One of the aims of CEI is "to establish friendly links between individuals belonging to the member groups" and a natural consequence of friendly relationships between real estate agents is that they do business together.

Generally speaking we tend to be suspicious of fellow agents, and sometimes with good cause, but when we do get to know someone and find that he is a serious professional, then it comes natural to talk business. This is also the case when the fellow agent works in another country. But how, you may ask, do I get to meet him, or her, and know whether he is a reliable person to refer my clients to?

CEI is preparing a list of member Agents in each country that are particularly interested in collaboration on an international level, and a thorough screening is done to accept only those persons of proven seriousness and capability of international negotiation, with knowledge of foreign languages, procedures etc.

Your next question may be but why go to all the trouble? The answer is easy, to do more business and earn more money! With the recent elimination of custom barriers in Europe and of restrictions of currency circulation, Europeans are now freer to purchase properties in other countries.

CEI research has shown that generally there is a moderate amount of business in international relocation, a higher amount in holiday homes and a still larger amount of business in commercial activities. My own research through embassies in Rome has shown, for example, that there are 326 German companies, 605 French companies and 119 Swiss companies with offices or factories in Italy; and the figures are always rising. These firms also need housing for their managers and staff.

The merger and acquisition market (M & A), with very large properties changing hands, offers an enormous business potential for Real Estate Agents and often it is only the domain of lawyers. Agents acquiring the necessary expertise can enter a very lucrative market.

An Agent in a small provincial town in northern Germany or England may feel cut out of potential international business, but he should consider that he is in a good position to know the financial capacity of his clients and can begin by simply offering rental holidays in sunny Spain, Greece or Italy through a colleague on the spot. Once having introduced those clients to a capable fellow agent, the business may further develop with the actual purchase of a holiday home by his client, which generates good sales commission. This business we can call "export of clients"; if on the other hand the agent works in a tourist resort, he will be interested in the "import of clients".

Mr. Antonio Reina-Martin of Spain says that setting up an efficient international collaboration in your home town is an effective way of preventing foreign firms from opening up their own offices, as they find it cheaper to collaborate with someone on the spot who has all the local contacts and know-how.

Those interested in beginning a collaboration with agents in other countries should contact their CEI representative and ask to be placed on the International Directory. In due course everyone will receive a questionnaire to be filled in and returned with details of languages spoken or written, types of properties dealt with and countries of preference. Standardised documentation is also being prepared for the rapid transfer of information as well as some simple rules for everyone to follow. Computers and telefax machines now make everything faster and easier.

The NAEA already has an excellent referral system called "Home Link" which is open to overseas agents who can become Special Associate Members. Their very appropriate motto is "Broaden your horizons!".

However the best business relationships arise when the persons involved actually know each other. Therefore it is important to be assiduous in attending CEI meetings and international trade fairs where you can meet Agents from other countries. However you will find that making friends in other countries and exchanging views is sufficiently rewarding in itself.

Laurence Camillo

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    Copyright L. Camillo 2000