International Consortium of Real Estate Associations
National Organizations Coming Together
to Form a Powerful Alliance
The International Consortium of Real Estate Associations (ICREA) is an alliance whose members are leading national real estate organizations in the world's major markets. Through a multilateral agreement and specific business practice protocols, this alliance provides significant benefits not only to its constituent members who seek to do transnational business but to its domestic constituents as well. ICREA's primary objective is to assist members of the respective organizations in efficiently and profitably facilitating transnational business, including through a Transnational Referral System.
Why a Consortium?
As national real estate associations worldwide look to respond to industry issues for this new millennium, several factors converged that dictated the need for a strong global alliance:
* Globalization has had an immediate and powerful impact on real estate markets, attracting the attention of real estate professionals worldwide. Many practitioners with a local focus are looking to expand their businesses into the international sphere, and are turning to their real estate associations for advice and assistance.
* The rapid growth of the Internet has made the international market accessible to millions of consumers and to the most local of real estate agents. Current estimates are that more than 650 million people are online and by 2004 the number will have reached close to 1 billion. Most of the growth will take place in Asia, Latin America and parts of Europe.
* The value of commerce connected to the real estate industry is staggering. Residential real estate sales in 2000 for the U.S. alone approximately one trillion U.S. dollars. As a result, many well-established companies and newly formed start-ups view the global real estate market as a source for significant revenue potential. Professional associations need to work together to keep real estate practitioners central to the transaction and protect the best interests of their members.
Origin of the International Consortium Concept
In August 1999, representatives from nine national associations* met to discuss the globalization issues facing their respective members. The outcome was a consensus that an international forum was needed where real estate associations could come together to share information, discuss the forces of a global economy, and facilitate their members international activities. Participants agreed that for meaningful transnational business to take place, international norms and standards were needed to govern the real estate profession globally. Another perceived need was a central Internet-based networking system that would link association Web sites, facilitate transnational referrals among association members, and provide ready access to foreign market information.
Subsequent meetings of this group resulted in the formation of an international consortium made up of the leading real estate associations serving national markets. In November 2000, 24 real estate associations signed a letter of commitment to the Consortium. After nearly two years of laying the foundation, 23 associations signed the formal agreement on May 13, 2001 in Washington, DC, officially launching the International Consortium of Real Estate Associations (ICREA).
ICREA is structured around a series of rights and obligations based upon a multilateral agreement. This agreement binds member associations and, through them, the business entities and individuals that make up their membership, to a series of basic commitments. These basic commitments pertain to operation of a web site, sharing of core membership data through prescribed standards of electronic data transfer, enforcement of a code of ethics, and financial responsibility for its involvement in the Consortium.
These basic commitments, however, are just the framework for success. True success will be achieved when standards are applied to all transnational transactions undertaken by the real estate professionals represented by its member associations. A second order of standards and best practices are developed as protocols.
Protocols are subordinate agreements and member associations can choose which protocols, if any, to sign. However, to gain access to the processes, entitlements, and obligations embodied in a particular protocol, a member association must sign it, signifying agreement to be bound by its terms, rules and standards, and to provide its members the opportunity to voluntarily agree thereto.
Value to the Association
The impetus for a Consortium may have been grounded in need to help facilitate transnational business a significant service in todays global market but member associations also realize benefits that serve their members involved primarily in domestic transactions. Involvement in ICREA should appeal to domestic constituents of associations as it positions them to more easily facilitate an occasional transaction with a non-domestic component, and to position themselves uniquely in their local market as a broker/agent with global resources and worldwide access to buyers. More importantly, ICREAs efforts to ensure technology doesn't displace practitioners, but instead keeps them central to the transaction, is a vital benefit to all members.