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Today’s “Ask the Expert” column features Cindy Fauth, the Global Marketing Manager with the National Association of REALTORS®.

Q: What is one thing I can do to increase my global business in 2014?

A: Go back to college! Not literally (although we do promote continued education for real estate). But talk to some nearby schools—high schools, community colleges, universities—many of which are working hard to attract international students. And so should you!

Universities and colleges in the United States and around the world are actively working to grow their international enrollment for the prestige, intellectual capital, and revenue they bring. International enrollment is up, both at the prep and college level.

Parents of young students are beginning their international experience in high school to prepare them—academically and socially—for college in a foreign country. Immersing themselves into the culture so early is an investment in a long-term stay in the United States. At Walnut Hill School for the Arts, an independent boarding school for the arts located in Natick, Mass., 30 percent of the student body is international students. While the majority of the students board at the school, about 20 percent are day students from nearby cities and towns. The Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, Minn., and St. Croix Lutheran in West St. Paul, Minn., both attract international students. St. Croix Lutheran currently boasts representation from 10 different countries.

Foreign students (and their parents) often invest in more than tuition. Property is usually on their radar as well. In countries where homeownership is either difficult or a poor investment, parents who have the means will look abroad for a better education for their children, and a property to live in while they attend school. This property then doubles as an investment and a safe, secure home for their family. And I can assure you, these students and parents are in touch with friends and family back home that may also be looking for a place to relocate. International contacts make great referral sources!

From assisting the university recruiters to making friends in the administration offices and helping newly-arriving students, there are many things you can do to bring this business home. A recent issue of Global Perspectives (available at www.realtor.org/global) helps you identify which countries the international students are hailing from and where they are moving; and also offers seven ways to cultivate more business from them.

Now is the time to build these relationships. Foreign students are already well into their investigation process for attending school in the fall, and are more than likely already searching for homes nearby. Begin the conversations now and you could have a busy summer.

For more information, visit www.realtor.org/global.

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