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

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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.

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.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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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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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.

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As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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