Last month I went for a five-day trip in Taipei.
After a 4½-hour flight, I was overwhelmed with fatigue and boredom. A lovely lady working in the Subway kiosk at the airport smiled at me a few meters away, using her coquettish voice to draw me to her eatery to order a sandwich meal. One by one, a few guys queued up behind me, probably all being put under the same spell.
That reminds me of the simple spell used by my three-year-old girl. She just needs to look at you with her innocent big eyes on that angelic face, then utters the word “please” helplessly with her cute little voice. In seconds, you are softened and surrendered to her request.
Charmed by a gentle voice
Similar to what you see in Taiwanese variety shows, Taiwan ladies tend to manifest their feminine qualities in front of guys, prospects or customers. The sincere look of concern, coupled with a flirtatious tone, can naturally grab the attention and admiration of the opposite sex (think Lin Chi-ling).
There are four phrases that local girls like to use:
- 好可爱哦! (It’s so cute!)
- 真的假的? (True or not?)
- 搞什么? (What’s going on?)
- 不好意思哦! (I’m so sorry.)
The affable voice of Taiwan girls, especially those working in the service and entertainment industry, was a big contrast to the gung-ho atmosphere of the election in the country.
For the next few days, whenever I walked into a shop or an eatery, I would be greeted by the gentle voice of a polite saleslady or a waitress. They wouldn’t follow you closely or hurry to tidy the shelves after you. Instead, they appeared just in time when you needed them. 好可爱哦!
“How are you? Is there anything I can help?”
“These are our specialties/new arrivals/bestsellers. Do you want to try?”
“These items are on sale now and there are more discounts if…”
“Take your time to look around.”
They smiled at me and said goodbye courteously even though I didn’t buy anything. They made me feel that I am a valued customer. 真的假的?
Imitation is the sincerest of flattery
On my last two days in Taipei, I decided to practice the four feminine phrases at property showflats and franchise shops.
Taiwan has the lowest transaction volume for residential home sales this year since SARS in 2003. With the next presidential election coming up in 2016, there are too many uncertainties. No one has the mood to look at properties. As a property expert laments, even when the buyer is happy with the area, the property and the price, after viewing the same unit over 10 times, he just can’t make the decision to buy! 搞什么?
New projects under construction had their sales gallery built in a multi-storey block, with a sparkling outlook and a grand entrance. Foreigners like me would easily mistake it as a luxurious service apartment or a 5-star hotel. Wow, 好可爱哦!
With remarkable hospitality of the Taiwanese, the gentle and polite salesladies would serve you drinks and local delicacies. Unlike in Singapore where developers show a ‘for-display only’ showflat or sometimes just the finishings, everything including the lobby, the elevators and the function rooms were all built. 好可爱哦!
The two biggest property agencies in Taiwan are Sin Yi (信义) and Yung Ching (永庆) which have franchise shops all over the country. The former passed me a company magazine which shared generously with buyers all the tips and traps of buying a home. The latter gave me two booklets on buying and selling properties in Taiwan, with details on government grant, buying/selling criteria, loan application, legal process, property handover, etc.
One property agent shared with me restrictions of foreigners buying properties and applying loans in Taiwan. Another agent told me that it’s still worth buying if sellers offer 15 percent discount or the property can generate a 4 percent return. Afterall, property prices will still go up in the long term. 真的假的?
If property prices have been climbing for the last ten years and have reached a historical high, given that Taiwan is a developed country, will the market slowdown continues for the next ten years? I don’t want my hard-earned money get stuck in a foreign country. I’d better think twice like any local buyer or investor. 不好意思哦!
Slight modifications for local use
Since coming back from Taipei, I have been practicing the four useful expressions inspired by Taiwan girls, much to the amusement of everyone.
To increase their usability at Singapore property new launches, I decided to modify the four phrases to adapt to the local context.
1. When admiring showflats in sales galleries
Original version: 好可爱哦! (It’s so cute!)
Local version: Wow! Nice!
2. When skeptical of what agents say
Original version:真的假的? (True or not?)
Local version: Are you kidding?
3. When decided to give it a miss
Original version: 不好意思哦! (I’m so sorry.)
Local version: Sorry, not for me!
4. After being cheated by a developer/agent/buyer/seller
Original version: 搞什么? (What’s going on?)
Local version: What the xxxx?
This article was first published at propertysoul.com