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Nearly 60 members from the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, the Philippine Chamber of Real Estate & Builders Associations, Inc. (CREBA), the Filipino American Real Estate Professional Association (FAREPA) and other guests joined SILVAR’s virtual trade mission to Silicon Valley yesterday. The program, hosted by SILVAR’s Global Business Council (GBC), took participants from the Philippines virtually on a Philippine Airlines plane to the U.S., landing in San Francisco and spanning top spots in the heart of Silicon Valley, from Apple, LinkedIn, Facebook, to Google.

Welcoming trade mission participants to the region was GBC Chair Atsuko Yube and SILVAR CEO Paul Cardus. Evangeline (Vangie) Yia, CREBA vice president of International Affairs, said CREBA members were happy for the opportunity to join the trade mission. Among those joining the trade mission were Philippine Real Estate Commissioner Eduardo Ong and Andy Mañalac, CREBA vice president for Housing Affairs.

SILVAR is the National Association of REALTORS® Ambassador Association to the Philippines and CREBA is its partner association there. Yube said few agents from the Philippines have been able to travel abroad and their country has been closed to foreigners due to the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic there. The virtual trade mission gave Philippine International REALTOR® Members (IRMs) a chance to learn about Silicon Valley’s housing market without having to physically travel here. It was also an opportunity for SILVAR members to network, get to know other agents from the Philippines, and build relationships.

The trade mission program included an overview of the housing markets of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties by Michelle Ronco, senior product marketing manager with Aculist, a subsidiary of MLSListings, SILVAR’s multiple listing service. Ronco showed charts illustrating the market trends through the years and that showed momentum in the market despite the pandemic.

MLSListings Director of Outreach Mark Messimer then explained what an MLS is and the services it provides its subscribers. The Philippines does not have an official MLS system. The IRMs were curious and asked if they could join MLSListings. Messimer said only REALTORS® whose brokers are members of the MLS can be members of MLSLIstings, but access to IRMs is something that can be explored.

Joanne Fraser, president of SILVAR, then walked guests through the real estate transaction process in Silicon Valley, highlighting the many forms, inspection reports, disclosures and advisories that REALTORS® and their clients need to review thoroughly. She explained the importance of disclosures and the difference between escrow and title insurance, which Commissioner Ong noted are only used in the Philippines when dealing with very large transactions. Fraser then took participants on a virtual tour of a Los Altos condominium, which had just sold at 5 percent over asking at a price of $1,676,000, setting a record for the building.

Vicky Silvano, NAR Global Ambassador to the Philippines, explained how IRMs can work with SILVAR REALTORS® and how to use international referral forms from NAR. She noted being a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) can give REALTORS® an edge in global real estate. An open forum for sharing of information and Q & A followed the presentations. The program then ended with a virtual tour of the Google complex in Mountain View.

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