Introduction to Agency Options

Many expats about to relocate to Shanghai are not sure of all the options out there when it comes to choosing an agent or agency. Some are forced to rely on a Company Assigned Agent, but for those of you who get to choose here is a brief intro on the types of agencies that can help you find your Shanghai Apartment.

Global Agencies

These are the ones found all over the world and have a designated Residential Leasing Dept. with generally well-experienced agents. As a rule, they only deal with clients that have medium to high budgets. The downside to using them is they only tend to show clients developer owned properties and generally don’t like to deal with private landlords. Make sure you get them to show you privately owned properties so you can get a good overall picture.


Expatriate Agencies 
There is a broad selection of expatriate agencies that cater specifically for the needs of Shanghai expats. These range from small one man/woman agencies to large 200+ staff establishments. Experienced property agents within these agencies also vary greatly so it is worthwhile to get a recommendation of the agent rather than the agency. When dealing with expatriate agencies you can tell quite quickly what kind of agency they are from their level of service and attention to your requirements. Most of the smaller run agencies with many years experience can be better to deal with as the owner is often more “hands on” and aware of each client’s requirements. It is also worthwhile to know that there are NO sole agency agreements or multi listing properties. If you find a property you like with one agent but are concerned they are not able to get a good deal on your behalf, you can switch to another agent. Landlords and developers generally don’t care who does the deal as long as it done well.


Local Agencies
These are the ones with the shop fronts on the streets and are the least experienced. Most agents in these agencies rely heavily on sales and don’t know much about the properties on their books for lease because they get such a small return on rentals. In general, they aren’t so familiar with Shanghai expatriates standards and expectations and know little about negotiating residential leases so be careful when using them as you can end up paying a packet more than you should. Lastly, it is a good idea to get the General Manager’s mail and mobile number in case you need some help in the future because most of these agents are transient and move around a lot. If you do choose a local agent, bring a Chinese friend and be more proactive in the home search.



Be careful about signing ANY documents presented to you by any agency as they are not necessary and may lock you into an agency that you do not want to deal with but are stuck with. We have heard of schemes where the agent tells an unsuspecting client that the document in Chinese is confirmation that the inspection was done and to show her boss to show she was not out shopping.

Adrienne black top - small

Adrienne Farrelly is one of Shanghai’s most experienced expatriate Property Agents helping expats find new homes since 1994. You can reach her at  +86 13122 810 421 or Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties


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