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How to Reach Hispanic Real Estate Buyers- Interview with VivaReal.com Founder

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.

viva

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.

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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.

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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.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    September 24, 2009 at 9:28 am

    @brianrequarth Rock on Brian and VivaReal! Being in a border state we get a lot of the conversation regarding Latin American real estate, I think you’re hitting the mark by drawing back the curtains on the mystery. Good luck!

  2. Brian Requarth

    September 24, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Benn and Lani,

    Thanks a lot for interviewing me. I really appreciate it. Im a big fan of AG and it is an honor to be featured here. Any time you are in Bogota or Sao Paulo (where we have offices), please let me know. Mi casa es su casa 😉

    Brian

  3. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    September 24, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Brian is one of those people that I’m happy to know. We have been communicating forever about the power of blogging and using internet resources in Spanish – I’m just waiting for him to make it easier for me to syndicate listings to his site (hint hint)…..and always wish him the best of luck! 🙂

  4. Brian Requarth

    September 24, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Hi Ines,

    We have a few new syndication partners that we should be adding this year. 09 had been all about expanding into new markets, but as soon as we add new partners I will let you know.

    Thanks for always being supportive.

    Un abrazo,

    Brian

    By the way this article mentions 250k visitors, but yesterday we passed 300k.

  5. Joe Loomer

    September 25, 2009 at 7:06 am

    I’m not Hispanic but lived in Costa Rica, Bolivia, and Spain for many years. I’ve often wondered how to take advantage of my rudimentary Spanish skills (have you ever heard a Costa Rican accent mixed with Andalucia? I get some funny looks at the Mexican Restaraunts around town). I’m proud to be the first Augusta, Georgia, agent to register on VivaReal!

    Viva Brian!

    Jefe Naval, Dignidad Naval

  6. Brian Requarth

    September 25, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Joe,

    Bievenido y muchos saludos!

    Brian

  7. Greg Barnhouse

    September 26, 2009 at 12:59 am

    My wife is Hispanic (San Antonio native), I am not. We have lived in several other countries (all Asian, not Latin American). But, we have a client that has given us several listings (a residential listing and a commercial listing both here in the DFW Area, and 3 condos in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While we have started some Internation Real Estate training, and are globally comfortable, we are having some difficulty establishing a relationship with a real estate agent there we can trust with these listings through a referral. Any advice / or network connections there would be greatly appreciated.

    BTW, this is a great article. I have benefited greatly from the insight of AG writers and comments for quite some time now.

    Thanks,
    Greg Barnhouse

  8. Brian Requarth

    September 26, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Greg,

    Please send me an email to brian (at) vivareal.com. I will put you in contact with a good agent in Buenos Aires. Hopefully you can get down to Buenos Aires. If you haven’t been there, it is a great city. I lived there for 6 months.

    Best regards,

    Brian

  9. Claudia Gonella

    October 18, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Completely agree that the quality of websites that serve the US RE.net are vastly superior to those looking at Central and South America. Search functionality is poorer but also, and perhaps more frustrating for users, is the difficulty in getting hold of reliable market data to make decisions. Many countries don’t publish official data. Things are slowly getting better but greater transparency is still needed.

  10. Brian Requarth

    October 18, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Hi Claudia,

    You are right about market data. I have seen what you have done with Reveal Real Estate. Congrats!

    You are helping create better transparency particularly in Central America. This is much needed. Data analysis is one of the most difficult things to come by in Latin America. Keep up the great work!

    Brian

  11. Miguel

    September 17, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Great article. If you need any help in Colombia, we are here to help you.

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