Alexander de Goederen, 35, a native of Holland, came to India with his wife in January 2008 to work with a global property advisory company. After 10 months, however, he started his own real state company, Bricks India. It provides a host of services, including leasing of properties such as shops, offices, houses in south and central Delhi, and Gurgaon.
Goederen is quite a hands-on real estate agent. “I do everything from picking up the client from the hotel, showing them the properties, arranging meeting with landlords and overseeing the paperwork,” says Goederen, who possesses a good low down on the city’s property market.
His dozen employees, all Indians, are assigned with the task of trawling the city on motorcycles everyday to look for properties available for leasing — the mainstay of his business. “Unlike in Europe, where all information about properties available for sale and leasing is available online, here one has to go and gather all the necessary information in person. In most cases the information available online is incorrect,” says Goederen.
So, is it a liability or an asset being a foreigner in this business? “Certainly an asset, as landlords believe that a foreigner would not engage in any hanky-panky,” says Goederen, adding, “But it’s not easy negotiating with landlords. Some suddenly change the agreed terms of the deal, especially the price. The problem is, unlike in Europe, where an agent only represents either a seller or a buyer, here the same agent is representing both,” says Goederen, who lives in Golf Links with his wife and two children.
When the couple came to Delhi four years back, they first lived in what they call a ‘cheap’ guest house in Nehru Place, and then shifted to a two bedroom house in Geetanjali Enclave. “Unlike most expats, I came to work in India on an Indian salary, and had to do everything myself, including finding accommodation,” says Goederen.
In 2009, his wife Lalita de Goederen launched Bagel’s Café in Gurgaon. “When I came to Delhi I realised that there were no good bakeries making bagels, so I decided to open one,” she says. It turned out to be a successful move. Today, Lalita has four outlets of Bagel’s Café — two in south Delhi and two in Gurgaon.