You've probably heard the advice about how to sell real estate. Get the price right, de-clutter, tidy up, take photos, list with a good real estate agent and get as much online exposure as you can.
All of this is true. But when it comes to overseas vacation property, there's something else you need to do. I think of it as the foundation that makes all the rest of it work.
You need to sell the lifestyle
In fact if your goal is to sell to an expatriate buyer, I'd say this it's a requirement.
Think about it. You’re not really selling four walls, a roof and some doors, are you? No, you're selling a story, an experience, a dream, an opportunity. In other words: A lifestyle.
This may sound more mysterious and opaque than the standard: 1) find some comps, 2) decide on a price, 3) paint the front door and 4) take some photos; but it can still be broken down into a set of actionable ideas.
For example here's how I tried to capture the honest how-it-feel-to-live-here information for a colonial home I sold in Granada, Nicaragua.
I revealed the "reasons why"
I spent some time thinking through the "reasons why" I bought the property in the first place. I remember being excited by the cache’ of owing a historic colonial property in the oldest city in the Americas … I loved the ease of strolling down the street for a delicious $15 meal for two in the Central Park … I relished the luxury of having affordable in house help… I embraced the idea of al fresco living … I included all of these “reasons why” in the listing description I gave to local agents and used online.
I used photos to advertise, not merely to document.
Capturing the vibe of a property is not the same as documenting every room and every feature. I focused on a handful of carefully selected photos that told the story of living at the house. The open-air kitchen, dining outdoors, the shaded interior courtyard, the glimpse of the cathedral from the bedroom window, the breeze rustling a curtain, the cool water flowing from the fountain.
I introduced the community
I left a binder at the house filled with information on local attractions, my favorite restaurants and day trips. My goal was to extend beyond the house itself to incorporate the lifestyle of the community. (If the house had had an interesting history or colorful previous owners I would have added these stories to the binder)
Throw in a car?
The idea here is to leave behind personal belongings so that your buyer pick up exactly where you left off. A car may be a bit extreme, but a surfboard, a BBQ or a sports club membership can certainly make the transaction more attractive to a buyer.
Ultimately if you can answer this question for the buyer: "What will my life be like if I lived here" you'll have a pithy and focused message that will attract exactly the right buyer for your property.
And when they walk into your house for the first time, they'll fall in love. Just like you did.