The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, the charitable arm of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), has awarded $18,000 in the form of $1,000 scholarships to each of 18 graduating seniors from public high schools in Silicon Valley. The scholarships are made possible by donations from members of the local trade association who are engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

The REALTOR® scholars program recognizes students for their outstanding achievements in academics, extracurricular activities and community involvement. The selection committee includes representatives from the local business community, area high schools, area colleges and SILVAR. Now on its 20th year, the program has awarded a total of $360,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors in communities served by SILVAR members.

Students who received scholarships, the schools from which they graduated, and the colleges and universities they plan to attend in the fall of 2019 are Divya Rao, Cupertino High School (Carnegie Mellon University); Bryan Carrillo Martinez, Fremont High School (Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo); Arianna Morales, Gunn High School (Saint Mary’s College of California); Ritu Channagiri, Homestead High School (Baylor University); Rachel Huynh, Leigh High School (Brown University); Aashna Desai, Los Altos High School (UC Berkeley); Laura Herron, Los Gatos High School (UC Berkeley); Emily Zhang, Lynbrook High School (Pomona College); Chris Ikonomou, Menlo-Atherton High School (UCLA); Clara Shen, Monta Vista High School (University of Michigan); Valeria Gonzalez, Mountain View High School (Stanford University); Lucia Amieva-Wang, Palo Alto High School (Macalester College); Edmund Zhi, Prospect High School (UCLA); Riana Kaur Grewal, Santa Clara High School (UC Santa Cruz); Miya Uenaka, Saratoga High School (University of the Pacific); Alexis Weisend, Westmont High School (University of Oregon); Kuauhtemoc Gonzalez, Wilcox High School (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

“We are pleased that for 20 years our members have been able to assist our youth in beginning their college careers. The seniors selected each year are very deserving of recognition not only because of their academic accomplishments, but also for their contributions to their communities,” said Nina Yamaguchi, scholars program chair.

Members of SILVAR presenting the scholarship awards to the recipients at their school’s senior awards night are Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty), Alan Barbic (Sereno Group), Mark Burns (Referral Realty), Joanne Fraser (Compass), Jasmine Lee (Coldwell Banker), Theresa Loya (Coldwell Banker), Wendy Marioni (Compass), Russell Morris (Coldwell Banker), Nathan Nahouraii (Referral Realty), Robert Reid (Keller Williams Realty), Mary Tan (Coldwell Banker), David Tonna (Compass), Lynn Wilson Roberts (Pacific Union International Real Estate) and Suzanne Yost (Compass).

“REALTORS® are happy to give back to our communities through our scholars program. The scholars program is a longtime partnership effort between the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation and the dedicated educators in our service area,” said Charitable Foundation president Eileen Giorgi.

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The latest consumer findings from a National Association of REALTORS® survey reveal many more Americans believe now is a good time to sell a home. An increasing number of Americans also believe now is a good time to buy a home. The positive feeling many Americans have about the housing market is largely due to their attitude towards the economy, according to NAR’s second quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey.

The quarterly survey, which tracks real estate trends, renters and homeowner views and aspirations regarding homeownership, and expectations in the mortgage market, found 46 percent of those surveyed strongly believe now is a good time to sell a home, up from 37 percent in the first quarter of 2019. Seventy-three percent of people believe now is a good time to sell, while 27 percent say now is not a good time to sell. Those who are in the West (70 percent) are most likely to think now is a good time to sell a home.

NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun noted home prices have increased only moderately and that is a contributing factor as to why an overwhelming majority of Americans feel now is a good time to sell. “With home price appreciation slowing, home sellers understand that the days of large price gains from holding an extra year are over,” said Yun.

The number of Americans who think now is a good time to buy a home also has increased. Of those respondents, 38 percent answered they strongly believe that notion, and 27 percent said they moderately believe the present is a good time to buy. Meanwhile, 35 percent disagreed, stating now is not a good time to make a home purchase, which is unchanged from the first quarter.

