The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR)has formed a new partnership with the Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. A Memorandum of Understanding between the local REALTOR® association and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance local chapter was approved by SILVAR’s Board of Directors at its meeting on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The collaboration will allow both groups to identify opportunities that cultivate LGBTQ+ leaders and mobilize members in support of mutually beneficial federal policies, among other pro-LGBTQ+ and real estate industry initiatives.

“SILVAR has long championed homeownership for all, and this includes the LGBTQ+ community. We’re proud to announce our partnership with the Silicon Valley Alliance as we celebrate Pride Month in June and work toward initiatives that will benefit the real estate industry and our communities as a whole,” said SILVAR President Brett Caviness.

Homeownership in the U.S. is currently around 65%, while LGBTQ+ homeowner rates are lower, at about 49%. The LGBTQ+ community continues to face housing discrimination and does not feel they are welcome in certain communities where they would like to live. Nearly half of renters do not pursue homeownership due to fears of discrimination.

The National Association of REALTORS® amended its Code of Ethics in 2011 and 2014 to ensure REALTORS® uphold housing protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community. NAR has worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development as it has reinforced its Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“SILVAR’s partnership with The Alliance is in line with NAR’s core values to lead change while advancing diversity and inclusion,” said SILVAR CEO Paul Cardus. “SILVAR and Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance have a shared commitment in protecting private property rights and advancing the American Dream of homeownership for all.”

“The Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is grateful for the partnership and support SILVAR has offered us without hesitation,” said Jessa Walsh, Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ Alliance president. “Homeownership is the single most fundamental building block for creating long-term and generational wealth. It’s a challenging goal for anyone, especially in Silicon Valley. It’s our goal through the Alliance to ensure no one in our community experiences additional barriers in their pursuit of homeownership based on who they love or how they identify.”

Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance vision is to create a world free of housing discrimination. “We believe it is imperative to educate ourselves, our agents, and our staffs on how to work with the LGBTQ+ community and ensure there is an inclusive space for everyone within our real estate industry,” said Walsh.

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According to NBC Bay Area News, thieves recently targeted a home for sale in east San Jose and stole a refrigerator. It is believed thieves cased the home during an open house held a few days earlier. The home was apparently vacant at the time. The thieves returned three days later to steal more items, but their attempt was thwarted since this time, there was an occupant in the home and the police were contacted.

Below are safety tips from the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® for members to share with their clients that may help avoid being a target of theft. Agents may also want to consult their clients on whether or not to indicate a vacant property is “staged” in the MLS public remarks.

• Make the home look occupied. Use automatic timers on lights, a TV, and/or radios and set them to go on and off at different times to make your house appear occupied. Install motion detectors on the exterior of your home and garage/shed.

• Keep curtains/blinds closed and lock all doors and windows. Use wooden stakes inside door/window frames to prevent them from being opened from the outside.

• Keep the property maintained, grass mowed, and leaves raked. Trim trees and shrubs so they can’t conceal burglars.

• Inform the police and trusted neighbors that the house will be vacant for an extended time.

• Ask neighbors to keep an eye on the property and call 9-1-1 immediately if they see or hear any suspicious activity. Ask them to park their vehicle in the driveway and/or pick up fliers or circulars that may be left on the front porch, driveway, or in the newspaper box.

• Consider installing an alarm system and/or security cameras.

• Consider hiring a house sitter to prevent the home from being vacant during the selling period.

• Refrain from putting “For Rent” or “For Sale” signs in front of your property.

• Never leave a spare house key under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes, or other hiding places.

• Place the lockbox out of plain sight, so it is not easily visible to passersby.

• Don’t place posts on social networking sites that inform others that the house is for sale.

View the NBC Bay Area news broadcast HERE.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month with leaders of local Asian real estate associations. At the virtual event were Sang Kang, president of the Korean American Association of Realtors & Lenders of Northern California (KARL); PK Patel, president of the Asian Real Estate Association of America Silicon Valley (AREAA SV); Dexter Lat, former president and current board director of the Chinese American Real Estate Association (CAREA); Frank Cancilla, president-elect of the Filipino American Real Estate Association Silicon Valley (FAREPA SV); and Paige Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese National Association of Real Estate Professionals (VNARP).

KARL’s mission is “to synergize the leaders of real estate and lenders within the Korean American communities in the greater Bay Area by facilitating continued professional development of its members and affiliates,” said Kang.

