Are You Prepared for an International Clientele?

Posted on August 28, 2010 by AAR

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Why You Should Be—With Tips for Interacting with Foreign-Born Buyers


AAR Proudly Introduces the Newest GRI Graduates

Designations Earned April 2010 – June 2010

Theodore Adamczyk, GRI
Tucson Association of REALTORS®

Tania Anderson, GRI
Northern Arizona Association of REALTORS®

Krista Becka, ABR, GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Julie Berry, GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Rhonda Bond, GRI
Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS®

Darrell Bradshaw, GRI
West Maricopa County Regional Association of REALTORS®

Ivan Brnilovich, GRI
West Maricopa County Regional Association of REALTORS®

Mary Clary, GRI
Tucson Association of REALTORS®

Julie Dubiach, GRI
West Maricopa County Regional Association of REALTORS®

Jessica Eidson, GRI
Lake Havasu Association of REALTORS®

 

Jodi Erwin, GRI
Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS®

Mark Finchem, GRI
Tucson Association of REALTORS®

Rachel Frantz, ABR, GRI
Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS®

Corey Frederic, GRI
Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS®

Danny Gugelman, GRI
Prescott Area Association of REALTORS®

Mary Jackson, GRI
Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS®

Dawn Johnson, GRI
Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS®

George Jones, GRI
West Maricopa County Regional Association of REALTORS®

Thomas Killeen, GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Nancy Krill, GRI
Yuma Association of REALTORS®

Sandy Lim, GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Ruben Lujan Jr., GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Jessica Monroy, ABR, GRI
West Maricopa County Regional Association of REALTORS®

Terry Moore, GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Melinda Morfin, ABR, GRI
Northern Arizona Association of REALTORS®

Paul Moro, GRI
White Mountain Association of REALTORS®

Veronica Novelli, GRI
Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS®

Thomas Pahler, GRI
Northern Arizona Association of REALTORS®

Marleen Parker, GRI
Lake Havasu Association of REALTORS®

Debra Peters, GRI
Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS®

Jole Pioro, GRI
West Maricopa County Regional Association of REALTORS®

Rachel Reid, GRI
Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS®

Richard Rivera, CRS, GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Tomas Rodriguez, GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Kay Rosness, ABR, GRI
Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS®

Michael Rosness, ABR, GRI
Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS®

Connie Salgado, ABR, GRI
Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS®

Anthony Sherman, ABR, GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Amy Lynn Shifman, GRI
Sedona/Verde Valley Association of REALTORS®

Carl Stringham, GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Thomas Thompson, GRI
Phoenix Association of REALTORS®

Keven Tomlinson, GRI
West Maricopa County Regional Association of REALTORS®

Harold Whitaker, GRI

Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS®

The strength of the dollar, the desirability of real estate in the United States (U.S.) and emerging improvements in the world economy are increasing international homebuyer demand for property in the U.S., according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2010 Profile of International Home Buying Activity. The profile shows that 32% of international buyers purchased in the West, and Arizona is one of the top four states attracting international purchasers. (The other states are Florida, California and Texas.)

In addition, first-time homebuyers, who are expected to continue to play an important role in the housing market, are more likely to have been born outside of the U.S. (In NAR’s 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 12% of first-time homebuyers were not born in the U.S.)

What does this mean for you as a REALTOR® in Arizona? You’re increasingly likely to encounter buyers with an international background. In fact, NAR says that 28% of REALTORS® reported having at least one international client in 2009-2010.

This poses opportunities and challenges to you as the REALTOR®. How can you prepare yourself to interact with this diverse group of buyers? One way is to take GRI 307, a course on multi-cultural marketing, which teaches REALTORS® simple ways to adjust their behaviors to minimize cultural clashes. For example, one technique covered in the course is to adjust your personal actions to follow the lead of the client (i.e. shaking hands only if the client offers first or using formal titles if s/he does so).

Another recommended technique is to learn a bit about the client’s culture so that you can tailor your actions appropriately. For example, in Arab culture, it is rude to use your left hand or to inquire about a person’s family. NAR’s profile of international buyers tells us that three of the top countries sending buyers to the U.S. in 2010 are:

Canada (23%)
Mexico (10%)
China/Hong Kong (8%)

With that in mind, here are brief cultural sketches—taken from the GRI 307 class’s participant materials—to help you better understand these buyers.

