10 tips for meeting the unique needs of international buyers


How to attract and assist luxury buyers who are purchasing abroad

For real estate professionals specializing in the luxury segment, working with buyers overseas is an important part of our business — but it can also be challenging. Real estate practices can vary vastly between countries, and differences in customs, culture, language, and law can complicate the process even more. However, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, as long as you focus on these 10 fundamentals.

1. Excite and engage

Knowing in advance that purchasing property in a foreign market can be complex, it’s more critical than ever to put your client’s mind at ease right from the start. Having an optimistic and supportive attitude will reduce stress for them — and ultimately, for you — and help international buyers transform their experience into a positive and promising adventure.

2. Take time to talk through the process

Before beginning the property search, I find it important to advise my client on the buying process. This builds trust and helps them understand which paths we’ll be following. Answer their questions promptly, and present them with a full picture of the options in front of them using reliable information tailored to their specific wants, needs, and concerns.

3. Anticipate — then exceed — expectations

Speaking of client wants and needs, here’s something I’ve noticed about international buyers: while no two are alike, almost all of them are looking for homes that have a true wow factor, and that’s why they’ve broadened their search overseas. Impressing them is imperative. Be proactive and solution-oriented in order to hold their interest and capture their business.

4. Understand the purpose

Why are they searching for a luxury home in your market? Is it for the lifestyle? For their investment portfolio? Or perhaps a bit of both? Understanding their motivation helps determine what precisely you should be scouting for — whether it’s a full-service condo in a dynamic urban center, or a rural estate far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Based on my experience in Los Cabos, many international buyers come seeking exclusivity, privacy, and peace, but that may not be true for everyone.

5. Learn preferences

Even more so than local or domestic buyers, I’ve observed that international buyers are especially discerning when it comes to the architecture, craftsmanship, and materials of the homes they evaluate. There are any number of reasons why they might make this a priority — perhaps they want their destination property to have plenty of character, or they want their portfolio asset to appreciate in value. Regardless, these are buyers who care deeply about both style and substance.

6. Have a clear idea of budget

As with any other major purchase, knowing what clients intend to spend is paramount. Everything else is based on that metric. The market and macroeconomic conditions are also key considerations, which is why it’s so helpful for global buyers to work with local agents who can be their experts on the ground.

7. Consider home management technology

Because international buyers may be purchasing seasonal or vacation homes, many of them place a high value on smart home automations that allow them to avoid potential issues, no matter where in the world they may be. Others might prefer to have their properties tended by a local property management service for ultimate ease of mind.

8. Connect with a network of specialists

In many cases, international buyers will need to work with a notary and an attorney at a minimum, and possibly even a translator. If you can be the one to refer them to these professionals, you can add incredible value to their home-buying experience.

9. Always take tax laws and liabilities into account

Tax implications might not always be top of mind for international buyers, but they need to be factored in. For instance, all American citizens must include their worldwide income on tax returns. If they’re living and working abroad, they must report that income to the Internal Revenue Service. Yet, in most cases, purchasing foreign real estate doesn’t have to be reported for taxation unless they’re earning rental income from the property. It’s technicalities like these that are relevant to overseas clients, and introducing them to an experienced tax expert can make their lives much easier in the long run.

10. Remember to remain as invested as your client

As luxury agents, we must always keep in mind that most international buyers aren’t just buying a property or an investment — they’re buying their dream home, and with high hopes come high expectations. We must be ready to embrace this responsibility and go the extra mile for them. In the end, it’s always worth it.


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