Meet Merrie Espina - A Mentor, A Leader and a Good Friend

Posted by Rick Griffin on Sep 18, 2020 4:35:52 PM

Merrie Espina

Meet Merrie Espina, who was recently elected to a two-year term (2021-2022) on the PSAR Board of Directors. 

Merrie grew up in the Philippines, traveled to London to study nursing and then moved to the United States with her first husband who was serving in the military at the time. The couple then lived abroad in Guam, Greece, London and Italy and Merrie worked both as a nurse and in banking during this time. They returned to the U.S. in the early 1990s living in Norfolk, Virginia and Long Beach, California, before relocating to San Diego.

While the family was stationed in Naples, Italy, Merrie had the experience of kissing the hand of Pope John II, who was the second longest-serving pope in modern history (from October 1978, until his death on April 2, 2005, at age 84).Merrie with Pope John II

“It was my daughter’s first communion and she was in the second grade. All the children were invited to go to the Vatican,” said Merrie. “The pope put his hand on each child’s head. When he walked down the line, I reached for his hand and he let me kiss it. It was a lifetime experience.”

In San Diego, Merrie worked for Navy Federal Credit Union and organized a trip for 20 bank employees to travel to Los Angeles to watch “The Price is Right” daytime TV game show.

“It was so much fun, especially when the announcer called my name. You don’t even realize that you’re on TV,” said Merrie. “I missed a car and a trip by one spot on the big wheel. Instead, I won seven mountain bikes. One of our bank employees won $10,000, but I got to hug and kiss Bob Barker.”

Merrie on the Price is RightMerrie worked for 21 years in banking as a loan counselor, manager and marketing director. She then launched a career in real estate, beginning with a job with Century 21 Award. She moved to Realty Edge, followed by Ad Valorem. In 1997, she earned her real estate sales license and joined PSAR. By 1998 Merrie had formed her own brokerage firm, which she later sold during the 2007 recession.

“When I opened my own office, I set-up a crib for my granddaughter in our real estate office where she grew up while I worked. She’s now 19 years old” said Merrie. “I love my family, my two children, 6 grandchildren and my 84-year-old mom who lives with me. And, I love my PSAR real estate family."

“I’ve always been a volunteer. As a military spouse, I volunteered as an ombudsman. At church, I volunteered for a prom for special needs kids. For PSAR, I have volunteered annually on several committees, including Education, Grievance, Government Affairs, Global Council and Charity.”

Marrie earns REALTOR of the year 2019

This is not Merrie’s first time serving on the PSAR board. She was a board member from 2016 and 2017. She also served as a C.A.R. director (2018).

Merrie has earned a Master of Real Estate degree from REALTOR® University, a program endorsed by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). She also has a bachelor’s degree in management and business from the University of Laverne.

She has been honored with the 2019 PSAR REALTOR® of the Year award. Her former real estate office was named Business of the Year by the San Diego Filipino American Chamber of Commerce.

“I love real estate, I value my clients’ trust, loyalty and support,” said Merrie. “I treat and take care of them like family. I believe in helping others, listening and sharing my ideas to be part of the solution. When I go to bed, I ask myself: What good things did I do today to make a difference?”


PSAR's Mission is to empower Realtors to flourish while being accountable to each other our clients and our community.

Since 1928, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® has played a significant role in shaping the history, growth and development of the Real Estate industry in San Diego County.

Topics: Announcements, Industry


Posted by Rick Griffin on Sep 11, 2020 4:53:54 PM


PSAR is proud to announce the completion of the “Robert Calloway Memorial Veteran Housing Grant” program.

In a joint partnership with the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) Housing Affordability Fund (HAF), on Memorial Day, PSAR launched a special grants program named in honor of 2019 PSAR President Robert Calloway, a military veteran and PSAR Past Immediate-President.

The PSAR Robert Calloway Memorial Veteran Housing Grant program helped first-time military homebuyers with closing-cost assistance of $1,500. 

A total of 34 grants were available. The grants program was scheduled to continue for up to one year or until the available $51,000 was exhausted. Less than three months later, on Aug. 26, the final available closing-cost grant was approved and distributed.

“This grants program was a tremendous success for our veterans,” said Robert Cromer, 2020 PSAR President. “PSAR was honored to give-back to our military community and provide closing-cost assistance to our hometown heroes and their families who were searching to find a place to call home. I am proud to have been part of this effort to help these courageous men and women who have sacrificed and served to protect this beautiful country and our values and freedoms that have kept us free.”

Robert Calloway 1965-2020

“We felt that naming this grant after Robert Calloway was a fitting tribute to his legacy as a veteran and a member of the PSAR family,” said Rich D’Ascoli, CEO of PSAR. “Our Association was proud to team-up with C.A.R. and give back to those who have worked hard to protect our everyday lives. The Robert Calloway Memorial Veteran Housing Grant program has truly been an across-the-board, undeniable success story that everyone can be proud of.”

The joint partnership with PSAR and C.A.R. was initiated by the late Robert Calloway, who suddenly passed away May 4 this year from heart disease. He was 54. Prior to his real estate sales career as a REALTOR®, Calloway served in the U.S. Navy for 26 years, from June 1985 to June 2011, retiring as a Senior Chief Navy Counselor. He specialized in human resources and counseling for the Navy during 20 of his 26 years. In 2008, Calloway started selling real estate while still serving in the Navy. He joined PSAR at the start of his real estate sales career and was elected to the PSAR board of directors in 2014.

At the time of his passing, Calloway was serving as a current PSAR board member and as a C.A.R. director, including as Vice Chair of C.A.R.’s Southern California Region 30. In addition, Calloway was serving as an advisor to Ernie Dronenburg, San Diego County assessor-recorder-clerk. With the assistance of  Calloway’s leadership, Dronenburg introduced a number of housing initiatives that assisted disabled military veterans achieve homeownership, stay in their homes and save money on their property taxes.

“It’s wonderful to learn of PSAR’s success with the Robert Calloway Memorial Veteran Housing Grant program,” said Dronenburg. “It was an honor to work with Robert, who made San Diego a better place to live. His life was marked by service, starting in the Navy and ending as a super professional in the real estate industry. His legacy of service will live on in the homes of the veteran families who were able to achieve homeownership thanks to the Robert Calloway Memorial Veteran Housing Grant.”

Prior to serving as PSAR president, Calloway also served as the founding president of the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP), San Diego chapter. Established in 2011 and based in Corona, Calif., VAREP is a non-profit, HUD-approved housing counseling organization dedicated to increasing sustainable homeownership, financial-literacy education, VA loan awareness, and economic opportunity for the active-military and veteran communities.

