Florida Realtor April 2013 : Page 16

culture shock Is It Offensive? Many real estate professionals are afraid to ask their customers any culturally related questions because they don’t want to offend them. one strategy to consider, according to Michael soon lee, is to disclose some of your personal background first. “let’s say you tell the client, ‘i’m a third-generation italian from sicily,’” he says. “that gives you a perfect opening to ask a client about his or her own heritage. People love talking about their culture, as long as they know you’re sincerely interested in hearing about it.” along the same lines, lee recommends talking less about your professional back-ground—“10 years in real estate and 50 transactions in the past year”—and more about your personal information. “when you go past the statistics and accomplishments, your relation-ship with the client immediately goes to a much deeper level than merely business,” he says. “talk about your clients’ lives, foods and languages; listen to what’s important to them; ask questions and engage them on a personal level.” Finally, it’s essential to rec-ognize that once you get past the differences of language, dress and appearance, people are similar on the inside. “we all have the same goals, such as being financially comfort-able and sending our children to good schools,” lee says. “if you can build a common bond and reach that comfort level, you’ll be successful with a client from any culture.” “We’re all used to making decisions as individuals. But Latin America, Asia and other parts of the world have collectivist cultures, where families are very important and decisions may be made by a group.” • Be friendly and personable while avoid-ing a “hard-sell” approach. (For more suggestions, see “Makeover: Reach the Canadian Market, eh?” pg. 28, in this issue.) Latin America Stronger domestic economies and im-proved political conditions have resulted in a flow of Latin American residential and commercial investment in Florida. From Colombia, which has seen an eas-ing in domestic unrest in recent years, to Brazil, which is enjoying a robust eco-nomic boom, many affluent Latin Ameri-cans are feeling good about their future and buying properties in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and other parts of the state. “A lot of wealthy Colombians are going back and investing in their own country,” says Teplitzky. “They want to have one foot there and one foot in Florida, and are buying homes in Miami and Orlando.” In South Florida, Ven-ezuelans tend to clus-ter in communities like Doral and Weston, a short drive from Miami International Airport, Ronald according to Ronald Shuffield esslinger-Shuffield , president and wooten-Maxwell CEO, Esslinger-Wooten-realtors, coral Gables Maxwell Realtors © , Coral Gables. Many travel back and forth regularly to Caracas, while others are not welcomed by the current regime. Brazilians like to live on Miami’s Brickell Avenue because it has an urban lifestyle, adds Teplitzky. “Brazilians have beautiful beaches at home, so they prefer the city,” she says. “However, Argentines like to buy on the beaches because it’s different from their own country.” Chile has one of the most stable econo-mies in the world, adds Teplitzky. “The wealthy are investing in their own coun-try, but also getting money out by buying GreAT IdeA Some international customers have personal beliefs that might affect the purchase of a home. “Many Asians believe in feng shui, which impacts the direction and the layout of the home,” says Michael Soon Lee. “Other clients won’t buy a house with the number 4 in the address because they consider it unlucky.” Some Middle Eastern customers might want a prayer room in the home, while different Hispanic cultures favor different colors. “Before you start showing homes, ask the client, ‘Do you have any beliefs that might impact the purchase of a property?’” Lee says. “It will make your life easier.” 16 FLORIDA REALTOR april 2013

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