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expatmom

Shanghai housing agent recommendation

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I just want to add (yet another) ringing testimonial to the service offered by Shanghai Housing. ( http://www.shanghaihousing.com ) For those of you as new to Shanghai rental market as we were, you *need* a good agent to maneuver the system. 

We were in a terrible pinch a month ago, needing to move in about four days before a trip home. Vivian immediately added us to her full plate, calling properties right away. She then arranged for her assistant Emily to help us view apartments the next day. Emily was fantastic, walking about in the heat and translating every detail. Her knowledge, communication skills and attitude were so reassuring. Our first move in Shanghai was very scary, especially with no time to think, but Vivian and Emily helped us get through it. 

I highly recommend Vivian and Emily. It's been a month since they helped us, but as soon as we got home, I wanted to sign up and post their praises. We found them through this forum, where they have been praised up and down, and they deserve every good word. Beyond just working hard, it's clear that they really care about helping the expat community.

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I heard about your dilemma, and good that you had a happy result. 
I have known Emily for more than 5 years, and she is quite special. 
Often her R/E work goes way beyond the call of duty. 
She has just started with Vivian, but should add a great deal to the business. 

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This is not an ad or anything like that, just an actual story, from me, for which I think Vivian and the team at Shanghai Housing (shanghaihousng.com) and her people deserve credit for. 

I arrived from the US on Jan2, and on Jan6 went looking at apartments with the agent my company designated (I will not mention him or his agency, so don't ask, and would appreciate if those that do know who it is refrain from it as well). We looked at a few places, a couple were ok, but it seemed like he wasn't really "getting" what I wanted or was looking for. So, I posted a subject here thinking that maybe I should look at getting a service apt in order to get the things I was looking for, and also sent an email to Shanghai Housing. I talked with Vivian, and she had some ideas but wanted to make sure that my company would allow me to use other agents, so I asked the HR dept, and they said it was ok. With the ok, Vivian and I set up a time to meet on Sat afternoon, and we found a place that I liked. Skip ahead a few days, after Vivian had put together an offer, got confirmation that it was ok, and had been in contact with my HR dept, they up and told her they would not be able to do business with her. And then my original agent got a contract written up with the landlord for the same apartment, showed up at my office with the landlord's wife, and my company said they would approve that. Also, understand that the rent is being directly paid by the company, so I really don't have much a say as to how/to whom the money is doled out. To end the story, they signed on the apt, which Vivian originally found and showed me. 

Throughout the whole process, even after being told that my company would not do business with her, Vivian remained in contact with me, trying to make sure everything was going ok, offered herself as a contact for advice even after the other agency basically signed on the place, and has been professional, courteous, and friendly. I think she deserves some recognition for this, because if it were me, I'd have thrown a fit. I was pretty mad at my office for basically wasting her time, and making me look like a d-bag and having me caught in the middle of BS, handshaking, and back-scratching, all for the sake of maybe 2K-RMB/mo. 

Bottom line: she's a nice person, and no one should have any reservations about working with her. From me to Vivian, I apologize that my company acted the way it did, as it certainly is not how I prefer to do business. So thank you for everything you did. Please keep this subject in this forum, I don't need anymore inetrnal-BS with my company, I do have to work with them!

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Damn Philipp.... 

Over the years I have read many valuable inputs from Vivian, she always puts her Know-how on the table. willing to share at any time. I think she is really amazing. Never met her personally. Maybe we should announce an Vivian day each year.  

As for your company's HR...umm well how should I say it... some things there needs a bit of some change ... nothing more to say. Said too much already

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Philipp , thank you so much for sharing our recent saga with others and your kind words on our service. It was a pleasure to work with you as you are/were extremely professional and clear on what you wanted. 

I do hope that your current agent takes good care of your needs and gets you either a Slumberland or Sealy mattress and a quality TV in your bedroom like a Hitachi, Sony or the like. If not then a Phillips, Panasonic or National......no local brands!! OK? 

It is indeed a shame that it all turned pear shape and I guess it is unfortunate lesson for new arrivals to double check with their HR on whether their company has an agent agreement or possibly an agent who is the boss's uncle's, sister-in-law's, nieces son who is also part of the team.  

We are following this up with the manager of the agency due to what we believe is the unprofessional conduct of the agent in the handling of this case but it won't affect you, Philipp. You've always got our support and help and am only a call away. We time to time have had these situations before and we usually end up doing some kind of joint deal with agency but this one unfortunately turned a little nasty. 

It's a real joy for me to help newcomers find their new home in such a huge and sprawling metropolis like Shanghai. I'm sure it must be a rather daunting and overwhelming experience for many and the world of real estate here can be very messy and grubby, to say the least. It is such a new booming business in this country that regulations and business practices haven't caught up yet. When I arrived in 1994 there were only a handful of agents. 