“Our gratitude and congratulations are extended to PSAR for working to enhance lives of our veterans over the long haul,” said Son Nguyen, founder and president, VAREP. “On behalf of our 6,000 members nationwide, we applaud PSAR for their efforts to create housing opportunities for veterans and remove barriers to homeownership. We are very grateful to PSAR.”

HAF, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing California’s growing housing affordability crisis, was established by C.A.R. in November 2002 to provide more options to first-time homebuyers. It was created by REALTORS® who bore witness to working families being denied the American dream of homeownership. The HAF mission statement states the nonprofit plays an active role in addressing ongoing housing affordability challenges facing Californians.

HAF receives donations from C.A.R. members, non-members and other institutions that are committed to addressing housing challenges in California. HAF donations are then distributed through local REALTOR® associations who have submitted funding requests for local housing affordability and housing supply programs. For maximum impact, HAF funds are leveraged with local associations and their housing partners.

“We were honored to work with PSAR on the Robert Calloway Memorial Veteran Housing Grant program,” said Sharon Barron, 2020 HAF chair. “We applaud PSAR for their innovative leadership and allocation of HAF funds that are intended to provide more options for first-time homebuyers’ entry into homeownership. We especially appreciate the support of C.A.R. members for their unwavering support and contributions to the Housing Affordability Fund so that we can continue to address California’s housing affordability crisis in the midst of skyrocketing housing costs. Their participation allows us to continue to help Californians achieve the dream of homeownership.” 

“As a first-time, military veteran homebuyer, I went through different moods and feelings going through the home purchase process, and shock and fear were some of those feelings,”

Several first-time veteran homebuyers who were recipients of Robert Calloway Memorial Veteran Housing Grant, along with their agents, spoke with PSAR to express their gratitude to PSAR for the grants program.

Renales Family“As a first-time, military veteran homebuyer, I went through different moods and feelings going through the home purchase process, and shock and fear were some of those feelings,” said Efren Renales Jr., a 20-year retired U.S. Air Force veteran. “However, the PSAR closing-cost assistance proved to be a huge help. This program, along with an awesome realtor, gave the boost of confidence and security we needed to know we can have the home we envisioned building our legacy in. After living in 13 different homes across seven U.S. and overseas locations, we consider ourselves blessed to be able to ground roots and watch our children grow in our hometown, which the PSAR closing-cost assistance program greatly contributed to.”

Renales and his wife have three children. PSAR REALTOR® member Brynn Gonzales represented the Renales family in their home transaction.

“It was a great honor and enjoyable experience to be able to help my clients find a place to call home, especially the Renales family,” said Gonzales. “As a PSAR REALTOR® member, it feels good to be able to give back to our military families. I think building wealth for families is important and it excites me because it provides unique wealth building opportunities for future investments. It’s important for homeowners to invest in and take ownership of their community because they can help improve the sales of their surrounding area when purchasing their home. The community also benefits from the homeowner paying real estate taxes.”

“I am thrilled to finally be done renting, start building equity and calling my new place home,”

Brennan and Tafeshnia

Justin Brennan is a U.S. Navy submarine veteran who served aboard the USS Olympia (SSN 717). The native of Northern Virginia joined the Navy at age 23. Brennan was represented by REALTOR® Amir Tafreshnia in his home purchase.

“I am thrilled to finally be done renting, start building equity and calling my new place home,” said Brennan. “I don’t think it would have been achievable without my veteran benefits and the zero-down VA loan. With the added PSAR closing-cost assistance, it really made a difference during my homebuying journey. The PSAR closing-cost assistance allowed me more flexibility in creating a competitive offer. It also provided big relief when it came to closing time. Closing is expensive and with the additional money in my pocket I was able to finance my move, purchase needed items for my new home and it made me feel very appreciated. I am proud to have served this great country. There are so many great programs out there for us veterans and I can not thank the PSAR team enough for their assistance.”

“Thanks to the PSAR grants, it helps spread awareness of possibility of homeownership and the pride of ownership in the community,” said Tafreshnia. “There is no better feeling, and the best part of my job, to help someone get into a home they love, in an area they love and ultimately reach one of the goals they’ve been working so hard towards. It means the world to me and motivates me daily. Thanks to the PSAR team for making it happen.”

"Being a homeowner and sharing this positive energy with my family is the highlight of my recent retirement."

Clemons Family

Corey Clemons spent 26 years in the Navy. Corey, his wife and three children recently moved into their new home.

“It was truly rewarding to serve our amazing country for 26 years, and I understand what sacrifice really means,” said Clemons. “I served for all those years because this journey was bigger than me. I wanted to give back and anticipated that my sacrifice would pay dividends for my family. We are extremely appreciative and proud to be brand new homeowners in sunny San Diego for the first time. Being a homeowner and sharing this positive energy with my family is the highlight of my recent retirement. The PSAR closing-cost assistance meant a lot to my family and I. This assistance was more like icing on a cake especially when blessed to purchase a brand new home in California for the first time. Thanks abundantly to PSAR for such a kind gesture that my family and I will be forever grateful for.”

“Being a first-time buyer was stressful and, at the same time, exciting,”

Kristopher Mangrbang is in his 29th year of active duty in the U.S. Navy. He was represented in his recent home purchase by PSAR REALTOR® member Merrie Espina.Mangrbang Family

“Being a first-time buyer was stressful and, at the same time, exciting,” said Mangrbang. “I and my family are very grateful for the PSAR assistance as it covered our HOA fees for the whole year. And, of course, we wouldn’t have this type of assistance without our agent Merrie.”

PSAR REALTOR® member Marielena Beatie represented homebuyer Agustin Villasenor.

“I received news about the Robert Calloway VA grant as soon as we opened escrow and I quickly contacted Sally Valdez from PSAR and she guided us through the application process,” said Beatie. “It was a pleasure to work with Agustin and Daniela Villasenor. The VillasenorsThey were approved as one of the grant recipients and this was definitely an added bonus. They were very grateful for this additional help with their closing costs. This was their first home purchase and it was exciting to be able to make their dream of home ownership come true. It was truly an honor to help a veteran in his first investment.  It is exciting to help veterans be able to own a part of the American Dream. Military families sacrifice for our freedom and it is truly an honor to be able to give something back to them. I hope they enjoy their beautiful home, they deserve it.”

To qualify for a Robert Calloway Memorial Veteran Housing Grant, the homebuyer’s mortgage loan had to be already approved through regular Desktop Underwriting (DU) industry standards and have an executed Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA) in escrow. Homebuyers also had to use a Veterans Administration (VA) loan for their home purchase. All San Diego County-area REALTORS®, regardless of Association membership, were invited to participate in the grant program.

