Illinois REALTORS® Join NAR at Global Session for Cities

(l to r) Illinois REALTOR® Vicky Sampah and Patricia de Lille, executive mayor of the city of Cape Town, South Africa

Last week, Global Policy Advisor Sharon Gorrell and Vice-Chair of the Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council, Vicky Sampah joined Janet Branton, senior vice president of Global and Commercial Services for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and Judith Hermanson of IHC Global, a non-profit housing coalition started in part by the NAR, for a three-day session put on by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

It is called the Chicago Forum on Global Cities. Each year, the forum brings together global leaders in business, education, civics and the arts for an integrated, cross-sector dialogue on the power and limitations of global cities to shape the world’s future.

This session drew public sector and private industry professionals, along with academics and non-profit groups to come together and learn from leaders and experts from different countries on a variety of subjects affecting cities. Topics such as urban planning, housing supply, data/technology, immigration and migration, diversity, energy and sustainability and a plethora of other topics affecting urban areas and world-class cities throughout the globe were all addressed.

Sampah stated, “It is important for us REALTORS® to understand the global trends since some of these issues cross over and affect our markets and what our urban areas may be contemplating in the future.”

As an example, the concept of “walkability” came up at a session on Livable Cities. The mayor of Melbourne, Australia, Robert Doyle was sharing that streetscapes need to look good in order to draw people to them rather than use their car. He stated at the session, “Cities can’t just be walkable, they have to be enjoyable to walk through.” This falls into the experience economy trend that effects everything we do from drinking coffee to buying groceries.

Chicago’s own Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave the opening comments and stressed the importance of local communities taking part in global conversations. The session ended with Chicago Council on Global Affairs President Ivo Daalder stating that cities need to start getting more involved in higher level policy discussions since nation-states make policy decisions that local communities have to implement and in many cases, pay for.

Forums like these are great opportunities to network with global decision makers and industry colleagues. They also are a great place to collect and build resources that help the members of the Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council be better partners in global real estate transactions and trusted advisors for their international clients in both the commercial and residential sectors.

4 questions: REALTOR® Silvano to be sounding board for NAR global efforts

Vicky Silvano

During the Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., REALTOR® Vicky Silvano was presented as the 2018 NAR Global Business Alliances Liaison.

Silvano, a broker associate for Century 21 SGR in Chicago, is one of 16 NAR committee liaisons who will start their new duties after the NAR Conference & Expo in Chicago in November. Appointed by NAR President-Elect Elizabeth Mendenhall, the group is collectively known as the president’s enlarged leadership team.

Silvano began learning about her new responsibilities by shadowing the current Global Business Alliance Liaison, Mark Kitbayashi of Seattle, during the week of legislative meetings and NAR activities in the nation’s capital.

As Chair for the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) in 2016, she helped successfully lobby for the U.S. Census Bureau to gather separate information on behalf of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) instead of under the heading of “other.” She also serves on the Chicago Association of REALTORS® Global Council, and she joined the Illinois REALTORS® Consulate General Liaison Program as a consulate general for the Philippines.

“I am very excited about the new position,” she said.

Q1. What does a global business alliances liaison do?

In the global arena, I will be the eyes and ears of NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall and let her know what’s happening in several areas – the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Advisory Board, the Global Business Council Forum and with the Global Business Alliances. Using my feedback, she can look at our current programs and depending on the specific issues, evaluate if we need to do something different to better serve the general membership.

Q2. Global has long been a passion. Why do you think it’s so important for members to be aware of cross-border opportunities?

In 2016, global business transactions created 102 billion business opportunities, and to not highlight them means lost business opportunities for our members. The more our members can take advantage of these opportunities, the better off they’ll be.

Q3. Your work with AREAA resulted in the successful “No Other” campaign. What impact did that have on the industry and why was this so significant?

The “No Other” campaign resulted in the disaggregation of data by the US Census Bureau which has been much needed to understand the housing challenges and needs of the AAPI community. Prior to July 2016, the quarterly housing report lumped Asian Americans into a category with mixed races and various ethnic groups that are very different from AAPIs. With a stand-alone category, the data is much more accurate for our community.  From an industry standpoint, real estate professionals and service providers can better understand what’s going on with housing trends for AAPIs and provide better support to increase the rate of homeownership for our community. From a Policy perspective, the government can now focus on the issues and needs of the AAPI community and address them accordingly.

Q4. What’s the best thing about being in real estate?

