Meeting the International Client’s Needs

Based on survey information, not all client interactions lead to a purchase of an existing home.  About 43 percent of REALTORS® who had international clients reported they had at least one client who did not purchase a property, according to NAR’s 2015 Profile of Home Buying Activity of International Clients.  “Could not find property”, “could not obtain financing”, “cost of property”, and “other reasons” accounted for many of the cases.

For example, “Could not find property” accounted for 17 percent of the cases of clients not making a purchase and may represent a case in which the REALTOR® had trouble connecting with the needs, desires, culture, or objectives of the potential purchaser.  REALTORS® have reported that meeting the needs of the international customer frequently requires an additional level of skills beyond those normally used by REALTORS®, i.e., special training regarding cultural issues, the informational needs of individuals not familiar with U.S. practices, and experience with regulations as regarding international purchases.   For example, potential foreign buyers may also be unfamiliar with U.S. practices in regards to condo and other fees and property taxes.

This may be an opportunity for the REALTOR® to educate the potential purchaser and to reduce buyer concerns. NAR can provide extensive information related to facilitating real estate transactions with foreign purchasers.  NAR’s Commercial & Global Services Group has extensive information on the NAR website concerning business practices and approaches for dealing with potential foreign purchasers, including information on the Certified International Property Specialist designation.


Jed Smith, Managing Director, Quantitative Research

Jed Smith is Managing Director, Quantitative Research with the National Association of Realtors®. He has worked on real estate issues for the past 20 years, providing input on a variety of housing, commercial real estate, tax, and planning issues. Recently he has been involved in several international studies.

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