2011: The Year Ahead for HAR’s International Advisory Group

As we leave behind a successful and rewarding year, we move forward into another challenging year filled with activities, events and opportunities for our international membership. Our primary focus is to continue to provide added value to the international membership, and create awareness about the benefits and opportunities of thinking globally and working locally. Here are some of the activities that the International Advisory Group (IAG) plans to implement in 2011:

One of the most important benefits that we can provide our membership is education. Many of our internationally-inclined members have been asking for help on how to generate and convert  both inbound and outbound international leads, as well as for help and orientation on how to handle such transactions. For this reason, one of the first classes we have scheduled is “Doing Business In Mexico,” a four-hour MCE course set for May 5. It’s no coincidence that this date happens to be Cinco De Mayo. And like the name implies, this is strictly an outbound transactional “how-to” class.

In addition, we are scheduling another “International Real Estate 101” class in the spring. Watch for further announcements about a date for this class. We suggest signing up early, as previous classes have all sold out.

We are also looking at offering the popular “Risk Reduction In International Transactions.” This class focuses on how to avoid pitfalls and dangers common to inbound buying and selling transactions. We expect to schedule this one either in late summer or early fall.

If you’re serious about expanding your “Think Globally, Work Locally” international  business, we strongly encourage you to  sign up for our Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS)  designation courses. This is perhaps the most important class you can take if you’d like to expand your market doing international business. We expect to schedule these classes (and there’s several that one has to take) in the fall here in Houston. And as a continuing effort to provide additional education, we’re planning to schedule ongoing seminars introducing technologies available to help our international membership.

Community Outreach/Field Trips
Our Ronald McDonald House dinner sponsorship last fall was an outstanding success. Every one of the IAG members who volunteered and contributed to this outreach event can attest to the feeling of accomplishment and service to our community. We chose the Ronald McDonald House simply because the majority of the children staying there come from other countries. Since some of their parents return to the U.S. and buy homes, this  outreach effort creates an opportunity of putting a human face to the REALTOR® profession. We plan to schedule another dinner sponsorship in late summer or early fall.

Many of our IAG and international members are also members of the International  Federation of Real Estate Professionals, known better by its French acronym, FIABCI. We are planning a joint FIABCI-IAG Port of Houston tour and event. This local half-day field trip, which is free of charge, is full of relevant information on the international dynamics of our fourth-largest U.S. city.

Collaboration with Other Organizations
We will renew our efforts to initiate an “internship” program with our AMPI colleagues, and we will promote AMPI’s 2011 convention. Other organizations with which we will participate in events, dinners and networking events will be AAREA, TAR and HAR. We also plan to sponsor networking events during the TAR state-wide convention.

Because Houston is home to more consulates than any other city in the U.S., the City Of Houston Consular Ball is an important event for HAR’s international membership. This event is open to all international members. And we intend to coordinate closely with the City of Houston International Committee for functions and events relevant to our international focus.

Guest Speaker Program
We’re going to start a “guest speaker” program for short presentations in our IAG meetings. These brief chats will be filled with information and tools relevant to our serving better the international membership.

New and other Ongoing Programs
Since NAR’s involvement with ICREA is undergoing changes, we will look at the implications of the TRC certification program and work with NAR Global Committee to find alternatives, if appropriate, to the TRC certification and the Worldproperties.com website. In addition, all members of the IAG are expected to contribute to Houston REALTOR® magazine at least one article per month. These articles can be about experiences in international transactions or travels related to international real estate dealings.

Final Note
Never before in the history of the Houston Association of REALTORS® have we had such diverse IAG membership, rich in different cultures and traditions. Our membership comes from many different countries and ethnicities, and all have fascinating stories of how this wonderful business of real estate is conducted in their home countries. We look forward to all of their stories in the coming year.

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