Spoiler alert: Is your Global Council aiming for that Platinum Global Achievement Award level? This idea will help get you there – keep reading!
It's Labor Day weekend, which means it's back to school and students all over America are currently being asked, what did you do on your summer vacation? <-- It doesn’t seem like a relevant question in real estate...unless you’re the Missouri REALTORS®, that is. They recently spent time welcoming incoming international students at the University of Missouri as part of their new global strategy, and wow – was it time well-spent!
I had the great fortune of interviewing Missouri REALTORS® CEO, John Sebree, to find out exactly what they did, why they did it, and how it worked. I hope your ears have perked up, Global Councils around the country, this idea is for you!
Cindy: How did the idea to engage international students generate for the Missouri REALTORS® Global Council?
John: Last fall, I was connected to Garrett Rucinski, who works in the international department at Mizzou. We immediately hit it off and started brainstorming ways we could work together. He came and spoke at our Global Council meeting in April. They love the connection to universities throughout the state and we hope to now do outreach to other major schools. I decided to start with University of Missouri since they are in Columbia where our HQ is.
Cindy: Why did you decide that this was a valuable audience to engage?
John: I’ve always heard there are parents who choose to purchase an investment property in the college town while their son/daughter lives there. It’s an opportunity to collect rent from others while in school, thereby offsetting cost of tuition. They then have a valuable asset at the end of college too, perhaps even an asset that isn’t available to them in their home country.
John: I love talking to students who are just arriving from their home country. Many had just arrived a day or two prior to their orientation and welcome event. Many don’t understand the role of a REALTOR® or their system is slightly different in their country. Just educating them and seeing their “get it” is rewarding. As you can imagine, the room was filled with apartment buildings encouraging students to choose them. Those groups didn’t have the same speaking opportunity I had as the major sponsor of the event. So, I made my remarks about the “housing ladder” and making the connection that many of us rent before we own, there are opportunities for property investment on their part or for their parents, etc…I tried to make it understandable. Obviously, apartment buildings are important to our commercial members so I didn’t want to limit the talk to just buying a home. They seemed to understand that. We also include info on “real estate careers” in their welcome packets and we have a one pager re: “Why use a Realtor” that we handed out.
John: The President and Chancellor of the University and University System are a big deal in Missouri. I shared the podium with them, raising our profile. The mayor of Columbia was there, as were other dignitaries who were all thanking us profusely for “seeing the bigger picture” and being there. Other than one bank and an immigration law attorney, most other exhibitors were apartment buildings and campus organizations.
Cindy: What value does this outreach have for REALTORS® in Missouri – the members?
John: We are currently limiting our Global Council membership to CIPS designees but all members benefit when the community understands the role of REALTORS®. We’d like to expand our role to see if REALTORS® around the state might sponsor international students, whether it’s for American holiday dinners, when everyone on campus is going home to be with family and they’re left behind; or for their home culture’s holidays when they are far from their families and the holiday doesn’t coincide with school breaks.
Cindy: What was the estimated staff time/financial investment for this project?
John: We gave $3,500 to Mizzou’s International Student Center. In addition to making us the main sponsor for this event, there will be other events we’ll be able to participate in for no additional sponsorship/cost. Staff time was minimal. The documents we put together can be used at other events. The event was from 1:00-3:30pm and one staff member in addition to me attended.
Pretty fantastic community visibility, for a limited staff and financial investment, am I right? This is precisely the type of initiative that we encourage (dare I say preach?) Global Councils to embark upon, as it can reap immeasurable opportunities for REALTORS® in their local communities.
The opportunities with students alone:
- students whose parents will buy them a house as an investment
- students who will stay after their education on an EB-5 visa or OPT program
- students who will buy or rent on their own (hey, renting is still a function of real estate, right?)
The opportunities in the community:
- Members of the international department from Mizzou, who collaborated in this initiative, live in the community, and are buying and selling homes. They also refer business!
- The president and chancellor of the University were there. The mayor was there. Who do you think they will reach out to for their future real estate needs, now knowing that Missouri REALTORS® “sees the big picture” on both the residential and commercial (read: development!) side?
And last but not least, they even had a handout onsite about careers in real estate – not just as a REALTOR®, but the other professions that help the real estate world go ‘round, such as lenders, title companies, tax advisor, insurance, appraiser, etc.
I tip my cap to the Missouri REALTORS® and their ability to see – and more importantly seize – the opportunity with their local university. I look forward to writing you all again in a few months, covering the business opportunities that REALTORS® have gained as a result of this initiative!
Interested in learning more about how they did this? Have you done something similar and want your story featured here too? Feel free to contact me! email@example.com.