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Resources that help build your business

Find what you need at the Agent Resource Center If you’re looking for information that can help you keep on top of today’s market, visit the Bank of America® Agent Resource Center. It’s a quick and easy way to find resources that can help you manage and grow your business. With the Agent Resource Center, you’ll have convenient access to: • • • • • •

Market updates and newsletters Information about upcoming events Instructional videos, tip sheets and step-by-step guides Bank of America mortgage product and service overviews Training and resources for short sale and REO process Information about affordable housing assistance programs

Information on the site is updated frequently, so you can easily find the most current industry information to help both buyers and sellers move successfully to their closing date. You’re just one click away from your one-stop resource. Learn more today at

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED OR AUTHORIZED FOR CONSUMER DISTRIBUTION. Credit and collateral are subject to approval. Terms and conditions apply. This is not a commitment to lend. Programs, rates, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice. Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. ©2013 Bank of America Corporation. 05-2013 AD-04-13-2273.A3 AR8E7B5D

Certified International Property Specialist

Have a World in Common with the Best in the Business As foreign investment surges, knowledge and preparation are key to growing your international business. Earning the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation provides the foundation you need to minimize risk and maximize potential.



Your first order of business is ours too Help your aspiring buyers do their homework with our educational resources

My FirstHomeSM education

An interactive online program designed to help first-time and ready-again homebuyers prepare to purchase a home and become responsible homeowners. It’s great for users who want to learn about finding, financing and owning a home. Go to:

Wells Fargo Home Lending Learning and Planning Center

A website experience that blazes a clear path from interest in buying a home through to the loan closing and beyond. On-demand tools and easy-to-follow information help site visitors feel more in charge. Go to:

My Home RoadmapSM service


Provides up to four sessions (an estimated 2 hours) of free financial coaching with a National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) certified counselor from a NFCC member organization that will be paid for by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. At your client’s option, they may purchase additional coaching sessions or services or decide to participate in another NFCC member agency program. Program may change or be discontinued at any time.

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. © 2013 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. NMLSR ID 399801. AS1010817 Expires 3/2014

WINTER 2014 Vo l u m e 5 , I s s u e 4 ON THE COVER: 2014 AREAA Chair Ivan Choi Photograph by Praveen Sharma


F E AT U R E S 28

Ivan in Charge Find out what AREAA's new national leader has in store for 2014, including an increased emphasis on international business and leadership development By John Peretz


Mastering Social Media and New Technology in Your Real Estate Practice We all know we should be using social media and new technology in our real estate practice. Learn how you can use these tools to take your business to the next level — in just 20 minutes a day


By John Peretz


Out of the Dragon's Den A closer look at Onvedeo, winner of AREAA's Dragon's Den competition for real estate industry innovators and maker of a video engine that produces customized listing videos for real estate professionals By John Peretz 42



rates begin at $200/issue email for details





Big Reasons to Talk About Jumbo Loans




Non-Profit Spotlight: Asian American Advertising Federation Known as 3AF, this non-profit has developed into a thriving organization that's growing the Asian American advertising and marketing industry and raising public awareness of the importance of the growing Asian American community By Nhi Nguyen

International Perspectives: Vietnam's Property Market Looking Ahead to Brighter Days Excess inventory of higher-end condos and major capital outflow have created opportunities in both Vietnam and the States for real estate practitioners working with Vietnamese clients


Market Update: Silicon Valley, California Supported by the Asian population in the area's ever-growing tech sector, this Northern California region is in great demand with low inventory, high foreign investment, steady appreciation and no signs of slowing in the near future By Michael Kelly




From restaurants to karaoke, kids activities to unique cultural events, Kenny Truong lets you in on his favorite places and happenings around town

With rates on jumbo mortgages dropping below those of 30-year fixed rate conforming mortgages, jumbo loans may be more affordable for affluent buyers Special contribution from Bank of America

Best Of Oakland

10 Questions with Caroline Gim Among other topics, our Editorin-Chief talks about a cockroach shower; being half-human, half-alien; chasing winter on a snowboard; apps that she can't live without; and why her dial is usually set to ESPN


My Most Complicated Multimillion-Dollar Sale with Phil Chen Read how Chen rolled basically every type of real estate transaction into one deal to bridge a $100,000 gap that was dividing a buyer and seller for a couple of years on a $4.6 million Hillsborough, California purchase By John Peretz




D E PA RT M E N T S 32

AREAA Celebrates 10 Years of Impact and Growth at the National Convention A summary of the 2013 AREAA National Convention in Century City, California, complete with celebrity performers, emotional keynote presentations, top real estate executives, a fashion show, a talent competition and the annual late-night EDGE event


Noodle Town Goes to Honolulu Jacki Ueng and Jim Park taste their way through the island paradise: slurping ramen, sipping Mai Tais, learning about restaurateur Roy Yamaguchi's realization of his own personal American Dream and, of course, taking in a traditional Hawaiian luau and pig roast By Jacki Ueng


Letter from the Editor Usually "late to the party" on technological advances, Caroline Gim shares her perspective on technology and the real estate practitioner


Around the Association AREAA closed out 2013 with some of its most successful events to date, highlighted by luxury panels in Las Vegas and most notably, a trade mission to Japan






W I N T E R 2 014


EDITOR John Peretz


E D I TO R I A L B OA R D Trang Dang-Le Sherwin Escanuela Lynette Fox Rindner Joseph Lai Felicia Morris LuAnn Shikasho Thuy Tran Bernice Wong

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Meredith Magee is a publication of the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), a national nonprofit trade organization dedicated to increasing sustainable homeownership in the Asian American community. For more information visit: Š2014 by the Asian Real Estate Association of America. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily the opinions held by AREAA. Interested in advertising or contributing? Contact us: Praveen Sharma ADVERTISING | Michael Kelly EDITORIAL | Office: Asian Real Estate Association of America 5963 La Place Court, Suite 314 Carlsbad, California 92008 760-918-9162 Phone 760-585-1397 Fax Previous issues available online at:





W Regardless of your personal preferences, technological innovation and the real estate industry are inseparable. If you wish to have success in real estate, new ways of approaching the agentclient dynamic must be embraced.

hen talking to real estate professionals about technology, I observe a wide range of reactions. On one side of the spectrum, I see agents who always have the newest gadgets and can spend hours enthusiastically learning all the latest apps. On the other side, there are those who eye new technology with hesitancy and even mild apprehension. They tell me that they would love to become more technologically savvy, but have no idea where to start or do not want to spend time learning how to use a device or product that will be eliminated when the next big thing comes along. They justify not modernizing by claiming that real estate is still done the “old fashioned” way and that the majority of deals will still be made by face-to-face interactions and physical documents. They probably use technology more than they realize. To the technophile reading our first online-only issue, the next few pages are right up your alley. Skip this letter and move straight to the good stuff. To those who are not sure how they even opened this magazine on their computer, I promise you that using technology effectively in your real estate businesses isn’t as formidable as it once seemed. I say this with confidence because I always considered myself “late to the party” when it came to technology. However, when I took the time to really examine the role technology plays in real estate, I became aware of the fact that I used technology a lot more than I thought I did. For example, I always find myself using my iPhone when I need directions or to find a good restaurant recommendation when I am in an unfamiliar city. And who doesn’t read emails and texts from a smartphone or tablet these days?

petition between individual agents and firms is not new to the real estate industry, but changes in technology are constantly shifting the competitive landscape of the market. Simply put, the most successful real estate professionals will almost always be the ones that are flexible and can adapt to the latest business trends. Utilizing technology is especially critical for those of us who work with international, luxury, and institutional clients who cannot meet in person to discuss a transaction and to sign documents. Even the most tech-averse real estate agents can become more familiar with today’s latest gadgets, apps, and social media sites. If nothing else, identify the ones that come up most frequently in your daily life and have your kids teach you how to use them. The articles that we have prepared for you in this edition of a | r | e magazine will feature some of the newest trends in technology as they pertain to the real estate market. By reading this quarter’s magazine, I hope that you will be one step closer to becoming more familiar with the latest advancements, which will help your real estate sales immensely. Sincerely,


The World Wide Web was born in 1991. Google was created in 1998. The first iPhone was released in 2007. In a relatively short period of time, technology has become ingrained in our business and lives more than we realize. I personally take advantage of my laptop, Wi-Fi device, and smartphone to take my business with me at all times. This has made me extremely mobile and allows me to run my business from wherever I am. I am currently writing this Letter from the Editor from an airport in Atlanta. Regardless of your personal preferences, technological innovation and the real estate industry are inseparable. If you wish to have success in real estate, new ways of approaching the agent-client dynamic must be embraced. Com-




For real estate professionals, there are several big reasons to talk with their mortgage loan officer about jumbo loan programs, including affordability and an increase in the number of listings for which the affluent buyer may prequalify. This is particularly true for Asian American consumers, as the Asian population is growing faster than the overall U.S. population, Asian Americans achieved a 165 percent gain in buying power over the last 12 years1, and Asian American median income exceeds U.S. population median income2.

1 2

In September, publicized rates on jumbo mortgages dropped below those of 30-year fixed rate conforming mortgages. While this unusual event has not been consistently sustained, jumbo rates continue to track very closely with conforming loan rates in many markets. In fact, remarks made by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the agency that will set 2014 conforming loan limits, suggest that the 2014 limits will be lower than the amounts in place since 2008. In short, jumbo loans may be more affordable for more prospective, affluent homebuyers. In addition to the potential for increased affordability, lower jumbo loan rates may increase the number of listings for which the typical affluent homebuyer can prequalify. The bottom is line is the possibility of increased opportunities for both affluent homebuyers and real estate professionals. Now is the time to find out more about jumbo loan programs. Bank of America’s mortgage loan officers can discuss scenarios with you and your prospective clients. Following are some hypothetical situations where your buyers may benefit from a jumbo loan. ºº

While jumbo rates are lower, prequalifying homebuyers for a jumbo loan program may allow them to buy a higher-priced home while remaining affordable.


Help homebuyers make a decision that better matches their financial circumstances by showing a side-by-side comparison of interest rates, down payment amounts and other costs of a jumbo loan program and a conforming loan program.


In the past, buyers may have tapped into personal savings to come up with a larger down payment in order to avoid jumbo pricing. When jumbo rates are so similar to conforming rates, buyers may find jumbo loans to be cost-effective.


In markets with higher-priced homes, sellers who have been reluctant to list their homes may be encouraged to do so if they understand that prospective buyers are prequalified for jumbo financing.

New jumbo mortgage option – 15% down payment with no mortgage insurance To help real estate professionals reach more homebuyers, Bank of America has introduced a new jumbo mortgage option. Now, qualified buyers can secure a non-conforming jumbo loan less than $1 million with a 15% down payment (instead of 20%) without paying mortgage insurance. This option allows qualified homebuyers the ability to keep more of their finances fluid while purchasing a higher-valued home. First-time homebuyers and investment properties are not eligible for this option and it is not available in certain states and markets. Second home financing is available up to $650,000. Eligible homebuyers must have excellent credit and 12 months reserves and other restrictions apply. Contact your mortgage loan officer for additional details.

Let’s talk about the availability of these programs in your market, and strategies that can help you and your clients buy and sell their homes. Contact your mortgage loan officer or visit to find an expert near you.



