Congratulations to Carla Rayman and Patricia Tan, both from Prudential Palms Realty, as well as Catherine McCaskill, from Sarasota Association of Realtors. These women were the driving force behind the just-finished Sarasota International Real Estate Congress 2008.
The congress was a three day event at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota featuring a certification program for realtors on the first day and two additional days of panel presentations covering topics such as trends in international real estate, meeting the needs of foreign investors on the Florida Gulf Coast, and planning international real estate transactions (including immigration and tax considerations).
Over 130 people attended the congress. It was a real pleasure to see so many supporters of new immigration legislation in one room! There seems to be a lot of pent up demand among realtors and their international customers for “retirement visa” or some other legal way for foreign vacation homeowners to spend more than six months at a time in Florida.
The Sarasota International Real Estate Congress is not the only way that Sarasota realtors are marketing the area to foreign investors. In fact, they are doing more to promote Sarasota internationally than any other group or industry by far.
I recently met with Carla Rayman, who serves as Director of International Business Development for Prudential Palms Realty, and she told me about all of the trips she has taken in the past few years to market the Sarasota area. She has traveled to the U.K. twice in the past 12 months and has a third trip planned soon. She went to Spain for three years in a row to attend SIMA, the Largest International 2nd Homes Expo in the World. She also has planned or is considering trips to Germany, Dubai, and Costa Rica.
Carla is also very involved in promoting international business at the regional level. She is member and/or director in the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce International Business Council, Tampa Bay World Affairs Council, and Southeastern Chapter of the Panama Business Council—just to name a few.
Other realtors have also been very active in marketing our community to prospective foreign investors. For example, Patricia Tan recently attended real estate shows in Singapore and Malaysia and met with prospective investors in China.
Most of the major real estate companies in Sarasota have realtors who have gone abroad to promote Sarasota. Michael Saunders recently made a presentation to real estate investors in Madrid, Spain, to explain why Florida real estate is a great investment opportunity for Spanish buyers.
Not including trips abroad, there are many other things that local real estate companies and individuals realtors are doing to attract foreign buyers. For example, a number of companies have established international affiliations to show Sarasota listings to buyers outside the U.S. Also, several companies and individual realtors have multilingual websites. Bill Geller, of Suncoast International Realty, has a blog that often focuses on international issues (the blog recently reported the results of a survey on international real estate purchases in the U.S. conducted by the National Association of Realtors).
There are so many businesses and organizations in the Sarasota area that benefit from international visitors. It is high time to give credit and thanks to Sarasota’s realtors who are leading the community in international marketing efforts.