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Throughout history, New York City has been a player on the international stage. The “land of opportunity” beckons people from all over the world seeking everything from a fresh start to fame and fortune. For international real estate buyers, New York remains a top American city to park their investment dollars. With millions of dollars pouring into its distinctive neighborhoods and communities, the five boroughs of the Big Apple have realized a remarkable transformation. While the desirability of the city certainly has a number of advantages, the result adds another potential roadblock to an already long list of challenges to bring an international transaction to a successful conclusion: a lack of inventory.

With developers searching for opportunities and the urban streetscape continuing to evolve, finding available land to build on remains a rare sale offering in Manhattan—but finding an opportunity isn’t impossible. For us at CENTURY 21 Metropolitan, we’re able to overcome challenges like this by leveraging a comprehensive suite of tools and technologies, and using our extensive knowledge of the city’s five boroughs, to get deals like 2600 Seventh Avenue done.

For those unfamiliar with Manhattan, 2600 Seventh Avenue is 20,000 square feet of land that held an operating car wash and surface parking spanning the length of a full city block along Seventh Avenue and West 150th and 151st streets.

After winning the right to be the exclusive listing broker for the property, we had another major challenge to overcome. While the property has many advantages, like sitting directly across the street from a subway express train station and direct access to several major roads, we were tasked with finding a qualified buyer interested in a ground-up building opportunity in a city known for its construction challenges and strict development policies.

Leveraging the largest global network in the residential real estate industry, we interacted with investors looking for just such an opportunity. Not only did we find a buyer for 2600 Seventh Avenue, but we also introduced investors to other opportunities that better fit their investment portfolios.

Working with an international client on 2600 Seventh Avenue presented us with other challenges, like understanding the buyer from a cultural perspective, communicating in a different language and explaining the differences between how their country closes real estate transactions versus the way we make deals happen in the U.S.

Ultimately, to have success selling New York, or any other U.S. city, to international buyers, the following three keys should be considered:

  1. Relationships are paramount. Act and treat each interaction as an opportunity to forge a connection. Get to know the person and the investor, their likely value-add, their portfolio, and their goals.
  1. Local market knowledge is a differentiator that can result in opportunities. Focus on guiding the investor through the nuances of the market and the transaction steps themselves. Unique opportunities are there; it’s up to you to find them.
  1. Know the numbers. Penciling out the deal for your buyer is one of the most important tasks an agent can do in any real estate investment.

Rebekah Metz is a licensed real estate sales agent with CENTURY 21 Metropolitan.
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