International Luxury Home Buyers

Market Update, Special Interest

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Sandra L. Wilken
Designated Broker, Engel & Volkers Scottsdale


There is not a simple answer to the question of how different the home buying process is when dealing with International Buyers. Generally, the basic foundation of how to handle a home buyer is the same: it is critical to understand their overall needs, define the correct area to show properties as well as to satisfy the emotional and visual aspect of that person(s). Selling the right house to the right person continues to be the primary objective for any home buyer. Aside from the fundamentals, the challenge really exists in the cultural differences from buyers coming from various countries.

Cultural Business Etiquette
Understanding and familiarizing yourself with cultural business differences cannot be understated. Traditions, courtesy and a mindful respect for heritage all need to be embraced by real estate agents. We may not even realize which of our Americanized cultural habits are truly disrespectful to others from another country. A simple crossing of legs and showing the bottom of your shoe is one example. A mistreatment of the delivery and acceptance of a business card can be fatal laws that an agent cannot overcome if done wrong the first time – and the list goes on. If you are an agent concentrating on serving clients from specific countries, take the extra time to do your homework; research the business cultures in that country to ensure you are prepared to truly nurture your international relationships.

Understanding foreign currency as well as the U.S. laws regarding conversion and taxes is the next step in the successful handling of international buyers. A buyer from Canada that is watching the value of their dollar shrink in the U.S. market will be much more sensitive to pricing. For example, a house listed in the U.S. for $1 million is really $1.2 million to the Canadian buyer. Be cognizant of the conversion ratio knowing that the international buyer is doing the same. Any international buyer has a timing pattern that is well suited to their buying strategy, not necessarily an agent’s need to sell a property. Keep updated on the currency conversion ratio of that buyer before you are tested. There are many currency conversion calculators online that make it simple to keep up-to-date on foreign exchange rates.

Language is the final hurdle. If the buyer has a strong language barrier, pre-plan for an interpreter. The extra effort will make the transaction a lot smoother and it will help you avoid misinterpretations. Also, be patient, listen well and never get frustrated.

With many people from a multitude of countries visiting Arizona, it will definitely benefit a real estate agent to weave in these practices into the selling process.


LUXURY HOMES Seminar Friday, October 16, 2015

Joining Sandra Wilken on stage will be Walt Danley, Dominic Scappaticci, Deems Dickinson, Keith Mishin, Judy Perrin-Crone and many more outstanding designated brokers. Come to hear how they provide an array of services for buyers and sellers in the high-end market.

Register Now


Sandra Wilken, founder of Sandra Wilken Luxury Properties, is considered the foremost expert in representing buyers and sellers in Arizona’s most prestigious neighborhoods. Sandra can be reached at 480-568-2836.