real estate agents make a fortune; when the real estate market sours, real estate agents could barely make a penny. In TMTpost Photo Gallery 031, we record the everyday work of a real estate agent. It is our hope that we could help you have a glimpse of the Chinese real estate market, which is full of ups and downs, from the aspect of real estate agents.
Wang Xu (pseudonym) is a junior customer manager at a real estate agency. He frequents an upscale residential district at the CBD area of Beijing every day. After holding several jobs in Shenzhen, he finally decided to move to Beijing and worked as a real estate agent since April, 2016.
While the average house price per unit is not less than RMB10 million ($1.49million), the base salary of real estate agents like Mr. Wang is around RMB 2,000 to 4,000 (around $299 to 598). “Base salary is far from enough, and most of us manage to make a living through commission,” Mr. Wang explained.
Before real estate agents approached someone, they would first judge if he or she can afford to buy a house based on their clothes, decorations and bags. “Still, we can’t rule out the possibility that people wearing normal clothes may be a millionaire,” he explained.
Some foreigners would also approach his stand, but couldn’t communicate with them fluently, so normally he wouldn’t receive foreign customers. However, when some foreigners are really serious about buying a house, he would communicate with them with the help of translation apps and keep their contact info. “Our agency will dispatch an interpreter and accompanied me to settle on details,” he told TMTpost.
Mr. Wang kept a good relationship with the guards in the residential district, so that he can keep his stand here. “However, when I saw urban management officers around, I will have to pack up, carry the promotional boards to hide from them. Otherwise, my boards might be confiscated. In addition, I will face a fine of RMB100 (around $14.9) at the agency, and pay around RMB 30 (around $4.5) to make another board and print several copies of brochures myself,” he said.
In the above picture, he was to send some files to his clinets. Mr. Wang was from a tiny Western village in Gansu province, and he went bankrupt two years ago, owing around half a million RMB (around $149,532) to his friends, relatives and the bank. “I left the village to get away from the debt. My son is over three years old now, but I didn’t go back home for almost two years. Of course, I missed my home, but I can’t go back until I make enough money,” Mr. Wang explained.
A local resident asked Mr. Wang if there are houses for sale, but refused to leave Mr. Wang his contact info. “I have to be clever enough to convince them into leaving me their contact info, so that I can contact with these potential clients,” he said.
The cat of a local resident ran onto the street, and Mr. Wang rushed to help and cuddled the cat back to the pavement.
Mr. Wang can encounter real estate agents from other agencies in this residential district. Upscale residential districts like this one are always frequented by real estate agents from various agencies. “Some of them would ‘steal’ my clients, which could be quite annoying; some clients would also contact several agents at the same time and tell other agents what houses I am selling right now. Inevitably, there are so much conflict and fierce competition among us,” Mr. Wang suggested.
Mr. Wang didn’t know how to use the automatic deposit machine, so his client hurried to help. In the above picture, he was holding the deposit bill for RMB 50,000 (around $7,481). Mr. Wang, born in 1985, only had a primary school degree. He did try to enroll in a middle high school, but ultimately failed.
Mr. Wang was sending WeChat message to his cousin who grew up in the same hometown with him at the door of a local kindergarten. His cousin has a Ph.D degree, and is currently a scientific researcher. “We have the same family background. Normally, we would have the same path of life. However, he studied well, went to Peking University and continued to acquire a master degree, and a Ph.D degree from abroad,” Mr. Wang felt there were a huge gap between him and his cousin, just like between him and the local residents in the district. That’s also why when his cousin invited him to pay a visit, he declined. “People who can afford to live ere are all elites. As a matter of fact, the school fee at this local kindergarten reached a staggering RMB30,000 (around $4,449) every month,” Mr. Wang told TMTpost.
Mr. Wang and his colleagues were having a rest outside a cafe near the residential district. He is quite familiar with the district, and knows quite clear where a resident works, whose family is rich, and which house hires Filipino maids. “This is the basic requirement for a real estate agent. I can better communicate with clients bearing these information in mind,” he explained.
Mr. Wang worked for over 12 hours, walked for over 20,000 steps every day, and had to buy a new pair of feather shoes every month. He easily felt sleepy in the blazing sun, so he brought some ginseng tablets along with him to refresh himself.
“Hi, do you plan to buy a house?” Mr. Wang repeated the question hundreds of times every day at the gate of the residential district. When few people were passing by, he threw an empty bottle up in the air, sighed and said: “I drink ten bottles of water every day, and I am never full.”
According to the promotion rules at the agency, he would be named third-degree customer manager if he could complete a deal every three months. His commission fee ratio would also rise from 10% to 30%. “A couple of days ago, a couple approached me and planned to pretend to divorce so as to buy another house, yet they really divorced at last. They didn’t pay up the penalty fee yet,” he complained. Mr. Wang was quite frustrated actually, because he didn’t have a single client see a house for half a month. “If we failed to find any client, we shall face a fine of RMB 50 (around $7.5) every day. In addition, we will have to write down the Catch 22 of West Point as punishment. It is over 3,500 characters, and will take me over an hour to write down all of them,” he added.
“Mobility is quite high in the real estate agent business. Some agents work only for one or two month, others work for half a year, and only a few people could persisted for one or two years. Some of then would even have to use their savings to make a living when they can’t complete a deal for eight or nine months, and can only earn the base salary every month,” he told TMTpost.
“I surf the internet to see the latest government policies in terms of the real estate sector. These policies have nothing to do with me, but may help me look more professional when referring them to my clients,” Mr. Wang explained. He planned to work for another five years in Beijing, so that he could pay back all his debt and buy a house back in his hometown and take care of his wife and kid. “I’ll ask them to visit me and travel around if I make some month these months,” he said at last.
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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Zhu Lingyu, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.