Florida Realtor April 2014 : Page 28

INTERNATIONAL BUYERS IN YOUR BACKYARD RESEARCH YOUR AREA Drive-by Marketing Take a ride around your neighborhood to research which interna-tional 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 prod-ucts 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 Janet Branton buy it. Are the signs on local shops and other busi-National nesses in a language other than English? What houses Association of of worship might indicate the presence of a supporting Realtors® community? Every year NAR publishes a global research report profiling activ-ity in the international home-buying market. In the report (which comes out in June), the organization examines U.S. real estate pur-chases by international customers over a 12-month period. Carlos A. Fuentes , a sales associate with Namaste Realty in Tampa, also sug-gests 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 Car-roll 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 busi-ness.” By establishing yourself as an expert for Asian or Hispanic buyers in your area, he adds, you’ll be able Vince Price to build a more lucrative referral business. “If you come Coldwell Banker Carroll across as being sincere about working with specific Realty Inc. groups,” says Fuentes, “the doors will open for you.” Panama City 1. Reach international college students. Miami is an international bank-ing 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, Cana-dian, 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 Carlos Fuentes Namaste Realty than rent or lease. Tampa “Not only do these par-ents 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 agen-cies 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 pros-pects and referral sources on their own turf. His top choices include national chambers of commerce, ethnic organi-zations like the Colombian American Chamber of Commerce and other social clubs that cater to Polish, German, Co-lombian and other ethnicities. Global Business Councils, of which there are 23 across Florida, and international coun-cils and committees also help members GREAT IDEA Get ready to have a conversation about notaries public and how they work in the United States. Here, notaries exist primarily to attest to the identification of a person who is signing a document. Overseas, many countries require notaries to be attorneys who can also draw up closing contracts, collect taxes, and file and record the transaction. “In most cases, foreign buyers think notaries should be involved from day one of the home-buying process,” says Realtor® Carlos Fuentes, “and need to know that these professionals’ roles may be very different than what they’re used to.” 28 FLORIDA REALTOR April 2014

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