Foreign Investment

Five Essential Tips for Working With Inbound Investors

In “Cross-Border Migration,” CCIMs describe the changing inbound investment landscape. But how can U.S.-based advisers foster business relationships with international investors? CCIMs offer these five tips.

1. Remember: They’re not from here. “Be extremely patient,” says Ernest L. Brown IV, CCIM, executive vice president and managing director with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank in San Antonio. “Study up on business models utilized. Understand why they are investing in the U.S. Learn their customs (many a mistake is made here) and expectations. Our business process is very different, even from other English-speaking countries.”

2. Travel for knowledge. “Expand your education in the areas of interest and within those markets you’re trying to attract,” says Ken Shebib, CCIM, SIOR, CRB, vice president/associate broker with Colliers International in Edmonton, Alberta. “Working in Alberta, Canada, I took CCIM courses in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Ontario, as well as SIOR in Dallas and ALC courses in Chicago. Attending within the target markets offers exposure to clients and knowledge of their surrounding markets.”

3. Don’t show just your listings. “When my largest international client came to Miami looking for investments, he worked with three different brokers who showed only their listings, none of which really met the investor’s criteria,” says Paul L. White, CCIM, CPM, managing director of KW Commercial in Miami. “The brokers tried to sell them on the purchases anyway. When I met with the investors, I performed buyer representation services, showing them my listings and any others that I found that met their criteria. We now have a relationship built upon trust.”

4. Assemble the right team. “Help your client build an ‘investment platform’ before starting to make offers,” says Richard Knutson, CCIM, senior vice president with Cornish & Carey Newmark Knight Frank in Emeryville, Calif. “Get a U.S. attorney experienced in international transactions. Get a U.S. certified public accountant who has international experience. The investment platform includes a top-notch CCIM broker, attorney, CPA, certified property manager, banker/lender, and escrow/title.

5. Value the relationship. “Our Asian investors are very loyal, so if you make a good impression and show them that you act honestly and pay attention to their needs, they will stick with you for a long time,” says Matson B. Holbrook Jr., CCIM, vice president of Siegel-Gallagher in Milwaukee. “We are now in the market representing this same group again for their second retail investment. They also have friends with more money to invest behind them.”

Rich Rosfelder is associate editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate.

Rich Rosfelder

Rich Rosfelder is vice president of strategic communications for CCIM Institute.

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