Go Global: 5 Tips to Get Started

Here are five tips to help you get in on the international niche no matter where you are in the country and no matter in the world where your future clients come from.

January 10, 2013

Ignore global real estate at your peril.

There are roughly 4.5 million active listings on REALTOR.com® International. In 2012, 30 percent of purchases by international buyers were in the $250,000 to $500,000 price range, up from 28 percent in 2011. The median price paid by an international buyer was $252,000, compared with the overall U.S. average of $165,000.

Here's how to get started.

  1. Speak Their Language: If you know a second language, focus your marketing toward prospects from the region or country where that language is primary. Helen Tam of Raleigh, N.C., says the most common concern among the foreign buyers she works with is the language barrier. Understanding their culture is also a must. 
  2. Know How They Do Business: Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands (Adams Media, 2006) by Terri Morrison and Wayne Conaway will help you brush up on the body language, gestures, and facial expressions that predominate when doing business in other countries. The book covers more than 60 countries, each with a three- or four-page synopsis of how business is done. “I use it regularly when preparing for a transaction overseas. It refreshes my memory of negotiating styles and helps me recall things to avoid in certain cultures,” Lauster says. The Do’s and Taboos book series by Roger Axtell is another great resource on international behavior and business customs. 
  3. Know What They Want: No amount of Internet research will give international buyers the full picture of your market. If you’re keenly aware of their needs—access to transportation, schools, shopping, luxury amenities, business hubs, and so on—you’ll be better able to match them with properties that meet those needs.
  4. Correctly Calculate Conversions: The United States is one of only four countries in world that still uses traditional measurements, such as feet, miles, and pounds. Every other country uses the metric system. When listing the size of a property, it’s important to show accurate measurements in both feet and meters. You’ll also need to address currency conversion. Exchange rates are constantly in flux, so make sure you’re using the latest rates and data by working with a currency exchange company or bank so that your clients know exactly what they’ll pay for a property.
  5. Get Certified: The Certified International Property Specialist designation prepares Realtors® to serve the growing international market.