SILVAR is excited to announce a new benefit for all members! You recently received emails from the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) about REALTOR® Secure Transaction, a new one-stop transaction dashboard available on Wednesday that will give you access to your Transactions, zipForm Edition account and more, including the addition of Glide on January 14, 2021. Glide is a platform for eSignatures, collaboration resource, and compliance tools needed for your real estate transactions.

We are happy to inform you that SILVAR has also partnered with Glide to provide you with a faster, simpler, and safer transaction platform designed to provide a modern experience for you and your clients.

As a member of C.A.R., you will receive a basic set of Glide features, which you can see HERE. SILVAR is providing you with additional features to maximize the value of your membership. These additional benefits include:

  • The addition of the PRDS form library available starting mid-January
  • The ability to fill all forms in Glide, eliminating the need to switch platforms
  • Complete PEAD-Vs and create transactions via MLS

Again, the Glide platform will give you access to eSignatures, collaboration resources, and compliance tools needed for your real estate transactions. Over the past three years, Glide has been used by over 40,000 agents in California to complete disclosures, AVIDs, and PEAD-Vs. We hope you also enjoy these new additional member benefits, and we are here to support you during your transition to using this new tool.

Silicon Valley REALTORS® can access their Glide benefit and learn more about Glide HERE.

* PRDS forms will remain available on the Instanet platform (in addition to Glide and Transactions, zipForm edition), but please note the Authentisign/DocBox benefit is ending January 1, 2021.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, REALTORS® across the country have increased their philanthropic and volunteer efforts. According to the National Association of REALTORS® Community Aid and Real Estate (CARE) Report, the median annual value of REALTOR® association donations to communities doubled from $5,000 in 2018 to $10,000 in 2020. REALTORS® have responded to the pandemic by donating money or nonperishables to food banks, volunteering at such organizations, donating masks and protective gear, donating school meals to children, and providing stable and secure housing to those in need.

In Silicon Valley, members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) have stepped up holiday giving online on the Peninsula and in the South Bay. “It is even more important to give this year because the pandemic has impacted thousands of families in Silicon Valley,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the local REALTOR® association. “Since SILVAR’s five districts could not hold their traditional fundraising events live this year, our districts have partnered with non-profits in their service areas to brighten the holidays for families in need.”

SILVAR’s Menlo Park-Atherton and Palo Alto districts are asking members to donate to LifeMoves, a non-profit that provides family, individual, veteran, community outreach services for those in need and finds shelter for the homeless in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. “So far, our districts have raised over $5,000 for LifeMoves during our meeting last week. After a tumultuous year like this, I think everyone is feeling extra gratitude for what we do have and want to help make a difference and impact in our community,” said Francesca Lampert, Menlo Park-Atherton District chair.

To donate, visit https://www.lifemoves.org/. Your donation will help give a gift to each of the 1,200 people the agency serves every day.

SILVAR’s Los Altos-Mountain View District is donating to Community Services Agency, which provides vital social services for residents of Mountain View, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills and serves as a safety net so families’ independence and self-reliance can be restored and maintained. Visit the CSA holiday donation site at https://www.csacares.org/donate/.

Cupertino-Sunnyvale District is promoting giving to Sunnyvale Community Services and West Valley Community Services. Both non-profits provide critical food and emergency and support services to low income and homeless individuals and families in their service areas. Ninety-eight percent of SCS clients have incomes under 200 percent of the poverty level. Children represent 35 percent and seniors make up 13 percent of the agency’s clients. You can donate to SCS at https://svcommunityservices.org/donate-online/.

WVCS serves 22,000 in the west valley communities of Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, and West San Jose. You can make an online donation or adopt a family through their Gift of Hope program at https://www.wvcommunityservices.org/gift-of-hope.

Every year funds raised from the Los Gatos-Saratoga District’s annual pumpkin auction are donated to the Family Giving Tree. This year, the district has its own link on the FGT website, where SILVAR members can log on and select gifts by category – toy, price range, age, etc. To donate, visit the FGT site at https://familygivingtree.org/.

“REALTORS® in the trenches see the systemic inequities with our very own eyes and it inspires us to be part of a sustainable solution, pandemic or not. Together we support and contribute to organizations that seek to grant some sense of normalcy to those that could use a helping hand,” said Elizabeth Doyle, Los Gatos-Saratoga District chair. “We encourage everyone who can, to give when you can. We are better together when we help raise one another up.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed real estate transactions for some people, housing markets in many areas of the country are showing a strength and resiliency unimagined earlier this spring. It is critical to understand the pandemic’s impact on real estate, from simply touring a home to the ability to close transactions.

