Besides using sweet words to sell property, a real estate agent still has to ‘sell’ their own integrity by telling lies to customers.
The problem is either the result of the choice of the broker, or the failure of the developer to deliver the products as promised.
A real estate intermediary in Ho Chi Minh City can earn an income of US$4,500 a month, 20 times more than the average salary of an ordinary worker.
The profession has become lucrative in the city during the current construction boom. The city now has hundreds of real estate projects with tens of thousands of intermediaries from more than 200 real estate companies.
Brokers have influence and can decide the success or otherwise of a project. Rumor has it that they hold 70 percent of the fate of a real estate project in their hands.
An agent named Bich Ngoc, 27, told her colleagues, “Money in this trade comes from your mouth and tongue.”
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper journalists played the role of applicants for the go-between position at a real estate brokerage firm one day.
Hanh, director of a firm named GB in Tan Binh District, interviewed them with some basic questions about age and qualifications and asked them to come to work the very next day.
Because of the increasing need for staff, many companies lower their standards and accept real estate brokers who even graduate from high school and have neither experience nor professional training.
“You each get VND3 million [$133] a month plus commissions from the properties you sell,” Hanh said. “Be calm. Each staff member can earn dozens of millions of dong a month.” (VND10 million = $450).
Hanh also advised the female Tuoi Tre journalist to “immediately change your profile picture on your Facebook account.”
“The image of a beautiful agent attracts customers,” she added.
Hanh also recommended her new staff to send spam messages on Facebook and other communication outlets by pretending to be their acquaintance.
The message to a stranger should read as follows, “Hey, Mr. T. It’s me. How are you? Recently I have some apartments and houses… bla bla bla.”
Hanh asked each broker to send ten messages like this per day.
A broker (R) introduces a pice of land to a buyer in Nha Be District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The company also spends VND25 million ($1,100) a month sending spam messages to 10,000 random mobile phone numbers.
Besides these techniques, real estate companies exchange contact lists with each other so as to send information on suitable products to their customers.
Hanh recommended that the Tuoi Tre journalists come to Hung, her marketing manager, for further sales training.
Hung said quite often, “You have to make your products more attractive. A house of three meters in width can be said to be five or ten meters wide.
“Explain that your products are near markets, trade centers, and rivers regardless of the distance.
“You should also always call customers after 7:00 pm because they have more free time then.
“And you have to dress attractively when meeting them.
“When customers are hesitant, speak more to persuade them.”
A broker is given a target to sell at least one property per month to get an average commission of VND30 million ($1,300), depending on its price.
Due to the target, some agents are sometimes willing to give away their commission to their customers in order to meet it to survive competition.
A director of a real estate brokerage firm in District 1 said his business can sell 500 apartments of a project within 45-60 days.