Canada

Cultural Sketch

  1. English and French are the official languages; French is predominant only in Quebec.
  2. Canadians are generally analytical and favor the objective over the subjective.
  3. There is a strong sense of ethnocentrism within each province, particularly in Quebec, where citizens are considered French Canadians.
  4. Emphasis is placed on ability, and individual recognition is highly valued.
  5. Emotion is not shown in public.

Business Advisory

  1. Use eye contact, a firm handshake and a friendly manner when working with Canadians.
  2. Use titles with a surname to show respect. Do not use first names unless your counterpart suggests you do so.
  3. Do not be overbearing.
  4. Allow your Canadian counterpart to be the first to bring up business at dinner.
  5. Be aware that invitations to dine at a Canadian home are unlikely. If you do visit a home, however, take a gift.
  6. Remember that business gifts are usually exchanged at the close of business. It is common to host a dinner or entertainment for your counterparts.

Mexico

Cultural Sketch

  1. A strong allegiance exists to the Catholic Church.
  2. An individual is responsible for his/her own decision, but the good of the family/group is more important.
  3. Subjective feelings are often used as the basis for truth.
  4. Women are well respected.
  5. Age and rank are held in high esteem.
  6. People are informal and open in sharing feelings.

Business Advisory

  1. Be sure that the first contact is between the highest-ranking people in both parties.
  2. Shake hands upon greeting and departing. Learn the abrazo greeting: a handshake, two pats on the back and a handshake again.
  3. Do not refer to the United States of America. Mexico is also the “United States” (of Mexico), and it is in North America.
  4. Be aware that questions are typically answered with the intention to please, even when the information is known to be incomplete or the requested action is impossible.
  5. Remember that people are more important than schedules; meetings are often interrupted by personal visits.
  6. Be aware that short-term profits are commonly preferred over long-term results.
  7. Choose the best possible hotels and restaurants, and they will pay close attention to your choices.

China/Hong Kong

Cultural Sketch

  1. The Chinese are masters of the oblique. What is not said is often more important than what is said.
  2. The Chinese will tell you what they think you want to hear.
  3. Social status and connections are very important.
  4. Chinese culture is collective. Decisions are made by a group leader, and individuals are expected to follow them.
  5. The Chinese tend to make subjective decisions based on prior experience; feelings can be accepted over facts.

Business Advisory

  1. Use titles with a person’s surname. Be aware, however, that Chinese names are in the following order: surname, generational name and birth name.
  2. Bring business cards with the translation printed in Mandarin on the other side.
  3. Understand that gift-giving is technically against the law, but is becoming a more acceptable practice. A gift from your organization to the Chinese one is acceptable. Keep in mind that the Chinese normally decline three times before accepting.
  4. Remember that eye contact is important; eyes should be slightly lowered during introductions to show deference and respect.
  5. Allow for consensus decision-making.
  6. Be aware of feng shui practices that are believed to harmonize life. Feng shui involves manipulating the environment, including the placement of building and objects, to produce good fortune.
  7. Expect business decisions to be conducted by the senior officials of each party.

When you keep these cultural differences in mind and are willing to make small adjustments to your way of doing business, you can develop loyal international clients who are likely to refer you to their friends.


Continue the Learning!

Take GRI 307: Multi-Cultural Marketing

This one-day course, a required module for the GRI designation, teaches how differences in cultural style impact the real estate transaction process and how to manage those differences. It focuses on how simple multi-cultural etiquette can lead to success with new clients and customers and how to develop sound diversity strategies to incorporate into your overall business plan. GRI 307 provides 6 hours of Fair Housing law continuing education credits.

Upcoming GRI 307 Dates

Tuesday, August 31
Tucson Association of REALTORS® (TAR)

Thursday, September 2
Western Pinal Association of REALTORS® (WPAR)

Thursday, October 28

SouthEast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS® (SEVRAR)

Online Resources

View AAROnline.com’s international real estate pages—recently updated and reformatted!

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