3AF was conceived in March of 1999 in New The Asian American Advertising FederaYork. Fifteen ad agencies that specialized in tion (3AF) encompasses collective advertising the Asian American community came together and media agencies as well as advertisers and and formed a trade organization. The primary strategic partners under one mission: to grow concern among the founding agencies was the the Asian American advertising and marketing tendency for marketers to omit or overlook industry, create awareness around the signifithe Asian American consumer. Marketers had cance of Asian American communities and furtheir focus on other ethnicities, yet it was (and ther the professionalism within the industry. still is) critical for companies to In this issue o f a | r | e ’ s understand the significance of non-profit spotlight, I had the the Asian American community. opportunity to speak with the According to Nielsen’s State of the current president of 3AF, Edward Asian American Consumer report, Chang. Chang was elected as the “Asian American consumers pro2013 standing president, but has vide growth opportunity to your been involved with 3AF for about business by appealing to a coneight years. He explains that 3AF’s sumer base that is growing, afflufocal point is in multicultural ent, well-educated, geographically marketing and Asian marketing. concentrated, technologically As a non-profit organization, savvy and has tremendous buying they emphasize Asian American power.” This market is noted to marketing issues, opportunities, be early adopters of technology— advancements for marketers, technology is a strong medium agencies, media and research Edward Chang for Asian American consumers. companies that have a strong President, 3AF Marketers and advertisers can sense of the Asian American play a significant role in this technological and market. Their mission focuses on the oppordigital space. tunities and potential within Asian American Formally known as the Association of Asian demographics. In fact, Asian Americans are the American Advertising Agencies (4As), 3AF has fastest-growing multicultural segment in the come a long way, experiencing tremendous U.S. population. Asian consumers also repremembership growth in over ten years, and sent tremendous untapped revenue potential— is host to the largest national marketing and possibly spending three times as much as the advertising conferences focusing specifically on millennial generation. Asian consumers have the Asian American consumer. The organizatraditionally spent more than the average U.S. tion has also focused their initiatives on advohousehold on housing, food, education, vehicle cacy, marketing research, webinars, networking purchases, public transportation, furniture, seminars and mixers. In terms of research, in footwear and clothing, and pensions and 2009, 3AF led an ethnographic research study insurance.



3AF Excellence Awards winners from DAE and The Filipino Channel 2013 All photos: Ricky Resurreccion

3AF MISSION Grow the Asian American advertising and marketing industry, raise public awareness of the importance of the Asian American community and further professionalism in the industry.


called Up Close Like Never Before— The First In-Language Ethnographic Study of the Asian American Consumer, which explored the consumer buying power and habits of the Asian segment—primarily the top five ethnicities in the United States. It explored the Asian American consumer, their values, lifestyle and culture. 3AF’s membership is made up of diverse organizations that all have an interest in the industry and seek to understand the market, ranging from Asian-focused agencies and media agencies, to newspapers and TV stations, to research firms that specialize in the multicultural market and Asian marketing issues. Their diverse membership provides an incredible amount of knowledge and experience, which are leveraged to organize events such as their annual Asian American Advertising Conference in May. Local mixers and smallscale events allow them to focus on specific topics that may be of interest to a specific local community. Their goal is to broaden the knowledge about Asian American marketing opportunities and reach out to marketers from large Fortune 500 companies who have interest in multicultural marketing, but may not necessarily have a full appreciation of the Asian American market. This allows

looked. Even when considered, marketers to be more this segment may be a low priority. involved in underOften, organizations and served communities agencies attempt to look at the in the Asian market general market holistically, but as and creates opportuthey get specific to each demonities to provide edugraphic, there is less focus on the cation on how to best Asian segment. 3AF attempts to serve Asian American fill this gap by raising awareness markets. and educating marketers on the In terms of marvarious social issues and nuances keting opportunities, of the community and ultimately “often marketers better market their products and think about how to services. segment the market. “There are a lot of social, health And when you think and wellness needs in our commuabout multicultural nity. We have a lot of populations opportunities, that who are low-income and undersegmentation often served. There are a lot of issues I gets down to ethnic think state agencies and charitable background and oragencies can appeal to within the igin,” says Chang. When isolating Asian market,” Chang mentions. specific marketing opportunities, 3AF also hopes to foster this as marketers and advertisers need to part of their mission. be aware that different population 3AF’s success is mirrored in segments, such as Hispanic, Afritheir local and national events— can American or Asian American, particularly their annual conferrequire different considerations to ence, which has seen an increase be reached effectively. For examin interest and participation ple, evaluating the size of the popover the years. ulation and The conference evaluating provides an open, the need for We have a lot of collaborative their specific populations who are lowforum for differproduct or income and underserved. ent marketing, service. There are a lot of issues non-profit, health “They I think state agencies and wellness go through and charitable agencies organizations to these assesscan appeal to within talk about the ments with the Asian market. needs they see in their budgets the market and in mind and how they’ve gone implement about addressing those needs. campaigns to address that. The Attendance has grown significantchallenge we see from marketers ly in the past ten years, with last is that they have to know if there year reaching its largest number is value in reaching out to these of attendees by far. 3AF provides diverse segments,” says Chang. a platform for discussion of the These values range from the importance of the Asian Amersignificance in buying power and ican consumer in this industry. population growth in the segment, “It’s an indication to us that there not to mention the connection is a significant gaining interest in between the products and industry the market,” says Chang. “There services and beneficial opportunihave been some improvements, ties in the market. Marketers operwith small gains along the way, ate within a particular budget and but certainly we have a long way without seeing value in reaching to go.” out to a certain segment, the Asian American market is often over-




WOOD TAVERN Food is amazing here! Awesome atmosphere, friendly staff, and right in the heart of Rockridge. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time because there is always a wait.


CHA TIME Nice hot spot outside Chinatown that also doubles as a boba place. Has it’s own parking lot, and good-sized VIP rooms.

Photos courtesy of Team Fast Agents


PARAMOUNT THEATRE of the ARTS Beautiful historic theatre, feels like a step into a time capsule, feels very personal. Many major artists have played here.



People come here to lay on the grass and relax, run around the lake, which is about three miles, walk on tightropes, and participate in workout or dance classes.

The post-game fireworks show is always a big treat! The Oakland A's will open up their 2014 season on March 31 against the Cleveland Indians with a Star Wars fireworks night!








CHABOT SPACE & SCIENCE CENTER Hands-on center featuring interactive exhibits, a digital planetarium, a large screen theater, and three powerful telescopes. Special events held at night occasionally.

BAR MAKE WESTING Hip bar in Uptown Oakland, great ambiance and diverse crowds here. Great selection of cocktails and Bocce Ball for fun and games.



Great for late night Korean bar food. Chicken wings, corn cheese, spicy ramen, etc. Wash it down with their selection of Korean or American beers.


PHO AO SEN Best place for noodle soup! Broth is great here whether it’s for pho, Bún bò Hue, or chicken noodle soup. The Vietnamese chicken wings are delicious also.


POLICY DAY MAY 5-6, 2014

BEST DAY FIRST FRIDAY EVERY MONTH Oakland First Fridays is an immersive art and community experience that happens on the first Friday of each month in downtown Oakland. Over 10,000 people come from across the Bay Area and beyond to experience a variety of art, be inspired, eat great food, enjoy live music, and stroll through the amazing, eclectic city of Oakland.



The troubled economy and distressed property market in Vietnam might soon see a positive turn. Since the market hit a wall in 2007, most of the headlines from the country have featured a rapidly devaluating currency, reports of corruption, and generally a market most would-be foreign investors avoided.

Most economists agree that while Vietnam’s economy has not yet bottomed out, there are reasons to be optimistic. The government is on

the verge of making some major modifications to existing policies that prevent non-citizens from purchasing individual residential properties. The policy changes are an effort to minimize the outflow of capital from the country and to eliminate an excess inventory of higher-end condos that were built during the country’s growth period. To that end, NAR’s President’s Liaison to Vietnam, Vinh Nguyen, notes that the opportunity for growth in Vietnam lies in the suburban areas outside the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. “Because of the excess of higher-end condos in the cities, developers who are building lower-end units in the suburbs are doing quite well,” said Nguyen. “Those who focused on the higher-end condos, who prospered during the boom, are suffering now.”

Nguyen’s advice for agents wishing to do business in Vietnam is to build roots now. They are mov-

ing in a positive direction, and there is a lot of potential down the road for those who have cultivated relationships with local investment entities. But the real opportunity, especially for American agents interested in working with Vietnamese clients, is in helping Vietnamese purchase properties in the United States.

LEFT: The city of Hoi An, in Vietnam's South Central Coast region © 16


There is a major outflow of capital from Vietnam to the U.S., and a very real opportunity exists for U.S. agents to attract them. Many Vietnamese have made good money in the last 10 years and they are looking for a safe place to diversify and invest their money.

“There is a major outflow of capital from Vietnam to the U.S., and a very real opportunity exists for U.S. agents to attract them,” said Nguyen. “Many Vietnamese have made good money in the last 10 years and they are looking for a safe place to diversify and invest their money.”

Nguyen also points out that a growing number of Vietnamese are sending their children to school in the United States, and


92,477,857 (2013 est.)


Hanoi (pop: 6.56 million)


127,244 sq miles slightly larger than New Mexico


Vietnamese dong (₫)


$170 billion (2013 est.) $1896 / capita

Annual GDP Growth2

2013: 5.3% 2014: 5.4% (forecasted)

Sources: 1. International Monetary Fund 2. The World Bank



For in-depth training on international real estate transactions, NAR offers the Certified International Property Specialists certification.

So how can agents reach out and serve Vietnamese clients in a better way? The first step, according to Nguyen, is building roots. Visit the country, attend events, and create business relationships. He also suggests sponsoring international student activities at colleges or universities in your area. Getting to know the students at local universities can yield excellent leads to parents looking to purchase properties. Next, be prepared to explain the basics of a U.S. real estate transaction. The real estate industry in Vietnam is not mature, and licensing laws are not strict. There are no exclusive listings, buyers agency, or open houses in Vietnam. Since they don’t do business the same way U.S. agents do, it is important to take the time to explain and help them understand the differences in a real estate transaction. They want to know information like the tax implications of holding real estate property here, closing costs, management fees, types of ownership, etc. “The Vietnamese people are yearning for opportunities to learn from Western Europe and the United States,” said Nguyen. “They are adopting cultural traditions like Halloween and Valentine’s Day, and are eager to take classes and learn so they can be ready when the time comes for their market to prosper again.”

To learn more, visit:









are purchasing properties on or near campus. Some also have a keen interest in pursuing perceived “good value” commercial properties such as retail centers, office buildings, etc. Many investors are also exploring the possibility of setting up or purchasing existing businesses in the States so they can expand business here. A case in point, recently an investor was looking for a large farm or a large acreage lot to plant tropical fruits, with the intent of introducing them to the American consumers via our existing distribution network of grocery/food stores.