I’ve been a top producer and achieved a lot in my career, but my legacy is what I accomplished through AREAA for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. For me, the greatest success is making sure the needs of those communities are being served, and that issues are being heard and resolved to expand the homeownership rate in the AAPI community.

 

Co-living . . . new concept or simply a revival of an age-old way of life?

Aaron Galvin (left) and Noah Gottlieb believe the amenities available in a co-living development like “L – Logan Square” will be very popular.

Depending on your generation, you may have a different idea of where the trend towards community style living concepts comes from. Many baby boomers remember growing up with Grandma in the upstairs apartment or multiple generations living and working the family farm. Millennials and Gen-Xers may look to their college days of dorms, frats and sororities. Co-living is also familiar for those in need, either financially or due to a disability. No matter where you may have experienced this type of lifestyle, it is now coming back in a new and chic way.

One feature of TOD living is plenty of room for bicycles instead of car parking spaces for every resident.

While sharing an apartment certainly isn’t anything new, having it developed specifically to accommodate this lifestyle is. REALTOR® Aaron Galvin, Managing Broker and Owner of Luxury Living Chicago Realty, and Noah Gottlieb, Principal of Property Markets Group, are part of the next wave of co-living. Gottlieb is the developer of “L – Logan Square” where Galvin is the leasing agent. This building offers a community lifestyle in addition to an affordable entryway into higher cost areas of the city. The building offers amenities customarily found in luxury style buildings. However, if you are willing to rent a bedroom in a three-unit apartment with others, then this concept is for you. The building is also considered a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) so it has 60 parking spaces for 120 units in its garage but it has a home for bicycles and you can walk to the “L”. On your way, you can grab a coffee or cereal from the lobby area that is also part of the package.

An open-air deck area includes a refurbished “L” car provides a unique place to hang out with friends.

The co-living concept of this building includes socially programmed amenities like an open-air deck area that actually includes a refurbished “L” car where you can hang out with friends and neighbors. Galvin and Gottlieb both say this is a not just an apartment, it is a lifestyle experience. The popularity of this concept is evident in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Oakland and cities where they already have several similar concepts from converted single family homes to multi-family options. Property Markets Group is also in the process of developing over 3,500 units in Denver, New York, and Miami. The next Chicago project for Galvin and Gottlieb will be located in University Village and target graduate students and young professionals associated with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) and the Illinois Medical District. Eventually they plan to implement nationally a “membership” wherein you always have a place to workout or hang out when in other cities across the country that have a building under their corporate umbrella.

The sharing economy includes real estate, says Galvin, and they wanted to come up with a creative solution to address the demand of today’s consumers. While millennials would be attracted to the concept, it would work for anyone willing to be part of a “shared cultural and living experience at a tremendous value.” Most luxury style buildings near transportation are out of reach for many, Gottlieb says, so “the relative affordability for the amenities offered simply can’t be matched in the marketplace.”

Bill Caton

This concept is also gaining popularity globally as well. Cities like Paris, London, Tokyo, Bali, and Berlin all have co-living buildings under development. The cachet overseas is motivating foreign investors to find demand opportunities in Chicago as well. REALTOR® Bill Caton, CIPS, Principal of Caton Commercial Real Estate Group, recently returned from the MIPIM Real Estate Conference in Cannes, France where he met Evan Kasper, Co-founder and Managing Director of Berlin based Medici Living Group (MLG), the largest co-living provider in Europe. Kasper is leading MLG’s expansion of its upscale brand, Quarters, into the United States. MLG works with developers to implement their model in existing, in process, or planning stage multifamily buildings. Kasper says there is a mismatch between the supply of luxury housing products and the demand of young professionals. Caton along with son and business partner REALTOR® Steve Caton and Senior Broker, REALTOR® Andy Velkme, CIPS, who are all representing MLG agree with Kasper’s assessment.

Andy Velkme

Young professionals are more adventurous and “experience-focused” than ever before, says Velkme, and they are looking for ways to simplify and expedite the burdensome facets of life. Moving to a world-class city, finding a nice place to live, buying furniture and meeting new friends takes time, energy and money. The Quarters concept uses technology and market expertise to solve the dilemma by satisfying all those needs quickly. MLG also appreciates the benefit of the membership model in leasing.

Steve Caton

“This concept is not just about sharing expenses with roommates, and simplifying the rental process,” says Steve Caton, “it is a revolutionary transformation for the traditionally ridged asset class of real estate. Residents are looked at more like members, and they have access to move around the world in three clicks online, creating more mobility for a younger workforce.”

