Today, we are featuring a guest post from Christel Silver, Broker/Owner of Silver International Realty!
A relationship does not happen overnight – locally or globally.
The first time I went to Germany as the liaison to Germany for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), no one wanted to talk to me. That’s because in many places, including Europe, real estate agents don’t do business the same way as we do. They don’t cooperate with each other.
You have to work hard to build a relationship and build trust. You have to understand their needs. There is a lack of inventory in many European cities.
If you have a buyer referral, chances are they will tell you they are not interested. Since they are selling their own listings, they have a large pool of buyers themselves. They need listings. But they also know people who want to invest in U.S. real estate.
If you can help them understand how they can refer those buyers to you and trust you to do a great job, you can have a thriving international business.
Find Your Niche
You cannot be a specialist for the whole world – so find your niche.
The first thing I recommend is to join the local real estate association in the country in which you specialize. Most have a publication that gives you an idea about doing business in that area.
More than that, volunteer to write an article about the local real estate market or information that is pertinent to international buyers about doing business in the United States. Learn about their culture. You can sour a relationship by doing the wrong things.
Go to their association conventions. There you can pass out information and network with other real estate agents.
Do not forget our conventions like the National Association of Realtors where there are many possibilities to meet international attendees. Have you used the global sites from the NAR? You will find statistics and valuable information.
When You Travel Overseas
When you visit, meet with banks that have big real estate portfolios.
In Germany, banks are in the real estate business. I schedule meetings with the bank CEO and volunteer to show them around my state should they visit. I also volunteer to write articles about the market.
From that connection, a bank CEO called me when he was in town and asked me to show him some new constructions and some resales. The banks have connections to people with money and advise them about their investments.
When they recommend that these people invest in U.S. real estate, you want them to contact YOU! I have received more referrals from banks in Germany than from real estate agents!
Network Locally in the U.S.
Locally most areas have cultural clubs. We have many in Florida—Swedish, German, Brazil—just Google them for your area. If you are interested in getting involved, attend some of their events and join.
I’m in a German club and I advertise in their newsletter, which is inexpensive, and I got two listings out of it. And once you make those connections and do a good job, they refer you to others.
Social media is great! Look for groups especially on LinkedIn. As an instructor for CIPS, I suggest to the students to find a group on LinkedIn for the country you want to work with or your other specialties like oceanfront or horse properties and see what groups are established.
Look at who is in the group, listen in first and maybe respond a bit and if it’s something you want to be part of, write an article and get known, get interactive. You will connect with real estate agents from all over the world.
Do You Need a Foreign Language?
You do not need to speak another language – just build your professional team around you: attorney, CPA, lender who speaks the language. But if you are fluent in another language and you have a website, create a page in the foreign language, but also add keywords in this language.
Trade missions are wonderful. I participated in trade missions to Germany, Columbia and Brazil.
We had real estate agents showing us properties and explaining the construction, which is so different. A trade mission is a good way to get a feel for the country and to learn how they do business, make connections and build on them. Many U.S. Associations offer trade missions.
Join one and add a couple days for vacation!
In closing, I recommend that you get your Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation, offered by National Association of Realtors. This will educate you about all the tools you need to interact with foreign clients successfully and market yourself to international real estate agents.
Christel Silver is a full-time Broker/Owner of Silver International Realty servicing the East Coast of South Florida. The National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) President appointed her (2010-2014) as the President’s Liaison to Germany, where she grew up and worked at the Justice Department for 17 years prior to coming to this country. Fifty percent of her business is in the International arena. For more information visit www.silverhouses.com.