As the situation continues to evolve, the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® encourages buyers and sellers to follow CDC guidelines to protect their health and safety. Below are some important tips on buying and selling a home during the pandemic from houselogic.com:

What Buyers Need to Know:
Home tours look a little different
–Where in-person showings are offered, potential buyers can expect quicker tours and asked to take extra precautions, such as removing shoes, using hand sanitizer, and refraining from touching items in the home. Many REALTORS® also are guiding buyers through virtual home tours.

Interest rates are low –Interest rates remain at all-time lows and home prices are rising or holding steady. As more people file for unemployment, however, mortgage lenders have tightened lending standards. Potential buyers can prepare for homeownership by understanding their budget, building a good credit history, and getting prequalified for a mortgage. Some lenders allow borrowers to lock in interest rates for limited time periods.

Don’t expect a discount –Home prices in Silicon Valley are holding steady, with majority of prices higher from one year ago, according to local multiple listing service MLSListings. The median sales price of cities in the county are exhibiting double-digit percentage increases year-over-year. Days on market for most cities are down to the single digits, a sign that homes are selling quickly. The sales-to-price ration averages 102 percent.

Expect delays –Those terminating a lease should leave some wiggle room, even an extra month or two, between moving out of a rental and into a new home in case of an unexpected delay. Hiring moving crews may prove challenging, so buyers should give movers as much notice as possible ahead of their scheduled move.

What Sellers Need to Know:
Use tech tools to help market and show your home
– For sellers uncomfortable with in-person showings, many digital tools are available to help them continue marketing and showing their home. A REALTOR® can help coordinate three-dimensional interactive property scans, virtual tours (either pre-recorded or live), on-demand open houses, and virtual staging to showcase their property. If sellers receive an offer on their home, their REALTOR® has the ability to present it to them virtually.

Take steps to protect yourself – “Sight unseen” purchases are not a new phenomenon, but this pandemic has certainly increased their prevalence. Sellers may want to include language in the purchase agreement that ensures buyers acknowledge they are responsible for personal verification, walkthroughs, and professional inspections to confirm that the property meets their needs.

Buyers are still searching – It continues to be a competitive market due to the limited supply of homes for sale. As potential buyers increasingly browse homes online, having attractive and accurate photos and videos is even more important. Sellers can use this extra time at home to make updates around their home and take fresh pictures of those improvements.

For more information and resources on buying or selling a home, visit www.houselogic.com.

The National Association of  REALTORS® (NAR) Board of Directors today strengthened REALTORS®’ commitment to upholding fair housing ideals by approving a series of recommendations from NAR’s Professional Standards Committee that extend the application of Article 10 of the Code of Ethics to discriminatory speech and conduct outside of members’ real estate practices.

Article 10 prohibits REALTORS® from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity in the provision of professional services and in employment practices. The Board approved a new Standard of Practice under the Article, 10-5, that states, “REALTORS® must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs” against members of those protected classes.

The Board also approved a change to professional standards policy, expanding the Code of Ethics’ applicability to all of a REALTOR®’s activities, and added guidance to the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual to help professional standards hearing panels apply the new standard.

Finally, Directors approved a revision to the NAR Bylaws, expanding the definition of “public trust” to include all discrimination against the protected classes under Article 10 along with all fraud. All REALTOR® Associations are required to share with the state real estate licensing authority final ethics decisions holding REALTORS® in violation of the Code of Ethics in instances involving real estate-related activities and transactions where there is reason to believe the public trust may have been violated.

These changes are effective immediately, though the changes cannot be applied to speech or conduct that occurred before today. NAR has produced training and resource materials to assist leaders with understanding and implementing the changes and will be rolling those out in the coming weeks.

READ MORE HERE, INCLUDING FAQs

Bay Area residents already beleaguered by the coronavirus pandemic are still facing wildfires that continue to erupt around the region. The heavy smoke from the fires continues to endanger the health of residents.

Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), called on residents to take steps to protect themselves from the wildfire smoke. “Our hearts go out to our brave firefighters and the victims of the fires across the state. Breathing the unhealthy air from the fires is dangerous, especially for children whose lungs are still developing, and for those who have heart or lung diseases or asthma and other high health risks.”

SILVAR shares the following tips from various agencies, including the Center for Disease Control and Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency, to protect families from wildfire smoke.

Pay attention to air quality alerts. Stay informed by visiting http://www.sparetheair.org. Sign up for Spare the Air Text Alerts on the website.

Stay indoors with windows and doors closed. Now is not the time to do outdoor activities, like mowing, trimming bushes, or running and other strenuous activities.

Protect yourself from smoke. If you need to be outside, use a N95 mask or greater that fits snugly on your face. N95 masks are precious protective equipment for frontliners treating coronavirus patients, so to conserve their use, please heed advice to stay indoors.

