Chris, I agree with some of your observations in your post, however you are incorrect in some of the other things. Many of the foreign buyers take longer time to decide on a purchase versus their U.S. counterparts, and they usually find their real estate agents from European websites that advertise "Overseas" properties. Also there are many foreign real estate companies that are setting up shop in the U.S. as well as working in partnerships with local brokers to market U.S. properties overseas. Many U.S. REALTORS are joining professional organizations such as FIABCI, AMPI, NAEA and AIPP to broaden their reach and to get to the buyers in other countries. Since the Dollar started its slide compared to the Pound Sterling, the Euro and every other currency out there and furthermore the U.S. real estate market is doing its biggest correction in decades /or in history/, the foreign press as well as local real estate agents in foreign countries are telling buyers that it is their best chance to pick up U.S. properties at "bargain basement" prices. The U.S. has jumped from being the 14th most popular place of investment in 2006 to the 4th in 2007 for the British and Irish buyers according to one of the leading property magazines in the U.K. /A Place in the Sun/:
Top 20 Positions from "A Place in the Sun Magazine"
1. Spain 6. Cyprus 11. Egypt 16. Montenegro
2. France 7. Greece 12. Portugal 17. Croatia
3. Turkey 8. Bulgaria 13. Morocco 18. Dubai
4. USA 9. Canada 14. Caribbean 19. Germany
5. Italy 10. Cape Verde 15. Australia 20. Thailand
This trend is going to continue in 2008, since most of these buyers are looking at the U.S. as the safest place to invest for the mid- to long term. The REALTORS who have NAR's coveted CIPS designation and many others who specialize in dealing with foreign buyers can tell you about the increased enquiries regarding properties in the U.S. The areas that benefit the most from foreign property investors are the ones where a direct flight from "overseas" airports is available. Most of these overseas buyers do not want to travel more than one hour from the airport they land at, therefore the concentration of this increased demand is easy to find. The average foreign buyer spent around $299,000 on the purchase, while the U.K. and Irish buyers purchased over 28,000 properties and spent $377,000 on average in 2007. Most of that money was spent in Central Florida /Orlando and the East and West Coasts close by/ and in the Miami area for the Europeans, Miami for the Central and South Americans and California and the West Coast for the Far East and Pacific investors.
While I agree that the foreign buyers are getting educated about the values of homes from their real estate agents via e-mail and CMA's, I disagree with you in the "un-necessity" of marketing properties in a different manner for foreign buyers than U.S. consumers. Keep in mind that the term REALTOR until recently only existed in the U.S. and now is being used in India too. Many potential buyers from other countries have no idea that http://www.realtor.com exist. They usually start the same way as we do, on their leading local internet sites that get their feed from property websites that many American REALTORS have never heard of - http://www.rightmove.co.uk, http://www.findaplaceabroad.com to mention a couple. I also agree that many of those buyers contact their local real estate professional, who then refers them to their contacts in the U.S. Also more and more of the REALTORS in the U.S. get their referrals from past customers from other countries, since they really tell all their friends and acquaintances that they know this "Wonderful chap/gal" who will take care of everything for them. And for some years now, many REALTORS attend NAR and other countries national association sponsored events like SIMA in Madrid, Spain.
Yes, the headlines "The British Are Coming", "International Buyers Flock to Florida", "Foreign Buyers Scoop up Florida Real Estate" are true, so is the fact that they will not overpay for overpriced properties. However to market properties to appeal to people from other countries is different from the U.S. buyers and for that reason NAR started the CIPS, TRC and AHWD programs.
As I say many times "..."The Worlds Most Famous Beach" is not really famous outside of Volusia County...", so we as real estate professionals can not sit back and wait for them to find us, but we have to go and meet them in their own countries sometimes.
So that's my 2 Cents /€0.012654/, but what do I know....