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Bravo again to Vivian ! If I ever see you out I will be sure to buy you a drink or two..or three.. it's people like you that gives hope to humanity and civility here in Shanghai. Good job indeed. 

Philipp, I know you probably still feel like a fish out of water here but you were party to the crime by allowing the transaction to go through. You could have easily refused to sign the lease and had integrity by not allowing Vivian to get the shaft.

Obviously the person in your HR department is another scumbag that all of us are all too familiar with and whenever you can put a stop to this despicable behaviour, you should.. or at least throw a wrench into the works. Now everyone in your office knows you are a spineless lackey that can be walked all over. Not a good job.

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Just now, Vince9 said:

Bravo again to Vivian ! If I ever see you out I will be sure to buy you a drink or two..or three.. it's people like you that gives hope to humanity and civility here in Shanghai. Good job indeed. 

Philipp, I know you probably still feel like a fish out of water here but you were party to the crime by allowing the transaction to go through. You could have easily refused to sign the lease and had integrity by not allowing Vivian to get the shaft.

Obviously the person in your HR department is another scumbag that all of us are all too familiar with and whenever you can put a stop to this despicable behaviour, you should.. or at least throw a wrench into the works. Now everyone in your office knows you are a spineless lackey that can be walked all over. Not a good job.

I tried to, for a week. The problem is my name isn't on anything, and I don't control the money, it's all straight from the company. Not even my name on the lease. So I could either refuse the place and go somewhere I don't want to be and continue to be miserable in the hotel, or just live with it. I chose just live with it. But good of you to just resort to name calling when someone offers up both an apology and hopefully an education to others who might get similarly yanked around. Classy.

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In defence of Philipp:
The guy found himself between a rock and a hard place, apologized on behalf of his Companies actions, of which he had NO control, and had the spine to tell all on a public forum, so others could avoid this sort of unfortunate thing happening.
I say" thanks for swallowing your pride and posting". That takes spine.
Good on ya Mate!

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Just now, Mike said:

In defence of Philipp:
The guy found himself between a rock and a hard place, apologized on behalf of his Companies actions, of which he had NO control, and had the spine to tell all on a public forum, so others could avoid this sort of unfortunate thing happening.
I say" thanks for swallowing your pride and posting". That takes spine.
Good on ya Mate!

Yes, Mike, you are dead right. Philipp did all he could do given that he is the new kid on the block and has to work with these people. How would it be if you started a new job in a totally foreign culture and started dictating how the company should be run? 

I fully understand his situation and think it is unfair for others to give him a hard time and call him names. I am more than happy to take calls from him if he has any problems. He is really a nice guy and incredibly brave and honorable to bear his soul and publicly thank our company. 

To the other posters, just want to thank you again for the kind words. Happy to help newcomers or oldtimers alike. 

The little HR manager knew she had done wrong but she has little power of persuasion. Ya reckon she's going to support a foreign expat agent as opposed to their local buddies?? In my dreams. 

Too often in China, people get rewarded for being sleezy and underhanded and those who provide a half decent level of service get shafted. Western MNC's stamp "worlds best practices" on their companies because their staff have gone through some kind of anti-coruption training. OH PLEASE!! I think that MNCs need to open their eyes to what is going on. They could actually cut their housing costs if their HR managers weren't on the take! 

Well, that's my rave for the morning.  

Thanks once again.  

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You know, Vivian, I just get tired of hearing about good people like you getting jerked around. I have been here over 7 years now and it doesn't seem to have gotten any better with situations like this. I would love to see -- and yes, it's pure fantasy -- these situations turn back on the people that perpetuate them. 

I also have fantasies sometimes after a few whiskeys for a group of expats to form a vigilante group (think: starchamber) who would "deal with" unscrupulous local landlords. 

By the way, not all of us are English teachers here. Some of us have started a new job in a totally foreign culture and did dictate pointing out the difference between right and wrong. It's part of the reason many of us are brought on board is to instill higher standards. Others of us have actually started our own companies here and employ people and vendors and dictate proper behaviour all of the time. However, I get your point and understand the position that you are in as well. 

I know behind that big, blond, buxom, hard drinking exterior of yours is a great big heart 

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Also quickly wanted to bump up and old post as Vivian @ ShanghaiHousing.com @ShanghaiHousing just did a great job finding a nice place for me (which my assigned relocation company couldnt).

Saw many places before but none was the kind of western standard i liked and even though i speak a decent amount of Chinese, the agents didnt get what i wanted. my problem was that i had to find a place downtown very later as my work situation changed very unexpectedly but it wasnt a problem at all, it just took us a couple of days to find exactly what i was looking for. If you are looking for top service and someone who gets exactly what you are looking for (i wanted an apartment with double glazed windows, heatning and an oven, high rise), ask her for help. Really happy i met her last year, no other agency got even close to what i wanted (guess germans are too much into detail for them  )

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