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Cupertino/Sunnyvale District Chair Mary Combes (left) and Michelle Ma are pictured here with 48 backpacks donated to West Valley Community Services to be distributed to low-income students at the beginning of the school year.

Cupertino/Sunnyvale District Chair Mary Combes (left) and Michelle Ma are pictured here with 48 backpacks donated to West Valley Community Services to be distributed to low-income students at the beginning of the school year.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® Cupertino/Sunnyvale District yesterday presented 48 backpacks to Michelle Ma, program manager for stability support with West Valley Community Services (WVCS). As part of its Back-2-School Backpack Program, WVCS fills donated backpacks with grade appropriate school supplies for children entering kindergarten through12th grade.

A new backpack and necessary school supplies mean the world to all students, especially those whose families can’t afford to purchase them, according to Ma. Having a good backpack and the correct supplies for school can boost a student’s self-confidence and success in learning.

Ma thanked SILVAR members for the backpacks. “These supplies are important and critical to the children because they help them succeed in their education,” said Ma.

The backpacks are an annual project of the Cupertino/Sunnyvale District. They are purchased each year with funds raised from district events. “This is just another way our district gives back to our community. Low-income middle school age children sometimes need a little extra boost at the start of the school year. A new backpack enhances their self-image,” said SILVAR President Carolyn Miller.

Miller said the Cupertino/Sunnyvale District supports the schools in other ways, too. She encourages members to participate in the district’s sign rider program. REALTORS® donate $250 of their commission for every property they sell in the school district. Signs that say they support the schools are then placed on the yards of homes they sell. The signs are available at the SILVAR store.

“Many of us also contribute to CEEF (Cupertino Educational Endowment Foundation), the Sunnyvale School District and the Santa Clara School District when we sell a home within these school boundaries. The school foundations add the $250 volunteer contributions directly into science, music, and art programs. It also shows that REALTORS® care about our schools,” added Miller.

On July 10, 2013, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) launched a Call for Action in response to the Senate Finance Committee’s plan to use a “blank state approach” for tax reform legislation. A “blank slate” means that as a starting point, all tax expenditures (including tax deductions such as the mortgage interest deduction, tax exemptions such as the capital gains exemption on the sale of a primary residence, and tax credits such as energy efficiency tax credits) will be removed from the tax code.

Senators have until July 26 to request that certain tax expenditures be added to the reform legislation. NAR’s Call for Action is emphasizing the need for any tax legislation to do no harm to the economy by retaining the deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes, the capital gains exclusion on proceeds from the sale of a principal residence, and extension of mortgage cancellation relief. Also emphasized are deprecation rules and the continued tax-deferred treatment of 1031 exchanges.

If you are a REALTOR® and have not answered NAR’s Call for Action, please take action today. Reach out to your U.S. Senators to make sure that real estate tax provisions are maintained in any rewrite of the tax code. Taking action is easy. Please click here to send an email to your senators

2013 SILVAR CIPS Institute graduates

2013 SILVAR CIPS Institute graduates

Twenty-four REALTORS® attended this year’s Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Institute at the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) June 24-28. The REALTORS® included members from SILVAR and other REALTOR® associations from around the Bay Area, Texas, Atlanta, including the country of Nigeria.

The week-long courses were taught by certified National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2012 and 2009 International Instructor of the Year David Wyant CIPS, ABR, AHWD, ePRO, GRI, TRC, SFR. Wyant, who is based in Florida, taught the CIPS Institute at SILVAR last November and received excellent reviews from the class.

The CIPS curriculum focuses on ownership and transaction principles of international real estate, and provides training in international business issues, including currency conversion, cultural awareness, and legal and tax requirements. The courses also provide an analysis of the real estate markets in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Upon completing the education and other requirements, REALTORS® will receive their CIPS designation and be recognized at a special ceremony during the NAR Conference and Expo, which will be held in November 8-11 in San Francisco.

Rising home prices and other factors have caused international home sales in the U.S. to decline in the past year, but they are still at their second highest level in recent years and account for over 6 percent of total existing-home sales in value, according to NAR. NAR’s 2013 Profile of International Home Buying Activity indicates interest in U.S. properties continues to grow, showing the U.S. continues to be regarded by international buyers as a great place to own property. NAR reports over a five-year time frame, more than 70 percent of REALTORS® reported a constant or increasing level in the number of international clients contacting them; 27 percent of reported having worked with international clients this year.

“We live in a global real estate market. More REALTORS® are earning NAR’s CIPS designation because they realize the specialized training the CIPS courses offer can prepare them to serve the international market,” said Wyant.

The five states that made up 61 percent of reported purchases the past year were Florida (23 percent), California (17 percent), Arizona (9 percent), Texas (9 percent) and New York (3 percent). Wyant said it is not surprising that Florida and California remain popular places to buy property.

“Foreign buyers like the weather in these states. They are close to their home country and it’s likely they have relatives already living there. Here, in Silicon Valley, the job opportunities are fantastic and the education institutions are excellent,” exclaimed Wyant.

This year’s CIPS Institute sponsors included Janet Case of Proxio, Richard Miller of ParSquare.com, Kenneth Chan of HSBC, and Evelyn Figueira and Kathy Liu of Citibank.

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