Florida Realtor April 2014 : Page 30

Makeover ATTRACTING GLOBAL BUYERS “The current global landscape is quite different from the not-too-distant past.” — Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s first woman president Tracey McCue Paulsen, broker-owner, Terry McCue Real Estate Inc., Neptune Beach Capture the Flag Hoping to secure a niche with global buyers, this broker figures out how to compete with the big boys. Neptune Beach brokerage founded in 1968, Tracey McCue Paulsen wants to attract international custom-ers. “With its beaches, golf and great economy, Jacksonville has a lot to of-fer global buyers,” says Paulsen, who leads the 10-associate firm. “But I’m A s broker-owner of Terry McCue Real Estate Inc. , an independent not sure where to start, particularly since we would be competing with the big bro-kers, who already have global referral networks in place.” FINDING THE COACH To help Paulsen, Florida Realtor® contact-ed Zola Szerencses , an Orlando broker-associate who is the 2014 chair of the Florida Realtors® Global Business Com-mittee and the National Association of Realtors regional coordinator for East-ern Europe. “International customers will keep feeding you with contacts and referral opportunities as long as you treat them with respect and give them great service,” he says. “In many ways, it’s like building a local business. You have to stay focused on your goal and be patient. It takes time to develop those relationships but it’s definitely a worth-while investment.” 1. Emphasize local expertise. Szerencses starts the conversation by asking Paulsen if she’s already worked with international customers. “I’ve had a few investor buyers from Italy, Ger-many and other parts of Europe over the years,” she says. “Since taking over from my father, Terry McCue Sr., in 2006, I’ve brought in more agents, including sev-eral who are fluent in French, Spanish or German.” Szerencses says that’s a great founda-tion for building international business. “Now, you have to look for your competi-tive advantage,” he says. “One strategy would be to emphasize your familiarity with the Jacksonville area, take advan-tage of your local expertise.” Paulsen gets his point and agrees completely. “Through the years, we’ve worked with developers of condomini-ums, shopping centers and offices, so we’re really an excellent source of infor-mation about the area,” she says. “Plus, we’re familiar with the TPC Sawgrass golf tournament in Ponte Vedra, the beach communities and the Mayo Clinic, which is known worldwide.” 2. Start a blog. To showcase that local knowledge, Szer-encses recommends that Paulsen start a blog about the Jacksonville market. “This is a great way to bring in your dad’s expe-rience and accomplishments as well as showcase your team and the high-lights of your community,” he says. “That’s something you can do right away without paying a penny. All it takes is your time and energy.” PHOTO BY BARRY RABINOWITZ Finnish for home Tracey McCue Paulsen has a solid strategy for gaining international business. 30 FLORIDA REALTOR April 2014 Koti

Makeover

Tracey McCue Paulsen, broker-owner, Terry McCue Real Estate Inc., Neptune Beach

ATTRACTING GLOBAL BUYERS

Capture the Flag

Hoping to secure a niche with global buyers, this broker figures out how to compete with the big boys.

As broker-owner of Terry McCue Real Estate Inc., an independent Neptune Beach brokerage founded in 1968, Tracey McCue Paulsen wants to attract international customers. “With its beaches, golf and great economy, Jacksonville has a lot to offer global buyers,” says Paulsen, who leads the 10-associate firm. “But I’m not sure where to start, particularly since we would be competing with the big brokers, who already have global referral networks in place.”

FINDING THE COACH

To help Paulsen, Florida Realtor® contacted Zola Szerencses, an Orlando brokerassociate who is the 2014 chair of the Florida Realtors® Global Business Committee and the National Association of Realtors regional coordinator for Eastern Europe. “International customers will keep feeding you with contacts and referral opportunities as long as you treat them with respect and give them great service,” he says. “In many ways, it’s like building a local business. You have to stay focused on your goal and be patient. It takes time to develop those relationships but it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.”

1. Emphasize local expertise.

Szerencses starts the conversation by asking Paulsen if she’s already worked with international customers. “I’ve had a few investor buyers from Italy, Germany and other parts of Europe over the years,” she says. “Since taking over from my father, Terry McCue Sr., in 2006, I’ve brought in more agents, including several who are fluent in French, Spanish or German.”

