So Many Events, So Little Time

U.S. Rolls Out the International Red Carpet

Each November, the National Association of REALTORS® holds its largest annual gathering in a major U.S. city. This year, San Francisco plays host to 22,000 REALTORS® and guests from over 50 countries. The four-day REALTORS® Conference & Expo includes governance meetings, education sessions, a trade expo and many opportunities to network with NAR members and other real estate professionals. Additionally, special pre-conference activities are held two days earlier.

The educational sessions alone offer many valuable learning opportunities. But if networking is your primary objective, you’ll probably want to focus on the International Night Out & Awards Ceremony, in addition to the International Networking Center and the International 2nd Home & Resort Pavilion within the trade show.

If you want to meet representatives from a particular country, you don’t need to search for them among the thousands of attendees. Several countries host booths around the perimeter of the International 2nd Home & Resort Pavilion. Also, you can stop by the International Networking Center during predetermined times when representatives from specific countries will be in attendance, eager to meet all interested agents.

In the International 2nd Home & Resort Pavilion you’ll find representatives of properties from around the world—a great networking opportunity if, for example, you’re interested in cultivating a niche in overseas retirement. (Be sure to watch for the next issue of Global Perspectives for more on overseas retirement opportunities.)

Plus, many other international exhibitors are in attendance, such as Chinese international property listing site “We help agents find sales opportunities with Chinese property investors,” explains Andrew Taylor, Co-CEO of “Many agents didn’t realize that purchases are occurring all over the U.S. and want to learn more. We look forward to returning again this year.”

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Further North: REALTOR® Quest

Held in Toronto each May, this professional networking event draws over 8,000 real estate agents from across Canada. While meetings are also held during the two-day conference, the trade show is the anchor event. Exhibits are arranged stadium style surrounding a center entertainment stage, which contributes to the high energy of the event and maximizes traffic to each booth.

Brett Brown, ABR, AHWD, CIPS, CRB, CRS, e-PRO, RSPS, SFR has attended this event representing Fiddler’s Creek, one of three Naples-area communities exhibiting at the show. “The sense of excitement at REALTOR® Quest is very unique and it’s an excellent opportunity to cultivate referral relationships,” explains Brown. “That said, I was also pleasantly surprised that several agents ended up purchasing property for themselves!”

Brown believes that exhibiting at REALTOR® Quest is the only way to produce the conversations needed to cultivate business. “Simply attending doesn’t do much good,” says Brown. “Even if you aren’t representing a particular planned community, as I do, you can make great inroads by promoting a specific area. But it’s always better to concentrate on your own market than attempt to get too broad.”

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Where Locals Shop Overseas

The REALTORS® Conference and Expo and Canada’s REALTOR® Quest are major gatherings of real estate professionals. But many other international real estate shows are primarily designed for consumers who are interested in purchasing property outside their borders. Real estate agents often participate as exhibitors, helping attendees (including other agents) learn more about their local market. Examples include

A Place in the Sun Live

is an overseas property exhibition associated with a popular British television show that shares the same name. Over 150 property agents and developers participate, with specialist zones devoted to France, Florida, Italy and Portugal.

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SIMA - Madrid International Real Estate Exhibition

(Salon Inmobiliario De Madrid) draws nearly 100,000 visitors and 350 exhibitors. Visitors include first-time and move-up buyers, second home buyers and private investors interested in residences

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Beijing Overseas Property and Investment (BOPI) Expo

showcases overseas investment opportunities in residential, industrial and commercial properties. Held four times a year, each Expo can attract upwards of 100,000 people.

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Other Networking Opportunities

The list of international gatherings of people interested in real estate goes well beyond the few major events listed here. For example, FIABCI (International Real Estate Federation) hosts a World Congress as well as numerous regional and special events connected to 48 different local chapters (visit

Or, if your focus is on commercial properties, you might be interested these two meetings.

MIPIM, the world’s property market, brings together players from all international property sectors—office, residential, retail, healthcare, sport, logistics and industrial—offering access to development projects and sources of capital. It truly is a high-level, elite event and geared toward the commercial investor. Major investors and commercial firms “in the know” attend and due to the popularity of the show and its location, (Cannes, France - with limited accommodations), this is a show that takes advanced planning. The conference program is one of the more expensive to attend, but worth it if your business objective is reaching this high-level audience.

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takes place every October in Munich (right after Oktoberfest) and is a B2B-focused show. The attendees represent the entire vertical of the commercial real estate industry, including investors, consultants, agents, architects, economic development entities, etc. This is another show with high-level networking opportunities. The conference program is more affordable and includes networking with nearly 40,000 attendees from 70 countries, 400 speakers, and 1,700 exhibitors.

It is important to note that both of these shows require advanced planning and research, and some year-over-year comparison. One should attend first to get the lay of the land, experience the conference and expo offerings, and then perhaps consider exhibition opportunities in the future. They both have a strong focus on EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) but Asia and the Americas also have a presence. Neither is a place to sell “homes,” nor are they geared toward the buying public.

In addition to recurring shows and conventions, many onetime events are also hosted around the world. For example, the CIMI and ENBRACI Conference recently held in Iguassu Falls, Brazil, was a two-day conference focused on real estate investment opportunities in Brazil in anticipation of new business opportunities associated with the World Cup and Olympic Games.

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Identifying Your Best Networking Opportunities

Finding the best events requires doing a little research. First, you need to know which global markets are the best fit for your business. (Are buyers already arriving from a particular country? Is there a particular niche you’re trying to develop?) Then, using your specific focus as a filter, start digging further. The Internet is your first and best tool. Use terms like “real estate conferences in (country)” in your search criteria and see what you find. Other suggestions:

  • Consult NAR’s list of upcoming events, which may include special discounts for CIPS designees. (See sidebar on page 3 for more details.)
  • Identify NAR’s President’s Liaison (via global-alliances) for the country you’re focused upon and ask him or her which upcoming events they recommend for your particular niche.
  • Some shows publish lists of past exhibitors and/or attendees. Use this as a guide to determine if a meeting is a good fit for you—or if there’s someone you can contact and inquire about their experience with the event.
  • Facebook may be another good source for identifying networking opportunities. Many associations (including NAR Global) use their pages to share details about upcoming meetings, including one-time events.
  • Contact NAR’s Global division (via for any additional suggestions.

Done right, networking can be one of your most effective business development tools. Take advantage of these and other resources to identify and make the most of your own global connections.

Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.


About Global Perspectives

Global Perspectives in Real Estate is a resource for global professionals, aimed at helping them globalize their local markets. Produced bi-monthly, this newsletter serves as a how-to guide and is full of useful and actionable tips. A free subscription is given to all Certified International Property Specialists (CIPS) designees.

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