Thijs Stoffer is CEO at the International Consortium of Real Estate Associations (ICREA), a global alliance of national real estate organizations that includes the National Association of Realtors. He had worked as a consultant to the organization since 2004 before he took the CEO position last year.
A resident of Switzerland, Stoffer is also the managing director of European operations for contraco, an information technology and services company, and is the owner of management consulting companies Stoffer Consulting GmbH and Enitel AG. He also managed strategic communications and international business relations for the Dutch professional real estate association.
He will speak during a panel discussion, "Form Global Partnerships and Earn Referral Business," at the Inman News Real Estate Connect conference in New York, which runs from Jan. 7-9, 2009.
Stoffer responded to a series of questions posed by Inman News:
What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2009?
Good question. The problem is not really a problem of the real estate market — it is a problem of the financing of the real estate market. I think the pendulum will swing back to normal proportions, but this requires responsible behavior by the industry. Providing financing to people who can’t really afford it is not a good thing. Homeownership is a great goal to achieve, but one can’t walk before one can crawl. In the long term, real estate is a great investment and it will remain a great investment, for all the reasons we know. Once the (problems) in the market have balanced out, a spring cleaning will clear the house. The real estate markets will pick up again. Governmental oversight is necessary to avoid a repetition (of current events) and keep ethical standards in par with business objectives.
What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?
Maintain your network, invest in relationships, provide outstanding service and go the extra mile.
What sparked the idea to start ICREA?
Starting ICREA was a visionary step by a small group of industry leaders who came together to provide a structure to doing international business in real estate and providing individual practitioners a way to make money on international transactions.
What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?
What new features are in the pipeline?
Social networking tools, tracking mechanisms and training.
What lesson did you learn in the last year?
Where do you want to start? Most (importantly), to stay on track and continue the plan.
What would your second career choice be and why?
Go trout fishing all day.
What is the biggest problem in the real estate market today, and how would you fix it?
The biggest problem, I think, is the imbalance between non-curtailed business objectives and "greedy" approaches versus doing business responsibly. Building for the sake of building doesn’t do anybody any good in the long run, nor does selling for the sake of selling. Making money should be the result of doing (sound) business. (The notion of) putting the cart before the horse will bounce back — we have seen that happen recently.
What do you most enjoy about working in the real estate industry?
The people. Real estate people are the best one can find.
Tell us something we don’t already know about you …
I hate going Dutch …
Hear Thijs Stoffer speak at the Real Estate Connect conference in New York, which runs from Jan. 7-9, 2009.
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