An International Marketplace – Is the Triangle Real Estate Community Ready?

With each passing year the composition of companies and the business they transact in Research Triangle Park becomes increasingly global. This globalization brings a continual influx of people from nations around the world to the area not only to work but to live and to raise families. With this rapid growth of international cultures in the area, suddenly there are people with seemingly endless investment capital from many different countries. Not only are they buying homes in which to live, but they are also seeking real estate opportunities for investment purposes. Are Triangle REALTORS knowledgeable enough in international real estate to fully and competently assist these investors? Are our agents aware of the differences in U.S. tax laws and IRS statutes when applied to foreign non-residents and their ownership of U.S. real estate? A word of caution is in order for both the international client and the professional REALTOR. International real estate is a very different and complex business with potential financial pitfalls when practiced by those unfamiliar with the laws that affect these purchases.

RTP has been a catalyst for international growth to North Carolina for many years. There are nearly 100 companies in the Triangle which have international corporate headquarters or offices located on foreign soil. It is truly a World Trade Zone. Raleigh was recognized recently as “one of the top ten most international cities” in the U.S. with over 87 foreign languages being spoken in the area. In addition to the Triangle’s draw, the nine-county area that comprises the bulk of the local real estate marketplace contains one of the fastest growing Hispanic populations in the country. This blending of people and cultures creates a common ground as resources are exchanged and opportunities are created for local industries not the least of which is the real estate industry. With few exceptions, every REALTOR in the area has either sold property to a foreign client or had a property listing that was sold by another REALTOR to a foreign client. The international growth and diversity of cultures are a large part of the mix, along with educational resources, economic health, cost of living, and moderate climate that continually keep the Triangle as one of the nation’s “Top Ten Places to Live.”

One of the many responsibilities of a REALTOR as a professional is to be informed. Their job is one of sharing knowledge and information with consumers and the general public. They must be authorities on schools, churches, malls, day care, assisted living, new construction, old construction, mold, mildew, radon, asbestos, well water, sewer systems, transportation issues, and a plethora of other disclosure items. Why would it not hold true that a REALTOR should be an authority on an international real estate transaction and the nuances of U.S. tax laws when applied to foreign clients? To enjoy the financial benefits and rewards of the local international market, REALTORS must educate themselves in this arena because it is becoming a large and viable segment of the Triangle market. Fortunately for the local real estate community many resources are available through both NAR and the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors.

More than eight years ago the Board of Directors of the RRAR with insight and progressive thinking created an ad hoc Committee to explore the creation of an International Council of REALTORS. Since then, that Council has come into being and has grown to over 45 active members. The Triangle International Council of Realtors or TICOR serves as a resource for not only REALTORS but the public as well, bringing together the cultures of the Triangle by offering educational opportunities through printed materials, seminars and classes. They strive not only to educate themselves but also to include others who share their interest. Their varied activities include participation in Raleigh’s International Festival, other cultural festivals, and bimonthly luncheons hosting presentations by international attorneys, mortgage lenders, State Government representatives and various Chambers of Commerce.

With NAR approval, the TICOR group has hosted CIPS classes on four different occasions with participants from as far away as Northern Virginia and the state of Washington. Another CIPS course is scheduled for this October and is being sponsored by TICOR at the RRAR Board office. CIPS is a designation from NAR which means Certified International Property Specialist. It is achieved through class work and testing in five different courses of materials and subjects related to finance, international real estate, globalization, and five subjective regions of the world. Due to the efforts of the RRAR Triangle International Council of REALTORS there are more CIPS designees locally than in any other board in the state of North Carolina.

REALTORS in Research Triangle Park are most fortunate to live and work in such an exciting and lucrative marketplace. To have such nationally high rankings as one of the “Top Ten Cities” in so many categories and the recognition as such an international center of activity is a privilege. With privilege comes responsibility. REALTORS of the Triangle community must not only recognize the need to be informed and educated regarding the intricacies of the international market and it’s clients, but act on that need by using available resources to gain the necessary education to perform professionally.

For information about the Triangle International Council of REALTORS we welcome you to visit our website located at www.triangleinternationalcouncil.com or contact RRAR, the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors at 919-654-5400.

