As the government’s control eases ever so slightly in Cuba, the island nation is poised to see industries, including real estate, grow in the coming years and this can create opportunities for agents on both shores.
Susan Leger Ferraro, a member of the Forbes Real Estate Council has noted that processs isns’t gong to be easy.
“My first visit to Cuba was in 2015, and it was love at first sight. Life in Cuba is all about passion and simplicity, and I decided I wanted that life,” she wrote in Forbes. “I wanted to give others the joy of visiting Cuba too, so I set out to support the development and expansion of infrastructure to meet the growing demands for tourism.”
As she has worked with Cubans to modernize apartments to host tourists, Ferraro has come up with some strategies she said can help a fledgling real estate industry in an emerging economy.
A foundation is built by developing and hiring local talent.
“Wherever you seek to invest, work to develop and enhance the capacity of the local population,” she wrote. “This is especially important in countries like Cuba, where international mentorship opportunities are limited.”
Meeting the locals can be done through hosting meet-and-greets with local vendors.
Another step is to build the infrastructure.
Cubans are investing in their homes, which include rooms that are rented out to trustis.
“I worked with owners of casas particulares to help them enhance their properties and market their rooms more effectively,” Ferraro wrote. “I also encouraged them to charge higher rates once these improvements were made.”
The relationships are based on trust and in a country where anti-American sentiment runs high, Ferraro said it is important to lead with heart.
“In your selected location, explore opportunities to show your commitment based on the specific needs and customs of the local population,” she said.
For increased chances for success, forge alliances with other entrepreneurs.
“Connecting with even one local entrepreneur connects you to many others,” she said. “Small, local business owners are taking risks and by supporting and leveraging them, you can help create an authentic ecosystem for tourists which benefits both tourism and the supporting infrastructure.”
Creating opportunities for people-to-people exchanges also can provide a common framework for building trust.
“Visiting the local schools and hospitals to learn about what kinds of support they need or programs they could benefit from creates opportunities for collaboration in an area of universal need: education and health care,” Ferraro pointed out. “Then, you can angle your initiatives so that the impact is where it is most needed.”
Lastly, Ferrero said it is vital to collaborate to build capacity.
“An international real estate business offers a unique platform for growth and a direct way to make a difference in the lives of a community,” she said.