Soviets begin studying U.S. real estate industry

October 27, 1991|By James M. Woodard | James M. Woodard,Copley News Service uvB

The Sunday open house may be coming to the Soviet Union.

Forty-four Soviet real estate managers recently visited the United States for a three-week study of real estate theory and practice. The tour was part of a broader educational program aimed at developing a Soviet real estate industry.

"Russia is beginning to take its first steps toward market-driven real estate development," said John M. Stone, president of the Commercial Investment Real Estate Institute, the host for the study group. "The Soviets are at a crucial transition point and, as far as real estate is concerned, they must master our methods of analysis, evaluation and marketing in order to truly understand a free real estate market in their country."

The international program started with a special real estate course in Moscow Sept. 10-19 by institute leaders and instructors. It was the Soviet Union's first real estate course.

The course was developed from an institute educational program initially launched at the University of California at Los Angeles. That course, primarily focusing on real estate taxation and exchanging, subsequently was expanded and offered to brokers throughout the state by the California Association of Realtors.

It was then picked up by the National Association of Realtors and offered to brokers nationwide. Through the involvement of the International Traders Club, the course was introduced to real estate professionals in other countries -- the most recent being the Soviet Union.

The course there was a success.

"In the more than 11 years I've been teaching real estate courses in this country, I have truly never had a group of students who were overall as smart as these Russian students," said F. Parker Hudson, the leading teacher.

"They were totally eager to master our concepts. And their questions from the first day were highly penetrating."

Mr. Hudson candidly discussed many memorable sidelights from his teaching experience in the Soviet Union.

"One mental image will always stay with me," Mr. Hudson said. "When each group of Russians came up to make their report, there wasn't a good place to attach its maps. So the maps, showing key geographic elements of the Moscow real estate market, were taped to the bottom of the picture frame holding Lenin's portrait at the front of the class.

"That juxtaposition of a 'Location Analysis on Moscow' being held up by Lenin's picture frame truly summarizes the contrasts during the entire real estate course."

It's only a beginning, but it is a beginning, Mr. Hudson emphasized.

"The important point is that we have started a significant real estateeducation program in Russia," Mr. Hudson said. "These people are not from Mars. They understand about money and basic real estate principals. We have shown that it can be done, that the ground is fertile, and that individuals are more than ready to learn."

The contract for the real estate educational program in Moscow was negotiated by the institute through Perestroika Joint Venture, a Moscow-based international consulting firm specializing in the formation of business alliances between U.S. firms and the Soviet government. Other educational contracts are being finalized in Scandinavian countries, France, Germany, Japan and other points in the shrinking international real estate market.

The idea of looking at a piece of property from an analytical perspective -- determining its highest and best use -- is new and very exciting for the Soviets. And the institute has capable members ready and able to teach these courses.

The institute is part of the National Association of Realtors.


Q: Are farmland values rising or declining?

A: Farmland values (national average) have been increasing since 1987, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The last reported average was $668 per acre.

Values dipped to $599 per acre in 1987, sliding down from $823 in 1982. Those values vary greatly from region to region. For example, in Ventura County, Calif., farmland sales prices are up to $35,000 per acre.

Q: When is a good time to buy a real estate brokerage business?

A: Generally, this is a good time to buy a real estate brokerage business as well as an opportune time to buy a home. The real estate market has been soft during the past few years in most regions of the country. This affects not only the value and salability of homes but also that of real estate firms.

Now, with an increasingly active market, it's a particularly strategic time to acquire and expand a brokerage firm operation.

Send inquiries to James M. Woodard, Copley News Service, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, Calif., 92112-0190.

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