To understand and communicate within the world’s web of multicultural societies requires skill. Language barriers, cultural differences, and terminology can cause confusion when building consumer relationships around the globe. How do you, as a Realtor, keep everyone from getting lost in translation when working with clients outside your current city of business?

Remote clients can come from as close as your own backyard or as distant as halfway around the world. Either way, working with clients whom you have never seen face to face has some challenges and rewards.

How do you best serve the needs of remote clients to give them a better experience on their buyer’s journey?  It is essential for agents to incorporate a variety of methods, including the use of technology, networking, education, and above all, patience and an open mind.

Understanding a client from a different region comes down to more than just speaking the same language. Educate yourself in the traditions, superstitions, customs, and terminology used in their place of residence. Did you know that certain numbers are taboo in some cultures while others are sought after with a vengeance? Knowing if your client is searching for the number 8 or 9 in a property address can make the difference in closing the sale or “4” getting about it.

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Realtors need to be a source of information when representing a property to assist consumers as they turn a page in the story of their life. What are some key questions your remote clients have when wanting to buy in unfamiliar territory?

What about Taxes?

You should be knowledgeable about the various ways that tax affects a sale to a foreign investor. Everything from tax rates to regional and federal taxes, to foreign ownership tax, will vary depending on the size and location of a property. Accurate measurements are fundamental when determining the value of a property and the taxes applied to it. It would be wise to employ the help of measurement experts such as real estate photographers, appraisers, or marketing companies who have the technology to provide standardized square footage calculations and perhaps a Certified Accountant.

What is the layout of the home?

Each client’s needs are different and as a Realtor, you should consider providing your remote client with professional photos, 3D tours, and detailed floor plans to bridge the distance. As your client is guided room by room with the help of 3D tours they begin to picture how their family will fit into the environs of the property. Every buyer will be seeking different things depending on where they are in their life’s journey. By presenting a home using 360° tours you can help them navigate through the forest to their happy ending.

Terminology varies depending on where you reside.

Common terms for the land that a home sits on can be a “lot”, “yard”, or “garden”. Types of multi-family housing synonyms range from a “flat”, “apartment”, “condo”, or “sectional title”. Knowing what your client is looking for can be confusing, but when they can view the property through a virtual tour a connection is made. Seeing is understanding regardless of the language in the story.

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What parts of the space are included in the square footage?

Many places have different customs when it comes to what parts of the property are included in the square footage calculations. Do you include the garage? The basement? How about that covered porch? The rules may be different where your remote buyer is currently residing, so it’s important to let them know what the standards are in the areas that they are looking for the property in. That way, they won’t be surprised when they enter the home after purchase.

Neighborhood information?

Remote buyers won’t understand the makeup of the neighborhoods they are buying into. Including information relating to nearby schools, local parks, shopping places, eateries, grocery shops, transit options, and other amenities in the listing becomes vital, to help your buyer make an informed decision.

You want to communicate accurately when it comes to providing information about a property. Using the newest property listing tools available to you like 3D tours, accurate floor plans, measurements, and photos from an iGUIDE are the best ways to introduce a property to a remote client. When being there in person is not an option, your client can be virtually engaging with a property examining every detail from room size to the quality of workmanship. Real Estate photos and 3D tours are universal with no translation required. The only thing needed is an internet connection and a viewing device. Translation of information happens in an instant from the screen to your client’s thoughts and emotions. The results are, a better qualified buyer to introduce to the seller’s property. The next step is a little more challenging.

How do you communicate with your client when there is a language barrier preventing you from conversing in your respective native tongues? Technology to the rescue again! Google translate is a popular way to easily insert text in one language and convert it into the communication channel you require. However, this might not be an ideal solution when it comes to legal terms and information that requires precision of understanding. Other ways, you could make yourself understood to the client would be to networking with a bi-lingual Realtor in another region or employing the services of a translator.

Realtors often find themselves out of their comfort zone and perhaps even out of their scope of expertise when working with foreign clients and this is when referral services come in handy. When you refer a remote client to another Realtor who works exclusively with foreign investors, you are doing everyone a great service. You, as the referring Realtor, will receive a referral fee for a completed transaction, the client’s confidence is strengthened when they are dealing with someone who speaks their language and understands their culture, and the Realtor, whom you referred the client to, will be more likely to reciprocate with referrals back to you. When you are way out in the left-field, it’s best to let someone who can make a home run, play the game!

It is not a sin to admit lack of knowledge, it is a disservice to everyone to misrepresent a property based on that lack of knowledge. With the availability of technology and information at your fingertips, there is no need to fly by the seat of your pants anymore. Realtors can include everyone in their Real Estate Marketing plans no matter how far away they are. With the help of virtual tours, Google everything, and international networking, the world is just one big open book united by the desire to understand each other’s chapters.