The coronavirus is directly impacting families in the Bay Area as state and county have ordered residents to stay home, except those who must provide essential services. Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) President Mary Kay Groth offers these tips for families and Realtors coping with the new normal in their lives.

Don’t panic
“Although the news is distressing, we should do our best not to panic,” says Groth. “We should stay informed with the latest news and be smart about taking precautions to prevent the virus from coming into our home and infecting our family.”

The Stay in Place directive is a good thing, says Groth. “It definitely means pausing our daily activities, but it is the right thing to do. Social distancing is one of the best tools to minimize exposure to and spread of the virus.”

Stay connected
Families can still connect with friends and relatives. “Staying home does not mean cutting ties with everyone. Thankfully, technology allows us to connect in many different ways. In addition to phone calls, text messages, emails, connect through FaceTime, Zoom, Messenger and other apps,” suggests Groth.

With schools closed, Groth encourages parents to talk to their children about the COVID-19 virus. “Young children may not understand what is happening. Parents need to assure them that all will be well and that staying home keeps them safe while doctors fight the virus,” says Groth. “We need to look at the situation positively, as an experience that can bring you and your children closer together.”

Additionally, multi-generation families should try to maintain as much distance as possible in order to keep safe. Designate a special room for older family members, especially grandparents, if you can, so they’ll have their own space, where they can feel safe and comfortable.

Maintain good hygiene habits
Even if you are home, continue to wash your hands and sanitize all points of contact, like counters, tables and doorknobs. Health care providers stress the most important thing you can do is wash your hands thoroughly for at least for 20 seconds.

Do home maintenance work
Take care of home maintenance tasks you have put off, like replace a light bulb, fix a leaky faucet, clean the garage, file papers, or trim bushes and plants.

Exercise
If you get cabin fever, walk around your neighborhood, but keep your distance from others by staying six feet away from other individuals.

REALTORS® can still work
Even if client-facing activities are at a pause now, work need not stop for REALTORS®, says Groth. “REALTORS® can organize their data base and stay in touch with their clients by email, text messages and phone calls. Check in with your older clients, see how they are doing. Many would welcome a friendly phone call from you.”

Groth urges REALTORS® to continue learning. “Check MLSListings’ on-demand videos and webinar classes. This is also a good time to take the California Association of REALTORS® 45-hour online continuing education courses for license renewal, which is a free member benefit.”

“The market was solid before this outbreak, we will get through this and families will be stronger after we weather this crisis together,” said Groth.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, REALTORS® expect the outbreak to negatively impact their business, primarily in the areas of home sales and time on market. Flash pulse surveys by both the California Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® imply, at least in the short-term, that home sales will be down compared to what would have been the case due to the spread of coronavirus.

According to the C.A.R. flash pulse poll conducted March 6-9 via email, due to the coronavirus outbreak half of California REALTORS® expected there will be a negative impact on home sales and 49 percent said time on market will be impacted. Conversely, 36 percent said they expect there will be no impact on home sales or time on market (38 percent).

Other areas that REALTORS® said would be negatively impacted were home prices (40 percent), closing (38 percent), supply (37 percent) and market competition (28 percent). More than one-half (55 percent) said there would be no impact on market competition, closing (53 percent) or price (45 percent). More than one in four REALTORS® (26 percent) said they had clients who put their home purchase or home sale on hold, and more than one-third of REALTORS® had clients asking them coronavirus market-related questions.

With the situation still uncertain and changing rapidly, Joel Singer, CEO of C.A.R., said, “It is a logical reaction to this reality that the global economy will be slowing in historically unprecedented ways for some period of time.”

NAR conducted a similar pulse survey of members on March 9-10, 2020, a week after C.A.R.’s pulse survey. NAR’s Economic Pulse Flash Survey found among REALTORS® who responded, 37 percent said lower mortgage rates excited homebuyers much more than the stock market correction, yet almost eight out of 10 (78%) said there has been no change in buyer interest due to the coronavirus. Sixteen percent said buyer interest has decreased due to coronavirus, with members in California and Washington State citing larger decreases in buyer interest, 21 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

Nearly nine in 10 members (87%) said coronavirus has not affected the number of homes on the market. In Washington State and California, 5 percent and 4 percent of members, respectively, reported homes were removed from the market.

“Given that a home transaction is a major commitment, the uncertainties on how the economy will play out and the spread of the virus itself are barriers to homebuying and selling. The stock market crash is no doubt raising economic anxieties, while the coronavirus brings fear of contact with strangers,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “At the same time, the dramatic fall in interest rates may induce some potential buyers to take advantage of the better affordability conditions. It is too early to assess the likely impact as to whether lower interest rates can overcome the economic and health anxieties.”

Due to coronavirus concerns, C.A.R. and NAR have cancelled meetings and suspended non-essential volunteer and staff travel for association business. Also cancelled is the annual REALTOR® Legislative Day set for April 28. Legislative Day is the one day each year when over 2,000 California REALTORS® travel to Sacramento to meet their respective legislators and discuss real estate-related legislation that could impact property rights, their clients and their business.

In accordance to the March 17-April 7, 2020 Shelter in Place directive, the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) office in Cupertino will be closed. Staff will do their best to serve members while working remotely. Members can email membership@silvar.org with questions.

“Our primary concern is the health of our members and staff. This is the “new normal.” When the Shelter in Place order is lifted, all broker tours, open houses and showings will resume,” said SILVAR Executive Officer Paul Cardus.



The seven leading MLSs in Northern California, including MLSListings, announced the creation of have formed NorCal MLS Alliance, a data share collaborative which will ensure real estate professionals in Northern California have the greatest access to MLS data in and near the areas they do business. This move will give subscribers greater access to listing data for all major Northern California counties via Matrix. Initial implementation is slated for Q3 2020.

Three different MLS systems serve the seven MLSs in the NorCal MLS Alliance: Matrix (CoreLogic), Paragon (Black Knight), and Rapattoni. Each MLS has thousands of agents using their system. With the creation of NorCal MLS Alliance, each of the three systems will have all of the data in their respective data base. This means MLSListings subscribers will be able to seamlessly access this new, larger set of data via Matrix, their home system, without having to change to a different and unfamiliar system (i.e., no more switching systems from Matrix to Paragon to Rapattoni). Agents will continue to use the same system they are accustomed to, but with substantially more listing data from a much wider geography. NorCal MLS Alliance’s collaborative data sharing initiative will provide brokers and agents with a single set of listing data that will cover most of Northern California, from the Bay Area to the Central Valley to the crest of the Sierra Mountains. To REALTOR® members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® and other MLSListings subscribers, this means MLSListings will be adding San Francisco, North Bay, and Central Valley counties to the data shared with the East Bay, enabling agents to enter listings and search data covering 22 Northern California counties and reaching over 60,000 real estate professionals.

Plans are to implement Phase 1 with shared system data to include the six Bay Area MLSs (SFAR, BAREIS, bridgeMLS, CCAR, BayEast and MLSListings) by the third quarter of 2020, with continued access to Metrolist data through the current reciprocal system that is already in place. Phase 2 of the project, which will further integrate and interconnect data from the nine-county service area of MetroList with the Bay Area systems, is set for 2021.

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.

March 2020
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