Expat Focus: Alan, can you tell us a bit about your backgrounds?
I was born in Buckinghamshire to London civil engineering commuter parents. I have lived in Wilshire, Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire before moving to the USA in 2007. My general working background has been in Civil Earthworks Engineering and Construction with a high Safety, Quality and Environmental focus.
My wife was born in Hong Kong, Her father was a senior Chemical Engineer for petrochemical company based at the time in Hong Kong. She has lived in Chicago, Illinois, Fayetteville, North Carolina, Switzerland and Bahrain before settling in South Carolina.
We have between us 4 wonderful children ranging in ages from 6 to 15.Expat Focus: What led to you acting as a Realtor in the USA?
The basic answer is my wife. When we met she lived here and was already a Realtor. She is my reason for becoming an Expat. To be honest, with us both working in Real Estate, it can be a little scary at times, financial at least. When you have situations like the recent downturn in the economy, you do question yourself about it’s prudence. One of the benefits of this choice of profession is that it does give you a certain freedom to when you work, you are not solely tied to a 9 to 5 work schedule.
Expat Focus: What services do you offer?
My wife and I are both full time Realtors and offer a full range of services to 1st time buyers, upgraders, relocators (State and International), second/holiday home and investment buyers.
Expat Focus: What is a typical day in your life like?
Normally busy, but most people would say that. With Real Estate in the USA, when your not actually dealing with buyers and sellers or home transactions, there is the whole arena of self promotion and advertising. We are all independents and promoting yourself is how your found by a section of your customer base. So it’s an important task.
Expat Focus: What are the major challenges which face expat real estate buyers in the USA?
For most people it will be the Immigration process, although it is a total personal business you need to try and take it impersonally. The Immigration service have an important job to do and they need to be thorough.
The other serious facture to consider is homesickness or being away from friends and family.
On a lighter note, the language barrier. There is a bigger difference between English and American than you would think, especially depending on the regional of the USA you are moving to.
Expat Focus: What impact has the "credit crunch" had on the expat buyers you deal with?
The USA housing mortgage crisis has basically tightened the lending criteria offered by the Lenders. In some cases it has made home purchases harder than usually due to the “credit score” the Lenders require and the length of time the expat has had to acquire the required credit score. The credit score also effects the rate at which your mortgage interest is charged.
Expat Focus: What advice would you give to expats considering a move to the USA?
Do a lot of research. (The area, lifestyle, taxes, health/medical costs, etc.)
Have a back up plan. (Just in case things don’t turn out as you expect).
Have Emergency Cash Fund as large as possible.
Expat Focus: Where do you consider "home" these days?
Although I miss family & friends in the UK, the good old British pub, Fish & Chips, I doubt that I shall every return to the UK to live. There are so many places in the world that offer so many different ways of life. I hope to be able to experience a couple more before deciding on just one place. Although so far Crete, Kochi in Kerala Province in southern India and Santa Barbara, California are amongst the contenders
Expat Focus: What are your plans for the future?
To grow our real estate business to a level that gives our clients and ourselves the maximum benefits and opportunities.
Expat Focus: What do you do to relax?
We are blessed where we live to have an abundance of good seafood restaurants and warm ocean for most of the year. So a day at the beach followed by a evening meal at a local restaurant of fresh crab, shrimp or oysters.
Expat Focus: Alan, many thanks for your time!
Alan and Amy can be contacted as follows:
Alan Langstone – email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 001 843 709 8123
Amy Langstone – email: email@example.com, phone: 001 843 425 6522
Their website – www.langstoneteam.com
UK National Rate Phone 01926 356139 (5 hour time difference)