Consulate liaison Suvarnamani receives award

REALTOR® Nancy Suvarnamani (right) and Royal Thai Consulate General Saksee Phromyothi (center).

Nancy Suvarnamani, Broker/Owner of Century 21 S.G.R. in Chicago, and also the Illinois REALTOR® Consulate Liaison to the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Chicago received the Exemplary Community Service Award from the Asian American Coalition in Chicago last weekend.

She is pictured here with Consulate General Saksee Phromyothi who was at the event.  Nancy is very involved with the Consulate and active in the Thai community in Chicago as well as being a leader in real estate in Thailand. Nancy also works on international real estate issues through her role as National Association of REALTORS® Regional Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Region. Congrats to Nancy for a job well done!
Get more information on the Illinois REALTORS® Consulate General Liaison Program.

Activities help consulate liaison program keep growing

(l to r) Lithuanian Consul General Marijus Gudynas, Sharon Gorrell and REALTOR® Mikus Kins discussed mutual benefits of working together.

Earlier this month, members of the Illinois REALTORS® Consulate General Liaison Program met with their consulates and with each other for training and networking in Chicago.

For example, REALTOR® Mikus Kins, Consulate General Liaison to Lithuania, and Global Policy Advisor Sharon Gorrell met with Marijus Gudynas, Lithuanian Consul General and explained our liaison program. They discussed ways Gudynas and the REALTOR® community can work together to promote real estate in Illinois, in addition to fostering relationships with the real estate community in Lithuania.

“Cooperation with the Illinois REALTORS® could help establish mutually beneficial relationships between Lithuanian business representatives and the REALTOR® community in Illinois,” said Gudynas. “I hope that it encourages the sharing of best practices and knowledge that results in new business opportunities for Illinois and Lithuania.”

Kins and Gorrell also shared information on the NAR Global program and how it is expanding to more countries.

Also, the entire liaison team heard from representatives of the state of Illinois as well as global staff members from state and national associations. Topics included Consular corps in Chicago, assets of the state of Illinois and resources available for meetings and activities with the consulates.

The day ended with a series of “speed networking sessions” to help liaisons learn about each other. The training and networking is designed to help develop a strong network that grows into a true global asset for the Illinois REALTORS®.

REALTORS® provide insight for future of the Chicago region

Illinois REALTORS® took part in a meeting with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Illinois REALTORS® involved in the session include Matt Silver, Carmen Rodriquez, Frank Martinez, Sarah Ware and Judy Panazzo. Photo by Sharon Gorrell, Illinois REALTORS®.

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) recently reached out to the Illinois REALTORS® for insight and expertise on what some of the challenges for growth and revitalization are for the six-county northern region of Illinois.

The delegation included REALTORS® from throughout northern Illinois and they weighed in on some of the analysis and reports that CMAP has already done in assessing some of the issues that communities are talking about.  Challenges such as aging properties that are too big and too expensive to refurbish and maintain, demand shifts due to changing demographics, especially millennial’s and seniors, and lack of retail options in some areas are examples of topics discussed.

“The participants provided much needed nuance on the market trends impacting different parts of the region,” said Jonathan Burch, principal planner, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). “The feedback will help us develop a better picture of how different demographic changes are impacting our region and how local communities can be responsive to those changes.”

CMAP is currently undergoing the update to the region’s comprehensive plan called ON TO 2050 in which the Illinois REALTORS® have provided input.

This forum is an additional way that our industry will help broaden the understanding of the realities of the marketplace and have a place at the table to assure that municipal solutions address local needs while not creating regulatory barriers that come with their own sets of unintended consequences such as increasing costs of housing an development.

Illinois REALTORS® meet with Ecuadorian Consulate General

Another successful meeting made possible by the Illinois REALTORS® Consulate General Liaison program!

