Luxury real estate has gone global.
Whether it’s a sleek apartment in Monaco or a refined townhouse in London, affluent buyers are collecting properties in many of the most cosmopolitan cities. That means today’s high-end real estate agents have a greater opportunity than ever to provide trusted service to — and build further value for — their clients with property goals outside the continental United States. For agents looking to expand their property horizons, there are several approaches to getting started.
Learn the lay of the land
For agents seeking to make global real estate inroads, the National Association of Realtors is a good place to start. NAR Global offers REALTORS® a chance to diversify their skills: the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation aims to provide agents with knowledge and tools to globalize their business, with a focus on international legalities and etiquette best practices, while the At Home with Diversity (AHWD) certification is designed to equip dynamic real estate professionals with “expertise that transcends cultural barriers.”
Beyond formal training, self-education about the countries, cultures, laws and tax codes in which clients have an interest allows real estate agents to provide an extra layer of service. Consummate research — always an integral part of servicing clients — becomes indispensable when looking beyond American borders.
Build your network
Real estate agents don’t have to micro-focus to be of value to their globally-minded clients.
“It’s not really necessary to become the expert on other locations — but having a competent agent that you can confide in and refer business to is key,” says Jorge Uribe, Sr. Vice President at Florida’s ONE Sotheby’s International Realty. “As tempting as it may be to think you can sell a property outside of the United States, you are much better off referring the sale to the best local agent wherever the property is located. Fortunately, I am part of Sotheby’s International Realty, and we have offices now in [72 countries].”
Beyond reaching out through brand networks, it’s critical for agents to carefully vet individual real estate agents to ensure a client will receive the level of care and customer service to which they have become accustomed. “It is hugely important in referring your client that you do your research to make sure the agent will do a great job,” says Uribe. “You should consider yourself the ‘client’s rep’. Interview several agents and determine which will best match your client’s expectations.”
Having secured your client the support of an agent outside the U.S., your role as their representative is to stay involved. Uribe maintains this connection in several ways. “One is communication. Make sure from the beginning you set expectations of feedback to your client — are you going to be keeping them updated, or is the other agent? Follow up with the agent on a regular basis — ask about visits and pricing.”
This strategy has led to more than 100 million dollars’ worth of real estate referrals globally for Uribe, allowing him to build even stronger relationships with clients and earn referrals in return.
“If you let clients know you can be of help globally, they are grateful,” he says. “They know you will take care of them when buying or selling a property out of state or internationally by making sure they land in the right hands.”
For a real estate agent, the trust that is built during this process is immeasurable, and as clients’ portfolios grow, so too does the relationship.
About Sotheby’s International Realty
Founded in 1976 to provide independent brokerages with a powerful marketing and referral program for luxury listings, the Sotheby’s International Realty® network was designed to connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 22,000 affiliated independent sales associates located in over 960 offices in 72 countries and territories worldwide. In 2017, the brand achieved a record global sales volume of $108 billion USD. Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, each brokerage firm and its clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.