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2010 Recap of Accomplishments and Activities of the HAR International Advisory Group

The HAR International Advisory Group is comprised of 25 members, a majority of whom hold the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation and have experience in international real estate. Many of our members are bilingual and some were born in other countries.

This year I received many calls from REALTORS® in Houston and around Texas wanting to know how they could gain more knowledge about international real estate. We must be doing something right to have gained the exposure that we now have through our MLS Area 82 and our International site on HAR.com. I always recommend that they watch for HAR International class offerings. As a committee, we strive to provide forums for those wishing to expand their markets both inbound and outbound.

In January, we started to formulate plans for what we could accomplish this year. We have been able to gain valuable insights into other cultures which help us be better prepared to achieve success with both incoming foreign buyers and those seeking to buy abroad.

February marked the Asian American Real Estate Association (AAREA) spring gala. We were fortunate to have a table of attendees. The event is always entertaining and offers an abundance of wonderful food.

That same month, a large group attended the TAR International Committee meeting in Austin chaired by Ward Arendt, past chair of our advisory group. We had the perfect opportunity to network with other REALTORS®  from around the state and learn how they are procuring and marketing listings abroad and offering properties to inbound buyers.

Our March meeting was sponsored by Theresa Hughes-Hill at one of her listings where we had a grand tour and reception. 
In April, we met with Dr. Oscar Gonzales for a strategic planning session to better define our mission and formulate future goals. Also, a Spanish developer sponsored an evening with our group to discuss a new project in Mexico and, in turn, to learn how we conduct business in Texas.

In May, we offered the “International Real Estate 101, Think Globally, Work Locally” class to a full house. This course was designed as a base for those seeking to enter the world of international real estate. We had panel discussions on doing business in Mexico, immigration for inbound buyers, Texas demographics and break-out sessions on Latin America and Asia. We hope to offer  this class twice in 2011.

In June, Richard P. Miranda, our incoming International Advisory Group chair, taught two classes of “International Risk Reduction” in The Woodlands to packed audiences. This class is a must for anyone seeking to practice international real estate. We also met with members of the Mexican Real Estate Professionals (AMPI), who traveled to Houston to meet with representatives of HAR, TAR and NAR to discuss new initiatives between the two countries to better combine real estate practices.

In July, we were guests of a Panamanian developer who graciously invited us to their site whenever we can make the trip.

We accepted an invitation to be part of a panel with Women’s Council of Realtors® (WCR) Houston Bay Area. A few of our committee members shared ideas and offered insights on avenues to get more involved in international real estate.

We enjoyed a joint HAR and International Federation of Real Estate Professionals (FIABCI) end-of-summer get-together in Galveston.

September was a busy month with the TAR Convention in Galveston, where we taught the “International Real Estate 101” class. We also co-hosted a reception with NAR and attended the TAR International Committee meeting. Later in the month, we volunteered to serve dinner at the Ronald McDonald House. We met with the Houston City Council Committee of International Business Initiatives to discuss possible joint projects. Mitch Creekmore of Stewart Title Guaranty Company shared thoughts on how to best answer concerns about the current social and economic climate in Mexico.

In October, many of us were fortunate to attend the Houston Consular Ball. We plan to get more involved with the consulates next year. The theme of REALTOR® Expo this year was “International,” so we offered a booth and answered questions as attendees played “REALTOR® Jeopardy” about world geography locations. We hope that we have inspired some interest in HAR MLS Area 82 from the membership.

This month we launch the pilot exchange program with AMPI for Mexican real estate professionals to visit Houston and spend time with a REALTOR® here to experience our real estate practice.

The International Advisory Group looks forward to a productive 2011. Please visit our website, www.har.com/international, for more information and look for our monthly articles in Houston REALTOR® magazine and class offerings throughout the new year.

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