The optimistic feelings about buying and selling are attributed to positive outlooks on the economy. Fifty-five percent of those polled feel the economy is improving, up from 53 percent in the previous quarter. Optimism was greatest among those who earn $100,000 or more and those who reside in rural areas.

Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, believes it is definitely a good time to sell a home and a good time to buy, as well. “Homes may not sell for as much as they would have a year ago, but they have appreciated enough that many sellers feel it is still a good time to sell,” said Barbic. “On the other hand, the strong demand for homes has never diminished and now that mortgage interest rate hikes don’t appear to be coming in the near future, buyers are encouraged to continue with their home search.”

Yun said that mortgage affordability was promising over the second quarter, and he expects this trend will continue. “Lower mortgage rates, along with job and wage growth, will lead to an increase in sales and thereby contribute positively to economic growth in the upcoming quarters,” Yun predicted.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® 8th Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Institute was held June 10-14. The CIPS Institute provides training in international business issues, including currency conversion, cultural awareness, legal and tax requirements, transaction principles of international real estate, and specifics about the real estate markets in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

After completing five courses and other requirements, REALTORS® earn the prestigious National Association of Realtors CIPS designation. There are about 3,250 CIPS designees in the U.S.

SILVAR has offered the CIPS Institute every year since 2012. Teaching this year’s classes was REALTOR® and broker associate Bobbi Decker, a NAR REBAC instructor.

“We had a very vital and enthusiastic group for this CIPS class at SILVAR this week. NAR is very eager to have its members up their professionalism, particularly in this global economy and changing market dynamics of the real estate industry,” said Decker.

The CIPS designation gives REALTORS® an edge over other agents when dealing with foreign clients. Decker noted that Silicon Valley is an epicenter for innovation. “Certified International Property Specialist is an essential designation for REALTORS® working in this melting pot that draws people from all over the world.”

According to NAR’s “2018 Profile of International Activity in U.S.Residential Real Estate,” foreign buyers purchased $121 billion of residential property from April 201 to March 2018. Five states accounted for 53 percent of total residential property purchases: Florida (19 percent), California (14 percent), Texas (9 percent), New York (five percent), and Arizona (five percent). The major foreign buyers were China ($30.4B), Canada ($10.5B), the United Kingdom ($7.3B), India ($7.2B), and Mexico ($4.2B).

The CIPS Institute had five sponsors this year. Anita Rodal, international liaison with AFEX (Associated Foreign Exchange) and president of SBPI Services, Inc., informed Realtors the exchange rate can fluctuate on a second by second basis, so the exchange rate on the internet is not be the actual exchange rate. She also explained how market volatility affects inter-bank currency exchange rates and how AFEX helps foreign buyers convert their money to dollars quickly and at a competitive rate.

Avery Bibbs, business development manager with First American Exchange Company, delivered a presentation on the 1031 exchange and tax updates for 2019. A 1031 exchange allows an investor to sell a property, reinvest the proceeds from the sale in a “like kind” property that is of equal or greater value and defer all capital gain taxes. Examples of “like-kind” property exchanges are a single-family rental house for a duplex, an apartment building for a retail center, land for an income producing vineyard, etc.

Michael Cobb, CEO of ECI Development, spoke on how local REALTORS® can help clients interested in purchasing property abroad. Cobb said in addition to investors buying property overseas, Americans are looking at retiring abroad. Their move overseas is driven by cost, having a higher quality of life for less money.

Lisa Wendl, a loan officer with General Mortgage Capital Corp., provided information on loan requirements for foreign buyers. Wendl said because it is getting harder for Chinese living abroad to get money out of China, she has clients who have bought high-end properties in the Bay Area who are seeking to do cash-out refinancing in order to remain liquid. If the China government does not ease up on its restrictions on the outflow of money, Wendl anticipates some Chinese will be forced to sell their homes.

