How to prepare relocating international clients
More and more house hunters are looking beyond their own borders to expand their horizons and invest in a variety of property markets. From high-rollers to regular family households and digital natives, relocating abroad is seeing an upward trend.
While they may have the drive and adventurous spirit to make such a life-changing transition, they often need a trained real estate professional with access to an international network to make it happen. That’s where a RE/MAX Agent steps in.
TIn this article we’re going to outline some of the major considerations you should be aware of when preparing your client for their big international move.
First things first, let’s talk about what might be required from both you and your client in terms of paperwork:
For many real estate agents in Europe, it is not required to have a certification to work with clients internationally. However, if it is relevant for your country, or you feel you would benefit from being a recognized international agent, then we highly recommend you get certified before going any further.
Whether certified or not, don’t forget RE/MAX is in a unique position to offer worldwide referrals. Take advantage of being part of the most widespread and recognized real estate brand in the world.
Make sure your client is fully aware of the documentation needed to buy the property and relocate to another country. Many non-EU citizens moving to member countries of the European Community, for example, will need to show proof of income or employment as well as a valid residency permit or visa. Depending on the country, the required documentation can take up to three months to process, so make sure your client gets the ball rolling sooner rather than later.
We have looked into some of the more popular relocation destinations, and compiled some of the major considerations you should communicate to your client before they move:
There are almost no restrictions on EU citizens buying property. Non-EU residents will need to apply to the Ministry of National Defense, which means proving their connections to the country and their intentions for property use. They will also need to prove their income and show that they have substantial funds available, together with a letter of employment and a handful of other documents.
Purchasing property in Cyprus is relatively simple compared to other European Countries. If your client is a European Citizen, they will have no restrictions on buying property. In fact, all foreigners are able to buy property, so long as they can provide the correct documentation.
Foreigners are allowed to buy some kind of property depending on their nationality, as most countries have reciprocity agreements with Croatia. If your client is a European citizen, they can buy a property just as easily as Croatians.
The process of buying a new home in Romania will depend on your client’s citizenship. Luckily for EU and EEA citizens, buying property in Romania will be just as easy as for a Romanian citizen, so long as the property is their secondary residence. If your client is an EU citizen without a Romanian Personal Identification Number, they will need a Fiscal Identification Number to go through with the process.
Before starting on this journey, it's best to double-check check your client has really done their research. They should find out what kinds of mortgages are available and what the immigration requirements are for their home country. As your client searches for their new home, they should take into account that a deposit of 20% is standard, but in some cases, expats are expected to pay more.
It’s tricky for foreigners to buy a house in Poland, but there are exceptions. EU citizens can purchase properties without a permit, but buyers from outside of the European Economic Area or Switzerland need a permit from the Minister of the Interior and Administration to purchase a house.
Since each canton has different rules, it's important to work with a local Swiss RE/MAX Agent to help you and your client find your way through the regional specifics. Only certain properties are eligible for foreign buyers to purchase, so make sure you do your due diligence for your client. You wouldn’t want to forward them their dream property only to realize it's off-limits.
There are no restrictions to buying, and if your client is an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, they won’t even need a visa to live or work. However, some banks may not give your client the full mortgage if they do not have a national identification number, which they can only get after five years of continuously living in the country.
A home can only be purchased as a residence for the owner or immediate family members, and a permit is necessary for non-EU nationals to buy there.
When buyers close on a property in Finland, they’ll either be purchasing real estate or a part of a housing share. Most apartments are owned as shares in a housing company, which could be a new process to adapt to depending on what your client has experienced before. Be sure to explain this fully.
Your client doesn’t need to be a resident to get a Portuguese tax ID number, but they will need one before they can buy the property or open a bank account. They will need to compare banks carefully as there are many different types of mortgages available.
At the time of writing, even non-EU nationals can apply for loans to buy property in Austria, making affording a dream home universally possible.
Now we’ve discussed the paperwork and potential pitfalls, here are a few other things you will want to talk to your client about before the move.
Set a timeline and stick to it as best you can
You will want to nail down a timeline with your client as soon as possible after the deal has closed. This will be very useful when setting your client’s priorities and assessing how you will both approach the moving process.
For example, if the deal closes on 30th September and you know your client wants to be unpacked and settled in by the Holidays, you have almost three months to prepare your client.
Using the timeline to help your clients prepare for their move will save them stress and make them feel much more comfortable in their decisions and in recommending you as an agent.
Provide them with local knowledge
No one likes to move into an area completely blind. It is crucial, even if your client has signed the paperwork and the deal is done, that you keep providing them with information on their new neighborhood.
If this knowledge is not known to you, try contacting a RE/MAX Agent local to that district for a dossier of up-to-date information. Not only does this put your client in the best possible position before the move, it also adds an extra unexpected dimension to your customer service.
One of the most valuable traits good real estate agents have is the ability to empathize. Realize that this is a high-risk and high-stress situation with plenty of unknowns already. Put yourself in your client's shoes and always ask yourself (and them) what you could be doing to make their life easier right now. Make sure you don’t go dark on them and communicate throughout the post-closing time frame.
Differentiate yourself through empathy and excellent customer service and your client (once the dust has settled and they are unpacked) will surely give you a glowing recommendation.