Former Soviet learns about free enterprise


The free-enterprise method of marketing real estate in the United States works well for everyone involved: buyers, sellers and brokers.

Sometimes it takes a unique experience to really appreciate the marketing system we enjoy. That's the view of Realtor Barbara Hill, an owner-partner in an active brokerage business.

She recently had such an experience. It involved working with a knowledge-thirsty, young entrepreneur from a republic of what was the Soviet Union.

Zetta Iszhanove, a 32-year-old university professor from the city of Alma-Ata in the Republic of Kazakhstan, spent most of a two-week period with Ms. Hill, observing her real estate brokerage operation.

In her home country, a Soviet republic since 1920, Ms. Iszhanove owned her own residence. But the concept of marketing real estate in a free enterprise system is new and fascinating to her.

Her flat is a small, two-bedroom, one-bath residence, where she lives with her 11-year-old daughter. She is divorced from her husband, a television journalist. She also has a sister, two brothers and her mother living in her home country.

Ms. Iszhanove was particularly interested in the way professional people "network" in this country. She attended meetings of a Board of Realtors, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and other groups. She hopes to promote this type of communication in the business arena in her country.

The opportunity for Ms. Iszhanove to observe and learn from an active real estate business operation in this country was afforded by the Enterprise Development Program, organized by the Center for US-USSR Initiatives in San Francisco.

The program was created to help stabilize the economic reforms now sweeping the former Soviet Republics -- now the Commonwealth of Independent States -- as they move

toward a free economy.

To help these countries understand what free enterprise is about -- and teach them how to launch a successful enterprise -- the program matches Commonwealth entrepreneurs with business and professional people in the United States. It's a positive experience for everyone involved, Ms. Hill said.

The primary goal of the program is to give the Commonwealth entrepreneur the basic knowledge needed to establish and develop a private enterprise in his own country.

"The greatest need of these people is to learn how to develop small, private enterprises," it was stated in an EDP newsletter. "Their centralized economy left no room for individual initiative. Soviet citizens have been forbidden to engage in work that resulted in private profit. This legacy leaves the Commonwealth people without models, textbooks, classes or conditioning to start an enterprise at a time when privatization is being urged to counteract massive economic problems."

EDP expects to arrange hundreds of matches between Commonwealth entrepreneurs and American small-business owners and managers during the next three years.

It's interesting to note that the primary subject taught by Ms. Iszhanove at colleges and universities in Kazakhstan was the communist form of government. In contrast, she recently completed an in-depth thesis for her candidate's degree on "The Formation of a Small Enterprise."

She plans to open an educational facility in Alma-Ata where her people can learn business skills.

"The only way for our country to succeed and prosper is for our people to develop business expertise," she said. "But we have not enough experience in this area. I hope to help provide this education. My future prosperity is in the prosperity of our country."

Real estate marketing in her country will be particularly difficult. It contradicts many key principles and policies, established for decades. But progress is under way.


Q. Is it true that real estate appraisers must now be state licensed or certified?

A. No. The legislated requirement for appraisers to be licensed or certified in their state before they can participate in federally related real estate transactions was postponed from Jan. 1, 1992, to Jan. 1, 1993.

The extension gives appraisers more time to complete new educational requirements and be tested for their license or certification. At this point, only a small proportion of appraisers would qualify for licensing or certification.

Q. What's the prognosis for home sales during 1992?

A. Here's a typical assessment from real estate industry leaders. This is from a recent report issued by the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Service:

"With interest rates dipping to single digits and housing costs in much of the country steady to declining, we now have some of the best housing values since 1977. But, a strong increase in home buying activity seems to be dependent upon the nation's economic recovery.

"Brokers are generally optimistic, yet realistic for a resurgence in home sales, with lower interest rates and housing prices leading the recovery of the housing market."

Questions may be used in future columns; personal responses should not be expected. Send inquiries to James M. Woodard, Copley News Service, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, Calif. 92112-0190.

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