Real Estate Market: Mistake Avoidance

When the consequence of your decision has little to no downside, you have eliminated a large majority of the risk. Elimination of risk (or prudent management of it) is much of what financial life is about. Understanding the risk factors that exist in any marketplace, real estate, stock market, small business, etc., should always be the goal as decisions made with full knowledge of the associated risk means better decisions.

The financial world changed in 2007. From the early 2000’s to the market crash of 2007, much of what would now be considered risky behavior was hidden by the rapid increase in values. Making a good decision was replaced by making ANY decision. Poor decisions were in effect negated by the fact that owning property meant appreciation. With values moving 7-10% in any one year, owning a highly leveraged property meant increasing your equity position by a factor much greater. A property valued at $300,000 purchased with 10% down ($30,000) increasing 10% to $330,000 in a calendar year meant that the equity position had increased by 100%. It was powerful math and led buyers to increasing bold and risky decisions.

When the market began to reverse course in 2008 and really begin to free-fall for the next 12-18 months, the true risk profile of each individual deal became horribly exposed to all. Properties that had equity positions of 30-40% (which was considered ridiculously conservative during the last days of the bubble) all of a sudden found themselves with little to no (or even NEGATIVE) equity. When the mortgage industry froze in place, effectively destroying the ability to monetize real estate, the ability to use property as collateral for cash disappeared and robbing Peter to pay Paul disappeared with it. This exposed the all-important risk factor that appreciation hides, cash flow.

Mistake avoidance, in its simplest form, means understanding the worst-case scenario. For many, the use of debt is the primary vehicle by which property is acquired. Understanding the true risk, not just of the loan, but what the underlying acquisition of the asset means to an owner’s entire portfolio, is the most important element of risk management. It went ignored by most up until 2008. For now, with the lessons of 2008-2012 still fresh in all of our minds, the market has begun to show a collective caution about how and what they acquire. The unchecked optimism that defined the marketplace pre-bubble is largely gone and it has been replaced by a feeling that the world is subject to change and that appreciation is not guaranteed. Cash flows are underwritten more strictly than before and far more attention is paid to a buyer’s equity contribution to any purchase.

It is a better way to underwrite.

For the next several years the market will fight to get back to normal where supply and demand is balanced and more generally accepted consensus of where the market is headed is recognized by all. We are at the beginning of a cycle that tends to last roughly 20 years (if 1987-1990 is any indication) and each cycle begins with the idea that we will learn from the past. We will see how long it lasts.

Real Estate Auctions

Providing an innovative approach to the successful sale of houses in New Zealand, real estate auctions provide an effective and cost efficient method of selling property. Traditionally, selling properties through traditional sales channels can sometimes be an extended process, with the longer the timeframe of sale directly correlating with associated marketing costs and the dedication of time to the sales process. Furthermore, with the ongoing costs of maintaining a house which is on the marketplace, an extended sale period can quickly pile the expenses associated with the sale. Auctions provide owners with a quick sales channel to market where qualified and prospective purchasers are accessed who have the financial backing to purchase the property. As an auction can bring together a number of qualified purchasers to a property at one time, this can place pressure on prospective buyers to make present an offer on the property.

New Zealand real estate auctions have historically produced attractive sale prices for both buyers and sellers. The benefit of auctions is the achievement of market value for the property, where real estate sells for exactly what the market deems its worth. One of the safety features naturally instilled in auctions is that if the initial price is set too low, this is likely to stimulate an extended number of prospective purchasers to place bids and raise the price significantly. On the other hand, if the initial price is set too high, this will create a level of disinterest by those in the marketplace. This provides a natural safety net for both buyers and sellers of property in New Zealand being sold at auction.

The negotiation process, under traditional sales and marketing channels, can be time consuming and stressful. Furthermore, the notion of meeting estate agency staff and prospective buyers and dedicating time to showing these people through your house and home can waste time and resources. One of the main benefits of selling real estate through auctions in New Zealand is the elimination of constant public viewings. This is alleviated by providing the marketplace with full and disclosed information about the property, along with set viewing schedules prior to the auction, then enable qualified buyers to make informed buying decisions.

When considering the sale or purchase of your next or first property, contact a reputable estate agency in New Zealand who can inform you of the best course of action in respect to selling property through the auction process. Their experience and knowledge will enable you to avoid common pitfalls and get the results you desire.