Be ethical, live better Reflections

7 real estate practises used to acquire properties

Barcelona is a city with one of the largest movements of property trade in Spain, and in this competition without limits, real estate agents all want to be the first to the client.

But what is the process of acquiring properties? 

The promise of a sale in less than a month, a complimentary cruise, the fake visit, and the behind-the-scenes of “no commissions”, are some of the means currently being practised to win over homeowners.

These are 7 of the most “conspicuous” current practices.  It’s important to bear them in mind when it comes to choosing an estate agent.

“The moon and the stars”

“We’ll sell your flat in one month” is one of the most tempting phrases for sellers. Some slogans talk of doing so in 90 days, or even 7. But you shouldn’t be misled by pretty phrases without first seeking guidance to understanding the whole process in detail. Often, it’s just this; an advertising slogan very effective at persuading owners to sign a lower valuation, and once the promised time has passed, the estate agent will simply ask for the contract to be renewed for the same period, be it one month or 90 days.

The tool of seduction. 

Iphone, scooter, and even a cruise! These are some of the “gifts” that sellers receive on behalf of the estate agents.

In a world where nothing comes for free, the first thought that comes to mind should be… Do they want something in exchange for this gift? Unfortunately, the answer is usually yes, and it will probably be exclusivity on the property.

“We sell at the highest price”

This is usually one of the strategies that work best when it comes to winning the race and convincing the seller. There are several reasons why an estate agent offers this type of benefit: they want to sell a stagnant property in the same area and in this way can revalue it, or prolong its advertisement for some reason, or simply earn more money.

Regardless of whether there are reasons or not, it is important to be aware of the impact that a price above its actual value has on both the market and society. Further nourishing speculation can proliferate this avalanche of deception, bringing us once again nonstop, to 2008.

Behind the scenes of “no commissions”

What do no commissions really mean? Many agencies offer up to a 5% saving when competing with agencies that do operate on a commission basis. In light of this promise which seems to win over even the most demanding sellers, it’s important to be clear on the type of contract; normally it includes fixed monthly charges for 12 months, regardless of whether or not the property is sold.  And on the other hand, in some cases, it’s the owners who must invest their time to show the property to potential clients. It’s true that there are “no commissions” but up to what point will the seller not be paying a price higher than that of a commission?

The fake visit

If the first practices could be described as “conspicuous”, these last ones are most definitely, and without doubt, bad practices.

Someone apparently interested in buying a property, schedules a visit in the guise of a buyer, with the estate agent responsible for showing the property on sale. Once they have established the details of the property, they try to contact the seller directly to offer “better conditions”. This is often done through the building’s concierge or by carrying out a little research to find the owner.

While it may seem like a story from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, it is a reality and happens more often than we think.

The imposter

Inspired by the same modus operandi as the fake visit, some estate agents pretend they are private individuals leaving messages on forums such as: “Individual looking to purchase a flat in this area…”  In this way owners looking to sell bring themselves to the estate agent. Once in contact, sadly, there is a whole arsenal of bad practices employed to win the race and convert the seller into a client.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing 

The elderly are the most vulnerable to becoming victims of bad real estate practices. Agents contact them offering to buy their property with the possibility that they can continue to live there. Up to here, it seems like a dream come true, but there are 3 key factors that can turn this dream into a nightmare:

  1.   The owners can continue to live there until they die. The amount of money is calculated according to the life expectancy… Sounds like a gamble, and it is.
  2.   The property will not remain in the family. In the moment of acquisition, it will belong to the estate agency or the new buyer.
  3.   They do not usually get a fair price for the property.

If this is about a race in which the best wins, perhaps first we should define what it means to be “the best”. Because if the only objective is to win from a Machiavellian premise, we might all lose, as people, as a country, as a society, and even as a business.

To compete and want to win is a positive attitude and drives change, the question we should ask ourselves is: what is the limit of this race? How far am I willing to go?

And even more importantly, we are all part of the same cycle, those who are buyers today will be owners tomorrow, and for this reason, we must think very hard when it comes to choosing an estate agency. Between us, we can make this race fairer, without purposefully harming other runners, without leaving before the finish line and without taking shortcuts.   We’re all running, we play clean.


Barcelona is amongst the 20 most acclaimed cities by ex-pats

What are the factors that bring us to visit a city? Of course, they are numerous, subjective, and sometimes related to fashionable trends… Didn’t you “do” Mont Blanc this summer? Perhaps not because there was a queue to get a mountain guide. Impervious to the bloggers’ dictates, Barcelona has, for many years, remained among the preferred destinations (number 3 in Europe). With 27 million tourists each year, it would be hard to say otherwise. The “Barcelona Brand” is still making us dream.[1]

But let’s leave aside the tourists and climb into the skin of an expatriate, be it French, English, German or Italian. Looking past the stereotypes and the picture-perfect postcards, what is it that motivates today’s expatriates to register in Barcelona during their career and decide to bring their family there? What matters to leaders and entrepreneurs, is the growing appeal for “startups” but also, of course, the quality of life and the fact that different international communities are well established and locally formed (25,000 Italians, 13,00O French, etc.).

For all of these reasons and as demonstrated by the testimonies, Barcelona is hard to beat in Europe: it has everything a large city has without being enormous, it is cosy without being a village, it is cosmopolitan without losing its vernacular culture, it is technological with losing its soul… It’s bourgeois, bohemian, modern, refined and still secret… “.

In spite of the positive opinions, some “rankings” are not so easy on Barcelona, either because it doesn’t have the critical mass to compete with the megacities (like Singapore), or because it has conserved an eternally adolescent soul, which can take you by surprise. For complete tranquillity, the shores of Lake Geneva would be better.

In 2018, the Quality of Living Index [2] from Mercer’s Human Resources Office places Barcelona in just the 43rd position globally. It must be said: the attacks on 17th and 18th August 2107, and the political situation have weighed heavily in this ranking which puts “quiet” cities such as Vienna, Zurich and Geneva in the top 10.

Now let’s consider the annual survey (12,000 people interviewed) from the Reputation Institute: Barcelona is still in 15th position, dropping 8 places compared with 2017. If we exclude the economic factors previously mentioned, Barcelona continues to be a leading metropolis in terms of the quality of life with 11 strengths:

  • A cost of living that is still competitive (compared with Paris, London, Amsterdam, Hamburg…)
  • An exceptional climate.
  • An economy drive worthy of great capital.
  • A unique variety of districts and housing types.
  • An undeniable cosmopolitanism.
  • A unique choice of cuisine.
  • An intense nightlife.
  • An extraordinary cultural heritage.
  • An excellent transport network.
  • A business community focused on the new economy and encouraged by a policy of targeted reception (incubators).
  • Nearby beaches (Costa Brava, Maresme, Costa del Garraf).

To conclude, if Paris will always be Paris, Barcelona will always be Barcelona. The Barcelona brand revealed to the world in the 1992 Olympic games, still has a bright future ahead.  In fact, the move towards being a Smart City (intelligent city) has been decidedly taken in the form of digital transformation (hyper-connected metropolis), innovation and energy optimisation.