When it comes to real estate, it is now almost impossible to live in vacuum and protect oneself from global events or influences. Real estate agents who want to ride the wave of the future must now look beyond local and embrace global. This is not to say that local is not important — it is, and it always will be — but now is the time to look globally for opportunities.
Factors including the conservative Canadian banking system, universal healthcare, the solid international reputation, the abundance of water and resources, proximity to the United States, and a stable political system have positioned Canada as one of the safer havens for international buyers. The expanded marketplace might have resulted from the creation of international trade associations, shifting geopolitical barriers or even the advances of social media. Whatever the root cause, the reality is that globalization is clearly evident today in the Canadian real estate market — even as hyperlocal real estate becomes increasingly important.
Realtors have a number of ways to embrace the new global reality, one of which is through brokerage affiliations such as Christie’s International, Mayfair, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Leverage Global Partners and Luxury Portfolio.
Chris Kapches, CEO of Chestnut Park Real Estate in Toronto, aligned the prestigious Chestnut Park brand with Christie’s International Real Estate in order to expand their reach globally. “We joined Christie’s International to become part of a global real estate network located in 46 different countries and comprised of over 29,000 Realtors worldwide,” Kapches says. “Instantly, our local credibility and brand strength was now global.”
Another route to embrace global reality is through participation in localized international real estate trade associations such as AREAA. Richard Silver is one prominent Toronto Realtor who embraced technology before most in the industry and was one of the early adopters when real estate started to expand globally. Silver recently became a director of AREAA’s Toronto Chapter (Asian Real Estate Association of America). “After more than 30 years working in one of the most diverse markets in the world, I decided to learn more to attract international clients and also to help my existing clients in their investments offshore,” Silver says. “I went to their event in New York last year and was referred a $3.5 million condo that just sold.”
The International Real Estate Federation known as FIABCI (based in Paris, France) is one of the longest-standing international organizations. FIABCI-Canada’s secretary-general, Jerry England, in a recent conversation said: “Let’s face it, the real estate industry has become increasingly international in its outlook — be it marketing to overseas buyers or acting on behalf of offshore vendors. If you don’t have ‘international credibility,’ it’s probably costing you business.”
In his opinion, FIABCI provides a direct way to ensure you and your business have an international perspective and stay on top of real estate trends around the globe. “Membership in FIABCI positions you as one of the world’s leading property professionals by providing opportunities to network with members from overseas, as well as attending key international events and, by doing so, gain exposure to numerous sources of international referrals,” he notes.
“While what you know is important, who you know can be more relevant,” he adds.
Realtors who want to expand their book of business can take the CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) designation offered by NAR, which provides a designation course dealing with international buyers and sellers, says the vice president of corporate development for the Real Estate Institute of Canada (REIC), Gareth Jones. He also notes, “Recent CREA and NAR events have started to include lectures dedicated to addressing the nuances of operating in the global market place.”
Barbara Corcoran, the dynamic founder of The Corcoran Group in New York, shared the benefits of going after the international market when she spoke at Real Estate Connect New York 2015. Corcoran says some of her top producers’ success was directly tied to business derived internationally. The real estate agent who opens up their business globally will not only recognize greater economic gains, but they will find the whole process very educational and enlightening. As the saying goes, “The world is your oyster.”
“Foreign buyers and investors are attracted to the strength and stability of the Canadian real estate market, which is supported by a structurally sound banking system and a dynamic and global business environment,” says Dan Conn, the CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate. “Canada’s major economic centers benefit from a diversity of economic activity and cultures, all of which add to the appeal of its real estate offering. These markets also boast world-class views, top skiing destinations, outstanding wine regions and other highly desirable amenities. All of this will make Canadian real estate increasingly attractive to foreign buyers over the coming years.”
Don Kottick is the executive vice president of corporate development for Peerage Realty Partners, the parent company for Chestnut Park Real Estate and Baker Real Estate based in Toronto.