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5 Tips for Working with International Home Buyers


International home buyers continue to be a significant presence in the U.S. real estate market. So how can U.S. real estate brokerages and investors improve their processes to win more of this business?

International real estate investors, home buyers, and vacation home seekers have become a substantial part of the American property market. In some areas, they have even been responsible for the majority of activity. They are certainly regarded as well qualified buyers. They often pay cash and top dollar. Without overseas buyers, many U.S. markets wouldn’t be doing as well as they have. Both Miami and San Diego are perfect examples. Most real estate professionals recognize this, and are looking for ways to do more business with international clients. So how can stateside real estate professionals gain more of this business?

  1. Know Who Your Home Buyers Are

Among the most active foreign buyers in the USA, according to the National Association of Realtors, are buyers from:

  • Mexico
  • Canada
  • China
  • UK
  • Brazil
  • India

Western European, Russian, and Australian buyers are a big force in the real estate market too. This is a huge demographic. This pool of buyers is responsible for around 30% of the activity. The challenge is that buyers from these countries are all different. They speak different languages, they have different cultures, and they have different obstacles to overcome in the process (or fewer). Even seasonal currency value fluctuations can play a part. Much of the same can even be said about domestic buyers from different states and regions.

Clearly the home, deal, and marketing that appeals to one buyer isn’t going to be the best fit or most attractive to another. Different buyers are drawn to different areas. Canadians, Brazilians and New Yorkers are drawn to Southeast Florida. British buyers are often drawn to Southwest Florida. Asian buyers have been particularly hot on San Diego, CA real estate. You’ve got to understand who your buyers are if you are going to win their business.

  1. Understand What Your Buyers Want

Different buyers are looking for different things. They are trying to solve different problems. They are attracted to different types of properties, and to different types of marketing and branding. They have different reasons for buying U.S. properties:

  • Finding a dream vacation home
  • Having a US home base for doing business
  • Wealth preservation
  • Yields and income
  • Portfolio diversification
  • To obtain a visa or residency
  • To live in full time
  • To join in the trend

A buyer that needs a visa may have to purchase a home over a certain price point. Showing them anything less is going to lose them. An overseas investor looking for bullet proof wealth preservation might be happy buying at high prices in dense urban areas, even if the cash flow is almost non-existent. Regardless of the promised ROI, they may be turned off by more rural property. You’ve got to know why they are interested in buying.

  1. Understand Their Concerns

Spoken or unspoken; objections are the deal killer. Building up high amounts of real estate website traffic is great. Subscribers and viewings can be even better, but even a spike in offers might mean little if you haven’t solved their objections: price objections, location issues, and design tastes. Most real estate investors and agents should be skilled at solving these items. International buyers can have other concerns too. Some might be surprised at them. According to NAR, one of the top reasons foreign buyers haven’t pulled the trigger and actually closed deals is that they haven’t been able to find properties! Maybe you can help them with that.

Other considerations include; distance, taxes, financing, and ensuring their prestigious purchase doesn’t set them up to look foolish to their friends later on.

  1. Understand the Difference in Process

Buying a home is different overseas. Real estate terms and terminology is different. Different types of insurances are required (and not). The title process is different. For real estate sellers that really want to excel and dominate this niche it is worth exploring how these processes and terms are different from what their buyers are accustomed to. Then you can help them understand the differences. You can help streamline the decision and transaction process.

  1. Specialize

Serious, savvy, and qualified buyers of everything look to specialists. They are happy to pay fair rates for great service from a reputable expert. So how can more real estate agents and investors establish themselves as the specialist for these buyers? Speak their language, or hire someone who does. Reach them early – where they are at. And before they visit the US. Make sure your branding highlights you as the expert in this niche, and the best to help them. Demonstrate your value by offering to connect them with essential services like tax strategists, immigration attorneys, bankers, and others.

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