The world of real estate is flat… Yes, flat, according to Larry Oberly (VP of International Development with Remax) in an interview with Inman news. Oberly remarked, ‘With the world economy becoming so connected, and the term is the world is flat, We’ve definitely seen a lot of opportunity where people now want to buy properties cross border.
In a nutshell, Oberly is trying to convey that foreign investment is on a path to increase. While different regulatory environments will affect where and how this investment occurs, it is on the increase *’as money and capital investment moves more freely around the globe”. What you should asking yourself is, are you ready? We’ve put together a list of key points to think about in a ‘flat world’, which can be achieved whether you are independent or a big franchise like Remax.
What Does a Flat World Mean?
A ‘flat world’ means opportunity, as much as it does challenge.
For the individual real estate agent, a flat world will mean fielding enquiries from a more culturally diverse group of clients, and having to reach further abroad in order to offer the services some of their domestic investment clients want. It could mean investigating your home market for a foreign investor, or investigating foreign markets for your local clients.
Foreign investment, does and will continue to bring an incredible amount of opportunities to real estate companies such as:
- chances for franchise/business expansion
- a way to realise increased revenue
- ability to tap into high potential markets of clients and real estate
However, in practice this exposure to increased foreign investment will present unique sets of challenges to overcome. Most of these challenges will be cultural, and linguistic, but will also include a good mix of bureaucratic, and financial aspects.
Although now 5 years old, this paper from Ashok Bardhan and Cynthia A.Kroll outlines some of the ‘issues, implications and opportunities’ or real estate internationalization, and offers some important insight into how the real estate market in the US is affected by globalization. A great read for those wanting a more academic view point.
Wherever you stand on the business size spectrum, a ‘flat world’ can be taken advantage of through a bit of planning and forward thinking. Here are some key business aspects to think about when enticing international clients or reaching further abroad for opportunities.
You don’t have to do be a multinational franchise to invest in multitalented and culturally diverse staff; just forward thinking.
Make Varied Staffing Choices
By building foreign networks, and taking advantage of a staff with a multi-cultural background, you will be setting the tone for your business and the sort of clients you want to attract.
Find specialists, and invest in them joining your team. Smith and Ken Realty, a Dubai based Propertybase user invested in nothing short of a highly representative and talented staff of agents to cater for their extremely diverse client base. Both agencies proved that a multicultural team will be your best asset if you are planning on or currently have a very multicultural customer base. You don’t have to do be a multinational franchise to invest in multitalented and culturally diverse staff; just forward thinking.
Develop Cultural Sensitivity
Being aware of the cultural background of your clients will help you understand their buying needs and preferences. Receiving cultural training, researching cultural nuances of your clients, or even speaking at least some of their language will increase your influence markedly. Additionally, cultural sensitivity will ensure that word of mouth reviews will direct client peers back to you and your business
If you have an internet connection, there is no excuse for not being able to look up tips on how to work with buyers or sellers from specific cultural backgrounds. Take a look at this article from RISMedia outlining the top 10 Myths About Working with Multicultural Clients, or this one from Bernice Ross of RealEstateCoach.com about how to attract international clients. None of these resources are harder than a google search to find. Be discerning, but take advantage of the amazing wealth of information your peers in real estate have to offer.
If you have some extra money to spare, you can invest in formal training, but the real estate community is filled with professionals who can share their tips on working with buyers from different cultural backgrounds. Engage them and you might be surprised about how much insight you will receive.
… governments are really starting to use real estate and the laws and regulations to either entice or even, like in Hong Kong and Singapore, find new taxes to slow real estate down. So what that means to me is that there’s going to be a lot of activity… where the activity is coming from and where people are buying is going to change maybe year to year, but even on a month to month basis”. Larry Oberly
Invest in the Right Technology
Invest in the technologies your clients are using. Make your real estate website platform mobile responsive, and optmized for capturing leads from the markets you specialize in through effective keyword and geo targeting. Teally exploit your cultural niche, and what you have to offer for foreign investors. Create content that people from different cultures can relate to, and would entice them into your market.
Make sure you have access to the right collaboration tools to ensure information silos don’t block the flow of important information across the international borders of your organization. Collaboration tools are also a terrific way to ensure cultural issues don’t arise within your company, if you company spans countries. Poising yourself for internationalization, or expanding regionally should be on your radar. You never know when the right opportunity will open a prime market for entry.
While you should be making an effort to understand the cultural nuances of the markets your are entering, and the people coming to you for your expertise, don’t go too far. Oberly mentions that what people tend to engage Remax for is a model of quality. Remember that some of your most valuable traits will be your transparency, and honesty, and customers will appreciate this no matter where in the world they are looking to invest, or investing from.
How do you work with multicultural clients, or in a multicultural team? What tips, information or challenges do you feel are worth sharing? Leave us a note in the comments. You may just help your real estate peers in their learning curve.
Does your CRM speak the lingua franca? Do you have visibility across your business’ horizon? If the answer is anything but yes, get in touch with us, to talk about how to give your franchise the transparent collaboration tools they need.