Today’s real estate industry is more global than ever. No surprise there; we all know that.
But if you look more closely at global real estate, you’ll find a lot more going on than just home sales and purchases. In countries around the world, real estate is becoming more refined, transparent and professional. This transformation isn’t due to any far-reaching regulations or policies; it’s emerging from the ground up—from agents and brokers themselves.
In March, more than 6,000 real estate professionals representing 60 countries attended the annual RE/MAX R4 Convention in Las Vegas. Even among the highly energized crowd, the international groups stood out, waving flags, singing national songs and boisterously cheering on their colleagues.
These same passionate professionals are making a significant impact on the real estate scene in their home countries. In a global real estate industry filled with unique, local differences—but often low standards for ethics, education and regulations—they’re setting a new standard.
In countries throughout Europe, South America, Asia/Pacific and Africa, members of this new wave of real estate professionals are getting educated. They’re focusing on the customer. They’re instilling transparency and trust in the system. They’re setting the bar high and challenging the status quo.
In essence, they’re revolutionizing an entire industry in their countries—all to the benefit of brokers, agents and their customers.
Given the global nature of real estate, what happens elsewhere naturally reverberates closer to home as well.
Throughout the U.S. and Canada, in markets big and small, global real estate happens. No longer is international real estate reserved for metropolitan areas, coastal resorts or ski destinations. Even in the smallest communities, people are looking overseas for investment opportunities or vacation getaways. Additionally, vacation rental services such as Airbnb and VRBO offer incentives—and revenue potential—that make second homes even more attractive.
In the past, international transactions often involved an element of “cross-your-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best.” With the maturation and evolution of the real estate industry abroad, this is becoming less and less of a concern.
Knowing there’s a trusted agent or office on the other end of an international transaction provides peace of mind for all parties involved. In turn, this stimulates growth and opens up more opportunities. Clients feel more comfortable seeking out a wider variety of properties, and agents enjoy more referral and other business opportunities.
One of the highlights of any R4 Convention is the Global Referral Exchange. This event started out years ago with just a few tables with some handouts and computer screens showing looping “Visit (insert country)” videos. Today, it’s a full-blown international party with giveaways, networking in a variety of languages, lively demonstrations of regional traditions and an infectious multicultural energy.
While enjoying the Global Referral Exchange this year, I couldn’t help but reflect on how the growth of this event parallels that of international real estate in general.
In what was previously a situation where people were mostly winging it, you now find processes, order and systems. It’s more sophisticated and thought out. Opportunity has grown exponentially. And, perhaps most notably, there’s a passion and energy where everybody can feel comfortable, be confident and celebrate the difference they’re making.
Geoff Lewis is president of RE/MAX, LLC.
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