Amy Ku, Sandy Lee and Dean Chang represented the team of Winnie Ho, premier mortgage consultant with HSBC. Ku said a portfolio lending bank, HSBC is a one-stop shop designed to accommodate global clients. HSBC a number of programs that offer flexible terms to foreign buyers, like interest-only loans and family assisted programs for buyers who need help in qualifying for loans.

June is National Homeownership Month, and throughout the month the National Association of REALTORS®  and the nation’s state and local REALTOR® associations will be helping to raise awareness about the benefits of owning a home and help Americans achieve the American dream of homeownership.

“As leading advocates for homeownership, REALTORS® understand the value of owning a home,” said Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “Owning a home is not only the best investment an individual can make to build their personal wealth, it also provides social stability, builds communities, and is a driving force for the economy.”

Homeownership reaps benefits for the homeowner, as well as the community. Through the mortgage interest deduction, homeowners are allowed to reduce their taxable income by a sizeable amount. Buying a home is also an investment because of equity gains and overall appreciation. In addition, studies show high and stable homeownership rates contribute many important social benefits to a community, by boosting the quality of living through education and civic involvement, while lowering crime rate and welfare dependency.

Barbic said the biggest hurdle for homeownership today is not demand; it is affordability. The California Association of REALTORS® reports the percentage of homebuyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in first-quarter 2019 rose to 32 percent from 28 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, and from 31 percent in the first quarter a year ago.

In Santa Clara County, 20 percent of households could afford to purchase a $1,220,000 median-priced home in the first quarter of this year, up from 18 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 and up from 17 percent in first-quarter 2018. To qualify, homebuyers needed a minimum annual income of $256,720. Their monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $6,420.

“Housing affordability has always been a challenge in the region because Silicon Valley is one of the best places to live in California. The weather here is great, the economy is good, and there is job growth,” said Barbic. “The door is still open for many homebuyers. First-time homebuyer programs and other programs for qualified families and individuals sponsored by public and private entities throughout the valley are seeking to help bridge the gap in affordability.”

Barbic noted when purchasing a home, choosing an agent is one of the most critical decisions a homebuyer will have to make. “Select an agent who is experienced and knowledgeable about the marketplace, down payment assistance programs that are available, the loan process, and one who is a good negotiator. These days many new models in real estate are offering buyers and sellers alternatives to the real estate transaction process, but they are not the same as having a trusted REALTOR®.”

A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate agent or broker who is a member of NAR, the world’s largest professional trade association. REALTORS® adhere to a strict code of ethics, which sets them apart from other real estate licensees and protects all parties to the real estate transaction. REALTORS®in violation of the code of ethics face disciplinary action by their association. They must complete 2.5 hours of ethics training once every two years to keep their membership in NAR.

“Living with the Code of Ethics means being honest and dependable, never putting your interests ahead of your client’s, and speaking the truth to all parties,” said Barbic. “REALTORS® don’t just sell homes, they build communities, and are committed to making homeownership a reality for those who strive to achieve it.”

In the past two weeks the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) issued several Red Alerts, mobilizing its members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® and other REALTOR® Associations urging them to contact their state legislators to support C.A.R.’s stand on a number of housing-related bills. Here is an update on those bills:

Assembly Bill 1482 – Tenancy: Rent Caps – PASSED
This statewide rent cap proposal that would apply to most properties not covered by local rent control ordinances, including rented single-family homes and condos in cities with rent control, passed 43-28 on Wednesday night. C.A.R. was able to successfully negotiate a deal with the bill’s author on amendments that allowed C.A.R. to remove its opposition and take a neutral position.

The proposal would prohibit landlords from raising the rent each year by more than 7 percent plus the annual increase in the cost of living. The bill’s author, Assemblyman David Chiu agreed to exempt property owners with 10 or fewer single-family detached homes and set the law to expire in 2023. C.A.R. withdrew its opposition to the bill once these concessions were made. This compromise strikes a balance between preserving the rights of rental property owners while allowing the protection of at-risk tenants.

