The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) tells us that foreign investment into the US residential market totaled $121B from April 2017 to March 2018. Figure it out, everyone. This $121B translates into $7.3B in commissions, based upon a 6% commission.

If you’d like to “get your share” of this foreign investment, it’s time for you to cultivate your niche of foreign investors.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Know your foreign buyer’s motivations for owning residential property in America. Common motivations include…
    1. Children – Foreign investors often have children attending American colleges and universities. Parents of foreign students want their children to live in safe, convenient and, often, branded residential units in proximity to those schools.
    2. Rental income
    3. A “safe” place to “put their money.”
  2. Familiarity breeds loyalty.
    1. Foreign investors do not “know” about non-coastal or southern markets.
    2. The more you as an agent know about your market, the better.
    3. A good example here is Chicago. Not many foreigners “know” the value of Chicago in terms of cultural amenities AND that Chicago’s rental market produces rental income comparable to Boston and Miami.
  3. Trustworthiness is tantamount.
    1. Foreign investors wholly rely on real estate agents for market knowledge, location knowledge and exceptional customer service.
    2. Put yourself in the shoes of someone coming to a new country, trying to understand a new language, learning new norms, etc.
    3. Do for your foreign investors what you would want someone to do for you if you were asking for help from a professional.
    4. Create “extra” services for your foreign investors such as forging relationships with schools, neighborhood and cultural attractions, shopping and business owners.
    5. Creating an aura and a reality of trustworthiness with foreign investors is more time consuming and difficult due to the geographic distance and cultural differences BUT when a foreign investor trusts an agent to get them the very best property for their needs at the very best price, foreign investors reward their agents with loyalty, often multiple transactions and referrals.
  4. Passion and hard work speak the same language in and to any culture. No translator necessary.
  5. Be mobile.
    1. Know that China and Southeast Asia have more mobile users than the entire US population.
    2. According to Eric Chen, director of the Asia Pacific Initiatives with Long and Foster Real Estate, the cell phone”… is the search and communications tool of choice for overseas buyers…your marketing has to be mobile friendly.”
    3. Make sure your virtual reality tours, videos and floor plans on your listing pages work for smartphone viewing.
    4. Make sure your contact information is easy to find and clickable by just tapping a finger.
    5. Make sure you optimize your web design so that large photos and complicated formats DO NOT SLOW DOWN loading speeds.
    6. REMEMBER…people have NO patience, regardless of nationality. If something takes longer than 3 seconds, the user has gone to another website and another agent.

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