Topics: Announcements, PSAR Benefits, Industry

MEET Andrea Martino - Great things happen outside your comfort zone

Posted by Rick Griffin on Sep 4, 2020 4:19:53 PM

PSAR Board Member Andrea Martino

Meet Andrea Martino, who was recently elected to a two-year term (2021-2022) on the PSAR board of directors as an affiliate director.

Andrea, a native of Tijuana, moved to San Diego at age 13. “At first, I struggled as an English language learner in academics,” said Andrea. “I was an underdog among my peers. But, the experience taught me to not be afraid to be challenged out of my comfort zone and overcome my insecurities.”

Andrea excelled as a student at Otay Ranch High School. At age 16, she was accepted to participate in an internship at The San Diego Union-Tribune.  

The newspaper’s annual summer journalism program offers the opportunity for high school students to learn about journalism. The students, paired with mentors in the Union Tribune newsroom, write stories, take photographs and create videos. The program focuses on reporting and writing, with special attention paid to critical thinking, objectivity, accuracy, fairness, interviewing, research and media literacy. Participating students are considered for college scholarship funds. Andrea was honored as the top student and received a college scholarship.  

“I remember going through my English-Spanish dictionary and having no idea about what my mentor was talking about, what’s a district attorney, what is extradition,” said Andrea. “But, the internship turned into a life-changing event. Again, I was challenged out of my comfort zone to learn a lot in a short amount of time.”  

After graduating from high school in 2010, Andrea attended San Diego State University and studied psychology and counseling. She got a job at South Bay Community Services (SBCS), a nonprofit that has been the beneficiary of proceeds from several PSAR charity events, including the REALTOR® Games and Zombie 5K Run-Walk.  

Andrea and Chula Vista, SBCS

Based in Chula Vista, SBCS provides holistic comprehensive support for children, youth and families in crisis to help them heal and create self-sufficient lives. SBCS supports local residents with housing assistance, counseling, life skills and job readiness training.  At SBCS, Andrea worked on academic support programs and offered services to youth who were homeless or involved in the juvenile justice system. She was also involved with marketing, fundraising, and community relations at SBCS.

“I became acquainted with PSAR thanks to their support of South Bay Community Services,” said Andrea. “PSAR’s support meant so much to us at the time. This is a big reason why it was important for me to give back to the Association as soon as I joined the real estate industry.”

Since 2018, Andrea has worked for New Venture Escrow as a sales executive. “I love my job because it gives me an opportunity to build new partnerships and friendships,” she said. “I took a leap of faith by switching career paths but I’m a firm believer that great things happen outside our comfort zone.” 

Shortly after starting her real estate career, Andrea was invited to join the board of directors of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, La Jolla Chapter.  


She also joined PSAR and volunteered on the Charity Committee and the Young Professionals Network (YPN) group. Last year, Andrea oversaw YPN’s “Saddle-up and Hold’em,” a fundraiser and after-work mixer that was held at the Seven Mile Casino in Chula Vista. Event proceeds benefited Saddles in Service, a Descanso-based equestrian nonprofit that promotes wellness and healing from stress and depression for active-duty and retired military and first responders.  

“It was a lot of fun and my first opportunity to plan an event,” said Andrea. “I was so honored and privileged to take the lead and help PSAR with a successful event.”  

Then, a friend encouraged her to run for the open seat on the board as an affiliate member.  

“I decided to go for it because I’m passionate about doing new things and helping my real estate community. So, now I’m taking another leap of faith to serve on the board,” said Andrea. “I look forward to building relationships between affiliates and REALTORS®. I’m super-stoked about it and very grateful and honored for the opportunity to serve.”  

In her spare time, Andrea likes to volunteer and facilitate opportunities for community service. She also hosts weekend trips to Tijuana and Mexico’s wine country. “I’m a foodie at heart, and really enjoy showcasing Baja’s hidden gems as a tour guide with my friends,” she said.  

Andrea Photo 4


PSAR's Mission is to empower Realtors to flourish while being accountable to each other our clients and our community.

Since 1928, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® has played a significant role in shaping the history, growth and development of the Real Estate industry in San Diego County.

Topics: Announcements, Industry


Posted by Rick Griffin on Aug 21, 2020 4:30:00 PM

Meet Rafael PerezMeet Rafael Perez, a resident of Sherman Heights, who was recently elected to a two-year term (2021-2022) on the PSAR Board of Directors.

Rafael moved to San Diego in 1999 to attend San Diego State University. On the Monday after graduating from college in 2004, he started working in real estate as a loan officer.

A past recipient of the PSAR 2017 REALTOR® of the Year award, Rafael’s real estate career has included sales, lending and teaching. He has taught the Real Estate Principles course as an Adjunct Faculty member at Cuyamaca College since Fall 2014.

Rafael previously served on the PSAR board in 2016 and 2017 as an appointee to fill a vacancy. This is his first experience as an elected board member.

In April 2013, Rafael became known as the “Rapping Realtor” (Rafael’s full name is Rafael Alberto Perez, aka R.A.P.). He was an overnight Internet sensation with his rap video about the San Diego real estate market that went viral with more than 176,000 views on YouTube to date.

Rafael Perez on the Ellen Show

Titled “Welcome to the 619,” the self-produced YouTube video is a hopeful and amusing bid to get people excited about our area. It’s filled with bad lip-syncing, a cool-looking Rafael, zooms of Google images, MLK Jr. quotes and, of course, American flags. 

Among the lyrics:

The rules of real estate are no longer the same,
Basic fundamentals is the name of the game.
It's not about buy, hold, and flip for rookies,
It's about building a home or positive cash flow.

Featured on the Ellen show in 2017        

The New York Daily News said about Rafael’s video, “Jay-Z can rest easy, he won't be taking your crown anytime soon.” MSN Money’s said “Rapping Real Estate Agents Bust out Good Advice.” The Daily Mail in London said the rapping realtor has made a “cringeworthy music video to encourage people to invest in property again.” AdWeek magazine called Rafael “San Diego’s worst rapper.” said about Rafael, “While some have questioned his rapping skills and whether or not rapping is a good way to attract clients, his passion for real estate is clear.”

“The rap video was a one-time gimmick that got a lot of attention and resulted in some business, but I don’t normally mention it anymore,” said Rafael.

Every so often, Rafael says his rap video catches someone’s attention and draws a few more views. The most recent time was about two years ago when it was featured on the Ellen show in 2017. 

“Ellen was selling one of her homes and she did a segment on her TV show about REALTORS®,” said Rafael. “I always remind people that whatever you post on the Internet will live forever. I’m reminded of this myself when the video occasionally resurfaces.”

