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The kind boss intervenes to close the case.
"You handle the case exclusively and refer everything to me," said Mr Perez in his usual calm and friendly voice. He was the boss of a representative office start up in Singapore and had brought in several expatriate employees, all of whom used various realtors, including me to find housing. Mr Perez had used me solely to find him housing as his wife, being a relocation realtor in Europe, understood the complications in using multiple realtors.
"The negotiations had broken down after six weeks and now Roberto could not get the condo his wife saw with you."
Roberto's wife had fallen in love with a new condo with a panoramic green tree and city views but her husband had requested Realtor John who had found a condo for his colleague to handle the negotiations.
However, John did not show this condo and therefore, it would be unethical of him to proceed further. John had given Roberto a deep impression that he knew the Landlord very well and that he "controlled" the new condo, being there "most of the time". The realtor was confident that he could close two deals so that the colleagues could live in the same condo. Roberto did not want me to lose out since I had spent much time showing him and his wife various condos in Singapore. Yet he did not want me to pursue his case.
There was no point explaining to this newly arrived expatriate that I could do a job as well as John. I told him that there was Realtor Shirley involved and it would not be right to cut her off. She was not on good terms with John and might upset the negotiations.
John said he would not be taking any commissions in Roberto's case but his associate, Kerry would want to share the commissions. What had Kerry got to do with this? Apparently, Kerry was told by Roberto not to show any unit on Sunday and would have had shown this unit if given time.
If Kerry did not get a cut, John hinted that he would not be dealing with Roberto's case. Roberto said persistently: "It would be better if John handle both cases."
Expatriates relocating to Singapore do get several agents to find them their ideal home. In this case, Roberto had seen the new condo on Saturday and had told me to show more of certain specified units to his wife on Monday as he would be working. "Call all agents," he said. "Only the unit facing greenery."
I presumed Roberto and his colleague would be resting on Sunday after a hot and humid Saturday viewing. Sundays are always a risky day for the rental realtors as expatriates do view condos with other agents.
Roberto had had gone to see the condos with realtors John and Kerry. There were no units for him, except for the one I had shown his wife and he had not seen it with John and Kerry as both did not have the keys to the apartment then.
Kerry had said to me that he had units Roberto wanted and I made an appointment with him on Monday as well as with 3 other agents, namely John, Shirley and William. This would ensure that Roberto's wife would see all the units available. Kerry cancelled the appointment at the last minute when I was at the hotel to pick up Roberto's wife to view the condos, saying his car had just broken down. Nothing wrong with a car breaking down. "Can you take a taxi to the condo?" I asked Kerry. This was an opportunity for Kerry to co-broke and close a case since he had the last one or two units desired by Roberto and his wife. He said no.
John could not be contacted by phone on Monday morning while I was at the condo. He did not call me to check out the appointment as would be expected of most realtors representing the Landlord.
In retrospect, realtors Kerry and John "failed" to appear to show the units as they would have to co-broke with me and share the commission. Unfortunately realtor Shirley had the keys to the condo and it was the only one Roberto's wife liked. It was the unit John and Kerry would be able to show.
How to resolve this situation? The unit Roberto and his wife wanted was shown by Shirley and myself on a co-broking basis. But Roberto did not want me to proceed further and if he was not a honourable person, he could just ignore me and told Kerry and John to proceed.
Now, if I objected to his request, Shirley and I would end up with nothing. Kerry and John would then co-broke and close the case. Since he wanted John to call me to resolve the problem, John could not now just handle the case quietly.
If I told Shirley, the whole deal would flounder as she had a strong competitive temperament and would bring the whole matter up to the Landlord.
Now, Roberto insisted again that John would be the most capable person to handle his closing. He needed a prompt reply over the mobile phone on that Monday evening. He was at the condo with John and Kerry who now had the keys to show him the apartment seen by his wife in the morning. The Landlord had given keys to Shirley and other agents.
Should I be stubborn? What would be the best solution? Was there a solution to satisfy all parties? John said he would not be getting a share of the commission as he had Roberto's colleague to handle.
Provided Kerry had a cut of the commission. If Kerry who had not shown the apartment had a cut, would John not get something from Kerry? I did not voice this sentiment.
Decisions must be made on the spot. The only prompt solution to this situation would be to get John to agree that the commissions of Roberto's case would be shared equally by me, Shirley and Kerry. John agreed verbally but would not be tied down in writing.
The negotiations were conducted for six weeks. Nothing was heard from John. The deal fell through as Roberto did not want to pay more than the standard two months' security deposit. The Landlord wanted more than two months because Roberto's company was a representative office in Singapore and not a full fledged office.
When I called John after Roberto's boss spoke to me, he said: "I know what you would be thinking. Since I don't get any commission, I did not work hard to close the case." Superficially any one would think that he was not motivated to find a solution since he had nothing to gain.
Actually, it was not his fault but only if he had taken the trouble to touch base with me. "Now, Roberto is open to all agents," he commented and said he had returned the good faith deposit which was held by the Landlord for a long time. I did not want to pursue Roberto anymore as he would be using multiple agents.
There were no more units Roberto desired and he wanted to move in within 10 days.
John said he would give me the owner's telephone if I kept him informed of the outcome. I declined the offer. It just become more complicated.
"Can you resurrect the deal?" I asked John. There was no other choice units for Roberto from John or Kerry when I called them. None from the other 3 agents I contacted. John had said he would call me back the next day. The call never came. Why? I do not know. I guess John felt that it was no use flogging a dead horse.
Shall I walk away from this case too? Just too bad for Roberto. It was his fault entirely. If only he would pay up the more than 2 months' security deposit. It might be an extra half a month if he would consider.
