Illinois agencies join Illinois REALTORS® in industry forum with Ghanaian delegation

Greg St. Aubin (standing) was just one of many who shared information about the real estate industry with visitors from Ghana.

Real estate industry representatives and elected members of Parliament from the Republic of Ghana visited Chicago Wednesday to learn about how Illinois REALTORS® practice and regulate real estate in Illinois. They also learned how we work to promote Illinois and expand opportunities for homeownership.

The day began at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) offices with Kreg Allison, Director of Real Estate for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) outlining the basic regulatory infrastructure. Greg St. Aubin, Illinois REALTORS® Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, explained how we interact with the IDFPR and then shared some thoughts on the potential real estate regulatory policy that the Parliamentarians are considering.

Mike Drews, Immediate Past President of the association, shared the process that REALTORS® follow to help buyers and sellers purchase and sell homes. He discussed agency and how REALTORS® protect consumers and serve their clients.

REALTOR® Vicky Sampah, Vice Chair of the Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council, spearheaded this study visit and is committed to helping her home country become more organized and professionalized. She began by going back to Ghana and helping real estate practitioners form their own association, now known as the Ghana Real Estate Professionals Association (GREPA). Her most recent victory is helping to facilitate a bilateral agreement with the NAR so GREPA members can be international members of NAR.

The day continued with Erik Brejla from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. He shared information on Illinois infrastructure and amenities. The delegates took away some ideas on how to promote Ghana and its assets.

The day ended with a breakout session led by Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) Assistant Executive Director Debra Olsen and Managing Director of Homeownership Tara Pavlik. They explained how Illinois promotes access to housing through down payment programs for first-time home buyers and helps fund the development of new affordable housing. Ghana is considering an agency similar to IHDA, so many of the members were taking notes and asking questions. Sharon Gorrell, Policy Advisor for Global Business, highlighted how Congress sets the policies, agencies like HUD develop the rules and distribute the funds and then IHDA administers the dollars.

Another breakout session focused on advocacy. Michael Scobey, Director of Local and Global Programs, facilitated that discussion and shared examples of talking points Illinois REALTORS® have used in the past. Also, he helped them understand the importance of an organized and unified voice.

Having a consistent and informed message will help Ghana’s real estate practitioners have a voice in their own regulation and facilitate the growth of the real estate profession.

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