Florida Realtor April 2014 : Page 26

5 AT A GLANCE INTERNATIONAL BUYERS IN YOUR BACKYARD Marketing Ideas orking in a hotbed for inter-national investment, foreign college students and second-home buyers from overseas, Florida’s real estate professionals are well posi-tioned to get a piece of the $68 billion that international buyers spend annually on U.S. residential properties and the $24 billion they spend annually on commer-cial properties, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Profile of International Home Buying: 2013 Re-port. Singling out Florida as one of the states where international buyers are “heavily concentrated,” Janet Branton , NAR’s senior vice president for Global Business and Alliances, says such buy-ers tend to cluster in specific locations Community-based Monday, Latin 9 a.m. Student American Council Meeting How to work successfully with international real estate buyers without having to travel the world or learn a new language BY BRIDGET MCCREA International buyers spend more than $68 billion on U.S. residential properties every year. You don’t have to spend money on travel and time on language courses to be able to work effectively with international buyers. The most successful international agents take the time to get to know their buyers, the countries where they hail from, and their likes and dislikes before jumping in. W based on their country of origin. This is “probably based on word of mouth and shared experiences,” she noted in a re-cent international presentation, “and likely because of the shorter geographic distance from their home country to the state location.” Because of that, you don’t have to leave the state of Florida to get your foot in the door with buyers from other countries. By starting your marketing at home, you can reach international buyers without expensive trips. Here are five ways that you can get a foot in the door with the expanding pool of global buyers who are making their way into Florida. GREAT IDEA Sponsor an ethnic club or community event. If you can secure booth space and put up a sign, hand out fliers or give out treats at the event, even better. As a sponsor, you’ll be able to press flesh with international buyers and sellers who are enjoying the food, drink and friendship at that Greek festival, German Oktoberfest or other cultural event. 26 FLORIDA REALTOR April 2014

Community-Based Marketing Ideas

Bridget Mccrea

How to work successfully with international real estate buyers without having to travel the world or learn a new language

AT A GLANCE

International buyers spend more than $68 billion on U.S. residential properties every year.

You don’t have to spend money on travel and time on language courses to be able to work effectively with international buyers.

The most successful international agents take the time to get to know their buyers, the countries where they hail from, and their likes and dislikes before jumping in.

Working in a hotbed for international investment, foreign college students and secondhome buyers from overseas, Florida’s real estate professionals are well positioned to get a piece of the $68 billion that international buyers spend annually on U.S. residential properties and the $24 billion they spend annually on commercial properties, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Profile of International Home Buying: 2013 Report. Singling out Florida as one of the states where international buyers are “heavily concentrated,” Janet Branton, NAR’s senior vice president for Global Business and Alliances, says such buyers tend to cluster in specific locations Based on their country of origin. This is “probably based on word of mouth and shared experiences,” she noted in a recent international presentation, “and likely because of the shorter geographic distance from their home country to the state location.”

Because of that, you don’t have to leave the state of Florida to get your foot in the door with buyers from other countries. By starting your marketing at home, you can reach international buyers without expensive trips.

Here are five ways that you can get a foot in the door with the expanding pool of global buyers who are making their way into Florida.

GREAT IDEA Sponsor an ethnic club or community event. If you can secure booth space and put up a sign, hand out fliers or give out treats at the event, even better. As a sponsor, you’ll be able to press flesh with international buyers and sellers who are enjoying the food, drink and friendship at that Greek festival, German Oktoberfest or other cultural event.

RESEARCH YOUR AREA

Drive-by Marketing

Take a ride around your neighborhood to research which international buyers are moving to the United States.

When it comes to reaching out to immigrants already located in your area, a little research goes a long way. National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) Janet Branton suggests you scope out your local surroundings. What ethnic restaurants are nearby? What products are the grocery stores carrying? Supermarkets are closely attuned to customer demographics because they depend on volume, so the ethnic foods aisle can be very telling. Is there a large Spanish/Mexican food area? If so, there are likely a significant number of customers who buy it. Are the signs on local shops and other businesses in a language other than English? What houses of worship might indicate the presence of a supporting community?