1,737,433 Source: U.S. Census Bureau







After home prices across the country plunged following the burst of the real estate bubble in 2008, it is natural for prices to steadily rise as the market begins its return to “normalcy”. According to Zillow’s Home Price Index for 2013, the average American home was valued at $162,100, which represents a 6.6% increase from the previous year. However, for the southern region of the San Francisco Bay that is home to the world’s most illustrious

Asian Americans as a percentage of Silicon Valley's tech jobs



technology firms, this type of growth is nothing new. Average home prices in the Silicon Valley sit well above national averages. The Silicon Valley represents a unique segment of U.S. real estate where the current average price for single family homes has surpassed pre-2008 levels. In fact, tight-knit Silicon Valley communities such as Atherton, Los Altos Hills, Belvedere, and Portola Valley are represented in the top 10 of Forbes’ 2013 list of America’s most expensive zip codes. By examining factors such as inventory and the influence of a tech industry that features a substantial segment of Asian Americans in its workforce, we will see just why this Silicon Valley is one of the most exciting and dynamic real estate markets in the country. One of the driving factors for such distinctly augmented home prices is the scarcity in inventory in the Silicon Valley and surrounding areas. When compared to the numbers in 2012, inventory in San Benito, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties has steadily decreased by 22%, 14%, and 11% respectively1. Additionally, the average amount of time properties have spent 18


on the market has decreased similarly. As a result, demand for properties continues to rise and the number of bids per property remains relatively high. According to many, the driving force behind the Silicon Valley real estate market’s liveliness is the continued surging of the tech industry, an industry which gives the region its name. Due to continued expansion in employment and growth, tech companies around Silicon


50% Valley are purchasing and building a number of large office buildings. In 2011, the social media giant Facebook leased a 9-building office campus that spans 57 acres and over 1 million square feet2. Additionally, Google has recently purchased 6 office buildings totaling 400,000 square feet in Mountain View, which is home to many of the Silicon Valley’s leading tech firms3. Companies such as LinkedIn, Amazon, and Apple have followed suit and purchased large portions of space in places such as Santa Clara County, Menlo Park, Cupertino, and San Jose, which marks an expansion into areas both north and south of traditional Silicon Valley commercial centers. At the center of this tech surge is the large proportion of Asian Americans represented in these technology firms. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 report, Asian Americans occupy a staggering 50% of all of the tech jobs in the Silicon Valley. This figure represents a dramatic increase from 2000 Census, where Asian Americans represented only 38.7% of Silicon Valley’s tech workforce4. This rise in predominance, according to some experts,

AUG 12

AUG 13


Alameda $539,820 $654,060 21.2% Contra Costa (Central County)

$628,920 $808,560 28.7%


$806,450 $987,740 22.5%



$565,970 46.7%

San Francisco $692,980 $871,480 25.8% San Mateo

$777,500 $980,000 26%

Santa Clara

$666,750 $805,000 20.7%


$202,240 $295,890 46.3%



$453,790 17.7%

Source: California Association of REALTORS®

Our market is unique from the rest of the country in the sense that a lot of buyers, many of them foreign, are paying for houses with mostly if not entirely in cash.

2013 AREAA Silicon Valley President, Joe Han (L) and President-Elect, Evan Huynh (R). Photo: Jeffery Dempsey / iSmart Realty

can be attributed to a growing number of Asian Americans who are raised with a strong background in science, math, technology, and other skills that translate to success in these fields. With these gains in employment, Asian Americans are looking for housing in the Silicon Valley and surrounding areas in increasing numbers. An additional factor that is driving home prices up to unprecedented levels in the Silicon Valley is the influx of foreign buyers, most prominently from Asian countries such as China, looking to buy up properties. According to a recent report conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), international real estate buyers accounted for $68.2 billion for the twelve month period ending in 20135. Because of the area’s productive technology firms and variety of universities, many Chinese nationals are looking to the Silicon Valley in order to invest in and purchase property. A substantial portion of the real estate transactions made by these Chinese nationals are cash-only. As a result, Silicon Valley is home to one of the most competitive and high-demand housing markets for international clients in the country. Due to sharp increases in home prices in recent years, concerns have been raised as to whether or not market conditions in Silicon Valley could lead to one of the nation’s first post-crisis housing bubble. Some real estate experts see many parallels that were a hallmark of the housing bubble that began to burst in late 2007: the area’s skyrocketing prices, competitive bidding wars, and draining of retirements. However, despite this trepidation, a sizeable number of experts in the market point to signs that today’s real estate climate in the Silicon Valley is markedly different than the one leading to the 2008 crash. When explaining these differences, Jeff Barnett, Vice President and Regional Manager of Alain Pinel Realtors, stated: The conditions that led up to the crash are different from 2007’s bubble because of the large amount of cash that buyers are putting into homes here. Our market is unique from the rest of the country in the sense that a lot of buyers, many of them foreign, are paying for houses with mostly if not entirely in cash. This coupled with regulations making it so buyers are qualified for the loans they receive, means

that we will not see a big crash like we saw a few years ago. In comparison to the spike we have seen in the last few years, prices are beginning to cool off a little bit so we will not see such a stark rise in home prices that has been seen in the following months. Despite this immediate leveling off, experts like Barnett believe the housing boom in the Silicon Valley is here to stay with no clear end in sight. At the forefront of this bustling real estate market is AREAA’s Silicon Valley chapter. The chapter has placed a great deal of emphasis on providing its members with the educational events needed to stay relevant in this market. “In this area of California, it’s extremely important to pay attention to market trends” remarked AREAA Silicon Valley President-Elect Evan Huynh, “Conditions change from day to day in the Silicon Valley and our chapter has a track record of putting on top notch education events such as the EB-5 Visa program class, the Real Estate Tech Workshop, and a Top Producers Panel, so that our members can get as much information as possible.” Because of this flourishing market, the AREAA Silicon Valley chapter is the organization’s fastest-growing chapter. Huynh, who is also the broker/owner of the budding San Jose-based iSmart Realty, does not intend to change this. He has stated that he views increasing chapter membership in the Silicon Valley as a top priority. He elaborates, “As the market continues to stay in the fast-lane, it is important to get real estate professionals as connected as possible with the commanding Asian segment of the market.” With this in mind, Huynh has a specific vision to increase chapter membership by 350 members this year and strengthen powerful networks for the chapter’s members, thus making it one of AREAA’s largest chapters. When considering the contributing factors discussed, it is no mystery why the Silicon Valley ranks as one of the most fast-paced and intriguing real estate markets in the country. As long as the region’s technology firms and foreign investment, which are fueled by both Asian American tech specialists and foreign investors from Asian countries, stay in the area, the Silicon Valley real estate market will continue to be one of the hottest markets on the planet for the foreseeable future.

Taken from Percentages determined by September 2012-September 2013 Taken from 3 Taken From$235m-of-silicon-valley-office-space/ 4 Taken from 5 Taken from National Association of REALTORS® 2013 Profile of International Home Buying Activity which the figure was determined by measuring a 12 month period from 3/12-3/13. 1 2





CAROLINE GIM Editor-In-Chief

Photo: Praveen Sharma


1 6 2 8 7 4 3 10 9 5 What did you want to be growing up in grade school?

If you had asked me at eight years old what I wanted to be, I would have responded president of the United States. If you had asked me why, I would have said, “Because I want to sign laws and be in charge of the Army.”

If you could be any superhero, who would you be, and why?

There was a 1980s TV show called “Out of This World” where the main character was half-alien and half-human. She could freeze time by touching her index fingers together, then restart time by clapping her hands together. I would love to be able to freeze time so I could get endless hours of sleep and still get lots of things done.

What’s your most unusual habit?

I am full of unusual habits… One thing that comes to mind is that I can crack or pop almost any joint in my body, including my jaw. It is an unconscious habit that I would actually like to break. Often, I don’t realize I have loudly cracked my neck until I hear someone around me gasp and ask if it hurts when I do that.

If you weren’t in real estate,

what could you see yourself doing? If I could make money doing jigsaw puzzles, I would do it. I am really detail-oriented and I can become ridiculously immersed once I get started. I have been known to finish puzzles in a single sitting, and I never look at the picture on the box. Once, I flipped a puzzle over and completed it upside down. Just to see if I could.

What’s the most unusual approach you ever took to get a listing?

When you sell REO and short sale properties, you have to be willing to redefine “normal” listing procedures. At one of my first vacant REO properties, I naively opened a door and charged right in. I was promptly showered with cockroaches. (I now gently push the door open and wait a beat before entering any house.) Once, I could not find anyone to do an emergency board up at a vacant house that was broken into, so a friend and I bought supplies at Home Depot and we boarded the entire house ourselves. I try to take every challenge as a learning experience.

What are the three technology products or apps you couldn’t live without?

OverDrive. The app allows me to borrow audiobooks online and listen to them on my iPhone. Since I have a public library account, I borrow all my books for free, and I never have to worry about returning them because they automatically expire after 3 weeks. I “read” 3 to 4 books a month driving in my car. My Kindle Paperwhite. It is amazing how many books fit on a Kindle. I always said I preferred physical books until I borrowed/ commandeered my friend’s Kindle on vacation one year to read all three books in the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series. I bought one for myself as soon as I got home. Netflix. When I am working late, I like to have something playing in the background while I work. I watch so many random TV shows, documentaries, movies, etc. online that Netflix probably thinks I am sharing my account with random strangers.

What’s your biggest pet peeve about the real estate business?

My biggest pet peeve about the real estate business is our bad reputation with consumers. I recently heard we are ranked below lawyers, bankers, and Congress. When I hear comments like, “You’re not like a typical Realtor.” I sadly know exactly what they mean.

What are your top 5 movies of all time? Dumb and Dumber Coming to America Almost Famous Jerry Maguire His Girl Friday

Where would you want to live for a year outside of the U.S.?

I have lived abroad before, in Spain for six months and in Korea for a year. Both were life-changing experiences and I would actually like to go back to either place, now that I am a little older, a little wiser, and financially comfortable enough to splurge on things I skipped before (like expensive restaurants and good seats at shows). If I were to pick somewhere new, I would spend a year “chasing winter” and snowboarding.

Name your favorite TV shows.

I feel the need to preface this with: I am not a sports nut. While I do enjoy sports, I just happen to like shows with a combination of multifaceted characters, compelling storylines, and great dialogue: Friday Night Lights Sports Night Everything in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series Freaks and Geeks Gilmore Girls





You know the drill — we all should be using social media and introducing new technology into our real estate practice. So we start a program and are really good about it for the first couple of months, and then slowly but surely, we don’t do the things we know we should be doing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In just 10 minutes a day in the morning, and another 10 minutes in the evening, you can master social media and introduce new technology to take your real estate business to the next level. The reality is that the more you do it, the more proficient you become, until you’re the one that people are talking about as the expert in social media and real estate. The big thing is that you can’t be afraid to jump in.

SOCIAL MEDIA 101 — FACEBOOK , G OO GLE PLUS , PHOTO SHARING & T WIT TER According to Mr. John Reyes, president of SocialNetworX, having an ongoing, authentic dialogue with clients and prospects through social media is all about adding value, staying real and being consistent. Mr. Reyes and his team are frequent speakers at many industry events, including AREAA and NAHREP national conventions and a variety of training sessions across the country for some of the top names in real estate. But the harsh reality is that many real estate agents simply don’t stay in touch in with their past clients as much as they should. Social media really helps to bridge that gap and leads not only to repeat business but also, even more importantly, referral business. “If agents just rely on older tools like email and news­letters, they’re going to have lesser results. That’s because Facebook and social media are much more interactive and less intrusive,” states Mr. Reyes. “When done right, it’s a great way to stay in touch with clients, friends, family and prospects, and all of their friends.” “But try and promote yourself in an indirect way,” Mr. Reyes explains. “Don’t be the annoying agent and post things like, ‘Hey I got another listing or another sale’ — nobody cares about that. Instead share what you are doing with your daily activities and use that to tie in your business.” “So instead of saying ‘I’m grabbing a coffee,’ say, ‘I’m grabbing a coffee because I’m getting energized to go show some great homes to my first-time homebuyer.’ Or, ‘I’m having lunch out here at Applebee’s to celebrate the fact that I just helped Pam close on her first home.’ So you are letting people know what you are doing, but you are indirectly promoting your business,” Mr. Reyes concludes.

You shouldn’t always reference work, either. It’s OK to just update your status to say you are out at your son’s soccer game or enjoying the holidays with friends. “And be sure to acknowledge the people in your network — ‘like’ their posts, make comments and stay engaged. This will keep you fresh on people’s minds when they hear about a friend or family member who is looking to buy or sell a home. It’s a way of marketing yourself without even talking about your business. It does take a little work, but so do cold calling, mailers and door knocking,” Mr. Reyes advises. In terms of your Facebook page, make sure that they know you’re a real estate agent professional. Add a nice photo of yourself or a custom visual. You can even add a special Facebook app. The Proxio SocialSearch app allows prospects to not only view your listings but also search the entire MLS right from your Facebook page, with a simple IDX tie-in from your MLS. And the app allows you to translate listings into 19 languages, so you can be a multicultural agent in an instant.