Szerencses says that’s a great foundation for building international business. “Now, you have to look for your competitive advantage,” he says. “One strategy would be to emphasize your familiarity with the Jacksonville area, take advantage of your local expertise.”

Paulsen gets his point and agrees completely. “Through the years, we’ve worked with developers of condominiums, shopping centers and offices, so we’re really an excellent source of information about the area,” she says. “Plus, we’re familiar with the TPC Sawgrass golf tournament in Ponte Vedra, the beach communities and the Mayo Clinic, which is known worldwide.”

2. Start a blog.

To showcase that local knowledge, Szerencses recommends that Paulsen start a blog about the Jacksonville market. “This is a great way to bring in your dad’s experience and accomplishments as well as showcase your team and the highlights of your community,” he says. “That’s something you can do right away without paying a penny. All it takes is your time and energy.”

Paulsen is busy taking notes on the session, but already has at least a half-dozen ideas for a potential blog, including a post on the advantages of investing in the United States. “I’m also thinking about doing a video of our area, so I could send that out to prospects,” she adds.

In a blog or a video, Szerencses says, it’s very important to talk about why Florida and specifically Jacksonville are great places to invest. “You should explain our real estate process to international buyers because it’s very different than the rest of the world, except for Canada. For example, you could link your blog to your website pages that provide information to foreign buyers, while also letting them know that now is a great time to buy in Florida.”

3. Identify foreign-owned properties.

Now, Szerencses switches gears and gives Paulsen another suggestion: identify foreign-owned properties in her local market. “Throughout my career, I’ve found this a good strategy for generating international business,” he says. “In fact, my first transaction came from a Hong Kong company that owned vacant land in Florida. We did Everything over the phone and by fax because it was before the Internet. It turned out that the client’s cousins also had vacant land they wanted to sell, so I handled those transactions as well.”

Paulsen likes this suggestion. “We can look through the county’s records in the Ponte Vedra area and then put together a mail-out that highlights our local knowledge,” she says. “Do you have any other suggestions?”

“I’m glad you asked!” says Szerencses, who suggests looking more closely at the county records to see which owners have purchased in the last five years. “They may be more interested in selling, now that prices have rebounded,” he says. “Of course, you can always ask them for referrals as well.”

4. Develop an international real estate network.

Because so many international transactions in Florida begin with a referral from a broker or agent in another Country, Szerencses recommends that Paulsen start building a network with other professionals around the world.

“One of the best ways to do that is to earn the CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) designation from NAR,” he says. “Not only does that help establish your credentials in serving international customers, but it also provides you with access to a global network of more than 2,000 professionals who are active in all aspects of real estate.”

5. Build a team of local professionals.

As the makeover session winds down, Szerencses has one more recommendation for Paulsen. “You should reach out to attorneys, accountants, mortgage lenders, property managers and other professionals in the Jacksonville area,” he says. “If a prospective buyer has questions about a visa or wonders how to structure a transaction for tax reasons, you need a go-to person who can provide that help.”

To start building that team, Szerencses suggests going to meetings of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors Global Business Council in Jacksonville. “It’s a great way to meet like-minded people who also want to do business with foreign customers,” he says.

So was the makeover session helpful? “Absolutely,” says Paulsen. “I really learned a lot today and have some great jumping-off points to get started. It’s really inspiring to know that we can get into the international market and make it an important part of our business.”

This column provides advice from industry experts concerning marketing, technology and business issues. It won the Charlie Award (first place) in 2013 in the Best Department category from the Florida Magazine Association.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

She’s Tracking Her Marketing Dollars

Since her makeover in the January/February 2014 issue (“All Systems Go [to your bottom line!],” pg. 24), Christine Cleek, broker-owner of Rising Star Real Estate in Fort Walton Beach, has implemented a number of changes to track her marketing and lead generation procedures, with a focus on improving the productivity of her sales associates. “After our makeover, one of the first things I did was to institute new programs for greater agent accountability in responding to leads,” she says. “Already, that has made a very positive difference in our business.”

Read the full article at http://browndigital.bpc.com/article/Makeover/1663186/201925/article.html.

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