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REALTORS® meet with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

REALTORS® meet with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

On May 11-16, REALTOR® leaders from across the country converged on the nation’s capital to advance key real estate issues with regulators and members of Congress during the National Association of REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. SILVAR’s leadership was among nearly 8,000 REALTORS® and guests who met with legislators, regulatory officials and top industry executives to ensure qualified buyers and investors have access to safe and affordable mortgage financing and protect and advance the operations of REALTOR® businesses and real estate-related tax policies.

SILVAR REALTORS® met with U.S. Representatives Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, and staff of Congressman Mike Honda. They urged their elected officials to preserve current real estate-related tax policies and extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act, which expired at the end of 2014 and prevents distressed homeowners from facing excessive income tax bills on forgiven home loan debt. They also actively engaged with lawmakers on protecting commercial real estate related tax provisions, such as retaining like-kind exchange provisions and making permanent the 15-year depreciation period for leasehold improvements. In addition, REALTORS® urged members of Congress to enact legislation reforming patent demand letters, setting nationwide data security standards.

REALTORS® likewise raised concerns about the upcoming implementation of the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID). The new rule takes effect August 1, and if not understood by all parties involved, could delay the closing of escrow. SILVAR REALTORS® requested that Congress approve a grace period for the enforcement of the new closing process, so parties can become accustomed to the changes.

REALTORS® also attended sessions with government officials and industry experts, including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Republican political strategist and 61st chair of the Republican National Committee Ed Gillespie.

Attending the NAR Legislative Meetings from SILVAR were SILVAR President Chris Isaacson, President-elect Karen Trolan, NAR Directors Leannah Hunt, John Tripp and Suzanne Yost, Carole Feldstein (Federal Political Coordinator for U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo), Judy Ellis (NAR Committee member), Jim Hamilton (NAR Executive Committee members), Jeff Barnett (NAR Finance Committee member), Executive Officer Paul Cardus and Government Affairs Director Jessica Epstein.


On May 14, 30 members and guests of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® attended “Doing Business with Mexico” and celebrated Cinco de Mayo afterwards with Mexican delicacies. With Global Business Council (GBC) Chair Mark Wong and GBC member Sara Spang both moderating, panelists shared valuable information about both inbound and outbound transactions with clients from Mexico.

Panelists included Nancy MacLeod, a real estate broker/owner of, who owns a villa in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where she also represents buyers from the U.S.; Alicia Sandoval, a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty in Palo Alto and a native of Mexico; Amber Neil, a REALTOR® with No Borders Realty in San Jose, who has dual U.S. and Mexican citizenship and has been doing business in Mexico and California since 2006. Another panelist, Sal Covarrubias, sales manager for First American Title Company, discussed title vesting concerns, proper identification needs for sellers, and the differences in holding title between the U.S. and Mexico.

The REALTORS® said the best way to tap into the Mexican market is to join AMPI (Asociación Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios), the largest real estate association in Mexico. Join the organization as an affiliate and attend their conventions and events.

AMPI has ties with the National Association of REALTORS® and is strongly advocating for the licensing of real estate agents in Mexico, because right now, anyone can be a real estate agent there. Travel and networking is key to learning more about the real estate business there and AMPI would be a good source, they said.

Covarrubias said issues regarding Mexicans buying property in the U.S. are similar to that of other foreign buyers. “Timing is important and whether the foreign buyer will be personally present at closing. Also, agents need to verify their client’s legal name. It may not matter much when the client buys the house, but it will matter when it is time for that client to sell the property,” said Covarrubias.

Transactions can take months to conclude in Mexico so Mexicans who buy property here get culture shock when the process is quick, and they can close as soon as three or seven days. Also, there is no disclosure when buying property in Mexico, so REALTORS® need to take time to explain to their Mexican clients the transaction process in the U.S. “Mexicans are very social and want to get to know you personally first before deciding to do business with you. They value social graces, mannerisms and respect,” said Neil. “And they are not keen on email or text. They want one-on-one, eye-to-eye conversations with you, and many meetings.”

Like any country, there are places that are dangerous, but MacLeod said, “Mexico is still very safe, especially the tourist areas and places like San Miguel de Allende.”

Sandoval said while payoffs were prevalent in the past, business there is now done in a more professional way.

Lastly, don’t believe you have to sign a 99-year lease and can’t own property in Mexico. “I’m not sure where that myth came from,” chuckled Neil.

May 2015


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