By Maria Patterson
Increasing numbers of international buyers are interested in U.S. property. With a global website and a worldwide network of nearly 90,000 associates in more than 80 countries, RE/MAX is serving them.
Kris Anderson has always known her business has no limits—in terms of success or geographic boundaries.
That thought is supported by the growing number of Canadians who’ve descended on her Scottsdale, Ariz., real estate market in recent years to invest in rental properties and second homes. Drawn to the state’s warm climate, low home prices and ample golf courses, Canadians have been the predominant buyers of Anderson’s high-end listings, accounting for more than half of her total closed sales.
A few years ago, Anderson got an idea: Why wait for Canadians to come to her? Why not attend events in Canada to meet agents there, so she could market her properties directly? Her instincts were right on, and she created a whole new stream of revenue and clients from her cross-border efforts.
“RE/MAX is the No. 1 real estate brand in Canada, so it made perfect sense to tap into that wealth of trust and expertise,” says Anderson, a RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Award recipient with RE/MAX Excalibur Realty in Scottsdale. “I’ve never been more grateful for our brand presence; it drives more leads to me through the connections I’ve made with agents in Canada. Canadians are actually keeping my market afloat because they have cash to purchase properties and they beat out many U.S. buyers with financing.”
Christopher Invidiata with RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty in Oakville, Ontario, was one of the agents Anderson connected with early on. Invidiata has been a perennial RE/MAX top producer in Canada for years. He says he owes part of his success to the global referrals he exchanges with RE/MAX agents in dozens of countries. Ten percent of his team’s transactions involve international clients.
“Being with RE/MAX gives my team the opportunity to make friends and build relationships all over the world,” Invidiata says. “You simply can’t put a price tag on that kind of value. The brand has earned a reputation for entrepreneurial excellence and global market reach, and this is a huge benefit to our clients.”
At RE/MAX, agents like Anderson and Invidiata are spurred by an atmosphere of productivity and innovation. In the offices included in RISMedia’s 2012 Power Broker Report, RE/MAX agents averaged 15.1 transaction sides—by far the highest number among the national franchises.
Being surrounded by productive people is just one key to successfully capturing international business. Another is having access to resources and tools that help agents market their services and expertise to international buyers.
RE/MAX agents enjoy a major competitive advantage via the network’s global presence in more than 85 countries. Two related elements add to that edge: the global.remax.com property search site and an internationally branded advertising campaign.
Since its launch last November, global.remax.com has garnered more than 29 million page views and more than 1.3 million unique visits. Searches are originating in four key countries: the U.S., China, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The site, which includes more than 650,000 RE/MAX listings in dozens of countries, reflects the diversity of the RE/MAX network; it’s viewable in 32 languages and 38 different currencies.
Global.remax.com has changed the game in international property search, and it’s one more reason consumers look to RE/MAX agents, says RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly.
“No other real estate brand can touch the scope of global.remax.com,” Kelly says. “RE/MAX sells more real estate than anyone in the world because we continually innovate and find ways to connect buyers and sellers with our agents. They’re among the most well-educated professionals in the business.”
Education is the Foundation
From the time Dave and Gail Liniger founded RE/MAX in 1973, the organization’s leaders have grasped the importance of education in response to shifts in market conditions.
For example, when the U.S. housing downturn unfolded in 2008, Dave Liniger was a vocal proponent for distressed property training for all real estate agents. RE/MAX agents heeded his call to action; nearly 15,000 RE/MAX Associates have earned the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) designation since 2008, far more than any other brand.
RE/MAX also leads the industry in other prime designations: Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR), Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS), Certified New Home Specialist (CNHS), Certified Relocation Professional (CRP), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Five Star Professional (FSP) and the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES).
The RE/MAX emphasis on professional excellence has helped the network’s global expansion efforts.
The Linigers’ vision of creating an atmosphere for productive, fiercely driven entrepreneurs resonates in emerging markets in Asia and South America, where RE/MAX has seen strong growth in recent years.
Overall, since 2009, RE/MAX has expanded its reach to more than 20 countries around the world—and the network is eyeing opportunities in even more locations.
Communicating to a Global Audience
Another key advantage RE/MAX agents enjoy is a global advertising campaign, “For all the things that move you.” Created initially in the U.S., the campaign speaks to the emotional connection consumers around the world have to the home-buying or -selling process.
TV, print, online, radio and outdoor ads have been wildly successful in the U.S. and have been adapted to other markets. New RE/MAX Web banners are available in eight languages—English, French, Spanish, Hindi, German, Italian, Chinese and Portuguese—to all RE/MAX Associates worldwide for use in their markets. The campaign ties back to the notion that for all the things that move them, consumers can turn to their RE/MAX agent for help.
“Having a consistent global message that unites all RE/MAX agents no matter where they are helps consumers recognize and trust the brand,” Kelly says. “We want consumers to know that RE/MAX agents are the best in the business, and this campaign also reminds them that we truly care. It gets back to the core of real estate: relationships.”
Looking to the Future
Many businesses are looking to emerging markets, particularly in Asia, to introduce their brands, and RE/MAX is at the forefront with them. The network already has a presence in India, Thailand, Singapore, Micronesia, Palau and the Philippines, and efforts are going strong to attract entrepreneurs in other countries like China, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea, says Larry Oberly, RE/MAX vice president of International Development.
“Nowhere is the entrepreneurial spirit more alive than in Asia,” Oberly says. “People who are drawn to RE/MAX believe in the network’s motto, ‘In business for yourself, not by yourself,’ and this is certainly true of the Asian entrepreneurs who recognize the competitive advantages of aligning themselves with the RE/MAX brand.”
In the U.S., low prices and relative weakness of the dollar are enticing international buyers—both non-residents and recent immigrants—to purchase properties as investments and permanent homes.
“International buyers view the U.S. and Canada as safe places to invest their money, particularly in the real estate market,” Oberly says. “Having such a strong global presence puts RE/MAX ahead of the game to capture this growing segment of new business.”
In fact, total residential international sales in the U.S. for the past year ending March 2012 equaled $82.5 billion, up from $66.4 billion in 2011, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2012 Profile of International Home Buying Activity. The report also found that 27 percent of REALTORS® have worked with international clients in the past year.
“There has never been a better time to be part of a powerful global network like RE/MAX,” Kelly says. “The international buying trend shows no signs of slowing, and international buyers from Europe, South America, Asia and elsewhere see the value in North American real estate. It’s up to all agents to seize global opportunities now and get in front of these new clients.”
For more information, visit www.remax.com.