An International Perspective

LondonNot that they ever came close to being a total panacea for all the issues that beset the U.S. housing market during the Great Recession, but international home buyers brought a positive overseas perspective that definitely helped ignite the recovery in local markets such as ours.

While domestic buyers were frozen in place by the uncertain effects of the economic slump, buyers from other countries were confidently investing in an economy which—for all its recessionary woes—is still regarded from afar as the most stable and resilient in the world.  True, they also braved a U.S. housing market with sharply declining home values, but with a proven history of bouncing back strongly after every rough patch in its cycle.

In possession of this balanced perspective, more international buyers than ever seized on the opportunity to invest in U.S. housing—both to take advantage of our reduced prices while often striving to protect their financial assets from the vicissitudes of their own troubled economies.  Unlike an ounce of gold or a stock certificate, whose values are similarly prone to cycles, here was a long-term investment that could be lived in and enjoyed; or profited from as a seasonal or annual rental.

Florida is at the Top of the Wish List for International Buyers 

For the year ending last March, international buyers accounted for 6.3%—or $68.2 billion—of total U.S. existing home sales. (Source:  National Association of REALTORS® 2013 Profile of International Home Buying Activity).  Of this, no state has benefitted more than Florida, which accounted for 23% of all international home purchases last year.  (California was the distant runner-up at 17%)   Within the Sunshine State, the Sarasota-Bradenton-North Port metro area consistently ranks as one of their top destinations, with Canada and the U.K. representing the region’s two most active groups of international buyers.

Maximizing Your Home’s Visibility

At Michael Saunders & Company, our 37 years as an independent, locally-focused brokerage gives us the knowledge and flexibility necessary to hand select only those brokerage partners known for steering the most international buyers in the direction of our sellers. They presently include Christie’s International Real Estate, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Luxury Portfolio International and Mayfair International Realty. 

Each of these affiliations—which collectively include 200,000 of the world’s top real estate agents—are chosen for the strategic function they perform.  Christie’s International Real Estate and Luxury Portfolio International target only those high net worth individuals worldwide with the greatest ability to purchase properties over $1 million.  Leading Real Estate Companies of the World is chosen because its affiliates sell more properties and refer more buyers annually than any other national real estate organization.  Plus, its member firms are ranked #1 in more top U.S. and Canadian markets than any other U.S. chain or franchise brokerage.  Lastly, the Mayfair International Realty network includes over 300 individual real estate offices throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.   As such, it effectively operates as something of a London Bridge to Southwest Florida—linking buyers who live in (or visit) the U.K. with properties listed by agents from Michael Saunders & Company.

At the end of the day, most sellers don’t mind what nationality the next owner of their home is.  But they should mind that the brokerage they choose leaves no stone unturned in maximizing the number of buyers—both nationally and internationally—who are ultimately exposed to their property.

In a market where a significant number of purchases can ultimately be traced back to strategically-placed overseas referrals, make sure the company you choose has made a genuine commitment to capturing the most international buyers.

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