VivaReal.com founder Brian Requarth has been a great resource to me personally and I have been inspired by his entrepreneurial spirit and his vigilant devotion to the Hispanic community in America and abroad. He has taken on a massive task by being the first to reach out to Spanish speaking buyers and sellers in this capacity and we asked him a few key questions that I think are important for you to know about if you have a desire to expand your marketing efforts and reach Spanish speaking international real estate buyers.
What is VivaReal?
VivaReal is a series of real estate marketplaces (listing websites) for buying and selling property in niche markets ranging from the US Hispanic community to expats and retirees in Latin America (Mexico, Costa Rica, etc). We also recently went live with national real estate portals in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.
What inspired you to create VivaReal?
A couple years ago I got involved with NAHREP (National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals) and I saw that there was a lack of real estate resources online in Spanish. With the large Latino community in the US I couldn’t believe there was no national site so we started building VivaReal, the place for Spanish speakers to find their home online and connect with a real estate professional.
Simultaneously, my wife and I were looking at property in Bogotá, Colombia where she is from. I was totally dissatisfied with what we saw online. There were very few websites and the ones we did find were constantly going offline. Having lived abroad in Mexico, Argentina and Costa Rica I knew that there is a growing expat community in Latin America. We decided to pursue the bigger opportunity and expand our project into multiple countries. But I guess at the end of the day the real reason I started this company was to support my chronic need to travel and see the world. I have trouble staying in once place.
What is the advantage of using your site over others?
Sometimes we take for granted the awesome search functionality on the major real estate sites in markets like the US. We have come to expect lightning fast, easily searchable sites with great usability because for the most part, that’s what’s out there. In Latin America, companies haven’t yet invested heavily in technology partially due to lower levels of internet penetration (this is changing fast). Also, the amount of data and property listings online is minimal. In the states, you can find millions of properties online. This is not the case in Latin America.
I would say the advantage is that we provide a real estate search experience that meets the expectations of our users coupled with a large (and growing) database of property listings in markets that typically don’t have everything all in one place.
How has VivaReal grown over time?
We are a relatively new site, but we have grown pretty fast. Each market has seen different levels of growth, but overall we are growing at about 15%-20% each month across our network. There are a few markets like Brazil that have seen higher growth rates. Last month we passed 250k unique visitors.
What city/state/country produces the most traffic to your site?
It is no surprise that in the United States our top markets are California, Texas and Florida (Miami gets a lot of traffic) considering that is where ~ 75% of the Latino community lives. Outside of the United States our traffic is pretty evenly divided between Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.
People are surprised about Colombia, but the political situation has greatly improved over the last decade and we are finding that there is a growing interest in the region (Century 21 and Coldwell Banker are already there and I heard through the grapevine that RE/MAX is setting up shop too). Colombia is trying to shake the image of the world’s cocaine capital. When people go down there they are actually pretty surprised. People think that its like the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith with chickens running around and fires everywhere, but it’s actually one of the best kept secrets in Latin America.
In Mexico there are large expat communities in Baja California, Puerto Vallarta and San Miguel de Allende. I have met a lot of Realtors that have been in the game for 20+ years in the US or Canada and decide they want to retire in Mexico. Many of them bring their experience down south to service the millions of expats and retirees expected to move to Mexico in the coming years.
Costa Rica is another popular country where you’ll find some of the bigger US franchise companies with offices.
Can American or Canadian Realtors use the site or get involved?
Marketing to the US Hispanic community through our site is definitely an opportunity since traditionally it is a more difficult market segment to reach. A good portion of first time home buyers over the next 10 years are expected to be Hispanic. For those agents that have properties across the border in Mexico or other countries in Latin America, they should be uploading their listings to our site (it’s free). Also, I would be more than happy to talk to any agents that have thought about moving down south to either retire or throw their hat in the ring to try real estate in another country. I can be found on twitter @brianrequarth.
What’s next for VivaReal?
World domination….j/k. In the short term we are focusing on growing our database of property listings in some of the key markets mentioned above. We also recently opened up new offices in Bogota, Colombia and Sao Paulo, Brazil. We will be attending trade shows in Miami, Las Vegas (NAHREP), Bogota and Sao Paulo over the next couple months where we plan on announcing some important partnerships.