Russian Real Estate Professionals Learn from American Counterparts

Nashville, Tenn. –  Crye-Leike, Realtors is one of several real estate companies within the Middle Tennessee area selected to serve as business hosts to a Russian delegation of owners and top managers of private Russian real estate businesses who arrived in the United States on Friday, April 5, 2002.

The non-English speaking delegation of real estate entrepreneurs are in Murfreesboro to receive crash immersion courses from their counterparts on real estate management strategies. They will attend an intensive three-week business training program about the U.S. real estate industry from Sat., April 6 through Sat., April 27, 2002. The program is designed to provide useful and practical business management information that the delegates can adapt to their Russian situation and use to make their real estate businesses more efficient, productive and successful.

The Murfreesboro Noon Rotary Club and the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors will host the Russians throughout their stay in Murfreesboro. Members of these sponsoring organizations will open their homes to the Russian real estate professionals for their three-week stay in the United States.

“The home-hosting component of the program allows the Russians to experience American life first-hand,” said Bob Luster, president of the Murfreesboro Noon Rotary Club.

Blackman High School in Rutherford County, which has TV broadcasting and editing facilities for student education, has partnered with the PEP visit by providing students to film over 90 hours of the Russian visit so the delegates will have a film documentary to show upon their return to their country.

Since the collapse of communism, one of the most long-awaited legal reforms in Russia was the enactment of a new land code in 2001 that qualifies rights to land use and ownership in the Russian Federation.

“This Russian real estate delegation tells us that the law has opened the door to a much more democratic form of land use in Russia through private ownership,” said Pat Lane, managing broker of Crye-Leike’s Murfreesboro branch office and a PEP host volunteer. “Their visit is very exciting to the Middle Tennessee Realtor community because we are providing educational opportunities and practical information which should be vital to their land code restructuring process.”

 

This visit is a project of the Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP), a program funded by the U.S. State Department and run by the Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI). The Center for Citizen Initiatives is a San Francisco-based nonprofit nongovernmental organization with a 19-year dedication to economic reform in Russia and to assisting in the development of Russian citizen programs that empower them to take responsibility for societal change.

The PEP is an adaptation of the historic Marshall Plan, a U.S. sponsored technical assistance program which helped resurrect Europe after World War II. The Marshall Plan’s goal is to stimulate local manufacturing, production and services to ensure economic and political stability in countries vital to America’s future trade relations and strategic welfare.

This is not the first time that the Murfreesboro Noon Rotary Club and the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors have hosted this program. “We served as hosts two years’ ago and received one of the highest evaluation ratings of any real estate delegation that year, so we decided that we would do it again,” said Candy Roberts, executive director of the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors.

The PEP training includes site visits and seminars, which give delegates an opportunity to see first-hand how American real estate businesses are organized and to ask questions of practicing Realtors. Modular training also is planned which ensures that all critical issues for the real estate industry are covered by dividing the curriculum into “modules” or topics, and assigning modules to each business host. Such topics to be covered include: building a successful real estate business; financing and appraising of real estate properties; business organization and management decision making; recruitment and retention of sales associates and personnel; and the value of historic records and ownership.

“In reviewing our evaluations from the first time we hosted a Russian real estate delegation, we learned that they wanted to know more about financing real estate because Russia does not have any lending pools,” said Roberts. “There is absence in most markets of mortgage lending in Russia. So, we have revised our program this year to assure meeting their needs.”

“We don’t know how the Russians do it, said Beth Farbush, PEP host coordinator and Rotarian. “These delegates who come are real risk takers. They are willing to put all their money on the line doing business in the climate they do, with the taxes they have to pay and the negligible credit available.”

“This training program will expose the delegates to the broadest cross-section of real estate companies in the area with respect to size (start up, small, medium and large real estate companies), profitability, ownership configuration and perspectives on certain real estate issues,” said Farbush.

Representatives from Crye-Leike, Realtors, the largest real estate company in Tennessee and the Mid-South as well as the 13th largest in the nation, will be covering two modules of the Productivity Enhancement Program: market research, advertising and marketing aspects in real estate. The two-hour session will visit Crye-Leike’s Marketing Department on Monday, April 15, 2002, 9:30 a.m. at Crye-Leike’s Middle Tennessee regional headquarters at 5111 Maryland Way, third floor, in Brentwood.

Along with Crye-Leike, other local real estate companies providing professional development training include: Associates 100 Real Estate; Bob Parks Realty; Bob Parks Auction; Comas Montgomery Realty & Auction; Decision Guide of Tennessee; Joe Orr, Realtors; Parsley & Todd Realty; Prudential-Rowland Real Estate; Re/Max Professional Group; Sims, Realtors, Auctioneers and Swanson Realty.

“Russia, accustomed to Soviet conditioning, grew up without free access to information or contacts,” said Lane. “The fact that American business hosts, like Crye-Leike, take them into their companies, without hesitation, share their business experience with them, and answer questions they ask, is unbelievable, even shocking to most of them. Many marvel, “Americans told us all their business secrets!”‘

The delegation consists of 11 delegates, plus two bilingual support staff from the Center of Citizen Initiatives (CCI). The participants are recruited by CCI’s seven partner offices in Russia and screened by the U.S. Department of State.  Their selection is based on both their business background and position within their companies. Most of the Russian companies represented by the PEP delegates employ six to 300 people and are completely privatized

“Our delegates are carefully screened to avoid the ?old communists’ and the new Mafiosi,” said Sharon Tennison, president of Center for Citizen Initiatives. “We only accept candidates who intend to remain in Russia and who are struggling to contribute to the growth of an honest private sector. The Russian delegates are well educated and have converted their professional knowledge into some type of business. Their success thus far has been through trial and error.”

Upon return to their home cities in Russia, PEP fellows are required to make presentations and give seminars to industry groups, business colleges, business associations and the local media.

“These meetings serve to break down communication barriers of suspicion, mistrust and jealousy among Russian business people and demonstrate the benefits of horizontal relations between entrepreneurs,” said Tennison.

 

The program is made possible in part by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State which supports 48 percent of its operating costs. The remaining portion of the Productivity Enhancement Program is funded by the Russian participants (15 %) and in-kind contributions by U.S. volunteers, civic clubs, business trainers, home hosts and other various organizations (37 %) such as the Murfreesboro Noon Rotary Club and the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors.

“In general, since the times of the Cold War, the opinions Russian people have toward Americans have changed greatly,” said Aleksei Sidorova, PEP fellow. “Much of this has been a result of these types of programs.”

“The Center for Citizen Initiatives (www.ccisf.org) has been a leader in the field of citizen diplomacy between the United States and the former Soviet Union since 1983. CCI graduated more than 4,000 Russian managers in various business training programs. In 1995, the Productivity Enhancement Program was created by CCI to give business management training to non-English speaking Russian owners and managers of small and medium-sized private enterprises.

Other businesses and companies which have lent their support for the Russian real estate delegation touring Middle Tennessee include: City of Murfreesboro; Crye-Leike, Realtors; Middle Tennessee Regional Multiple Listing Service; Rutherford County Government; Senator Bill Frist’s Office; Habitat for Humanity of Rutherford County; Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corp. USA; Swanson Industries; Haynes Bros. Lumber Company; Union Planters Bank of Woodbury; Oaklands Historic Mansion; Carriage Lane Inn; Professional Mortgage Group; and the Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Crye-Leike (www.crye-leike.com), a full service real estate company for 25 years, is the nation’s 13th largest real estate company and the largest serving Tennessee and the Mid-South. It has a network of over 2,200 sales associates and 58 branch and franchise offices located in 27 counties throughout a five-state Mid-South region in Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia.