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The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® 8th Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Institute was held June 10-14. The CIPS Institute provides training in international business issues, including currency conversion, cultural awareness, legal and tax requirements, transaction principles of international real estate, and specifics about the real estate markets in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

After completing five courses and other requirements, REALTORS® earn the prestigious National Association of Realtors CIPS designation. There are about 3,250 CIPS designees in the U.S.

SILVAR has offered the CIPS Institute every year since 2012. Teaching this year’s classes was REALTOR® and broker associate Bobbi Decker, a NAR REBAC instructor.

“We had a very vital and enthusiastic group for this CIPS class at SILVAR this week. NAR is very eager to have its members up their professionalism, particularly in this global economy and changing market dynamics of the real estate industry,” said Decker.

The CIPS designation gives REALTORS® an edge over other agents when dealing with foreign clients. Decker noted that Silicon Valley is an epicenter for innovation. “Certified International Property Specialist is an essential designation for REALTORS® working in this melting pot that draws people from all over the world.”

According to NAR’s “2018 Profile of International Activity in U.S.Residential Real Estate,” foreign buyers purchased $121 billion of residential property from April 201 to March 2018. Five states accounted for 53 percent of total residential property purchases: Florida (19 percent), California (14 percent), Texas (9 percent), New York (five percent), and Arizona (five percent). The major foreign buyers were China ($30.4B), Canada ($10.5B), the United Kingdom ($7.3B), India ($7.2B), and Mexico ($4.2B).

The CIPS Institute had five sponsors this year. Anita Rodal, international liaison with AFEX (Associated Foreign Exchange) and president of SBPI Services, Inc., informed Realtors the exchange rate can fluctuate on a second by second basis, so the exchange rate on the internet is not be the actual exchange rate. She also explained how market volatility affects inter-bank currency exchange rates and how AFEX helps foreign buyers convert their money to dollars quickly and at a competitive rate.

Avery Bibbs, business development manager with First American Exchange Company, delivered a presentation on the 1031 exchange and tax updates for 2019. A 1031 exchange allows an investor to sell a property, reinvest the proceeds from the sale in a “like kind” property that is of equal or greater value and defer all capital gain taxes. Examples of “like-kind” property exchanges are a single-family rental house for a duplex, an apartment building for a retail center, land for an income producing vineyard, etc.

Michael Cobb, CEO of ECI Development, spoke on how local REALTORS® can help clients interested in purchasing property abroad. Cobb said in addition to investors buying property overseas, Americans are looking at retiring abroad. Their move overseas is driven by cost, having a higher quality of life for less money.

Lisa Wendl, a loan officer with General Mortgage Capital Corp., provided information on loan requirements for foreign buyers. Wendl said because it is getting harder for Chinese living abroad to get money out of China, she has clients who have bought high-end properties in the Bay Area who are seeking to do cash-out refinancing in order to remain liquid. If the China government does not ease up on its restrictions on the outflow of money, Wendl anticipates some Chinese will be forced to sell their homes.

Amy Ku, Sandy Lee and Dean Chang represented the team of Winnie Ho, premier mortgage consultant with HSBC. Ku said a portfolio lending bank, HSBC is a one-stop shop designed to accommodate global clients. HSBC a number of programs that offer flexible terms to foreign buyers, like interest-only loans and family assisted programs for buyers who need help in qualifying for loans.

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