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With the number of global real estate transactions growing steadily, the international market represents a huge opportunity for REALTORS®. In fact, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) research shows that over a 12-month period ending March 2011, $82 billion in U.S. real estate was purchased by international buyers.

That’s up from $66 billion over the previous year. In other words, a 24 percent increase. Today, almost one third of all REALTORS® report doing business with an international client. In related news, NAR and its official listing website REALTOR.com®, recently announced the launch REALTOR.com® International in November 2011.

In an effort to help REALTORS® take advantage of this growing market, REALTOR.com® strengthened its presence in international markets to offer increased exposure of U.S. real estate listings to potential buyers across the globe. And, to support the needs of international buyers, REALTOR.com® International offers a suite of services including language translation, currency and unit conversion, listings from international data providers, and more.

“We’ve seen international traffic grow by almost 50 percent in the last two years,” says REALTOR.com® President Errol Samuelson. “The market is big, and we believe REALTOR.com® International can facilitate even more transactions—that’s a great benefit for brokers and their agents. It gets U.S. properties in front of an international audience in a way that is meaningful to them.”

Global exposure
According to REALTOR.com®, REALTOR.com® International will help you and your agents globalize immediately by increasing the exposure of your listings. All for-sale and single family rental listings on REALTOR.com® are automatically displayed on the REALTOR.com® International site at no additional charge. As of December 1, 2011, there were approximately 4 million domestic and international for-sale and rental listings already on the site. Buyers from all over the world can view properties in their preferred language, currency, and unit of measurement, making it easier for them to browse properties no matter where they reside.

“These features really increase the richness of the experience for the foreign buyer,” says Janet Branton, NAR senior vice president, Global Business & Alliances. “Now prospective buyers and investors can view properties in ways that will help them connect with our members that was not possible before we offered REALTORS® these global tools.”

Not just for foreign buyers
REALTOR.com® International also helps facilitate sales to buyers inside the U.S., company officials stated. In fact, total international sales are evenly split between non-resident foreigners and recent immigrants. “A huge number of home buyers within the U.S. don’t speak English as a first language,” says Branton. “By allowing these buyers to search listings in their natural language, REALTOR.com® International helps our members do business with more buyers within the boundaries of the U.S. too.”

Customizable search
Consumers can search listings from around the world in 11 languages including Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The site supports real-time currency conversion for 20 different currencies and also lets the consumer chose whether they want to view measurement in Metric or Imperial Area Units. The site remembers guest preferences of search country, currency, language and dimensions.

To start a search, visitors can click on a continent to reveal a list of countries where REALTOR.com® International has gone live. Searches can be done by city name or map search. Predictive text will offer suggestions as the visitor begins typing, making it easier to find locations when the exact spelling isn’t known. A drill-down mapping feature allows users who may not be geographically familiar with an area to pan around and zoom in on a location of interest.

The attention to detail that went into designing the site is impressive. Everything is translated right down to the legal disclaimers at the bottom of each page. Searches are context sensitive. In the United States for example, buyers can search by number of bathrooms and bedrooms. However in many countries, total number of rooms is the key search criteria, so that is what is shown.

Increased referrals
Listings outside the U.S. are also available on REALTOR.com®, providing even more opportunities for global business. Now millions of Americans will be able to buy abroad by viewing property listings from international data providers in the familiar REALTOR.com® format. Listings are currently available from 11 different countries, including Brazil, France, Italy, Spain and Romania, and contracts have been signed with an additional 14 content providers, so much more inventory from around the world will be available in the coming months.

“In the past, brokers had few tools to help clients interested in buying properties outside the U.S.,” says Branton. “This is a great tool for referrals.”

For more information, visit www.REALTOR.org/International.

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