By Danny Kucharsky

An invitational program that helps real estate professionals become international property specialists has been held in Canada for the first time.

About 50 real estate leaders from the U.S. and Canada took part in the 2017 Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Leadership Invitational in Winnipeg in June. The event doubled as an “inbound trade mission” for Manitoba, showcasing economic and real estate opportunities in the province.



It “was a huge success,” says Chris Pennycook, president of the Manitoba Real Estate Association (MREA).  “It went off without a hitch and we couldn’t have been happier with the exposure” that the province and MREA received. MREA collaborated with CREA and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Until the Winnipeg event, the CIPS Leadership Invitational had been held every two years in Chicago. CIPS courses are held regularly around the world.

During the week, real estate industry CEOs and presidents from nine U.S. states and six provinces learned about international real estate transactions in Asia/Pacific, Europe and the Americas and how best to serve home and property buyers from around the world. They also found out about Realtor. ca and CREA’s global affiliate program and enterprise opportunities in Manitoba.

In addition, they toured the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and networked with representatives from Manitoba’s real estate, business, economic development and government communities at a reception held at the Journey to Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Cliff Cullen, Manitoba’s minister of growth, enterprise and trade, spoke at two events and gave the invited Realtors insight on how Manitoba does business.

The course was led by Carmela Ma, past dean of the NAR CIPS program and president of CJM Associates, a California-based company that specializes in real estate investment brokerage, advisory and global transactions.

Pennycook, who has been selling real estate for 33 years, says Ma “was one of the best instructors I’ve ever come across, if not the best. It was really a great course.”

The course was an eye-opener for Pennycook. “When you take this course, you realize how much you don’t know about international properties and how things are transacted all over the world,” he says. While much of real estate is conducted in similar fashion around the world, many things are done differently.

In England, for example, “a deal isn’t a deal until (the buyers) have actually taken possession; they can walk basically at any time. You can put offers in at more than one place but you don’t actually have to close on them unless you want to.”

Pennycook also learned a great deal about feng shui, the Chinese practice of creating a happy living environment within the home and the different ways mortgages are sold in the U.S.

Pennycook says if he had clients moving from Manitoba to Florida, he would look to refer them to an agent who has taken the CIPS course and understands the different rules in Canada and the U.S.

The idea to lobby NAR to bring the invitational to Manitoba came after MREA CEO David Salvatore took the invitational in Chicago a few years ago. He felt it would be a great opportunity to bring it to Canada to foster relations among Realtors from across North America and as a mini trade mission through the provincial government.

“We really feel we want to start doing more cross-border relationships with our major trading partners” and to show off the province, Pennycook says.

The effects of the invitational will pay off with more business coming into Manitoba. Sometimes when you do something big, like organize the CIPS Leadership Invitational, “you wonder why you’re doing it and we may not realize the benefits of this for two, three or four years, but it’s going to benefit our province,” he says.

He notes there is an increasing number of foreign buyers coming to Manitoba, most of whom are highly educated and bringing in businesses.

“It’s definitely not the numbers of Toronto or Vancouver, but Manitoba is a fantastic alternative. When people look at what it costs to go to Vancouver or Toronto and then they turn around and look at the cost to start a business or come and live in Manitoba, I quite often get people that go, ‘it’s just such a great place.’”

Pennycook says the event was not the last collaboration of its kind between MREA and the provincial government – the two are planning to set up a mini trade mission in Minnesota.

“We’re taking the initiative to try and show Manitoba off as Realtors, as opposed to just selling houses.”