Florida Realtor April 2013 : Page 28

Makeover Jennifer Monville gets a game plan for reaching the Canadian market. Jennifer L. Monville, sales associate with Amerivest Realty in Naples hard sell,” he tells her. “Be friendly and engaging. Try to spend time in face-to-face conversations,” he says. And, as with most buyers, “being polite and listening to them really resonates with a lot of Canadians.” Monville agrees. “I’ve noticed that Ca-nadians have a bit of that British back-ground,” she says. “You have to take your time when getting into a discussion about real estate.” Silver adds that it’s important for Monville to do her homework and learn about Canadian culture before launch-ing a marketing program. “You have to understand what issues are important to Canadian buyers, and the challenges they face,” he says. “You should also know something about Canada’s history, geography and politics because that will be very helpful in talking with clients.” 2. Meet Canadian real estate professionals That leads Monville to her next question: “How can I connect with Canadian agents who would like some referral business?” Silver explains that the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and that buyer-representation agreements are almost the same in the two countries. “I would suggest you go to NAR’s annual conferences, which draw hundreds of Canadian agents and bro-kers, or you could attend a conference on international real estate,” Silver says. “If you want to build referrals with Canadi-ans, a good way to start is meeting them face to face.” Silver adds that the low-key approach also applies when making connections with Canadian real estate professionals. “I get calls every day from U.S. agents about a ‘great property’ they have, but that’s not how things work in Canada,” he says. 3. Use social and online media. Now, Monville asks Silver whether he gLObAL RELATIOns Reach the Canadian Market, eh? ince entering real estate in 2008, Jennifer L. Monville , a sales as-sociate with Amerivest Realty in Naples, has helped five Canadian buy-ers find properties in her local market. “I’ve found that Canadian buyers love Naples and Marco Island. I would like to have a steady stream of Canadian customers, but need some expertise in reaching them.” EntEr thE ExpErt To help Monville, Florida Realtor® contacted Richard Silver , a sales repre-sentative with Bosley Real Estate Ltd. S Tips for developing relationships with our northerly neighbors. 1. Learn the Canadian culture. Silver starts the conversation by explain-ing to Monville that Canadians, as a rule, are lower key emotionally than Ameri-cans. “You don’t want to start off with a GrEat IdEa You don’t have to go to Canada to build the international side of your business. “Find the local establishments where Canadians hang out and become a ‘regular,’” says Richard Silver. Join in the conversations about business and real estate, mention the professionals you know who could help with legal or tax issues, and bring some business cards along, he adds. “I would much rather go to a tavern celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving than place an ad in a newspaper or on a website.” 28 FLORIDA REALTOR April 2013 Photo by MArk weMPle in Toronto, and past president of the Toronto board. “Most Canadians from the eastern provinces look to Florida for vacation homes to escape from winter,” he says. “It’s very accessible by air for weeklong or weekend getaways. Other Canadian buyers are looking for a retire-ment home or at Florida properties as a potential investment.”

Makeover

GLObAL RELATIOns

Reach the Canadian Market, eh?

Tips for developing relationships with our northerly neighbors.

Since entering real estate in 2008, Jennifer L. Monville, a sales associate with Amerivest Realty in Naples, has helped five Canadian buyers find properties in her local market. “I’ve found that Canadian buyers love Naples and Marco Island. I would like to have a steady stream of Canadian customers, but need some expertise in reaching them.”

EntEr thE ExpErt

To help Monville, Florida Realtor® contacted Richard Silver, a sales representative with Bosley Real Estate Ltd. in Toronto, and past president of the Toronto board. “Most Canadians from the eastern provinces look to Florida for vacation homes to escape from winter,” he says. “It’s very accessible by air for weeklong or weekend getaways. Other Canadian buyers are looking for a retirement home or at Florida properties as a potential investment.”

1. Learn the Canadian culture.

Silver starts the conversation by explaining to Monville that Canadians, as a rule, are lower key emotionally than Americans. “You don’t want to start off with a hard sell,” he tells her. “Be friendly and engaging. Try to spend time in face-to-face conversations,” he says. And, as with most buyers, “being polite and listening to them really resonates with a lot of Canadians.”

Monville agrees. “I’ve noticed that Canadians have a bit of that British background,” she says. “You have to take your time when getting into a discussion about real estate.”

Silver adds that it’s important for Monville to do her homework and learn about Canadian culture before launching a marketing program. “You have to understand what issues are important to Canadian buyers, and the challenges they face,” he says. “You should also know something about Canada’s history, geography and politics because that will be very helpful in talking with clients.”

2. Meet Canadian real estate professionals

That leads Monville to her next question: “How can I connect with Canadian agents who would like some referral business?”