The co-working area is another amenity included with some developments. The concept has been popular with the start-up community that often shares ideas as well as living spaces.  While this seems more of a trend for millennials, the senior community has been enjoying a similar lifestyle model for a while. Earlier concepts such as Del Webb® or The Villages® in Florida offer “community” as part of their appeal. While these offer separate single family homes, shared home concepts and apartments are gaining popularity in order for seniors to be able to age-in-place. As communities update their comprehensive land-use plans and zoning ordinances, the Illinois REALTORS® has put together a senior housing toolkit for municipalities to help find solutions to satisfy these growing demands.

It seems that there isn’t one factor that has created this resurgence and nuance to some of our former lifestyles. Minimalism is gaining popularity and land is scarce in many urban areas, so the desire for community and affordability of amenities consumers couldn’t otherwise enjoy are all factors that seem to be feeding into the growing demand.

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® expands Consulate General Liaison roster

national flags of countries all over the world

Bigstock images

A shared curiosity about countries and cultures outside the United States has drawn Plainfield/Aurora REALTOR® Vicky Sampah and Naperville REALTOR® Andy Velkme into the Illinois REALTORS® Consulate General Liaison Program.

The program, which is still accepting applications, serves as an important way for REALTORS® to work with foreign nationals interested in living and investing in Illinois.

sampah-4

Vicky Sampah (center) and Jim Kinney (right) welcomed a visitor from Ghana (left).

The countries they’re matched with are in two continents about 4,000 miles apart. Sampah, managing broker and CEO of L’Abri Realty & Management in Aurora, is matched with Rwanda, a country in East Africa, bordered by Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. Velkme, a broker for Caton Commercial Real Estate, is matched with Latvia, a European country bordered by the Baltic Sea, Estonia, Russia and Lithuania.

Sampah, who became a REALTOR® in 2003, says, “I’ve always had an interest in Africa and its real estate industry development.  After looking into Rwanda and its resources, I became intrigued and my interest in the country grew vastly. I believe that Costco and Starbucks have set the foundations for us to build relationships with Rwanda and this is going to be an exciting journey.

Rwandan national official flag. African patriotic symbol banner element background. Flag of Rwanda waving in the wind with detailed fabric texture, illustration

Rwanda flag (Bigstock Images)

“I am originally from Ghana, West Africa with 15 years of combined real estate experience,” she says. “I worked with the government of Ghana in public service and gained policymaking and legislative experience. I always had passion for global real estate and institutional development, especially for the African Continent where real estate regulation is almost absent. My experience with real estate practice in Illinois, coupled with great opportunities to engage in Capitol Conferences with Illinois REALTORS® has made my vision even clearer.

“Since 2011, I have supported the Ghana Real Estate Professionals Association (GREPA) with its formation and development as well as consulting Ghana’s government in developing the Ghanaian Real Estate Bill.  I felt the African continent was disconnected as far as real estate and saw the need to connect.”

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Andy Velkme holds Latvian flag and stands with his family in Chicago’s Daley Plaza in a celebration of the Baltic Way in 2014.

Velkme says joining the Consulate General Liaison Program is the “perfect way to blend his professional and social life together.” Velkme and his wife (Indra) take their children to K-12 Latvian school on Saturdays to learn about geography, literature, language and more. He says Chicago boasts the most active Latvian community outside of Latvia itself.

“Through the Consulate General Liaison Program, I hope to promote real estate opportunities in Illinois to Latvian citizens and to show that real estate here is a safe investment,” says Velkme, “an even better value than real estate on the east or west coast.”

Sampah echoes Velkme’s sentiment, saying, “I have learned how coffee has helped forge relationships between Rwanda and American corporations such as Costco and Starbucks, and I foresee a great opportunity for expansion of real estate business between both countries. As a Consulate Liaison, I can educate Americans about Rwanda and eliminate preconceived ideas they have about each other, thus opening more opportunities for business.”

Latvia flag ,original and simple Latvia flag

Latvia flag (Bigstock)

Background of liaison program

Earlier this year, Illinois REALTORS® launched the Consulate General Liaison Program, matching REALTORS® with international real estate interests and/or connections to countries represented in the diplomatic community in Illinois.

Originally, Illinois REALTORS® forged ties with eight countries, modeling the program after the NAR Federal Political Coordinator program and the Illinois REALTORS® State Legislative Contact Program. But since May, the size of the program has more than doubled.

More REALTORS® are welcome to apply so the program can continue to grow. See the list of current liaisons here.

Previous stories about the Consulate General Liaison Program include: