With USD continues to remain weak and likely to remain so in the medium term; international investors from Asia Pacific & Europe will continue to find values in US properties attractive; below are some strategies that have been useful:
1. Understand who Asian investors are
The first mistake made by many real estate developers is lack of understanding; there are significant differences between each Asian community; and in more details; specific difference between even each Chinese community.
For instance, when comes to Chinese investors; do not assume the same message and strategy can be used for Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong markets; even though they are all Chinese communities. Set your target market first; then come up with different strategies.
2. Your website both in Traditional & Simplified Chinese
Simplified Chinese is used in China & Singapore; and Traditional Chinese is used in Taiwan & Hong Kong. If you look at the Chinese communities in the US, the representation is about 50/50.
10 years ago; there would be much more Taiwanese and Hong Kong immigrants than those from mainland China; but this trend has been changing significantly.
For Hong Kong & Taiwanese Chinese communities; it is very hard for them to understand in Simplified Chinese; especially for generation that is 40 to 60 years old; some of them will even find it offended if you give them marketing materials in simplified Chinese.
Similarly, you should also have your website available in Simplified Chinese to reach investors from mainland China and Singapore – this is a strategy that should be applied both for your marketing materials and website.
3. International Settlements can be very tricky
US is a highly advanced property market where deposits can be taken online through credit cards or PayPal. When comes to Asian investors; do not expect this can be done easily.
First; for a lot of Chinese investors; they do not even have credit cards; and PayPal is basically unheard by many Chinese investors. Second, online payment is not a common practice in many parts of Asia.
What we have suggested to our clients; is to ensure you have more traditional ways to accept deposits such as international telegraphic transfer with a reputable bank; or if an option is available, have someone physically present in Asia as your agent to take deposits. This can be achieved through appointing an international property agent; or appointing an international law firm as your legal representative or an international migration agent.
This was a common problem faced by many international developers; for instance; one Australian developer was having difficulties to sell luxury properties to investors in Shanghai for 2 years; they received a lot of interest but unable to settle any sales.
They resolved this problem by appointing an Australian-Chinese property marketing agency as their agent in China, and accepted payments in China instead of international settlements; and since then, had sold 20 units to customers who had made enquires previously.
Simple tricks can really make real impact to real estate business; especially when comes to dealing with Chinese investors; where many of them remain cautious about international investments; you have to take extra steps to ensure opportunities are not lost.