Having been to Asia before, I basically knew what to expect on my next adventure to this visually and culturally stimulating area of the world. However, in the world of real estate, new things are always in store.
Though I love traveling purely to see amazing places and meet new people, my recent and planned trips have the purpose of connecting Hawaii to Asia, becoming closer connected to the wonderful people of Thailand, China, Japan, Bhutan, and ultimately for bringing value to our clients by introducing outside buyers and sellers.
My first stop was Bangkok, the most populated city and capital of the beautiful country of Thailand, or Krung Tep, as the locals call it. I’m always surprised by this place! I was lucky enough to stay in the W Bangkok and meet up with the members of RE/MAX Thailand, including Regional Director Eran Milo from Israel. Being part of a team of realtors who all believe in the same values and work ethics, RE/MAX has allowed me to have and continue meeting friends from all over the world, and I’m happy to report that Thailand is no exception.
Next I traveled to Phuket and then a small island about a half an hour north called Khao, meaning “Lak mountain”, where there were less than 1,000 people, perhaps because it can only be reached by ferry. There is noticeably a lot less foot traffic here than most other places in the country, and I thought it was interesting to see so many Scandinavian visitors.
My next stop was Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, a place steeped in rich historical significance as well as architectural and cultural beauty. Meaning “new city”, Chiang Mai was given this name after becoming the new capital of the Kingdom of Lanna in 1296. It is widely recognized as the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand, and I was happy to get the chance to visit a mutual acquaintance’s nearby elephant camp, which typically receives around 700 to 1,000 visitors per day! I have concerns about the humane treatment at parks like this, and much to my relief, the Maetaeng Elephant Park and Clinic is incredibly responsible and ethical. Their current elephant clinic and future hospital are helping keep these amazing animals healthy and happy.
Vacation once more turned into work, as it has a tendency to do, when I started talking to people about real estate needs in this area, including housing for the elderly since cost of living is low in this area. We learned about a pretty impressive beach community being developed about an hour away from Bangkok called Pattaya. I’m looking forward to hopefully meeting Toby Vise on one of my next trips.
Nepal & Bhutan
Next, it was time to travel to Nepal, where I met up with my good friend Sunil Shrestha, who lives in the capital of Kathmandu. Since I am usually the one planning all my activities on vacation, it was nice to sit back and let Sunil be my tour guide (Travel House International), just as I had done for him when he visited Maui. We traveled to Bhutan, known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”, an interesting and very different country only a short flight away from Nepal. A Kingdom on the eastern end of the Himalayas, Bhutan consists of less than 700,000 people and is a constitutional monarchy that believes strongly in the preservation of natural resources for the benefit of future generations. Their #1 industry is hydroplants, which they use to generate electricity to sell to India, followed by their second largest industry, tourism. Very different from most places I’ve been, Bhutan has kept tourism controlled and high-end, accomplished with high rates for visas, a minimum spending rate of $250 per person per day, and a personalized tour operator that guides you through most, if not all, activities throughout your stay. Last year, Bhutan received around 40,000 tourists.
Since I’ve always been interested in expanding my real estate to the international level, I knew I should have watched what I wished for when I set out for another trip to one of my favorite areas of the world. I’m excited and proud to announce that I will soon be opening a RE/MAX office in Chaing Mai, Thailand!
Why back to RE/MAX?
I previously owned a RE/MAX franchise from 1997 to 2004, but sold it to focus more on the Ho’olei Condos in Wailea, Maui, which have been a great success in the South Maui real estate market. Since RE/MAX Holdings Inc trading under RE/MAX went public in October 2013, this has given me the opportunity and platform to do more internationally.
With branches in 97 countries and 93,000 people associated with the business, it’s the perfect time to make the move into the international sphere, and I will be in good company with the members of the Thailand, Japan, China and Korea branches. Having met some of the international real estate teams at the RE/MAX R4 Convention in Las Vegas in March, it’s great to see things how things have come full circle in such a short amount of time!
RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly and members of the Japan and Korea teams.
My recent trip to Denver for the RE/MAX Broker Owner Training was incredibly insightful too. I was fortunate enough to meet some great people, including Jan Repa, Chip Brekken, and Ronda Scholting. “Impressed and excited” understates how I feel about working along side such professional and bright people. Conversations about expanding into the Asian market have further ignited my excitement over that amazing part of the world. The RE/MAX headquarters have pretty much everything you could ever want and more. Their production studio alone is mind blowing. It’s easy to see how even the BBC uses their facilities when broadcasting from Denver.
Next month, I am thrilled to attend the China Trade Show with FIABCI in Beijing, where I will get the chance to connect with real estate professionals from around the world, including more of my soon-to-be real estate colleagues in the Asia sector!
I will also be attending the 8th edition of the Luxury Property Showcase in Shanghai in December, which will give me the chance to meet up with other members and see a wide representation of luxury properties from around the world. James Upton, Founder of James Upton and Associates, has recently created a platform for all listings to be translated into Cantanese and Mandarin.
If you’re looking for an adventure and experience of personal growth, Asia is a great place to do it. In the meantime, I am looking forward to what’s in store in the world of international real estate. Stay tuned!