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Property Agents - service down the drain

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Miss Swan
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Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby Miss Swan » Thu, 25 Dec 2014 5:39 am

For a city with a myriad of property agents, I would expect decent service from at least half of them because the market is so competitive. I called a good 10 agents yesterday looking for a room for my husband, and one that took the cake was a chap - let's call him Ryan. Here's how my conversation went:

I call the number, and a lady answers the phone. Ryan obviously isn't a female's name.
Me: (surprised) Oh hi, is this Ryan's phone?
Lady: (talks to someone in the background) Your call...
Ryan: Hello?
Me: (could hear lots of background noise, and a child babbling..?) Hi, am I speaking to Ryan?
Ryan: Can you call back 5 mins later?

At this point I was a little miffed. No how can I help you/sorry I'm a little busy/could you PLEASE call back 5 mins. But I could understand he was probably having a family day out with a fussy child demanding his attention.

So I called back later.
Me: Hi Ryan, I'm looking for a room for my husband and saw your ad for ......, I was wondering if this room is still available?
Ryan: Taken already.
Me: Oh that's alright, thanks very much.
Ryan: Bye

Now, I didn't experience a terrible service - I'm sure forum members here would have gone through something 10x worse at the hawkers or the telcoms. I only want to say how disappointed I am with the lacklustre service - of the 10 agents I called, only one gave me reasonably friendly service. From his profile pic on . he looks like a young lad in his 20's. The rest gave me one-worded answers.

Obviously I can't compare one country to another as it would be comparing bananas to apples, but Singapore could really take some lessons on the friendliness and genuine approach of Australia. I can ring up a gardener for a free quick quote and not be subject to bad service even if I don't end up hiring him.

I'm moving to Singapore to join the hubs in 6 months, and I'm truly hoping this empty service is just a tiny spot marring this beautiful country.

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Brah
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby Brah » Thu, 25 Dec 2014 9:09 am

There is an active thread on this subject certain to confirm your fears.
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby curiousgeorge » Thu, 25 Dec 2014 9:14 am

From the subject line alone I could tell you hadn't spent much time in Singapore, or indeed reading these boards!

A few things to consider:

If you want an agent to work for you, engage an agent to work for you. This typically costs one half-month's rent on a years let, and a full month's rent on a 2yr let. You have to pay this to the agent that introduces you to the property anyway, so might as well be an agent working for you, right? (And yea, supposedly an agent can't represent both landlord and tenant, but you'll find its common). But an agent working for *you* will try harder because s/he knows that there is a commission in it (i.e. you're not fishing to other agents).

Most of the adverts you will see online will be from people who represent landlords. They are not acting in your interests.

Property agents here frequently use the same number for personal and business use. So catching an agent at the 'wrong' time is common. I have found it easier to sms/whatsapp.

At a minimum, before an agent considers you are serious about letting, you need to provide your name, NRIC, nationality, number of people staying, length of stay, property requirements. That's why its easier to sms/whatsapp coz you can copy/paste your intro.

If you are phoning, start your conversation with "Hi I am looking for a room are you registered with the CEA (council of estate agents)"? It might make them pay more attention if it sounds like you know your stuff.

Some websites allow you to leave feedback on the agent if you contact them via the service. 9/10 if you leave negative feedback you'll get a return call within a day.

If you simply "fish" for a room, you'll get a low success rate.

Miss Swan
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby Miss Swan » Thu, 25 Dec 2014 2:41 pm

Yeah I never bothered reading property agent threads on this forum because I didn't feel there was a need to. I did however, read the stickies on lease agreements and what to look out for when viewing a room - those were supremely helpful. If I was looking for a $4,000/mth apartment, then I've got a lot more homework to do on these agents but for a $550/mth room with an extremely short timeline, I hardly bothered. My husband had to lock down on a room by 3 Jan, so there wasn't the luxury of sitting back and whatsapping. After all I was confident of being able to find a suitable room on ..

That's the reason why those agents placed the ads there - to be contacted. Well I perfectly understand they may have their own personal things going on when I called, but a tiny dose of courtesy and politeness that hints at professionalism wouldn't hurt. I certainly don't expect majestic service from them, but I am quite surprised at how they approach potential business calls.

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rajagainstthemachine
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby rajagainstthemachine » Thu, 25 Dec 2014 6:44 pm

Protip: Sms/WhatsApp first, call later. You'll get better responses believe me.
To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby JR8 » Thu, 25 Dec 2014 8:41 pm

I think you also need to consider that it's Christmas. Likely nothing happening in the agency/viewing etc scene until next week.
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby Wd40 » Thu, 25 Dec 2014 8:46 pm

For rooms I have never needed an agent. My previous work place we had a classifieds chat room and plenty of people always wanted to rent out their room on a transitory basis. No formal agreements nothing, since we all were colleagues, it was possible.

But regardless of that, I think renting a room shouldn't be such a fussy thing. You should be able to network to find a room.

