A Different World in Real Estate Outside the U.S.

November 19, 2020

How does real estate work in parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America? In the final NAR en Español session Wednesday at the 2020 REALTORS® Conference & Expo, “¿Americanizar los Mercados o Tropicalizar las Prácticas?”  (“Americanize Markets or Accept Local Practices?”), the focus was on doing business in global markets without a multiple-listing service.

“There are many issues here, especially when agents have to figure out how to navigate amongst one another without a standardized system,” said Fernando Garcia Erviti, director of CRS International in Spain.

Some of the daily challenges for real estate agents in Latin America and parts of the Caribbean involve differing regulations in each country as well as antiquated systems for inputting new listings and property sales.

“Another challenge is convincing sellers to sign exclusive sales agreements,” said Belkys Cuello, ABR, SRS, broker-owner with BC Real Estate in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

“You’ll see two to three signs from different agents on one property, and the most challenging daily task is to change the mindset of sellers who don’t want to make a commitment with one listing agent,” she added.

Getting local support for an MLS as a foundational system for doing business is a hurdle many agents have to contend with. And while Panama, for instance, has an MLS system, it wasn’t an easy task to accomplish.

“Before we had a system, the mindset was that only one agent should do everything,” said Eduardo Alemán, who’s with Servmor Realty in Panama. “Now, there’s the understanding of starting the platform and working with other agents, but this took time and it’s still a challenge.”

The agents on the panel shared how they’ve managed to stand out in their markets.

“It’s easier to penetrate a market when you put your customer’s needs in front of yours. And although each country has its own standards, we must use the uniform rule of cooperation and agent representation,” said Susan Arias, CIPS, CRS, director at Quality Real Estate Solutions in Bogotá, Colombia. “We can all work together to make changes.”

An important goal to work toward was having consumers come to agents rather than the other way around. And one way to achieve that is by building trust in the community and marketing in a way that generates inbound interest.

Echoed throughout this session was that agents aren’t so much in the real estate business as they are in the “real people” business. And, while agents in the U.S. are accustomed to a more cohesive system, these panelists demonstrated their ability to survive and use best practices no matter which technology systems you use.