Silvia Elias and Her Global View of the Real Estate Sector

By Jorge Chávez
Mar. 26, 2018

You are a woman with a global business viewpoint. Where does that perspective come from?

“I have always said that I am a citizen of the world. I am originally from Spain, and although I was born in Jerez, I lived in many cities, such as Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona and Alicante. The real estate business, to which I have dedicated most of my life, fascinates me because it allows me to get to know cultures from different countries, and I have always worked in tourist areas, where I have access to people of different nationalities, mentalities and languages. I believe that in today’s world, any real estate professional must have an international perspective, due to globalization.”

When did you arrive in Puerto Vallarta, and how did you start your company?

“I came to spend the Christmas holidays more than 30 years ago, and I loved the city. Thanks to a friend, I met a founding member of what was then Puerto Vallarta Real Estate, a company formed by a mixed group of US investors with very high purchasing power, among whom were the former owners of Hotel Garza Blanca, as well as entrepreneurs in the oil industry. As I liked the way real estate in the destination was marketed, I joined as a partner. Then, in 1986 there was a big crisis, and investors were no longer interested in financing. So, I acquired the shares of the company. From that moment, I’ve remained at the helm.”

You are a founding member of the Puerto Vallarta chapter of AMPI. What was the need for the association?

“About 26 years ago, there were only two or three AMPI affiliates in our city, and in order to open a section here, at least five were needed. So, we decided to unite and seek an improvement in the level of professionalism, as well as a guarantee for investors and buyers. The incorporation was very important, since it allowed us to have constant training, as well as a network of professionals at the national level. From 1995 to 2001 I served as president of the Puerto Vallarta chapter.”

What do you consider your greatest contributions during that period?

“During my presidency, two degree programs were organized that were really pioneers, because they involved Tecnológico de Monterrey Guadalajara and Centro Universitario de la Costa de la Universidad de Guadalajara. It was the first time that two higher education institutions came together to offer a real estate degree in Puerto Vallarta.”

“On the other hand, at that time we had direct contact with the governmental authorities: we were an external consultative body, we participated in the creation of regulations and cadastral values tables. I think that closeness must be reestablished, because real estate represents a very high percentage of the country’s GDP. Our activity moves many sectors of the economy. It is also important because we must ensure that our city advances more toward sustainability and affordability, as promoted in the objectives of the United Nations.”

“I was also regional coordinator for AMPI Nacional, bringing a real estate congress to the region, as well as several forums.”

Since then do you have a direct relationship with the national leaders of AMPI?

“That’s right. In addition, at the beginning of this millennium, AMPI offered the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) certification for the first time in Mexico. I took this course in Mexico City, along with several colleagues who were presidents of the association.”

Now, as president of FIABCI Mexico, how is your relationship with the leaders of AMPI?

“In recent years, there has been greater cohesion between FIABCI and AMPI. There is more participation in the events of both institutions, and I think it is a great time to achieve the goals we share, which are the professionalization of the industry and the positioning of Mexico as a country with a wide variety of real estate products.”

Silvia Elias and Her Global View of the Real Estate Sector

You were re-elected as president of FIABCI Mexico for 2018. What are the main objectives of the federation?

“To unify professionalization standards and share best practices worldwide, as well as market statistics. FIABCI is also a consultative body of the United Nations and shares its ideals. We have even developed a system to ascertain the sustainability and perception index of our cities. This allows government agencies to know in which areas a city needs to be improved so that it is more comfortable, affordable and sustainable. The planned development is essential for cities, and having this tool in which citizens or visitors can vote provides valuable information.”

Do you have a relationship with the world president of the federation?

“Yes. The current president is the Hindu Farook Mahmood, whom I have known for a couple of years and who selected me as president of the World Membership Committee last May.”

What benefits do members of FIABCI have?

“Those who join FIABCI have many advantages, such as knowing the trends of the global market. Nowadays, although it seems we are in a local or national market, in any city there may be international market niches, because we know that franchises buy, for example, land to build commercial premises, offices and developments. Whether they want to attract buyers or promote the real estate they represent globally, it can only be achieved professionally and broadly through a federation or worldwide consortium. Another benefit is the chance to meet agents from more than 65 countries and receive preferential prices at exhibitions and congresses.”

“Speaking of which, from February 28 to March 2, we will hold the FIABCI Americas International Global Summit in Cancun. Those interested in attending can consult for details.”

Silvia Elias and Her Global View of the Real Estate Sector

How is Mexico perceived at real estate events you have attended outside the country?

“In sessions I’ve had, the issue has always been the international concern about security. We know that Puerto Vallarta has been listed as one of the safest cities in the country, and with that kind of information we can compensate for the bad image usually seen of Mexico abroad. I believe that this type of image is improving a lot within the industry, above all because there are many people from other countries who participate in events that we have in Mexico and feel safe here. To the extent that we do more promotion, attend more international events and attract positive press, we can reverse the negative perception. Those who have come to Mexico have been delighted, because it is a country rich in humanity, friendliness, courtesy, services and natural beauty. In addition, we have an infrastructure of first-class services in our tourist destinations.”

What awaits the industry in 2018?

“For the local market, I can tell you that in the last few months the absorption period—that is, the time a property remains for sale—has decreased to less than half. This is because demand at this time is very high, very strong. There are many properties that have received multiple offers and have even sold for more than the asking price. The market is moving at an unprecedented speed.”

“Before the real estate-financial crisis of 2008, Puerto Vallarta had an entry level in the range of almost $500,000 USD for a two- to three-bedroom condominium, for example. This meant that we had a clientele with very high purchasing power, and the demand was for residence-type condominiums, much larger. The market changed and was adapted to new buyers between 2010 and 2012. Then, they started producing smaller products, between $200,000 and $250,000. At present, we can see that the base price of some properties is increasing again, since the number of buyers seeking properties between $500,000 and $1,000,000 USD has increased.”

What is still left for you to achieve?

“The question is funny because, to tell the truth, I never contemplated being president of AMPI Puerto Vallarta, nor FIABCI Mexico. I am a person with goals, but I think they should be much more focused on human development. In short, what has always fascinated me is making my clients happy and supporting our association. It is a great responsibility and satisfaction at the same time, because to be able to give correct advice, you must be informed. For this reason, throughout my career, I have constantly taken training courses and attended congresses and exhibitions of the National Association of Realtors, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Luxury Portfolio International and AMPI.”

“To be satisfied with what I do, there must be an incentive at a personal and intellectual level, and one of the things that allows you to achieve that kind of goal is your adaptability to change. During the years that I have been working in Puerto Vallarta, I have seen and experienced all kinds of periods. Weathering these changes and having that capacity to respond is one of the things that motivates and excites me.”


Silvia Elias and Her Global View of the Real Estate Sector