KARL has about 100 members from all real estate-related professions. Kang highlighted upcoming association events and invited SILVAR members to join, saying, “We are open to all races who are interested in the Korean culture.”

From its formation 12 years ago, Patel said AREAA has grown to 42 chapters in the U.S. and two in Canada, with a membership of 56 ethnicities speaking 26 languages. AREAA promotes sustainable homeownership opportunities for Asian American communities.

Humbled to be AREAA SV’s first Indian American president, Patel said getting involved with AREAA “has transformed my life and business.” He indicated AREAA goes beyond business and helps the community through its cleanup program and other projects like Stop Asian Hate Crime, and advocates at the national level to reduce homeownership barriers facing the Asian American community.

Nguyen said San Jose has the largest Vietnamese population outside Vietnam. VNARP is centered on quality education for its members and outreach. Events associated with Vietnamese fashion and culture, its annual golf tournament and food distribution drives are some of many ways VNARP supports and gives back to the Vietnamese community.

Nguyen announced VNARP has officially launched a Southern California chapter. She added, “We’re open to all. Half of our membership is non-Vietnamese.”

Cancilla said FAREPA was formed in 2002 to elevate the level of professionalism of Filipino American real estate professionals through education, networking and partnership, and to create a united voice within the real estate industry. Cancilla said even if he is not Filipino, FAREPA welcomes everyone.

“If you are involved in our organization, you’ll be welcomed in the family,” said Cancilla.

CAREA focuses on the social and economic well-being of associates and in enhancing the image of Chinese Americans in real estate. Like the other groups, CAREA welcomes everyone.

Lat said he was nervous joining CAREA in 2007 because although he is part Chinese, he did not speak the language. Yet right away, CAREA members were welcoming and put him at ease.

Lat imparted the message from all the leaders. “We invite you to join our associations. Don’t just join one, join all, because you not only get to expand your network of friends, you’ll learn about every culture. Their ways of negotiation are different from others. These soft skills to negotiate and communicate, how to get along with other people, make you a whole person, makes you a better person of the world. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Having more friendships shows you are not alone in this business.”

SILVAR Past President Joanne Fraser shared news that Apartment List recently named San Jose the best city for Asian professionals in four categories: Community & Representation, Economic Opportunity, Housing Opportunity, and Business Environment. San Francisco ranked sixth.

San Jose is home to 382,815 Asians and San Francisco, 300,339, according to U.S. Census numbers. “That puts the Asian population at 37 percent and 34 percent of the overall population of the two cities, respectively. They are your clients,” Fraser told SILVAR members.

Last month on April 27, after an absence of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® were among over 2,000 California REALTORS® who once again traveled to the State Capitol for Legislative Day. Legislative Day is the California Association of REALTORS®’ pinnacle REALTOR® legislative event. REALTORS® make up the largest business interest group that comes to Sacramento each year to meet with their elected officials and discuss issues affecting homeownership and the real estate industry.

At a morning briefing held at the Sacramento Convention Center, C.A.R. President Otto Catrina welcomed members to the event. He noted the REALTORS®’ presence at the State Capitol showed they value homeownership and private property rights.

“We need to remember to fight for homeownership, private property rights, free enterprise and responsible government. We are here to support not just our business but our clients,” said Catrina.

C.A.R.’s new CEO John Sebree greeted California REALTORS® and reminded them that April is Fair Housing Month. Sebree said, “We all have the opportunity to be part of the transformative solutions to make sure all people have access to homeownership.”

Sebree mentioned C.A.R.’s partnership with nonprofit housing organizations to provide closing cost grants up to $10,000 for eligible first-time homebuyers from underserved communities, and C.A.R.’s fight for and successes in fair housing legislation, including legislation that removes discriminatory language in property records.

Among the speakers at the morning briefing were Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher, who indicated “homeownership is a fundamental principle.” Gallagher urged REALTORS® to continue educating legislators on the need to drive housing costs down for California families and belief that legislators can work across the aisles to ensure the California dream of homeownership remains viable for the future. He estimated 2.5 million homes need to be built by 2030.

“We must move through all the obstacles to make sure that the dream of homeownership can be achieved,” said Gallagher.

Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Robert Hertzberg spoke on the need to build more homes. “It’s all about housing. Homeownership is the backbone of our community. It builds generational wealth. It is something we need to focus on at the core, the opportunity to give people hope, and help the ‘missing middle.’”

The highlight of the morning was California Governor Gavin Newsom’s address to REALTORS®. Newsom fiercely chastised critics and stressed, “facts matter.” He indicated California had 21% growth five years prior to the pandemic. Last year, California’s economy, along with two smaller states, grew the fastest. California grew 7.8% last year.

Newsom noted the state is dominated by venture capitalists, and that the state is number one in factory jobs, in manufacturing, and in household income growth. California had the largest surplus in the U.S., and was able to give $12 billion in tax rebates last year.

Additionally, the state has passed 31 housing bills and 17 bills pertaining to CEQA, but Newsom said, “We got more work to do to address housing at all income levels.”

Newsom thanked REALTORS® for keeping the economy moving, for all they did during the pandemic, and for creating opportunities for families and contributing to the state’s growth.

“I have pride in this state. I think the best days are ahead of us. We are moving in the right direction as we haven’t done in the past,” said Newsom.

Every April, REALTORS® commemorate the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to remind every American that all persons have equal access to housing and that fair housing is not an option; it is the law.

“Homeownership is the largest single contributor to intergenerational wealth for American families, but it has not been accessible to all Americans on equal terms. Fair housing and equity issues are still prevalent in California,” says Brett Caviness, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.  

According to the California Association of REALTORS®, housing affordability for white/non-Hispanic households fell from 38 percent in 2020 to 34 percent in 2021. Seventeen percent of Black and Latino households could afford a median-priced home, down from 19 percent and 20 percent in 2020, respectively.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law three C.A.R.-sponsored bills and two fair housing bills that require implicit bias training for real estate professionals, address the supply and affordability challenges that disparately impact people of color and address appraisal bias.

“A home seller, home seeker, and real estate professional all have rights and responsibilities under the law,” says Caviness.

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, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. They cannot instruct the licensed broker or salesperson acting as their agent to convey any limitations in the sale or rental because the real estate professional is also bound by law not to discriminate.

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.

Under the 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. REALTORS® cannot abide by a request from a home seller or landlord to act in a discriminatory manner in a sale, lease or rental.

If you suspect discrimination, you may file a complaint at https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/.

In Silicon Valley, where inventory is at an all-time low and interest rates are rising and competition for home is fierce, many homebuyers feel dejected. Many feel they can never own a home in the region. Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® President Brett Caviness is one to say, “Never say never.”

“It may seem bleak because of the tough competition, but I’ve known first-time homebuyers who have succeeded in purchasing their first home. If that’s your goal, I would never give up trying,” says Caviness.

Below are some tips Caviness provides when searching for a home in this competitive market:

1. Find a REALTOR® you can trust. It is critical that the agent you choose is both skilled and a good fit with your personality.

“Not everybody knows there is a difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent. REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and must abide by a Code of Ethics. They are held to a higher standard of conduct and required to undergo additional training in current business practices, unlike other real estate licensees,” says Caviness. “A local REALTOR® can provide the vital market pulse, network of connections, and expert insight and skills needed not only to craft a compelling offer, but to get it accepted.”

2. Get your ducks in a row. Examine your budget, get your finances in order with adequate funds that are readily accessible. Make sure you have an excellent credit rating and getting pre-approved by a lender so you know how much you can afford.

Pro Tip: “Pre-approval with underwriting goes a step further than getting prequalified or even a standard preapproval because your lender will commit in writing to fund your loan pending a successful appraisal of the home and a few other conditions. This enables you to move quickly and make an offer that is not contingent upon obtaining financing,” explains Caviness.

3. Identify desired neighborhoods and your wants versus needs. Your REALTOR® can help you identify homes that meet your needs but may be in a location you did not yet consider, or have features you were not initially thinking of.

“Accept that no house is ever perfect. Focus on location and the things that are most important to you and let the minor stuff go. Certain wants, such as stainless appliances or hardwood floors, can be added later, but families with children may want to take into account the school district, number of bedrooms, and a decent sized backyard. These things cannot be addressed later,” says Caviness.

4. Be prepared to act quickly. Homes are not staying in the market long, so when a house that is in your budget and checks off many of your needs, be ready to submit an offer quickly, or you could risk missing out on the home altogether.

