According to the Chinese zodiac, this year is the Year of the Metal Rat and it may be far from a calm year, renowned fortune teller and feng shui master Y.C. Sun told members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® at their “Lunar New Year Celebration” last week.

Sun said the Metal Rat is intelligent, militant, combative, passionate. The Metal Rat values his family, but can be very aggressive when supporting political and social causes. Expect positive energy this year in the form of fights for justice, economic inequality, standing up to protect one’s own security and interests. Negative energy will come in the form of violent confrontation, riots, more government control, hate crime, domestic violence.

Jobs in demand this year will be artificial intelligence work, software development, data scientist, statistician, health care, nurse, physician, priest, farmer, civil engineer, athlete, lawyer, entertainer, film director.

Beware of health issues caused by the Metal Rat, like lung, flu, sleep disorders, headache, falling, problems in the neck, nose, kidney, large intestine, stroke, respiratory disease, asthma, venereal disease, reproductive system. Bad weather can lead to more floods, landslides, mudslides, avalanches, fires. There will be shipwrecks, air disasters, traffic accidents, gas explosions, chemical fires, earthquakes, tsunamis.

Be careful in June (especially from June 6 through July 6). The feng shui master predicts it will be a disaster-ridden month.

Sun said the economy should finish strong in 2020, with more incoming investment, better trade deals, and solid profits from AI applications, robotics, facial recognition, blockchain technology, and global 5G roll-out activities. Rising wages, low unemployment and interest rates will support demand for homebuying. Millennials will buy their first homes. Except for the East Coast, the real estate market should remain steady with slower price growth. The stock market will fall at the end of the year, but it will also be an opportunity to buy low.
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The 21st annual Silicon Valley REALTORS® Scholars Program for graduating seniors from 18 public high schools in Silicon Valley is underway. The scholars program is sponsored by the Charitable Foundation of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, a professional trade organization representing over 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 high schools in Silicon Valley. Principals and faculty at 18 participating high schools nominate three exceptional graduating seniors. This year the Charitable Foundation has increased the scholarship from $1,000 to $1,500 to be awarded 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 $360,000 to graduating high school seniors in Silicon Valley.

The scholars from the Class of 2020 will be selected from high schools in the communities served by members of SILVAR. Final selections will be made by a committee that includes representatives from the local business community and the SILVAR.

“The annual Silicon Valley REALTORS® Scholars Program is our members’ way of showing our support for our communities and schools. We see value in investing in the future of our youth,” said Nina Yamaguchi, chair of the scholars program of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. “Our excellent educational institutions are a major reason why Silicon Valley is a top housing market. For this we thank the students, teachers, administrators and school board members in our communities for their hard work and dedication in making 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 on attending a four-year college or university in the fall. Scholarship applications may be obtained from the respective schools’ guidance or career counselors.

The completed application must be returned to the high school’s principal or counselor by Friday, March 6 for submission to the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. For further information, please contact Nina Yamaguchi at (408) 861-8822 or nyamaguchi@cbnorcal.com.

The California Association of REALTORS® issued the following statement on Senate Bill 50 yesterday:

“The California Association of REALTORS® is disappointed that SB 50 did not pass out of the California Senate today but C.A.R. remains deeply committed to advancing supply-oriented solutions to California’s severe housing shortage,” said C.A.R. president Jeanne Radsick.

“Sen. Scott Wiener deserves praise for his tireless work on SB 50 which recognized that supply is the solution to our housing affordability crisis. We also thank Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins for her efforts to advance the bill and to her ongoing commitment to passing a housing production bill during this legislative session.

“Now is the time to get serious about housing supply. We remain committed to working with Sen. Wiener, Senate President Pro Tem Atkins, the rest of the Legislature, Governor Newsom and housing groups to solving California’s housing shortage.”

SB 50, which encourages the development of mid-rise and multifamily housing construction around major transit hubs.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® thanks Sen. Jim Beall for promoting housing throughout California! We truly appreciate your efforts and support in seeking solutions to increasing our state’s housing supply.



Real estate experts forecast despite lower interest rates, this year’s housing market will continue to be a challenge with the housing shortage. Mary Kay Groth, 2020 president of the Silicon Valley of REALTORS®, tells buyers they should not be discouraged. Groth is a REALTOR® with Sereno Group in Los Gatos, CA.