“I’ve learned that it’s okay to be goofy and funny and not take yourself too seriously as long as you stick to your message and show your expertise. The video went viral because there’s a solid message to it, which is an important part of leadership.”

Over the course of his life, Perez has consistently raised his hand in response to leadership opportunities and community involvement with PSAR, as well as with the real estate industry and the San Diego community.

As a young man, Rafael had an opportunity to visit Washington D.C. It was during the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) advocacy days when he was able to learn about the political process and how to advocate for legislative priorities. This was in 2009, just weeks after President Obama had taken office and the energy in the Capitol was one of hope and excitement, recalled Rafael. It was during this trip that Perez and the group he was traveling with met with recently appointed Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Perez said he was inspired by the possibility of public service during this visit and asked himself “Why not me?”

“Action is what leadership is all about,” Rafael said. “I may not have been elected as a board member in the past, but I have made a conscious decision to step-up, contribute and serve as a leader. You don’t need a title to lead. I recommend to our PSAR members to find something that lines-up with your passions and allows you to give back to our industry. Everybody can do something. Don’t wait to get elected to get involved.”

Rafael serves as a co-facilitator with Jason Lopez at 9 a.m. every Tuesday of “City Pitch,” a property marketing pitch session that Rafael has been co-hosting since it began in March 2017, following the opening of PSAR’s Central San Diego Service Center in San Diego’s Clairemont community. Rafael is best known at City Pitch for his weekly City Update. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the pitch session is currently being held online over the Zoom meeting platform.

Rafael also is chair of PSAR's Government Affairs Committee-Central Area.

Another example of Rafael’s leadership is when he led PSAR’s efforts to obtain a smart-growth grant from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), which resulted in PSAR assisting the City of San Diego with its “Companion Unit Handbook”. This is a helpful, 38-page guide to help homeowners better navigate the process of constructing on their own property a companion unit, better known as a granny flat or accessory dwelling unit (ADU).

Rafael said, “From the beginning, we brought a REALTORS’® perspective to the table. We were able to help shape the regulations to benefit homeowners and buyers.” The handbook was published in 2019. City Councilman Scott Sherman said, “PSAR members have direct experience at helping their clients with companion units. So, it made sense to follow their advice.”

Rafael has been a leader working with other NAR grants. He played a key role in securing an NAR grant for a diversity initiative that involved both PSAR and the local chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP). Perez is a founding board member of the NAHREP San Diego chapter and served as its President in 2013.

Rafael is a founding member of the NAR Fair Housing Policy Committee, which is reviewing ways to effectively advocate a national fair housing policy. The NAR Committee is involved in promoting NAR’s Fair Housing Action Plan, abbreviated “ACT,” which emphasizes (A)ccountability, (C)ulture Change and (T)raining in order to ensure America’s 1.4 million REALTORS® are focused on promoting fair housing rights.

“Historically, we could have done better as an industry,” said Rafael. “We’re looking at coordinated strategies to fight against discrimination and implement effective fair-housing training requirements that will hold real estate agents accountable to their fair housing obligations.”

Rafael said NAR’s efforts come at a much needed time in light of a three-year investigation by Newsday, a New York newspaper, which uncovered widespread evidence of unequal treatment of homebuyers by real estate agents on Long Island, New York. In one of the most concentrated investigations of discrimination by real estate agents in the half century since enactment of America’s landmark fair housing law, Newsday found evidence of widespread separate and unequal treatment of minority potential homebuyers and minority communities on Long Island.

Rafael also is currently serving as an at-large member on the City of San Diego’s Citizens Equal Opportunity Commission (CEOC). He was appointed to the Commission in 2013.

The CEOC monitors and evaluates the Equal Opportunity Program of the City. It advises and makes recommendations to the Mayor, City Council, Civil Service Commission and other agencies of City government. It assists in the recruitment of competent, historically under-represented, women and disabled employees and promotes the City of San Diego as an Equal Opportunity Employer of individuals and firms desiring to contract with the City.

Rafael, is currently representing District 8 on the CEOC. The commission has been a long time advocate of a disparity study. With persistence by the commission, the City recently approved a disparity study to determine whether companies owned by women or minorities are properly represented in the millions of dollars the city spends each year in contracting. The study is long overdue, said Rafael, because San Diego has historically awarded a very small percentage of city contracts to companies owned by women and minorities. “Our contractors should be a reflection of the city they are doing work in” said Rafael. “When the city spends the public’s tax dollars, all companies in the city should have an equal opportunity to earn city business.”

He also has been involved in several other city of San Diego housing programs, including the city’s density bonus program that allows developers to build more market-rate housing than zoning allows if they voluntarily add low-income homes.

Rafael serving as the California Association of REALTORS’® (C.A.R.) key contact to 80th District Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who was elected in May 2013. Gonzalez, one of the most influential and controversial lawmakers in the California Legislature, is known for her Twitter confrontations and recently taking on Silicon Valley’s gig-economy titans. Gonzalez chairs the Latino Legislative Caucus and is the first Latina to chair the Assembly's powerful Appropriations Committee.

Annually, Lorena sponsors a diaper collection drive. Since the drive started during the 2013 holiday season, tens of thousands of diapers have been collected and donated to needy families, as well as The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.Rafael has loaded his 1951 Chevy for diaper drive

According to Rafael, the diaper drive helps parents in need of assistance by addressing their diaper needs. Diapers are expensive-- a month’s supply for one child can cost between $70 and $80, and diapers cannot be purchased with CalFresh benefits or WIC. 

During the past four years, Rafael has loaded his 1951 Chevy with diapers. He estimates the annual diaper collection efforts to be valued in excess of $2,000.

In 2018, Rafael ran for public office for a seat on the San Diego Community College District board of trustees, representing District “E.” He was endorsed by PSAR and others, including: Nora Vargas, trustee, Southwestern College; Association of Raza Educators San Diego; San Diego Free Press; Monique Limon, California State Assembly member, 37th District; Ben Hueso, Senator, California State Senate, 40th District. Perez received a “Qualified Rating” from the San Diego County Democratic Party, an “Acceptable Rating” from the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council, a “100 Percent Rating” from Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest Action Fund and an “Acceptable Rating” from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Democratic Club.

He lost in the primary election by 23 votes of the more than 22,000 votes cast. “I was biting my nails for a month while the votes were being counted. I was actually in the top two for a while on election night. It just goes to show you that every vote actually does count,” he said.

Rafael and his wife reside in Historic Sherman Heights, where Rafael also serves as a board member for the Sherman Heights Community Center.

