Sunday, February 28, 2016

Real Estate School Named Exhibition !!

 To be successful in real estate, you must always and consistently put your clients' best interests first. When you do, your personal needs will be realized beyond your greatest expectations”…Anthony Hitt

Anthony Hitt has served as Chief Executive Officer of Engel & Völkers North America since January of 2014. Anthony has been personally involved in Engel & Völkers’ emergence in the United States since 2010, when the Hamburg-based real estate leader tapped him to establish its US base. Sure the things about real estate Anthony has understood is what made him a successful real estater & high time for our Pune builders to learn from such expertise. What made me to recall this quote of Anthony’s is my recent participation in Sakal Pune West real estate exhibition.  

At the first I must admit I am a poor marketing person & as usual what you are bad at you avoid taking those jobs; adhering to this philosophy I rarely handle customers by myself! There are another facts also about it as one I am not good at selling anything, even my own product i.e. home, second it needs lots of patience to handle customers which they don’t teach in engineering & third is I do believe in my marketing team’s capacity! So whenever we participate in any exhibition I visit the venue like any other visitors rarely spending time on our stall. Obviously this exhibition also wasn’t an exception; that way currently real estate market is pretty low on sentiments & I personally have a intuition that instead going for very large real estate exhibitions which features entire city its always better to go for smaller versions i.e. exhibitions focusing particular side of the city like this one was showcasing only properties in west side of Pune. This is because no more Pune is town where anyone will buy a home anywhere, no sir gone are the days, a guy who is having a job in east part say Hadapsar, won’t even think of buying a home in western suburbs even he gets best deal of his life. In the Smart City mission when the citizens concerns has been asked then traffic is on top of worries for most & no wonder as the city of which you could complete a round in hardly one hours time just a decade back, now you require two to three hours to reach from one end to other in rush hours, such is the scene of traffic! Public transport is something we better not speak & the infamous BRT is joke of the entire city & Metro is our favorite dream which yet to has see daylight!

On such background where the life is stressed enough by the work hours & job demands, a person is bound to look out for a home near to his workplace & that reduces the footfall for a general entire city covering exhibition. Also then one has to look out things for kid’s schools & marketplaces/social outing places, which comes second & third on list of selecting location for a home. So when it’s an east or west type focused exhibition the crowd which has already made their mind for settling in western or eastern part does prefer to visit such venue. 

Proving my intuition right there was quite a good foot fall at Sakal West property exhibition & while I was standing near my stall busy in clicking selfies with my son & wife on background of the stall two interesting chats caught my attention, one was my real estate blogger friend Ravi who was covering the exhibition & his conversation with a visitor couple about whether rates will come further down & another was a family, a rare sign was here all three generations of a family have come together for home search, were asking questions to our marketing team. Giving priority to our own sale first I moved towards the stall counter (keeping the market rate trend aside for next topic of sharing) & started listening to the questions of the client families, actually there were two families, inquiring about the flats at the stall. The questions rather quarries were, does our projects ready possession flats got completion certificate, if yes can my team provide it, why the top floor flats are unsold yet, does they get heat up in summer, what about hair cracks in the plaster of walls when the flat is new (they have visited the site), have our project is approved by SBI i.e. State Bank of India & if yes can they see approval letter of the bank, does the project is cleared by environment NOC (Environment Clearance is what they meant) & the list of quarries was on like a machine gun at fire. 

The  three genre combo family was more keen about knowing water proofing process of the terrace & what care we take & what about our after sales maintenance service as well what will be outgoings per month they will have to shell out! One look at my marketing team face & I could see that they are trying to handle the gun fire as best they can but they were no match as this is serious client stuff & the clients were well studied. So politely I slide in the conversation & started taking the charge, I opened with asking question about their back-ground. No wonder both the couples were from IT sector & technically qualified. One by one I explained them starting from the care we take for terrace water proofing such as more slab thickness for top slab as well 6” thick brick bat water proofing with chemicals & then testing it for fifteen days with making a water pool on it. Also I made them know nothing is water proof in this world but water resistant is proper term. Most of the terrace leakages cause due to bad slopes i.e. poor draining arrangement of rain water & it’s the accumulated water which is main cause so how much care we take to drain out the rain water which fall on the terrace. Also the heat repellent paint we apply for the roof slab so as to keep top floor cool & lastly I told them we have put a clause in our flat agreement of top floor flats giving life time warranty against waterproofing of the roof, provided society has not damaged it post possession. They immediately asked for the agreement draft which I told will mail them as I wasn’t carrying it at exhibition. Similarly I explained them patiently about hair cracks in plaster & the reasons behind them as well the cure on the same.