Every year NAR publishes a global research report profiling activity in the international home-buying market. In the report (which comes out in June), the organization examines U.S. real estate purchases by international customers over a 12-month period. Carlos A. Fuentes, a sales associate with Namaste Realty in Tampa, also suggests local chambers of commerce (including those dedicated to specific ethnicities) and ethnic social clubs. When in doubt, Vince Price, senior broker associate with Coldwell Banker Carroll Realty Inc. in Panama City, says simply asking around can help agents figure out who is moving into their areas. “My top information source is my customers,” says Price, who works with Middle Eastern customers, “who always seem to know who’s moving into our area.”

Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, Fuentes suggests pinpointing one or two international markets that are prevalent in your area and focusing on those. “Learn the nuances of the market, their likes and dislikes, and how those particular buyers do business.” By establishing yourself as an expert for Asian or Hispanic buyers in your area, he adds, you’ll be able to build a more lucrative referral business. “If you come across as being sincere about working with specific groups,” says Fuentes, “the doors will open for you.”

1. Reach international college students.

Miami is an international banking hub, and schools like the University of Central Florida, University of Florida, Florida International University and the University of South Florida are attracting students from all over the world. These students need a place to live, and many times their parents will invest in Florida real estate for just that purpose.

This has been a source of business for Carlos A. Fuentes, a sales associate with Namaste Realty in Tampa. Fuentes, who frequently works with German, Canadian, U. K. and Latin American buyers who are moving into the Tampa Bay area, gives presentations at USF’s International Student Association with the goal of working with parents and/or students who want to buy rather than rent or lease.

“Not only do these parents provide housing for their children, but they have a place to stay when they come to visit,” says Fuentes, who also taps area economic development councils and agencies as referral sources. “Both colleges and agencies are great business-generation tools for real estate professionals who want to work with the international buyers in their own backyards.”

2. Be a joiner.

When Fuentes’ international customer pipeline starts to run dry, he spends time mingling with prospects and referral sources on their own turf. His top choices include national chambers of commerce, ethnic organizations like the Colombian American Chamber of Commerce and other social clubs that cater to Polish, German, Colombian and other ethnicities. Global Business Councils, of which there are 23 across Florida, and international councils and committees also help membersDevelop an international clientele in their own backyard, says Fuentes. When you join, be ready to get involved. “It’s not just about showing up; focus on participating and building relationships,” he advises. “You have to demonstrate an obvious interest in participating, or you’ll come across as insincere and nontrustworthy.”

3. Don’t overlook the vacation market.

Not all foreign buyers want to move to Florida permanently; some simply want to rent or own vacation homes here and then visit periodically. To build global sales, Silvia Dukes, a sales associate with Tropic Shores Realty in Spring Hill, connected with a vacation property manager in the United Kingdom who manages vacation rentals in the Spring Hill area for a pool of foreign buyers. That overseas property manager helped create numerous rental and sales Opportunities for Dukes. “It started out with a customer referral for someone who needed a short-time rental,” she says, “and over the years it’s turned into several sales to buyers from the United Kingdom who were referred back to me through the property manager.”

4. Identify properties already owned by foreign buyers.

For example, an individual or a company, based in England, that owns property in your area could need a real estate professional to help guide the transaction through to closing. Scour your county’s property records and then develop a direct mail or email introduction that hones in on your market experience and any international expertise. As you review those property records, keep an eye out for owners who may have bought their properties within the last five years, who might now want to sell (in light of recovering market conditions). If that’s not the case, then at least ask for a referral.

5. Choose research over expensive travel and language courses.

Just because you don’t speak your buyers’ foreign tongue and/or you haven’t visited their country doesn’t mean you can’t sell them Florida property. Many international buyers have relatives already living in the United States, and if you service them well, they can be a steady referral source.

Get to know your target market by presenting your listings in a way that reaches them. For example, the concept of feng shui may play an important role in home selection for Asian buyers, so present your listing to them in a way that highlights that system’s elements. Hispanic customers may expect you to know the final score of yesterday’s Barcelona– Real Madrid game. “Spanish isn’t the common language in Latin America; soccer is,” says Fuentes. “Get to know soccer if you want to work with these customers, or you will be totally lost.” Also, investigate the country’s economy, currency and tax laws, says Fuentes, to get a well-rounded view of what you’ll be dealing with when it comes time to close the deal.

By reaching out to local immigrants, you can secure international business right here at home.

Bridget McCrea is a Clearwaterbased freelance writer.


Read the full article at http://browndigital.bpc.com/article/Community-Based+Marketing+Ideas/1663178/201925/article.html.

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