What are we doing here? Why does this exist?
The problem we wanted to solve started as a specific task: Organize properties for sale and trusted agents in international markets so US consumers have a central place to find them.
That was a good start, and our efforts are a bit more broad today.
In 2019, the first iteration of this began with a remote job board. There are dozens of remote job boards out there, but none of them are focused specifically on expats (short for “expatriate” — a person who is living in a country other than their home country).
It didn’t take long to figure out that when people start working remotely, their priorities change. Many of them decide they want to move or embark upon some extended travel to take advantage of their new freedom.
Think about it. If all you need is a laptop and some wifi to do your job, why not do your work from the beach? Or the mountains? Or a different location every month?
Those are our people.
Our target market is the group of expats who are interested in planting roots in one place, not the “digital nomad” crowd (hence the lack of rental listings on our site). There are expat hotspots scattered about the world and that’s where we started to work with clients to help them find suitable properties to buy.
As it turns out, US jobs pay very well compared to jobs in most of the rest of the world, and US dollars travel well (for now). Because of that, buying property in many foreign markets is a much easier financial task than it is in most of the US.
The cost of a down payment on a typical house in the US is enough to buy an entire home for cash in all sorts of amazing places in the world. That’s good math as far as we’re concerned.
Once we started talking to people familiar with real estate in various countries, we discovered a large community of investors. There are real estate investors in every market, but this community is unique because of their international focus. These investors are specifically looking for investment opportunities in developing markets.
Enter our second area of focus.
We help people who want to diversify their investments into international markets.
All the responsible mutual funds and pension plans diversify with international holdings, so why not make it easy for people do the same thing in real estate?
What makes you different than all the other real estate websites in the world?
The world doesn’t need another website with feeds of all the property listings available for sale. There are plenty of those and they all look pretty much the same.
This is why we only have a small number of agents posting properties in every market we service. They have a good handle on the local inventory and can work with you to find what you need, even if it isn’t publicly listed.
All of them speak English (at least at a passable level) and understand they will be banned from our platform if we hear about any shenanigans. They are all agreeable to that.
We are focused on fewer clients, and high-touch service.
You know, like Jerry Maguire (except nobody here had to kamikaze their sports agent career to build this thing).
So we thought that perhaps it’s time for something a little different in the international property world. And here we are.
How does this work?
In every market in the US, you can do a simple Google search (or Bing for you weirdos out there) and find a dozen different versions of the same property information in slightly different website and app formats. Every property listed for sale will be there and you can sort by price, size, location, etc. You’ll find what you need, but the experience will be pretty much the same regardless of which tool you use to search.
The only BIG variable with the home search experience is the agent on the other end of your communications. That is a huge differentiator and can make or break your buying or selling experience. More on that later.
When you explore real estate markets outside the US and Canada, you’ll find a different set of challenges.
First, the MLS doesn’t exist anywhere else like it does in North America, so you have to go to every company that works an area if you want to see all the listings for sale. It’s inefficient and a bit of a hassle to register on a dozen different websites to see what’s available in a certain market.
The MLS enables cooperation among all the agents in a given market, so any agent representing you as a buyer can show you ALL of the properties for sale. The MLS governs the agreements between agents and guarantees that the agent representing you as a buyer will get paid from the listing agent if you decide to buy that property.
That might not mean much to you unless you’ve ever tried to navigate a real estate market WITHOUT buyer representation.
When you take away the component of cooperation between agents, you are forced into a situation where every agent you meet is trying to convince you to buy something THEY have listed, which may or may not (usually not) fit your needs.
Sadly, this is one of the main reasons real estate agents have less-than-stellar reputations in many places around the world. They are contractually obligated to represent the best interests of their seller clients, and they have no contractual relationship with YOU, the buyer. As you can imagine, this opens the door to a slew of potential problems.
(Fun fact: Buyer agency did not exist on a large scale in the US until the 1990s, so the US wasn’t all that different from the rest of the world until then.)
Who are the people behind this?
Jon, Ethan and a small army of (paid) interns. Jon is the real estate guy, Ethan is the website guy and the interns work on various projects depending on their areas of academic focus. Our next hires will be a business development person and a customer support person. Please feel free to reach out if you know someone who might be interested in those roles! (We have a backlog of interns for the spring and summer, and may open some more spots for the fall)
I need help buying a property overseas. What should I do first?
Find a trusted agent to help you, of course!
Finding agents who can be trusted is no small task, especially when you leave your home country. There’s no licensing requirement for agents in most countries, nor is there any oversight of agent ethics or behavior. That means any person off the street can print some business cards that says they’re a real estate agent and BAM! They’re a real estate agent.
If you are looking for an agent in an area where you don’t see any properties listed, please contact us. We may know some good people in that market and we’d be happy to make recommendations.
Who are the agents on this website? Can they be trusted?
Believe it or not, finding agents you can trust in far away places is a big task. This is especially true in markets where there is no licensing or regulation of real estate professionals.
Our relationship is strong with some of the agents listings properties on this site. With others, we don’t know them and they have simply paid for advertising spots. There are also some homeowners who are listing here without the help of agents.
Like any financial transaction, we encourage you to do your research and consult legal and tax professionals before committing to anything. We cannot be held responsible for the misdeeds of anyone you met through our website.
There aren’t any properties listed in the US. Why is that?
We will slowly be adding select US markets over the course of 2020.
We are focused on people who are moving out of the US, not into the US. That may change with time, but the “property search problem” seems to be solved in the US by a number of large, publicly-traded companies. We see no need duplicate the things they have already created.
Also, only a few major markets in the US get much press coverage outside of the US. We will focus on those because they are the most interesting markets to our users.
There are exceptions to this, of course, such as the large Somali community in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Hmong in Wasau, Wisconsin or the Albanians in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We also know that the largest Polish population outside of Poland lives in Chicago.
If you have a unique property in the US that you think would be interesting to an international audience, we’re happy to work with you to help promote it. We don’t discriminate, we just thought you should know what’s up.
My search for (name a city) didn’t show any results. Why is that?
There are a few reasons that could happen. Have you checked our global property map, to see if that makes a difference?
The most obvious reason is that agents in that market haven’t found us yet.
Other possibilities are that we haven’t found any agents we like and trust there, or we haven’t tried to find any agents there at all.
A third reason could be that the properties sell very fast in that market. Many markets are experiencing extremely low inventory right now and any property that hits the market will sell in a matter of days.
You may wish to register for updates on off-market properties if you are in a hot market with extremely low inventory.
If you would like help finding a property in a market that doesn’t show in our search, please see this page.
Why are properties only showing prices in US dollars ($), euros (€) and pounds (£)?
Most of the people in our target audience do most of their banking in one of those currencies and we leave it to the agents to decide how to communicate the price. There are easy online currency converters out there if you need to do some quick math.
Where are you based?
This seems like a weird question considering that nothing we do requires a physical location, but this question shows up on the regular anyway.
The formal answer? Different parts of our business are incorporated in different places. The informal answer? Wherever the team is sitting that day (we are 100% remote and plan to stay that way).
What does this cost?
We charge a flat fee for posting property listings. We do not charge any commission if a property sells to someone you meet through our website.
We can charge a low rate because our overhead is low. As an advertising platform, we want to make it easy for people to post their properties here.
Where are inquiries about my property sent?
Any inquiries are sent to the email address you provide when you register. You can change that email address anytime you wish through your profile page.
Do you have a question that wasn’t answered above? Please contact us and we’ll get back to you right away.