I recently returned to Miami after extended trips through Spain, Israel and China. When traveling abroad, I always enjoy taking photos of any “for sale” or office signs I might see that feature my company’s logo. (And then posting them to my Facebook page!) Seeing the familiar icon makes me feel at home when I am very far away from it.
But there’s another reason why I do this. In Thomas Friedman’s well-known book The World is Flat, he analyzes the rapid changes in technology and society that have dramatically evened the global playing field, making the world smaller, smoother and less influenced by history and geography. These observations and predictions resonated with me, and posting the aforementioned photos helps remind me of this extraordinary change in our world.
Miami has been remarkably impacted by these changes, making it one of the “flattest” places one can imagine. (Now figuratively as well as literally!) Our beaches and weather have always made Miami a tourism hot spot, and improvements to our airport and seaport are poised to considerably ramp up our international trade for decades to come.
And of course, it seems like everyone in the world wants a home here. The Miami Association of Realtors regularly publishes reports on our city’s international home buyers, and the latest figures continue the staggering trends we have seen for the past four years. For example, as of June 2015, 39 percent of Miami’s MLS sales were from overseas buyers, 72 percent of all Miami Realtors have between one and five international customers, and 13 percent have more than 10 international customers. Equally incredible is the financial strength these foreign buyers bring to our region: in 2014, 81 percent of them paid for their homes entirely in cash; 28 percent of all international sales were over $500,000, and the average home price for foreign buyers was $444,052.
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What do these astonishing international trends mean for the Miami home seller? More than ever before, it is absolutely essential that they not only enlist the services of a Realtor, but also one with a large, strong and active global network at their disposal. When interviewing prospective agents to sell their property, discerning sellers should make sure these professionals — and their offices — can offer:
▪ A broad international presence, with the ability to reach potential buyers in major markets found in the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Rim.
▪ Customized online tools that allow prospective buyers to search for properties in multiple languages, with the ability to also convert currencies and find the latest international real estate news.
▪ Credibility: The fact is, some brands are simply known better and trusted more than others. Sellers should consider which real estate companies are going to be instantly recognized by prospective buyers in a wide range of countries.
▪ Relocation services for buyers who purchase in other markets.
▪ A company’s own database of listings. For example, a buyer in Spain might not know what Zillow is or what Realtor.com is, but they would surely know to go to the agent’s recognizable company website.
This is not to suggest that Miami sellers should only consider large, well-established real estate brokerages whose size and scope offer “organic” global reach. Many smaller and independent offices are members of distinctive, by-invitation-only international networks that also do an excellent job of reaching prospective foreign buyers. (Miami sellers might also consider targeting agents with the CIPS, or Certified International Property Specialist designation, which is conferred by the National Association of Realtors.)
For better or for worse, the world truly is becoming “flatter” with each passing moment, day, week and year. Insist on a real estate agent with a global network — or you might find your home-sale efforts falling flat as well.
Anthony Askowitz is the president and managing broker of RE/MAX Advance Realty.
Realtors may submit columns for Broker’s View of 700 words to businesseditor@MiamiHerald.com. questions, email rclarke@MiamiHerald.com. This column is primarily for brokers of residential real estate, but from time to time, we will publish columns about commercial real estate.