Leading in Luxury Roundtable: Expanding Your Network to Build a Global Clientele
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(Above) Amber Anderson, real estate professional at Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty; K. Ann Brizolis, real estate professional at Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty; and Talita Haggist, Global Real Estate Advisor at Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty.
With a resurgence in international travel, there is also a lot of international investment in luxury properties. But while this presents potentially lucrative opportunities for agents, it also poses challenges. How can you bring value to local customers looking to venture overseas? And how do you identify and build relationships with foreign prospects when they could be anywhere in the world?
Before agents start growing their global contact list, is there anything they need to do to lay the groundwork?
Amber Anderson: Find out as much as you can about the process of buying property abroad. Not all countries allow you to purchase as a non-citizen, so it’s important to understand local laws for international buyers. Knowing how real estate works in other countries is key to educating and preparing our clients to understand important topics such as fee structure, timing of transactions and property rights.
Anne Brizolis: I would add that an agent focused on an international clientele should start by thoroughly researching which countries are likely to buy in their neighborhood or city and why, and research markets to focus on. Learn about the community they are leaving and become an expert on the community they are most likely to move to.
How about building an international network of real estate colleagues? What’s the best way to do it?
Talita Haggist: Event sponsorship is the holy grail of networking. They provide visibility and control over the agenda, message, and delegate and attendee lists.
AA: If you’re not at a stage in your career where you can organize or sponsor an event, be sure to attend global networking conferences. The FIABCI World Real Estate Congress takes place every year and is a good introduction to the international community. And when you travel, be sure to stop by local offices and meet agents to add to your network.
A B: I agree. If you are really interested in the international luxury market, you have to travel. Contact real estate professionals and set up appointments to meet them in their country.
How can agents continue to develop the skills they need to connect and support their global customer base?
E: Real estate is inherently a matter of local know-how. The best way to cultivate a global customer base is to establish relevance to them. What is compelling in your region and what similarities or cultural connections exist? Start a blog or create other original content that highlights them and share it regularly with your international prospects.
AA: Yes, it is so crucial to be educated in all areas you wish to serve. Our customers expect a superior level of service, so it is important that we provide the best resources to our customers.
Do you have any tips on how to identify and target overseas markets that might be relevant to your region?
AB: An international buyer is more likely to move to a community where they match the demographics. They may have family, friends or colleagues in a certain community, which allows for a smoother transition to a new country.
E: We also pay particular attention to offshore markets which tend to have the largest cash surpluses. Since the money goes where it is treated best, the reinvestment of funds offshore is a leading indicator of future performance. Currency fluctuations inform the investment of excess cash, so having direct access to investors around the world allows us to continually add value amidst market fluctuations.
AA: But be sure to stay on top of currency changes. I had a deal that nearly fell apart when the dollar changed and buyers had to bring in an extra $100,000 at closing. Working with exchange companies to lock in an exchange rate is an important step buyers should be aware of.
Is there any final advice you would like to share with luxury agents looking to build a global clientele?
AA: Partner with agents and share homes around the world on your social media and in your marketing newsletters. This begins the story that you truly have a global network.
E: I agree, leveraging relationships with other agents and past clients helps establish one’s subject matter expertise and provides valuable social proof with which to expand one’s network.
A B: But you must have patience. Building your network can take time. Put yourself in front of agents, clients and colleagues you can learn from and become an expert in your community and your field.
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