Of all the activities in which Rafael is involved, he said his most rewarding is being married to his wife and being a daddy to their 13-month old daughter. “I’m really enjoying fatherhood,” he said. “I love being a girl dad. It’s a huge blessing. But, it can be exhausting. I had no idea how tired you can get running after a toddler.”


Our Mission is to empower Realtors to flourish while being accountable to each other
our clients and our community.

Since 1928, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® has played a significant role in shaping the history, growth & development of the Real Estate industry in San Diego County. This program is only open to REALTORS® and PSAR Affiliate Members. There is no cost for attending this program.

Topics: Announcements, Industry


Posted by Rick Griffin on Aug 14, 2020 4:52:32 PM
Amber Tannehill new PSAR Board MemberMeet Amber Tannehill, who was recently elected to a two-year term (2021-2022) on the PSAR Board of Directors.

Amber is a California native, born in Ojai, Ventura County. She was raised in Ventura and graduated from Buena High School (class of 1993). She earned her real estate sales license at age 20 in 1995.

“My mother and I decided to take the two-week license course at a local brokerage,” said Amber. “My mother immediately started working in real estate and is still selling today in Ventura County as a member of the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS®. I assist her with a majority of her transaction paperwork. She loves working with people, but is not as excited about fighting with passwords and doing the paperwork, considering the new technology. I enjoy collaborating with her on negotiation strategies and finding solutions for our clients. We make a great team!”

The summer after high school, Amber interned at a local Santa Barbara radio station, KJEE 92.5-FM. “I worked for free, but it was one of the most fun jobs because I did voice-overs for commercials and I attended back-stage the summer concerts presented by the radio station,” said Amber. “We saw Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwen Stefani and Social Distortion to name a few. Before their concert, Mike Ness (lead singer for Social Distortion, a punk rock band) walked up to me and asked me to watch his younger son while he went on stage. I said, `Sure.’ It was crazy, here I was, holding this toddler for four or five songs before somebody else from the band came and took him offstage.”

     “I was just an unknown number as a member of the other association.Everyone else in my
     office was a member of PSAR. I couldn’t believe the difference between the two associations.
     Everyone at PSAR was like a big welcoming family. They were fun, engaging and encouraging.”

While living in Ventura, Amber began a 12-year stint, from 1995 to 2007, working in property management as a manager of large, multi-family communities in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. In 2007, she relocated to San Diego and was a property manager at Sunrise Management for seven years.

“In 2012, I was starting to lose my mind while managing a 563-unit, 55 and over community in the Sports Arena area. The problems were overwhelming,” said Amber. “That’s when I decided to switch to real estate sales. My boss begged me to stay, but I sold five houses in a short time while doing both jobs, and a total of 11 houses during my first year. The choice was easy. I had made more money in five months in real estate than I ever had in a solid year in property management. I’ve never looked back.”

When Amber started full-time in real estate sales in 2013, she was a member of another REALTOR® association. “I was just an unknown number as a member of the other association.Everyone else in my office was a member of PSAR. I couldn’t believe the difference between the two associations. Everyone at PSAR was like a big welcoming family. They were fun, engaging and encouraging.”

Amber said the relationships made with other PSAR members, as well as educational and networking opportunities, have been an important part of her real estate business.

“Trust is so important when putting together a deal, and I would prefer doing business with another agent whom I know and can trust,” Amber explained. “Also important is being a lifelong learner. The educational resources available at PSAR are outstanding. The ability to share ideas collectively also is important to me.”

Amber entered a leadership role at PSAR in 2019 as co-chair of the Young Professionals Network (YPN). (She previously served as a board member with the Women’s Council of REALTORS® San Diego chapter.) YPN focuses on connecting and engaging the next generation of realtors with the tools and encouragement they need to succeed. Throughout 2020, Amber has been chairing PSAR’s YPN group.

“This year, YPN has certainly been different and challenging with COVID and the inability to gather,” said Amber, “but we’ve enjoyed outstanding participation from PSAR members for our events held over Zoom and continued to provide value to our much needed sponsors.”

Amber is a big believer in YPN.

“YPN is for all ages, there is no age limit” she said. “YPN is a group of PSAR members who work together with a purpose. We focus on learning and growing together. We share and discover new ideas together. It’s a peer networking opportunity unlike any other because we engage, educate and elevate.

“YPN is a dynamic entry point for real estate professionals striving to become more successful in their careers and gain leadership experience. It’s a platform for REALTORS® to volunteer, network and learn more about the real estate industry, as well as fundraise and make a positive difference in our communities. By belonging to a network of peers who face similar issues, we can bounce ideas off each other and provide support to one another.

“I’m so proud of our YPN leaders and our association leaders during this pandemic. Everyone has been willing to pivot and change to a new normal. It’s the same way in our business. The only thing real estate agents can expect is change and all of us need to be prepared to shift quickly or we’ll be left in the dust.”

Amber also is a big believer in the benefits of participating in leadership at PSAR.

“Everyone always seems to be looking for a leader, but maybe he or she is not willing to stand up and take the roll,” she said. “It’s true that when you put yourself in a leadership role, you open yourself up to opinions, both good and bad. But, I have found that the more I listen and the more I delegate, the better the outcome. 

“I think it is important to set the expectation and the goal and then allow the creativity of the members of your association, company or group to figure out a way to meet the desired expectation. Surrounding yourself with people who are from different backgrounds, multi levels of expertise and experience and embracing the diversity has provided wonderful results for our YPN network. A good leader doesn't need to know or do everything. They just need to know how to find balance and to facilitate the process.”

Amber, a Santee resident, is a single parent raising two children, a son age 19, who currently attends Grossmont College, and a daughter age 8, a third grader. “I am hoping the schools will open soon,” Amber said. “It’s tough to have a career and be a mom plus a school teacher, all at the same time.”

Amber also is active in the Santee community as a board member of the Cameron Family YMCA as well as the board of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at Carlton Hills Elementary School.


Our Mission is to empower our members to flourish while being accountable to each other
our clients and our community.

Since 1928, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® has played a significant role in shaping the history, growth & development of the Real Estate industry in San Diego County. This program is only open to REALTORS® and PSAR Affiliate Members. There is no cost for attending this program.

Topics: Announcements, Industry


Posted by Rick Griffin on Aug 7, 2020 4:00:00 PM
Amy Ruiz, New PSAR Board Member

Meet Amy Ruiz, who was recently elected to a two-year term (2021-2022) on the PSAR board of directors.


