A quick Internet search on buying property overseas will reveal thousands of articles providing investment advice, guidance on the best places to buy as well as pages and pages of property listings. Good news if you are a buyer.
But what if you want to sell a property you own overseas?
Unfortunately there’s less guidance out there with the result that most sellers just list with a local agent and hope for the best. But in this post crisis era, where inventories are high and the environment is firmly tilted towards buyers, this may not be enough.
Truth is many international markets are small, inefficient, unregulated and don’t have the equivalent of a Multiple Listing Service. Private home sellers need to adapt to how the market works on the ground, make sensible decisions and take strategic action to sell their property.
Here are 5 tips to get you started.
1. Find the ‘hook’ for your property
Houses are a commodity. If your listing just runs through the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and sq footage, you are not separating the house from others on the market. To do that you need to find the ‘hook’ of the house – something that connects it meaningfully to your market.
The starting point is to identify the perfect buyer and then write a listing description to appeal to that individual. This is a far better strategy than wrting a generic listing that targets everybody and nobody. A targeted listing that is pithy and focused on what makes the property different will inspire action in the right person – the type of person who will buy your property.
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2. Sell the lifestyle
When someone buys a property overseas they are not just buying four walls and a roof. They are buying a lifestyle.
Some buyers want to reinvent themselves in a country where their dollar goes further; some just want to escape the rat race and life a more laid back life and others are looking for an opportunity for a change and a little adventure.
Do everything you can to facilitate these dreams. This could mean throwing in a surfboard with the purchase, preparing a binder that introduces prospective buyers to the local community lifestyle or articulating exactly what their life could be like if they bought your property.
3. List everywhere
If you are operating in a market where agents do not share a common listing database (similar to an MLS in the US), chances are you’ll do best by listing with every active agent in your market. It makes sense in this scenario to give everyone an open listing rather than working with a single agent on an exclusive basis. In fact tell everyone you are selling your property from the hotel receptionist, to your favorite taxi driver.
But go beyond this. Find out if there are any highly trafficked FSBO websites that cover your market and list on these. Consider doing a video walkthrough of your property and posting this on You Tube. Add a link to your property listing to your email signature and post about it via your social networks.
4. Find the pricing sweet spot
Setting the right price for your property is difficult in market where official sales data and market comps are not. You’ll have to rely primarily on asking prices of similar properties located in similar locations. You won’t be able to find out how long properties have been on the market but the asking prices will give you a good starting point.
Follow this up by doing the rounds of the major real estate agents. Ask them what price points are getting the most buyer interest and try to set your price within these bands.
If you don’t receive any realistic offers within 6-8 months, take that as a sign that your price is too high.
5. Get your paperwork in order
Don’t let the sale fall at the closing meeting because you were unprepared. Your buyer will want to do a full legal check on your property before purchasing so make sure the legal documentation is in order, and available electronically at a moments notice. Examples of documentation needed for the closing:
- Registered title deed
- Official document from the registry showing no liens or encumbrances
- Certificate showing that you are up to date with your taxes
- Approved survey
- Copes of recent utility bills
- Copies of home owner by-laws (if selling within a development)
- Title insurance policy (where applicable)
These 5 tips have one thing in common. They require you to be proactive about selling your property rather than just hoping that you’ll receive an email from a real estate agent with an offer. What are you waiting for?