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Resources to Identify and Leverage Your Niche

June 11, 2014

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The international landscape is vast and diverse, and trying to tackle the whole world from one office is an unwise strategy. While this advice is highlighted in nearly every issue of Global Perspectives, it is a message that bears repeating. It is better to identify a niche, immerse yourself into that culture and their business practices, and build your expertise in that area. Your strategy should focus on tactics that you have the ability to implement and control.

For some, determining your approach will be easy based on heritage, language skills, or geographic location – or maybe you identified your niche long ago. However, if you are in a position or area where it is less obvious, below are some questions and tips to consider, followed by resources available to you to help you identify what international audience is the best fit for your local market.

First, things to consider:

What draws international buyers to your local market?
Are foreign companies opening facilities nearby? Or, is there a vacant space available that you could market overseas? Is there a university nearby that attracts international students or faculty? What about luxury properties, condos, coastline, or other lifestyle attributes that would draw foreign interest?

“I’ve observed a lot of Canadian buyers in Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head (north and south of me), and if they are purchasing in those areas – why not Charleston?” said Jason Peé, CIPS, Dunes Properties, Charleston, SC. “Now that I have my CIPS designation, I have been exploring connections with Canadian agents.”

Consider your community in terms of its current global connections. Many cities, states, colleges, and other organizations sponsor international festivals and events, host overseas visitors, and set up exchanges or sister-city connections. Such programs indicate the interest in and extent of international activity in your area and offer a rich source for networking connections.

Resources available from NAR:

  1. NAR’s State By State International Business Reports are a good place to get a quick snapshot of the existing international activity in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia. The reports summarize the state’s demographics, languages spoken in the home, immigration and naturalization statistics by country of origin, as well as employment by foreign firms.
  2. NAR Global has written Local Market Assessment Case Studies for six U.S. states that would be considered “unlikely” destinations for international buyers. States profiled include Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Washington. (Arkansas, North Carolina and Utah will be available May 2014.) You don’t have to live in these states (or even the United States) to benefit from this research. Much of what you’ll discover in each study is paralleled in other markets. By following the step-by-step processes discussed in these reports, you will learn how to identify global opportunities in your area.
  3. Use data/statistics from realtor.com® International to determine where international consumers are searching in the United States and around the world. Every month, realtor.com® publishes updated data highlighting which U.S. markets are of greatest interest to foreign consumers, and which countries the consumers come from. Realtor.com® International includes all U.S. for sale and rental listings that are currently on realtor.com®, as well as listings from over 36 countries around the world. You can also use translation tools to create listing brochures in 11 different languages and link to social media platforms from the site!
  4. Local boards around the United States have established Global Business Councils, dedicated to globally themed education, programming, and networking for their members. See if you have an active council in your area and if so, participate in the meetings and events to build partnerships with globally-minded businesses, mortgage brokers, attorneys, and other relevant local entities.
  5. Use REALTORS Property Resource® (RPR) to research and assess detailed information on every parcel of property in the United States. This platform is an NAR member benefit and is only available to REALTORS®. Use the technology to identify properties (residential and commercial), features and locations that may appeal to international buyers in your local market.

TIP

CIPS designees from outside the U.S.:
If you have clients that are looking to invest in U.S. real estate, use RPR to grow your international referral business. You will be able to help your clients get unprecedented and exclusive access to detailed property information not found on any other site. RPR will enable you to become a credible and trusted authority on U.S. properties.

RPR offers hundreds of datasets and maps, including school attendance zones, FEMA flood maps, demographic information, thematic maps, heat maps, and more. Additionally, RPR allows you to create personally branded reports to distribute to your clients. Given the immense amount of valuable information provided in each RPR report, your clients will quickly realize that you are a subject matter expert!