“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it” is a beautiful quote by Margaret Fuller and numerous times we have published helpful articles on accessing global markets on Torontoism.com.
In the newest bi-monthly, Global Perspectives by National Association of Realtors, however, we are able to share our experience with a much broader audience.
Global Perspectives in Real Estate is a resource for global professionals that outlines how members can globalize their local market. Produced bi-monthly, this newsletter serves as a how-to guide and is full of useful and actionable tips.
Read an excerpt from the Global Perspectives article and view the full issue below where you can also leave your comments. We are looking forward to chatting with you!
Torontoism Team Goes Global
Richard Silver had already established a very successful real estate practice in Toronto. His extensive knowledge of technology and social media savvy attracted both real estate clients and invitations to speak at industry events.
Never one to rest on his laurels, however, Silver continued to monitor his local market and noticed changes—more showings and offerings were coming from Chinese agents and Chinese clients. Four years ago Chinese clients represented roughly 10 per cent of the housing market. Since then, that figure has doubled.
According to Chinese property listing site Juwai.com, the total value of all Canadian property inquiries made by prospective Chinese buyers nearly tripled in one year—from $5.6 billion in 2014 to $14.9 billion in 2015. Toronto was their top Canadian destination, by value of properties searched ($7.4 billion), followed by Vancouver ($2.5 billion).
To elevate his opportunities with this growing group of buyers, Silver took several significant steps:
- Expanded Team
Prior to pivoting his practice specifically towards China, Silver added two team members—Sherille Layton, a sales representative who was also a recent British immigrant and a senior sales representative who serves as Silver’s backup for his original “farmed” markets.
Next, he invited a talented local agent Tracy An, originally from Mainland China, to join his team, in order to gain Chinese language skills and more cultural experience. She quickly became so successful that he needed to hire a Mandarin-speaking assistant to support her. Two additional assistants now round out the Torontoism team.
- Took Specialized Training
A strong believer in the importance of professional education, Silver completed his Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation.
- Moved to Brokerage Affiliation
Silver moved to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. In addition to gaining more Chinese clients, Silver’s goal was to capture more high net-worth buyers—a group with strong affinity towards the Sotheby’s brand.
These shifts in Silver’s business model laid a solid foundation, but there were still numerous challenges to tackle, specific to connecting with Chinese buyers, including change in marketing properties.
The "Great Firewall of China" prevents citizens from accessing many sites hosted outside of China, including Facebook, Twitter or Google. The same is true for many popular real estate portals from other countries.
To display property listings, Silver needed to learn how to work within an entirely different system. He relies on sites like Juwai.com and Caimeju.com, both developed specifically for Chinese buyers and operating behind China's firewall. He's also forged a cooperative agreement with a local brokerage to feature his listings.
Consistently among the top one percent of salespeople in Toronto, Silver’s efforts to expand his international presence are already paying of. Currently, 30 per cent of his business comes from Chinese clients. He’s also seen a change in the quality and price range of the properties they’re marketing.
Even though all real estate markets are local, it’s increasingly important to have global reach. Shifting my business model has been a major undertaking, but I firmly believe it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. Plus, it’s been genuinely fun and exciting!