Want to Grow Your Real Estate Business? Go International!

September 10 2010

Internationalconnectionsmap200pxCapturing business from American homebuyers has been tricky in the current housing market. But take heart. While real estate is local, foreign buyers are still buying in the US! REALTORS® focused on international homebuyers are seeing increases in that portion of their business.

According to a 2009 study by NAR, “The 23% of REALTORS® with international clients seem have seen an increase in overall business. “Fully a quarter of [REALTORS® with international clientele] indicated that their international business had increased.”

NAR also reported that, “A relatively small share of REALTORS® appears to account for the bulk of international sales in 2008/2009.” Statistics to this effect include:

  • 10 percent of the over 1.1 million REALTOR® membership had 6 or more international clients
  • Five percent of REALTORS® reported that more than 50 percent of their transactions were with international clients; of those, two percent indicated that 76 percent or more of their transactions were with a foreign client.
  • The median number of foreign clients purchasing property was approximately 1 for those REALTORS® indicating that they had a foreign client.
  • Many REALTORS® on the buy-side of a transaction have told us that they are familiar with the language, customs, culture, and needs of the specific nationality of buyers served, frequently having either been born in that country or having parents from the country.

Given these statistics, it may be profitable for real estate professionals to look into engaging the international community of homebuyers.

The study answered the following questions:

Where are these buyers coming from?

The study found that the majority of foreign buyers were from Europe, North America and Asia, with a smaller share from Latin America, Africa and Oceania. The largest percentage of international buyers was from Europe – 30.8 percent. North America was second (27.5 percent) and Asia third (25.2 percent).


Where are international buyers looking to purchase homes?
Eight out of ten foreign buyers bought property in the South and West of America. Florida was the top choice for European buyers. Asian buyers preferred properties in California, while those from Latin America bought the majority of their U.S. properties in Florida.

Who is best positioned for capturing international business?
Real estate professionals particularly from popular vacation states like Florida, California, Texas and Arizona seem to have more success in the international market.


What type of properties are international homebuyers buying?

The study shows that sixty-nine percent of REALTORS® reported that their international clients bought a single-family home. Condominiums were also popular, accounting for 18 percent of foreign purchases. Townhomes and commercial properties accounted for smaller shares of international purchases (nine percent and four percent, respectively).

What trends are effective ways to capture business?

The study seems to suggest that international business was won primarily through repeat business, personal reference and predominately via the Internet. Agents and brokers looking to capture more international business may consider using the Internet to connect with international homebuyers.

The previous NAR findings provide a beacon of light to struggling real estate professionals looking for new ways to grow their business. Now the question is:

How do real estate professionals engage international buyers? What global marketing technology is out there?

Immobel, a leading provider of multi-language property search technologies to real estate associations/MLSs in the U.S., has just launched Real-Buzz.com, a global listings and networking portal. This online database, allows real estate agents and brokers to sign up for the service and have their bio and property listings displayed on the site in 13 different languages. They provide a Facebook-like profile, unlimited blogging and invitations for consumers and fellow agents to connect with the agent. All of these services are provided in a number of languages.

“We’re the main way for REALTORS® to market themselves and their listings internationally,” says founder, Janet Choynowski. “We are translating about half of the MLS data in the United States into 13 languages. Those 13 languages total 91% of penetration of all Internet traffic worldwide.”

Once an agent or broker has provided their listings to Real-Buzz.com, they can also have their IDX data on their own websites powered in the same 13 languages, allowing online traffic to select which language they would like to read. This is a great way to help International buyers find you and get to know you better.

Unlike some websites who use “machine” translation which can provide inaccurate and sometimes even offensive content, Real-Buzz has a superior method to ensure translations are accurate and appropriate. “We have a proprietary way of getting it done – we do not use machine translation –that’s why the REALTOR® Associations have been using us,” explains Choynowski.

Currently 100,157 REALTORS® are using Real-Buzz.com. Once signed up, real estate professionals can control two profiles. One profile details their B2B profile for communicating with fellow sales professionals, and the other profile details their B2C profile for controlling their messaging with real estate consumers.

To sign up for this service, just visit www.real-buzz.comwww.real-buzz.com and sign up for their basic free service. If you would like to learn more about Immobel, please click here.

If your focus is on the luxury market you can also join one or more of the global marketing networks like LuxuryRealEstate.com or Leading Real Estate CompaniesLeading Real Estate Companies of the world to build awareness of your listings and your brand nationwide.

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If you would like to review the 2009 NAR Profile Of International Home Buying Activity report, please click here.