Keys to Working With Foreign Clients

By
Managing Real Estate Broker with Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc 0225086119
http://actvra.in/hKC

One of the great privileges I've enjoyed in life has been teaching as an adjunct college professor in Zaporozhye, Ukraine.  When communism collapsed, a few US groups went into the Ukraine to set up colleges to help with biblical training for new ministers and children's church teachers.  I was invited to join Greater Europe Mission in the quest, and I gladly took the challenge. 

I learned a lot in those early years, and those lessons have helped me with my business to this day.  Every so often, most real estate offices will have someone from a foreign country come in to buy or sell a house.  How you relate to them may make the difference between a deal or no deal.  Here are a few pointers I learned on the streets and in the classrooms of Zaporozhye.

  • Don't speak in slang.  Not only don't speak in slang, but don't speak in analogies, metaphors or in double-speak.  Use simple, straight language.  It's not that your foreign clients are stupid or ignorant, but they may not have the same slang or uses of language as you do. Keep it simple.
  • Don't speak in epistles.  Use short simple sentences.  Don't speak in such short sentences that it's insulting to your client, but make it short enough that you get the point across without a lot of fluff.
  • If your client doesn't understand something you said, don't get louder.  He's not deaf.  He's just unfamiliar with your language or maybe not accustomed to the way you use your language.
  • Learn some of your client's language.  It honors your client and will make your relationship more constructive.  When I first started traveling to the Ukraine, the country was in the early years of freedom and capitalism.  That meant a certain level of struggle for those who had grown accustomed to government assistance.  So, money was tight.  You bought most goods, services and food in the open air markets.  One day, I stopped by a market and bought a souvenir.  The babushka who sold it to me didn't offer a bag for me to carry it in.  I had already learned that a used plastic shopping bag was like gold at that time.  It was good to bring some from the states if you were going to be there any length of time.  When she handed the product to me I said,"спасибо (thank you)."  She looked up in surprise that I thanked her in Russian.  She smiled and reached around behind her and grabbed a used plastic bag and stuck my item in it.  She said, "Пожалуйста (you're welcome)," and handed it back to me.  The fact that I took the time to learn a little of her language so impressed her that she sacrificed a bag that was valuable to her.
  • Be patient, and take your time.  Your clients want to buy or sell a house.  That should not include huffing and puffing on your end because the American custom for time and action is different from a huge portion of the planet.  More than once I was scheduled to be somewhere, let's say 5:00 PM, but a lot of my Ukrainian colleagues looked at time tables more like guidelines rather than specific times.  They were actually pretty good about being on time.  Some foreign clients may demonstrate their commitment to time-lines by missing deadlines by many hours, even days.  Be patient.
  • Show interest in your client's country, customs and beliefs.  They may be different from yours, but you may be amazed at how fascinating they are.  Do a little research. 
  • Don't spend all of your time talking about how great your country is, or how advanced it is, or how important it is to the Geo-political scene.  That's relative to you, not necessarily to them.
  • Have fun!  Working with a citizen from a foreign country can be an amazing learning experience, even for you. 

Open your eyes and your heart to new friends from foreign lands and you will be the one who is enriched.  Some of my favorite people in the world live in Ukraine, but I would never have known that if I didn't open my heart to an opportunity.  I love them like family, and every time we're together, you would think we were related. 

 

close

Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Krista Lombardi 09/01/2011 03:00 PM
  2. Eileen Hsu 09/02/2011 09:51 PM
Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
Virginia Frederick County Winchester
Groups:
WeBlog Anything (almost)!
VIRGINIA
The Lounge at Active Rain
Out Of The Box!
30 Days In September 2011 Localism Posting Challenge
Tags:
mike cooper
real estate agent broker winchester va
working with foreign clients

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
840,987
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Lanre, that's a great one to remember.  Thanks for the comment.

Thanks, Rosalie.  Have a great day!!

Sep 02, 2011 04:27 AM #27
Rainmaker
1,186,224
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
I was reading about the mental benefits of learning a second language for Seniors recently. This made me think of that.
Sep 02, 2011 07:15 AM #28
Rainmaker
840,987
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

It's always a great idea to learn a second language.  You'll enjoy it, and it will open up a world of possibilities for you!!  Thanks for commenting, Cheryl!

Sep 02, 2011 07:22 AM #29
Rainmaker
895,372
Michael Setunsky
Michael's Commercial LLC - Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Mike, I've lived in Europe and in Asia. You have to learn the local culture and customs. It sure makes fitting in a whole lot easier.

Sep 02, 2011 09:14 AM #30
Rainmaker
840,987
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

That is so true, Michael.  It does make fitting in so much easier. 

