10 Ways to Build a Niche with International Real Estate Investing


Working with international clients can be professionally rewarding and extremely profitable, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Developing a successful niche in this area requires plenty of patience, personal attention, and problem-solving abilities, says broker James Wright, president and CEO of Century 21 All Islands in Oahu, Hawaii.

If you’re up for the adventure, working with foreign nationals is a marketable skill that will earn you lots of money in an increasingly global marketplace, says Wright, who holds the RSPS (Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist) certification.

“Globalization is becoming such an important part of our lives,” says Wright. “The lines between countries are just evaporating. One day, possibly even in my lifetime, I really think that we’ll have a single worldwide currency.”

10 Tips for Working With Foreign Nationals who want to invest in a US property

1. Really know the culture and language. If your market has an influx of investors from Thailand, for example, study up on the cultural norms and business practices from that country. Ideally, you will have traveled to the country that your clients are from. It will give you common ground, provide fodder for discussion, and prove that you’re really interested in their background. Also, take at least a basic language class so you have a foundation on which to communicate.

2. Explain your credentials in detail. Most foreign nationals want to know about your educational background, your advanced degrees and honors, your designations or certifications, awards, and any specialized training you’ve received. This will build credibility and assure clients that you’re qualified to handle their complex transaction.

3. Promise to work with them until the end. A transaction with a foreign national can take a long time — up to several years — and it can get very complicated to arrange financing and to secure the appropriate residency status with the U.S. government. Let clients know you’re in this for the long haul. Put in writing the service expectations you will meet and exceed.

4. Let them know how you do business, how you get paid. Don’t assume your foreign clients know how things work in the United States. Explain how you typically work with clients and emphasize that you are not paid until the deal closes. Be sure to get a buyer agreement signed.

5. Understand a thing or two about U.S immigration law. Understand common visa options and the requirements or limitations that an investor and his or her family will face. There’s a wide range of immigration statuses, from permanent resident alien — which is most similar to being a U.S. citizen — to undocumented alien, which presents far more hurdles in obtaining a mortgage and buying a home. Immigration law is very complicated, so be sure you have a trusted legal expert who you can consult on these issues.

6. Translate all contracts and disclosures into your clients’ native language. This is not only for their benefit, but also for your legal protection. If a translator is needed, be sure that it’s someone who you deeply trust. You can’t be certain that a third party brought in by the client is translating your messages correctly. If the client brings in his or her own translator, you also will want to have one of your own.

7. Don’t forget conversion rates. This is extremely important. If a client has the equivalent of $1.5 million in his bank account, but the money is in his native currency, a sudden change in currency rates can reduce the funds to $700,000 and throw the whole deal off track.

8. Help them integrate into society. Clients who are brand new to the United States may need a hand in learning local customs and culture. Show them around town — point out the banks, schools, and hospitals. Take them on a trip to the grocery store and explain how it works. Give them contact information of other clients from the same country, and provide names of local organizations or groups that can be resources. Don’t forget about the trailing spouses and children; they might be depressed about the move and will need help integrating, too.

9. Patience, patience, patience. Build rapport slowly but surely; trust is absolutely essential. In America we have a habit of jumping right into business, but international clients might need more time simply getting to know you before they share their personal information and motivations. Once the deal is under way, be ready for all sorts of hurdles. Documents and verifications from other countries take a long time, especially if they must be notarized by a U.S. embassy. Lending also can take longer if the client lacks a traditional credit report.

10. Get ready for referrals. If you’re good at what you do, watch out — you just may become an unofficial member of your client’s family! Working with foreign nationals is an intimate process, and you can expect lots of referrals to their friends and family if you exceed their expectations.

Original article by Kelly Quigley for REALTOR® Magazine Online

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2 responses to this post.

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