There are more than 400 foreign companies operating in Alabama, including a few big-name ones such as Toyota and Mercedes-Benz. In fact, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, among other states in the region, are magnets for foreign companies, spurred in part by the growing auto industry there. Other states seeing an influx of foreign businesses are Colorado and Ohio.
The success of these states in attracting foreign investment shows how widespread international business is in the United States and why the potential for you to be an international real estate specialist is almost as great if you’re in Tuscaloosa as it is if you’re in Miami. The fact is, foreign businesses mean foreign home sales as well as foreign commercial sales.
But foreign sales can be tricky. If you’re working with a household relocating to your area from another country, what’s your role in recommending financing options for them? Are they going to use financing from a bank outside the U.S.? What if they pay cash? What do you need to know about handling large sums of cash coming into the country?
The issues are tricky when sales are in the other direction, too. Who do you refer your U.S. clients to if they want to buy in Spain or Russia?
For help with these questions, NAR has a growing list of resources that you can tap. The Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation is one that’s widely known; it’s been around for years, and some 2,000 licensees hold the designation. But there are other things you can do to improve your chances of success when working with foreign customers.
First, if your local association has a Global Business Council, start with that. NAR helps associations put these councils in place so you can have ground-level support getting your international sales efforts up and running. If your area sees a lot of households from just a few countries, for example, your Global Business Council can set up trade visits to these countries so you can get your name known among the real estate professionals there. Your council can also bring in specialists from other fields, such as finance and law, so you can start educating yourself on the issues you have to know about. If your association doesn’t have a council, then suggest they start one. Information on getting one off the ground is at REALTOR.org.
Also online, NAR brings you international real estate news, best practices, and links to other organizations and networking opportunities as part of a broad and deep resource bank.
Of course, the hard work comes from you. Information is only as good as what you make of it. So if you want to tap into the $150 billion foreign households spent on U.S. homes in the last two years, a good way to start is to see what’s available to you. To help you do that, REALTOR® Magazine has produced a five-minute video that walks you through the global resources at your disposal. More help is online at REALTOR.org/Global.
To learn how much foreign households spent on U.S. homes last year, access NAR’s latest Profile of International Home Buying Activity.
Robert Freedman is manager of multimedia communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He can be reached at email@example.com.