I was so excited when I received the email from Lori Carper, HAR’s Director of International Programs, and Aracely Arrazolo, HAR’s Meetings and TREPAC Coordinator, that our International Advisory Group had won the honors for the 2016 National Association of REALTORS® Global Achievement Platinum Award! This award is the highest level of recognition from NAR, and with the help of every single committee member, we did it again this year! Our committee consists of several honorary members: Allan Tiller, Dawn Lin, Edna Corona, Jensen Chen, Judith Snively, Nike Luqman, Lauris Tam, Mai Lan Trinh, Mitch Creekmore and Wayne Stroman and 20 members that get assigned to subcommittees that focus on special topics throughout the year to help achieve our annual goals. These subcommittees consist of:

Communications Subcommittee:
Enid Cruise-Cleland, Lead committee member
Lori Carper, Accountability Lead Partner
Sibel Caliskanlar
Tom Gallagher
Dr. Fabian Trujillo
Bob Cai

Education Subcommittee:
Deborah Trahan, Lead committee member
Cathy Trevino, Accountability Lead Partner
Mai Lan Trinh
Teri Leigh Thompson
Ed Gonzales
Judith Snively
Geraldine Vasek

Media/Publicity Subcommittee:
Minor Taylor, Lead committee member
Nelly Mitford, Accountability Partner
Pam Harris
Ann Cheng
Wayne Stroman
Karishma Asrani
Angela Platsas

Member Value Subcommittee:
Susan Annoura, Lead committee member
Cathy Trevino, Accountability Partner
Theresa Hughes-Hill
Antonio Salinas
Margie Dorrance

Outreach Subcommittee:
Pius Dawson, Lead committee member
Nelly Mitford, Accountability Partner
Casey Kang
Marjory Saklou
Carla Guimaraes
Silvina Rana
Peggie Pentecost

Highlights of our 2016 Year:
Our January meeting rolled out with first defining our goals for the year so that we could accomplish obtaining the Platinum Award once again. Edna Corona set up a mission trip to Monterrey, Mexico with our friends from AMPI (Asociación Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios) to continue our relationships there and establish new relationships to help our members obtain more business with our southern neighbors.  During this three-day event, members were able to gain knowledge of the legal issues in the real estate market abroad, an overview of available loans for national and foreign investors along with a brief summary of the industrial real estate market. The biggest takeaway from this meeting was having a HAR presence in the installation of the new AMPI president Gerardo Contreras. Several additional future meetings were created out of this initial trip, AMPI Summit which was June 22-24 in Cancun and the National Congress Meeting, October 4-6 in Puebla.

The TAR International Committee and several of our IAG members met in Austin where we planned for the TAR cruise that was from February 21-28 and several members were able to attend. Our very own Richard Miranda taught several classes on the trip.  Also, the local AREAA Chapter had their Chinese New Year Luncheon and our IAG group became a sponsor this year.

Our goal is to always bring informational global education to our members and we held several classes in 2016. In February we held our first 2016 session of the TAR award winning series “Around the World in 60 Minutes” which focused on “A Holistic Approach to Real Estate.”  In April, we offered “International 101 Day,” covering a variety of topics, such as the current demographics of Texas and how they are changing, proper protocol with foreign clients, international tax and immigration laws, lending avenues for global clients and more.

In May, we held our second 2016 “Around the World in 60 Minutes” session where a panel of experts shared their opinions on international real estate from a commercial, farm and ranch and residential standpoint. Our very own Minor Taylor, Mitch Creekmore, former International advisory group chair Edna Corona and global tax attorney Allan Tiller, all members of our International advisory group, participated on the panel which was moderated by former International advisory group leader Judith Snively.

We were able to provide our members with the opportunity to obtain their Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation in late August.

NAR’s CIPS designation is a great resource for those looking to expand  their global reach. The CIPS Institute is a week-long session consisting of five classes: The Local Markets, Transaction Tools, Global Real Estate Local Markets, The Americas & International Real and Asia/Pacific & International Real Estate.  Our most recent session of “Around the World in 60 Minutes” was in September when we had the honor of having Houston attorney Gordon Quan present on “Bringing the World to Houston” – options for foreign nationals investing and immigrating to America.  Since this article is written before November is finished there is one last session of “Around the World in 60 Minutes” to mention where in mid-November TREC Commissioner Rayito Stephens will speak to us about Mexico and doing business there.

Our advisory group also contributed informative articles to the Houston REALTOR® magazine throughout the year that ranged from “How to choose a Global Niche”, “Title Insurance in International Transactions”, “Avoiding Pitfalls when Making Foreign Referrals”, “Do you Know the New FIRPTA Rules for 2016”, “Guidelines for Representing Foreign Buyers”, “Why the Chinese are looking to the United States for Real Estate”, “Texas Continues to be Popular with International Home Buyers” to “Urban Growth: Challenges on a Global Scale.”

The HAR International advisory group (IAG) is very interested in understanding ways we can better address your current and anticipated needs regarding international real estate so we wrapped up the year with a global survey.  We thank all our members who participated as this will help us to know your needs as we plan for next year and continue to work hard for all our members.

As I look back on our year, I have to say that it has truly been an honor to serve as your 2016 IAG chair, and I have no doubt that with Nelly Mitford coming in as your 2017 chair, you are in excellent hands. Nelly has great plans for all our International members and she will bring forth great networking opportunities and educational programs that will take this advisory group to great heights and the NAR Platinum Award again in 2017!