Carlos Celdran rose to popularity because of the unique brand that he brings on his tours called “Walk This Way.” His tours around the old walled city of Manila, Intramuros has enthralled not only Filipinos, but foreign audiences as well.

During the tour with the ZipMatch team, I realized that no one can really copy or top off how Celdran conducts his tours. How we wish that real estate professionals, especially the bad ones, show the same passion Celdran has for Manila. At the end of the tour, our group was completely sold.

Here are five traits that made Celdran an awesome “real estate agent” of historical Manila:

1. Dress to impress.

People naturally make snap judgements about people from their clothes. But I, and probably the rest of the group, have good things to say about the costumes Celdran used throughout the tour. His costumes were among the major factors why his tours have an effect on people, including foreign-born Filipinos who are looking to get schooled about the old Philippines (we had several from our group alone).

In reality, however, real estate agents cannot afford to do quick changes as often as they can because they are always on the go. But a university study concluded that there is a great benefit for dressing according to your market: people who make the effort to dress up for a role are better at it than their counterparts. On the other extreme, real estate professionals who wear clothes, accessories, or even makeup that are too distracting (ex. skyscraper heels, facial piercings, micro skirt) are easily dismissed by customers.

A good tip is to wear statement pieces that pop in solid colors (ex. tailored blazer, scarf) that could be worn on or off at a moment’s notice on a conservative outfit (shift dress, dress shirt and slacks or well-cut pants for men). The change may require minimal effort, but will have a great impact on prospective homebuyers.

carlos celdran
Quick change: Carlos wore chinos, brown slacks, sandals and a top hat for his tour introduction.
american carlos
He later swapped them for a mint-green polo, bow-tie, and a bowler hat for his American Occupation segment.

2. Be more knowledgeable about the neighborhood than the average real estate professional.

Anyone who has attended experienced “Walk This Way” will tell you that Celdran is the go-to person for anything about Old Manila, including its secrets. Who knew that the logo of your favorite beer looks the same as the logo of Ciudad de Manila? Celdran does. Who knew that the survivors of the Battle of Manila at the San Agustin Church lived to tell the tale because of the Red Cross? Celdran does. Who knew that the iconic “I Shall Return” photo of General Douglas McArthur and his posse took over the course of THREE days? Celdran does. Secret after historical secret, we were such a captive audience to Celdran that I don’t doubt why several of us trekked to the La Monja Loca retail shop near Barbara’s for some souvenirs.

Real estate agents can pick a page from the renowned tour guide’s handbook when showcasing properties to homebuyers. Although it is appreciated that the cuts of the bedrooms are bigger than usual, or that the kitchen has a nice backsplash, homebuyers would rather get information about the development plans of the area surrounding the property, or the type of community they will belong to. Property features can easily be accessible via online real estate marketplaces, but information about zonal and market values of your property, or future developments (ex. schools, condominium buildings, railway stations) are hard to find. Homebuyers are naturally inclined to buy properties from neighborhood experts rather than clueless representatives.

3. Don’t forget to listen.

mcarthur 2
Carlos in character as General McArthur, complete with a Southern American twang at a former bomb shelter.

Celdran, in real life, is an artist by heart. As such, it was natural for him to conduct “Walk This Way” tours alone. Alternating through narratives and acts as he guides patrons throughout Intramuros, the guy never loses energy. At certain times in the tour, he actually oozes of it (you can ask one of my colleagues who got shouted at – in the name of reenacting a historical scene). However, Celdran was quick to apologize, and he asked,“Too much?” with a sheepish grin, before resuming the act in a more toned-down manner.

A major observation among real estate agents in open houses, or even in flyering, is that they talk too much. In order for the communication to happen between prospective homebuyers, you need to do more of the listening as opposed to talking. This way, you will be able to “read” your client and adapt to their needs.

4. Two-sided communication should continue, even during breaks.

Although the tour takes only three hours, for a one-man show, it’s pretty tiring. But Celdran did not hesitate to talk and bond with some of his foreign and local patrons between breaks. What looks like small talk between two parties is actually an opportunity for Celdran to determine who his audience is, and whether he can make certain tweaks in his narratives and acts so that he can make the audience (or at least the people he talked to) feel more involved.

In the real estate profession, there is no such thing as a time-out. Providing customer service to homebuyers involves constant, two-sided communication. Homebuyers need an agent who can let them know immediately where they stand about their purchasing power.

One particular guest was curious about Carlos’ “little organic houses” lecture…
…and approached him during one of his tour breaks.

5. Thanking clients for their business can be as simple as a Choc-Nut or as grand as a kalesa ride.

The homebuying process can be stressful. However, real estate agents have the power to reduce the stress by anticipating the needs of clients and making sure that the latter gets supported, well after the condo or the house and lot has been turned over. As such, the core of the real estate business are long-term relationships. This is because homebuyers prefer to transact with agents who are subok na, meaning those who have been referred to.

Gestures shouldn’t be personal, memorable and with a local touch. There were gestures Celdran and his assistants did during the tour that were truly memorable. Carlos passed around some of known Pinoy candy favorites from yesteryears (Orange swits, Choc-Nut). When part of our tour required walking to San Agustin Church, there were a large throng of kalesas and pedicabs waiting for us. Our ride towards the church was an experience itself, as our driver began pointing to historical sites and sharing complementary facts in perfect English.

A front view of our kalesa driver and aspiring tour guide Manong Jerry.

The tour ended with the group enjoying the all-time summer cool-down favorite, halo-halo, which were served in single-serving Mason jars, as Celdran capped the tour.

Want to go on an open house now? You can take a virtual tour of a condominium at 53 Benitez here.

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