Want to build a global client portfolio by attracting overseas buyers and investors? Considering the following stats, it’s easy to see why;
- From 2010 to 2015, Chinese buyers spent around $93 billion on homes in the US for investments and occupancy – Source
- Compared to a 33 percent closing rate for domestic clients, overseas clients have a 50% closing rate – Source
- The US attracted around $13 billion in real estate investment commitments from China in 2016 alone – Source
But what does it take to reach out and engage with global clients who are unfamiliar with how property investments work in your area, when they don’t even speak the same language? Let’s find out.
SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE, GAIN THEIR TRUST
As a real estate agent, it can be incredibly challenging dealing with international real estate investors if you have never done it before. Legalities and financing requirements for loan processes, are already complex as they are and even more so for a foreign client. You keep finding yourself lost in translation more times than you would like.
While it definitely helps if both you and your clients speak a common language, you can still engage with them even if you don’t.
Speak the same Language? Use It!
If you know how to speak and write in the same language, use it to your advantage. Try to engage with them the same way you would with clients who speak English as their first language.
For example, let’s say that you speak fluent Portuguese and target Brazilian investors. You can make videos promoting your area in this language. A real world example is realtor Tina Mak, who specializes in the US property market but has a blog in Chinese and a strong fan following in China.
Tune into Technology
Remember, clients will only engage with agents they can be comfortable with. But they can’t do that if you keep asking for clarification at every point. So, even if you don’t speak the same language, it’s imperative that you eliminate any language barriers beforehand. Fortunately, you can always resort to technology to bridge this gap.
For example, international lead generating websites like Realtor.com, various social media platforms, and mobile technologies make foreign investments more accessible for international investors. As a result, more investors are relying on these resources for investment opportunities that were otherwise out of reach.
To reach out and engage with this audience:
- Use the Right Apps: Applications like Google Translate and iTranslate make it super convenient to communicate with overseas clients online. Google Translate, for example, can interpret speech in handwriting, text and speech form. You can also use the same app to enable investors to translate the words on your website
- Use Channels that are Popular With Clients: Make sure that you have an account on communication platforms that your clients are familiar with. For example, Facebook is an obviously poor choice for communicating with Chinese investors since the social media website is banned in the country. A better choice would be a platform, like WeChat, which has around 850 million monthly active users and Chinese real estate investors use frequently. Improve Foreign Search Engine Results for your Website: Develop a high quality foreign language version of your website. Make sure that it is also optimized to come up on popular search results on your targeted foreign search engine. For example, to improve your website’s online visibility for Chinese investors optimize it for Baidu; China’s alternative for Google. Around 70% of all online searches in China are carried out on this platform. Also, tailor your content accordingly. For ideas, ask yourself questions like how you can provide a quality experience for them (Mandarin services/ consultations etc)?
Seek Multicultural Teammates
Real estate agencies often keep their staff multicultural to deal with international clients. Multilingual agents are useful for translations and interpretation. If you work in such an agency and want to attract foreign investors, seek out teammates who speak the same language and have the same cultural background as they do.
MARKET THEIR BEST INTERESTS, SHOW THEM YOU CARE
International clients are wary about investing in countries that they are unfamiliar with. International transactions are complex and they are going to have problems navigating through them.
Every client wants value. International investors are no different. In fact, it’s why they considered foreign investments in the first place. You just need to know what these values are and find ways to capitalize on it. Here is a start:
- Consider listings that appeal to clients: The best way to attract the right clients is to provide them with services that are specific to their needs.
- For example, stats show that New York City apartments attract Chinese real estate investors. So if you are selling properties in these areas, it only makes sense to target these high probability buyers.
- Show them that you are here to help: Investors unfamiliar with a new country will be incredibly private about their finances. They won’t know how the legal system works and will be unsure about who to trust.
- So, questions like “How much do you have saved for a down payment?” will make them put their guard up. To put them at ease, present them with a list of options that can make transactions more convenient for them.
- For example, show them a list of payment options available for their required investment. If a property requires a 20% or 30% down payment, explain the requirements for it. Also, foreign investors will be more interested in convenient loan options. For instance, if your area has properties that offer no-doc loans (that don’t require borrowers to provide documentation of their income to lenders) inform them of the fact.
Working with foreign investors is not very different from working investors in your own country. You just have to find middle ground. Understand that you don’t need to be fluent in another language to create a good working relationship; identify communication barriers and focus on imparting value.
Comment below and let us know your experience with international clients!