Are you thinking of purchasing a second home or investment property in the United States? Do you have questions and are not sure where to begin? As our world continues to become more and more of a global society, it’s important that real estate agents have a firm understanding of that global reach. As an agent, understanding your international customers is key to building a relationship and being of value to them. For customers, it’s important to understand the value of working with an agent that has understanding of global real estate. Have you seen real estate agents with CIPS after their name? If you are wondering what that means and how it can benefit your real estate plans, keep reading. CIPS stands for Certified International Property Specialist. It is a worldwide network of real estate professionals in more than 50 countries.

To earn this designation from the National Association of RealtorsⓇ, Realtors must complete five courses and pass several exams. To meet my requirements, I took;

  • Global Real Estate: Local Markets
  • Global Real Estate: Transaction Tools
  • Europe and International Real Estate
  • Asia/Pacific and International Real Estate
  • The Americas and International Real Estate

As a Certified International Property Specialist, I am able to connect my customers with agents all over the world. Considering a vacation home in Mexico? No problem, I have just the agent for you to work with. Being transferred to London? I can handle that request. Want to purchase in the United States and unsure of the process? I will guide you through the process.

Foreign Buyers

Are you a foreign buyer considering a purchase in the United States? It’s important that your agent understands the differences not only in the real estate process and financial implications, but also the cultural differences. For instance, the United States has tax treaties with several countries. According to the National Association of Realtors, “these agreements do not necessarily limit or reduce the amount of taxes due in relation to the U.S. real property interest, but they do prevent double-taxation.” Do you also know if you are considering buying a US property, there are a number of requirements that must be met by nonresident aliens? If those requirements are met, they are considered U.S. residents for income tax purposes if they meet the substantial presence test. (consult with an attorney to confirm details) Likely your United States real estate agent is not also an attorney. They can provide resources for you, but not advice regarding taxes, finances or immigration. Your agent should provide you with several options for a(n);

  • Immigration Attorney
  • Tax Attorney

As an international buyer in the United States, it is important that your agent has an understanding of your customs, currency, real estate transaction process and units of measure. If you are use to square meters, seeing a home’s dimensions listed in square feet isn’t very helpful. Your agent should be prepared with units of measure and currency converters.

As an international buyer in the United States, it is important that your agent has an understanding of your customs and global real estate.Click To Tweet

Some interesting facts I learned when completing my courses were the cultural differences in social etiquette and taboos in foreign countries. Here are just a few;


  • Avoid putting hands in your pockets as this indicates boredom.
  • The numbers 4 and 9 are considered unlucky. Do not give gifts in sets of 4 or 9.
  • Never point with chopsticks.
  • Do not ask customers personal questions about theri family or private life.
  • Shoes are not worn inside. Place your shoes with toes pointed outward. Socks only are ok in informal situations, bare feet are not acceptable.


  • The ok gesture with your thumb is considered vulgar.
  • Religious profanity is offensive.
  • Taking off shoes is considered rude.

For more details on social taboos in Latin America, visit: Latin Post


  • Never use your left hand for eating, offering a gift or business card
  • Gifts made of leather might offend, as Hindus are vegetarian.
  • Do not greet with a hug or kiss.
  • Do not point. It is considered demeaning.
  • Touching someone with your foot is extremely rude.

In Florida, the most recent statistics show that 35% of our international buyers are coming from Latin America, followed by Canada at 28% and Europe at 27%. (View Source) If you are considering a second home or investment purchase, contact me to discuss your options. I will connect you with my trusted team of professionals that will answer all of your questions from Visa application to tax considerations. We will work together to make your transition to the United States as seamless as possible.

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