Since his boss had made a personal call to me to help find Roberto, now in Europe, his choice apartment, I checked out all agents. There were none of the choice units within his budget, even after six weeks. The 4-bedroom units was asking $6,000 per month. The lowest might be $5,500, one thousand and four hundred dollars more per month. It would mean more commissions for me, but would this be the budget Roberto really wanted to spend? He might be willing to increase his rent to $5,000 but there were no choice 4-bedroom units available. The choice units had to face the greenery, not just any unit.
From Europe, Roberto had contacted a Singapore agent, Madeline. She had only the 2-bedroom units and promised she would contact him if she found any of his choice units. Very few agents would phone him in Europe as there was a high probability of failure in closing such cases.
Left with Hobson's choice, I decided to contact the Landlord of the unit in which Roberto and his wife had liked. The unit now had an offer to lease.
"A letter of intent is no use. Roberto's company can pay you the deposits and sign the tenancy agreement today," I said.
"A representative office is not credible. Besides, Roberto will be renting on a personal basis and I prefer a company lease." the Landlord said.
"It is a representative office but the company has established branches in China, Australia and Europe," I explained. It was not a small dot.com start up. It was a manufacturer. "In addition, the office in Singapore is a proper office in that the company does not use temporary office spaces where the Secretary is shared by all others."
I elaborated further since I could not get the brochures to this Landlord who was overseas. "It has a website which would explain its background." The internet is really useful nowadays.
A dialogue with the Landlord was opened. There was no firm rejection. There was some hope for Roberto. And there would be a bidding war, I know from experience.
"Can Roberto commence tenancy on January 10, instead of February 1?" the Landlord asked. It was already January 13 now.
Roberto said no. He would only be in Singapore on January 25. He felt that he should let go of this unit as the Landlord was not fair. His career might suffer if he had got the wrong apartment. How, I don't know.
Was this the end of the deal? This Landlord might not treat him well if he could secure the lease.
"Why not ask for January 20?" Roberto said okay pessimistically from far away Europe. The Landlord was still considering the other offer and had no response. I just had to follow up. This was a 90% chance of success, I said to Roberto.
"Look for other units. Regrettably I may have to give up this unit," he emailed me.
So, did he want this unit or not? The signals from Roberto were confusing. Should I abort the negotiations and call it a day? A bidding war might take a while to win. The 4-bedrooms were too highly priced and he would regret it since he did not need so many bedrooms as he had no children.
"Your payment of an extra one thousand dollars per month to live in this condo could be used for a holiday with your wife to Bali, Indonesia. To ski holidays" I advised Roberto who was sun tanned. "Or to rent a car," Roberto suggested. This was a case where it would not be in the expatriate's interest to rent a 4-bedroom when he needed a 3-bedroom and when he had already set a target of around $4,000.
"Can you start the tenancy on January 15?" the Landlord responded after a few days. Roberto would say no, I was almost sure. I dared not phone him in Europe. I had to talk to his boss. The boss said all right.
No response from the Landlord for another three days. She was considering the other offer. I could not blame her for getting the best rental deal by holding a bidding war.
"I give Roberto a $1,400 budget to install curtains. Do you agree?" Would $1,400 be enough for a 3-bedroom 1400 sq. ft apartment? Yes, if Roberto does not go for fancy day and night curtains. Roberto had no idea how much would be sufficient.
We agree to the curtain budget. "I offer $2,300 to buy the washing machine, dryer, oven and microwave as I had done a survey to find out the cost. Now, regarding this request for an oven and a microwave," the Landlord said over the crackling phone call from Shanghai. "Can Roberto take just a microwave and no oven?"
The Developer had not provided an oven and most Europeans love to have an oven. I am sure Roberto would pull his hairs out from his head and say to hell with this Landlord. It was fortunate he was not in Singapore. Emotions could run very high with this piece meal type of negotiations.
One harsh and loud response and the Landlord would withdraw her offer. She might not be desperate enough to rent out her beautiful condo, knowing that there were no more choice units left. "There's the combined microwave oven nowadays," I explained to the Landlord. She was willing to wait till Roberto comes to Singapore before deciding on this appliance.
It was midnight when the Landlord agreed to lease the unit to Roberto 7 days before his arrival in Singapore. Getting what the expatriate wanted was not easy once a bidding war started. Not all Landlords are agreeable to every request from the Tenant with an inflexible rental budget.
This was one of those highly charged emotional house-hunting cases that had the whole Singapore office personnel following it up. Was it worth Roberto's while to get this particular condo?
Fortunately Roberto had a good boss who had the welfare of his employees at heart. Without his timely intervention and agreement on the January 15 commencement date for the tenancy, this would be just a residential realtor's nightmare. Lots of time spent, overseas trunk calls made and no reward for a self employed realtor.
"Can you take over 3 days later while I get back the keys from the agents?" the Landlord said, after signing the tenancy agreement. No objections. It had taken a lot of patience and love from the expatriate boss to close this case. No problem waiting 3 days more.
This kind expatriate boss (a German with Brazilian background) understood the aspirations of his subordinates and helped to smoothen their relocation in Singapore. He could have left them to look after their problems since they were given a housing allowance. However, he intervened and got the subordinate the kind of condo he wanted.
This airline company expanded under his start-up. A lot of travelling for him but the company grew in the Asia Pacific region. He was promoted and went to the head quarters. Somewhere in this case study, there is a lesson for leaders of companies.
SICK DOG, CAT & PET TREATMENT & VACCINATION IN SINGAPORE
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