2018 was an amazing and eventful year for HAR’s International Advisory Group (IAG).  The goals we set out for the year included three words:  networking, serving, and winning.  As I look back on what was accomplished, I am pleased to say that our committee not only fulfilled these goals, but well exceeded our mission. Here is a brief recap of what we accomplished this year:

Networking: In January, the HAR IAG invited the local leaders of several global real estate organizations including the Asian American Real Estate Association, FIABCI – the international real estate group based in Paris, France, The Texas Chapter of the REALTORS ®Land Institute, Asian Real Estate Association of America Houston Chapter, The Houston Chapter of the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, and the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce, The Woodlands, TX for a networking luncheon. The idea was to share our upcoming events and to expand our connections and presence in the city. These relationships resulted in the HAR IAG teaming up with FIABCI Houston to participate in the Houston WCR’s February luncheon with HAR’s President and CEO Bob Hale and Stewart’s Chief Economist Dr. Ted C. Jones presenting together for the first time.  The following month, HAR IAG member Michael Butler invited several members of the IAG to ride in the Grand Entry of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.  The HAR IAG also sponsored a booth to promote HAR and the Certified International Property Specialist designation at the Asian Real Estate Association of America Houston Chapter’s Texas China Real Estate Summit in April.  Perhaps the most memorable networking event for me personally was our August outbound mission trip to San Miguel de Allende, organized by HAR IAG member Edna Corona.  We were hosted by the gracious and generous Keller Williams Allende Team and participated in real estate tours, open houses, and AMPI (the Mexico equivalent to the National Association of REALTORS®- NAR) meetings.

Serving: Throughout the year, HAR’s IAG hosted various classes to serve the HAR membership.  Two of the courses offered NAR recognition: the At Home with Diversity certification course and the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation.   September was a busy month for us as we served dinner to global guests at the Ronald McDonald House in the Medical Center as part of our outreach efforts, wrote a script and shot a video to advertise International Day and hosted International Day at the Post Oak Conference Center as well.  A talented lineup of speakers, including HAR IAG past chairman and the NAR President’s Liaison to Mexico Richard Miranda and Ms. Tiffany Wu, the Texas Association of REALTORS® Director of Global and Commercial Services, covered topics including: International Home Buyer Trends in Texas, Working with Clients from Mexico, An Update on International Tax Laws and FIRPTA, Funding a Foreign Buyer, Immigration Law and the EB5 Investor. HAR IAG member Ed Eakin generously hosted lunch, while HAR IAG member Peggy Pentecost arranged a fun filled networking reception at The Grotto after the class.  A follow up survey showed that the participants thoroughly enjoyed the topics and speakers of our 2018 International Day. Be on the lookout for our 2019 courses.

Winning: The National Association of Realtors has a Global Achievement Program, designed to recognize and reward the most globally active associations in the United States.  Since 2013, the Houston Association of Realtors International Advisory Group, has consecutively won the highest award, the Platinum Award.  One of the main missions of my leadership this year was for the HAR IAG to meet all the criteria for Platinum status for the 6th successive year and qualify for the ultimate honor, the Diamond Award.  The 14-page application was studied deeply and reflected upon all throughout the year, with our talented members focused diligently on knocking out checkbox after checkbox of the complex rubric.  All the classes and outreach, the annual survey, the bench marking and marketing, the networking and serving, and the activities and events we accomplished in 2018 paid off. With the support of our amazing association, the constant help from our HAR staff liaison Lori Carper, the encouragement from my Vice Chair Pius Dawson, and the ideas, perseverance, and hard work of our well-connected advisory group, I am pleased beyond words to let you know that 2018 Houston Association of Realtors International Advisory Group won the Diamond Award!  Recognition took place in Boston at the NAR Conference last month.

Going forward into 2019, I will be stepping down as the chair of our amazing advisory group and will be handing over the reins to Pius Dawson. Remember, we are rolling out a new recognition called the International Realtor Profile, which will recognize one HAR member in a 2019 HAR Magazine article for having the most memorable international transaction closed in 2018.  Articles should be a maximum of 800 words and will be judged on innovation and creativity, obstacles involved and how they were overcome, lessons learned, and recommendations to other real estate agents doing international transactions.  The deadline to submit is January 31, 2019.

I have truly enjoyed my year as chair of the HAR International Advisory Group and look forward to exciting global activity in Houston in 2019.

Thank you, Susan Annoura, CCIM, CIPS, MCNE.