Sep 02, 2011 09:27 AM #31
Rainer
232,628
Mike Yeo
3:16 team REALTY - Frisco, TX

Mike - that is some great advise. Being a foreigner to the US, I had to learn to readjust my Queen's English when I was in college. 

Sep 02, 2011 09:31 AM #32
Rainmaker
840,987
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Glad you stopped by, Mike.  Have a great weekend!!

Sep 02, 2011 09:35 AM #33
Anonymous
Anonymous

Great information to know, I am a CIPS Realtor and it's always good to learn more about the different customs of

the countries around the world.

Sep 02, 2011 09:44 AM #34
Rainmaker
133,506
Sherri Wellborn
Reliant Realty, Murfreesboro - Murfreesboro, TN
Murfreesboro TN Homes & Real Estate

Another great post Mike!  I loved the don't speak louder - they're not deaf!  So many people do this!!  

Sep 02, 2011 11:27 AM #35
Rainmaker
840,987
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Thanks, Sherri.  It is kind of funny when that happens, but not good.  8-)  Have a great weekend!!

 

Sep 02, 2011 12:12 PM #36
Rainmaker
1,576,325
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Call 631-805-4400 (c)
Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo & Home Sale Specialists

It is funny Mike when people speak louder thinking that will help ~ Being patient and taking your time is great advice!

Sep 02, 2011 12:22 PM #37
Ambassador
1,114,535
Bryan Robertson
Catarra Real Estate, Inc - Los Altos, CA
Broker, Author, Speaker

I've worked with many foreign buyers and you're right, you need to be very clear, don't make assumptions about what they know of buying property, and be very clear in everything that's said or done.

Sep 02, 2011 12:25 PM #38
Rainmaker
570,050
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Mike,  I laughed out loud after reading your point about speaking louder to help them understand.  I've seen this so many times -  I think several " stand-up " comics use it as part of a routine !   Have a terrific weekend.

Sep 02, 2011 12:29 PM #39
Rainmaker
840,987
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

So true, L & S. 

Never pays to assume things with people from different cultures, Bryan.  My last family was from Africa.  They were well educated and spoke pretty good English, but the technical aspects of buying and selling property were like a foreign language to them.  We took it slow!!

It would make a good routine, Bill.  8-)

Sep 02, 2011 12:59 PM #40
Rainmaker
269,991
Marie Story
Keller Williams - Pinecrest (Miami) - Pinecrest, FL
Broker Associate, Pinecrest (Miami) Specialist

Mike, look where I practice - foreign clients galore!  What I have noticed is that they really try hard to have us like them, they are usually so nice and polite.  On my part, I always make sure that I explain everything in a lot of detail.  Our way of conducting a real estate transaction is not what they are used to.

I have also noticed that the foreign clients tend to be very loyal.

Sep 02, 2011 03:28 PM #41
Rainmaker
840,987
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

I bet you do, Marie.  Have a great weekend!!

Sep 02, 2011 04:29 PM #42
Rainmaker
663,541
Eileen Hsu
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY
LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON
Excellent advice Mike, I work with many foreign buyers here in Manhattan New York, some I speak the language, some I don't, but I surely speak short sentences.
Sep 02, 2011 09:49 PM #43
Rainmaker
840,987
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Excellent, Eileen.  I had a Russian couple out for a showing tonight.  I do speak a little Russian, so it was nice.  Have a great weekend!!

Sep 02, 2011 10:05 PM #44
Ambassador
1,356,981
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Selling Daytona paradise for heavenly good prices

My mom and dad were born and raised in Ukraine, But WWII pushed them far away, and I was born in Tajikistand, where the military hospital, where my mom worked was stationed at that time.

I lived all my life until 40 in Russia, and last 14 years in the Arctic.

inteesting blog post. Working with immigrants is much more than just language. I think it is funny, but I do not like working with Russian clients and I have pretty low success working with them.

I even made a point not to mention anywhere in my advertising that i speak Russian. And after I changed my first and last name at the time of b ecoming a citizen, you would not easily derive it from my name.

I do not know why itis this way. I know that former smokers are sometimes more sensitive to smoke than even those, who never smoke (LOL)

Sep 02, 2011 10:16 PM #45
Rainmaker
840,987
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

That's fascinating, Jon.  One of my dearest friends, Victoria (Vica) is from Tajikistand.  I was with a Russian couple tonight on a showing.   We're heading your way in two week!  Yea!!!!!!!!!!!  Finally a little R & R!  Thanks for commenting. 

Sep 02, 2011 11:10 PM #46
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
840,987

Mike Cooper

Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro
Winchester has a place for you! Call me.
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Additional Information