We agreed to publish it as we agreed to withhold his name and that of the company he works for. This proves that, as we said, we are not all crooks on the Costa.
We shall continue with our advice on the next issue, meanwhile if you have something to say, tell us!
I have worked in sales for over 32 years and have always believed that selling is an art, a skill, a God-given gift! No matter whether you are buying a camera, an airline ticket, a pair of shoes or a holiday home, it is the salesman who guides you through your purchase and helps you to get the best product for your requirements.
If you want to buy a camera, where do you go for advice? To the experts, of course, to a camera shop! For a hi-fi to a hi-fi shop! And... if you want to buy a Spanish property, where do you go for advice? I think you get the picture!
However, the property salesman has been viewed, for years, with suspicion. Not as someone who helps and guides the buyer through the maze of products available, but as some seedy, manipulating conman with the moral fibre of a hungry dog just waiting to rip you off and take your money from you!!
We are portrayed by the media as predators and crooks of the highest (lowest?) order! Certainly, there are disreputable operators in all walks of life and real estate is no different but, as manager of a sales team here on the Costa del Sol, I take great, yes great, offence at the abuse and vitriol thrown in our general direction at every opportunity!
Let's get one thing straight, and I often say this to my clients. There is an implicit relationship between any buyer and salesman, be it in a shop or in real estate. The buyer is there to buy and the salesman is there to sell. Face facts that are what we are all doing when we walk into a supermarket or a boutique - we are telling the salesman that we are interested in buying something! My 'take' on this relationship is very simple - if both parties work as a team and are honest with each other from the beginning, the best end result will be achieved! The client will have all of his dreams realized and everybody will be happy!
OK, so let me explode a few myths. Most real estate people down here on the Costa are here for the 'long haul'. They aren't going to spend millions on plush offices in order to take hard-earned money off a few unsuspecting punters and then disappear! We live on referrals, like many businesses do. If a client is happy with our service, they recommend their friends and business associates to come to us. The better you are at your job, the more referrals you get! So why would we knowingly sell a 'lemon' to a client and risk all of that future business.
What about that old chestnut, 'commission'? The press would have you believe that we are loading the price of properties unscrupulously. Do you actually think that if you go to Sainsbury and pay a pound for a loaf of bread that Sainsbury are not buying it for, maybe, 30p? Is the pint you pay 3 pounds for at your local pub bought by the publican, from the brewery, for the same price? Profit is NOT a dirty word! It is an essential part of the world we live in and something without which, life would simply grind to a halt!
Clients who come to us are given 5-star treatment. Flights and hotels are often paid for, they are driven to the developments/properties which best suit their needs in one of our comfortable cars and given the benefit of a whole heap of free advice and information to help them in their choice of areas and properties! How do we pay for all of that? The same way that Sainsbury pay their staff and fund their operation - with their profits!
Not many people understand this but, if a potential buyer decides to come down here, deny himself the benefit of good, free advice from an agent and drive around to see various new developments himself, ultimately deciding on one, he/she will pay exactly the same price to the developer direct as they would pay an estate agent! No saving or discount would be available to them as it is the developer who pays the agent! Not to mention that he is far more likely to buy something unsuitable, in a poor area or of a poor quality! We know the builders, we know the areas, we know the schools, the hospitals, the shops, the future plans, the community charges, etc. Why not take advantage of all of this free advice? It costs you nothing! It's free! It costs zip! Get it?
Also, don't forget that my industry spends millions of euros bringing our market to the client! We put on exhibitions all over the UK, we spend inordinate sums of money on advertising and we market ourselves in a hundred and one ways so that our clients can see what we have to offer express interest and, eventually, own that villa in the sun!
Of course we do sales training and we teach our new sales people how to overcome objections, concerns and fears, but that does not mean that we teach them to lie or cheat their way to a sale! What we do is give them the information they need to counter fears and misgivings. Very often, ignorance of the Spanish market and how it works is all that stands in the way of a buyer achieving his objective and own his place in the sun. Who better to explain it all than someone who works in it every day of his life?
My work ethic is simple. I expect my team, and train them accordingly, to be honest and helpful to their clients. All potential purchasers, whether they have a budget of 200,000 or 2,000,000, should be treated the same - with courtesy, politeness and respect. I urge my salesmen and saleswomen to see themselves as purveyors of information upon which the CLIENT (not us) makes an INFORMED decision to buy. We (the client and the agent) should be working together, as a team, to find the right property.
As agents, we should be giving as much help as we can to aid the client in his purchase, being honest about local conditions/facilities and as helpful as we can be in all of our dealings with him. ANY MEMBER OF MY TEAM WHO DEALS DISHONESTLY IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER WILL NO LONGER HAVE A JOB!
We also offer recommendations to buyers on a professional level i.e. legal firms, gestorias and financial advisors. Over a period of time, we have learnt which companies offer the best service to our clients and that is why we recommend them. It is NOT because we have some financial tie-up or 'kick-back', as is often implied! In summary, it upsets me greatly when we, as an industry, are vilified by the media. I hate having to spend hours overcoming the mistrust of clients, learned through rumour and sensationalism, before we can even begin to do business! I am a professional! I do a good job for my clients and my company gets many referrals and 'friends of friends' coming back to us to buy. I offer people the best service I can and steer them through the maze of Spanish property purchasing so that they can buy with peace of mind. The point is, however, that I am not alone! The majority of us down here act with integrity and courtesy. Please don't blame us all for the bad behaviour of a few!