Tips for Real Estate Agents Working With International Buyers
When planning to sell a house, you shouldn't limit yourself to your local market. Investors all over the globe are interested in the U.S. housing market, so you should consider taking your house-selling strategy international. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) shows that international buyers invested up to $41 billion over 12 months in the U.S. housing market. If you can identify the needs of international buyers and learn tactics to showcase properties to them accordingly, you can snag your share of this multi-billion dollar pie.
If you need more convincing, NAR also revealed that international clients have a 50% closing rate; domestic clients have a 33% closing rate. In other words, opening up your market to international real estate buyers enables you to make up to 50% more on average than agents who work exclusively with local clients. And, as an added bonus, international buyers tend to favor luxury real estate - which means a healthy commission check for you! If you are unsure about the best ways to market properties to international buyers, this guide will help. Read on to learn how to hone your international real estate marketing skills.
Build Relationships With International Real Estate Agents
Building a network with international real estate agents teaches you about international processes and foreign investors. By making these connections, you will better understand what the global audience expects from a specific country while property hunting. Even better, established international real estate agents can refer potential customers to you. Referrals like these lead to higher chances of converting the prospect to a client. Also, if an agent knows you personally, they may show their clients your listings.
If you want to brush up on your networking skills before reaching out to international real estate agents, check out our podcast episode full of actionable networking tips to grow your business.
Offer Real Estate Listing Materials in Multiple Languages
One essential real estate international marketing strategy is to make your materials accessible to your target audience. Interact with the foreign buyers in their language if possible. When you create content or update details on your real estate website in your target audience’s language, you are basically opening the door to your business for them. You’re signaling that you are both willing and capable of serving their needs, starting with their language. To further differentiate yourself from other agents, you should explore advertising in the buyer's language through ads in magazines and newspapers in your target market's country. Even if many people around the globe speak English, this will make your services and real estate website more accessible, and it's also a way of demonstrating your commitment to going the extra mile for your clients. If you aren't conversational in the target language, it may be worth hiring a translator.
In addition, some property description details can be misinterpreted by international prospects, often due to inaccurate translations. Make sure all details are precise and understandable to your target international audience. If you overlook some standard terms used in the U.S., buyers in other countries may get confused. For instance, will you say a house is six miles or six kilometers away from town? Is the home’s size communicated in square meters or square footage? Keeping these little details in mind can be challenging, which is another reason why you may want to hire a translator.
Invest in High-Quality Photography and Videography for Your Listings
High-quality videos and photos have transformed the real estate market. Thanks to advances in technology, you can showcase properties to your audience and make a connection with prospective buyers from all over the world from the comfort of your couch. While local clients may enjoy online listings during their house search, foreign buyers rely on this tech to make their real estate purchases. After all, international buyers will not likely have a chance to see the space in person, so they will rely on the photos and videos on your site. With this in mind, it pays to have clear images of both the interior and external areas of the property available online. While at it, remember to de-clutter, shut the closets and doors, and fluff the pillows. (Need more home staging tips? We have you covered). If you aren't good at photography and videography or don't have the right equipment, consider hiring a professional to assist.
The more high-quality postings you have, the more international business you can attract. Real estate reports show that about 44% of potential homebuyers start their property search online. Also, approximately 73% of sellers prefer a real estate agent who uses videos to market homes.
Once you have great listing images and videos, don’t forget to share them to your social media platforms. Include videos highlighting available properties in the market, those you've just sold, and some customer testimonial videos to maximize your social media efforts.
Since international prospects won’t be able to explore the neighborhood themselves much of the time, consider posting a neighborhood video tour to help them better understand the surrounding community. You can also share fun information about the amenities in the neighborhood that might interest buyers.
According to NAR, 50% of international buyers purchase homes as primary residences and pay an average of $314,600. Most foreign buyers come from five countries: Canada (12%), China (12 %), Mexico (9%), India (6%), and Colombia (4%).
List the Property on the International Real Estate Publications
To attract foreign buyers, list your properties in international real estate publications. This way, you will increase your chances of getting more buyers’ attention. Consider listing your properties on ListGlobally, a site used by real estate professionals to promote their listings to international buyers. You will have global exposure to more than 60 nations and more than 100 property portals, which will help you gain more leads to boost your home sales.
You can visit the ListGlobally site to review the pricing plans and find one that suits your needs. Pricing mostly depends on the number of properties you intend to share. After registering for an account, ListGlobally will retrieve your selected listing(s) via your CRM, direct feed, or regional MLS. ListGlobally helps translate your listings and enhance your features to help you attract potential buyers. Available listings are updated daily through direct feeds, though you can update the listing details through your dashboard when uploading manually.
How Do Real Estate Transactions Differ Between Domestic and International Buyers?
The closing process is the culmination of a lengthy procedure that could include tense negotiations, discussions with other real estate professionals, mortgage lenders, lawyers, and potential financial drama. For domestic buyers, you will sign a variety of documentation and also discuss the paperwork with several parties, such as the lender and the selling agent. Local real estate fees and custom laws vary from state to state. For instance, some states will tax real estate property while others levy a tax on mortgage recording. Still, title insurance is standard in the U.S., unlike most foreign countries.
For international buyers, the process is a bit different. For instance, a foreign homebuyer who purchases property in the U.S. will be subject to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA). Per the IRS, FIRPTA authorizes “the United States to tax foreign persons on dispositions of U.S. real property interests… Persons purchasing U.S. real property interests (transferees) from foreign persons, certain purchasers' agents, and settlement officers are required to withhold 15% of the disposition.” In other words, 15% of the disposition must be withheld until the government determines that there are no outstanding obligations to the IRS. Additionally, foreign buyers may have more complexities in obtaining a mortgage than domestic buyers. The international buyer will have to sign documentation to prove international assets and creditworthiness.
Also, foreign buyers should be aware of some potential tax issues such as gains tax, income tax, estate tax issues, and local and state transfer tax. Despite the complexities, there are many successful transactions involving foreign investors, so these processes shouldn't deter a mutually satisfactory closing.
Ready to Attract International Real Estate Investors?
The above tips are a great starting point to attract foreign buyers and grow your real estate business. For more resources about the real estate industry and expert tips to take your real estate career to new heights, visit our Agent Essentials resource hub.