By Carine Chan
Fifty-two-year-old A Mei wakes up at seven every day. After preparing breakfast for the whole family, she takes a sign and goes to the busiest street corner in Liede village. As usual, she sits down and talks with a group who are roughly the same age.
She is an intermediary agent and also a villager in Liede. People sitting around A Mei have the same job.
The village finished reconstruction in 2010. Currently, there are 37 replacement buildings, but two-thirds of them are rented out. The process of renting apartments is complicated, so some villagers take the opportunity to help people find apartments for a fee of 30 to 50 percent of the monthly cost.
Villagers like to entrust their apartments to these women. Thus, they own a large amount of housing resources–even more than the legal rental agency.
At present, the occupation of an intermediary agent is in a gray zone because the government has never acknowledged this occupation’s legitimacy.
Ying Jie’s family owns 10 apartments in Liede Village. Currently, she has five apartments for rent and entrusts them to the intermediary agent.
“I have been acquainted with them for decades. It’s hard for them to cheat on me,” Ying said when talking about the reason why she chose the intermediary agent instead of regular agencies.
These women always have the busy schedule. They need to bring six to eight clients to see apartments every day. Nowadays, apartments in Liede Village are much sought-after.
According to Xiao Xu, a home agent, when replacement buildings were just opened, the prices in this village were about￥3,000 in 2011. With the development of surrounding facilities, the rental prices increased by 200 to 300 percent. Nowadays, an apartment with one bedroom is about ￥4,600 per month. And an apartment with three or four bedrooms is more than ￥7,000 per month and even up to ￥13,500.
However, compared with real estate nearby, rentals in Liede Village are still much lower. For example, New World Triumph is only 200 meters away from Liede Village. An apartment with three bedrooms is ￥21,000 per month. The rental is three times higher than Liede’s apartments. Therefore, apartments in Liede Village have a significant advantage in price.
The reason that intermediary agents are popular in Liede is that they can always close the deal as soon as possible. As for renters, they can rent out their apartments in two or three days when entrusting apartments to these women. As for tenants, they are supposed to decide whether they want to rent the apartment on the spot. People regard them as “once-for-all” deals.
“We don’t even move. Tenants come to find us,” A Mei said.
Xiao, the house agent, mentioned that they couldn’t promise to every client that they can help them to find best fit, but people can always find one from these women.
According to Rent Report in 2016, published by 58.com, 36.8 percent of tenants in Guangzhou are between 18 to 25 years old, making this group the largest number of renters. In May, June, and July, young people graduate from school, so the current rentals are up 10 percent.
Therefore, it’s the busiest time of the year. During a brief conversation with this reporter, A Mei received a least three phone calls from people who are asking about rentals.
“I used to be a farmer and what I can do are growing vegetables and bargaining with consumers. But now I not only earn money for my family but also for villagers. It’s beneficial for Liede Village, so why not do it?” A Mei said.
These women travel back home at 6 p.m. one after another and prepared dinner for the family as other ordinary housewives after a long day in the rental business.