Australian agents target China with WeChat app

Agents and developers are taking to WeChat to sell properties to Chinese buyers.

Forget about baby formulas or ­vitamins, Australian homes could be the next hot commodity on China’s e-commerce market, particularly on WeChat, the popular Chinese chat app. 

Monika Tu, founder and director of Sydney-based Black Diamondz Property, sold a $4.6 million property in Sydney’s eastern suburb of Vaucluse earlier this year, days after posting it on WeChat.

“We have many and multiple stories like this, but the first that springs to mind was the sale of 23 Hopetoun Avenue, Vaucluse,” she says. “Our client saw the WeChat post on Saturday, organised the inspection on Sunday and the contract exchanged by Tuesday.”

The app, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, has reached 762 million monthly active users in the first quarter of 2016, according to leading internet statistics company Statista.

Although the majority of users reside in China, there are about 70 million WeChat users outside the mainland.

More agents and developers are taking to WeChat to promote properties and engage with potential buyers, which may quietly shape the future of property sales in Australia.

For each WeChat post, we expect to generate more than 5000 viewers on top of local advertising media

Tu, who specialises in selling high-end properties, started with a personal account on WeChat, sharing property listing information with her friends.

After realising the platform could be very effective, she launched an official account for Black Diamondz and expanded the use of WeChat across the company.

“We have more than 35,000 followers on the platform, all with a keen eye for beautiful properties, a large percentage of which are actively qualified buyers,” Tu says.

The number of WeChat users has soared in recent years.

The number of WeChat users has soared in recent years.

“For each WeChat post, we expect to generate more than 5000 viewers on top of local advertising media.”

Simon Platt, general manager of Kinsale Property Group, is using the WeChat app in the marketing of the $300 million New Life ­Ultimo project for developer TWT, a company Kinsale is associated with.

The project gained 2500 followers since the campaign started two months ago, he said.

“We used it much like most of the other social pages, but we probably amplified it a bit because of the location of Chinatown,” Platt says.

“We need to get in touch with those (buyers) through WeChat — that’s obviously a Chinese audience. Whether they are here or offshore, they all use WeChat.”

Our client saw the WeChat post on Saturday, organised the inspection on Sunday and the contract exchanged by Tuesday

CBRE residential opened an official account on WeChat nine months ago, according to CBRE director of residential projects Ben Stewart.

“We do editorials when we release a (apartment) project, we put out our CGIs (computer generated images) about the project and people forward that on and pass that on to their friends,” he says. “CBRE has our own WeChat account and our individual sales people obviously use it themselves as well.”

Both Stewart and Platt say it would be hard to track how many sales were actually led by WeChat, but say there was no doubt the app is increasingly gaining popularity, even among non-Chinese speakers.

“I am Caucasian, born and bred in Australia, (but) I use WeChat more than I do other social media,” Platt says.

“It’s easy to use. You can send documents, you can talk. It’s instant, and it’s free.”

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.