Realtors® expand business to international clients
Realtors® will find international clients are fiercely loyal once they’ve established a relationship and completed a transaction, according to David Wyant, a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) instructor.
“It may initially take longer to do business with an international client because you have to build a relationship with them before they’ll do business with you,” Wyant said. “But once you do business with them, you’ll find you have an intensely loyal client who will recommend you to his family and friends.”
Wyant said it’s not uncommon to have far more referrals from international clients than those from the United States.
“NAR’s Buyer Satisfaction Survey shows that only about 44 percent of clients return to the same Realtor®,” he added. “That doesn’t happen with international clients. They’re friends for a long period of time.”
Wyant lived abroad working for IBM and Lexmark before entering the real estate business with his wife, Patsy, in 1999. Based in Florida, Wyant said many Realtors® don’t recognize global or international opportunities they have within their own communities.
“If there’s a university in your community, you may see both students and professionals from outside the U.S.,” he said. Wyant said often parents with students studying in the U.S. purchase an investment property instead of putting the student in a dormitory. “Many parents may want to insulate their children from the American college social situations and help preserve their own cultural values. Asian and Middle Eastern countries take advantage of American colleges so this is a great opportunity.”
NAR’s research continues to show an increase in the number of Realtors® who work with international/global clients. The global real estate business was $66 billion in 2010 and rose to $82 billion in 2011.
“A global client might be someone who’s already in the U.S. but is relocating, someone who is working on his citizenship or maybe he’s already a citizen but is foreign born,” Wyant explained. “What these transactions require is sensitivity to their cultures and your understanding of the local real estate market.”
Hospitals offer another opportunity to work with global clients, according to Wyant. “The Philipines is known for training and exporting nurses as part of their overall economy,” he said. “A recent survey showed that nearly two-thirds of nurses in a California hospital were Filipino and some places in Florida see nearly 100 percent of their staff is Filipino.”
Getting involved in a local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce or a similar organization can help Realtors® get to know others in these communities. “It’s a great way to expand your business by getting to meet people in a social or professional setting,” he said.
Wyant met a young Realtor® who created a business plan to expand her business to the Russian immigrants in her market. She signed up for some classes, shopped in their area and saw people socially first. She also participated in neighborhood events and attended church and social events. “Someone approached her to do business because he didn’t want others in the community to know his business,” Wyant said. “Because some in the Russian culture are distrustful, that became her niche – she was the outsider they could trust to handle their real estate transactions.
“It’s important to remember the key to succeeding with multicultural clients is you can’t do anything too fast,” Wyant added. “Only in America do we think ‘time is money.’”
Kim Shindle is the Manager of Media Relations at the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®. Follow Kim on Twitter.