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“John Featherston moderates the Thought Leaders closing session at LeadingRE’S Global Symposium. (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

With a mission to create a network that’s “globally aware and worldwise,” the 2018 Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) Global Symposium gathered real estate professionals from more than 27 countries in Barcelona, Spain, from September 27 – 29 for education, networking and cross-cultural enrichment.

Held at Barcelona’s Hotel Arts, the 11th annual Global Symposium opened with pre-sessions for LeadingRE’s Luxury Portfolio members, followed by a welcome reception on September 27.

LeadingRE 2018 Chairman Joe Horning, president of Wisconsin-based Shorewest REALTORS®, welcomed the full Day 2 audience on September 28 by recognizing LeadingRE’s four board members in attendance: Harold Crye, president of Crye-Leike REALTORS®; Pam O’Connor, past president and CEO of LeadingRE; Pat Shea, president of Lyon Real Estate; and Diane Ramirez, chairman and CEO of Halstead Real Estate, who will step into the role of LeadingRE chairman in 2019.

Horning also reported that a record 27 countries were represented at the 2018 Symposium, including the United Kingdom, Romania, Thailand, Malta, Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand and South Africa. This speaks to the overall growth of LeadingRE’s global membership. In fact, since just 2017, LeadingRE Executive Vice President of Global Operations Chris Dietz has welcomed 27 new members from 12 new countries to the network, such as Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Croatia and Saudi Arabia.

“Halstead Real Estate Chairman & CEO Diane Ramirez (third from left) with members of her team. (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

“The world keeps getting smaller and more connected day after day,” said Dietz during his General Session remarks. “You might not be doing business in these countries today, but please don’t discount the opportunity to be worldwise and globally aware. If you think of real estate as just local, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect on a deeper level in other markets.”

To help drive home the importance of doing business in a global environment, guest speaker Dean Foster, founder of DFA Intercultural Global Solutions, shared insights into the importance of cultural awareness, as well as best practices for doing business beyond borders. As Foster said, “If the mind is the hardware, culture is the software.”

Foster was followed by a look at the state of the global economy by LeadingRE Chief Economist Marci Rossell. According to Rossell, while the first six months of 2018 were strong across the majority of the globe, recent weeks had witnessed a bit of a “global pause” due to three overarching causes: the looming Brexit deadline (at press time); U.S. monetary policy/interest rates; and the trade war between the U.S. and China. While Rossell foresees these issues resolving themselves before too much damage is done, they’re currently causing uncertainty, and “when people feel uncertainty, they stop, no matter what culture they’re in,” she explained.

To help members compete around the globe, no matter how economic conditions unfold path forward, LeadingRE President Paul Boomsma offered Symposium attendees a look at the opportunities in today’s market, and detailed how the network is equipping brokers to compete against new entrants to the real estate space.

“Guests enjoy the Crystal Gala Awards ceremony. (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

“What are these new competitors doing?” asked Boomsma. “They’re doing something consumers like, and we should learn what that is.”

The Global Symposium was highlighted by several other high-impact sessions, including interviews with Dietz and broker members from Barcelona, Malta, the Philippines and Thailand; a deep dive into innovation and technology headed by LeadingRE Dean of Innovation Matthew Ferrara; insights into the current state of the luxury market from Luxury Portfolio President Stephanie Anton; a motivating discussion on sharpening your competitive edge from Wendy Alexander, former CEO of New Zealand brokerage Barfoot and Thompson; and a special presentation from former LeadingRE President and CEO Pam O’Connor.

“The most distinctive quality we have is independence,” said O’Connor. “We’re not beholden to venture capital firms. We’re built by brokers for brokers.”

RISMedia Founder, President and CEO John Featherston helped wrap up the event’s educational program by moderating the Thought Leaders session, where panelists shared key takeaways and audience members posed questions.

LeadingRE announced that its 2019 Global Symposium will be held in Athens, Greece, from September 15 – 17. The network’s annual conference will be held from February 20 – 22, 2019 at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

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Patterson_Maria_60x60Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark