There are so many myths associated with working with new homebuyers from different cultures. I looked into some of the most common untruths and found some useful insights about cultural myth-understandings from Michael Soon Lee’s book, “Opening Doors: Selling to Multicultural Homebuyers”.
Myth 1: People from other cultures only want to work with a salesperson from their own culture.
If you fall for this one, you are missing out on a huge opportunity! Quite the opposite might be true, as many buyers would prefer to work with a new home salesperson from outside their own ethnic group.
Myth 2: Other cultures have superstitions and beliefs that are totally incomprehensible to Americans.
Do you fear having a black cat cross your path or believe that a broken mirror will bring you seven years of bad luck? Would you want to live in a house with the number 13 or 666?
Most cultures have their own unique beliefs or superstitions, and they can directly affect the purchase of real estate. For example, according to Lee, the number four is considered unlucky to many Asians, because the pronunciation in Japanese or Chinese sounds a lot like the word for “death”. So they might avoid a house or zip code with the number four.
Other cultures must have different areas of the house facing in certain directions. The Taiwanese may consult the almanac or confer with astrologers for the best dates to move.
The point is, we all have our beliefs, superstitions, and biases.
Myth 3: Some foreign-born people are unethical because they insist on renegotiating a purchase contract after is has been signed.
This one is partially true, but it’s also a matter of perspective. What we might consider unethical is standard practice for many other cultures, just like haggling is a common practice for any shopping. In countries like China, Japan, Russia, Spain, Italy, and India, the contract is a start, not an end to the process. As a new home sales professional, it’s your job to understand what negotiation means to your homebuyer.
Myth 4: People from other cultures are just too much trouble.
Seriously? Do you have such a wealth of “easy” customers that you can dismiss New Americans in one fell swoop? They can be just as loyal and enjoyable to work with as anyone else. They may be more loyal than your American buyers—and they may refer their friends and family to you, creating more opportunity—once they trust you.
Myth 5: It’s impossible to get personal financial information from a buyer from a different culture because they’re so secretive.
This is not actually a myth, but a myth-understanding. There’s a reason for them to be secretive about their financial situation. How quick would you be to divulge such information in a foreign country where you didn’t know all the laws and banking regulations?
Many New Americans mistrust banks because of their experiences in their home countries or what they’ve been told. As a result, they hide their money at home, leaving them easy prey for home invasions and robberies. So, sharing anything about their finances can be scary. Michael Lee wrote about a Hispanic client who was robbed of $75,000 that he had stashed in his home.
Lee says, “The best way to find out how much new immigrant homebuyers have set aside for a down payment is to give them a ‘menu’ of choices. Show them the required investment and resulting monthly payments for ten percent down, twenty percent down, etc. The client may also be interested in a ‘quick qualifier’ or ‘no document’ loan, so be sure to explain the requirements for these as well.”
Your prospect can select that loan that best fits their financial needs, and you can avoid trying to pry the information out of them!
While there’s a lot to learn in order to be culturally fluent, it’s definitely worth the effort! In my ebook, “New Home Sales Training: Selling New Homes In a Multicultural America”, you’ll find valuable information to guide you in a new direction for new home sales.
Next: Cultural Myth-understandings, Part 2