She was born in Monterrey, Mexico, grew up in Chicago and then moved at an early age with her mother and brothers to Sacramento. In kindergarten, she learned English and was helpful as a translator for family members. “Because I’m bilingual, I’ve always been involved in helping people my entire life,” said Amy. “That’s a big reason why I love real estate and why I ran for a seat on the PSAR board.”


In Sacramento, she graduated from Valley High School and learned professional office and technology skills while attending Heald Business College.


In 1986, she relocated to San Diego and began an 18-year career in the human resources (HR) field. She worked in HR at various sales training and hotels before joining Barona Casino for eight years in recruitment, on-boarding, information services, benefits training, staff retention and staff relations.


Then, in 2006, she left Barona and began full-time real estate sales with Keller Williams. Except for a few months, she has remained with KW throughout her entire real estate career. 


“After getting my license, I interviewed with 11 different brokerages before selecting KW because of their values and belief systems,” Amy said. “In my first year in real estate sales, I won the Rookie of the Year award.”


After earning her real estate sales license, Amy was a member of another real estate association for a short time. “Then I went to a PSAR property pitch meeting and I couldn’t believe the difference,” said Amy. “At PSAR, there’s a totally different environment. People are friendly. You get to know people and make new friends. When I’m doing deals with other agents, I want that agent to be a PSAR member, someone I can trust and do repeat business with.”


Amy served on the PSAR Budget and Finance Committee before entering her name for the board of directors.


“Our members need to realize how terrific their association is.  There is a huge difference,” Amy said. “The training and educational opportunities are the best. And, the staff is willing to answer your questions and follow-through. They are knowledgeable and eager to help you.”


Amy said she is looking forward to serving on the PSAR board. “All REALTORS® have an obligation to help other REALTORS®,” she said. “I encourage our members to expand their participation and volunteer with our Association. With PSAR, you can make a difference and be a change-maker.


“After all, the people you spend time with will shape who you are. So, when you surround yourself with people who adhere to high standards and strive to do better, then their motivation, dedication and energy are contagious and they will positively influence you. At PSAR, we have a group of high-quality people who have outstanding leadership skills, bold expectations and high ethical and moral standards. Their examples of excellence are encouraging to me and motivate me.”


Amy is continuing her trademark of helping others as a new productivity coach for newly licensed agents at the Keller Williams brokerage. “We offer support and encouragement to agents to have a positive mindset and assist with strategies in working with buyers, sellers, lead generation and objection handling,” said Amy. “We also role play with agents and guide them through the transaction process. I’m enjoying it because I’m dedicated to helping others, it’s part of who I am.”


Our Mission is to empower our members to flourish while being accountable to each other
our clients and our community.

Since 1928, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® has played a significant role in shaping the history, growth & development of the Real Estate industry in San Diego County. This program is only open to REALTORS® and PSAR Affiliate Members. There is no cost for attending this program.

Topics: Announcements, Industry


Posted by Rick Griffin on Jul 24, 2020 4:30:00 PM

PSAR San Diego Mayoral Forum

All PSAR members throughout San Diego County are invited to participate in an online mayoral candidate forum over the Zoom meeting platform with Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria, two candidates running for San Diego mayor in the November general election. The forum will be held from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, this Friday, July 31st.

The candidates are expected to discuss their positions on real estate and homeownership. Questions for the candidates can be submitted in advance to George Ching, PSAR Staff Member, at There is no cost for joining the forum, which is available only to PSAR members. Here is the link to join the discussion.

Join the Discussion

Gloria and Bry, both Democ
rats, were the top two vote-getters among a field of six candidates in the March 2020 primary election.

After serving two terms on the city council, Gloria has represented the 78th District in the California Assembly since 2016. A San Diego native, Gloria, 41, has identified some of his biggest issues as homelessness, housing and climate change. If elected, Gloria said he would set a housing production goal for the city along with investment in transit. He has pledged to focus on permanent housing for homeless people.

Bry, who has lived in San Diego for 39 years, has represented District 1 on the City Council since 2016. Bry, 70, has served as council president pro tempore and Chair of the Budget and Government Efficiency Committee. Her campaign website highlights a wide range of issues, but paring down short-term rentals to allow for more housing is one of her most prominent.

Representatives of the two candidates were invited to submit a statement for this article.

Here is the statement from Barbara Bry’s campaign:
Mayoral Candidate Barbara Bry“Barbara Bry is the only candidate for Mayor of San Diego with experience in the private sector as a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur. She is also the only candidate committed to maintaining local control of land use decisions, and not allowing Sacramento politicians to take over control of our neighborhoods. Bry has been a supporter of the legal hotel industry. She opposes illegal short-term vacation rentals (STVRs) which have taken approximately 16,000 residential units off the market in San Diego, and as a result has exacerbated the housing shortage. As Mayor, Bry will enforce the existing municipal code that prohibits commercial uses in residential neighborhoods. Additionally, Bry has consistently opposed rent control. That’s why she voted against pro-rent control Proposition 10, while her opponent didn’t take a position and later voted for state rent control legislation. Barbara will make the tough decisions, even if they are unpopular with special interests and the political establishment, because the Mayor’s Office is not a political stepping-stone for her. Her first and only commitment will be to the people of San Diego.”

Here is the statement from Todd Gloria’s campaign:
Mayoral Candidates Todd Gloria“As a renter, I understand how hard it is to afford higher and higher rents, let alone to buy a home in San Diego. This is a reality for many San Diegans who work hard and still can’t afford market-rate housing, yet earn too much to qualify for housing assistance. In order to ensure a thriving and diverse economy, and provide opportunities for our children and grandchildren to live in San Diego, we have to increase the supply of housing. Too often, this issue gets set-up as a false choice: build more housing or protect community character. I believe we can do both. I cherish San Diego’s unique neighborhoods and will be steadfast in protecting the character of our communities while increasing housing stock near jobs and transit. As Mayor, I will set a robust housing production goal that prioritizes appropriate new housing construction in the right locations. When combined with aggressive investment in transit and multimodal infrastructure, appropriate development will not only reduce the crushing burden of sky-high housing costs, but also improve our neighborhoods, provide transportation options and help us meet our climate action goals.”


The PSAR Mission is to empower our members to flourish while being accountable to
each other, our clients and our community.

Since 1928, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® has played a significant role in shaping the history, growth & development of the Real Estate industry in San Diego County. This program is only open to REALTORS® and PSAR Affiliate Members. There is no cost for attending this program.

Topics: Announcements, Industry


Posted by Rick Griffin on Jul 17, 2020 4:32:44 PM
Max Zaker, 2021 PSAR President-Elect.

Meet Max Zaker, who was recently elected to serve as 2021 PSAR President-Elect.