Assembly Bill 1481 – Tenancy Termination: Just Cause – FAILED
AB 1481 died on the Assembly floor last night. Both C.A.R. and the California Apartment Association opposed this bill because it would have imposed just cause eviction policies statewide and would have required a property owner to provide relocation assistance to tenants for “no-fault” evictions. AB 1481 failed to get the 41 votes it needed to pass out of the Assembly.

SB 329 — Mandatory Section 8 – PASSED
Despite all of our best efforts, SB 329, which C.A.R. is OPPOSING because it creates an effective mandate that landlords participate in Section 8, passed the Senate floor last Thursday by three votes. It now moves to the Assembly where C.A.R. will continue to OPPOSE it.

AB 1590 — C.A.R.’s Sponsored First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit – PASSED
Good news! AB 1590, C.A.R.’s sponsored first-time homebuyer tax credit bill passed the Assembly. The vote was 61-3. This bill now moves to the Senate.

Members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® joined 2,500 California REALTORS® in Sacramento on May 1 for the California Association of REALTORS® annual Legislative Day. This year’s theme, “Homeownership Matters,” was evident in the speeches of REALTOR® officials and politicians, and in discussions the REALTORS® had with their respective legislators.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the special guest speaker at the morning briefing, said California is experiencing a “crisis moment, a crisis of confidence and a crisis of affordability.”

Newsom is deeply committed to address the housing issue and he wants to build 300,000 to 400,000 units on an annual basis. “Let us not forget that we are better off when we’re all better off,” said Newsom.

State Senator Scott Wiener, author of SB 50, the Housing Development Incentives bill, told REALTORS® at a luncheon that today’s zoning laws, crafted over 50 years ago, are outdated. Wiener said his legislation is about people and people’s lives.

In their meetings with state Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, and Assemblymembers Marc Berman and Evan Low, Silicon Valley REALTORS® asked them to support the REALTOR® position on the following bills:

Vote YES on AB 1590 (Rubio) – First-Time Low- and Moderate-Income Homebuyer Tax Credit for Disadvantaged Communities. C.A.R. is sponsoring this bill which creates a first-time homebuyer tax credit for low- and moderate-income individuals and families purchasing a home in a disadvantaged community. AB 1590 allocates $50 million for first-time homebuyers who have never owned a principal residence; who earn 120 percent or less of the area median income; and who are purchasing a home in a disadvantaged community. The tax credit would be equal to 3 percent of the purchase price of the home or $5,000, whichever is less.

Vote YES on SB 50 (Wiener) – Housing Development Incentives. C.A.R. is co-sponsoring this bill which seeks to authorize the implementation of transit-rich housing project bonuses for new urban developments, so families can afford to live within the communities in which they work. SB 50 encourages the development of mid-rise, multi-family unit, housing construction with close, walkable access to bus and rail transit. Residential developments may only obtain a “height” bonus if they meet local planning, zoning and design requirements. Local governments may approve higher-density housing, with reduced or eliminated parking requirements, provided the site is adjacent to transit or near jobs.

Vote No on SB 329 (Mitchell) – Mandatory Section 8. C.A.R. is opposing this bill which forces all residential rental property owners to participate in all government assistance and housing subsidy programs, such as the Section 8 housing program, by entering into a legally binding contract with a government agency. This bill forces all landlords into contracts whose provisions they may not be able to fulfill. C.A.R. says the bill does not fix the underlying problems with Section 8. Since housing authorities are understaffed, it can take as long as 60 days before all applications are submitted, inspections made, and contracts signed. During that time, the unit sits vacant at a substantial loss to the landlord.

All staunch proponents of housing, the legislators thanked the REALTORS® for their support and advocacy. They called on REALTORS® and others to stand up and speak louder about the need for housing “because the other side is so loud.”

