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5 Tips for Selling to Foreign Buyers This Holiday

Untitled design (14)Christmas. Kwanzaa. Hanukkah. Festivus. -Whatever holiday you celebrate this time each year, it’s important to be aware and sensitive to other holidays celebrated, especially when dealing with international clients. Selling a home during the holidays can be a challenge for both the seller and REALTOR®, but selling a home to an international buyer can bring additional hurdles to clear. While balancing your personal holiday schedule, along with the seller’s, it’s vital to keep in mind the traditions and cultures of your buyers. For instance, it’s common to say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” as a way to cover multiple cultural celebrations rather than just your own. Aside from this simple gesture there are other less obvious efforts you make to help sell a home to foreign buyers in particular without offending them this season.

Helpful tips include:

1. Keep décor neutral. Keep the nutcrackers and pine scented candles out, but leave the life-sized nativity scene in the garage. Overly religious décor can be a turn-off and even offensive to potential buyers. There are over 4,000 different religions around the world, and it’s best to advise clients to stay neutral so any potential buyer may find the home appealing.

2. Research various holidays. A little knowledge can go a long way, and can make for great conversation. Take a look at your market and note where buyers are coming from. Then research how these groups celebrate the holidays. You might be surprised with what you find, like the Japanese obsession with KFC on Christmas or the Ukrainians who put spider webs on their trees. However, be careful not to make any assumptions about your clients and wait for them to start the conversation.

3. Mark your calendar. Once you have an idea of who your foreign buyers are and what holidays are celebrated, make sure to mark them on your calendar. This way you aren’t interfering with holiday rituals or wondering why your call hasn’t been returned. Have a large number of buyers from Israel? Then it is probably wise to mark on your calendar when Hanukkah is. Keep in mind there are times where this might vary within a particular holiday. Although many Christians in the U.S. celebrate Christmas on December 25, in Ireland Christmas celebrations last from Christmas Eve until January 6.

4. Create a video. Remember that no matter your culture, this season is busy for everyone. Holiday gatherings, harsh weather and vacation plans can deter buyers from viewing a home…especially if they’re traveling overseas. Shoot a video to help push the sale along without creating extra stress for the buyer.

5. Use proper gifting etiquette. Since cultures vary when it comes to gift giving, you may want to research before splurging on that knife set for your global buyers. While it’s great to close a sale, you still want to keep in mind cultural differences when gift giving. Although many associate the holidays with a celebration of spiritual or religious beliefs, it’s wise to avoid purchasing gifts that have political or religious connotations. For more specific guidelines on gift giving, read our blog post “Closing Gift Guidelines for Global Real Estate Practitioners.”

We hope these tips will help you assist global clients this holiday season. It’s easy to get caught up in the way “we do things,” however that way might be. By increasing your awareness and sensitivity to other cultures, you’re making a great effort to keep the global mindset and better assist your clients. They say knowledge without action is useless, so put these 5 tips to work this season and keep your business merry and bright.

Charlee Gibson

Charlee Gibson is a Marketing Coordinator for the National Association of REALTORS® Commercial & Global Services division. She can be reached at cgibson@realtors.org.

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