A day in the life of a real estate entrepreneur in Shaoxing City

By Jinqi Lu/El Inde

White clouds floated in the air, and sunlight poured into the empty office. A forty year-old man with short black hair, wearing a brown tie and a dark blue suit sat on a light green sofa next to his desk in front of a large stack of papers.

The office YONGCHENG Real Estate office is located on the 18th floor of Wanda Plaza, and its branches are on Yucai Road and Jianhu Road in Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province, in China. From the outside, the whole building is covered with dark yellow tiles.

Haiming Chen is the general manager. At the beginning of his shift, Chen opened the cuffs of his white shirt and then rolled them to the middle of his arm. Then he took off his gold-framed glasses and stared quietly out the window. 

The interior structure of YONGCHENG Real Estate Branch
in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020.
Photograph by Jinqi Lu/El Inde.

Chen first came into contact with the real estate industry in 2015 when he saw an upward trend in housing prices. So he quickly quit his previous job in computer scanning and planned to get started in this new career.

“In my last job, I not only accumulated a lot of management experience but also suffered from cervical spondylosis, caused by the compression of the cervical spinal cord due to prolonged exposure to the computer,” Chen joked. 

The reason that most drew Chen to start this job was the agency’s commission of 1% or 1.5% of the house price. Moreover, housing prices in Shaoxing have risen very fast some time ago, and the prices have almost tripled since 2015. In this new job, Chen is mainly responsible for sales, filling in records of customer phone calls, customer return visits, contract signing, handling customers who violate regulations, and collecting customer data. At the same time, he needs to contact between 30 and 50 customers every day to explain the real estate transaction rules. 

“Our services include collecting government land auction information, collecting first-hand housing, and helping our customers sell or rent second-hand houses to establish outstanding partnerships with them,” Chen said.

One of the biggest challenges of his new job is that he must expand his legal knowledge, including understanding the “Contract Law”, “Urban Real Estate Management Law”, and “General Principles of the People’s Republic of China”  in order to communicate with clients.

“Before I focused on copywriting, and generally did not need to communicate with clients all the time, but now I have to talk non-stop, and in my spare time I need to learn some legal knowledge about real estate,” he said, shrugging helplessly.

The storefront of YONGCHENG Real Estate Branch in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province. Photograph by Jinqi Lu/El Inde.

YONGCHENG Real Estate Company has a professional team of lawyers. After the client signs the contract, this team can help the company deal with some difficult legal issues. For example, if a client refuses to pay a commission, the employees of YONGCHENG Real Estate will first coordinate and require the customer to pay appropriate labor costs according to the contract. When the customer refuses to pay again, the lawyer hired by the company will file a lawsuit according to legal channels to protect the company’s interests.

According to Chen, house prices in his area rose by about 20% during the epidemic. “Perhaps there are more wealthy people in Shaoxing buying new houses, which has caused the prices of first-hand houses to push up the prices of second-hand houses,” Chen reflected.

It’s the end of Chen’s workday. Chen stood in the corner of the office with a cigarette in one hand as he closed the last contract with the other. Looking out the window, the sky dimmed as a bright light shone on Chen’s face. “Even if I’m tired, this job is one of the sources of my happiness,” he said.