Today’s “Ask the Expert” column features Cindy Fauth, the Global Marketing Manager with National Association of REALTORS®.
Q: The world of international real estate is huge. How do I find my niche?
A: As a broad topic, venturing into international real estate can seem overwhelming, which makes capitalizing on what you know about yourself and your market area even more critical. To begin, ask yourself a few questions. What sets you apart from other agents? What expertise do you lend to your clients that your competition can’t provide? What type of client, location, or culture do you offer unparalleled knowledge and understanding of?
Most successful real estate practitioners will have very clear and specific answers to these questions. With multiple (sometimes thousands) of agents residing in and serving the same community, agents are forced to find ways to differentiate themselves from their competition.
Creating a business plan and marketing strategy is a critical first step to success. It might seem that you’re narrowing the range of prospective business, but when implemented correctly, niche marketing can save you money.
One of the most important considerations is knowing what global opportunities already exist in your local market. What’s drawing international buyers into and out of your community? Do multi-national corporations play a significant role, bringing foreign workers and/or executives to your market? Are colleges and universities attracting international students? What about high net-worth investors in luxury homes? Or, do you see growing interest among your aging population in retiring overseas? Each of these segments, and many others, can form the basis for a specialized real estate practice with global connections.
International activity might not be immediately apparent in your market, but a quick Google search can tell a different story. Searching “International companies Charlotte, N.C.,” for example, shows that nearly 1,000 foreign-owned firms are based in Charlotte. You can also determine the number of workers employed by international companies and the city’s marketing initiatives to continue attracting foreign business. Make connections with the HR departments of these companies, or with your local Chamber of Commerce, to be the first call they make when a new employee (or employer) comes to town.
You should also consider your own knowledge and areas of interest, as well as making sure the numbers add up to a viable strategy. Are you well-versed in the EB-5 visa process? Is your market ready for EB-5 type investors, or do you prefer (and is your market better equipped) to help members of a growing immigrant community in your area?
Before diving into a niche, it’s also a good idea to scope out the competitive landscape.
NAR’s Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) coursework, particularly the prerequisite Global Real Estate: Local Markets course, offers additional insight on identifying global opportunities in your area.
For more information, visit www.realtor.org/global.