How to Help Expats Find What They're Looking for in Their New Home

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Understanding What Expats are Looking for in Their New Home (and, How You Can Find it For Them!)

Written by Hana LaRock

When someone moves to a new country, there are usually a lot of things on their mind. In addition to the excitement that typically comes with moving abroad—whether it’s for a job, retirement, a loved one, or a simple adventure—there’s also a lot of anxiety.

These people may be wondering to themselves, “Where will I live?” “How will I find a place that fits my needs?” “Will I like my new neighborhood?” “How can I get approved for an apartment if I’m a foreigner and/or don’t speak the language?”

It’s hard to enjoy the move if you have so many concerns about where and when you can finally settle in.

This is exactly what a housing agent is for. By demonstrating that you can help mitigate all of this person’s concerns, you’ll have yourself a new, happy client—and hopefully, many clients thereafter (from all the referrals!)

It all starts with knowing exactly what expats are looking for in a new home, and how you can find it for them. Some may not even have an idea of what they should be looking for. Knowing how to cater to how expats—and, how they differ from your regular, local clients—will make you an even more versatile agent.

Buying or Renting?

Some clients will want to buy straight away, and some will want to rent. Their motives behind making this decision will depend on many different factors and motivations, and in many cases, it’s not necessarily your business—unless it is. For instance, if you have an American looking to buy property of a certain amount in order to gain residency in Portugal, that’s something you may need to know about so that you can be sure the home they’re looking for meets the qualifications. Having the right connections with lawyers or immigration departments may be helpful as a real estate agent who is eager to work with expats.

Short-Term or Long-Term?

Is your client looking for a short-term rental or a long-term rental? This is important for you to know so that you can find them a place that meets their needs, as many landlords are strict when it comes to the length of a lease they offer. Some expats who are moving for a specific job may be moving on a contractual basis which may not line-up with a standard lease agreement. Instead of telling your client that they need to fit a certain mold and be more flexible, try to find options for them that exist.

Furnished or Unfurnished?

Some clients may be looking for something specifically furnished in order to save themselves time and money when they arrive at their new destination. Others may want a place unfurnished, but may need some guidance on where they can buy what they need, or how to ship their own furniture and items to their new home. Again, having a connection to a logistics company can help you better serve your potential clients. It may also be worth connecting with companies who regularly hire workers from overseas as you’ll always have a steady stream of clients who need a place to live!

Family-Friendly or Single-Central?

Where do these people want to move? If they’ve never been to the place they are moving before, they may need help with finding the right neighborhood. It’s hard to really get a sense of a place unless you’ve lived there quite a while. This is where you come in, because as an agent, you have to understand their preferences and know where they’re going to be comfortable.

One way to do this is to have some type of survey your prospective clients can fill out. You can also put them in touch with other expats who have lived in the area a while as well to see if it helps them learn where they want to go. (Of course, you may also have clients who want to live far away from other expats in order to ensure they have the most local experience possible.) This you’ll need to find out so you can begin the search!

When Will it Be Ready By?

Some people may want to have their apartment ready before they move to a place, so they can ship their stuff and settle in right away. This may be more common with families, but not necessarily. Others may want you to pick out a few options for them, and they’ll either look when they arrive while staying in a hotel or Airbnb, or they’ll fly over and see the places in order to make a decision before they actually move. It’s imperative that you ask this as soon as you can, in order to ensure that you can serve their needs.

What is the Deposit or Down Payment Situation Like?

What are the requirements of your client in order to rent or buy this place? Because, whatever it is, it may be entirely different from what they are used to in their home country. Also, landlords may have certain criteria depending on who they’re dealing with (which may or may not be legal and your client will be counting on you to check that for them!). Your client should know exactly how much they’d be expected to put down, and know where that money is going to go, especially if they need to wire it electronically beforehand. Many people are wary of scams, so help them to navigate this.

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

Chances are one of the reasons a person chooses to work with you over doing it themselves is because they don’t know how to go about finding a home abroad, or just need some assistance in getting it done. Maybe it’s a language barrier, or maybe they are just unfamiliar with how this all works. After all, the process can be difficult in a person’s own home country, too. The last thing someone needs when moving to another country is even more paperwork to deal with. Plane tickets, bank accounts, visas, etc., are already more than enough.

Remember, while being willing to work with expats is a great way to expand your network and broaden your expertise as a housing agent, it also important to have the right connections; not just help you reach the right people, but so that your people can get all the help they need with the process of moving abroad.

To get started, build your Housing Agent profile today! As a housing agent, it’s not enough to just stand out. It’s about making sure that the right people can find you. That’s why offers real estate agents around the world the opportunity to create a premium business profile so that you can be matched with high quality, international leads today! Visit: