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It’s a Small World After all: Understanding and Conquering the International Market

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By Stefan Swanepoel

RISMEDIA, July 6, 2007—Over the next five years, as the globalization of property ownership and generational mobility blend and shape the world, we are going to see a smorgasbord of foreign companies, both online and offline, become active in the U.S. real estate industry.

Many leading U.S. brokerages, especially national franchises, have not only been working with international buyers for many years, but have also aggressively expanded their reach into foreign markets. Brands such as RE/MAX, ERA, Century 21, Realty Executives, Coldwell Banker and Realty World are already shaping the real estate landscape on most continents around the globe.

Still this has strangely enough been almost exclusively a one-way street. Although many real estate brokerage companies from Europe, Australia and even South Africa have been researching the lucrative U.S. market, few have actually made the decision to enter it. This has left the U.S. companies with the ongoing advantage of expanding to foreign countries while enjoying no real international competition domestically. This will almost certainly change over the next five years.

Global expansion for American brokerages has not been easy. In many cases U.S. companies had to pay their “dues” as they worked through three to five years of learning the rules, regulations and nuances of the local markets. In some countries, the local government policies regulating real estate are not only vastly different from the U.S. but are non-existent for licensing, homeownership and education.

Meanwhile international clients are closing transactions daily in almost every market across the U.S. In the years ahead as the immigrant and minority segments become an increasingly larger part of the real estate market, most agents are going to be forced to make a much larger commitment to diversity and the understanding of the international arena.  That in itself sets forth a challenge for the average U.S. agent. While minorities and immigrants share many of the same characteristics of all buyers and sellers, they also have many characteristics that require special attention that are unique to each country and culture. Cultural diversity is a growing phenomena and the successful real estate professional of tomorrow will need a few different strategies to effectively interact with people of different ethic backgrounds and countries. 

For those interested to getting more involved in the global market, the challenge is to understand the various religious customs, cultural diversity and the language differences among the numerous multicultural clients. Some valuable and interesting sites to use to start the process are:

International Real Estate Federation – www.fiabci.com
International Consortium of Real Estate Associations – www.worldproperties.com
Translation services – www.worldlingo.com
Cultural awareness – www.getcustoms.com

Acknowledgement:

To stay on top of the changing real estate landscape and your options, get your copy of the 159-page 2007 Swanepoel TRENDS Report detailing the top 10 real estate trends. Go to www.ReTrends.com and use the promo code RIS2007 for a 10% discount and free shipping.

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