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two shotTOP 5 IN REAL ESTATE, November 2009—Carla Rayman and Patricia Tan
Prudential Palms Realty
Years in real estate: Carla since 1998, Patricia since 1989
Region Served: Southwest Florida
Average sales price in your market: It has changed monthly but the median sales price this month is $175,000.
Average number of days a home spends on the market: 111

Why is an international approach to real estate important in today’s market?
Patricia: The whole world is becoming smaller. Consumers are looking beyond their traditional real estate boundaries and have two principle reasons for buying internationally today: first, is that they are making new lifestyle choices; second, they are re-thinking their real estate investment portfolios. Anyone who carries real estate wants to diversify their investments across a number of countries.

What are the unique challenges in dealing with foreign clients and how do you address them?
Patricia: Language is the obvious challenge. Then there are cultural differences in terms of how you behave with foreign clients and do business with them. To address these differences, we do our research. We go to classes and get the right education.
Carla: We also find it important to take ourselves out of our own element by traveling. That way we see first-hand how others live and deal with each other.

What types of information and skills are critical to servicing this market?
Carla: You have to understand the client’s objective. Are they looking at immigrating? For investors, what are their objectives and exit strategy and what are the tax implications, if any? We find that about 50% of our international clients are buying real estate here for investment purposes. The other 50% is making a lifestyle purchase.

How do you gain a competitive edge in this particular niche?
Carla: There is not much competition in this niche for us. We often travel to other countries and educate and hold seminars, things of that nature. We travel to France, the UK and Canada giving lectures and holding seminars on Florida real estate. We have also been to China, Malaysia and Singapore educating and promoting our real estate market. And in the years when Latin America was hot, we went there.
Carla: I will be in Mexico this year. The reason we are unique and do not have much or any competition in this area is that a lot of people are not willing to make the investment of time.
Pat: It is a long-term business plan. You have to be patient. But we both have a passion for international business. And we love doing it.

Why did you become a Member of Top 5?
Carla: The education is very important. Top 5 gives us access to trends in real estate. Really, the more information you have access to, for you as well as your clients, the better. So we see Top 5 as another tool.
Patricia: And the networking is very important to us. A lot of our international business is done with partners. So Top 5 helps us build invaluable relationships with other brokers who are like minded.

How are you/will you utilize the Top 5 program to help build your business?
Patricia: We are using all of the communication tools to communicate with our clients around the world. We are really using it on a daily basis.

What is the key to a successful life in real estate?
Carla/Pat: Tenacity, motivation, enthusiasm, integrity, focus and, of course, you have to have passion.