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Sometimes global opportunity lies where people least realize—not in large, urban markets known for being magnets to multinational organizations and immigrant communities—but in small metro and rural regions.

It might not be immediately apparent, but numerous international opportunities may exist in your own market. Taking a closer look at your state and region could reveal a treasure trove of global business. Knowing the right places to dig is the key.

Step 1. Know who lives and works in your market
The first step is learning about the international composition of your local population. NAR’s State-by-State International Business Reports, titled Business Data for Engaging in International Real Estate Transactions, is a good place to get a quick snapshot at the state level.

Step 2. Identify foreign-owned employers in your area
Next, drill further into research to find foreign companies with facilities in the area. For example in Alabama, the Alabama Development Office (ADO) website is a terrific source of information on domestic and foreign companies located within the state, and even offers maps that sort foreign-held manufacturing plants by country of origin. Now a real estate agent just has to contact the Human Resources departments within these companies to begin the process of establishing a presence with foreign expats moving to the area.

Step 3. Learn more about targeted companies
Familiarize yourself with the business and the backstory of the companies targeted in your market. Many of the larger corporations will have websites for specific locations.

Corporate site selection magazines and journals are an excellent source of background information and newly announced investment. What investments are taking place in your area that will result in new jobs and new residents looking for a home?

In many cultures, relationships must be established over a period of time before business will be conducted. Rather than just “asking for the order,” it may be appropriate to provide information, insight, and assistance in helping a company or its employees become more familiar with a specific community. This could include an overview of the community, insight on solving problems that newly-transferred personnel may face, and suggestions for addressing questions about the area.

Step 4. Establish relationships with foreign investment officials
Economic development agencies are the leading edge of foreign direct investment. Building relationships with specific gatekeepers in the agencies may help you stay abreast of what’s new in your market, and potentially open up early contacts with new arrivals.

Because there are many levels of organizations promoting foreign direct investment, it’s a good idea to build as many contacts as possible with those active in your market. These include state, regional and local development organizations, industry groups in the private sector as well as Chambers of Commerce.

Step 5. Know your market data inside and out
Foreign investors and relocating executives will want to know why the local area represents a good investment opportunity for their money. NAR research provides strong current and historical data on your market, its economic outlook and how it compares to the larger economy.

Step 6. Leverage your knowledge and skills
In the global economy, U.S. real estate is still a great investment that attracts buyers beyond relocating employees. Research skills developed in searching for foreign direct investment can also be used to uncover opportunities in these other markets. NAR provides substantial research on overall market trends, and your local association may be able to supplement your information with local data and insights.

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