Monday, January 23, 2012

7 Tips for Working with Foreign Real Estate Buyers

7 Tips for Working with Foreign Real Estate Buyers
March 2006

With immigrants and foreign business entities looking beyond the coasts, the opportunity to work with foreign buyers isn’t limited to certain markets or to practitioners who travel overseas. Here’s how to succeed.

1. Remember that foreign clients may know real estate but not U.S. real estate. You need to explain local market conditions and U.S. legal issues. But be careful not to talk down to them, cautions Gustavo Lumer, CIPS, CRS®, with Lumer Real Estate in North Miami Beach, Fla.

2. Focus on clients from one or two countries, especially when you’re just getting started, suggests Carmela Ma, CCIM, CIPS, president of CJM Associates Inc. in Beverly Hills, Calif. In that way, you can become more familiar with the culture and establish a wider network of contacts, more rapidly.

3. Recognize that factors such as currency fluctuations and a need for market stability may influence buying decisions, says Pius Leung, CCIM, CIPS, president of Charter Equity in Houston. Leung recalls a client who bought a building, left it vacant for three years, then sold it for about what he paid originally. Yet, the client was happy because the currency in his home country had devalued by 50 percent over that period. So just by parking the money in the United States, the owner had made a profit, says Leung.

4. Take it slowly. Recognize that some cultures require more consultation and time to make a decision.

5. Develop a group of tax, legal, and other experts in foreign ownership of U.S. real estate you can offer foreign buyers as a resource, suggests Ma. Once you’re seen as a trusted adviser, offshore clients will often look to you for assistance in other parts of the transaction, such as finding legal advice.

6. Help bridge differences, suggests Alan Berger, CIPS, of Breslin Realty in Garden City, N.Y. Simple things such as converting a price from dollars to euros or square feet to meters can make a foreign buyer more comfortable, says Berger.

7. Get your Certified International Property Specialist designation from NAR’s International Division. It’s a great way to acquire skills needed to work with foreign clients and to network. “The CIPS network represents the best-kept secret around for making contact,” says Lumer.

More: Market to international buyers using the Distinctive Properties Advertising Service from REALTOR Benefits(sm) Program partner


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