Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series.
What does it take to successfully market to and attract global clients? Some of global real estate’s finest practitioners shared their wisdom at this year’s Real Estate Connect in New York City.
A niche serving global clients can be highly profitable for your real estate business. NAR’s research shows that global clients have a 50 percent closing rate compared with a 33 percent closing rate for domestic clients. Furthermore, agents who work with global clients on average make 50 percent more than agents who work exclusively with domestic clients. If you’re interested in tapping into this lucrative market, here’s how to do it.
1. A strategy for breaking into the international luxury market
Patricia Cliff, the author of the new book, "Selling Luxury Real Estate," shared her advice on how agents can successfully begin working with the international luxury real estate market. Cliff said she had the best luck working with the vendors of luxury rather than with luxury agents. When she visits another country, she makes a point of scheduling an appointment with a luxury jeweler, the Rolls Royce dealer, and private bankers. Her goal is to make three to five worthwhile connections.
To illustrate this point, Cliff told a story about how she purchased a $5,000 piece of jewelry to cement the relationship with a local jeweler who would send her referrals. She also recommended that you conduct a detailed Google search prior to any meeting you have with the luxury vendor or potential client.
2. Know your customer
When you receive a referral, learn as much as possible about the person, his country of origin, his business, or any other important aspects of his life. This is at the heart of connection. Cliff advises, however, that if your clients are flying in from outside the area, do not let them out of your sight until they have signed an offer. This is especially true in the ultra-luxury market where competing agents aggressively pursue high-net-worth clients.
3. Be their concierge and their adviser
Global clients need your advice. Help them navigate through the complex process of purchasing in the U.S. The means you will need a lineup of stellar service providers, including inspectors, title, repair people, attorneys, bankers, high-net-worth advisers — anyone the client may need to close the transaction. Your clients want to know that you are an expert and that they can rely on you to handle all aspects of the transaction. It’s also helpful to create a guide to purchasing in your area. Develop a reputation for being a disseminator of accurate information and for providing concierge-style service.
4. Luxury listings attract luxury buyers
Cliff feels that the best way to attract clients is to have a large inventory of properties that are attractive to specific client types.
For example, people from Hong Kong normally prefer new condominium buildings on the West Coast of the United States.
And depending upon which coast they’re from, many Canadians prefer San Diego and Palm Springs or Naples, Fla. If you are selling real estate in one of these areas, it makes sense to market to global clients who are high-probability buyers for your location.
5. International clients want international expertise
If you are going to compete in the global luxury market, you must also be familiar with not only what is happening domestically, but what is happening internationally. Global buyers often comparison shop, not only between cities, but between countries as well.
6. Reach out in other languages
If you are fluent in another language, make a video about your area in that language. Tina Mak blogs in Chinese and has attracted a strong following from China.
You may be surprised to learn that you don’t have to speak another language to reach people from other countries in their native language. Janet Choynowski of Immobel.com cited research that suggests 72 percent of all Internet users search and get their results in a language other than English.
To demonstrate the implications for online real estate, Choynowski recommends searching www.Google.com.mx. Next, when the search box comes up, enter "Casas en venta" plus the name of your city. (Be sure to use the quotation marks around the search term.)
When I did this for "Beverly Hills," the two top entries were on the Real Buzz platform from Choynowski’s company, Immobel.com. Currently, Immobel consistently comes up as the top international portal for listings in the languages for which Immobel does listing translation. This platform is the easiest and least expensive way to have your listings found by offshore buyers and sellers.
7. Global clients are mobile clients
Global clients are almost always mobile clients. Even if they use a desktop or laptop at home, when they travel they normally view property on a tablet computer or cell phone. Consequently, your marketing pictures and videos must be attractive on different sized devices.
8. Avoid abbreviations
When you are marketing globally, it’s important to spell out terms such as bedroom, bath and any other acronyms you use. Also, since much of the world is on the metric system, it’s smart to make certain listing information available in both square feet and square meters.
Your marketing has attracted a global client, but how do you close them? See Part 2 of this series on Thursday to learn more.