Personal Shopper, the rising star in the real estate universe19 Oct, 2017 Manuel Alarcon
The Personal Shopper figure is undoubtedly the superstar in the world of high-end consumption in our day and has long escaped the exclusive sphere of luxury stores to become an increasingly popular expression. The concept was born in New York in the 80’s and, like so many other activities, it arises from the professionalization of an informal service, carried out by people who know how to be up to date, who were dedicated to helping acquaintances to buy what they wanted and who soon realized that there was a potential demand: from those people of high purchasing power who do not have free time to select the products they want to acquire. The creators of the Personal Shopper concept realized that they could «depersonalize» their activity and offer it as a service to customers in general. That is when the activity becomes professionalized. At first it is mainly about fashion and luxury accessories sold to the public in stores of big brands or in small businesses of great prestige in those sectors.
What does the personal shopper «sell»? To its clients, a deep knowledge of the product, which allows them to organize shopping tours, focused on the interesting products, with the consequent savings of time and money. Now a professional Personal Shopper knows very well that not all customers are cut by the same patron and it is necessary to find just what goes well for a certain person. Therefore, they have two legs in their activity: on the one hand, the product, on which they must know everything and be at the last, and on the other hand, the customer. They need to have a good knowledge of persons and actually make a work of image consultants. So we see that, from the world of fashion, the personal shopper concept jumps to other spheres to which it fits perfectly. For example, the technological personal shopper, a function extremely useful in a world such as ours, in which potential buyers often attend such a formidable display of products that their ability to discern is directly blocked. The purchase of a computer, a smart phone or a camera involves significant investments and, above all, customers do not want surprises. The same thing happens with the Internet Personal Shopper: lost in the universe of the network, more and more people require the services of a guide who knows how to orient them towards those web sites that offer the best product, the best service and the maximum reliability. The expansion of the concept of Personal Shopper to these realms and its progressive specialization has also facilitated its cheapening, since nowadays it is no longer a millionaire-only service.
A rising demand for a complex sector
The more complex a sector is, the more obvious is the utility of using the services of a Personal Shopper. The real estate sector, by its own specificity, has all the characteristics to create the need and the demand of this figure, due to several factors:
– The great complexity of the product, which is defined a wide range of characteristics, all important and determinant of customer satisfaction: geographical area, affordable services, quality of construction, etc. etc. The decision process when buying real estate usually consists of an adjustment of all these parameters in search of the option closest to the ideal. The enormous breadth of supply and the variety of channels through which it reaches the buyer are an aspect of this complexity.
– The importance that the acquisition of real estate will have in the quality of life of the buyer. The house we choose to live has an impact on our well-being that cannot be compared to that of any of the other assets that we can acquire. That is why the purchase of real estate is one of the most important decisions that a person makes throughout his or her life.
– The importance of the disbursement. For the same reason as stated in the previous paragraph, the purchase of a home is unique in the sense of the importance of the investment the buyer and, obviously, in the difficulty that would imply turning around or correcting a wrong decision.
– The legal aspects involved in the acquisition. Buying a home involves a whole series of legal acts with which customers are not usually familiar. Although this aspect is not, in principle, the direct responsibility of a Personal Shopper, if he/she is really a professional, the properties will be previously filtered, so that they meet the legal requirements. In further stages of the purchasing process, a lawyer specialized in the real estate sector will analyze in detail these aspects and advise the clients in each step given.
The real estate sector requires such a degree of specialization that the concept of Personal Shopper has even incorporated a particular name, Property Finder. The Property Finder (or Property Search Agent, as it is also known) was born in the United States in the 1990s and has seen a truly dazzling development. There it has become so popular that its mediation is present in about 70 per cent of real estate property sales. For some years, this figure has been introduced in Europe, initially in the United Kingdom and from there to other countries.
Technically, the Property Finder is a person or a company that represents the buying party in the transaction of a property. However, as its name implies, the Property Finder is responsible not only for representing the buyer before the other players at stake (the seller and representatives or institutions of the State), but also to find the product that the buyer seeks —or even the one he/she does not know that he/she is seeking, as the Property Finder can present alternatives to the ideas of the buyer, which are even better suited to your profile and desires. This presupposes an in-depth knowledge of the two realities to be brought into contact, namely the buyers and the product in question. That is why, like in the case of many other sectors, the Property Finder has undergone a gradual process of specialization, with the consequent deepening of the knowledge of its specific area of interest (geographical areas, types of housing, etc.).