Max was born in Iran, grew up in Great Britain and arrived in the U.S. in 1986 at age 26. “My first eight years in America I spent opening and operating small businesses, including a restaurant, bar, print shop, dry cleaners and even a small community newspaper,” he said.

Max has spent the past 30 years as a business executive growing companies and helping small business communities compete and thrive in an ever-changing economy. He has held positions in commercial real estate development, real estate portfolio acquisitions and mergers, small business startups, and is currently operating a network of real estate-related companies in Chula Vista.

He has a passion to create economic opportunities and help others build successful businesses. He wants to help PSAR members use innovative technologies and resources that will help them grow their businesses.

In his capacity as business owner and director of several publicly-funded, social enterprise programs, he has been involved in the creation of hundreds of local jobs.

His problem-solving nature and personal journey as an immigrant have taught him the value of hard work and a strong sense of responsibility to care for each other and our communities.

Max has is no stranger to public service as well. He currently serves on the City of Chula Vista Planning Commission and Envision Broadway Advisory Group. He has been a PSAR Board member and is serving as a C.A.R. Director.

In 2015, he joined PSAR’s South County Government Affairs Committee and chaired the Committee in 2016 and 2017. This committee is focused on all things governmental, including public policy positioning and development and emerging trends that may impact the professional interests of homeowners and small businesses.

His leadership experience includes a prior role as Director of the Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP), a non-profit business organization that assists with the revitalization of downtown San Diego. In 2000, he joined DSDP and oversaw the implementation of San Diego’s first property-based business improvement district (PBID). At DSDP he was involved with the “Clean and Safe” program, designed to improve San Diego’s downtown appearance and enhance public safety. He also was involved in the initial development of Petco Park, which opened in 2004.

Zaker co-authored the City of San Diego's first micro-lending program. As a result, in 2000, Zaker was awarded with a special designation from the U.S. Department of Justice. He was recognized as a “Person of Special Interest” by the U.S. Government’s Executive Office for Immigration Review for meritorious contribution to the national interests of the United States and for significant public or private endeavors. Max said the award is a designation given to immigrants who work as scientists, physicians and other highly skilled professionals. Max was recognized for creating a loan program to help small businesses, funded by large banks who typically would extend loans to small businesses.

“It took me 12 years to acquire that designation, 12 years of a legal entanglement battle, it was a very challenging journey” said Max. “Initially, the government opposed me. They fought against me in lower courts. But I appealed my case all the way to the 9th Circuit Court, which reversed the denial from a lower court. I wanted that designation because it affirmed to me that America is a country of opportunity. If you persevere, you can accomplish great things. You have to follow your dream and work hard. I still live by those values today.”

Zaker has served on the leadership team at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, a San Diego non-profit that partnered with residents in Southeastern San Diego for community change. He joined the Jacobs Center in 2003. As the Jacobs Center’s business development director, he was part of San Diego’s largest social enterprise whose mission is to create jobs for local residents and serve as a destination business model. He was involved with the development of several office, retail and industrial properties, including Market Creek Plaza commercial center, which created local business, jobs and 

Max Zaker

resident ownership opportunities. He also served on the board of the Southeastern Diamond Business District, serving as 2011-2012 chair.

In 2011, Max formed the Zaker Group, a consulting business. At the time, he considered himself semi-retired. But, then, he was hired to consult with Keller Williams as a team leader involved with entrepreneurship development, coaching and training, business planning, growth management, profit sharing strategies and real estate sales training. Max ended up acquiring the very franchise he was working with as a consultant.

In January 2015, Max and wife Claudia became the new owners of the Keller Williams Realty franchise in Chula Vista. Today, their office, KW GOLD, at 2371 Fenton St., has 115 agents and continues to grow. They recently opened an escrow company titled Marina Vista Escrow. Max and Claudia are also partners at Secure Funding Group.

Max loves riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle. He said, “Growing up, I wanted to be like James Dean. He was my idol as a teenager. I wanted to ride a motorcycle like James Dean. Today, I’m probably one of the few Harley riders without a tattoo.”

Max and Claudia, have lived in Chula Vista for over 20 years, where they have raised their three children. Claudia is a Chula Vista native and former San Diego County Deputy Sheriff.

Max is supportive of PSAR because of the association’s professionalism and integrity. “Our Association is outstanding at encouraging business ethics and best practices,” he said. “We need to raise the bar and teach the next generation the importance of following your dream. A collective group like PSAR is an excellent way to work for the interests of small business owners. As a stake holder in the community, I’m proud to support and help advance PSAR. PSAR has a solid foundation upon which we will continue to build an even stronger organization to serve its members. Your association has a long history of promoting ethical and fair real estate business practices and protecting private property rights, I will work diligently to preserve these values.”


Our Mission is to empower our members to flourish while being accountable to each other
our clients and our community.

Since 1928, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® has played a significant role in shaping the history, growth & development of the Real Estate industry in San Diego County. This program is only open to REALTORS® and PSAR Affiliate Members. There is no cost for attending this program.

Topics: Announcements, Industry


Posted by Rick Griffin on Jul 10, 2020 5:02:10 PM

EL CAJON the Valley of Opportunity

The El Cajon City Council is once again attempting an action that is detrimental to ratepayers and potential buyers trying to qualify for home loans in El Cajon.

In February of this year, the El Cajon City Council attempted to add sewer charges to homeowners’ semi-annual property tax bills.

This might seem like an innocuous proposal. In reality, adding any fee to property taxes because higher property taxes always result in lower borrowing ability.

Adding sewer charges to property taxes translates to a loss in buying power for homebuyers. It means future homebuyers will need more money to qualify for a mortgage. It means lower housing values, including lost equity because a higher property tax bill can shrink a homebuyer’s available pool of money for purchasing a home. PSAR has always supported alternate methods of collecting fees for public services instead of inclusion with parcel taxes.

Back in February, PSAR members joined numerous seniors and other community members in testifying at the El Cajon City Council meeting. As a result, a majority of the council members voted “no” on the proposal to add sewer charges to homeowners’ property tax bills.

Now, the El Cajon City Council has scheduled a public hearing to discuss the same harmful proposal . The meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m., Tuesday, July 14. The meeting will be held online via live video streaming.

Some residents became aware of the July 14 public hearing only after receiving a city notice of a sewer rate change and the shift to property taxes effective July 1.

PSAR members also learned that the city was adding the May and June 2020 billing, in addition to the July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 fiscal year sewer bills, to the property tax bills. This means a a much higher tax bill will be due this Fall.

In a recent meeting, the PSAR Government Affairs Committee voted unanimously to oppose the El Cajon sewer tax proposal. The Committee is encouraging PSAR members and property owners to voice their concerns about this pending action.

