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News & Information: Orlando REALTOR® magazine - Special Feature

Take Your Pick

Friday, March 16, 2012  
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Special Feature
From the March/April 2012 issue

Regardless of which national origin you select to serve, international clients all require special care and handling.

Statistically speaking, there’s an enormous probability that you are going to deal with an international client in the coming year. In fact, according to the 2011 Profile of International Homebuyers In Florida, 77 percent of the state’s REALTORS® worked with an international client within the survey’s time frame (up from the 65 percent reported in the 2010 survey).

"The international real estate market is crucial to Florida and to Orlando,” explains ORRA Vice Chair of Strategic Planning Zola Szerencses, who is both a member of the NAR Global Business and Alliances Committee and immediate past chairman of the Orlando Regional International Council. "Approximately 25 percent of all sales in Florida are to foreigners. If you apply that percentage to Orlando, it would mean 6,925 of the 27,703 Orlando homes sold in 2011 went to foreign buyers."

Orlando is the second most desired destination of foreign homebuyers, garnering 14 percent of the state’s market share. Only the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach area, which drew a whopping 30 percent of all international transactions, ranked higher.

Just who finds Orlando attractive? While you can certainly take your pick of potential clients from a king-sized pool of national origins, by a large margin it’s buyers from Canada, Brazil, and the United Kingdom that flock to Orlando. Those from Canada alone make up 38 percent of Orlando’s international buyers, while Brazil and the United Kingdom make up 16 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

It’s a good thing that the Canadian majority of Orlando’s international buyers hail from a culture that is not all that foreign to us: Missteps in the dance of business etiquette between partners from different countries are frequently cited by experts as a completely avoidable source of friction and misunderstanding between a U.S. REALTOR® and an international buyer.

To help you avoid potential missteps, here are links to the protocol and expectations that are specific to the Canadian, Brazilian, and British clients you will most likely have the opportunity to serve.

Etiquette At-A-Glance



United Kingdom

International Etiquette Basics

Beyond using normal good manners, which you probably already use in the course of business, it is important to project positive attitudes toward international diversity, as well as adjust to the other person’s need for communication. Following are some basics for multicultural business norms and etiquette:

  • Learn at least a few phrases of the other’s language.
  • Show appreciation for the other’s customs, music, and art; do not criticize.
  • Be sensitive and non-judgmental on politics and religion; avoid discussing these topics if possible.
  • Show good intentions and consideration. Follow up on promises.
  • Acknowledge mistakes and apologize when appropriate.
  • Minimize talk about the United States.
  • Recognize that you need to be more formal and take more time in doing business than is your normal practice.
  • Be punctual, even if it is not customary for the person you are visiting. Many cultures regard lateness as a character flaw.
  • Do not tell or make jokes; they have a high probability of being misunderstood.
  • Show deference to the elderly; stand when they enter, wait for them to speak or extend their hands in greeting.
  • Treat members of the opposite sex with respect. Err on the side of formality.

Respect the concept of "face.” Never do anything to embarrass another person, either in that person’s eyes, in the eyes of others, or in your own eyes. In the same way, do not sacrifice your own face in front of others.

Just to be on the safe side, and until you learn more from your customer, avoid the following:

  • Standing with hands in pockets;·
  • Using first names;
  • Asking personal questions;
  • Asking about family;
  • Crossing legs;
  • Showing the soles of your feet;
  • Fleeing or invading the other’s personal space;
  •  Initiating any physical contact; and
  • Showing impatience.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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