How to Work Effectively with Out-of-State, Second Home or International Clients
There are many opportunities for REALTORS® to expand their businesses in new ways. But what steps are necessary to expand your local business to a multistate, national or even global market?
Samuel Ciochon of @properties, Julie Harron of Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty and Paul Xumsai of CENTURY 21 S.G.R. share how they broadened their real estate reach and tips for their fellow REALTORS® who are interested in doing the same.
Ciochon acknowledges that how he began working with out-of-state clients isn’t the norm. In fact, he unintentionally fell into it.
He started participating in a national coaching program, which sent him around the country for conferences, where he made connections with other brokers in California, New York, Boston and even Florida. He began receiving referrals from these new connections who had clients moving to the Chicagoland area.
He typically works with three to four out-of-state clients a year, but in a true testament to how strange 2020 was, last year he worked with more out-of-state clients than ever before in his career. Many of these clients, he said, were moving back to be closer to family or for work purposes.
“Right now [thanks to the current health crisis], it’s a difficult time to branch out and make those connections in other areas,” Ciochon said. Instead, the best bet is using referral websites to grow your clientele. However, when travel becomes more normal, take advantage of out of state opportunities like conferences. While they may remove you from your business day-to-day, they can open you up to a new channel of opportunities.
Once you make a connection with an out-of-state client, set up a video conference call to meet and solidify your working relationship. Once that’s nailed down, in normal circumstances, Ciochon suggests setting up a power weekend where the client would fly in and spend the weekend looking at properties. Since this isn’t a feasible option with the COVID-19 pandemic, use video conference calls to do virtual tours.
Ciochon says that the pandemic has forced him to become the eyes and ears for his clients, further deepening their relationship. Clearly, it’s been a recipe for success.
As a child, Harron grew up visiting her grandparents on Jupiter Island during the winter. Little did she know that the relationships she would make then would lead her to opening another branch of her business in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2020.
After running her business in Chicago for over 20 years, major changes in her personal life led her to consider other larger life changes. She prides her Chicago business on going beyond the real estate transaction to create a lifestyle for her clients, leading to a long-term relationship. One of those clients came to her when they were interested in selling their vacation home in Florida and encouraged her to get licensed in the state. The rest was history.
After she became licensed in Florida, she went down to Palm Beach to help sell the home. While there, she ran into people she knew from her childhood vacations, as Jupiter Island and Palm Beach are only 25 miles apart. She then realized she could use her reach and connections to extend her Chicago business to Florida. Today, she’s spending her time in the Sunshine State while video calling her team and clients in Chicago in an effort to ensure she’s active in both locations.
For those who are interested in working with second home clients, it’s important to choose smartly — pick a market you’re knowledgeable on and familiar with; location, location, location is true, here, too. Ensure you’re taking time to establish and maintain a network in both locations and have processes in place to assist your clients remotely. Harron said taking the plunge to extend your business is hard but focus and hard work will ensure you are successful. “As long as you love what you do and you’re willing to work hard, it’s all achievable,” she said.
Xumsai has always been active in the global sphere, even when he was transacting locally in Chicago. He then became a global ambassador for his company, CENTURY 21 S.G.R., and volunteered on CAR’s Global Real Estate Council and NAR’s global committee. “Volunteering is the easiest and cheapest way [to get started],” he said.
He caught the global bug, and he decided to utilize his Thai nationality to get started transacting real estate in Thailand. Now, he lives in Bangkok full time and uses his connections and knowledge to be successful.
Xumsai acknowledges he had an easier transition to global real estate, as he had family and friends still living in Thailand. For other REALTORS®, it may take a few years to get your feet off the ground and make strong global connections. “Once you get where you want to be, no one can take it from you,” he said.
One of his first transactions was for a young woman who was moving to Chicago to attend university. He encouraged her to buy, and when she moved back to Thailand, he helped her with the process of leasing out her home. This is the typical cycle he deals with, which creates ongoing opportunities.
He encourages those looking to deal in real estate internationally to focus on one country and make that your specialty. You will then become the go-to for your fellow REALTORS®, who will refer clients to
you. But he also says it’s important to have the drive and desire to be successful. “You have to want it,” he said.
Clearly, the sky is the limit to where you can go with your real estate career when you have a plan, the drive to get there and utilize the opportunities at your fingertips.
Education that can help expand your career opportunities
Are you looking to move forward and expand your client base, but unsure where to start? The REALTORS® Real Estate School has classes that can act as a first step for your journey.
Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS)
If you are looking to expand your knowledge on international real estate, CIPS is a great place to start. CIPS outlines what you need to know when going international; CIPS also hosts three different sessions focusing on popular international locations including the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Visit ChicagoREALTOR.com/CIPS for upcoming course dates.
Military Relocation Professional (MRP) Certification
Just like remote clients, military professionals will have a special set of needs when moving, such as location, timeframe, benefits and more. This certification will teach you how to best work with these needs in a niche market.
Our next course is coming up on May 11. Visit ChicagoREALTOR.com/MRP to register!
Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS)
Ready to jump into the second-home market? The RSPS course will give you the knowledge and skill base that real estate professionals need to specialize in buying, selling or managing second homes in a resort, recreational, and/or vacation destination.
Our next course is coming up on June 24. Visit ChicagoREALTOR.com/RSPS to register!
Understanding Global Real Estate Markets
If you aren’t sure whether international real estate is for you, Understanding Global Real Estate Markets will provide you with general overview of international real estate and a great way to get your feet wet on the topic before diving in headfirst.
Keep an eye on our website for upcoming class opportunities.