The meeting with Carlos Lenin Housse Dávalos, Consulate General of the Republic of Ecuador was led by the Illinois REALTORS® liaison, Betty Milam, broker with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services/Koenig Rubloff Realty. Milam is originally from Ecuador and has been very involved in international real estate.

The meeting was also attended by Sharon Gorrell, the Illinois REALTOR® working group staff liaison, and by Vicky Silvano of Century 21 SGR in Chicago. Silvano was recently appointed as the Chair of the Consulate Liaison Working Group.

The group discussed differences in the Illinois real estate market and industry practices in Ecuador. Milam will be formulating a housing seminar with the Consulate’s trade office for first-time home buyers within the Chicago area Ecuadorian community in the near future.

Illinois REALTORS® learn from Czech counterparts


(l to r) Sharon Gorrell, Joanna Krouz (Broker, Keller Williams, Buford, GA), Jan Borůvka and Jana Herdova.

By Jana Herdova and Sharon Gorrell

Jana Herdova, Illinois REALTOR® Consulate Liaison and NAR President’s Liaison to the Czech Republic, along with Sharon Gorrell, Illinois REALTOR Housing Policy Advisor and Staff Liaison to the Global Working Group, participated in a two-day trade mission in the Czech Republic during the past week.

In her capacity as president’s liaison, Herdova coordinated the mission with Jan Borůvka, Secretary General for Asociace realitních kanceláří České republiky (ARK ČR) and is also the Co-Chair of the Property Agents Committee for European Association of Real Estate Professions (CEPI-CEI) where he works on behalf of real estate professionals on industry standards and public policy in the European Parliament of the European Union.

Herdova and Gorrell toured property developments, attended a building and real estate trade show, and participated in a round table discussion on real estate markets and global business programming for associations.

Gorrell explained how the Illinois REALTORS® Global Working Group structure and partnerships with organizations such as AREAA, NAREB and NAHREP would better prepare members to engage in global business. A better understanding of other cultures will help members become trusted advisors to clients from anywhere in the world.

Borůvka pointed out similarities in his association’s advocacy and public policy. He shared that there is pending legislation in the Czech Parliament that will establish a license law policy. While the Czech Republic currently does not require professional credentials to sell real estate, he is hoping a regulatory framework will help their real estate practitioners become the best, most qualified, trusted advisors to their clients too.

Also, the monetary policy has resulted in very low interest rates, even lower than U.S. rates, he said. A low supply of new units, coupled with the low interest rates, has generated a large demand and has pushed up prices. A mixed-use development just outside of the Prague city center has duplexes in the $600,000-plus price range and condo prices roughly half that.

The developer shared that the green building movement is gaining some ground there.  However, like the U.S., the costs are relatively high and people have to think long-term to realize the increased investment.  The Czech Parliament has also had several discussions on policies such as set-asides for affordable housing units.

In a discussion with real estate broker and owner of Professionals Real Estate Consultants s.r.o. Tomáś Duda, we learned about some of the commercial trends in office space.  “Co-worker” style offices are becoming quite popular because they allow independent or small business owners to access communal spaces, administrative services and other office needs for a monthly fee as an alternative to leasing entire spaces. This has provided an affordable option for many business owners.

Borůvka is looking forward to learning more about Illinois while sharing information on the Czech real estate industry and European Union standards so our members can better guide clients who may want to invest or relocate there. The ARK website can be found at this link: and the CERI site is These are good resources to gain a better understanding of the European real estate industry.

“For us, it was extremely interesting to hear the news about the real estate market in Illinois,” Borůvka said. “It is always interesting to watch the development of the real estate market in a developed economy. Compare it with the development in our country. Many things can so easily be estimated in advance.”

Borůvka is happy to help NAR and Illinois REALTORS® interested in doing business in Europe or helping European clients here in the U.S.  He plans to attend the 2018 NAR Convention in Chicago to connect with Illinois REALTORS® and experience the rich Czech heritage the Chicagoland region enjoys.