Selling your home to an international buyer
This past week I worked with an international couple. They are moving to the United State to establish a home base for their United States distribution, they own a construction supply company doing business in 80 countries and they picked Birmingham as their new home. We started our home search online for a million-dollar home, with a #1 priority of security but after seeing 20 homes in 6 neighborhoods security slipped to the bottom of their priorities and quality and design moved to the top.
Unlike any other buyers that I’ve worked with I realized what a key role I was playing in guiding this couple to their new home. They had also looked in San Diego, CA, where security was paramount, they had no social awareness of Birmingham and they had little knowledge of the legal and financial requirements of owning a home in the United States: title, property taxes, homestead, inspections, septic tanks, home owner’s insurance/ car insurance just to name a few.
I realized that my role was more than to just show homes, as a professional realtor I was guiding them to the community that they would become a part of, and that a key part of their future was in my hands.
They came to me through Zillow, they had seen my name on multiple high-end listings in Birmingham as the listing agent, so one day I received a call from overseas. This is the fourth time that this has happened in the past two months, the others were from within the US. As I’ve escorted these buyers around Birmingham my phone and email lit up because I had a buyer in my car that was in the market for a $1 million home, a rare being in the Birmingham suburbs. Other agents were urging me to show their listings.
The Immigration of the world's wealthy to the United States
The world order is changing, the wealthy of other nations will immigrate to the US. The Hurun Report released in 2014 surveyed the wealthy of China and found the more that two-thirds were planning to emigrate to the US. Thousands of pregnant Chinese women come to the US each month to give birth so their children are US citizens. Read my blog on the Cooling Down or Melting Down of the 2018 Real Estate market.
The Government’s EB-5 program is a visa program designed to allow foreign investors to gain permanent residence (a “green card”) in the United States. It requires a minimum investment of $1 million, or $500,000, if the investment is in a rural or targeted high unemployment area where unemployment is 150% of the national average. The investment also must result in the creation of at least 10 jobs.
There are 10,000 EB-5 visas available each Fiscal Year (FY).
To qualify for the EB-5 program, immigrants can invest directly in a job-creating business, or can invest through regional centers approved by USCIS to promote economic growth in designated areas.
If the investor’s initial application is approved, the investor can apply for conditional residence in the United States. Once approved, the conditional residence lasts two years. After two years, the investor can apply to have the conditions removed and have the conditional residency made permanent, but only if the investment has resulted in the creation of a minimum of 10 jobs, as required.
Best of US Homes focuses on selling luxury homes; over the past year, 15% of our $750,000 plus listings’ showings have been to foreign-born buyers. This is because we market internationally, primarily through the Internet and our dedicated website, www.BestofusHomes.com. As an example, last June we were contacted by a man from Holland, who had qualified for the EB-5 Visa program and was opening a branch of his international business in Birmingham. He and his wife, who is Russian, were primarily concerned about security, wanting a neighborhood with a gate and a guard. Once they became familiar with Birmingham, security became less important. They discovered Best of US Homes on Zillow and then through our videos. We found them a home in Inverness. They paid cash, asking for all the furniture, art, linens, and flatware, literally everything in the house, because they didn't want to move their things from Holland and Russia.
The next five years are going to be turbulent and challenging for those in the financial markets and the real estate market. I hope that you can see that Best of US Homes approaches its commitment to its clients different than most realtors. If you see yourself selling your home in the next five year I encourage you to put your plan in place now, the debt bubble will burst and when it does both markets will be effected and recovery will take many years. Give me a call if you’d like to discusses your future plans.
They ended buying a million dollar plus home plus all the furnishings, art on the walls, pots and pans, silverware and plates. The seller will leave with their clothes, shoes, cars, three animal wall trophies, and a motorcycle trailer in the third garage. They, as with most high-end buyers today, wanted to make minimal changes or updates, it was “give me your keys and I’ll buy your home and everything in it.” When you think about it, it makes total sense, they can't hire 2 Men and a Truck and move their positions from a foreign country.
This all relates back to the Baby Boomer Sell-Off, there are more sellers than there are buyers and as a seller you need to make extra efforts to make those buyers aware of your home. Buyers, even from overseas, are coming through Zillow and you must have professional pictures and a video of your home on Zillow. It can only be a two-minute video, but it must then lead the buyer to an eight to ten-minute video giving an in-depth preview of your home. No one wants to spend a week looking at homes.
I’m sharing this with you because this is what I’ve found works in this competitive market, you still must price your home competitively, present it in an up-to-date condition and be positioned to sell. If you know that windows need to be replaced because of broken seals replace them before you put the house on the market, if you know there’s a problem with the HVAC get it fixed or replaces. You never know if a couple from overseas will walk into you home and be looking for a move in ready, furniture and all, home. History says if you live anywhere other than Mountain Brook, 50% of the homes currently listed for over $750,000 will sell over the next 365 days, (meaning that the other 50% won't sell) so you’ve got to know where you stand compared to the competition and this can only be achieved by visiting the competition.
I’ve only been in this business for a little over a year so I’m still learning but what I do know for sure is: “A sign in the yard and a MLS listing won’t get it done anymore” and “He who has the buyers controls the market”.
I’d love to talk to you about how to sell your home.
Invite Kerry to speak to your group about the changing Luxury Home Market in Birmingham. BestofUS.email@example.com 205 919 6006
Kerry Grinkmeyer is a real estate agent in Birmingham, AL specializing in the marketing and sales of luxury homes. Kerry's a retired financial advisor, he sold his firm, one of the largest in the Ameriprise Financial Advisor system in 2005 to his son, daughter and nephew. Now he's building one of the largest boutique real estate agencies that he'll eventually sell to his grandchildren. He the author of the children’s book The Christmas Web- A Family Christmas Tradition. Kerry competes in the Senior Olympics in to 50M, 100M and 200M dash as well as the 5k and 10k time trial cycling events.
Kerry offers you his financial background, knowledge of the community, love of business and family and energy to assist you in one of the most important financial decisions you'll make in your lifetime.
205 919 6006
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