USING GOOGLE PLUS Most agents are not on Google Plus, and that’s a mistake. You can’t ignore Google, the undisputed leader in search, as it can pay big dividends. People will search for you to see what’s being said about you, whether you realize it or not. And as a relatively public person, you want to show up on search results. You can share similar content on Google Plus as you would on Facebook. Yes, there may not be

nearly the activity you see on Facebook, but placing content on Google Plus helps you with search engine optimization. Think of Google Plus as a content pusher. So open a Google Plus account.

INSTAGRAM & PINTEREST There is a lot of debate about using Instagram and Pinterest as part of your social media platform. If you have the time or have an assistant, it’s a good business practice. It gives you a very interesting way to showcase your properties, especially if it has some really unique features that can be uniquely photographed. And it really differentiates you in a listing presentation. What are the main differences between the two platforms? “Instagram is going to allow viewers to not only find photos but also engage. With Pinterest you need to have more of a comprehensive online marketing plan in order to be successful,” according to Mr. Reyes.

HAVE AN ONGOING, AUTHENTIC DIALOGUE WITH PROSPECTS AND CLIENTS Add Value Stay Real Be Consistent …be sure to acknowledge the people in your net­work — ‘like’ their posts, make comments and stay engaged. This will keep you fresh on people’s minds when they hear about a friend or family member who is looking to buy or sell a home.

UPPER DIVISION CL AS SES — BLO G GIN G, REVIEW SITES AND T WIT TER BLOGGING Blogging has been around for a while, and many real estate agents have abandoned it because it takes a commitment and structure. But blogging continues to be an integral part of SEO if done the right way. You see, blogging helps you build Web content, and Google and other search engines rank pages, not websites. To blog successfully, first come up with a list of words that you want to rank for. These are called keywords. Using a keyword tool like Wordtracker can help you find keywords with high search volume and low competition.

How often should you blog? We recommend a minimum of once a week. If you commit to doing this consistently, you will build a mountain of content over time. Mr. Reyes wholeheartedly agrees. “I believe that local expert blogging is going to be the trend of 2014. Blogging increases your chances of showing up in search results. The consumers are already there. It’s just a matter of who’s going to pick them up.” If you can’t find the time to do your own blog, hire someone to do it for you. Just make sure that you localize your blog headline, titles and content with the keywords you want to rank for.





When you consistently update your website with fresh and relevant blogs, it will assuredly result in better page rankings and improve your search results.

Dragon's Den competition at the AREAA National Convention held in Los Angeles this past September.


We’ve seen some real estate agents be very successful on Twitter. But Twitter and other social media avenues require time, and

Review sites are becoming more and more important in search results. Yelp, Angie’s List, Google

It’s not about using technology and social media to be more competitive. It’s really about utilizing technology and social media to stay competitive. Plus and even Trip Advisor (weaving in a review with a relevant attraction or stay) move to the top of many search results because Google ranks “authority sites” higher. Set up accounts for each one of these (except Trip Advisor) and ask your clients to please put a review up for you. Give them all the information they need, including the URL where they can find your review site. This is one of the most under­ used and highly-valued techniques to coming up higher in search rankings. Ignore it at your own peril!

ONLINE VIDEO It’s been estimated that video content is eight times more effective than traditional print content. You could be adding video content for homes you have listed, as well as information about the areas you service, and even “how-to” videos. Most videos are posted on YouTube, which controls almost 90 percent of the video market. Make sure that you post your videos with the right headline and tags to help you with your SEO. A very cost-effective solution to posting property videos is OnVedeo, the winner of the AREAA Find out more about AREAA Dragon's Den winner, Onvedeo, in this edition of





unless you’re comfortable with it, Twitter may not be your most valuable social media platform. According to Mr. Reyes, “Agents shouldn’t jump to Twitter unless they are advanced in social networking. Agents should take the time to connect with their sphere of influence, and they’re most likely already on Facebook. Do what you’re good at first.”

GRADUATE SCHOOL — CRE ATE THE SEPARATION THROU GH ADVANCED LE ARNING Well, here’s an interesting thought. You really could get your master’s degree from home, through the National Association of REALTORS®. Their Master of Real Estate program is offered through Realtor University and you can attend through a global online campus. In fact, AREAA is partnering with REALTOR® University in a major research study about Asian American home ownership, which will provide one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on the Asian American market.

PH . D. — NOW YOU ’ RE AN EXPERT TECHNOLO GIST: PREDICTIVE MODELING AND SPE AKIN G EN GAGEMENTS One of the more interesting booths this writer saw at the latest NAR conference was a company from Seattle that specialized in predictive modeling. The company, Most Likely, takes a contiguous area and, through their proprietary algorithm, predicts those homeowners that are most likely to list. They’ll give you lead information, send out postcards, set up Google Adwords and do banner ad “retargeting” based on those households most likely to list. Another way to establish yourself as the undisputed expert in your area is to present yourself as a speaker. Speaking can be a daunting challenge to many people, but if

you remember a couple of key points, it becomes a lot easier. First, never believe that the subject is to talk about you. You’re there to bring unique and helpful information to your audience. The audience is not interested in you — they’re interested in themselves. The audience wants to know what they can use, what they can learn or, at the very least, how they will be entertained. And second, make sure your delivery and presentation materials add to the message. If you’re using a PowerPoint, don’t overload it with words — in this case, less really is more. Practice your presentation until it becomes natural to you.

FINAL TIPS : THE RE ALIT Y OF SOCIAL NE T WORKING AND RE AL ESTATE TECHNOLO GY Agents who don’t evolve and embrace social media run the risk of being run out of the business by those who do. It’s not about using technology and social media to be more competitive. It’s really about utilizing technology and social media to stay competitive. The data backs it up. The vast majority of buyers actually started their search on the Internet.

The average homebuyer is much more comfortable with technology and social media than most real estate professionals. So in essence, it’s the consumers that are the ones really demanding that real estate agents change. The growing attitude is, “If you’re not going to change, I’m going to go find and work with somebody who is.”

ABOUT THE AUTHORS John Peretz is the editor of Asian Real Estate magazine and also has his own marketing consulting practice, working with real estate and tech­nology clients both domestically and internationally. Find out more at

John Reyes is the president of SocialNetworX, a company dedicated to training agents on how to use technology and social media to grow their real estate practice and enhance their marketability. Find out more at



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To say that Mr. Phil Chen brings a high level of energy would be the ultimate understatement. Not very many people start their real estate career at 25 years old as an investor in multi-unit buildings and residential homes, and then go on to be the founder of a high-end fitness company in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district with a client list of CEOs, bankers, brokers and lawyers. Today, Mr. Chen is president of Sybarite Investments, an active AREAA member and a 2013 AREAA “A" List honoree. a | r | e magazine recently caught up with Mr. Chen to chat about his first multimillion-dollar sale. “Well, first of all, we do a lot of multimillion-dollar sales because it’s the Bay Area,” Mr. Chen explained. “I

David Eichler

David Eichler

think the more interesting story might be the most complicated multi­milliondollar sale.” As a San Francisco native, Mr. Chen sells throughout the Bay Area but lives in Hillsborough, a posh community about 18 miles south of San Francisco in San Mateo County. Here, the average single-family home sells for about $3.5 million. As the name suggests, Hillsborough is a beautiful, hilly enclave with two prominent streams that flow into the wooded slopes. The seller owned a beautiful 7,000-square-foot home with breath­ taking “touch the sky” views. He was

a very street-savvy entrepreneur and really didn’t have to sell. The buyers were very bright as well, a notable lawyer and his attorney girlfriend who loved the home and the area but were used to high-level negotiations, helped in part by their own estate attorney. Believe it or not, the deal took a couple of years to complete because the

sides could not bridge a $100,000 gap. Eventually, the two sides agreed to a lease option to buy to create an agreeable compromise and to bridge the seller’s price and buyer’s reservations. “To say it took patience would be an understatement,” explains Mr. Chen. “Imagine having to start with a standard CAR form, but having endless pages of addendums, with attorneys making constant additions and subtractions to the language of the contract. Basically, it was every transaction a real estate agent might do, all rolled into one. It included a purchase contract, lease agreement, lease option along with the multiple addendums to tie them all together.” Mr. Chen likes to reference this to anyone who thinks that doing a “luxury” real estate deal is easy. “We deal all the time with buyers who don’t need to buy and sellers that don’t have to sell. To many upscale buyers and sellers, it’s all about the negotiations and managing emotions,” Mr. Chen continued. “When you introduce a first-time homebuyer who has some reservations

We deal all the time with buyers who don’t need to buy and sellers that don’t have to sell. To many upscale buyers and sellers, it’s all about the negotiations and managing emotions.

about making a high-priced purchase, and add three lawyers and an entrepreneur who isn’t afraid of them into the mix, you could imagine the egos involved. And if you’ve worked a lot with lawyers, you know that nothing this complicated is fast. It was critical that all the t’s were crossed and the i’s were dotted.” The house eventually sold for $4.6 million. “This was about as complicated a transaction as you can get, and it was filled with potential pitfalls. You have to manage the emotional toll and not become frustrated. For a buyer and a seller, the emotional feeling of getting the best price or deal is really important. You could have a $1,500 pool heater kill a multimillion-dollar deal,” Mr. Chen explains.

In 2013, this was really put to the test. The tightness of the housing inventory limited Mr. Chen’s sales to about $40 million in transactions, when he thought he might have had at least $60 million in transactions. Some of that business went sideways in the market, and some may return in 2014, but Mr. Chen is not dejected. “It’s just the way the market is right now, and it will change for the better,” Mr. Chen believes. And what does Mr. Chen attribute his success to? “I learned quickly to listen very care­fully. Demonstrate the value that you bring to your clients with your hyper-local market knowledge and negotiating skills. And don’t flinch when you’re giving your advice. After all, you are the expert,” Mr. Chen concludes.

Like the rest of San Mateo County, prices are at record levels in the Hillsborough real estate market. Highlights as of November 2013: »»

AVERAGE SALE PRICES WILL LIKELY EXCEED $3.5 MILLION IN 2013. The previous record was just over $3 million in 2008.






Mr. Chen is the President of Sybarite Investments and is an equity partner and shareholder of Keller Williams Peninsula Estates. He is also a Keller Williams Global Property Specialist. In addition to his real estate interests, Mr. Chen also is a martial arts and exercise enthusiast, and also enjoys skateboarding. In addition to making the AREAA “A-List”, Mr. Chen was also named multiple times to Gentry Magazine’s “10 under 40” agents to watch list.

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Prices continue to rise in Hillsborough. In the past 12 months, prices have increased by around 20%. All signs suggest that prices are at record levels. Average selling prices have risen faster than the average price per square foot due to larger homes listing and selling in 2013 than the previous year. It is normal to see fluctuations in the size of homes that happen to be listed from one month to the next and from one year to the next. In 2013, the average sold home in Hillsborough has been over 4,250 square feet. Last year, the average sold home was 4,000 square feet. There is some evidence to suggest that homes in the area are getting larger. In the past five years, the average sold home has been just over 4,000 square feet. In the five years prior to that, the average sold home was just under 3,800 square feet. Due to the combination of a surge in accepted offers and the normal seasonal drought of new listings, inventory levels declined to their lowest since December 2011. There were just 39 homes remaining for sale on the market in Hillsborough at the end of November 2013. Inventory almost always falls from November to December so the market should tighten even further as the year ends. As a reminder, across San Mateo County, inventory levels in the real estate market are at historic lows. Hillsborough has actually been an outlier with inventory remaining closer to recent average levels.




