Opinion: Management lessons from real estate brokers !

Mumbai is widely regarded as the city of dreams. Every year, millions throng to this city in search of employment opportunities which are definitely the maximum in this city, after all it is financial capital of the country. This has also resulted in a booming real estate market in the city for both sale and renting properties, a market where the real estate brokers (read consultant) play a very major role. I happen to be one of those millions who have now made Mumbai as their home. After completing my MBA, my first employment opportunity also happened to be in the same city. And so the hunt for an apartment began!
I happen to come across one of the brokers through an online search engine and decided to meet up. However, the lessons that I learnt that day were no less than what I had discovered for the last 2 years. Here’s how it began:

Lesson 1: Who is the boss in the house?  
Despite repeatedly calling the broker, often there was no response from the other side. To make matters worse, he even arrived 10 minutes late for the scheduled meeting. After all, I was the one seeking the accommodation.
Lesson 2: Introduction matters, Delivery counts
“I am a real estate consultant”, he told. It definitely sounds a million times better than being a property broker. For a moment, even I started wondering whether I was dealing with an individual or a company! It came to my notice, he had even brought along a small team with him: a chartered accountant (according to him) to look at the legal side and a famous builder, who had so much money that he did not need to be there (but still was there).
Lesson 3: Consultants are never free
Often we have a notion that if something is chargeable, only then it is worth the effort. My consultant was quick to exploit this opportunity. “We will charge INR 500 for our consultation expertise. Please understand sir, this is a one-time expense and with our very high conversion ratio, you are bound to get a good place. “Wow! What a pitch! Reluctantly though, I had to agree as I was desperately looking for accommodation.
Lesson 4: Always be aware (Beware!) of one-stop solutions
On having a quick glance at the visiting card of the broker, it came to my notice he was also an actor, a marketing consultant, an advertising expert, an interview specialist and also a choreographer. The extent of his talent could be judged by the fact that he was also a well established entrepreneur . I had never imagined meeting such a person. It was like HUL making laptops to compete with Lenovo ! Bottom line: You lose the customer’s trust!
Lesson 5: Either showcase your best or worst!
Normally any seller tries to pitch to his customer either the best of his products or the very worst (which often fails to find a suitable buyer). The broker is no different. He will inevitably showcase the very worst of the assets he has in his portfolio. It is similar to selling off toxic assets in the financial markets. My experience was no different.
Lesson 6: Frustrate the seller !
Only when you can frustrate the seller, will he tell you the true price of an asset. In other words, present yourself as a well versed buyer. Refuse his first; second and third deal- the fourth offer that he makes will inevitably be his best. If you can refuse this, he will inevitably tell you- “Prices are negotiable.” Now one needs to decide if he is really interested in that property.
Lesson 7: Know your budget (but don’t tell the other)
Property deals work quite different from buying in an electronics store. In a store you can say that your budget is INR 10,000, this would necessarily be your upper limit. To a broker this will be the lower limit. Even if he shows you a slum area in Mumbai, he will ensure that the rent is not less than this limit.
Lesson 8: Praise the client- Personal connect!
During the course of this journey, the broker and his people would inevitably try to bring in the personal connect with you – your city will almost seem like his hometown. At times, he will try to pitch the landlord or land lady more than the property itself. If the broker begins to feel that it is not affecting your decision making, he will try to appeal to your humane side. “Sir please understand, the rent she receives is her only source of revenue. Look at the surroundings sir, it is beautiful !” The thing to keep in mind is it’s your hard earned money, spend it wisely.
Lesson 9: Never burn your bridges!
Even if you do not like any of the properties, the broker will still give you a smiling face and ask you to be in touch. It always serves a great deal, if you do not burn your bridges. Relations build businesses- need I say more?
I finally managed to find a flat on my own, but for those still looking the above lessons can be a helpful. 

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