Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Friday, March 4, 2011

In Which I Stand Semi-Corrected: Realtors in Belgrade Do Cooperate (Sometimes)

Last week I said that most realtors in Belgrade Serbia will only show you their own listings. I was wrong.

Based on my now-broader experience, most realtors in Belgrade will happily show you one or two listings they think meet your needs no matter who the official listing agent of record is.

Actually, as my sister-in-law remarked, "No owner would ever dream of listing their apartment with just one single realtor." So, your realtor will pick out his favorite of the several listing agents and call that one to meet you at the listing. (This means everything still comfortably reverts to the time honored only-do-business-with-your-connections Balkan tradition.)

However, today I met one of the most experienced realtors in Belgrade. A man who is old enough never to have bothered learning a single word of English (he's in that generation who learned German or Russian as their second language.) And, he completely refused to show us or even discuss any listings that he, himself did not personally represent. Even if the listings were handled by his family's firm.

Infuriating. But he was so charming otherwise that one could not be really mad. It was simply the way things are for him. Now, did we want to buy his lovely listings or not?

As I said though, this guy is probably a dying breed. The new guys will show you anything ... but only one or two listings, and those one or two will be the most heavily advertised stans on the Net. Stans you could have found all by yourself without blinking an eyelash. No one will show you more than a couple of stans, no matter how many they promise at first meeting to "line up." And, if you don't buy the first couple of places they show you, they tend to drop you like a lead brick. No more calls, no more appointments.

I'm not sure if it's because they don't think you're a real buyer, or if they are simply too lazy to work for their commission.

So, Serbian stan-hunting is a miserable business mainly because the realtors themselves aren't what I'd consider professionally adept. Like most Americans I've bought and sold many homes in my lifetime. I know it doesn't have to be this tough. Serbs shrug and say, well that's the way it is here. I shrug and say, "So you enjoy this pain? Because it's entirely self inflicted."


ana.the.serious.cat said...

It's a real challenge to think of anything that we did in the past 100 years or so, that doesn't fit in the realm of self inflicted pain. Oh, well.

Anyway. The majority of the behaviors you are encountering, which of course seem strange or nearsighted to you, have their foundation on the hard and cold reality. I'm sorry I'm not privy to the circumstances in which the realtors operate, so I can't help you there. I have been reluctant to post a comment, waiting to see if someone with better insight comes by. But I am fairly certain there is an explanation.

Nikola Gedelovski said...

The thing is, realtors and real-estate agents in Serbia are not professionals in their field. 99% of them are unemployed persons of any vocation, who cannot find a position in any other line of work, so in the end opt to start or join a real-estate agency. It requires no significant investment, nor knowledge nor skill. You probably already that the number of the existing and active agencies doesn't really correspond to the reality of the currently stale market.

I am well aware that a real-estate agent's existence is not an ideal one; the financial insecurity and an unpredictable volume of business is the pain of anyone working for a commision. An I am also aware that it is the natural intention of any business to provide as little services and effort as required, for as high a profit as possible. But still it doesn't justify a commission of multi-thousand of dollars for simply jumping into the market and playing an unsolicited middle-man in the situations when none is required.

I also expect an enlighted agency to come to being, with the global and shared estate database and some real services provided to the end user. So far in vain.