James Zhou holds the position of Sales Manager in the Ray White Sunnybank office. In late 2012, Mr Zhou was in Milan, Italy to assist his buyer of the Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast to seek consent from House of Versace. A condition of the contract for the purchase of the $68.5 million dollar hotel required Versace’s approval of the purchaser. This was the final step in a process that Mr Zhou had been working on for over six months.
Mr Zhou’s office is located in Sunnybank Plaza, the heart of Brisbane’s Chinese community. His sales team’s primary focus is the local established housing market and he is developing a property management business.
In addition to his local residential real estate business, Mr Zhou has developed a remarkable track record for building relationships with large off-shore and on-shore Chinese investors. He feels that with integrity and honesty plus his banking background in Shanghai has been central to his success. “It helps enormously in building trust with my buyers. The Chinese see this as a very important credibility factor”.
Mr Zhou explains his strategy in developing his buyer relationships. “When mainland Chinese buyers come to Australia to look for property, they generally have a small team of advisers around them to assist. It is very important to be well prepared and equipped with rich local knowledge and culture when the opportunity occurs.”
“The most important thing for me to do initially is to build trust with them. There is no short-cut. I must be prepared to invest the time necessary to build trust. Initially these buyers want to ask me lots of questions; my career, my background, my family life. I am very open; I often have them to my home to see where I live.”
Once Mr Zhou feels he has built a relationship, and the questions of him begin to subside, he begins to ask his own questions. Mr Zhou’s aim is to formulate an investment strategy with his buyers. What is it that they really want?
“The buyers of Versace had been searching the Australian property market with different parties for almost two years, but that did not worry me. I sensed that this buyer was very genuine, but it wasn’t clear that anyone had taken the time to ask the right questions. I challenged them on what they wanted so I could be most effective for them. After spending six months negotiating on another asset, we found the Versace that was being marketed by another agency. The agent for the vendor agreed to a conjunctional arrangement and we went from there.”
As these investments take a very long time to bring together; how does Mr Zhou qualify them? “I look for two things. Firstly, they need to be asking me the right questions. And secondly, I must feel confident that I can be of real value to them in helping them secure what they are looking for. If I can’t answer these two things confidently, I will let someone else help.”
Not only was Mr Zhou’s buyer approved by Versace, he is now helping his buyer look at more Versace opportunities in Asia. So what else is Mr Zhou working on? He has just recently acted for a purchaser to buy seven million dollars’ worth of units in the Hilton Hotel on the Gold Coast, and he has another client returning to Australia soon to look for a large Hotel. “There is a lot of opportunity at the moment” Mr Zhou states.