In a relatively uncertain real estate market with lenders exercising strict lending practices, finding qualified home buyers can be daunting. However, there is a pool of qualified buyers who are otherwise neglected: International Buyers.
With a continually expanding global economy, local real estate has the potential of reaching home buyers anywhere in the world. The U.S. real estate market has always been an attractive investment vehicle for foreign buyers, who place emphasis on America’s strong private property rights and historically, long-term market stability.
According to a report by the National Association of Realtors®, for the time period ending 1Q2010, purchases by foreign buyers (those whose main residence is outside of the United States) accounted for $907B, a 4.45% share of the residential market. And although purchases by foreign buyers were reported in 39 states, there was a heavy concentration in California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas.
Furthermore, 55% of foreign buyers are cash buyers, due in large part to difficulties in financing real estate purchases in the U.S. Compare that to 92% of Americans who finance their home via a mortgage.
So how can real estate professionals market to international buyers?
Keep in mind that, to a large extent, there is pronounced market segmentation; the top 4 countries of origin are: Canada (23%), Mexico (10%), United Kingdom (9%), and China (8%). With that said, there are a number of ways to implement a marketing campaign targeting said buyers.
For example, establish online connections with bloggers in target locations. By having the eyes/ears of local experts, agents can be seen as trusted partners and worthy of referrals. In addition, being listed in local directories (both offline and online) can be an effective way of marketing in ways that competitors are not doing. Being the first has a certain level of comfort, but being the best can have a much bigger impact.
Consequently, increase usability of online platforms (website/blog) by having additional language functions, making sure not to rely exclusively on automated translation methods. Use Google Analytics to research where website visitors are coming from geographically and make changes accordingly.
Real estate is, and always will be, a local asset. But in no way should innovative real estate professionals have such limitations. It’s a small (real estate) world.