Today’s “Ask the Expert” column features Cindy Fauth, Global Marketing Manager with the National Association of REALTORS®.
Q: When it comes to working with international clients, what are some of the most common myths that need to be set straight?
A: International business can seem like a daunting venture. Language, culture and differing business practices are potential complications that can make even a seasoned real estate professional hand a foreign client to another agent. But why give that client, and any residual referral business that might come with it, to someone else? Let’s set five of the top myths straight:
1. I need to speak another language.
Au contraire! English is widely accepted as the global language of business, so chances are your international clients will have some command of the English language. And in today’s increasingly global marketplace, there are resources and tools aplenty to help you communicate in nearly any language. For tips on how to overcome language obstacles, visit the NAR Global blog at theglobalview.blogs.realtor.org, and check out the post “You Don’t Have to Speak Another Language to be a Global Agent.”
2. I need to be a world traveler.
Stamps on a passport don’t automatically translate to international success. In fact, some of the most prosperous global professionals aren’t able to travel abroad more than once every year or two. So what do the jet-setters have in common with successful stateside agents? An Internet connection. Creating an online presence that provides unique, relevant and up-to-date information; accessibility via email, phone and video conferencing; and differentiating yourself with content and proven experience are key factors in attracting and keeping international clients. Past issues of Global Perspectives (available at realtor.org/global) provide practical tips for creating and executing an online marketing strategy through websites, blogs and social media.
3. International transactions are complicated and time-consuming; it’s not worth it.
No doubt, international transactions pose some unique challenges when compared to domestic transactions. But, in terms of whether it’s “worth it,” the numbers speak for themselves:
- Last year, foreign buyers spent $149,000 more (mean purchase price) on homes in the U.S. than domestic (U.S.) buyers.
- 60 percent of foreign buyers paid in all cash, versus about a third of domestic (U.S.) buyers.
- 59 percent of international clients were from referrals.
- For tips on overcoming common obstacles in international transactions (such as financing, immigration, tax and currency issues), view the recent blog posts, “7 Tips for Managing International Transactions” and “Overcome Global Barriers,” on The Global View.
4. International business doesn’t exist where I live.
Foreign buyers are purchasing in markets of all sizes, in all 50 U.S. states. NAR’s Local Market Assessment Case Studies (available at realtor.org/global/local-market-assessment-case-studies) profile U.S. states where global business is “unlikely,” and provide step-by-step instructions to help you find it where you live.
5. I don’t have an international network.
Past blogs from The Global View, such as “Build Your Global Team,” provide tips on finding international professionals in related fields, such as immigration attorneys, tax specialists and financing/lenders. As you establish this network and refer business to these contacts, they will refer business to you. Agent-to-agent networking is also a worthwhile venture. The Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation provides a strong educational foundation, and immediately connects you with an elite network of about 2,500 real estate professionals around the world who turn to each other first when referring international business.
Find out more about the CIPS designation at realtor.org/global.