Debbie Hanlon_crop - webLet’s catch up on the three years since I last wrote for REM. I’ve been incredibly busy overseas setting up a mobile ESL program for the Asian market while here at home, I’ve been writing children’s books, holding public office and building my real estate, financing and business consulting firm. While I was in Korea, I had the opportunity to work directly in real estate and wouldn’t you know it, even though it’s a completely different world like night and day,  the role of the real estate professional  is very similar. It’s a people business.

I had one contact in Seoul, an American lawyer my son had befriended, who was familiar with real estate dealings in Korea. He introduced me to Susan, a local business woman. Susan then introduced me to a real estate agent named Mr. Kim.



I felt an instant comfort level and his confidence and knowledge of the various neighbourhoods he showed me instilled a sense of trust. I came to rely on his advice and soon we found our commercial office, which is located in the ever-so-popular Gangnam District. Then he went to work and found me a home to live in, a beautiful condo. While a backyard was out of the question, my roof top garden was simply out of this world. It came with a full vegetable and fruit garden with a hardy selection from watermelons to hot red peppers, a clothes line, a golf practice range and a view of the majestic Seoul skyline that few people will ever get to experience.

Kim was also a shrewd negotiator and got me a fantastic price. I got to move in earlier than I expected. After that transaction, Kim stayed in touch via my mobile phone – it truly is a paperless world in Korea. He would send little helpful informational tips that helped me settle into my neighbourhood and he added a few social activities that were written in English, which was awesome. He even included easy-to-use metro directions to get me to where the events were happening. Thanks to Kim I got to attend a free concert in Seoul, where Psy himself performed his global hit, Gangnam Style. Wow! My real estate agent made that happen.

I have done thousands of real estate deals and I realized something in Seoul that I had  always believed was true: people do business with people. Even though I was in a country where everything from the language and customs to the culture was foreign, I managed to find a real estate agent that I could trust. A person I could do business with. While the transaction was different, the contracts were in a foreign language, the streets had no names and there was hardly a westerner in sight, I found an agent who made me feel very comfortable.

And I found him through a recommendation from a friend of a business contact, word of mouth. That, no matter how far you are from home, is by far the most powerful referral source possible. Real estate in any country and in any language is a people business. Kim understood my needs and he not only took care of my real estate needs, but he went that extra step and extended a hand of friendship to a foreigner lost in his land.

I have continued to do business through my consulting firm with Kim and I have referred several Canadians to him. Our business relationship is still growing. Just the other day I received an email from Kim asking me to take care of a Korean family moving to Toronto. I immediately searched my data base of sales reps in the Toronto area and within days the connection from Korea to Canada was made. I was as happy to help them find their way in my country as Kim was to help me in his Gangnam style.

Debbie Hanlon is an experienced real estate broker who has helped train hundreds of real estate professionals. She brokered and managed a national real estate franchise, created an independent franchise and became the No. 1 one buyer controlled agent in her national franchise in her first year. Currently she coaches sales reps all over the world. She is a dynamic keynote speaker, a real estate, finance and business consultant, a published children’s author and the creator of the national I’m No Bully Show. [email protected]

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Debbie Hanlon is the owner broker and Realtor at Debbie Hanlon Real Estate, a new boutique brokerage in St. John’s, Nfld. She is also a motivational speaker, real estate coach, author, former city councillor and children’s entertainer. She lives in St. John’s with her husband, Oral Mews and her dog Fisher.

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