August 4, 2006
To: Overseas Property Professional
From: Jeff Hornberger, Director of International Business Development , National Association of REALTORS
Re:letter of recommendation, Sam Taliaferro, “mover and shaker” award by Overseas Property Professional
My name is Jeff Hornberger and I am the Director of International Business Development for the 1.2 million member National Association of REALTORS, the “voice for real estate” in the United States. We also maintain collaborative partnerships with over 60 real estate associations around the world. I’d like to support Sam’s nomination for the “mover and shaker” award by the Overseas Property Professional.
Sam, a US entrepreneur, moved to Panama and decided to build a residential development called Valle Escondido (Hidden Valley), a highly successful master planned community catered towards foreign buyers. This project, located in a beautiful remote section of Panama called Boquete, has inspired dozens of other projects in the same area and is one of the “sparks” of what is now the hottest second home market in the Americas, Panama. The project is nothing like a typical cookie-cutter development you would find at typical projects, but rather a beautiful, master planned community with high-quality, unique construction with true character, a pedestrian oriented “pueblo” with shops and restaurants, which is all built along a rushing river that brings a sense of place. Publications such as Fortune and Modern Maturity (magazine of the American Association of Retired Persons) have recognized this development, and the result of the region has been a powerful “multiplier effect” of jobs in construction, tourism, and other related services. This attests to the powerful economic tool that is residential tourism in Latin America, a phenomenon that is in its early stages in the Americas, as US baby boomers, retirees, and investors look south for lower prices and a different lifestyle.
But the story of Sam is not about one development in Panama. He has recently started a new company called Prima Panama, which seeks to help other developments all over Panama by luring foreigners to Panama on an innovative travel “passport program”, where Panama travelers can take advantage of low airfare, hotel and car rental with rebates and incentives should they purchase property there. This marketing “passport program”, unique in its inclusiveness and lack of traditional “pressure tactics” found in the timeshare industry, is introducing the world to Panama. The result of this travel program is thousands of foreigners falling in love with a country and wanting to get a piece of its booming second home market.
Evident in Sam’s character is his willingness to share his knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm with the industry. He recognizes the importance of collaborating with real estate professionals in Panama, REALTORS in the United States, and property professionals from all over the world and enrolling them as catalysts or “soldiers” who are welcome to share in referrals and commissions in offering their clients Panama as a viable option for residential tourism. Thousands of Panama enthusiasts, both professionals and consumers alike, have subscribed to Sam’s BLOG which updates and shares information at no charge. The well-designed and informative Blog will tell you everything you know about Panama’s second home market, from Trump’s movements to dispelling rumors about Disney opening up a theme park there. His Blog and collection of articles has interesting global perspectives in real estate in Panama, comparing the US and Europe trends in residential tourism as well as drawing parallels between Panama and Dubai in its potential in the residential tourism industry.
Perhaps most significant is Sam’s thought process on the higher purpose of the residential tourism market. He is not the typical American developer off to profit in a foreign market. Sam has a belief that residential tourism is an inexpensive tool of spreading democracy around the world and improving the image of foreigners (particularly Americans). His philosophy is that foreigners who buy property in turn have a stake in the country and help spur economic activity, resulting in a capitalistic process which in turn spreads democracy and freedom. This economic activity increases the middle class in a region of the world that has vast differences between wealth and poverty. Sam’s thought process is that the Americans and other foreigners who come there and invest in property bring a positive influence, and in turn create charitable organizations, volunteer time in local communities, and overall improve the image of their country abroad. A middle class is created. The US government and other governments are seeing the positive impact of residential tourism in overseas markets. In today’s troubled and conflicted world, residential tourism can be a positive force.
Both me and members of the National Association of REALTORS and its partners around the world are with great hopes that you will nominate Sam for “mover and shaker” of the year award. Thanks for your consideration!
International Business Development Director
National Association of REALTORS
430 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago IL 60611
Tel: 312-329-8272, FAX: 312-645-7749
Visit our website at http://www.realtor.org/international