international luxury buyer

What to Know About Working With International Buyers

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As a luxury real estate professional, international buyers could end up being your bread and butter. A recent article released by Forbes outlines the ten cities with the most billionaires, and eight of the ten listed are overseas. Wealth isn’t measured solely by the number of mega-rich people in a given area, but the cities listed in the article are indicative of a larger trend—international homebuyers have money. When looking to break into the market, it can be a bit intimidating to figure out how to start. Just as any real estate market, networking and connections are imperative to forming lasting relationships with international luxury clients.

We’ve laid out the specifics in the Q&A below to understanding how international buyers think.

What is an international buyer?

An international buyer in real estate can come in many forms, from residential housing to larger properties intended for corporate use. When it comes to luxury real estate, buyers often have a well-formulated vision of the kind of property they would like to purchase abroad. Depending on the market in which you’re selling, you might want to consider potential preconceptions of your area. For example, if you’re selling on the coasts of the U.S., what would an international buyer typically associate with a property?

Thinking through preconceptions can help when pitching potential properties to buyers outside of the country. It’s also important to try to get deep into the mindset of luxury buyers and understand how they differ from traditional buyers. 

What are some ways to meet an international buyer?

Knowing how to deal with international buyers and actually finding one are different challenges. Just as any other industry, networking is essential when it comes to connecting with an international audience. Once you have one link to a specific market, finding buyers can be exponentially easier, as one potential client can lead to ten other potential clients. Attending real estate events in the desired market abroad can also be a good move if you’re able, as meeting in person generally forges strong relationships. Can’t make the trip? Try connecting with real estate agents based in different countries, as that relationship could prove to be important when looking to sell to an international audience.

How do I break into a market if I don’t speak the language?

If you come across a language barrier with a client, there are ways to both complete the transaction and impress them without using words. At the end of the day, clients want to feel respected, listened-to and comfortable, and there are ways to check those boxes if you get creative. For example, research their culture and what is expected as common courtesy before approaching them to work together. Send a gift that pays homage to their country or add a personal touch to your communication with them to show that you understand where they are coming from. In addition to the extra touches, be careful about using slang terms, colloquial language or abbreviated words that might confuse your clients.

Thinking outside the box when there isn’t a shared language between yourself and your client can win both respect and trust.

What are some technology hacks to attract international buyers?

Firstly, making sure that your business is mobile-friendly is key when looking to attract an international audience. A simple layout usually works best, especially when your prospective clients might not speak the same language. Visual-heavy content is also a good idea, as pictures speak volumes to what you offer as a real estate agent. In general, making sure your social media channels are cohesive and up-to-date is an easy way to make sure your brand is taken seriously by potential buyers. Make sure you highlight your accomplishments as a real estate professional because your social media channels are a perfect opportunity to showcase what you do best.

In terms of apps, if you are considering learning some phrases of a new language, Duolingo is a highly ranked language-learning app. Rosetta Stone is a good option if you’re looking for a more serious approach to learning a language than an app on your phone. Additionally, you might want to consider downloading texting apps like WhatsApp or WeChat, as it makes communication with international buyers that much easier.

Which international markets are lucrative?

It’s only right that this section starts with a mention of the current growth of wealth in Asia. The novel turned box office hit “Crazy Rich Asians” wasn’t exaggerating when it outlined the rising wealth on the continent. In 2018, the total wealth raised a staggering 26.7 percent, which is double that of the United States. Many financial analysts predict continued impressive growth, which means more wealthy individuals who will likely be looking for properties in the United States. China, in particular, has shown immense growth, currently home to 26 of the 30 fastest growing cities. India is also growing quickly and shows potential to be a powerhouse when it comes to luxury real estate.

There are also lucrative markets in the U.S. that luxury international buyers are interested in. You can get updated data on these luxury markets through our monthly Luxury Market Report.

What are some ways to impress potential international clients?

International clients will probably expect their real estate agent to have knowledge of both the territory in which they live and their prospective market in the United States. Because they are more removed from the network you might have in your local area, going above and beyond can win business. For example, use phrases in their language when addressing them catches attention. A simple Google search will usually suffice, but you might want to run the phrase by someone who speaks the language to make sure it is correct. Depending on the potential profit of their business, it never hurts to offer to fly out to meet them in person. Being bold can be an asset, especially when it comes to luxury real estate.

At the end of the day, finding and locking in international business comes down to opportunity meeting preparation. If you have the portfolio to secure international clients, cementing the deal comes down to the details. Cater to the needs of the client a little bit more than you usually would domestically, and the results will likely be positive.

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