Convinced that a robust private property market promotes social stability, strengthens democratic institutions and promotes economic growth, IRPF has worked since 1992 to help develop real estate markets in more than 30 countries. One of its core strategies has been to build the institutional capacity of embryonic professional associations of real estate brokers, property managers and appraisers. As a demand-driven organization, however, it has expanded its services over time, both substantively and geographically. It now services an array of developing countries’ real property market needs in addition to building real estate association capacity. Having now moved beyond Central and Eastern Europe, it is active in Asia, Africa and the Americas. But it had its start in 1992 in the former satellites of the Soviet Union.
The opportunity that loomed in 1992 --- the reconstruction of Soviet Bloc economies and the democratizing of autocratic regimes --- was not unlike that which prompted the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe in 1947. What galvanized IRPF’s founders was the belief in a strong real estate sector as a powerful force to lift an emerging economy, improve living standards and alleviate poverty. They were convinced that the surest way to promote and strengthen democratic institutions in Central and Eastern Europe would be by improving standards of living, and that a major component of any successful initiative to do so would be the development of robust, well-functioning real estate markets.
Perhaps more important, though, was IRPF’s vision of what was needed to develop those markets. Efficient real estate markets require knowledgeable professionals mutually committed to explicit ethical standards, and a means of sharing market information. IRPF believed that voluntary associations can be uniquely effective mechanisms for delivering professional training, administering and enforcing a code of ethics, and serving as a clearing house for market information. They were intimately familiar with voluntary real estate associations not only in the United States, but with many other national associations functioning with high degrees of success in other Western countries such as Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, and the Scandinavian countries.
Since 1999, IRPF has initiated interventions in some sixteen countries in addition to those where it had worked prior to 1999. This includes Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, S. Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda. Since it began operations in 1992, it has helped establish, or it has materially supported, a total of 78 partner associations in 30 countries, through which it has touched an estimated total of 200,000 real estate professionals. IRPF’s emphasis on institutional capacity building has continued. It serves as midwife, mentor and governance consultant to associations, helping them solve their problems and expand their member services (especially professional training). In addition, since 1999 it has strengthened its capacity to offer legal and regulatory reform (including broker and appraiser licensing and/or certification, facilitate real estate multiple listing services, and promote international appraisal standards. It has also developed an institutional technique for providing administrative support simultaneously to brokers' and appraisers' associations.
Initial support for the Foundation was provided by the National Association of REALTORS ® (NAR), however within 12 months of its formation, the Foundation established total financial and organizational independence. Over the last twenty-two years, the Foundation has mobilized over $15 Million in assistance to developing economies with core funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development and other government, corporate and private sources who are dedicated to IRPF’s mission.
IRPF has been the subject of two evaluations prompted by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1994 and 1999 (link to ’99 eval.), and a third independently commission evaluation done in 2009 (link to –09 eval).
The video below shows IRPF’s progress in its first ten years of existence. Since 2002, IRPF has continued programming in Central and Eastern Europe and expanded to new regions including India, Vietnam, South Africa, Nigeria, and East Africa.