When Mr. Ivan Choi took over as the 2014 chair of AREAA at the National Convention in Los Angeles in October, it was a changing of the guard of sorts. Mr. Choi represents the next generation of AREAA leadership to help guide the hugely successful organization after a remarkable 10-year run. a | r | e caught up with Mr. Choi at the NAR Conference and Expo in San Francisco. We wanted to know what his vision and plans are for AREAA in 2014, as he helps steer it into the next decade of service.

FIRST OFF, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR BIGGEST GOAL IN ADVANCING AREAA DURING YOUR UPCOMING YEAR AS CHAIR? Well, there are so many things to do. Historically, AREAA has been very good at staying true to its mission of increasing sustainable home ownership opportunities in the Asian-American community, and we’ve been very good at getting a lot of really good people involved in our cause. AREAA has also done a great job at establishing chapters through most of the major Asian-American pockets in the United

States. We’re up to 32 chapters and almost 14,000 members. And we’ve established an educational foundation, gone on some amazing trade missions and started to provide revenue opportunities through AREAA Global.

OK, THAT SOUNDS GREAT. BUT HOW CAN YOU MAKE AREAA BETTER? What I’m looking for as one of our biggest initiatives, and hopefully people will look back this year and see that we’ve accomplished this, is to put a leadership development program within AREAA nation-

al and throughout its chapters. We want to be able to identify, nurture and guide the really bright people that have a passion for AREAA’s mission — and have them find a way to make their own mark within our organization. We’re aggressively working on ways to do this, bring them in, get them acclimated and guide them in their efforts to build their own piece of AREAA.

focused agenda. In the past few years, we’ve held a leadership summit where we’ve brought in chapter leaders, national committee members and other key players to help orientate them into AREAA’s mission. And it was a great start. But in my opinion, it hasn’t been a true leadership development program from the standpoint that we didn’t give them a specific skill set.



Well, we’re focusing on a leadership program with a very

Yes, I think so. Ideally, we would not only have a way to identify

AREAA members on a national and local basis, but we’ll be able to bring these people together and offer not only information on AREAA and where we’re going, but also provide a very tangible leadership development program.

WHAT WOULD THIS ENTAIL? We want to help our AREAA folks gain a certain skill set, things like how to plan, recruit, get others involved, build a team, gain consensus — you know, the basic functionalities of being a leader. We want to be able to provide direction on how to promote AREAA, how to have a

succession plan, all of these different types of topics. And as an extension of that, we want to have a solid program where we hold regional leadership summits going on locally. We’ve identified certain areas, like the Northeast, the Southeast, the Midwest, the South, the Pacific Northwest and California. So not only do we have things going on at the national level, but ideally at the local level as well. That’s where a lot of the heavy lifting takes place.

WHAT DO YOU SEE ABOUT CHAPTER GROWTH? Well, we’ve had a lot of success in the past four or five years with our chapters. As you know, we started our first international chapter in Vancouver, Canada, that’s doing well. We’re always looking at opportunities to establish chapters in other parts of the country. We have a chapter presence in just about every major market that has an Asian-American population. The ones that we’re missing are Minneapolis, Houston and central Florida, as well as New Orleans, which has a pretty sizeable Vietnamese population. Those are the three to four markets that we’re going to focus on

getting chapters open. In fact, Central Florida is probably going to happen very soon, followed by Minneapolis. We’re open to different chapters as long as we have strong local leadership and there’s a need in the market.

HOW DO THE INDIVIDUAL CHAPTERS DIFFER FROM AREAA NATIONAL? Each of our chapters are very independent in the scope of activities they offer, as well as the direction and approach they would take in the recruiting and providing value back to its members. They are pretty independent in that regard, because the general philosophy for AREAA in establishing chapters is that we don’t want to have a top-down philosophy, and AREAA wants to give the chapters the independence to make their own contributions to AREAA as an organization, as long as it falls within our overall mission. Of the $99 local chapter membership, almost nothing goes back to AREAA national, because right now, the local chapters definitely need more financial support than AREAA national does.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER CHAPTER GROWTH ACROSS THE GLOBE? That’s always under consideration. There


are Asian communities around the world, in South and Central America, for example, that are not necessarily in Asia. But they have ties in Asia and, of course, are looking for opportunities in North America.

WHAT ABOUT STARTING AN AREAA CHAPTER IN HONG KONG, BEIJING, SEOUL, BANGKOK OR OTHER MAJOR CITIES IN ASIA? Well, it’s absolutely on the radar. We’ve thought about establishing chapters in Asia the past few years, but we really want to understand how professionals in those countries actually interact with professional organizations. Because in some countries, no one joins a trade organization — it’s a bit of a foreign concept or something that’s not

customarily done. Obviously, if we establish a chapter, we want it to have a real purpose and a strong base for its existence. So while nothing is imminent, we’re always on the lookout to identify great people with ties to America and Asia that could help put us on the map.

DON’T THE AREAA TRADE MISSIONS KIND OF FILL THAT ROLE? Absolutely. At this point, it’s really about the trade missions that we’ve been conducting. These are individual events led by an AREAA member here in the U.S., where we travel to another country and meet with senior officials from government and business. While it’s a very surgical strike, it gives us a lot of traction and inroads into serving those markets.

...we’re about to embark on another major real estate study on the state of Asian American home ownership in conjunction with REALTOR® University. We really want to position AREAA as the ‘go-to’ entity for all things related to Asian American real estate.

WHAT’S ON THE AGENDA FOR TRADE MISSIONS IN 2014? We have two planned for 2014. The first one will go to Hong Kong in the first half of 2014, and then our second one will be to South Korea in the second half of 2014. Amy Kong, who’s out of the Bay Area, is going to lead the Hong Kong trade mission, while Ed Ka and Charlie Suh from Los Angeles will lead the South Korean trade mission.

WHAT ABOUT OUR MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS AND SPONSORS? WHAT ROLE DO THEY PLAY WITH AREAA? Well, they play a huge role. Not only do they contribute financially, they’re also involved with so many other aspects of AREAA. Many of our sponsors serve on our commit-

I VA N CHOI P R OF E S S ION A L HIGHL IGH T S C UR R E N T: Branch Manager Guaranteed Rate, The Home Purchase Experts Pasadena, CA PREVIOUS: Mortgage Industry since 1996 Executive Positions with Matt Martin Real Estate Management, Prospect Mortgage, Bank of America REOMAC President 2010-2011

tees, both nationally and locally. And at our annual convention and global summits, they’re intricately involved, many as top-notch speakers and in our educational breakout sessions. And all of our major sponsors evaluate their sponsorship levels each year. We actually meet with them on an annual basis and have an annual review with them. We want to go through and talk about what worked and what didn’t, how they felt and what they were willing to commit to the following year.

DID ALL OF THE MAJOR SPONSORS RENEW? It’s been a phenomenal year for AREAA. This is a time, especially in the mortgage banking side, where the business has contracted dramatically and budgets are being slashed, but all of our sponsors renewed at the full amount of what they contributed before, and most have actually committed more. To not have it cut and to have it actually increase is a major statement in how all our corporate sponsors feel about AREAA and the confidence that they have in us. In my opinion, it speaks volumes to the direction of AREAA

both at the national and local levels.

voting seat with them. Then there are our like-minded, almost sister organizations. We shared a booth with both NAHREB (National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Brokers) and NAREB (National Association of Real Estate Brokers formed in 1947 by African-American real estate professionals). We have a developing relationship with CREA (the Canadian Real Estate Association). And of course, all our national sponsors are critically important to us and they are also an invaluable part of AREAA.

YOU’RE ON THE MORTGAGE SIDE OF THE BUSINESS. HOW DOES IT FEEL FOR A MORTGAGE PROFESSIONAL TO LEAD AREAA? It’s always exciting. Anytime I can be with real estate people, it’s great. But I would say that’s one misconception about AREAA. The name is Asian Real Estate Association of America, but AREAA’s core members are comprised of anyone that’s involved in housing in the U.S. as well as other parts of real estate. So AREAA certainly welcomes mortgage professionals, title representatives, escrow officers, builders, real estate franchise organizations, lenders, property management companies and technology companies related to the industry. They are all welcomed as full members of AREAA and can be put into leadership positions.

WHO’S GOING TO BE ON YOUR LEADERSHIP TEAM IN 2014? Well, we have a great team in place. In addition to our national team in Carlsbad, led by Hope Atuel, we have all of our chapter leadership and national

...that’s one misconception about AREAA. The name is Asian Real Estate Association of America, but AREAA’s core members are comprised of anyone that’s involved in housing in the U.S. as well as other parts of real estate.

committee members. The AREAA national committees and local chapter leadership are truly the backbone of AREAA. Each has been carefully vetted and then unanimously approved by AREAA’s national board.

WHAT OTHER ORGANIZATIONS IS AREAA MOST CLOSELY ALIGNED TO? NAR is naturally a big supporter, and was instrumental in helping to launch AREAA. We are also closely aligned with FIABCI (the French-based International Real Estate Federation), and we actually have a

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER MAJOR INITIATIVES FOR 2014? Well, we’re about to embark on another major real estate study on the state of Asian American home ownership in conjunction with REALTOR® University. We really want to position AREAA as the ‘go-to’ entity for all things related to Asian American real estate. We certainly have the structure and people in place to do that. You’ll also see more things from AREAA Global, our for-profit entity that will create revenue opportunities for AREAA members and help support our nonprofit AREAA Edu-

cational Foundation. So look for things in that regard. We’ve started to do some things with the highly coveted EB-5 program in our educational sessions at our Global Summit and National Convention in 2013.

SO IN CLOSING, COULD YOU GIVE US SOME FINAL THOUGHTS? I think AREAA has accomplished some real important things in the short 10 years that we’ve been around. But we still have work to do. I think the issues of leadership development, chapter support and structure, research and trade missions, holding really transformational events at our global summit and national conventions and making sure that people really understand and believe in the AREAA mission are critical elements. We really want to build a strong value proposition for our members and give our people the skill set and support to have them make their own mark in AREAA. And I think we’re close, really close, to accomplishing so much of this. AREAA really is a terrific organization. I’m just here to guide it through this next year, and I’ll do everything I can to make that happen.




he Asian Real Estate Association of America hosted its 10th annual National Convention at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on Sept. 19-21. This year’s convention highlighted achievements of the Asian American community and connected the attendees, who numbered over 1,200, to their immigrant roots. One of the highlights of the event was the release of AREAA’s documentary tracing AREAA’s roots to the Asian American struggles in the United States to integrate 32


into the mainstream economy and society. The documentary features Allen Okamoto, AREAA’s founding chair, and his personal story of overcoming barriers despite the odds. Okamoto and his role as the first Asian American president voted in the San Francisco Association of REALTORS® paved the way to more Asian Americans becoming involved in state and national real estate boards and organizations across the country. In his remarks, Allen Okamoto said that, “the film was deeply

moving for me because it wasn’t too long ago that we were on the outside looking in. Today, with AREAA’s important work, that has changed. But we must always remember the past to appreciate the future. We still have a long way to go to ensure sustainable homeownership for the AAPI segment of the population.” A number of influential speakers and industry leaders joined in celebrating the organization’s continuing strides in affordable homeownership for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI)

I was really impressed by what I experienced at the AREAA conference. It confirmed the importance of community in the business world. LISA LING EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OUR AMERICA


OPPOSITE (clockwise from top left): An inspirational talk on courage and hope from founder & CEO of Emotiv Lifesciences Tan Le, newly-installed AREAA national chair Ivan Choi delivers his inaugural address, AREAA Person of the Year Fred Underwood accepts the prestigious award, and a memorable tribute to Michael Jackson by performance artist and winner of America's Got Talent, Kenichi Ebina.