“Buyers should not give up their dream of homeownership. They need to be prepared, find an experienced REALTOR® they can trust, and be ready to jump in when they find the right home,” says Groth. “All real estate is local, so it is important to work with a REALTOR®who is familiar with your neighborhood of choice.”

Here are strategies Groth suggests homebuyers employ:

1. Examine your finances.
Before beginning your home search, examine your monthly income, expenses, debt payments (auto loans, student loans, minimum credit card payments) and savings. Figure out how much you can use for a down payment. Depending on the loan you qualify for, you’ll need at least 3 to 20 percent for a down payment.

2. Check your credit score. A higher credit score typically means a better interest rate and loan options. According to the Federal Reserve, 90 percent of mortgages taken out by homebuyers in the first quarter of 2019 had a score of at least 650; 75 percent had a score above 700.

2. Get pre-approved by a lender.
Once you have organized your finances, visit a lender (it is advisable to visit more than one lender) and get pre-approved for a mortgage loan; not just pre-qualified.

“A pre-approval letter from a lender shows sellers you are a serious buyer and have the lender’s backing,” says Groth.

Groth advises buyers to be cautious about paying the maximum they can afford. “You will need some reserve to enhance the home, do repairs or purchase furnishings. You want to be comfortable with your house payments and be able to keep your house.”

3. Begin your home search. With pre-approval and a price range, you can begin your home search with your REALTOR®. Let your REALTOR®know your criteria for a home. Focus on important characteristics that will matter for the next five years – location, amenities, community, etc. With the help of a skilled and experienced REALTORS®, you will be able to learn the fair market value of homes selling in the area.

4. Be ready to decide quickly. When you find the right home, go in with your absolute best offer. “In a multiple offer situation, you may not get a second chance,” says Groth.

5. Avoid complex contingencies. Don’t be overly demanding. Contingencies can weaken a “sure deal.” The seller wants assurance the contract will close escrow in the designated time frame.

6. Include a personal letter to the seller. Groth notes, “A personal letter to a seller puts a real person behind the offer. There have been multiple offer situations where sellers have been moved by a buyer’s letter that price did not matter.”

7. Understand the documents. When your REALTOR® reviews the purchase contract, disclosures and other documents, make sure you understand. If you don’t understand, ask.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has been designated by the U.S. Census Bureau as a National Partner for the upcoming 2020 Census. To encourage full participation which will ensure accurate data, NAR is asking its 1.4 million REALTORS® nationwide to help drive Census participation in their respective communities.

In addition to determining appropriate Congressional representation, roughly $1.5 trillion is allocated to states and localities annually based off of Census results – delivering funds for roads, hospitals, schools and countless other public services. More specifically, this year’s results will influence the allocation of $93.5 billion to Federal Direct Student Loans, $19.3 billion to Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and $12 billion to the National School Lunch Program.

NAR has also prepared a toolkit for members to help communicate the Census’ importance to their clients, friends and community. The promotional materials emphasize the importance of responding to the 2020 Census and include ways REALTORS® can be involved in the 2020 Census. Also included are template Facebook posts, template tweets, infographics, along with other informational resources provided by the Census Bureau.

Notices about the 2020 Census will be mailed in mid-March. The Census Bureau will offer a guide in roughly 60 different languages.

This year will mark the first time the questionnaire can be completed online, while options to respond over the phone and through the mail will still be available. In addition, NAR is reminding its members and U.S. residents that the Bureau will never ask for bank account or social security numbers, donations or anything on behalf of a political party, and strict federal law protects the confidentiality of Census responses.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has partnered with Photofy, the content creation app, to create a custom version of the app pre-loaded with “That’s Who We R” social media graphics and videos for REALTORS® to share with consumers. The app is a FREE member-only benefit.

“That’s Who We R” is a campaign launched by NAR last year as a rallying cry that instills pride in a REALTOR®’s everyday actions. The campaign uses the iconic block R logo, representing membership in NAR and differentiates REALTORS® from non-member agents.