All PSAR members and El Cajon property owners are encouraged to send an e-mail to the City of El Cajon stating your opposition. In your e-mail, refer to the “Sewer Billing System Change to the Property Tax Roll.” Protest emails must be sent prior to 2 p.m. on July 14. Any written objection or protest must include your name, Assessor Parcel Number (APN), sewer service address and a statement of your opposition to the placement of sewer charges on the property tax bill. Protest emails can be sent to City Clerk Angela Cortez at or City Manager Graham Mitchell at  We also urge El Cajon residents and property owners to reach out to their councilmembers and the Mayor to express your thoughts on this matter. 

Councilmember Bob McClellan-     

Councilmember Steve Goble-  

Councilmember Gary Kendrick-   

Councilmember Phil Ortiz-          

Mayor Bill Wells-   

There are many factors related to the El Cajon sewer tax proposal of which residents should be concerned. Seniors and individuals on a fixed income will be hit by a large bill at the end of the year. Who will ratepayers contact if there is an error on their sewer bill if those fees are added to their annual tax payments? Any small savings realized from billing through the property tax roll is more than offset by incorrect bills and the expense of correcting them. The city is going to defer income from sewer ratepayers until the end of the year. How is that money financed? Isn’t it better for the city to collect this money upfront rather than waiting to year’s to bill? What additional cost will result from this approach?

In a noteworthy oversight, a member of the City Council suggested that the city t offer property owners the ability to pay a bi-monthly sewer bill, but there was no mention of that suggestion in the city notice.

In 2019, El Cajon approved higher sewer rates for the next five years. A typical customer paying $48.31 each month for sewer services will see their bill increase to $55.09 in 2020, $61.22 in 2021, $69.70 in 2022, $77.35 in 2023 and $88.76 in 2024.

The city’s 17,000 residential customers haven’t seen a rate increase since 2011. Before then, the last adjustment to sewer rates in El Cajon was in 1999. Wastewater in El Cajon is piped to San Diego’s Point Loma treatment plant where it is treated and then released into the ocean.

Ratepayers—voters-- deserve to know why this proposal has resurfaced and to receive answers to related questions and issues that it generates. Stand up and be counted at the City Council hearing on Tuesday, July 14, at 3:00 pm.


Our Mission is to empower our members to flourish while being accountable to each other
our clients and our community.

Since 1928, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® has played a significant role in shaping the history, growth & development of the Real Estate industry in San Diego County. This program is only open to REALTORS® and PSAR Affiliate Members. There is no cost for attending this program.

Topics: Announcements, Industry


Posted by Rick Griffin on Jul 2, 2020 2:09:57 PM

ICIPS Attendees 06-26-20

Congratulations to a group of PSAR members who recently completed the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Institute.

The CIPS Institute, from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), provides REALTORS® with knowledge, tools and a worldwide network helping in serving international clients.

The recent CIPS graduates include: 

Jackie Beltran

David Cardenas

Edith Cortez-Hernandez

Robert Cromer

Michael Dullea

Deborah Ferrari

Araceli Gonzalez

Nicolas Iniguez

Trinidelita Lao

Steven Lewis

Elva Luna

Angela Nugent

Dante Pamintuan

Diana Phan

Myrna Reyes

Patricia Ruesga

Yolanda Rosario

Maria Elena Sexsion

Rhiza Trinidad

Mary Beth Viruete

Ditas Yamane

These new CIPS graduates gained the knowledge needed to present investment information to international clients in their currency and area. They are now eligible to apply for NAR's CIPS Designation.  Once NAR accepts their applications, NAR will recognize them as expert resources in the international real estate market. They will have access to the information, research, network and tools to globalize their business. They now understand the financial, legal and cultural differences for real estate transactions in various countries.

CIPS graduates receive a variety of benefits, including a listing in the “Find a CIPS” online directory, customizable print postcards, customizable web banner ads and customizable press release. Technology tools include a CIPS app that provides translation, area and currency conversion, time zone calculation and international holidays, along with a CIPS resource browser toolbar. They also will receive a “Global Perspectives” print newsletter, access to webinars and networking opportunities, including access to CIPS member-only online communities and invitations to exclusive events at NAR meetings.

The CIPS class was an intensive program of study focusing on critical aspects of trans-national transactions, including currency and exchange rate issues, cross-cultural relationships, regional market conditions, investment performance, tax issues and more. Four-hour classes were held at various times June 15-19 and June 23-26.

The first class included an overview of the international real estate business environment, including capital flow, currencies, government regulations and culture. Topics included international brokerage, networking, marketing and selling.

Other classes featured the tools needed to present investment information to international clients. Students learned how to measure investment performance, prepare financial projections and understand the effects of taxes and exchange rates on investment.

Classes focused on real estate in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas. Topics included the European Union and its impact on international real estate, as well as selling practices. Another class emphasized the cultural influences and economic trends in Japan and Asia. Another class included practical information on working with clients from the Caribbean and North, Central and South America, along with historical and cultural influences.

The instructor was Furhad Waquad, a NAR director since 2004. Furhad also is a past president of the Michigan Association of REALTORS®, a past NAR Regional Vice President and leader in NAR international leadership positions, including as a member of the NAR International Faculty. He has been recognized as Michigan’s REALTOR® of the Year and Michigan’s REALTOR® Active in Politics. 

Furhad is actively involved in REALTOR® organizations across the country. He is serving as NAR Federal Political Coordinator to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and 2019-2020 NAR REALTOR Party Trustee for Campaign Services. He previously served as the 2013 Chairman of the National Association of REALTORS’® Global Business Alliances Committee and the 2009 NAR President’s Liaison to International Operations.

Several PSAR members who are now CIPS graduates are actively involved with the PSAR Global Real Estate Council (GREC). Many PSAR members who are interested in cross-border opportunities and who want to network with other international real estate practitioners are involved with GREC.

PSAR’s GREC is dedicated to assist the needs of PSAR members who desire to expand their international outreach and help international capital investment clients make informed transactions with effective counsel across multiple jurisdictions. The vision of the Council is to provide and facilitate educational opportunities to enable PSAR members to expand their practice and organize global-themed events.

GREC can provide you with a platform to connect with individuals internationally. GREC offers PSAR members the opportunity to learn and expand their niche market in real estate internationally.

Formed in 2013, PSAR’s GREC has hosted several educational events in recent years designed to assist PSAR members in helping international capital investment clients to make informed transactions with effective counsel across multiple jurisdictions. The training sessions have focused on cultural customs and diversity, as well as panel discussions and forums with international partners.

Topics: Education, Marketing, Industry