Sometimes our life in Italy seems to consist of a string of coincidences.
Everywhere we went, we always had a look at real estate magazines and in Belgium we loved going to look at houses for sale even after we already bought ours.
Eleonora, our real estate agent, and I became best friends and soon after we moved here she started to ask me to accompany her when she had Dutch clients.
When, in 2011, she started her own real estate agency, she had less time to hang out outside of work, so I began to translate her property ads so that she would have more Dutch clients and we could go “on tour” in Piemonte and Liguria together.
Nicolas, who always said he didn’t want to “work with his head” anymore, started to realize after a few years that he needed an intellectual challenge, especially during low season, when the tranquility became too much for him.
So … 6 years ago we decided to follow the course to become Italian real estate agents and after a few very boring months of lessons and exams we had our certificate in hands and we were ready to conquer the Italian real estate market. When an Italian real estate agent sells a house, he or she asks (in average) 3% commission from the buyer + 3% commission from the seller. Sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?
But as you all certainly know, in those years Italy was still very much in a financial crisis and foreigners didn’t come in droves to buy their Italian dream house…
We soon realized that being a real estate agent in Italy is a lot like being a donkey chasing after a juicy carrot.
The problem for us was not only that most foreign househunters turned out to be dreamers, which meant that all our efforts were for nothing as we only got paid when a purchase took place. We also learned that such a large “dangling carrot” in front of our eyes made us focus too much on the monetary reward instead of enjoying the work.
Another huge drawback of the Italian way of working, where both parties have to pay you, is that none of the clients (buyer / seller) respects you. They all seem to think you’re a money grabbing person that they can’t trust, so they don’t feel any regret when they try to cut you out.
Very soon this started to weigh on us, especially on me, because – as I said before – I’m not the most stress resistant person and the fact that I felt that people constantly doubted if I had good intentions turned out to be very stressful.
So, after a while we decided to take a different approach with Advitalia, one that suits us a lot better.
Since a few years we only work for the buyer, and not both parties and instead of asking 3 – 4% commission to each party, we only ask the buyer an hourly rate (starting from the first contact after the client has agrees to work with us) + a commission on the difference between the asking price and the selling price.
For us, our method seems more logical as our clients will have the security we’re as motivated as they are to get the price as low as possible. And it is also more motivating to work for clients that are really serious because they pay us from the beginning, so for them our method is only interesting if they end up buying a house, otherwise they have thrown their money away for nothing.
Since we started working like this, our job has changed completely, as we now form a team with our clients, with whom we work towards the same goal: making their Italian dream come true … without massive carrots dangling in front of our eyes.