The new app boosts the image of the REALTOR® and allows REALTORS® to quickly and easily personalize a selection of content from NAR’s “That’s Who We R” advertising campaign to share on social media, educating consumers about why you, as a REALTOR®, are different from other agents. REALTORS® can add their photo, logo, or contact information and share assets to their social media accounts, all in just a few taps. New content will be added as it becomes available for REALTORS® to share.

REALTORS® may use their NRDS ID to sign up today at Photofy.com/NAR for free access to Photofy’s exclusive toolset for NAR members and start leveraging the national ad campaign on social media.

The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation donated $41,618 in 2019 to different non-profit organizations that help homeless and low-income individuals and families in Silicon Valley. Funds this year also went to scholarships for graduating seniors from 18 public high schools in the REALTOR® association’s service area.

The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation is a trust that makes grants available to organizations from donations by REALTORS® and affiliate members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR). In addition to voluntary contributions from members, grants are funded by proceeds from the local trade association’s district fundraisers. In 2019, SILVAR’s Los Altos-Mountain View District annual pumpkin auction in October raised $5,005, which the district donated to the foundation. Net proceeds of $1,786 from the Los Gatos-Saratoga District’s annual bocce ball tournament were also donated to the foundation.

“Rising home prices and rents have taken a toll on many residents. We are very concerned that more people are being displaced and are homeless in Silicon Valley,” said Eileen Giorgi, president of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. “We thank our members for their continued support and contributions to the communities where they work and live. With their help we are thankful that we are able to continue our commitment to the welfare and prosperity of these communities.”

The 2019 grant recipients include Adolescent Counseling Services, which provides a network of skilled family therapists and support groups for teens and young adults in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties; East Palo Alto Kids Foundation, which promotes educational opportunities for students in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park; Westwind 4-H Riding for the Handicapped, which provides children with disabilities the opportunity to have fun while improving their coordination and strengthening their muscles; Youth Community Service, which provides service learning and leadership activities to underserved students in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Palo Alto; and Jasper Ridge Farm, which helps children and adults facing physical and emotional challenges through therapeutic interaction with gentle farm animals.

SILVAR districts, through the Charitable Foundation, likewise made donations to local organizations in 2019. The Los Gatos-Saratoga District donated $5,335 raised at the district’s annual pumpkin auction to the Family Giving Tree’s Operation Reindeer program for holiday gifts, including clothing essentials and food certificates, to needy families and seniors in the community. The Cupertino-Sunnyvale District presented $750 each to West Valley Community Services and Sunnyvale Community Services for their respective Back to School programs for low-income students. The Los Altos-Mountain View District spring and fall legal updates raised $1,783, which the district donated to Community Services Agency, which provides a variety of social services like emergency one-time rent and utility financial support, vouchers for clothing, eyeglasses, school supplies, food and more for residents of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

In 2019, the Charitable Foundation Scholars Program presented a $1,000 grant to each of 18 graduating seniors from public high schools in Silicon Valley. The foundation has been assisting students with the scholarship grants for the past 20 years, awarding a total of $360,000 in scholarships to date. In 2020, the scholarship grant will increase to $1,500.

The Charitable Foundation also supports further education for U.S. veterans. The John Tripp Silicon Valley Scholarship grants $500 awards to veterans enrolled at Foothill and De Anza colleges. In 2016, the foundation presented $25,000 to Foothill-De Anza Foundation, an auxiliary organization of the Foothill-De Anza Community Colleges District for the creation of the endowment. The late John Tripp was a veteran of the Korean War and past president of SILVAR and the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. The foundation will be establishing another veterans scholarship at West Valley College.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) last week hosted a delegation of International REALTOR® Members from the Philippine Chamber of Real Estate & Builders Association (CREBA). The IRMs were in town for the National Association of REALTORS® 2019 Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

NAR maintains formal relationships with 100 organized real estate associations around the world, giving REALTORS® confidence in working with professionals that abide by a Code of Ethics. These bilateral partnerships exist in 85 countries to help members establish business partnerships and referral opportunities. SILVAR is NAR’s Ambassador Association to the Philippines and CREBA is SILVAR’s partner association there.

Also attending the event at SILVAR were NAR Global Ambassador to the Philippines Vicky Silvano, Filipino American Real Estate Professional Association Silicon Valley (FAREPA SV) President Cheryl (CJ) Javier and FAREPA SV board directors, SILVAR President Alan Barbic, President-elect Mary Kay Groth, Global Business Chair Joanne Fraser and GBC planning committee members Mark Wong, Ketan Jashapara, Chika Mori, David Tonna, Mitra Lahidji and Lisa Wendl.

