Coldwell Banker and technology help bring international buyers to Florida
Following World War II, American families moved from Northern states to Florida in droves. Today, numbers are still high but transplants now include families from throughout the world, an expanded migration pattern that is being simplified by the forward-thinking innovation of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, said President Clark Toole. "Our international reach helps make moving here so much easier," Toole said. "We have sales teams in more than 50 countries and on six continents, all under one Coldwell Banker flag." Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate's innovative services and initiatives help families not only find homes in the Sunshine State, but also provide them with a smooth transition, from searches to closings. Among those innovations are: Coldwell Banker's expanded access to MLS listings across borders, online virtual tours of homes that help narrow searches, an interactive website that streamlines the search, buying and selling process, and use of social media by all entities involved in buying a home.And its newest partnership with Britain's Hamptons International, a London-based residential real estate company with 85 offices throughout the United Kingdom, extends the reach even further by providing British buyers access to Florida home searches through Coldwell Banker. "We know that 5 percent of international buyers buying homes in Florida are from the United Kingdom, so this partnership with Hamptons is a very good fit," Toole said. But the paths leading to Florida go well beyond the U.K. In the year ending June 2012, 26 percent of all international buyers who bought a home in the United States chose Florida, Toole said, citing a National Association of Realtors report. "There is huge growth expected all over Florida," he said. "I grew up in Florida and don't remember ever seeing the international numbers we're seeing today." Toole attributes the increased growth to two key trends: communications is better and transportation is quicker. "More families seem to be willing to make the big leap and move across the world because they can stay connected with their friends and family back home so much easier now," Toole said. "They can hop online to chat or jump on a jet and get together in no time." Here is a snapshot of the international buyers moving to Florida: •82 percent pay cash for a home. •Paid median price of $194,700 •Top three points of origin: Canada (31 percent), Europe (24 percent), and Latin America (35 percent) For years now, Coldwell Banker has been an innovator, taking the lead in providing its customers with up-to-the-minute information about their future homes, from searches to offers to closings. In addition, Coldwell Banker uses connectivity to communicate instantly with its sales associates, arming them with market updates, sales trends and selling tips. A drive to use technology and push connectivity has resulted in a real estate company making the absolute best use of lightning-fast tools. Here are examples of the customer-centered offerings. * Coldwell Banker's YouTube channel, called On Location, is helping agents show properties to clients on virtual tours, helping to narrow searches down before actually visiting a property, an important tool for international buyers. * The company was one of the first to make use of QR codes (quick response codes, the two-dimensional images resemble pixilated bar codes) via smart phones so customers can take virtual tours and see more listings and open houses. * Coldwell Banker arms its sales associates with an array of social media tools to connect with information on the latest details for ongoing and potential sales, as well as stay in touch with colleagues. * Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate's interactive website FloridaMoves.com lets homebuyers share properties they are considering with their social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google) to get feedback from their family and friends. The site also offers an interactive map for finding nearby schools, shopping, transportation, etc. * In addition, Coldwell Banker offers an international home search app for iPhone and Android-powered devices, which helps users search online, instantly providing details about homes and digital maps. * HomeBase, an online transaction management system, offers Coldwell Banker customers a secure account that tracks every detail of their real estate transaction, keeping them mobile and up-to-date on their real estate documents. * And, because it's a big world, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate offers an online multilingual program that helps international buyers begin their home search in 18 languages. Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate has 18 offices in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. There are over 80 offices and more than 4,600 sales associates throughout Florida. Worldwide, there are more than 85,000 Coldwell Banker sales associates. For more information, visit FloridaMoves.com or call 1-800-624-5292.