Happy New Year! 2018 promises to be an eventful year for the Houston Association of REALTORS® International Advisory Group or IAG as it is called.  As Houston continues to lead the United States as the most diverse city, we believe our purpose is to help our fellow Houston REALTORS capitalize on the many global business opportunities to be had. Handling an international buyer, seller, landlord, or tenant presents new and different challenges. While it can be very helpful to speak the client’s native language, I believe it is not paramount.  A well informed, well equipped, consciously caring agent can also enjoy the successes of an international transaction.  Our group’s goals for 2018 can be summed up in three words:  networking, serving, and winning.

Our first goal for 2018 will be to increase networking. Networking is a key element to building relationships with potential clients and agents we may work with in the future. This year, we plan to conduct our meetings at HAR Central, with lunch served! Please note, we are securing sponsors for our lunches so no dues money will be spent on this endeavor. The additional 30 minutes added to our meeting time will provide a time for fellowship amongst our committee members, to understand each other’s business goals, and to share stories of past and present international transactions. Additionally, I realize that each of the members of the IAG have special talents and connections with other international organizations. We plan to support the activities of AREAA, FIABCI, AAREA, RLI, WCR, and several others to further expand our connections and presence. Finally, we have a goal to embark on one outbound mission trip in conjunction with AMPI, the Mexican equivalent of NAR. This trip would allow our group to network internationally with other real estate professionals, which of course, is the first step towards potential referrals.

Our second goal for 2018 is serving the HAR membership.  With more and more foreign nationals relocating and investing in Houston, it is critical that our members have the resources and training to handle a transaction with international flare. Our group plans to host quarterly education sessions, many of which are NAR designation courses or offer MCE credit.  In Quarter 1, we plan to put on the At Home With Diversity class (an NAR designation).  In Quarter 2, members will have the opportunity to obtain the coveted CIPS designation. Class dates are pegged for May 2, 3, 4 and 7 and 8 and include intense study covering such topics as currency and exchange rate issues, cross-cultural relationships, investment performance, and tax issues.  According to NAR, “REALTORS® who have earned this (the CIPS) designation are a consumer’s best and most trusted resource for navigating the global market.”  The CIPS Network has 3,500 real estate professionals in 45 countries that trust one another enough to refer business to each other simply because of the CIPS affinity. In Quarter 3, we plan to host offsite, HAR International Day, a full day of industry experts lined up to give our members pertinent and useful information relating to conducting an international transaction. Finally, in Quarter 4, our group will put on Around the World in 60 Minutes, a fun and interactive luncheon. Once dates are finalized, our events and classes will be posted on the HAR Education course calendar, the 5 Minute REALTOR® weekly email and advertised via social media. Please sign up so that we can meet you!

Our third and final goal of 2018 is to win a special award from the National Association of REALTORS®. Every year, for the past five years, HAR’s International Advisory Group has won the highest-level award at NAR’s national convention, the Platinum Award. This award is given to an organization that has demonstrated exceptional commitment to building its members’ awareness of the global and multicultural business opportunities in their local markets. Once an association has won the Platinum Award five years in a row, they can apply to win the ultimate award, the DIAMOND AWARD! It is a major goal of our group this year to win this award and bring it home for the Houston Association of REALTORS®. We will be judged on criteria across five focus areas: our Business Plan, Marketing and Communication, Events/Education, Outreach and Benchmarking. Throughout our year, we will be conscious of these five focus areas to be sure we are hitting the mark, to win NAR’s Diamond Award.

Thank you for your interest in international real estate, whether it’s working with a foreign national here in Houston, referring a Houston client to an agent in a foreign country, or helping an investor living in a different country buy property in your neighborhood. International real estate truly comes in many forms and we welcome you to embrace the opportunities it presents.  We welcome you to join our events to network, learn, and thrive in this exciting business.

Susan Annoura, CIPS
2018  HAR IAG Chair