With annual sales of more than $82 billion, international buyers who are interested in purchasing properties in the U.S. provide a tremendous opportunity for brokers and agents looking to expand their business this year. And with the recent addition of more than 1 million international listings on REALTOR.com® and advanced training and education opportunities, there’s never been a better time for agents to consider going global.
Those who specialize in buyer representation may assume that they need to be fluent in other languages or receive extensive training before they can attract global clients. And while language skills and advanced education in international areas are certainly beneficial, agents can start building a global practice in their local area with just a few key steps.
Be a trusted advisor. Many global buyers are unfamiliar with how real estate is transacted in this country and genuinely need trustworthy assistance. In this sense, they are not unlike first-time buyers, who benefit from education on the key steps in finding and buying a home, and the role of different parties in a real estate transaction.
Do your homework. Finding new pockets of global business takes some digging. Study the businesses in your area, especially ethnic restaurants and food stores. Attend ethnic festivals or other community events. Ask your local chamber of commerce or REALTOR® association for insights on foreign-based businesses or immigrant groups. You can also learn a lot through online research.
Remain sensitive to cultural differences. Once you’ve identified which cultural groups are of greatest interest to you, learn more about how business is conducted in these cultures. For example, many people from other countries consider it rude to speak on a first-name basis during the early stages of a business relationship.
In addition to learning about cultural mores, it’s helpful to understand how real estate transactions are conducted in your clients’ country of origin—and how their practices differ from ours.
Explaining these differences will go a long way toward preventing potential snags based on misunderstandings and assumptions.
Be genuine and committed. Global buyers are willing to work with people outside their immediate community as long as they sense you are genuinely helpful and interested in working with them. Above all, be sincere, open and sensitive to their needs and you will earn their trust, their respect and their business.
To learn more about international educational opportunities as well as other topics related to buyer representation, visit Training4RE.com.
Marc Gould is the executive director of The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC).
For more information, visit www.REBAC.net.