Sensing a possible opportunity to sell northwest Ohio real estate to investors from China, local commercial real estate firm the Reichle Klein Group has launched a Chinese-language version of its Web site and property database.
“It's really a mirror image of what we already have, just in Chinese,” said Harlan Reichle, company president and chief executive officer of the Toledo firm.
Mr. Reichle, who attended a global Toledo-China economic development forum at the Park Inn downtown in September and also went to China last fall as part of a local trade mission led by Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, said he had been thinking of translating his firm’s Web site into Chinese ever since.
While Toledo is not a proven market yet for significant investment by the Chinese, there does seem to be interest in the area from Chinese investors because of Mayor Bell’s trade missions, Mr. Reichle said. “And we want to put our clients in the highest profile that we can and it seemed a natural thing to do to eliminate language barriers if they’re out there.”
He added, “We’ve had Chinese investors acquire property here. Those may be the only Chinese investors in the world that want to acquire Toledo property.
“On the other hand, there’s a lot of energy being expended in ... getting Chinese investors here and investing in the Toledo market. I don’t see [Chinese investment] as a proven market yet, but given the investment so far, to do a Web site in Chinese seemed a reasonable decision to make.
“It's really one of the few measurables we can use to find out if there’s a market here” for Chinese investment.
Mr. Reichle said that since his trip to China, the Reichle Klein group has done work for a Chinese investment group, “and among the things they told us is that some language familiarity or ability to speak their language would make it more likely that other investors would do business in Toledo.”
The company hired a Chinese exchange student to translate its Web site into the Mandarin dialect and the site became active on Monday. The next step, Mr. Reichle said, is to optimize the Web site so it can be found by Internet search engines used by Internet users in China.
Eventually, the site might be customized for Chinese users and have additional features, such as tips on how to buy property in the United States, Mr. Reichle said.
Contact Jon Chavez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6128.