Join the exceptional and become a Sotheby's International Realty agent.
(Above) Talita Haggist, Global Real Estate Advisor at Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty; Amber Anderson, Real Estate Professional at Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty; and K. Ann Brizolis, Real Estate Professional at Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty.
With a resurgence of international travel, there’s also plenty of international investment in luxury properties. But while this presents potentially lucrative opportunities for agents, it also poses challenges. How can you provide value to local clients who are looking to venture overseas? And how can you identify and form relationships with foreign prospects when they could be located anywhere in the world?
Before agents begin to grow their global contact list, is there anything they should do to lay the groundwork?
Amber Anderson: Learn as much as you can about the process of buying real estate abroad. Not all countries allow you to purchase as a non-citizen, so it’s important to understand the local laws for international buyers. Having the knowledge of how real estate works in other countries is critical in educating and preparing our clients so they understand important topics like the fee structure, timing of transactions, and ownership rights.
Ann Brizolis: I add that an agent focused on an international clientele should start by doing in-depth research regarding which countries are likely to purchase in their neighborhood or city and why, and seek out markets to focus on. Learn more about the community they’re leaving behind, and become an expert in the community they’re most likely to move to.
What about building an international network of real estate colleagues? What’s the best way to go about that?
Talita Haggist: Sponsoring events is the holy grail of network building. They provide visibility and control over the agenda, the message, and the delegate and attendee lists.
AA: If you’re not at a point in your career where you can host or sponsor an event, make sure to get involved in global networking conferences. The FIABCI World Real Estate Congress takes place every year and is a good introduction to the international community. And when you travel, be sure to stop into local offices and meet agents to add to your network.
AB: I second that. If you’re truly interested in the international luxury market, you must travel. Contact real estate professionals and set appointments to meet them in their country.
How can agents continue to nurture the skills they need in order to connect and support their global clientele?
TH: Real estate is inherently about local knowledge. The best way to cultivate a global clientele is to establish relevance for them. What about your locale is compelling, and what cultural similarities or relationships exist? Begin a blog or create other original content that highlights them and regularly share it with your international prospects.
AA: Yes, it’s so crucial to be educated on any areas you wish to serve. Our clients expect a higher level of service, so it’s important we provide the best resources to our clients.
Do you have any advice on how to identify and target overseas markets that may be relevant to your region?
AB: An international buyer is more likely to move to a community where they fit in with the demographics. They may have family, friends, or colleagues in a certain community, allowing a more seamless transition to a new country.
TH: We also pay close attention to the offshore markets that tend to have the greatest cash surpluses. Since money goes where it’s best treated, the reinvestment of offshore funds is a leading indicator of future performance. Currency fluctuations inform the investment of surplus cash, so having direct access to investors across the globe allows us to continuously add value amidst market fluctuations.
AA: But make sure you stay up on currency changes. I had a deal almost fall apart when the dollar changed and the buyers had to bring in an extra $100K to the closing. Working with currency exchange companies to lock in an exchange rate is an important step the buyers should be aware of.
Are there any final pieces of advice you’d like to share with luxury agents looking to build a global client base?
AA: Partner with agents and share homes from all over the world on your social media and in your marketing newsletters. It starts the narrative that you truly do have a global network.
TH: I agree, leveraging relationships with other agents and past clients helps establish one’s subject matter expertise, and provides valuable social proof with which to expand one’s network.
AB: But you need to have patience. It can take time to build your network. Put yourself in front of agents, clients, and colleagues that you can learn from, and become an expert in your community and sphere.