Heidi Kasama takes over as president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, starting Jan. 1.
She said her guiding theme is “Proud to be a Realtor.” Kasama said it was inspired by how many of her fellow GLVAR members have endured such trying times in recent years.
“I’m truly proud of how our members have handled this increasingly difficult job during some tough years,” she said. “I think about the agents in my office who are near tears over how it can take banks many months to approve a short sale, yet they find a way to get the job done.”
She talks about “the hard-working Realtors who have to try to calm down the understandably frustrated buyers who’ve been trying to compete with cash buyers to find a good home” in the roller coaster of a real estate market we’ve been living through in recent years.
She praised those in the association of more than 11,000 members who continue to find the time and energy to volunteer and contribute to local charities, churches and schools, even during trying times in their own lives.
“We make incredible differences in the lives of our clients and in the lives of the people who live here,” she said. “Helping people find a home is an important job. We should be proud of that.”
Kasama pronounces her first name like Hay-dee, as they do in Norway, where her parents were born. She also takes great pride in her unique family background and in living her own version of the American dream.
“At age 16, my father had to flee occupied Norway during World War II. He escaped to Sweden, got a boat to England and served in the merchant marines during the war at a young age,” she said during her Nov. 16 presidential address to hundreds of GLVAR members. “Norway was a poor country then. And after the war, like many, he came to America in search of the American dream. My mother also came from Norway. People forget there were blonde boat people, too.”
Kasama’s family lived in a Norwegian community in New York, where she did not learn English until starting public school. When her family eventually moved to Seattle and bought their first home, she remembers how proud they were to be homeowners.
“I thought it was a castle,” she said. “It was the first time my parents were not worried about the landlord. It was the path to stability and wealth. Homeownership.”
Kasama served as GLVAR’s president-elect during 2013 and was a member of GLVAR’s board of directors for two terms before that.
In her “day job,” she is the managing broker of the Summerlin office for Prudential Americana Group Realtors.
Kasama also has been a certified public accountant. She has a degree in accounting from Central Washington University and worked as an accountant for insurance and energy companies and audited educational institutions and nonprofit groups in the Seattle area.
Kasama’s predecessor, 2013 GLVAR President Dave Tina, said “Heidi’s unique background, her experience and her nose for numbers will serve her well” as she spends 2014 overseeing the largest professional association in Southern Nevada. It also helps her sort through the often-confusing statistics surrounding the area’s topsy-turvy housing market, he adds.
While working as a CPA, she earned her real estate license in 1990 and began working as a real estate agent in the state of Washington. Throughout the 1990s, she worked in accounting and real estate simultaneously. After selling their accounting firm of Kasama &Company in 2001, she decided to focus on her real estate career full time.
In 2002, she and her Japanese-born husband, Peter, moved to Las Vegas. In 2003, she earned her Nevada real estate license. In 2004, she opened her own real estate brokerage, which grew to include about 80 agents. Kasama eventually merged her company with Prudential, where she now oversees about 150 local agents. She has a real estate broker’s license, as well as her business broker and property management permits.