Join the exceptional and become a Sotheby's International Realty agent.
For the past three years, luxury buyers have been on the move. Increased opportunities to work remotely — and, by extension, live remotely — have enabled them to embrace new lifestyles or seek a higher quality of life, whether that means exploring regions and markets with better weather, lower costs, or a more relaxed pace.
As a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) with specialized training in assisting individuals acquiring properties overseas, I’ve had a front-row seat to this influx of high-end homebuyers. Having honed my real estate expertise in the U.K. before relocating to Jamaica, I can help clients navigate the legalities and processes of international transactions — because I’ve been through that journey myself.
After all, it’s up to us as agents to assist our clients in understanding the specific laws, regulations, and requirements when they intend to make a purchase in a foreign country. Here are some core considerations and focus areas I’ve drawn from my experience.
3 challenges to be aware of
Any agents working with clients to purchase overseas properties will know that there are more complications and obstacles to navigate. But which ones pose the most significant risks if they’re overlooked? There are three that I suggest paying special attention to:
- Laws and regulations around acquiring and owning real estate need to be understood in full, as they vary widely from place to place.
- Throughout the buying process, agents need to follow fluctuating exchange rates and currency differences so their clients have an accurate idea of what they’re paying.
- Larger overarching factors need to be tracked proactively, including the economic stability of the country in question, as well as its particular political situation.
The network you create is critical
All luxury agents know the powerful effect networks have when the best and brightest are brought together for the sake of their clients’ success. But when it involves buying overseas properties, it’s even more critical.
Build credibility with other agents
Is your referral network and sphere of influence optimized for overseas sales? For example, being a CIPS means that I’m part of a select directory of certified international agents. This exclusive network enables seamless global referrals and connections. Pursuing such a certification may not be the goal of all luxury agents, but it’s worth looking into how you might expand your own cross-border connections with agents who are well-versed in international transactions.
I expand my knowledge in diverse markets — and enhance my visibility among overseas agents — by actively participating in international property meetings and seminars. Take full advantage of industry events and networking opportunities. These interactions allow us to continually broaden our expertise and strengthen connections in the global real estate arena.
Establish an ecosystem of experts
When it comes to mitigating risks, few strategies are more effective than engaging with experts familiar with the local jurisdictions your buyers are exploring. In my role, I collaborate closely with professionals who specialize in assisting expats and repats, including an independent mortgage broker with access to the full market, as well as a seasoned real estate attorney. Their expertise and experience are invaluable resources for navigating potential roadblocks and ensuring a smooth property acquisition process.
Additionally, I offer trusted recommendations for various services — encompassing builders, property management, cultural integration, and residency support. These suggestions are rooted in the positive experiences of fellow expats and repats who have not only availed themselves of these services, but have discovered how beneficial they can be in facilitating their transition to a new environment.
Speak and teach from experience
As an expat who has been through the transition of relocating from one country to another, I can provide insights to my clients firsthand. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be an expat or repat to effectively help clients with overseas purchases. However, it’s essential to approach these sales with a high level of expertise, context and empathy to ensure you anticipate all their challenges and exceed all their expectations.
Nicola White is an experienced, professionally qualified estate agent in the U.K., as well as a licensed realtor in Jamaica. Having worked in the property field in both countries, Nicola enjoys serving her clients and working hard to meet their needs — whether buying, renting, selling, or investing in land or property, both in residential and commercial markets.