Low said he has received sharp, mean-spirited backlash from those who oppose his pro-housing stance, some even demanding his recall, but he is not wavering. “Oftentimes we need to speak truth to the powerful. I feel very strongly about this. It’s important to make courageous decisions,” said Low.

The California Association of REALTORS® has announced its sponsorship of legislation intended to help first-time, low- and moderate-income home buyers in disadvantaged communities. AB 1590, authored by Assembly Member Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), would create a targeted tax credit to help working families achieve their goal of homeownership. This legislation is especially timely, given the tight housing market.

“REALTORS® are sponsoring AB 1590 to help make the dream of homeownership a reality for low- and moderate-income Californians in disadvantaged communities,” said C.A.R. president Jared Martin in a statement. “Asm. Rubio’s bill specifically targets regions of the state that will benefit most from increasing the homeownership rate and is an important part of California’s overall fight to beat the housing affordability crisis.”

AB 1590 allocates $50 million to provide a tax credit to first-time homebuyers who meet specific criteria, which include that the homebuyer must have never owned a home previously; must earn 120 percent or less of area median income; and must purchase a home in a state-designated disadvantaged community. Current law identifies disadvantaged communities as areas with, among other things, concentrations of low-income individuals and families facing high housing costs.

Qualified first-time homebuyers who purchase a home between January 1, 2020 and January 1, 2023, will receive a tax credit of up to $5,000. The tax credit will help these first-time homebuyers cover unanticipated costs associated with homeownership. AB 1590 will first be heard in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on April 29.

“AB 1590’s targeted tax credit helps Californians who need it most,” said Martin. “It creates a pathway to homeownership for people who are currently priced out of the market. It gives working families an opportunity to build wealth and can lift entire communities across the state.”

Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, indicated, “During his State of the State speech earlier this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, ‘If we want a California for all, we have to build housing for all.’ REALTORS® pledge to work with the governor and legislature to make sure all Californians can achieve the American dream of homeownership.”

Barbic said state legislators have advanced a number of bills to help solve the housing crisis. AB 1590 is one of several bills that the California Association of REALTORS® is sponsoring.

“We need to address the affordability problem in order to keep our middle class families here. AB 1590 will help our skilled and service workers, our teachers, the bedrock of our state, achieve their dream of homeownership and remain in the state,” said Barbic.

On May 1, over 2,000 California REALTORS® from across the state will travel to Sacramento to the meet with their state senators and assembly members to discuss this and other housing-related bills. Members of the local trade association are scheduled to meet with State Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, and Assembly Members Evan Low and Marc Berman.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2019 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, one in six Gen Xers purchased a multi-generational home, with 52 percent of those Gen X buyers indicating they did because their adult children have either moved back or never left home.

“The high cost of rent and lack of affordable housing inventory is sending adult children back to their parents’ homes either out of necessity or an attempt to save money,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

The study, which evaluates the generational differences of recent homebuyers and sellers, found older millennials have more similarities with Gen Xers and younger boomers, as this group also appears to be leaning toward the purchase of a multi-generational home. Older millennials who bought a multi-generational home (9 percent) were most likely to do so in order to take care of aging parents (33 percent), or to spend more time with those parents (30 percent).

Gen X typically refers to the group born between the mid-60s and early 1980s. Gen Y, also known as millennials, refers to the group born between the mid-1980s and 2000. Millennials as whole account for the largest share of buyers, at 37 percent. Gen Xers account to 26 percent of buyers.

Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association ofREALTORS®, is seeing these trends in the Bay Area. “With rents rising and housing affordability challenging, we are seeing families moving in together and seeing it as an advantage,” says Barbic. “Parents want to help their children save so they can someday afford their own home. Older millennials want to take care of their parents. Some bookended boomers are helping their children on one end and their parents on the other.”