Run the air conditioner. Keep your air conditioner’s fresh air intake closed and make sure your air filter is clean. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.

Do not add to indoor or outdoor air pollution. Do not burn candles or use gas or propane. Do not fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum. It is illegal to use fireplaces, woodstoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices during a Spare the Air Alert.

Reduce smoke in your vehicle. When on the road,close your car windows and vents. Run the air conditioner in recirculate mode.

Conserve on energy. To prevent service interruptions, reduce your energy usage, including use of major appliances during peak hours of 3-10 p.m. Keep air conditioning at 78 F degrees and turn off all unnecessary lights.

Aside from being a presidential election year, much is at stake for REALTORS® this November. Property taxes, rent control, and the California Association of REALTORS®’ portability initiative are all on the ballot and could impact your business. Make sure REALTOR® voices are heard by registering to vote now. The deadline to register to vote for the November 3, 2020 election is Monday, October 19.

This year ballots will be going out one month prior to the election date and traditional precincts are no longer how Californians will vote; instead, California voters will need to return their ballot by mail, or return it to one of the approved vote centers in their county. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by November 3rd to be counted.

Make your REALTOR® voice heard. Register to vote on November 3rd.

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE
SAN MATEO COUNTY VOTING CENTER LOCATIONS
SANTA CLARA COUNTY VOTING CENTER LOCATIONS


September is recognized as REALTOR® Safety Month and National Preparedness Month. In light of the wildfires that continue to burn and disrupt the lives of many individuals and families, it is a good time to stress preparedness in case you need to evacuate your home, says Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR).  

“Although evacuation warnings and orders have been lifted in Santa Clara County, we need to be vigilant and have a plan and know what to take and what to do in case we need to evacuate our home,” says Groth.

SILVAR shares the following evacuation tips from ready.gov, the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, and HouseLogic.com, a source of information for homeowners, homebuyers and sellers from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Make a Plan

  • Assign an out of state contact whom you will contact to let them know where you are going.
  • Decide on where to meet as a family in case you get separated.
  • Always have your gas tank full or half full in case you must evacuate right away.
  • In case the power shuts off, have a battery-operated radio and keep a charged battery pack for your cell phone, so you will not be cut off from the news and can contact people.
  • Sign up for free text alerts from your county.
  • Learn how to safely shut off all utilities in your home.
  • Prepare a checklist of what to take and what to do.

What to Take

  • Your driver’s license, proof of insurance, medical records and other important documents, including passports and Social Security cards
  • A grab-and-go bag with essential supplies, such as water, food, medication, and first-aid supplies, pet food, including face coverings and hand sanitizer to protect you from coronavirus
  • Cash in small bills, as the ATM machines may not be working

What to Do Before You Leave

  • Lock all the doors and windows in your home.
  • Unplug electrical equipment and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and protective clothing.
  • Gather your pets and load them in the car.

“Having a plan and a checklist of what to do and take will keep you calm if the worst-case scenario happens and you must evacuate your home,” says Groth.

Three real estate brokers from China, Japan and the Philippines shared the impact of COVID-19 on their real estate markets and prospects for the future at a Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® virtual global event. They included Gene Shi, president of International Operations for Homelink (Linajia Real Estate Agency Co., Ltd.); Manabu Suzuki, vice president and co-founder of International Property Agent (IPA) Co. Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan; and Andy Mañalac, chair and co-founder of Havitas Developments Corporation in the Philippines. Michi Olson, Dean of Resources and Global Connections LeadingRE, served as moderator.

Shi said the coronavirus is largely under control in China. The country’s economy is turning around. The economy expanded 3.2 percent from April through June compared to the same period last year.

The pandemic caused year-over-year real estate sales to fall 15 percent from January to April. Since then, the market is gradually returning to normal. Sales in May were just 10 percent below May sales last year.

Shi said the focus of real estate is on new homes, whose sales have increased 8 percent. Home prices are rising, especially in the major cities of Shenzhen, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Beijing.

Chinese interest in U.S. properties has shifted from high-end to mid-level properties due to China’s growing middle class. Places of interest are in Houston, Orlando and Boston. For now, due to the travel ban, the Chinese can only surf the internet for these properties.

Suzuki said coronavirus cases started rising in Japan in mid-March. From April 7 to May 25, the government issued a lockdown. Unlike China, Japan had “a more gentle request-based lockdown.” All public transport continued to operate, no penalties/fines were imposed, and citizens wore masks.

Japan’s real estate sales transactions dropped 82.2 percent in May from the previous year, but prices were up 6.4 percent. Suzuki said buyers are maintaining a “wait and see attitude” and sellers do not appear in a hurry to sell. There is more buyer interest in resort getaways that have less coronavirus risk, but are still in close proximity to the city.

