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You have converted a global client lead into a client. What buying signs should you watch for and what do you need to know in terms of doing the best job for them throughout the negotiation process?
Negotiation can be particularly difficult when you work with global buyers. This can be especially challenging when your clients are not fluent in a language that you speak. A good place to begin is with some general factors that apply to almost all global clients.
1. Ask about their preferences, not their pocketbook
American agents typically ask American clients how much they want to spend. This question is taboo (as is the discussion of money matters) in most places in the world. A better approach is email your clients pictures of several types of properties in various price ranges and locations. You can then ask which properties they found to be the most appealing. Their choice will give you the correct price range and location.
2. The one and only buying sign
Many international buyers show no outward signs of emotion when viewing property. The one universal buying sign, however, occurs when the clients excuse themselves to discuss the property in their own language. When this happens, politely step away. Do listen for their tone of voice as a way to identify which client is pushing for the sale vs. who may be objecting.
3. Be the solution to their problems
Your global clients often lack resources in the United States to assist them with their transaction. A number of speakers at Real Estate Connect NYC mentioned they had a team of specialists available to handle any issues their international clients might have.
For example, many international clients would like to consult with an attorney about what the exact provisions of the various contracts and disclosures mean. While it may be difficult to find a practicing attorney who speaks their language, often there is a paralegal or someone on the office staff who can translate on your clients’ behalf.
Another place where international clients may need legal advice is how to bring money into the United States. Again, the taboos about discussing money make this issue complex. As a result, they will probably never ask about this.
This is where you need to be proactive, since many international clients have no idea that their down payment (or cash to purchase) must be in a U.S. account for at least 60-90 days before they can use it to close a house. (This has to do with money laundering issues.)
If you are working in the international luxury market, your clients may have multiple properties in different locations. As a result, they will need referrals for where they can hire staff, find good contractors to maintain the property on their behalf, as well as expecting their agent to deliver concierge-style services when they are in town. Their mindset is often, “We just want to bring our toothbrush.” Everything else must be handled for them.
4. The one factor that can kill all future referrals
Agents often fail to realize that many international clients will select someone who doesn’t speak their language in order to prevent the agent from gossiping about them in their community. Confidentiality is absolutely critical. In fact, as one highly successful international agent put it, “They are paranoid about their privacy.”
Where this can be especially tricky is when the wife starts asking for more details about her husband’s financial situation. If she doesn’t know the information, then you never share it. Simply say, “I always refer all the financial questions back to your husband or his financial adviser.”
5. Understand how real estate differs in their country vs. the U.S.
One of the best opportunities for assisting your global clients is to understand how real estate is handled in their native country. An excellent example is in China. Their real estate is mostly on leased land. As a result, many Chinese are accustomed to purchasing properties that may be on a land lease of 99 years. They are unfamiliar with fee simple title and also have no knowledge of the U.S. title system. Once they learn about this aspect of U.S. property ownership, most are eager to pursue an outright purchase.
6. Respect for their cultural values
While it’s certainly true that clients have to adjust how business is done in the United States, it is still important to be aware of the cultural differences. The best approach is to ask about how things differ in their country. By being curious about their country (without digging into having them talk about themselves), you can often learn valuable information that will help you navigate through the transaction.
Also remember, no matter where most people come from, enthusiasm and politeness go a long way in better serving almost any client.
Do you want to know more about global clients? If so, don’t miss Part 4 on Thursday.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.