Cultural Intelligence: Why This Matters for REALTORS®


It’s good to be home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I enjoyed my visit to San Diego and the opportunity to meet people from many different parts of the country and world. Did you know that REALTORS® from 60 different countries participated in the 2015 REALTORS® Convention & Expo? That number does not include attendees who are naturalized American citizens or second generation immigrants. NAR has a substantial and growing footprint across the globe.

For REALTORS®, the international experience is not just a theory anymore. More than 35% of REALTORS® surveyed this year indicated they had conducted an international transaction. That is up from 28% just 12 months ago. And, I’m sure that doesn’t include those who conducted an international transaction, but didn’t think so because the individual spoke with an American accent (not uncommon for second generation immigrants).

Real estate is not just local, it’s global. The outpouring of support from the REALTOR® community and the United States during the recent ISIS attack in Paris indicates a growing awareness among the real estate community that we are connected with our international partners. What happens in other parts of the world does impact us.

However, as real estate professionals, it is important to move beyond the cultural diversity conversation to an understanding of how to be culturally competent. Cultural Intelligence is a skill set that enables us to move beyond mere knowledge about other cultures into an ability to work and communicate effectively across multiple cultures.

Why is Cultural Intelligence important?

Did you know that according to the NAR International Buyer’s profile, the average home price paid by international clients across the nation was just under $500,000? International clients purchase homes for a variety of reasons including purchasing a primary residence! In fact, the total volume of sales topped 104 billion in 2015.

In the same way that REALTORS® spend time and money to gain an understanding of the characteristics, buying patterns, and preferences of domestic clients, we must acquire cultural intelligence to enable us to serve clients from across the world. We must examine our stereotypes and become aware that up to 90% of the influence of our dominant culture functions below the surface, in the areas of our subconscious where our beliefs, convictions, and value systems reside.

When we become culturally intelligent, we can more readily recognize our personal biases and will be more capable of navigating successful negotiations across a globally connected world.

Click link to view the NAR International Home Buying Activity Report

4-Time Featured Attendee

Lola is a first generation American and a first generation REALTOR®. Living, working, and visiting across three continents has provided a global perspective on life and business.