Silver explains that the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and that buyer-representation agreements are almost the same in the two countries. “I would suggest you go to NAR’s annual conferences, which draw hundreds of Canadian agents and brokers, or you could attend a conference on international real estate,” Silver says. “If you want to build referrals with Canadians, a good way to start is meeting them face to face.”

Silver adds that the low-key approach also applies when making connections with Canadian real estate professionals. “I get calls every day from U.S. agents about a ‘great property’ they have, but that’s not how things work in Canada,” he says.

3. Use social and online media.

Now, Monville asks Silver whether he thinks she should advertise her services in newspapers or magazines in the Toronto market. “Ads don’t usually lead to much business,” he says. “Also, I don’t advise calling Canadian agents or bombarding them with emails. Instead, I would recommend using social media like Facebook.”

Silver suggests that Monville join Facebook real estate groups in several Canadian markets, take part in discussions and post messages like this: “I’m an experienced agent in Naples who loves working with Canadian buyers and pays referral fees.” He also recommends that Monville focus on connecting with agents at independent Canadian brokerages, since her firm is also an independent.

Monville then asks if most Canadian buyers look for homes online. Silver says that the percentage of online buyers is actually higher in Canada than in the United States. Next, Monville wants to know if Canada has a Craigslist site that buyers might visit.

Silver tells her that Canada does have craigslist, although another site, kijiji.ca, actually gets more visitor traffic. “I would suggest posting a little ad on those sites along these lines: ‘Are you looking for properties in Florida?’ Then, you could direct them to your website,” he says.

4. Create a marketing newsletter or blog.

Continuing their conversation about online marketing tools, Silver recommends that Monville create a marketing newsletter or blog that’s filled with information relevant to Canadian customers. “You can also create a Facebook page and use that to attract clients,” he adds.

To create content for the blog, Silver suggests building a network of trusted, affiliated professionals, including attorneys, accountants and mortgage lenders who also want to assist Canadian customers.

“If I were a Canadian coming to you, I’d want to know which lawyer or accountant I should contact,” Silver says. “That’s really important to international buyers, and having those relationships can make the difference in getting the business. That lawyer or accountant can also help you with ideas for your blog or even write some guest columns.”

Even though most Canadians buy Florida homes using cash, Silver recommends having a mortgage financing connection as well. “Not all banks will finance a Canadian home purchase,” he says.

After Monville notes that the Royal Bank of Canada has an office in Naples, Silver suggests that she meet the manager for lunch and talk about the options. “If you can offer financing, a buyer might make a $2 million purchase rather than a $500,000 vacation home,” he adds.

As Monville gains sources and identifies the most common questions from prospects, Silver suggests that she add a “For Canadian Buyers” tab on her website, providing basic information for prospective customers. “You want to become the go-to source for Canadians who are interested in buying in Naples.”

5. Seek out Canadian sellers.

Now, Silver has an insider’s tip for Monville. “Almost everyone focuses on Canadian buyers, but chances are good there are already a lot of Canadians who own homes in Southwest Florida,” he says. “As they grow older, they may need to sell their property because they need to access Canada’s universal healthcare system.”

However, a Canadian who needs to sell a U.S. home faces different tax implications than an American, so having an international tax expert on hand can be a valuable service to prospective customers, Silver tells Monville. “Providing guidance and being the source of professionals to help (Canadian customers) through transitions can [contribute] toward building a strong market share.”

“A satisfied seller is likely to mention your name when a friend or family member wants advice about buying in your market,” Silver tells Monville. “But it does take time to build a Canadian business, so be patient.”

So was the makeover session helpful? “I think you answered all my questions, and then some,” Monville says. “Thanks for some very good ideas.”

This column provides advice from industry experts concerning marketing, technology and business issues. It won the Charlie Award (first place) in 2012 in the best Department category from the Florida Magazine Association.

MEEt thE ExpErt

Richard Silver, Abr, is a sales representative with bosley real estate ltd. And a past president of the toronto real estate board. He is also a past member of the MlS & technology Council, a regular blogger and a frequent speaker on social media topics. He sits on the real estate buyers Advisory Council as well as the Global business and Alliances Committee of the National Association of realtors.

MakEOvER FOLLOw-Up

Her Taxes Are Less Taxing

Since her makeover in the March 2013 issue (tax Strategy: keep More of your hard-earned Money, pg. 24) Jessica Morford, a sales associate with real living All Florida realty, holly hill, has implemented most of her expert’s suggestions. “I’ve incorporated as an llC, which has allowed me to write off more on my income tax return this year,” she says. “I’ve also opened a business checking account and gotten a business credit card, which has made it much easier for me to track my business expenses. The makeover call answered some questions that I’d had for some time, and it was very helpful in pointing out the next steps I should take.”

Read the full article at http://browndigital.bpc.com/article/Makeover/1347809/151310/article.html.

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