During his term as the Illinois REALTORS® 2015 president, Jim Kinney and members of the Global Working Group started talking about a pilot program that could help members make international business connections, learn more about foreign cultures and position themselves as experts in these areas.
As the chair of the working group and with experience serving on the NAR President’s Liaison Program, Kinney saw an opportunity in Chicago, where he says more than 50 countries have staffed consulate offices. After some research and discussion, the Illinois REALTORS® formed the Consulate General Liaison Program in early 2016 with eight representatives:
- Kinney – United Kingdom;
- Sonia Anaya – Mexico;
- Maurice Hampton – Canada;
- Jana Herdova – Czech Republic;
- Don Pasek – Poland;
- Michelle Shang – China;
- Pradeep Shukla – India; and
- Nancy Suvarnamani – Thailand.
“This program is a win-win,” says Kinney, “because it helps REALTORS® find new business and the state and national associations can use their resources (including committees and continuing education training) to build relationships.”
Kinney says applicants for the program must have earned a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation or be close to finishing the process. REALTORS® do not need to live in the Chicago area or even northern Illinois to be chosen as liaisons since consuls often travel within the Midwest as part of their assignment. Liaisons need to have the ability to speak the language of the countries they’re matched with. Those who have already cultivated positive personal relationships with consuls will be given strong consideration.
“Our liaisons will serve one-year terms, renewable, based on performance. They will meet regularly with the consuls – in person, by teleconference or phone – and provide us with regular reports. Our goal is to get matches for all the consulates soon. The 2017 NAR Convention is in Chicago and we want to host an event for the NAR Global Alliance Committee then.” Apply now for open liaison positions.
Patterned after the success of the Federal Political Coordinators (FPCs) and the State Legislative Contacts, Kinney says, the program would help REALTORS® lobby more effectively because of knowledge gathered about international issues such as global investing, immigration and the EB-5 Program (also known as the Immigrant Investor Program). New liaisons may travel to the countries they are matched with for trade missions.
Kinney, the vice president of luxury home sales for Baird & Warner in Chicago, says he’s had good relationships with various United Kingdom consuls during the last 20 years.
“We need to create an awareness for REALTORS® about the potential for future business opportunities,” says Kinney. “Real estate has become more global, especially with younger generations that are more mobile. We have a huge opportunity to educate the next generation of buyers and sellers. I think it’s an exciting time and an exciting program.”
Kinney has earned six designations during his real estate career of more than 30 years: ABR, CIPS, CRB, CRS, GRI and SRES. He was named REALTOR® of the Year by the Chicago Association of REALTORS® in 2002 and Illinois REALTOR® of the Year by the Illinois REALTORS® in 2004.
Kinney has been active with the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, serving on the board of directors and numerous committees and task forces.
On a statewide level, Kinney has held leadership roles with the Finance and Strategic Planning committees, Technology Working Group, REALTOR® Institute Working Group, Convention and Inaugural Banquet Working Group and was a four-time chairman of the REALTOR® of the Year Committee. He is chairman of the Illinois REALTORS®’ Hydraulic Fracturing Task Force.
At the national level, Kinney has served on the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Executive Committee, the NAR Board of Directors, the Institute Advisory Committee, International Operations Committee and is a past NAR Presidential Liaison to Ireland. He is a member of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) and is a past president of the National Board of the Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers. He currently serves on NAR’s Board of Directors and the Global Business and Alliances Committee.