Mr. Liu is a business man living in Zhengzhou, which is the capital of a lesser-known province in the middle of China called Henan. After years of hard work, he has a successful career and a happy family with two lovely children. Is he all settled? No, he wants to move across the world to the U.S. and educate his children in a great school.

  • Chinese buyers have become the largest segment of foreign investors in the U.S. after having spent about $22 billion dollars last year on U.S. real estate.
  • In 2014, nearly 270,000 Chinese students came to the U.S. to study.
  • Liu's experience is similar to that of many Chinese homebuyers who are looking to educate their children in the U.S.

Mr. Liu is a business man living in Zhengzhou, which is the capital of a lesser-known province in the middle of China called Henan.

After years of hard work, he has a successful career and a happy family with two lovely children. Is he all settled? No, he wants to move across the world to the U.S. and educate his children in a great school.

This narrative is a common one we see with Chinese buyers who are looking to purchase homes in the U.S. and invest in their children’s educations. I’m going to share our experience in working with Liu to give a little insight into what working with overseas buyers is like.

Knowing how to work with Chinese buyers has become increasingly important as Chinese investment in U.S. residential property has grown significantly.

Chinese buyers have become the largest group of foreign investors in the U.S. and are estimated to have spent about $22 billion last year on U.S. real estate.

And much of that investment was motivated by buyers who want to educate their children in the U.S. Last year, close to 270,000 Chinese students came to the U.S. to study.

The American dream

Liu is an excellent example of this type of homebuyer as well as how they work and what they desire. He has always dreamed about living in the U.S., and that includes sending his children to study in America.

In about two months, after he has obtained green cards for everyone, he plans to move his family to Orlando, Florida.

Because he has never been to the U.S., he needs information and guidance on Orlando and homes there. In September, he contacted our team to obtain information about properties in Orlando and discuss his requirements.

Liu has seen the environment deteriorating, and he has concerns about the Chinese education system for his young children.

His 8-year-old daughter is in the third grade in a Chinese primary school now, and she will continue her elementary schooling in Orlando. His primary requirement is that the house is in an excellent school district. His son is 3 years old now, and in a few years, he, too, will need a stellar elementary school.

Liu’s initial budget was around $500,000, but when he learned more about the general real estate market, he was surprised by his findings.

He learned the average and median home price in Orlando is cheap compared to other cities, and he will be able to buy a home in Orlando for about $300,000 to $400,000 that’s close to a good elementary school.

The second-most-important requirement for Liu is that the home can be easily sold again in the future, just in case he wants to move to another city in U.S. — and preferably a property with a small number of rooms because he believes smaller homes are easier to sell.

Liu was put in contact with Alice; she is one of our member agents in Orlando.

Truly connecting with the client

Understanding his top requirements — an excellent public school and the budget — agent Alice recommended three schools, and she passed the schools’ information along to Liu.

To give Mr. Liu more details about houses in the area, we held a three-party conference call, in which Liu, Alice and our team exchanged ideas directly.

With a clear understanding of the client’s needs and advanced preparation, Alice provided more information on these schools as well as the nearby properties.

On the call, Liu was also informed that properties with four bedrooms are easier to resell than one- or two-bedroom properties in the U.S. because many Americans have two or more children rather than the one child most Chinese families have. Liu felt the conversation was informative.

Alice then sent him listings are appropriate for him after the conference call. Now, Mr. Liu is keen to visit Orlando in November and looking forward to having Alice show him properties.

This is just one example, and there are many variations. Many potential Chinese buyers have dozens of questions that need to be answered long before they consider flying to the U.S. and buying a home.

Understanding the priorities of overseas buyers is paramount in building a relationship with potential clients. In this case, quality schools, location and budget were central to the conversation long before listings were proposed.

Provide all the information you can to help ease their decision-making process. Professional and prompt responses to their questions as well as having an open, ongoing dialogue are essential to ensuring a strong relationship that will lead to a successful deal.

Sam Van Horebeek is a director at East-West Property Advisors, a U.S. real estate advisory firm based in China. You can follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Email Sam Van Horebeek.

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