5. Bid competitively and limit contingencies. In a seller’s market buyers need to put forward their highest offer from the very beginning, or they are likely to lose out on the home.

“Don’t expect a discount. In San Mateo and Santa Clara counties it’s a ‘play to win’ market where buyers are paying over asking,” says Caviness. “With that said, don’t get caught in a buying frenzy either. Just because there is competition doesn’t mean you should just buy anything. After you’ve seen enough homes, you’ll feel comfortable going for the one that feels right.”

Caviness adds in multiple bidding situations it is advisable to limit contingencies and think what could be compelling to offer the seller like a quick close, or a period where they may stay in the home after the sale. “Be flexible and remove unnecessary contingencies. Inspections are necessary, but you may lose the bid negotiating on minor items you can replace or repair later. Now is not the time to be picky.”

The 23rd annual Silicon Valley REALTORS® Scholars Program for graduating seniors from 18 public high schools in Silicon Valley is under way. The scholars program is sponsored by the Charitable Foundation of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), a professional trade organization representing 5,000 REALTORS® and affiliate members engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

The REALTOR® scholars program is a partnership with local public high schools in SILVAR’s service area. Principals and faculty at 18 participating high schools nominate three exceptional graduating seniors. Final selections will be made by a committee that includes representatives from SILVAR.

The Charitable Foundation will award $1,500 to one nominee from each school in recognition of their exemplary record, outstanding academic performance and community spirit. Since its inception, the program has awarded $409,500 in scholarships to high school seniors in Silicon Valley.

“This program is part of a long-term effort to make an investment in our collective future – our youth,” said Nina Yamaguchi, Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Scholars Program chair. “The annual scholarship program is our way of thanking the students, teachers, administrators and school board members in our communities for their hard work and dedication to make the schools in our communities among the best in California and in the nation.”

The participating schools include Leigh High School and Lynbrook High School in San Jose; Westmont High School in Campbell; Fremont High School in Sunnyvale; Los Altos High School in Los Altos; Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos; Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto; Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton; Santa Clara High School and Wilcox High School in Santa Clara; Cupertino High School, Homestead High School and Monta Vista High School in Cupertino; Prospect High School and Saratoga High School in Saratoga; Mountain View High School in Mountain View; and Woodside High School in Woodside.

The scholarship is open to graduating seniors from the above-mentioned high schools who plan to attend a four-year U.S. college or university in the fall. Scholarship applications and a list of other requirements may be obtained from the student’s school guidance or career counselor.

The completed application must be returned to the high school’s principal or counselor by Friday, March 4, 2022, for submission to the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. For further information, please contact Nina Yamaguchi at (408) 861-8822 or nyamaguchi@cbnorcal.com.

Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) 2022 president, Brett Caviness, is one of the youngest REALTORS® to assume a REALTOR® association’s top leadership role. Like many millennials, Caviness, who is a REALTOR® with Compass, is reshaping the industry, so it is more in touch with the digital world; but more than that, he wants SILVAR REALTORS® to benefit from professional development and be a voice for their clients.

As president of SILVAR, Caviness wants to raise professional standards, help agents better serve their clients and community, and focus on homeownership rights. “I want to continue building member engagement through virtual and in person events and classes, and by delivering video content to our members. I want to enrich our REALTORS® community by focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion through strengthening involvement with affiliated organizations, committees, and overall member engagement,” says Caviness. “I also want to focus on recognizing and elevating the service our members are already doing all year and provide unique opportunities for REALTORS® to contribute to our local community and our Realtor community.”

A native of Iowa, Caviness graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a minor in real estate from the University of Northern Iowa. While in college he earned his real estate license and sold a few homes. In 2012, Caviness moved to Palo Alto and as soon as he got his California real estate license, he hit the ground running.

In 2017, at the age 29, Caviness had an individual sales volume of $19.3 million and 16 individual transaction sides. The following year, he was named one of 50 finalists nationwide to REALTOR® Magazine’s 2018 Class of 30 Under 30.

Early into his career, Caviness strived to be a leader in organized real estate. Before becoming 2021 president-elect, he joined SILVAR’s Menlo Park-Atherton District Council and served as the district’s chair and as California Association of REALTORS® Region 9 director in 2015. He joined the Young Professionals Network and taught classes at SILVAR on how agents can use video to market themselves and their listings. In 2016, he received the SILVAR President’s Award for his contributions to the association.

