Wading into the Chinese market, there are many things you should know about prior to investing your time and money to find and sell to Chinese investors. The first thing you need to know is that Chinese property buyers have the lowest level of trust in advertising in the developed world.
Why is trust in advertising in China so low? And how you, as an agent, should react? It’s a confounding situation for realtors trying to reach Chinese buyers. On the one hand, most of the social media that we are familiar with, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube are all blocked in China which means it’s expensive and difficult to use them inside mainland China.
I’m not saying it’s impossible but it’s tricky enough that these channels are not a great way to approach the market with the exception of Facebook advertising (which I talk about in another episode).
If social media is blocked, then advertising is the way to go….right? Unfortunately, no. It’s a very expensive and ultimately unsuccessful way to reach Chinese buyers. How could that be? Surely ads get through the Great Firewall to Chinese home buyers? Right?
The story behind this one might surprise you but due to the poor enforcement of advertising laws in China, Chinese consumers are practically immune to them. Living in Shanghai I was always amazed to see advertisements offering Canadian citizenship for $80,000 and pills that will make me 4″ taller on state owned media.
The constant bombardment of misleading ads in Chinese media and the lack of penalties for such ads leads to general consumer distrust in anything advertised online. So when Chinese home buyers start to think of venturing abroad, they naturally assume that advertising abroad to be just as misleading.
I’m certainly not saying that there aren’t any misleading ads and dishonest real estate companies in the US, Europe or Australia. However, in these countries there is a much stronger rule of law and punishment for running ads like this. In China, it’s completely different. If the perpetrator is a well connected government official, which is highly likely, they will get off with a slap of the wrist, if anything at all.
Year after year this reality sets in and people turn completely off of ads. Trust is zero unless they know the company. So an ad from Xiaomi is very likely to be trusted. But an ad from an unknown real estate agent will not.
The tragedy is that I’m talking about you and your agency. Your ad in that portal, that you just spent your annual budget on, won’t bring in any real leads simply due to lack of trust in the viewers domestic market.
The only way to reach Chinese buyers inside China is Chinese social media. There are literally hundreds of choices but WeChat is the best one for agents wanting to reach Chinese real estate buyers. I respect your time and will give you advice as succinctly and accurately as possible. Just focus on growing your WeChat network and learn to present yourself and your listings in a way that makes sense to overseas Chinese buyers and you’ll be in a good position.
Connecting with Chinese buyers isn’t a get rich scheme. It takes time but if you plan well. Manage your time and expectations, you can do very well. Chinese buyers are difficult to get close to but once you do, you’ll be in an elite group and opportunities will emerge that will help you to sell more, higher value real estate while giving you the perfect ammunition to get listings.
In fact, if you do the first steps right, you’ll have sellers asking you to list their property. If you’re serious about the Chinese market, join our members area and I’lll be happy to work with you directly. Questions? Contact me on WeChat at paulsalo or Skype paulesalo or email paul (at) ChinaCashBuyers.com
Thanks and look forward to meeting you and hearing your situation to see if I can help.