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Most real estate agents pride themselves on having high expectations; this is certainly an admirable trait. You give your best and expect the best in return. [sigh] We are living in unique times, and high expectations need to be tempered with reality. If things are back to normal for you, or within striking distance of it, congratulations, that’s got to feel good! Unfortunately, we’re not all there yet.

Our Cross Border Referral team makes introductions in over a hundred countries each year; no two countries are the same, it’s an education every day. Global real estate business is tricky, even in the best of circumstances. Mix in faltering economies, a global pandemic and civil unrest and you’ve got yourself a real challenge. Challenging does not mean impossible, but it may require adjusting expectations—yours and your client’s.

Be Honest
Tell your clients that you are happy to help with their global real estate needs, but it might be tough. This isn’t an excuse, it’s reality. As it relates to COVID-19, some countries are back open for business, some are slowly progressing, others are in the absolute thick of it and nowhere near recovery. Find out where your client’s preferred destination falls in this timeline.

Be Informed
In addition to the pandemic recovery, find out if there are there any socio-political issues impacting the destination. Are there any natural disasters that have affected the area? Are they dealing with an economic crisis? These are things you should know before contacting a real estate professional in the destination. Assuming everything is fine and dandy could make you look foolish.

Be Patient
Once you’ve established contact with a real estate professional in the destination, keep in mind, your counterpart might not have access to his or her typical resources like international calling capabilities or high-speed internet. He or she might be prohibited from showing homes in person. There’s a chance the local airport is not allowing visitors from outside the country. Whatever the issue might be, it’s best to assume you won’t be called back quickly, and your email might be lost in the ether. Take a few days and try again.

Be Empathetic
If you are working with someone in a destination that has been hard hit (in any capacity), try to think of how you would conduct business under the same circumstances. Could you provide the same level of service you typically do? Could you conduct business at all? Taking business out of the equation completely, think about what this person in the destination might be dealing with, be it financially, physically or emotionally. Recovery takes many forms.

When you’ve weathered a crisis, it’s only human to want to make things as normal as possible—as soon as possible. Just remember that the rest of the world might still be finding their footing. By educating your clients and conducting business mindfully, your chances for success increase exponentially.

Elizabeth Kinsella, GRP, is the global member services manager at Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®. For more information, please visit