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The rise of the remote buyer

With so many Canadians rethinking their goals and priorities, it’s no surprise that a big move is on many people’s minds. Some may want to start seriously searching for their “forever” home, others may want a smart investment and a backup plan if their current working situation goes sideways (which the past year has shown can happen overnight). Increasingly, people are comfortable buying a home remotely and technology helps us do that much more easily than in the past. As Realtors, our process might be a bit different, but we can still end up with happy clients.

The start of the search:

When potential buyers start their search, they’re often looking at a location where they already have friends and family. Referrals play a big role in connecting with remote clients, and in some cases a friend or family member can be a proxy for the client themselves, since they know their loved one’s personal needs. Make sure your contacts know you’re open to working with anyone they might refer you to, even if they’re not local.

Being the local expert:

There’s a lot to consider when moving to a new city or province, and it’s even harder when you don’t have the local knowledge that comes from living close by. If remote buyers are interested in making a cross-country move, there’s a good chance they’ve picked a city or a region that they’ve been interested in for a while. But what does a regular Saturday look like?

A Realtor who can act as a lifestyle expert will be able to guide remote buyers through the ins-and-outs of their potential new community, such as popular amenities or the school system.

A recent pair of clients moving from Medicine Hat had camped in the countryside near Kelowna and wanted something more permanent in the same area, but with five children in tow, they were steered towards something closer to town that suited them perfectly. There may be fewer home showings, some buyers may only have the opportunity to do one or two trips to their prospective new area, while others may not be able to come at all, but by giving them the bigger picture, they’ll be empowered to make the choice that’s right for them.

For newer agents, it’s especially important to prioritize becoming a local expert and always keep in mind that they might not know the things you take for granted, especially in the area of tax technicalities, which can vary greatly from province to province.

Breaking down the distance:

There are tools at our disposal to bridge the physical gap and help remote buyers through this huge change, even if you’re never in the same room. Get familiar with Facetime and other video calling apps and use those tools to show your clients through potential homes and neighbourhoods. Get comfortable with virtual tours.

Another new normal:

This is my seventh year working in real estate. I’m seeing far more remote buyers and the trend won’t stop anytime soon. The past year and a half have allowed time to make plans and reconsider lifestyle priorities. For many, it’s not enough to work their life away. Those who weren’t feeling secure in their jobs are now ready to seize on new opportunities and they’ll need proper guidance to help them through a huge change.

This opens a huge door for Realtors. Instead of just looking for clients in your city or province, there’s now a country, maybe even a world of connections just waiting to be made. Become the well-rounded resource they’ll need, adapt to their needs and you’ll be in a great position to stand out from the crowd. And don’t forget to have a bottle of champagne ready when you finally meet them in person!