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Agent of the Month: Jamie Mi, Kay & Burton

By Juwai, 28 May 2020
Agent of the month Kay & Burton

Kay & Burton has been at the forefront of Australian real estate since 1938. For decades, the Kay & Burton brand has been synonymous with premium properties in Australia and is reputed for excellence and innovation in the real estate industry in Australia

Its record of excellence in marketing fine homes and discreet personal service has set it apart from others in the enviable sphere of influence in the Australian real estate industry. Today, Kay & Burton - which has grown to over 100 employees, with offices in South Yarra, Hawthorn, Bayside, Flinders, Porstea & Sorrento – is attracting worldwide interest

Melbourne-based Jamie Mi, head of international business and also a partner at the company, tells us how her career came about at Kay & Burton and how working with has helped her find out more about Chinese buyers’ habits and Australia’s appeal to Chinese property investors.


Marketing to Chinese cross border buyers

I started my working in the journalism publication industry 15 years ago. Many of my current real estate contacts were built during that time because the publication industry had very mature distribution channels with different businesses. Those businesses were highly relevant to what I do now, for example, financial services, hospitality, import and export, real estate, education and tourism.

Home buyers come from different type of businesses and most are senior corporate executives and I deal with them exclusively. I have been with Kay & Burton for about 10 years now. This year, Kay and Burton celebrates its 83rd anniversary.

Even before I joined Kay and Burton, the company has already been involved in the Chinese market for almost 20 years. Before my time, there were four directors who regularly visited Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Kay and Burton does a significant number of Chinese transactions. Recent statistics show that five million Australian dollar plans represent almost 60 per cent of our business. For the Chinese market, more than half of our business is in the premium price range.


What draws Chinese buyers to Australia

Chinese interest in Australia is very similar to a lot of other countries like Canada, the UK and the US. They are attracted by the educational facilities here, safe environment, a stable government, good social systems and even something as simple as cleaner air.


Most popular time for Chinese buyers to buy in Australia  

Peak seasons for the Chinese market which has been consistent throughout the last 10 years are Chinese New Year which falls somewhere between the end of January to the middle of February, May ‘Labour Day’ holidays, Golden Week holidays in October. September too, for the last five years, has become a peak season because of the mid-autumn festival.   

These peak seasons do not just apply to real estate. Luxury brands and stores also benefit during these times.


Most frequently asked questions from Chinese buyers

Initially, about three years ago, most Chinese buyers were developers or those aged between 55 and 65. They were mainly very successful businessmen or developers in China. A frequent question from them would centre around price. “How much is it?”. “How big is the land?”. “Can the house be demolished?”  Obviously, price is a priority concern for them. But eventually we found that price becomes secondary once they like the location and the property.

In the last two years, we have seen a slight shift in the age of buyers. They are becoming younger and younger. We are currently dealing with a lot of buyers in the 30 to 45 age group who are able to afford very premium properties. They are newly married with two children or just about to start a family. As such, a big consideration for them is choosing a location that is close to a private school. Education has become a hot topic for these buyers.


Obstacles when working with Chinese buyers

There is a percentage of buyers - mostly in the senior age group - who tend to be very private and hesitant about what they want or give feedback. However, time always solve the problem. Some of these new buyers might just be trying to protect themselves and do not want to divulge too much of their financial and personal status. Some are weary of real estate agents because they think agents are always out to deceive them.

Fortunately, Kay and Burton employs sound work ethics and enjoys a good reputation. Once they do some research about our company and see that we have been around for more than 80 years, they are less suspicious and will start to be more transparent about what they want. For a new buyer, it may take between nine months and two years for them to completely trust us.


Advice for those who want to work with Chinese buyers

Continuous service and patience are key. You need to invest a lot of time but eventually it will translate into a worthwhile sale.


Why pick to help you with China buyers

We did some research online and saw this platform called Juwai. The founders of Juwai were related to REA, one of the top online real estate advertising company in Australia. After a thorough analysis of Juwai’s performance over the years, we found that their buyers’ profiles and enquiries are very organic and genuine, even though some buyers may not fall in the budget category that we work with. However, we still find these buyers highly relevant to us.

We believe we can cultivate these buyers and by educating them, their perspective of what they want and can afford may change and they may even increase their budget. By consistently servicing them, we join them in their journey to find their dream home.

We also found out Juwai is probably the most genuine, trustworthy and reliable when compared to other platforms.


Any tips for achieving success with the Chinese market?

We have a fully functional concierge service, quite similar to American Express. Our in-house concierge team comes from highly educated backgrounds as well as having loads of experience in the service industry. Some had worked with Qantas or Singapore Airlines, so they are very familiar and professional when it comes to catering to the needs of Chinese buyers. They are able to handle all sorts of requests such as plumbing, electrical work, roof repairs, feng shui advice, insurance, financial services, etc.;