community, a group that represents the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Tan Le, who is the founder and CEO of Emotiv Lifesciences, was the keynote speaker at the convention’s general session. Le shared her poignantly moving immigration journey from Vietnam to Australia and the struggles that come with assimilating into a new culture. “I think Le’s story resonated with the audience during the event” stated 2012 National Chair Kathy Tsao, “A lot of our members either have their own immigration

stories or have grown up hearing the stories of their parents or grandparents. It is still very important to bring the immigration stories of the Asian American to the forefront of our organization.” Award-winning journalist Lisa Ling was also among the guest speakers at the event. Ling, who is currently an executive producer and host of OWN’s Our America, widely recognized for her role in co-hosting ABC’s hit daytime program The View, moderated a moving discussion-style interview with the past chairs of AREAA

about the foundation of the org­ anization and the obstacles that came along with it. The 2013 AREAA National Convention also highlighted the installation of Ivan Choi as the organization’s 2014 National Chair during Saturday’s Installation Gala. Jim Park, AREAA’s immediate past chair, remarked “We are very excited to see what Ivan will accomplish as the 2014 Chair. With his emphasis on leadership development and membership outreach targeted at individual Asian cultural groups, we are opWINTER 2014



timistic about the future and what the association will accomplish in the years ahead.” Choi assumed the role of National Chair in September with leadership development as his main goal. During his installation speech, Choi made the commitment to ensuring that AREAA is focused on three broad themes: 1) leadership development, identifying and developing true leaders, 2) more structural and operational support for all of our local chapters, and 3) a more poignant approach in the inclusion of the various Asian cultural groups and ethnicities into AREAA as an organization. Choi closes his speech with saying, “in the next 10 years and beyond, I look forward to

Convention co-chairs Peter Park and Carmen Chong open the exhibition hall

Realogy president and CEO Alex Perriello

AREAA executive director Hope Atuel (L) has a discussion with vice president of public affairs for The Nielsen Company, Betty Lo (R), about the power of the Asian American consumer

Convention attendees enjoyed an exclusive, invite-only evening at Louis Vuitton Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive


Andrew Pak performs during "AREAA's Got Talent"

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage area sales manager, Joey Lai

AREAA local chapter leaders: Esther Lee (Greater Los Angeles), Evan Huynh (Silicon Valley) and Vicky Silvano (Greater Chicago) 34

making a difference and growing old with all of you. I want to look back in the decades ahead with all of you and have the chance to reflect on the impact we are going to make.” As part of this year’s event, the conference boasted a robust selection of intriguing and valuable real estate sessions that boosted professional development tracks with an increased emphasis on global and luxury real estate markets. The National Convention program consisted of 25 breakout sessions covering a wide array of topics in these fields as well as default transactions, commercial real estate, and technological innovations that can be applied to the real estate industry. In addition to these events, the convention’s program highlighted and celebrated Asian American culture and accomplishments at various special events at the convention including the first-ever AREAA Fashion Show, AREAA’s Got Talent and an international reception that highlighted different cultural clothing from all over the world.



By Jacki Ueng Award-winning journalist and AREAA National Convention keynote speaker Lisa Ling’s reputation, story and ancestry embodies AREAA’s mission: “The American Dream”. Lisa is highly influential, always eloquent and the consummate professional. No one was better qualified to host and help celebrate AREAA’s 10-year anniversary than Ms. Ling herself, with a touching narrative on her family’s “Coming to America” story. Ling, executive producer of Our America on OWN, has tackled serious issues in America, and has investigated thousands of groundbreaking stories around the world over the past two decades. Her special report at the National Convention began with a Q&A discussing the greatest accomplishments Bank of America’s Dottie Sheppick has witnessed during her longtime support of AREAA. Dottie recognized all the relationships AREAA has established with housing policy makers, elected officials, and leaders in the housing industry in many entities. Ling then introduced the highlight of the hour: the premiere of AREAA’s 10-Year Anniversary Documentary, filmed and edited by Alex Vo Films. “My grandfather immigrated from Japan in the late 1800s, from Chiba, Japan, which is not far from Tokyo. Unfortunately because of the cultural differences, language problems, discrimination, life was very difficult for the 1st generation Japanese in the United States,” AREAA Founding Chair Allen Okamoto opened. The audience broke into silence, and in minutes into tears of sadness watching the tragic story of discrimination against Asian Americans over the past century. The tears then turned to those of pride after seeing all that Asian Americans and AREAA have accomplished in just a decade. Many in the audience experienced this touching emotional roller coaster firsthand as they each have their own family’s story of immigration, discrimination and accomplishments to tell. And so does Lisa. “That was a beautiful video. I have to say I’ve reported on so many different kinds of stories around the world and here domestically but I can’t believe I just cried at a real estate conference!” Lisa then told the story of her grandfather, one in a small group of nationals from China who in the 1930s were given the opportunity to study in the U.S. In the late 1930s, he was unable to get a job in economics or finance, which he studied, because

of his ethnicity. This prompted her grandparents to relocate from the East Coast to Folsom, California, where they lived in a converted chicken coop as they worked in the family restaurant. As a young boy, Lisa’s father was a shrimp peeler. Lisa’s grandmother had a music degree from Cambridge and taught piano in her spare time, doing all she could to hold the family together. In time, they were able to save enough money to buy a little house in Carmichael, California, where Lisa was born. Her father and his sister recall facing discrimination and harassment for being Asian, but because they had this home, they had a place where they could invite friends and family, a place where they could escape from the challenges the world had placed on their shoulders and share with each other. She commented on John Wong’s, Allen Okamoto’s and Jim Park’s respective stories in the documentary, as they relate to all immigrants: owning one’s home carries so much significance, considering the sacrifices that have to be made in leaving the homeland and the resources necessary to purchase a home away from home. This was certainly the case for Ling’s family. Lisa went on to share an anecdote from her experience reporting on the foreclosure crisis from a home that was lost to foreclosure by a Korean family in Temecula, California. She was heartbroken to see a large box of photographs the family left behind. As she browsed through the photos, the visuals unraveled the family’s “Coming to America” journey, including efforts they expended and joyful experiences they had in the home. This struck the journalist personally because she knew how hard it must have been to get that home. Lisa emphasized that Asians need advocates, like AREAA, and support, especially since Asian Americans were the hardest-hit population in the foreclosure market, according to 2008 census reports. They experienced the biggest homeownership rate decline of any race, due in part to the fact that one third of Asian Americans reside in California, which was heavily affected. To conclude, the moving speech was followed by a session with all the past AREAA National chairs sharing their experiences with the association and well wishes for Ivan Choi as he assumed the role for 2014.


Chase was well represented at the convention

AREAA founding chair John Yen Wong

Gary Kawano, Mie Kim and AREAA 2013 chair Jim Park

Winnie Davis and Young Kim with the PrimeLending mascot

Allen Chiang, Allen Okamoto and Lidia Yun

PNC Bank representatives in the exhibition hall



The Citi team enjoys the convention

Ellen Osmundson recites her poem entitled "Asian-American Dreams and AREAA". Read the poem here:


AREAA San Francisco Peninsula members perform Stayin' Alive for "AREAA's Got Talent"

Dottie Sheppick, affordable housing and strategic relationships executive for Bank of America Neighborhood Lending, addresses convention attendees

Ivan Choi and Randy Char

Amy Kong, Wendy Knipp and Denise MaNguyen bid on items during a silent auction to benefit the AREAA Education Foundation

Union Bank welcomes guests to the exhibition hall

Lawrence Bailey, regional vice president - mortgage banking at JPMorgan Chase

Carmen Mercado, Angie Lee and Rachel Kwong





Betty Sun Wong

Carmen Chong

Tim Hur

Esther Lee

Asian designers and Asian-inspired fashion from retailers at Westfield Century City were highlighted at the AREAA fashion show, September 21, 2013, sponsored by Union Bank. Tina Balch



Charlie Suh

Anh Pham

Rinko Yamamoto


Raquel Quinet

(L to R) Carlos Brizuela, IE NAHREP Incoming President; Fabian Casarez, IE NAHREP President; Joseph Gutierrez, Senior VP, Union Bank; Chris Yu, Union Bank Community Loan Officer

To the delight of the crowd, a number of AREAA members made their way down the catwalk, showing off attire from their native countries around the world. Allison Low

Pauline Ha

Jasmine Cheng

Ivan Choi and daughter Izzy



theEDGE EVENT at X - B A R 1




5 8









13 14

16 15 18

On September 20th, 2013, theEDGE, AREAA Young Professionals, along with sponsors Quicken Loans, hosted their annual national convention mixer at X-Bar in Century City, California. PHOTOS 1. Kelley Liu, Dionne Cuello, Fred Underwood, Trang Dang-Le 2. theEDGE committee members 3. Jacob Scherer 4. Paulina Rossavong and Rob Mehta 5. Andrew Lim and Jacki Ueng 6. Cindy Lui and Emily Moerdomo Fu 7. Tanya Reu and Latonia Donaldson 8. Katie Minkus and Caron Ling 9. Tina Balch, Loida Guevara and Regina Ong-Garcia 10. AREAA members on the red carpet 11. AREAA DC Metro members jump around 12. AREAA Greater Chicago leadership 13. Leanne Tran, Linh Tran, Kara Okamoto and Esther Hsu 14. Michael Ramos 15. Lynnette Fox-Rindner, Jim Park and Scott Rindner 16. David Chan, Alan Ching, Loi Thai and Ken Schwing 17. Evan Huynh, Michelle Doan and Long Doan 18. LuAnn Shikasho and Jennifer Odama.

17 WINTER 2014



A closer look at the winner, Onvedeo By JOHN PERETZ

If you were at the AREAA national convention in Los Angeles, you might imagine that your heart would thump a little harder if you were presenting to the judging panel in the Dragon’s Den, AREAA’s version of ABC TV’s highly successful Shark Tank. That’s exactly what seven contestants (chosen out of an initial field of 13) did in a dramatic shootout for the $10,000 winner-take-all contest. The spirited competition was judged by four industry heavyweights, including Mr. Glenn Kelman (CEO of Redfin), Ms. Sherry Chris (CEO and president of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate), Ms. Jennifer Jeng (co-founder of a mobile startup) and Mr. Brad Inman (founder of Inman News). Each of the contestants was given a five-minute time slot to pitch their idea or company to the judging panel and audience, and then the judges had their turn with a 42


seven- to 10-minute Q-and-A session for each presenter. After the seven contestants were finished, the judges determined two finalists: Mr. Boubou Guiro of Onvedeo and Mr. GieFaan Kim, who is working on a secure off-market database for consumers and agents. The final vote was then turned over to approximately 100 members via a text vote. In the end, the relatively new company Onvedeo was named the winner of the inaugural Dragon’s Den competition. Mr. Guiro’s presentation was one of the better presentations: crisp, succinct and memora-

The Dragon's Den gave individuals an opportunity to pitch their real estate innovations to a live audience and panel of esteemed judges. After their presentations, the contestants were questioned by the judges, who identified their top two candidates. The audience then voted between the two to crown the winner of the Dragon's Den and recipient of $10,000 to apply toward their industry-changing innovation. The program was sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and Inman News.

ble, honed by previous presentations to venture capitalist groups and a market launch that demands a crystal clear value proposition. Onvedeo is based in San Francisco, and the company has built an automated video engine named VidGenie that promises to make an affordable and first-rate video for local listings. The individual listing videos are generated by the video engine and include a professional

provide and puts the video together for you. So it ends up being really easy to use. Onvedeo has straightforward pricing plans for both agents and brokerages. You can buy the videos a la carte or subscribe to a monthly plan that allows you to create more videos at a lower per-video price. But the two biggest benefits you might get are in the area of improved search engine opti-

