Q&A with Howard Johnson Jr.,
2014 International REALTOR® of the Year
We’re looking for the next International REALTOR® of the Year*. Is it you, or someone you know? One distinguished member of the International REALTOR® community, who has gone above and beyond to promote the REALTOR® organization and brand outside the U.S., will be honored during the 2015 REALTORS® Conference & Expo this November in sunny San Diego.
Last year, Howard Johnson Jr., an International REALTOR® from Jamaica, was honored with the 2014 title. We recently had a chance to catch up with Howard, and asked him a few questions about his involvement with NAR, and how winning the title of 2014 International REALTOR® of the Year has impacted his business.
Q. As a real estate practitioner in Jamaica, what inspired you to join NAR?
A. I joined NAR because I wanted to differentiate myself from a used car salesman. I wanted to be seen as a professional within my industry, and there is no better way to do that, than to become a REALTOR®. The Code of Ethics sets me apart from my non-member competitors. The strength of the REALTOR® brand extends beyond the United States. I proudly display my REALTOR® credentials and my customers in Jamaica, and from around the world, understand the REALTOR® difference.
Being a member of NAR grants me access to education and resources specific to real estate, that otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to access. Additionally, as the largest professional trade association (over 1,000,000 members), NAR has helped me grow my global referral network. I have taken advantage of the connections I have made through NAR’s Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation, and by attending the REALTOR® Conference and Expo. Additionally, in 2007, I became the first and only e-PRO in Jamaica!
Q. You are the Past President of the REALTORS Association of Jamaica (RAJ), one of NAR’s global alliances. Did you find that being an International REALTOR® helped you to better serve the RAJ membership?
A. I served as President of RAJ from 2010 – 2013. When I became President, it was a goal of my administration to renew and strengthen the relationship between RAJ and NAR. I knew that if our two organizations worked closely, we could all benefit from collaboration. I worked with NAR staff and leadership to bring RAJ members into the REALTOR® family as International REALTOR® members.
With the updated contract, RAJ has been a template for other countries within our region. I have been invited to countries to train and meet with officials in streamlining their industry. In 2010, as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Committee Chairperson, under the then RAJ President, Edwin Wint, we established and introduced MLS to Jamaica. Incorporating the knowledge that I have garnered from NAR, and the REALTOR® Network has been a benefit to the Jamaican and Caribbean real estate industries.
Q. Did winning 2014 International REALTOR® of the Year have any impact on your current business?
A. It’s been an honor representing my country, Jamaica, and my home association, RAJ, on the global stage. Like NAR, RAJ is a great organization, and does so much to serve its members.
Personally, winning IRM of the Year has helped to grow my global business. I have received referrals from REALTORS® from around the world, and I have closed several international transactions. I recently completed a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Institute through the REALTORS® Association of Palm Beaches (RAPB).
All in all, winning IRM of the Year has been an incredible experience!
Q. So what’s next? What does 2016 have in store for you and the RAJ?
A. There is a lot going on in Jamaican real estate! I want to continue to develop MLS here. I am committed to exposing RAJ listings to global communities, including our diaspora. People have become more mobile, and the world has gotten smaller. There are great opportunities for Jamaican real estate professionals who know how to service international clients. And Jamaica presents tremendous opportunities for investors, or anyone looking to own a slice of paradise. Have you seen our beaches?!
Additionally, I am currently working with RAJ and NAR to unify the Caribbean region. We are exploring the idea of forming a Caribbean umbrella organization, a CARICOM for Real Estate. Hopefully, there will be more to share on this soon. Stay tuned!
To learn more about International REALTOR® of the YEAR program, including the full criteria and application, please click here. Applications are due by Wednesday, September 2, 2015.
*International REALTOR of the Year Award is open to international members of NAR. To be eligible, you must reside/work outside the United States.