Pedro Fonseca, director of RE/MAX Latina in Portugal, has almost two decades of experience at the forefront of the organisation. In this interview he had a few words to say about the real estate market, Proptech, Lisbon and how to be the best estate agent you can be.
You received the award for Game Changer at the RE/MAX 9th European Convention last year.
Is this how you would characterise your career trajectory at RE/MAX Latina, and was this the role you set out to play in the beginning?
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to be here talking to CASAFARI. It’s a spectacular endeavour that reminds me of RE/MAX Latina, which I had the privilege of launching almost nineteen years ago. It’s thanks to this that I’m now honoured to have been called a Game Changer.
I don’t see myself as a game changer; I see myself as a person who tries to do their best every day, and I think that with time and consistency, this prize can be in anyone’s reach. If we do our job with integrity, and if we serve and focus on our clients, over time we can all be game changers in our work, in the real estate sector, in tech, RE/MAX, brokerage, Lisbon or, who knows, even the country.
Do you think there are any insider tips for success in the real estate market?
The first piece of advice that I can give, and maybe the only one, is that you must define what ‘success’ means to you. The word ‘success’ varies from person to person; success is a result, and so you have to define what result you want to achieve, and if you define that result as success, then it’s in anyone’s reach.
Everything we do or don’t do produces some kind of outcome. So the advice I can give is define what success you want, and then focus on that, put together a team and fight every day for your dreams and your values, and use that to help others.
My definition of success is achieving the result I want and being passionate about serving my clients, my team and my company. For me, it means always trying to improve and grow.
What can we expect from the Portuguese real estate market in 2019?
My experience tells me that the next few years are looking very optimistic. I do anticipate that the market might slow down in Lisbon and Porto, or rather that it will keep growing and being an appealing market for making good investments, but it won’t be at the rate that it has been in the last few years.
And I think that this decline will free up a certain share of the market, as some ‘players’ will leave, and space will become available for the agents who are the most dedicated, who use good tools, who have good partnerships and serve their clients well.
I am optimistic about the next few years, even though the real estate market will see less search for property.
Lisbon was recently named the number one choice for property investment in Europe.
What is it about Lisbon that makes it so appealing?
I’m born and raised in Lisbon, which is why for me, Lisbon is a very special city for a number of reasons. One of them is, without a doubt, how safe it is: in Portugal we have a quite a high feeling of safety due to the low crime rate, especially compared to other European capitals.
I don’t think this has only to do with the law, but it also has to do with Portuguese culture. The Portuguese are very peaceful, friendly, diplomatic and we avoid conflict; we try to integrate anyone and everyone from all over the world.
The weather is also spectacular. It adds to the sense of wellbeing and, in some ways, to the sense of joy that people have. Another reason I can’t ignore is the food. Sitting around the table, eating and socialising outside in the fresh air is a kind of social tradition, which goes really well with the very affordable cost of living.
I think the traditions, the history, the feeling of safety, the weather and the food are all the ingredients in Lisbon’s recipe for success.
How will the real estate sector have to adapt to Proptech?
Technology only exists to serve us. Estate agents will have to be really alert to all innovation, to any tools that can help us to better serve the market, serve our clients and be more prepared. In some ways – and this is one of the strengths that Casafari has – technology exists to clean data, compile it and organise it in a way for estate agents to be able to best serve the buyer or the seller.
We always have to be alert because every single day there is a new device or a new virtual reality tool. New technologies are always emerging to bring us closer to the client.
CASAFARI’s technology has the ability to grant us this kind of information without replacing human contact – the emotional touch. It will never be able to give the kind of support that a family or an investor needs when they are about to make a big decision. But, without a doubt, it plays a part in the present and will play a part in the future.
What has your experience with CASAFARI been like so far?
When I first found about CASAFARI, it was at a time when I had been looking to develop something just like it for two years. I had thought that the problem was me, looking for things that didn’t exist or that weren’t realistic; I had been hitting a lot of roadblocks, both legally and technologically speaking. So, when I saw this tool for the first time, I must have been the easiest client ever, because it was exactly what I’d been looking for.
We implemented it across the whole of RE/MAX Latina and we want to use it even more. CASAFARI is vastly improving the quality of service and information.
As an estate agent, the information available on the real estate market is very often shameful, due to the amount of duplicate listings. One of CASAFARI’s strengths is that it helps estate agents to be constantly up-to-date with information that is correct, simplified and easy to access.
When we are sourcing property, it means being able to give the seller all of the information available on the market and help them to make the right decision. For buyers too, CASAFARI helps us to find them the best choices on the real estate market and make sure they don’t make the mistakes that buyers can often make when they haven’t been well-advised in the process.
How do you and RE/MAX Latina as a whole use CASAFARI in your day-to-day work?
One of CASAFARI’s strengths is how it enables agents to be constantly updated with accurate, simplified and easily-accessible information. At the same time, when it comes to sourcing property CASAFARI allows us to provide our clients with all of the data available on the market, helping them to put the property on the real estate market at the best price.
For buyers too, CASAFARI helps them to find the best property at the best possible price; thanks to this, buyers are well-advised throughout this important process and can make good and informed decisions.
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