Read more and see photos here:

https://www.silvar.org/press-release-1901.htm

At the annual National Association of REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco, NAR’s board of directors voted 729-70 on Monday to approved MLS Statement 8.0, also known as the Clear Cooperation policy. The policy requires listing brokers who are participants in a multiple listing service to submit their listing to the MLS within one business day of marketing the property to the public.

NAR’s MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Advisory Board proposed the policy as a way to address the growing use of off-MLS listings, also known as “pocket listings.” The advisory board concluded that leaving listings outside of the broader marketplace excludes consumers, undermining REALTORS®’ commitment to provide equal opportunity to all. The policy does not prohibit brokers from taking office-exclusive listings; nor does it impede brokers’ ability to meet their clients’ privacy needs.

Following is the full text of MLS Statement 8.0:
Within one (1) business day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants.  Public marketing includes, but is not limited to, flyers displayed in windows, yard signs, digital marketing on public facing websites, brokerage website displays (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (email blasts), multi-brokerage listing sharing networks, and applications available to the general public.

MLSs can adopt the policy any time, but they must adopt it no later than May 1, 2020.

Click HERE for more information on the MLS Clear Cooperation Policy

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board of directors approved a change to NAR’s Code of Ethics training requirement and extended the ethics training requirement to every three years instead of every two years. The change was made upon the recommendation of a presidential advisory group in order to give members more time to fit the Code of Ethics training into their continuing education schedule and to give local associations adequate time between cycles to administer the program.

Click HERE for more information on the Code of Ethics training requirement.

Despite information in the media, many households were caught unprepared for PG&E’s recent Public Safety Power Shutoffs in certain areas in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to PG&E, the effects of climate change are making California’s wildfire season longer and more intense, threatening homes and people’s lives. In order to prevent tragedies like the deadly Camp Fire, PG&E says the probability is great that it will proactively shut off electrical power to households during days of strong winds and extreme fire danger.

Below are steps recommended by PG&E, the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® and other sources, to help homeowners prepare before a shutoff occurs:

Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), knows the impact a fire can have on a family, since his home was destroyed during the 1985 Lexington fire and the family had to rebuild. “We were utterly devastated when our home burned down. We were fortunate to be safe, but the fear was very real,” said Barbic. “That’s why it is important to prepare as much as you can and have an emergency plan in advance in the event your family is affected by a power shutoff or should any type of emergency arise.”

Below are steps recommended by PG&E, SILVAR and other sources, to help homeowners prepare before a shutoff occurs

  • Visit http://www.pge.com to confirm or update your contact information, so PG&E can send you notifications in advance of a shutoff.
  • Create a safety plan for your family, including pets. This includes emergency contact information and an emergency supply kit with enough water and nonperishable food to last your family for a week. Refresh your kit once a year.
  • When there is no power, Wi-Fi and other devices that rely on electricity to function won’t work, so keep mobile phones and other devices charged. Better yet, have an external battery charger that can charge your phone and other devices. Make sure it is charged all the time.
  • Have a battery-operated radio so you can listen for news updates.
  • Have several flashlights available and store extra batteries for your flashlights and portable radio. Avoid using candles.
  • Keep cash on hand, preferably in small bills, since ATMs and credit card machines may not function during an outage.
  • Keep your gas tank always at least half full. Gas tanks need electricity to pump gas. If you own an electric vehicle, make sure it is fully charged.
  • If your garage door does not have a battery backup, learn how to manually open it.
  • If you live in a unit that has elevators or electronic key card access, talk with your building manager about how they will deal with a possible outage.

During a power shutoff:

  • Unplug or turn off appliances, computers and other electronics to avoid damage caused by surges when the power is restored.
  • Your refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours and a full freezer will keep its temperature for about two days if they are kept closed. Use coolers with ice or freeze water in plastic containers to keep food cold.
  • If you rely on electric or battery-dependent medical technologies such as breathing machines, a power wheelchair or scooter, and home oxygen or dialysis, make sure you have a plan in place for an extended power outage.
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