Now when their most of techno stuff taken care then the clients came down to carpet salable ratio which they have found is varying at every stall. I again patiently explained the concept of salable area as well made them understand first what is carpet & built-up. And this also I shared frankly that I too am bit not sure about the right salable factor but when I am swimming in a sea I can’t swim against the tide, this frankness they appreciated! I told them after all any rate of the flat or property agreed may be quoted on per sq ft but it is a multi-dimension thing & not just carpet salable area dependant. I told them it can vary builder to builder & site to site as unfortunately there is no single scale which governs this aspect of real estate & that’s no fault of mine, on this they did share a laugh! Well they did promise to come back again & book the flat with us. And one of the couple actually came back for booking in the evening. I was at the stall as I have realized importance of my presence at the stall, not that I don’t have faith in capacity of my marketing team but they needed support in my form.

When the couple came back for booking they asked how much to be paid as booking amount & what if the later decides to cancel the booking. My marketing team said please do pay as much you can right now, on this again I intervened, I told you can book even by paying mere 1 rupee as its matter of trust but that will look too cheap for both of us so its Rs 1 lac which we usually accept as booking. And then I clearly said you will get all you money as refund if you cancel as I have no right morally to take any of rupee as cancelation as I will be selling it to other person but in such case please do it within eight days as we want to execute the agreement in maximum fifteen days time after booking, which is actually in favor for both of us! This also they accepted & were delighted to know as they said not many builders were so clear & most said their booking money will be forfeited if the cancel the flat. On this I said it’s up to the individual how to run his business!

The entire episode has taught me many things & I decided to spend more time at stall as it was like again going back to learning days & I did realized I have overlooked or over estimated many things about the clients! I have made the very basic mistake which most of the developers are doing all along i.e. taking the clients granted & by not being present at stall! As I thought I have understood everything about the clients & no need to meet in person to the customers or my team is capable enough to do that. But few hours at stall has taught me so many things; I used to think not many buyers visit the exhibition on work days which is wrong, rather the serious buyers prefer to visit exhibition on work days so they feel they get attended properly & not just get leaflets or broutures by the staff which is happy with crowd flooding the stall on weekends! No more the questions are about amenities or specifications of the flat & swimming pools or gym are not star attractions! Rather people are more concerned about the monthly outgoings after possession & want to use every rupee for basic needs which are essential. Most of the inquiries are targeting towards ready possession or nearing possession units, which show the low confidence of the buyers on builders’ capacity to complete the project. The buyers are no more restricting their question within the project but wants clear & transparent answers about infrastructure like road, water around the project & do mind they have already studied your project on goggle maps, so don’t try to blunder! This genre of clientele is young confident & don’t hesitate to ask any question & very clear about mode of payments like awkward issues! They are not shy to ask direct questions like how much discount you are offering as its down slide in market! At the same time you should not lose patience & show too much eagerness that you need bookings desperately as well should be frank enough to admit yes market mood is bit down!

The builders need to spend more time with the customers as well the team handling customers also should be trained to do so in proper way. Gone are the days to get bookings by just showing glossy broutures & 3D walk ways; now days clients needs more direct approach & want to understand with whom they are dealing. Rather we can think of hiring or asking our existing customers also to be at stall so they can vouch for your work to the new inquirers! This may seems exaggerating but while you are arranging site visits to ongoing projects lets think of making the new clients meet your existing customers too! It’s high time for the builders to understand today’s bunch of customers as they are ready to buy the homes provided they feel they are getting right deal. And right deal is not just money aspect but the customer should feel there is “No Ullu Banayaing” thing here, and then only he will buy! Remember, in the end a bitter truth is always better than a sweet blunder, that’s the Mantra of today’s buyer of real estate, so go on & gear up for the same, as this approach only will show the “Achhee Din” to the real estate!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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