Going International: An Interview With Richard Silver

Richard talking about marketing to international buyers and sellers and how to ask the right questions to set yourself up for success.

Nobu: Toronto is one of those cities - when it comes to marketing to these international buyers and sellers, what is the first step? People want to get into that, but don't know how to do it.

Richard: 

Well, the first is to go to conferences. That's a big help. I mean, coming here to this conference and meeting lots of people from around the world, I've made quite a few connections.

I have my CIPS, which has been very very good - the certified international property specialist. I think that's a great course to take and during the process of taking that course, you get to meet a lot of people. And they all have information to share about the countries they live in and it's just great ammunition when you're dealing with a foreign buyer. You have to know where they're coming from, how business is dealt with and it just helps you set up your business.

Nobu: So Power the Network, Power the People sort of thing.

Richard:

Yes exactly. And ask questions! Find out what's happening in your market place, how do people buy, are there property rates.. Most people are surprised to know that Canada and the US have wonderful property rates, that don't really exist outside of North America.

Nobu: And it's not only that. It's also the cultural differences.

Richard:

Yes, that's a lot of fun. Kiss, bow and shake hands is probably about the best buyable you can have for any person who wants to work with a foreign community. Because it explains the cultural things. And it's a real challenge. You need a lot of patience. But you also need to find out the information, you need to find out how properties are sold, whether they're sold with furniture, without furniture... How to greet somebody, how to offer them your card, what is the sign of respect.. Also, even when it comes to financing, there are certain countries where it is considered to be a sin to borrow money. You mention financing and they're horrified.

Nobu: And setting those expectations is important. Do you do that in marketing to those folks, or is more of a face-to-face kind of conversation you have with them?

Richard:

You know, little bit in my marketing. As you know I do a lot of video, so I make sure that my videos are transcribed and that they can be easily translated into different languages. And I do talk about the diversity and the cosmopolitan nature of the city that I'm working in.

We're very lucky in Toronto, it's like a lot of big cities, there are areas that are totally to one culture, to another culture and it's an absolute joy to be able to put a deal together when you're dealing with two opposites sides. Not only are you dealing with money issues, but you're dealing with things like how to win and what is a win for somebody in one culture, may not be a win for somebody in another culture. It's very interesting.

Nobu: How as an agent am I going to, asside from the network, asside from the Youtube, the videos, the transcripts, is there a first step for you? Do you have a website that speaks Chinese?

Richard:

No, but I have a website that's friendly with Google and can be translated. And I work for Sotheby's and Sotheby's is in about 16 different languages. Our website is totally translatable, you can view it in a number of languages. And I think, as things transpire in the next couple of years, I'll probably add landing pages to my website that are in different languages completely. So that somebody can get in, get the information translate and see.

Nobu: So really it's about knowing the power of your networks, powering your brand and connecting that with technology that's out there.

Richard:

Yeah. And also you know it's interesting, I treat a foreign buyer or seller, as if they're first timers. And I don't assume anything. I talk to them about what MLS is and how it works. And how Buyer Representation works, and you know what to do or how to deal with funds. I mean, funds are a big issue. And a lot of agents will go out and spend lots and lots of time working with people to find out that the funds are somewhere in the Far East and it's going to take them 6 months to get here.  So I always try to connect with my clients and say: "Please, first thing we got to do is we got to get your funds on shore. We've got to get them here, to North America. We've got to get them into a bank here." And that's a big step. That's one of the first things I would tell people. Make sure you have funds and also just see if there's option for them for financing, if they need it.

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