“I like being involved, contributing, being part of something bigger and giving back,” says Caviness.

Real estate is a hard business, says Caviness. He attributes his success to his personal desire and drive to succeed, and the fact that he did not have a safety net to fall back on. He learned the importance of customer service at an early age – delivering newspapers, working at Subway and Dairy Queen, and selling tickets to games in college. When someone asks if he is available, he does not answer “Sure”; he answers, “Absolutely!”

Now, more than ever, Caviness says REALTORS® need to go back to basics, take education courses, know the data, establish a relationship of trust with their clients, and be their voice.

“The clearest path to success is helping others, whether it is over the phone or meeting them in person. We need to make sure our clients know we’re available for them,” says Caviness.

The holiday season is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, but it is also a busy time for consumers shopping for holiday items and presents. Often, they get distracted, putting their safety at risk.

“We all want to enjoy the holidays and stay safe and healthy, as the pandemic is still with us. It is also important to remember to keep your guard up because the month of December has the highest rate of home crime and scams. Rampant activity of porch pirates and the spate of smash-and-grab robberies in our malls and retail stores is very troubling,” says Joanne Fraser, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “Regardless of how you’re shopping this holiday season, please be cautious in stores and online.”

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® shares the following holiday home safety tips:

  • Keep the outside of your home well-lit. When you leave your home, place your inside lights on timers to make it appear occupied.
  • Trim your shrubs to about three feet and trees to no more than 10 feet to prevent burglars from lurking around your home.
  • Always keep your doors locked.
  • Do not place gifts under the Christmas tree where burglars can see them. Place a blanket over the presents, so they are not in full view of a window.
  • Do not overload wall outlets and extension cords.
  • Never use indoor extension cords outside.
  • If you have a live Christmas tree, cut two inches off the trunk, mount the tree on a sturdy stand, and keep it well-supplied with water and away from candles or a fireplace.
  • After the holidays, do not advertise your gifts by leaving their boxes at the curb for garbage collection. Break down the boxes or take the big boxes to a recycling center.
  • Social distancing is one of the best tools to minimize exposure and the spread of the coronavirus. When indoors with more than one person, wear a mask, maintain a distance of at least six feet. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Be aware of holiday scams:

  • When shopping at a mall or retail store, always be aware of your surroundings. Thieves watch to see if you are distracted.
  • Shop during the day, and if possible, shop with a group. Hide packages in your car and lock your doors.
  • Be aware that thieves place skimmers that look authentic on ATM machines. It is best to use an ATM that is inside a secure building.
  • If you can, use a credit card when you shop because debit cards typically do not have protection against fraud. Any fraudulent transaction made using your debit card will deduct funds directly from your bank account.
  • Only give to charities that are well-established. Never give out your credit card information to a charity over the phone.
  • Scammers are getting more intrusive and sending text messages with links. Do not answer texts you receive from unfamiliar senders or click on a link in the text.

The National Association of REALTORS® kicked-off its first-ever hybrid 2021 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego this week. The conference was attended by thousands of REALTORS® nationwide and over 300 International REALTOR® Members from 43 countries. The event included numerous education sessions, state leadership and economic forums, and global meetings, one of which highlighted SILVAR’s role as a NAR Ambassador Association. The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) was appointed NAR’s Global Ambassador Association to the Philippines in 2013 and has been successful in fostering a relationship with the Chamber of Real Estate & Builders Associations (CREBA) in the Philippines.

(IRMs)At the Global Alliances Advisory Board meeting, Vicky Silvano, NAR Global Ambassador to the Philippines, and Rose Meily, SILVAR public affairs & communications director, delivered a presentation on collaboration between NAR Global Ambassadors and Ambassador Associations, and their partner/cooperating associations in other countries. Silvano, who is a REALTOR® based in Chicago, stressed the importance of communication, collaboration and consistency between the global ambassador and the two associations.

Meily stressed the importance of staying in touch with the global ambassador and CREBA either via email, text or in person. She shared ways SILVAR has successfully partnered with CREBA. These include hosting NAR International REALTOR® Members (IRMs) from CREBA during their visits to Silicon Valley and many global programs which the SILVAR Global Business Council has offered live and virtually during the pandemic for SILVAR members and CREBA IRMs. The most recent event was SILVAR’s virtual trade mission to Silicon Valley in August.
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