Also I would much rather share a house with known people or somehow related people rather than complete strangers. If its based on agreement rather than trust, it can get very complicated, like, you rent the room, dont sit on my sofa and watch TV. Dont cook, dont leave the dishes there etc etc

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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby rajagainstthemachine » Thu, 25 Dec 2014 9:43 pm

^^^
Wd40 lube is working there. When I moved here my classmate was already in Singapore, we were already good friends before, so moving in together wasn't a problem. Your husband might want to get in touch with someone close, or via a facebook group etc instead of chasing a room via an agent.
Many people are quite willing to consider shared accommodation with minimal hassles.
You don't really need an agent to find a room in Singapore.
To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

Miss Swan
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby Miss Swan » Fri, 26 Dec 2014 4:04 am

Thanks everyone for the helpful replies. I switched my strategy on your advice, and yes! It was so much easier and I did come across some helpful and friendlier agents. It takes a little getting used to the different communication preferences - in Australia, calling is generally favoured over texting.

We don't personally know any groups in Singapore. In fact, my husband is even more wary of 'groups' versus licensed agents if we don't personally know anyone there. His employer's helping him to look out for a place as well but we're keeping our options open.

The biggest irony of it all is my husband has relatives living in Singapore but none of them can spare him a room. His brother is selling his condo and moving in with his mother-in-law's during this transition. So it's a no go for the hubs. We believe an aunt is actually staying in the area where he wants to move to, but she's got a bit of OCD and can't stand dirt. I think her OCD will become worse if my husband moves in haha!

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rajagainstthemachine
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby rajagainstthemachine » Fri, 26 Dec 2014 7:05 am

Try Craigslist singapore and air bnb as well.
To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

Miss Swan
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby Miss Swan » Sun, 28 Dec 2014 4:52 am

Craigslist and AirBnB drew blanks - expected when the budget is so low. They seem to be more catered to short stays (a few days), rather than 6 months. But the good news is my husband's found a nice looking room a stone's throw from his workplace, albeit without air conditioning. Now he just needs to get a godly fan... :-"

My experience with agents has left me bemused. I have contacted at least 30 of them, and only 2 were responsive. The rest were...interesting. More than half read my Whatsapp message but didn't bother replying. Some replied but 'vanished' when I tried asking questions (e.g. does the room come with aircon?). One even asked for my husband's photo (???) which the agent claimed to be the landlord's request, to which I bluntly replied that we're not interested to deal with a superficial landlord. I can't believe the agent even entertained the landlord's request. ](*,)

What I'm very interested to know is whether it's just the Singapore culture to answer or respond with "Ya?/Ya." Here I was, rattling away "Hello! blah blah blah...I was wondering if blah blah.." , hoping that by being friendly it'd break the ice but ran smack into brick walls. All I got back was heaps of "Ya?" and "Ya." Look, I understand this is a really tough industry to be in, it's extremely saturated, I'm sure these agents have met enough crazed landlords and nasty tenants, but we're started the conversation ball rolling and they've just watched it roll past them :???:

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x9200
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby x9200 » Sun, 28 Dec 2014 10:53 am

By looking for a budget room you put yourself on a fast learning track.

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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 28 Dec 2014 12:22 pm

Miss Swan wrote:Look, I understand this is a really tough industry to be in, it's extremely saturated, I'm sure these agents have met enough crazed landlords and nasty tenants, but we're started the conversation ball rolling and they've just watched it roll past them :???:


I'm a bit surprised you assume that most agents have a better standing than your characterization of the tenants and landlords. :) aren't you from the U.S.? You should assume that the agents here are comparable to the used car sales people and those trying to refinance your mortgage you find in the US. Some agents are quite good, but most are limited talent hacks that just jumped on what they thought was an easy money gravy train.

Miss Swan
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby Miss Swan » Mon, 29 Dec 2014 5:42 am

I'm certainly not expecting red carpet service or the agents to engage in long chatters - I'm very aware this is such a competitive industry that if I'm not the customer profile they're looking for, they move on straightaway to the next fish in the ocean. But from a business point of view I'm surprised they don't make any attempt to engage me further. What happened to word of mouth recommendations and future businesses? For me, if I'm a property agent working in Singapore, I'd want to find out a little more about my client, and if I did, I'd then know that this client is looking for a studio apartment 6 months down the road and I'd offer my services to help him look one.

Yes I can understand this is an industry any Tom Dick and Harry can enter but from my own encounters with any kind of agents, insurance, mortgage etc, these ones take the cake.

And no I'm not American. I'm from Aussieland just like my husband :-"

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x9200
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Re: Property Agents - service down the drain

Postby x9200 » Mon, 29 Dec 2014 7:01 am

Overall image of the job market in SG is that it is not really competitive in terms of service quality. Add to it that you, with your profile are likely at the least desired extreme end for many of them - they may need to put in your case as much effort as for a penthouse rental but for 10x less money. Nobody really cares about the client coming back. Not only for the RE, in general. Well, they care (if they think in terms of money) but act like they don't and in reality they don't need to bother. If they don't do anything catastrophic there will be still people coming to them as they are not bad in this landscape, they are just average and typical.

Yet another thing, if you provide them with comprehensive overview of your needs with many questions, it may be ignored in large part. Any more complex elaborative approach is likely to fail. If you have number of questions to ask, better do it max 1-2 question per message.


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