By Richard Miranda

“What’s in it for me,” you may ask, “to get my CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) designation?” Short answer: more income. Four words: THINK Globally; WORK Locally.

When you earn the CIPS designation, you gain immediate access to business-enhancing products and services that are offered exclusively to CIPS designees. Your credibility rises exponentially, and when your credibility goes up, so does the number of transactions you will close.

NAR has statistics to support that when you earn the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation you are more likely to earn (in most cases, $30K or more) in Gross Commissions Income (GCI) than if you don’t have the designation. Why? Because the CIPS  designation gives you the knowledge and skills you’re going to need when you work with incoming foreign buyers. NAR research shows that foreign buyers buy higher priced properties (and many pay cash for them) than most domestic buyers. In addition, the skills you acquire when you earn a CIPS designation also help you locate properties in foreign countries, and it is a well-known fact that a record number of US and Canadian retirees are buying retirement homes outside of their home countries. The CIPS network consists of world-wide professional agent designees who have received the same training as US-based designees, so when you refer a local client to another CIPS designee in another country, your chances of success with your client have just increased exponentially.

And what can a CIPS designee do for his/her client? Good question. Keep in mind that international transactions are significantly different and more complex than domestic deals. From currency issues and financing to visa and tax laws, working with a REALTOR® who knows how to handle these differences can make or break the purchase or sale of your client’s home. Because of these nuances, it is essential to work with a knowledgeable and trusted professional.

This is what you can, as a CIPS designee, tell your client: a Certified International Property Specialist designee is a trusted professional, he/she has undergone specialized training to complete international transactions seamlessly and with reduced risk. The CIPS designation is the only international designation recognized by the National Association of REALTORS®. Only REALTORS® who have completed the coursework and demonstrated considerable experience in international business can call themselves a CIPS designee, and use the name and logo.

The CIPS course curriculum offers you hands-on experience with international real estate transactions, as well as five full days of study focusing on the critical aspects of transnational transactions, including:

  • Currency and exchange rate issues
  • Cross-cultural relationships
  • Regional market conditions
  • Investment performance
  • Tax issues
  • and more!

And how does one earn the CIPS designation? You will need to complete two core courses, three elective courses, and submit your designation application demonstrating 100 points of international experience.

Courses are available either online or in the classroom and are valid for three years. Any courses completed more than three years prior to the submission of your application must be retaken to receive credit towards the designation requirement. There are three paths: U.S. residents, non-U.S. residents and associate executives.

Here’s an example of the core (mandatory) courses, chose two depending on where you live.

Global Real Estate: Local Markets
(for U.S. and non- U.S. professionals)
This introductory course offers an overview of the international real estate business environment, including capital flow, currencies, government regulations and cultures. Topics such as international brokerage, networking, marketing, and selling will also be discussed. You must take this course before taking any other CIPS courses. Upon completion of this course, you will receive elective credit towards the ABR and CRS designation (applies to U.S. members only).

Global Real Estate: Transaction Tools
(for U.S. professionals only)
This course provides you with the tools needed to present investment information to international clients—in their currency and area. You will learn how to measure investment performance, prepare financial projections, and understand the effects of taxes and exchange rates on investment.

The Business of U.S. Real Estate​
(for non-U.S. professionals only)
This course provides international real estate practitioners with knowledge of the role of real estate in the U.S. economy and society. The course will describe the role of real estate in the U.S. economy and society as well as knowledge of the U.S. real estate marketplace. The course materials provide information on the requirements, regulations, and laws associated with working as a real estate professional in the U.S. and skills for facilitating real estate transactions in the U.S. market.

The following is a list of the elective courses:

Europe and International Real Estate
This course provides you with insight in regards to working with clients in Western and Central Europe. Topics include: the European Union and its impact on international real estate, economic and real estate trends, networking and relationship building, and marketing and selling practices.

Asia/Pacific and International Real Estate
This course addresses real estate practices in Asia and the Pacific with emphasis on cultural influences, economic trends and assessment of investment opportunities. An extra chapter on working with the Japanese is also included.

The Americas and International Real Estate
This course offers you practical information on working with Caribbean, North, Central, and South American investors. Historical and cultural influences, regional relationship, and investment opportunities are covered along with a special focus on Mexico.

You can substitute any of the above three for any of the following:

NAR at Home with Diversity
This class teaches real estate professionals how they can increase their sensitivity and adaptability to future market trends. It addresses issues of diversity, fair housing, and cultural differences. Participants will learn practical skills and tools to expand business and effectively service all cultural groups.

Council of Residential Specialists Course Electives

One of the following CRS courses can count as an elective option:

  • CRS 200
  • CRS 204

CCIM Institute

CI 101 serves as your introduction to the CCIM Cash Flow Model. Learn to apply the CCIM Cash Flow Model to make your investment decisions based on wise investment fundamentals. Some of the concepts you will explore include IRR, NPV, Cap Rate, Capital Accumulation, and the Annual Growth Rate of Capital.

CCIM CI 101 Financial Analysis for Commercial Investment.

In addition, as a CIPS designee, you will have access to the following marketing tools:

  • Directory Listing
  • Customizable Print Postcards
  • Customizable Web Banner Ads
  • Press Releases
  • CIPS Team Store
  • Technology Tools
  • Tips and Techniques
  • Networking

You will have an opportunity to take the full CIPS Institute of classes in Houston at HAR Central July 20-24, 2015. Sign up now at as the class will fill up quickly.

So, to summarize: international real estate opportunities are everywhere. New people move to the U.S. from other countries every day and foreign-born individuals residing in the U.S. move to new markets. Americans and Canadians in your current market invest in property overseas. So, no matter which international audience you cater to, the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Designation will provide you with the knowledge, research, network and tools to globalize your business.

What are you waiting for?

Richard P. Miranda, MBA, CIPS, TRC, TRLP, CNE, is a former HAR International Advisory Group Chairman as well as the immediate past chairman of the TAR International committee. He is an active member of AMPI, the NAR equivalent in Mexico.