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Business & Real Estate

Foreign interest in Silicon Valley real estate remains steady

Davena Gentry

Silicon Valley realtors continue to observe many foreign buyers at open houses, even with the rise in interest rates and home prices, according to members of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors (SILVAR).

“Approximately 60 percent of potential homebuyers that go through open houses are from another country,” said Palo Alto Sereno Group realtor Davena Gentry, chairwoman of SILVAR’s Global Business Council.

At the global group’s annual international potluck last month, Gentry and Sateesh Lele, vice chairwoman of the California Association of Realtors’ Global Real Estate Forum, shared information provided by the forum.

Lele said Florida, California, Texas and Arizona continue to be the leading destinations for international buyers, the majority of whom come from Canada, China, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Gentry noted that even though home prices are appreciating, the U.S. is relatively inexpensive in cost of living and housing. Data she shared from a March 2013 CNBC article indicated that in Hong Kong, the average property prices in the fourth quarter of 2012 ranged from $4,570 to $5,050 per square foot, and Shanghai ranged from $1,820 to $2,020 per square foot, compared with $769 per square foot in some places in the Bay Area.

“The U.S. offers value, diversification, stability and size,” Gentry said.

She added that American retirees are also moving globally and are projected to be the fastest-growing segment in the overseas property market. Many retirees are attracted to countries where they can live but still receive Social Security benefits. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, the countries with the highest number of recipients are Canada, Japan, Mexico, Germany, the UK, Italy, Greece, France, Australia and Spain.

Gentry reported that a growing number of American workers are not able to afford retirement where they currently live. They are looking for the ideal climate and location for their preferred lifestyle. Foreign countries are attempting to attract retirees with specific visa programs. International developers are building resorts and gated communities designed with retirees in mind.

The National Association of Realtors Certified International Property Specialist designation, which SILVAR offers its members, and Proxio, a new membership benefit, are tools that assist agents in marketing their listings more efficiently at the global level, Gentry said. Proxio is a global marketing and networking platform that connects approximately 600,000 real estate agents from the U.S. and 140 countries and translates their listings to disperse in 19 foreign languages.

“We clearly need to embrace other cultures,” she said. “Through technology, the world has gotten smaller. Proxio helps realtors form connections with other agents around the world, so we get to know each other and promote each other’s listings. It’s an incredible opportunity.”

The Silicon Valley Association of Realtors provided information for this article. For more information, email Rose Meily at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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