READ MORE HERE

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2020 Member Profile, the typical REALTOR® has not changed much since the NAR 2019 survey. REALTORS® continue to come from a variety of demographic groups and career backgrounds. They represent the various age, ethnic, and language that define their local communities. They are more tech savvy today, using their smartphone and computer on a daily basis and online tools to communicate with clients.

The typical REALTOR® is a 55-year-old, college-educated White female, and a homeowner. Sixty-four percent of all REALTORS® are women. For 73 percent, real estate is their only occupation. Also largely unchanged from the previous year, 69 percent are married, 16 percent are divorced, and 10 percent are single or never married.

Eighty percent of REALTORS® are White, while 10 percent are Hispanic/Latino, 6 percent Black, and 5 percent Asian/Pacific Islanders. Eighty-two percent are fluent only in English. Respondents under 50 years old were most likely to be fluent in another language, with Spanish being the most common second language. Thirteen percent said they were born outside of the U.S.

Already before the coronavirus pandemic, REALTORS® had begun to adapt technology to advance their business. Among the 12,464 members who responded to the survey, more than nine in 10 members use a smartphone and a computer daily, while just about all members regularly email clients. Text messaging is the preferred means of communication for REALTORS® (94%), followed by email (91%) and telephone calls (89%). Seventy percent of members said they have a website for business use. Majority use social media apps to communicate with clients. REALTORS® were typically most active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

“The survey was conducted prior to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent nationwide stay-at-home orders. REALTORS® are very innovative, and if the same survey is conducted today, it would show an even higher percentage of REALTORS® utilizing tech tools, and they have done so successfully from the start of a transaction to completion,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

On average, members have nine years of experience in the industry. Seventeen percent have more than 25 years of experience. Sixty-five percent of respondents have sales agent licenses, 22 percent hold broker licenses, and 15 percent have their broker associate license. Seventy-three percent of members indicated they specialize in residential brokerage.

“People tend to use the terms REALTOR® and real estate agent interchangeably, but they are not the same. Although both are licensed to sell real estate, a REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and pledges to follow the Code of Ethics, which contains 17 articles and standards of practice that are higher than regular business practices or those required by law,” said Groth.

Groth added, “REALTORS® must abide by a Code of Ethics, which is diligently enforced by our peers through the Grievance and Professional Standards process. As such, a REALTOR® is held to an even higher standard of conduct than other real estate licensees. Only REALTORS® can use the REALTOR® trademark by their name.”

Silicon Valley home sales bounced back in June, as lockdown restrictions eased, bringing sellers and buyers back to the marketplace. The San Francisco Bay Area saw a moderate 3.6 percent increase in home prices and a 69.2 percent sales increase from May. Santa Clara County made a major comeback in sales volume, price, and new listings.

“The housing market is making a good recovery which will hopefully continue,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “The pandemic hasn’t stopped buyers.”

Santa Clara County saw June packed with a higher sales volume and strong prices, according to data from MLSListings presented in the Aculist Monthly Market Minute report by Aculist senior product marketing manager Michelle Ronco. Ronco noted the change in sales volume illustrates the market’s recovery. Santa Clara County sales volume in May was barely half (49 percent) of the sales volume in May 2019, then rose steadily in April to 62 percent. By June, sales volume increased to about 98 percent of sales volume in June 2019.

Santa Clara County’s median home price reached $1,382,000 in June, up 1.2 percent from May’s median of $1,365,000, and up 2.4 percent from the June 2019 median of $1,350,000. Although inventory is down 33 percent year-over year, new listings have increased for two straight months, from 732 in April, to 1,045 in May, and 1,066 in June – a clear sign that sellers are returning to the market. The county’s sales-to-list price ratio in June was 101 percent, just one percent lower than a year ago.

Further highlighting the market’s rebound are places that experienced month-over-month increased median home prices. These include cities in the local REALTOR® association’s service area, like Saratoga, Los Gatos, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View. The cities of Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Saratoga, Santa Clara, San Jose also saw new listings increase from May to June.

Ronco added average days on market dropped in June – in some cases by nearly half of the previous month. In hot markets, like Cupertino, the average DOM fell from 22 days in May to 12 in June, Monte Sereno, from 75 days to 44; and Sunnyvale, 27 days to 18. This means buyers have less time to decided on a purchase due to heightened competition.

“The virtual tours and virtual open houses have appealed to buyers. Traditional open houses are still not allowed, but in-person showings by appointment and limited to just three persons at one time, including the agent, have helped clinch many deals,” said Groth. “At our association’s REALTOR® district virtual meetings, our members are reporting multiple offers are taking place on properties that are priced competitively.”

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