By Peter Ricci
It’s no mystery to anyone that follows the U.S. real estate market that foreign buyers are a major force. In the last year alone, international residential sales were $82.5 billion, a 24 percent increase from the year before, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors.
Clearly, foreigners with disposable funds are interested in property on U.S. soil, but how can agents directly appeal to those buyers? Here are five possibilities to consider:
- Advertising – With how streamlined the world’s economy is nowadays, there’s nothing stopping you from pursuing advertising opportunities in foreign markets. However, as this excellent summary on Global HR News explains, there are a number of factors to keep in mind when considering foreign advertisements, especially the possible language barrier and the cultural differences of the native population, the latter being something we’ve written about before.
- Dedicated Website – Unique websites for properties are becoming increasingly common in real estate, and their especially important for international buyers, who will more than likely want as much information as possible about the home. As NAR’s report found, many foreign buyers abandon a prospective home because of lacking details, so make sure those listings are filled to the brim with information!
- Tweak Your Presentations – Also, when writing out your listings data or designing brochures, postings and other publications about the property, think about tweaking certain aspects of the presentation to make it more conducive to buyers from other countries. For instance, a recent Newsday piece recommended changing square feet to square meters, to accomodate the metric system, which most foreign countries use.
- Engage! – Undeniably the most effective strategy for appealing to foreign buyers is directly engaging the international community, and through a variety of methods. Consider seeking CIPS and TRC designations, two of the more prestigious for agents interested in international real estate; consider joining FIABCI, and getting involved with the organizations local chapter and, World Congress, which features 500-900 attendees from 63 countries. And finally, consider partnering with brokerages that operate in the native countries to better coordinate marketing materials.
Whatever strategy you end up pursuing, though, never forget the basic tenets of the real estate professions.
Dawn Bajahieh, a Realtor at RE/MAX The Woodlands & Spring who has worked with many hispanic buyers in The Woodlands’ bustling marketplace, said no number of designations or fancy titles will conceal an agent’s lackluster skills.
“You can have 50 designations and still be a sucky Realtor,” she said. “It doesn’t matter, if they’re not driven for their buyers.”
And there are nuances to Texas’ real estate market, she continued, that an experienced agent will have to explain, such as the state’s escrow and title policies. So while designations and certifications are never a bad thing, make sure you know your stuff!