'Which direction does the front door face?" the real estate client asked.

 

"I don't know," the agent replied. "Why does it matter?"

 

That's the point when the client will hang up, says Sheila Bell, a Cincinnati-based national real estate trainer. She's seen this scenario play out before.

 

Feng shui attributes are a critical consideration for some people shopping for a new business location or home. For others, it's the culturally sensitive way an agent greets them, shakes their hand or tries to speak their native tongue.

 

That's why Bell and others in the Cincinnati region teach "At Home with Diversity," a National Association of Realtors course that helps industry professionals work with immigrants or clients of different ethnicities or cultures. Some Cincinnati agents now carry compasses to help answer feng shui questions, and others own translator devices.

 

The next class is scheduled for April 18"”during National Fair Housing Month"”and is sponsored by the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.

 

Greater Cincinnati "is fortunately getting more diverse," says Bell. "We are teaching people how to market to changing demographics."

 

About 4 percent of Ohio and Indiana's populations are naturalized citizens or non-citizen immigrants; in Kentucky, the number is 3 percent. These numbers are growing, with the largest influxes regionally coming from India, China, Mexico and Cuba, according to U.S. immigration statistics.

 

Sibcy Cline Realtors teaches a class called "At Home with Diversity" to its agents twice annually. Sibcy's director of training, Mary Jo Schuerman, credits the class with changing the way the company does business.

 

For example, Sibcy's web site has a Spanish-language page, with a list of 13 Spanish-speaking agents, and its listing line also is offered in Spanish. These marketing strategies all developed in diversity classes, Schuerman says.

 

Stephen R. Casper, who owns Comey & Shepherd's Wyoming office, has been appointed to the National Association of Realtor's 2007 Issues Mobilization Committee. The committee supports real estate associations with funding and expertise on matters like overly restrictive zoning. Casper has served in numerous NAR roles and is a recipient of its coveted Distinguished Service Award.

 

CB Richard Ellis Group in Cincinnati has named Steve Hodge to lead its new valuation group, which assists clients with appraisal and consulting services. He previously worked for Property Advisors, and is a 10-year veteran of the valuation and appraisal industry. In 2006, CB Richard Ellis became the only commercial real estate firm in the Fortune 500.

 

Angela McAdoo is a winner at Group, Realtors. McAdoo won the 2006 Sales Leader of the Year for Group, which has five local offices. McAdoo has been with the company for four years and works out of its Blue Ash office. Randy Cody, who works out of Group's Anderson office, won the company's Mountain Climber Award for 2006 for the greatest increase in gross commission dollars year over year.

Been to Trulia.com yet? It's a cutting-edgesite that combines MLS-like property listings with tons of other data tools: home sales trends, property valuation comparisons and even school report cards. And don't miss the spiffy maps. Trulia isn't nationwide yet, but you will find some Cincinnati commercial and residential properties. Listings from Keller Williams, Help-U-Sell, Comey & Shepherd, Real Living, Robinson Realtors and Park Realtors were spotted there recently.

 

Eric P. Avner, associate director of the Cincinnati Business Committee, has been named chairman of the Cincinnati Development Fund's Board of Trustees. The nonprofit CDF is a financial lender for affordable housing and community development projects. Avner, who succeeds Ed Rust, has been on the CDF board since 2002. Kimberly Mauer, of Frost Brown and Todd, was named vice chair of the CDF's Executive Committee; Linda Graviss, of the University of Cincinnati, was named treasurer; and Mark Lenear, of the Community Revitalization Agency, was named secretary.

 

University of Cincinnati real estate students Aaron Bottenhorn, Christopher Hazelwood and Leslie Schuler recently won tuition scholarships totaling $5,000 from the Ohio Association of Realtors Charitable and Educational Foundation.

 

Real estate news relevant to the Tristate business community may be e-mailed to realestate@cincybusinessmag.com.