What do I do?
If the inquiry comes in by phone, the prospect will most likely have some English speaking ability (although possibly limited). If spoken communication is difficult, do your best to obtain a name and email address. Many Chinese can write English very well but have difficulty with verbal communication. You can then transition the conversation to email or better yet, a very popular instant messaging application called WeChat.
If your inquiry arrived via email or a contact form written in Chinese, your first step is to determine the content of the message. The easiest way to do this is to copy the message into translate.google.com. This should provide you a general idea of the nature of the inquiry but DO NOT rely on this for your correspondence.
The first question you’ll want to ask is if they can communicate with you in English, therefore eliminating assumed language barrier. Here are few key phrases:
- 您能用英语口语交谈吗？（Can you have an English oral conversation?）
- 电子邮件? (Email?)
- 您用微信吗？ Do you have WeChat?
- 您的微信账户名是什么？What is your WeChat account name?
Knowing where they currently live is important because it will determine strategy and level of urgency. Those here visiting from China require the utmost urgency as they could be in the market to purchase during their stay. Others will let you know if they have a trip planned and wish to view properties during their visit. Don’t assume a Chinese buyer always wants to work with a Chinese speaking agent. Sometimes they do but there are instances where it’s preferred to not work with anyone having ties to China due to privacy concerns.
- 您目前居住在哪里？ (Where do you currently live?)
- 感兴趣的房地产区域 (请注明): (What areas are you interested in?)
- 如果您目前希望了解相关信息，请告诉我们从哪些方面可以帮助您？ (What additional information are you looking for?)
Using the above phrases allow for a quick response and also will buy you a little time. Their response (should you receive one) will help better qualify the lead and determine if the conversation can continue in English or if you might need to cooperate with a Chinese speaking real estate agent to better guide the transaction.
Be mindful of the time you invest in a lead that does not have a set timeline to purchase. Circumvention is not uncommon as many people from China are not familiar with our system for retaining agent representation. It’s not impolite to explain this.