Sometimes for fun I look at real estate. Sometimes idly, flipping through pictures and descriptions on websites and other times more actively, actually attending viewings and contacting real estate agents to get my questions answered. Sometimes I take my own research to a strange place. When I was interested in Berlin property, I started investigating the weird and wonderful world of foreclosed properties. Of course, the information about foreclosures is only available in German, which is not a language I know – but I was determined to dig into this properly and thus armed myself with a German dictionary and figured out the how, when, where of purchasing foreclosed-upon properties in Berlin. Sure, I never applied the knowledge, but how often do I apply most of the random knowledge that is rattling around in my head (e.g., citizenship laws for too many countries to count).
In the process, both in my real estate porn and in my actual home purchase process several years ago, I discovered that Swedish real estate agents are just weird. “Weird”, I grant, is not descriptive and in this case singles out one way of doing things (the “Swedish way”) and makes it sound as though it is wrong. In fact, it is simply different from what I think property sales and salespeople should be like. Out in the country where I live, I understand that there is not much incentive (they get no or tiny commissions), and to some extent, in cities, the markets are just so “hot” that agents don’t really have to do much.
My thinking, though, is that if I found a property I liked and lived in the US, I would contact the agent and express this interest. They would be obsessive about trying to sell it to me and,in case that did not work out, would actively be looking at other comparable properties and be pressing me on looking at those, too.
On several occasions in Sweden, when I contacted an agent again after looking at a property and seeing it had been removed from the web, they say simply, “It is sold. Sorry.” And nothing more.
This would rarely, if ever, happen with an American real estate agent, who would say, “I am sorry, but the property you were interested in is sold… but I have x in the same neighborhood and have a comparable type of property in X neighborhood.” Selling. Always trying to keep you on the hook. While I appreciate low-pressure salesmanship, this Swedish way feels lazy and not at all like any kind of selling. I have found in most cases that people here do not care if they are helpful or if they sell anything at all.