The reason I got into the real estate space came from a personal experience...I started to look on the Internet, but all I saw was a lot of text and static photos. And most of the photos didn’t provide the kind of perspective about the surrounding area that I wanted to see. So I wasted a lot of time looking at places that just didn’t fit my needs. And video would have solved that issue. BOUBOU GUIRO CEO, ONVEDEO voiceover, some video of the area, property photos and a description of the listing. You can personalize it even more with a short “intro” and “outro” to the video. The professionally produced video is usually around a minute long and includes music, motion graphics and “supers” (onscreen text). But, keep in mind that the video comes out of an automated video-generating engine. So, it ends up being a lot more affordable than an individually edited and produced video. For example, the price for producing a single video is just $9.99, and you can buy subscription packages that lower the price even more. A promotion on Onvedeo’s website allows you to create your first video for free to see how it works. The company is growing and evolving at breakneck speed. Originally, the idea was to have agents and brokers upload their own video content to the Onvedeo platform using a proprietary mobile app, but given the cost and time constraints, that didn’t work as well as expected. So the idea of the video engine started to emerge. With the VidGenie, you can choose from six different language variations: English, English-Australian, French-Canadian, Mandarin, Spanish and Korean. And you can output each video to include some or all of these different languages or dialects. So in essence, you can serve your local multicultural buyer, find international prospects and help build your global brand. You can also choose from various themes and more than 30 music tracks, and the video-creating engine uses an easy stepby-step process. You don’t provide a script because the engine uses the information you

mization and the ability to make more impressive listing presentations. On the search engine optimization front, it’s been estimated that video has eight times the traction of traditional online content. Once you have the video, you can add it to You­Tube, your own website and even make it an HTML Craigs­ list post. You can also syndicate it to Trulia. But equally important is the added presence you can have in listing presentations. You can craft a very persuasive pitch as you showcase the sizzle of video, your expanded language capability for multicultural buyers and the expanded reach that video provides. For Mr. Guiro, the start of Onvedeo is part of a long and interesting immigration journey. As with many AREAA members, Mr. Guiro was born abroad, but not in Asia. Rather, he was born in West Africa in the capital city of Senegal and lived there until he was 10 years old before moving with his family to Switzerland, where he spent his teenage years. His father worked for the United Nations. After high school, he moved to France to start his computer engineering education, and in 2005 made the big move to San Francisco. So Mr. Guiro has a very strong international perspective, and speaks fluent French, English and some German. Mr. Guiro started Onvedeo in 2012 after working on it for a couple of years in the evenings and on weekends. Before Onvedeo, he was working at CBS Interactive as the director of product management. CBS Interactive has some of the largest gaming sites in the world with more than 40 million monthly users. Prior to that, he also enjoyed stints as a product manager and business systems analyst C O N T I N U E D

The Seven Contestants JESSICA LEE A Bay Area real estate agent with an idea to turn a real estate listing into a referral-based network of associated services. JUSTIN HUGHES Co-founder and chief operations officer of Realty Mogul, a real estate crowdfunding tool for investors. GieFaan KIM A New York City agent working on an off-market database for consumers and agents that’s also secure. ALLEN CHIANG Owner of a Los Angeles-based brokerage with five offices and more than 300 agents with an idea to help make high-traffic real estate offices seem more like a coffee shop than an “office.” KEN AVELINO A Sacramento lawyer with a concept for creating a real estate investment trust (REIT) with an emphasis on Asian senior housing. NABIL CAPTAN Credit-scoring expert who created a video series on instructing consumers about credit. BOUBOU GUIRO CEO of Onvedeo, the maker of a video engine that produces customized listing videos for real estate professionals. (THE WINNER)

VidGenie Language Variations » » English » » English-Australian » » French-Canadian » » Mandarin » » Spanish » » Korean WINTER 2014



Judges Glenn Kelman, Jennifer Jeng, Sherry Chris and Brad Inman hear a Dragon's Den pitch presentation John Photography

at several companies, and actually worked as a tech consultant at a company named Imminence in Nice, France, which built the first MLS platform in France and Europe. It’s that connection, along with a personal experience in search for real estate that brought him back to real estate technology. “The reason I got into the real estate space came from a personal experience,” Mr. Guiro explains. “I was looking to move from San Francisco to Sausalito, and I had to do it in a relatively short time period. Of course, I started to look on the Internet, but all I saw was a lot of text and static photos. And most of the photos didn’t provide the kind of perspective about the surrounding area that I wanted to see. So I wasted a lot of time looking at places that just didn’t fit my needs. And video would have solved that issue.” “We all want to know what the house is like, but we also want to know what the neighborhood is like. And if you’re moving from a distant location, you want even more information. So we build our videos with that in mind and are very methodical about what we show on each video. Certainly we want people to know about the agent or brokerage, the house, the neighborhood, the city, and the like,” Mr. Guiro continues. Onvedeo uses a combination of house photos supplied by the agent or brokerage, and then adds content from their database of video from the surrounding areas. All of this is put into the video engine VidGenie, along with other information about the listing, such as the number of bedrooms, square footage and various other home features. Then the VidGenie automatically creates the video based on an agent’s selections. “When someone signs up at the brokerage level, if we don’t have the video footage available for their area, we’ll send someone to shoot it or find quality stock footage,” Mr. Guiro explains. “We have Onvedeo videographers or WINTER 2014

sometimes use local, independent filmmakers to get the quality and scope that we want. Yes, there’s a cost involved, but the agent or brokerage does not incur it. It’s part of being a startup, but we’re convinced that eventually, Onvedeo will have the largest library of local neighborhood footage available in the U.S.” Mr. Guiro and his team first heard about the AREAA Dragon’s Den competition a few months before the event. “We thought it would be the perfect fit for us because AREAA is one of the most international groups around, and my background is international,” Mr. Guiro explains. “We also wanted the feedback, to learn what international agents and brokerages want in a video engine like this.” And Mr. Guiro was thrilled with the results. a | r | e magazine caught up with Mr. Guiro at the NAR conference in San Francisco a short time after Onvedeo’s Dragon Den win to see what it’s been up to. This was the company’s first time exhibiting at the NAR conference and expo. “We’re going to invest the $10,000 prize and become even more international,” noted Mr. Guiro. “We’re going to add more languages, hire more voiceover talent for the video engine and work to really improve the product. If AREAA members want us to introduce other languages, we’ll take a long look at it to see if we can make it happen.” “We spend every day looking at how to improve the video engine and adding new video content. We’re getting there. This is not something that’s static. AREAA was a big help to us, and we really appreciate the work that AREAA has done to get this event together. We are grateful to the AREAA team and all the real estate professionals that voted for us,” Mr. Guiro concludes. Look for big things from Onvedeo in the future. The industry is catching on. For more information about Onvedeo, visit its website at

We have Onvedeo videographers or sometimes use local, independent filmmakers to get the quality and scope that we want.

Yes, there’s a cost involved, but the agent or brokerage does not incur it. It’s part of being a startup,

but we’re convinced that eventually, Onvedeo will have the largest library of local neighborhood footage available in the U.S.



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Words & Photos courtesy of JACKI UENG AREAA’s fourth episode of Noodle Town, “Tropical Style”, featured the most visually appealing scenery of any episode to date and the food was just as appetizing. What better way to enjoy a bowl of ramen than with a backdrop of the glistening turquoise water?! During our visit to Honolulu for the 2013 AREAA Global Summit last April, my co-host Jim Park and I took advan-



tage of our downtime by trying out good eats in the city’s picturesque Waikiki neighborhood. Luckily, AREAA Aloha Chapter leader Caron Ling, also the famous star of HGTV’s Hawaii Life, had time to show us her hometown. We took a stroll down the serene streets of Waikiki, bustling with locals and tourists, but with such a tranquilizing energy. Our first stop was to Jim’s personal favorite ramen shop, where he must

stop every time he’s in town, Ramen Nakamura. There, we ran into another group of AREAA members who had also heard of this OG restaurant. The unassuming eatery seats about 20 individuals along a circular bar surrounding the wait staff who pace up and down, delivering excellent, attentive service. The setup provides a welcoming atmosphere to strike up conversations with your neighbors. Upon sitting, we were handed a menu

Jim Park, Jacki Ueng and Caron Ling enjoy a cocktail in Waikiki

The popular oxtail ramen at Ramen Nakamura

with a fine selection of ramen. I chose the bone marrow ramen, kindly asking for extra spicy. Caron ordered the miso ramen and Jim decided on the ramen gyoza set. While we anxiously waited

for this much-boasted ramen, we were given a lesson on Hawaii’s history through the life experience of Caron’s family, Chinese immigrants who came in the late 1800s.

The Inspirational Roy Yamaguchi

Asian Immigration Hawaiian Food


Most early Asian immigration to the U.S. (which consisted primarily of Japanese, Filipinos, Chinese and Koreans), had been to Hawaii. Many of these immigrants worked as laborers in the coconut, pineapple and sugar plantations. A good number stayed, hence the heavy Asian population in Hawaii. The earliest recorded was the Chinese in 1778. In fact, some Chinese on the islands today can claim to be seventh generation Hawaiians. In 1920, at their height, Japanese constituted 43% of Hawaii’s population. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, people of Japanese descent now account for roughly 14% of the population, while Filipinos have become the second-largest racial group on the islands. Hawaiian cuisine has amalgamated into a fusion of all of the immigrants that have arrived on the island’s shores in the past few centuries, similar to the tale of what

Jacki Ueng and Roy Yamaguchi at the 2013 AREAA Global Summit

e slurped the ramen within minutes, with smiles of pure satisfaction on our faces. We then waved goodbye and said our thank you’s to the friendly staff at Ramen Nakamura before hitting the streets. Caron, Jim and I agreed that we needed to walk off the carbs as we cut through random corners and wandered around, observing old and new buildings in Waikiki. Along our stroll, we stopped at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion for dessert (as long as you consider a tropical martini as a dessert)! It was perfect timing as 24 hours later Roy Yamaguchi, owner of 31 Roy’s restaurants across the globe, would be the keynote luncheon speaker at the Global Summit.

There could not have been a more appropriate speaker than Yamaguchi, considering we were visiting his home of Hawaii and hosting a global conference for AREAA, which honors, supports and serves the Asian American community in achieving their “American Dream”. Roy was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. Through a lot of hard work, he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and then took apprenticeships in Los Angeles with some of the finest culinary minds. Among his many accomplishments as a chef and restaurateur, Yamaguchi is Hawaii’s first-ever James Beard Award winner and continues to expand his restaurant empire today.

is considered “American Food”. The Chinese brought Cantonese cuisine: stir fry rice/noodles, sweet and sour flavors and dim sum snacks. The Koreans brought kimchi and barbecue meats. The Japanese brought seafood, tonkatsu-style dishes and curry. The Filipinos brought adobo-styles of “boil, stew, broil” and deep-fried foods. In more recent years, there has been an influx of immigration from Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. You can


taste this wonderful diversity in what is now known as “Hawaiian Food”.



