How to Sell Real Estate Properties to Chinese Investors
There are many traditional ways to advertise and sell real estate properties, also to foreign investors. If you’re interested in reaching Asia’s most wealthy in particular (you should be!!) an emerging channel to sell real estate properties to chinese investors might totally revolutionize your approach.
WeChat has become one of the biggest sensations in digital marketing in recent years.
So many businesses have been using WeChat in the past few years to access the most lucrative new market: Chinese consumers.
Since the app has become so widely used, WeChat has been capitalizing on their monopoly of the market by adding different functions such as WeChat pay. Chinese users can purchase products online, pay for cabs etc. using WeChat.
So why would you possibly want to use WeChat to sell real estate, if it’s used in China only? To answer that question let’s look at a few figures:
- $33 billion – that’s how much Chinese buyers invested in commercial and residential property in 2016. By the way, it was a record high.
- 53% – represents an increase in the Chinese investment in commercial and residential property from 2015.
- $14.3 billion – that’s how much Chinese invested in the US only.
The most popular investment destinations for Chinese buyers were, in consecutive order, The United States, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia and The United Kingdom.
Recently the app started to set international trends at the property markets as well. It is likely that you have already heard the amazing success stories of real estate agents who sold super-expensive, luxury properties via WeChat. And that is exactly the reason why you should check out this platform!
“It is just beginning”
According to Victor Li, director of international project marketing for the US real estate giant CBRE, only 3% of potential Chinese property investors have been reached by foreign real estate agencies. This demonstrates an enormous untapped market just waiting for you to access!
One of the main reasons why Chinese investors want to buy overseas properties is because of the devaluation of the Chinese currency, yuan. It is much safer for investors to buy and own a property in London or New York, then sit on a pile of cash.
So how to Sell Real Estate Properties to Chinese Investors?
There are few things that you need to research and master before and during promoting your real estate business on WeChat:
The biggest advantage of WeChat is that your account is highly customizable. Once you set up your business account make sure to design a quality micro-site that will be hosted within the WeChat app (you do this using HTM5).
This microsite can act as your e-brochure and a gallery to a showcase of your properties. Make sure to have some case studies ready, that demonstrate your values and skills, as well as showing other properties that you have sold.
You should also be demonstrating your values. Chinese investors need to understand and trust your business initiative before they can enter business with you.
2. Quality content
WeChat is a reading platform and low-quality content is the easiest way to lose users’ attention. While promoting your properties on WeChat (or in general in “Chinese web”) make sure to adjust the content to its readers; things that work in the West might not work in China.
3. WeChat ads
Once your microsite and content are on point you can start thinking about investing some money into WeChat ads. This will require some research that will allow you to target your niche only. You will need to get to know Chinese investors a little bit better but once you get it right, WeChat ads can become extremely profitable.
4. Collect testimonials
As with every product or service advertised on the Chinese market, it is important to collect testimonials from past Chinese customers in order to build trust in your brand. Remember that before the conversation with your potential customer’s starts, you need to build your reputation and visibility.
5. Customer Service
It is important to know that in China it is normal to talk about business via messaging platforms. While in Europe and in US formal and semi-formal business conversations take place over the phone or via email, Chinese like to talk business via messaging platforms like WeChat.
Have a look at this Forbes article; it is crucial to understand this cultural difference in order to smoothen the communication process!
Chinese customers will most probably ask you a lot of questions and they will expect you to answer them immediately. The sooner you answer those questions the less probable it is that you will lose your potential customer’s attention. Therefore, make sure to answer all the messages as soon as possible and have the answers ready. An alternative to that would be creating a chatbot which replies to messages instantly.
6. Post on Relevant Groups
WeChat offers you a possibility to join various interest groups (same as Facebook groups). Think about groups which Chinese investors would join and increase your visibility by posting valuable content there.
Key Opinion Leaders, which is a name for influencer marketing in China, can be found very useful while promoting almost any product or service.
There are certainly few ways KOLs could influence potential investors in the real estate business and even though leads from them might not convert, the visibility of your business among Chinese users would most certainly increase.
Success stories: selling to Chinese real estate buyers
The effectiveness of WeChat in real estate is proven by case studies like the one of Sam Guo, US real estate agent working for Ray White Broadbeach. In 2016 Sam Guo sold $11 million property via WeChat.
“We Chat was a revolution for the Chinese people,” Sam said. “It’s so easy and instant to communicate with buyers. The person who bought Summer House was told about it by their friend who saw it on my We Chat page.”
What’s even more shocking is how Sam managed to build his brand on WeChat. His profile became a reliable source of Gold Coast property for the Chinese.
There even was one case, where the buyer purchased a property in Australia without even viewing it. It’s worth noting that it was a $2 million property.
According to Ray White Broadbeach agency, Sam sold “$20 million worth of property via WeChat last financial year”.
But Sam Guo isn’t the only one who immensely succeeded because of WeChat. You can also read about Emma Hao who managed to close even bigger deals using WeChat as the main communication channel.
Consider other real estate marketing channels
Imagine that a potential customer is window shopping; WeChat is your “shop front” at which the window shopper is going to look while having a first glance at your offer. There are, however, other channels with which you can reach Chinese investors.
The Chinese equivalent of Google that shouldn’t be ignored by any business which targets Chinese customers. Stats show that 70% of all the searches are done via Baidu in China.
Therefore, aside from your micro-site on WeChat make sure to have a website translated into Chinese and using SEO (search engine optimisation) optimise it with Mandarin characters.
This will ensure that your website shows up in the natural searches. You can also advertise on Baidu in order to appear at the top of the searches and increase your visibility.
2. Chinese Property Forums
Many Chinese investors seek advice from others in the same profession, therefore property forums with substantial active communities could play a big part in your success on the Chinese market, especially once you get testimonials and reviews from existing customers.
If you’re just starting and don’t have any existing Chinese customers you can try to create traffic on your website and WeChat business page, by simply asking questions on forums and answering them yourself. Make sure to include relevant links in your answers in order to direct other forum users straight to your website!
One of the well-known websites that connect Chinese property buyers with estate agents is Juwai.
So, what does this all mean for your business?
I think the case studies above prove that you can sell the property via WeChat. It is possible and using the combination of WeChat and channels we mentioned you should be able to reach Chinese investors.
If you do it right, there is also a high probability that you will get their attention. The importance of WeChat in the case of real estate market is that it can be included in each of the main stages of marketing and sales process.
This is a major simplification but to close a basic deal you need to:
- Acquire a customer
- Provide your customer with all the info (WeChat customer service)
- Close the deal (sale)
Firstly, WeChat accompanies you as the advertising platform that allows to increase your visibility, create a brand image and a brand awareness (assuming that you haven’t operated on the Chinese market before). After that, you chat with potential buyers so WeChat is where the customer service is taking place.
The use of WeChat in the marketing and sales process might be surprising for Western real estate agents but considering how much undiscovered potential Chinese market holds, it’s definitely worth a try!