Florida Realtor April 2010 : Page 20
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7 Easy Ways To Connect Globally
AT A GLAnCE
While it pays to advertise your listings on websites that reach global buyers and investors, it shouldn’t be your only venue.
Connect with global real estate professionals to gain referrals.
The trade mission is a great way to make lasting relationships.
There are buyers all over the world who are eager to own Florida real estate. Here’s how to find them.
It was a fluke that took the message in a letter mailed in Central Florida all the way to China, but it led Zola Szerencses, a sales associate with RE/MAX 200 Realty in Winter Park, to a new career in international real estate.
The letter was a farming mail-out. A man in Hong Kong who owned a property in Kissimmee had his cousin in New York call Szerencses, and the deal was under way.
That experience showed Szerencses, originally from Hungary, that there are customers for Florida real estate everywhere. While his first transaction might have been serendipitous, he’s figured out how to repeat that success: 80 percent of his buyers are international.
Here’s what you can do to reach international buyers and investors:
1. Online Szerencses says, “You don’t find international buyers by advertising; they find you.” His own website, 2ndhomemarkets.com, has a heavy educational component, showing buyers that he knows how to do international transactions.
In addition, your franchise website or the MLS may already be giving your listings international exposure. Using LinkedIn or Facebook is a given, though they may not be a huge source of leads.
Even though Christel Silver, a broker with Realty Executives in Delray Beach, says most of her customers come from referrals, Silver does advertise on worldproperties.com and on some social and realty sites in Germany.
The International Consortium of Real Estate Associations (ICREA) operates worldproperties.com, which features properties for sale or rent in 58 countries. Because the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) is part of ICREA, if your MLS participates with Realtor.Com, your listings will automatically be placed on this website.
Other popular sites include:
• AplaceInTheSun.com: A U.K.-operated site that offers a property search and, for a fee, listings from 89 countries.
• IRED.com: The International Real Estate Digest lists links for brokerages, sales associates, mortgage lenders and other real estate–related businesses in more than 135 countries. The cost of a link is $25 for a year or $125 for a boldfaced link.
• Rightmove.co.uk is one of the most popular real estate listing sites in the United Kingdom. Most of its listings are located in the United Kingdom; however, about 1,900 U.S. properties are listed on the site, more than half of them in Central Florida.
• Escapeartist.com focuses on vacation properties for sale or rent worldwide. You can list as many properties as you choose with up to 20 photos of each for $29.95 for one month or $79.95 for a year.
Before investing heavily in any website, ask for its traffic reports to see how many buyers in your target group may be visiting the site. If your buyers are primarily from Germany and the bulk of the site’s page views are from the United Kingdom it may not work well for you.
2. Trade Missions and Meetings
“This is a classic networking business,” says David Wyant, broker with Wyant Realty in Ormond Beach. “You have to invest time in building your network. Once you do, though, you’ll find you get more and more referrals.” Trade missions sponsored by your local board, by Florida Realtors or by NAR are good places to meet international agents and investors.
NAR is organizing a market tour for foreign realty agents this August. It will include Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) courses in Miami and Naples and end by bringing the sales associates to the Florida Realtors convention in Orlando on August 25. For more information, go to floridarealtors.org/ NewsAndEvents/International-Events.cfm
Traveling to international conferences and trade shows is another good way to network. The British American Business Council (babc.org) has 25 chapters worldwide, including groups in Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Palm Beach. It holds an annual transatlantic conference. The next is set for May 12-14 in London, and entrance is free. Locations alternate, so the 2011 conference will be held in the United States.
SIMA, the Spanish investor expo, will be held in Madrid, May 20-23 (simaexpo.Com), and the Property Investor & Homebuyer show will be held in London, April 15-17 (propertyinvestor.co.uk) with a second show scheduled for October 14-16.
The live event hosted by aplaceinthe sun.com took place in March (aplacein thesun.com/exhibition) but it’s not too early to begin planning to attend in 2011.
3. Relationships with Overseas Agents
One of the best ways to find overseas buyers is to develop a relationship with overseas realty agents.
Carlos Fuentes, a sales associate with VET (Vernon E. Taylor PA) in Lutz, has a unique way of starting relationships. Fuentes finds a property owned by Floridians overseas, gets the listing, then contacts an agent where the property is located to comarket it with him or her.
“I often use the large franchises,” Fuentes says, “because a recognizable business name brings extra credibility for my clients.”
Once he’s established a relationship with a broker or agent, Fuentes has both someone licensed to do business in that jurisdiction (for selling properties there) and a marketing partner who can show his overseas properties. Conversely, when his overseas contacts have customers looking for U.S. properties, they refer them to Fuentes.
4. In Your Own Backyard
Join the international councils at your local Association, Florida Realtors or NAR. In addition, there are many local groups you can join to meet potential customers. Szerencses is a member of the Hungarian-American Chamber of Commerce and is the current chair of the International Council in Orlando. Silver belongs to the German- American Chamber of Commerce in Miami. Wyant belongs to Lions Club International and attends meetings of the British-American Club in Orlando. By joining local ethnic groups, you become a reliable resource to those who have relatives looking for Florida property.
5. Become a Speaker and Volunteer
NAR and Florida Realtors meetings are natural places to start building your network. It will happen faster if you also volunteer to work on international committees and projects.
Francisco Angulo, a broker with Century 21 United Properties in Weston, Speaks at meetings focused on international business. “When I go to speak, I’m speaking on behalf of the organizations [NAR or Florida Realtors], but the audience is thinking, ‘When I need a Realtor in the United States, this is the guy I should talk to.’”
“When I network with agents from other countries,” Silver says, “I point out that they can get a referral fee for sending clients to me.”
Fuentes takes it a step further. Through contacts made at meetings in the United States, he’s given seminars in Venezuela on buying U.S. real estate, (See page 26.)
Don’t expect instant results, though, Szerencses says, “The first two years you meet international agents, they just see you. The third year, they know you, and by the fourth year, they see you as being stable and reliable.”
6. Pursue Education
Many real estate professionals already established in the international market strongly endorse NAR’s Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) course. Learn more about it at realtor.org/cipshome.nsf/pages/education. The people you meet at the course will form the foundation for your international network, says David Wyant, who was NAR’s CIPS Instructor of the Year for 2009. You should also consider getting the Transnational Referral Certification (TRC), which was developed by ICREA (realtor.org/cipshome.nsf/ pages/trc).
7. Team Up With Professionals
“We don’t work just as agents; we’re a relocation service,” Angulo notes. “You need a CPA with international experience, an attorney who knows immigration law, a title company and connections with bankers.” These team members, as they come into contact with clients through their own businesses, refer them to Angulo. And that adds up to a lot of potential customers. “I like to say that on every plane that lands at Miami International Airport, there are ten buyers who are coming to purchase real estate. These are people coming to spend cash.”
Steve Blount is an Orlando-based freelance writer.
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