LEFT: Global Summit guests relax at the Mai Tai Bar, where the signature drink of the same name was conceived BELOW: The pig is unearthed during a cultural ceremony at the luau BOTTOM: The complete luau meal

The Global Summit was held at the Sheraton Waikiki, which is connected to the beautiful Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Tanya Reu of Realogy held an exclusive party for guests at the Mai Tai Bar, which we arrived at just in time. The Mai Tai Bar, located within steps of the beach, is the ideal place to relax while sipping a tropical umbrella drink and nibbling on delicious appetizers. They also claim that the popular Mai Tai cocktail was invented there. Now, a visit to Hawaii wouldn’t be complete without attending a luau. AREAA had arranged a luau dinner for all attendees of the Global Summit. Upon arrival, guests were “lei’d” by beautiful Hawaiian women in straw skirts, flowers in their hair and coconut-shelled bikinis. Cocktail hour began as small booths were set to make straw hats and bracelets. Then the main attraction: the pig roast began. This rivaled the other Noodle Town pig roast experience we had, in the National City episode. A dozen tanned, tatted up Hawaiian boys and grown

men lifted a voluptuous pig out of the fire pit and performed native dance and ritual chants for us. Afterwards, we were escorted to the dining table where the pig (now pork) and other meats and Hawaiian delicacies were served during a lovely Hawaiian performance. Just as we thought our gluttonous journey couldn’t get any better, our Hawaiian friends took us to the Honolulu Night Market, which was started to revitalize the Kaka’ako area by bringing local artists, performers, food trucks and restaurants to line the streets with fun festivities. Hundreds of teenagers, young adults and couples roamed the streets enjoying the nightlife.



Real Estate in Hawaii

3.6 58% 12 Japanese-based investors account for more than


of all homes sold on Oahu went to buyers with a foreign tax bill address, approximately the national average



of all international sales in Hawaii. China-based buyers:

Source: Inman News

Source: NAR


o ve r


billion invested by the Japanese in Hawaii between 1985-1995, more than the $850 million invested in the preceding 10 years


Source: University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization

Honolulu is one of the top 10 real estate markets in the U.S. for international buyers. In 2011, Inman News reported that 3.6% of all homes sold on Oahu went to buyers with a foreign tax bill address, which is approximately twice the national average. According to NAR, Japan-based investors account for more than 58% of all international sales in Hawaii and China-based buyers comprise nearly 6%. Between 1985 and 1995, the Japanese invested over $12 billion

in Hawaii compared to $850 million in the preceding decade. The highest year of investment was in 1989 when the net investment hit nearly $5 billion. Today, Asian investment in the U.S. (including Hawaii) is sky rocketing. Investors love Hawaii not just for the lucrative return, but also because of the beauty of the island, authenticity of the people and, of course, the delightful variety of the cuisine.

Watch Noodle Town Waikiki on YouTube: Noodle Town is an AREAA media production hosted by Jim Park and Jacki Ueng. Noodles are a staple across all Asian cultures and a symbol of long life. Noodle dishes are novelties served during celebrations as well as everyday street food. Despite all the debate, Marco Polo did bring noodles to the West! Jim and Jacki taste their way through Asian neighborhoods across

The Noodle Town Series Episode 1




WAIKIKI Visit Noodle Town online:

America as they learn about the history, culture and food. Stay tuned for the next episode of Noodle Town! Tell us about your local Asian neighborhood and we will make our way there as fast as we can chew! WINTER 2014



JAPAN TRADE MISSION 2013 On October 12th, 40 AREAA members took off on an unforgettable trip to the Land of the Rising Sun. The mission began in Tokyo but actually consisted of two separate components. A delegation of AREAA Foundation Chair Allen Okamoto, 2014 AREAA Chair-Elect Carmen Chong, Allen and Sophie Chiang, Foundation Secretary Amy Kong, and EDGE Chair Kara Okamoto took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Sendai in the Tohoku Region of Japan to deliver a $150,000 donation to the Tohoku Rainbow House orphanage. Due to the devastating tsunami of March 11, 2011, there exist hundreds of orphans who are still in need of housing and care. With this tragedy in mind, the Foundation was pleased to provide a donation to alleviate some of the suffering caused by this disaster. With this donation, the Rainbow house will construct an orphanage in the city of Rikuzentakaa, one of the most devastated cities on the coast of Japan. The delegation rushed to return to Tokyo to avoid a major typhoon and safely joined the Japan Trade Mission delegates as they started their journey through the nation, which constituted the second component of the trade mission. The first leg of this journey was located in Tokyo. Many of the members toured the city and visited the Imperial Palace, the Asakusa Shrine and other beautiful locations. The mission’s visit to Tokyo was highlighted by visits to many Japanese real estate companies such as Mitsui Fudosan, Nomura Fudosan, Recruit, Tokyu Land Corporation, and the Mori Building Co. Ltd. Along the way, the team enjoyed the sights, sounds and food of Japan. On the last evening in the city, AREAA hosted a reception on the 48th floor of the Keio Plaza Hotel where the delegates joined about 50 members of local real estate companies and banks for a night of networking. The team was especially pleased that Mr. Masa Tanaka of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and FIABCI President Naokiyo Hayashi were in attendance. The next day, the team boarded the Shinkasen to Osaka where they visited the Sugita and received valuable information on the Osaka real estate market. The delegation then had a fruitful meeting with the Takken Osaka (Osaka Real Estate Industry Association) and was treated to a reception given by Mido21, the young professional real estate group in Osaka. The evening was filled with more food as the delegates took the Naganoshima River cruise followed by a gourmet dinner hosted by Zen Sugita at the world famous Taiko-En restaurant. On the last evening in Japan the team held a Sayonara dinner where they all enjoyed eating and drinking while sitting on the floor. The highlight of the evening was a surprise birthday party for Allen Okamoto. With the team’s return to the United States, plans are already being made for the next visit to Japan where AREAA will continue to establish relationships with real estate companies so that AREAA members can reap the benefits of doing business with Japan. Special thanks are given to both Atsuko Yube and Hiroko Nishikawa Nauman for all of the logistical planning. Photos by LuAnn Shikasho & Atsuko Yube



the A S S O C I AT I O N



the A S S O C I AT I O N

On September 26th, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts was filled with 300+ guests from across the nation to attend AREAA’s Viva Luxury Panel Las Vegas. Sherwin Escanuela, 2013 President of the AREAA Vegas chapter kicked off the event with opening remarks. Brian Krueger, SVP of Coldwell Banker Premiere Las Vegas gave a presentation on the local luxury real estate market. Ivan Choi, 2014 AREAA National Chair, moderated a panel discussion with topics ranging from secrets of selling luxury homes to creating a luxury brand image. Featured panelists such as 2014 AREAA Las Vegas President Randy Char, Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles star Madison Hildenbrand, HGTV’s Selling Los Angeles star Christophe Choo, and Coldwell Banker Previews International President Betty Graham shared their personal insights and sound business advice about the luxury real estate market. Following the panel, a select group of fifty guests took a VIP luxury real estate shuttle tour of four of the highest-priced homes in the surrounding area with list prices ranging from $8 to $12 million dollars. Guests dined on gourmet food and sipped fine champagne while taking in views of a lifetime. The evening culminated with a nightcap and tour of One Queensridge Place, the gorgeous luxury high-rise in Summerlin. Guests previewed the newest model unit with lavish interiors by Cary Vogel. From morning to night, the Viva Luxury Panel was truly a magnificent day filled with the nation’s leaders in the luxury real estate industry. As a result of this successful event, thirty new members joined AREAA. Photos by Ray Alamo

THE RESURGENCE OF LUXURY REAL ESTATE Synthesize four real estate industry leaders, an interior designer with an eye for luxury, the most exclusive high-rise in Las Vegas, and some seriously sophisticated vodka and you have a panel discussion and networking reception recipe destined for success. On the evening of June 27, 2013, One Queensridge Place, the luxurious high-rise with two residential towers and 219 high-end homes, opened their spectacular iron gates to welcome several hundred guests to The Resurgence of Luxury Real Estate presented by the AREAA Las Vegas chapter. The panel was composed of industry leaders such as Ivan Sher, president of Shapiro and Sher, Gavin Ernstone of Simply Vegas, Zar Zanganeh of Luxe Estates Collection, and Cary Vogel of Interiors by Cary Vogel. Randy Char, SVP of One Queensridge Place, and 2014 National Chair Ivan Choi also moderated the discussion. The event’s tagline was appropriately designated “learn the secrets to selling luxury real estate by the best.” A key take-away from this event was the importance of developing relationships in the luxury space and associating with the most elite luxury brands in the world. Panelist Carey Vogel, who is in high demand for his progressive designs by luxury home enthusiasts, spoke on today’s market trends, buyers’ wants, and how he incorporated these factors into the latest well-received units at One Queensridge Place. After the discussion, attendees enjoyed fresh cocktails courtesy of ABSOLUT ELYX and a tour of the model unit. The event also successfully generated 37 new AREAA memberships to the Las Vegas chapter. Photos by Ray Alamo WINTER 2014




AREAA-ARIZONA CFPB AND DODD -FRANK EVENT The AREAA Arizona Chapter, a chapter that has been at the forefront of educational events in the area, held the CFPB and Dodd-Frank Expert Panel event at the Thunderbird School of Global Management on November 13th, 2013. Over 175 REALTORS® were in attendance along with around 30 local bankers from Chase and Wells Fargo. Because of the huge success, the chapter held another expert panel in Scottsdale at the Chaparral Suites shortly after. The panel consisted of Arizona Association of REALTOR’s general counsel Scott Drucker, keynote speaker Jim Eckley, Dodd-Frank instructor Dennis Brookshire, and Amy Swaney, who is the past AMLA president and CFPB keynote speaker. The panel discussed all the concerns of the dynamic legislation that the CFPB will be bringing to the real estate and mortgage lending industry. The changes brought on by this agency will be far-reaching and the panel did a successful job describing how they will ultimately affect real estate transactions. – Tom Diller




To have your news, awards, good work and accomplishments considered for publication in future editions of a|r|e magazine, contact Michael Kelly at: AREAA-Arizona Board Members (L to R) Sean Aske, Membership; Grace Du, Treasurer; Tom Diller, Marketing; Michelle Chang, Past President; and Kurt Nishimura, Education.

AREAA ATLANTA LUXURY AND GLOBAL PANEL AND MEMBERSHIP DRIVE AREAA Greater Atlanta hosted its Luxury and Global Panel and Membership Drive at the luxurious Mandarin Oriental in Atlanta, Georgia on October 16th, 2013. The event brought together global investors, housing real estate leaders, government officials, and major financial institutions to discuss the luxury and global markets and the importance of working with high-end clients. Speakers for the event included Herman Chan, a nationally recognized luxury real estate agent who stars in HGTV’s hit program House Hunters, and Peter Pasternack, who stars in A&E’s Flip This House. Additional speakers included top-producing international agent Betsy Akers, 2008 AREAA Chair Emily Fu, and the 2014 AREAA Chair Ivan Choi. As a result of this event, guests left with a better understanding of the nuances associated with both international and high-end real estate markets.

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS IN SEOUL AREAA Ambassador to Korea Charlie Suh visited industry peers in Seoul on behalf of AREAA. Among others, Suh met with newly-elected KAR President Hae Kwang Lee and key members of Lee's cabinet. The two sides discussed a mutual desire to promote and grow business relationships across the Pacific.

AREAA AT THE FNAIM CONFERENCE AREAA Founding Chair John Yen Wong and long-time national leader Betty Sun Wong led a group of members to Paris, France in December to attend and promote AREAA at the La Fédération Nationale de l'Immobilier (FNAIM) convention. For more information, visit:


G LO BAL LUXURY SUMMI T APRIL 1 2-15 , 2 014 N E W Y O R K , N .Y.

N AT I O N A L P O L I C Y D AY M AY 5 - 6 , 2 0 1 4 WA S H I N GT O N , D .C .



A D V E R T I S E R S 2014 AREAA Global Luxury Summit

page 2

AREAA National Convention

page 25

AREAA National Policy Day

page 15

Bank of America

Inside Front Cover and page 10

Gina Duncan, Maui Real Estate Advisors LLC

page 45

Gary Kawano, Everbank

page 45

Meiling Kravarik, Nextage M3 Realty

page 45

National Association of REALTORS速 Global

page 1

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

page 3


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a | r | e Winter 2014  

Volume 5, Issue 4 Featured: Ivan Choi, Technology in Real Estate