Communication and an understanding of different cultures is key to forming successful relationships within the Chinese property market, says the managing director of Sodichan.com, the new international property site for Chinese buyers.
Esther Yong, who is also the co-director of the Australian-based Chinese property portal ACProperty , launched Sodichan.com late last year in a co-venture with international property syndication company ListGlobally.
The company was launched as a platform to enable Chinese buyers to be able to search for properties overseas.
Yong, who will be a speaker at PPW’s Bangkok conference in March, says it was important for her to find a partner who had experience and a solid understanding of the cultural nuances that come into play when dealing with a Chinese business. She found what she was looking for when she met ListGlobally founders Simon Baker (former REA Group CEO) and Gérard Paratte at a previous PPW conference.
“You seldom find Chinese companies working so well with an international company,” Yong tells PPW.
“In terms of communication and understanding of different cultures, it was very easy for us to partner with ListGlobally. They have done really well in terms of cultural integration and are willing to adopt and embrace how things are done different in China.”
The joint venture operates in a way that allows the Swiss-based ListGlobally to supply Sodichan with property listings from around the world including the UK and the US.
“ListGlobally’s biggest asset is that their IT infrastructure is very strong – they have very good international content,” Yong says. “They give us the IT infrastructure and the content and we are able to drive the Chinese buyers to the site.”
While ACProperty helps Chinese buyers locate property within Australia, Sodichan’s primary objective is to pair buyers with properties in over 60 countries internationally. In addition to its online presence, the site is bolstered by a team of relationship managers on the ground in China alongside a management team in Australia, Europe and US.
One of Yong’s primary objectives when setting up AC Property, was an inherent desire to communicate effectively with Chinese buyers, a sentiment that is also the driving force behind her new venture.
The idea for AC Property was sparked over four years ago when Yong was selling properties to Chinese students. She discovered the struggles they endured by trying to show their non-English speaking parents in China the properties they wished to acquire.
“All the properties I was selling at the time were off the plan so we had a lot of marketing collateral and I began to realise that the students went home to scan the properties to send to their parents in China,” Yong says.
“They couldn’t search for the information online and that’s when I knew that something was very wrong: I really wanted to advertise my property on a Chinese site but I realised there wasn’t one around.”
Fast forward five years and AC Property is now Australia’s no.1 Chinese language property portal.
Yong says the distinguishing factor of AC Property and now Sodichan.com is their end-to-end concierge service. The businesses are more than just portals; they organise property tour groups, book international trips for buyers to view properties; and assist with the full process of property transaction.
“The service we provide is a very tailored concierge service, so we help the buyer go through each and every step of their sales process,” Yong says.
“For other competitors, they’re more of a portal but we are an end-to-end solution. That’s the key thing.
“We’re going to use the same model and replicate it to international level with Sodichan.”