Barbic adds, “Many municipalities are now easing restrictions allowing secondary units to be built on single-family residential properties, which helps families and alleviates the growing lack of housing at the same time. These reasons also point to the family unit being important to many Americans.”

Interestingly, downsizing to a smaller home is not currently common among any of the generations. The study speculates Gen Xers and boomers who may have been interested in downsizing could have been hindered by a lack of smaller inventory; or may have been impeded by the increase in multi-generational living to accommodate the needs of adult children and aging parents.

The survey also reveals buyers and sellers across all age groups (87 percent) continue to seek the assistance of a real estate agent when buying and selling a home. “Help understanding the buying process” was cited as the top benefit younger millennials said their agent provided.

April is National Fair Housing Month and reminds every American that all persons have equal access to housing and that fair housing is not an option; it is the law. The Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, protects people from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status.

The National Association of REALTORS® and civil rights groups are currently pressing Congress to pass the Equality Act, which adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics under the Fair Housing Act and all other federal laws. NAR amended its Code of Ethics to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2011 and gender identity in 2013.

Under the NAR REALTOR® Code of Ethics, REALTORS® cannot deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

A home seller or landlord cannot discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. They cannot instruct their real estate agent to convey any limitations in the sale or rental of their property.

Buyers or renters have the right to expect:

  • housing in their price range made available without discrimination
  • equal professional service
  • the opportunity to consider a broad range of housing choices
  • no discriminatory limitations on communities or locations of housing
  • no discrimination in the financing, appraising, or insuring of housing
  • reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities
  • non-discriminatory terms and conditions for the sale, rental, financing, or insuring of a dwelling
  • freedom from harassment or intimidation for exercising their fair housing rights.

If you or your clients suspect discrimination, visit https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/ to file a complaint.

 

 

A Bankrate survey conducted Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2019 found nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent of millennial homeowners have regrets about buying their home. Overall, 44 percent of American homeowners have regrets about their home purchase, according to the survey.

The most common regret cited was not factoring in unexpected maintenance or hidden costs (18 percent). Other areas of regret included feeling the house was too small (12 percent), house was too big (5 percent); house was in a bad location (8 percent); house was a poor investment (7 percent); monthly mortgage payments were too high (7 percent); and mortgage rate was not the best available (6 percent).

A lot of regret stems from high expectations and being unprepared for the home buying process, said Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors. “Purchasing a home is the most important decision a person can make. After spending a lot of money on the down payment, closing costs and other fees, it is likely to have an impact on a new homeowner,” said Barbic. “You can minimize buyer’s remorse by taking time to prepare for homeownership. It is not something you should rush into.”

Below are suggestions Barbic makes to take the trauma out of the home buying process:

  1. Find a professional and experienced Realtor with whom you are comfortable and trust. “Real estate is changing now that we have so much information at our finger tips. How we use that information is important. We have heard of many buyers who have made offers sight-unseen,” said Barbic. “You need a good agent whom you can trust, who knows the market and has experience handling the particular needs of homebuyers, whether it is identifying homes and neighborhoods, or negotiating for the best deal. Remember you are not just buying a home; you’re investing in your future.”

    2. Get pre-approved for a home loan right away.
    A preapproval letter sends a powerful message to the seller that you’re a serious qualified buyer and ready to go.

    3. Factor maintenance and repair costs into your budget.
    Even if you buy a new home, there will be some expenses that you did not expect.

    4. Accept that no house is ever perfect.
    Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house that you overlook issues like amenities, noise level, schools, or traffic that could have a big impact once you live in the home.

    5. Don’t get caught in a buying frenzy. Just because there is competition does not mean you should just buy anything. Even though you want to make your offer attractive, don’t neglect inspections that help ensure that your house is sound.

“Choose a home first because you love it, not solely for its future appreciation. A home’s most important function is to be a comfortable, safe place to live for you and your family,” said Barbic.

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