International: Think Globally, Act Globally

USAID award marks NAR’s efforts to promote private property rights abroad and create new markets for members.

March 1, 1998

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is working to expand its members’ international business opportunities and, in the process, gaining recognition for promoting private property rights worldwide.

“We've been a leading advocate of private property rights and shelter issues on Capitol Hill and with organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and USAID,” says Miriam Meyer-Lowe, vice president, NAR International Operations.

In November, NAR was named a recipient of the Domestic Partnership Award from the U.S. Agency for International Development, becoming only the second organization ever to receive this honor. The award recognizes the association’s advocacy of private property rights and shelter needs in eastern Europe.

USAID, a governmental agency that provides economic development and humanitarian assistance to advance U.S. economic and political interests overseas, was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.

In 1992 NAR and USAID founded the Eastern European Real Property Foundation (EERPF) to encourage the development of private property markets and ethical real estate practices in the former Eastern Bloc countries.

Since then, NAR has expanded its global outreach—assisting foreign practitioners with privatization issues, offering real estate education throughout the world, and providing information on global markets through the Internet.

1998 May Be the Year to Go International

What all this means for you depends on how broadly you view your market.

R. Layne Morrill, 1998 NAR president, says a convergence of factors is serving those wanting to break into the international arena.

“Emerging property markets throughout Europe and Asia, along with immigration trends in the United States, are opening new commercial and residential business possibilities,” he says. “With the development of a global, Internet-based property information system in NAR’s strategic plan, this is indeed a good time for REALTORS® to consider international expansion.”

Norman D. Flynn, current chairman of EERPF, says the USAID award confirms the long-term importance of the association’s international advocacy efforts.

“We're providing an invaluable service to overseas partners by helping them learn free-market principles,” says Flynn, 1990 NAR president and owner of Norman D. Flynn Associates Inc., a commercial investment brokerage in Madison, Wis. “But just as important, these emerging markets will one day be a trading partner and provider of commission income.”

Accomplishments Past—and Future

According to Steve Ruckman, EERPF's acting executive vice president, the foundation has been a catalyst for developing professional real estate services in places where none existed—eastern and central Europe.

From 1994 to 1997, Ruckman notes, professional association membership in EERPF member nations—Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, and Ukraine—grew dramatically. Company membership in the associations increased 318 percent; individual membership rose 1,583 percent.

Through EERPF, REALTOR® association executives have provided association management training to their counterparts in eastern and central Europe. And many of the former Eastern Bloc nations are now linked to the international section of NAR’s home page at REALTOR.COM.

“With continued funding from USAID, we intend to reach out to other emerging real estate markets and to focus on more complex needs such as licensing, issue advocacy, and development of property information systems,” Ruckman says.

For more on NAR’s international programs, call Information Central at 800/874–6500. Or call the free International fax-on-demand service at 800/354–2831.

A Shrinking World

Highlights of the growing momentum in international real estate:

  • More than 35 REALTOR® associations at the local and state levels have established international outreach groups in the last year.
  • Nearly 1,200 attendees from outside the United States participated in NAR’s annual convention last November—a record high.
  • NAR’s international network consists of 38 professional real estate associations in 33 countries, and its International Operations group has recently established an International Ambassador program, which matches cooperating associations abroad with REALTOR® associations in the United States.

Scott Sherwood is a former communications manager for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

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