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.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) is now located at its new office at 10040 Bubb Rd., Cupertino, CA 95014, just a few miles away from its former office on Stevens Creek Blvd. The main office contact number remains the same, at (408) 200-0100. Our website address is also the same at www.silvar.org. Payments and online registration can continue to be made at http://ims.silvar.org

All classes offered by SILVAR will be located here, unless otherwise stated in the Education Schedule in the Friday Facts, SILVAR’s weekly member e-newsletter, or the SILVAR website.

Members are always welcome to stop by the new SILVAR office and say “Hi!”

VIEW PHOTOS

Buying a home is an exciting experience, but it can also be stressful, especially for first-time homebuyers. Not only do homebuyers need to find out whether they can afford the home of their dreams and qualify for a mortgage, but they also have to make sure the home they purchase is safe for their family.

“As REALTORS® observe REALTOR® Safety Month in September, we want to make sure our clients are safe, too. While REALTORS® take steps to ensure our client’s safety in their home search, it is ultimately up to the buyer to make sure the home they buy is safe and secure for their family,” says Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR).

Below are homebuyer safety tips shared by Barbic and SILVAR:

Find a REALTOR® you can trust
Since you will be working closely with a real estate agent, it’s essential to find someone you can trust, who understands your needs, who is knowledgeable about the transaction process and the area. Remember not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. The term “REALTOR®” is a trademark used by agents who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and state and local associations like SILVAR. REALTORS® are held to a higher standard of conduct than other real estate licensees. REALTORS® must abide by a Code of Ethics and are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly.

Research the neighborhood
A home may look right, but the neighborhood could be wrong. Research neighborhoods in the area where you want to live. This is why it is important to find a REALTOR® familiar with the different neighborhoods in the area. Prioritize your preferences. Even if you don’t have school-age children, nearby schools could affect the value of the home. Check the home’s proximity to amenities like the grocery store, pharmacy, hospital, park, entertainment, police and fire departments. Drive around the neighborhood on different days and times to check street lighting, traffic and activity. Check local crime statistics. Talk to the neighbors and get a feel for the friendliness and safety of the neighborhood.

Attend open houses
At open houses pay close attention to the home’s overall condition, including smells, stains or areas that need repair. If other people are touring the home, schedule a separate visit with your REALTOR® so you can take a closer look at the home and ask questions about the home privately.

Be present at the home inspection
Be present at the home inspection. Make sure the inspector has access to all parts of the home, including the attic and crawl spaces. Ask questions. Review the report with your REALTOR® and list what you would like the seller fix. Be aware if a homebuyer has a question about an issue, it is the responsibility of the homebuyer to investigate further and seek a licensed professional to investigate the particular issue.

Get familiar with the home’s electrical and other systems
Get familiar with the home’s electrical and other systems, including where the meter and electrical circuit box are located. Learn how to shut off the water or gas in case of emergency.

Buy adequate homeowners insurance
Lenders require the homeowner to have homeowners insurance. Shop around and compare rates and coverage. If your new home is in a flood-prone area, you may need to buy separate flood insurance.

Change the Locks
Upon taking possession of your new home consider changing all the door locks and installing deadbolts. You don’t know if other people had been given spare keys to your new home.

Knowledge. Awareness. Empowerment. These are the core components of REALTOR® Safety. To help remind REALTORS® to know the dangers they face every day, to be aware of our surroundings, to empower themselves with precautions and preparations so that they can avoid risky situations, the National Association of  REALTORS® dedicates September as REALTOR® Safety Month.

REALTORS® are at risk when they show homes to strangers or meet them at open houses, and even when they put themselves out on the internet and on social media. Through the REALTOR® Safety Program, launched more than a decade ago, NAR makes a variety of resources available to members, including videos, webinars, and marketing materials and presentations for Associations, adding new resources every year.

This year, NAR launched the REALTOR® Safety Network to deploy safety alerts via social media when a physical or cyber threat to REALTORS® warrants national attention. Visit NAR.realtor/safety to learn more and access all of NAR’s REALTOR® Safety resources.

Also new is the just released 2019 Member Safety Report. This report details how REALTORS® feel about their safety and what steps they are already taking to protect themselves. 

Some highlights of NAR’s Safety Report are:                                  

  • 33 percent of REALTORS® experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information.
  • The typical REALTOR® reported feeling unsafe less than once a year (54%) in terms of personal safety, but unsafe in terms of personal information every few months or more often (61%).
  • 5 percent of REALTORS® said they had been a victim of a crime while working as a real estate professional.
  • 44 percent of members choose to carry self-defense weapons.
  • 35 percent of men and 49% of women carry a self-defense weapon or tool.
  • 53 percent of members use a smartphone safety app to track whereabouts and alert colleagues in case of an emergency.

Download NAR’s 2019 Member Safety Report HERE.

Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) Legislative Committee members, including President-elect Mary Kay Groth, met with U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo on Wednesday at her Palo Alto office and discussed federal priorities for REALTORS® during the summer recess. These included the cap on state and local tax (SALT), mortgage interest deduction, and flood insurance, several other topics related to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and how support homeowners.

Eshoo said the good news is flood insurance under House Resolution 3167, the National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019, would be extended for five years and include funding to update flood maps and modernize the program. H.R. 3167 has cleared House committees and is awaiting a vote on the House floor.

Eshoo also expressed an interest on how mortgage financing could be eased and homeownership made more affordable to first-time homebuyers. H.R. 3141, the FHA Loan Affordability Act of 2019, would require FHA borrowers to pay mortgage insurance premiums only when their remaining principal balance exceeds 78 percent or more of the home value or sales price. Los Altos-Mountain View District Chair Greg Boudreau shared how a client of his refinanced and now had over 30 percent equity in their home, but would be required to pay mortgage insurance over the next 11 years, increasing their financing costs significantly.

Eshoo shared further information on the SALT Fairness Act, a bill she co-sponsored, which aims to reinstate the deductions that were lost during tax reform. This bill was introduced on a bipartisan basis and is awaiting committee action.

“Seldom does a bill impact so many of my constituents, and on average it costs homeowners in my district over $50,000 on an annual basis,” said Eshoo.

Eshoo represents U.S. Congressional District 18, which is located between the cities of San Francisco, Santa Cruz and San Jose, and includes portions of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

Meeting with Congresswoman Eshoo were President-elect SALT Fairness Act , Region 9 Chair Denise Welsh, NAR Director Leannah Hunt, Federal Political Coordinator for Congresswoman Eshoo Carole Feldstein, Los Altos-Mountain View District Chair Greg Boudreau, Palo Alto District Chair Lynn Wilson Roberts, Los Altos-Mountain View District LC Chair Barbara Williams and Menlo Park-Atherton District LC Chair Chris Isaacson.

It has come to the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®’ (SILVAR) attention that some SILVAR members are receiving spam emails that claim to have received the member’s email address from SILVAR. SILVAR does not share, sell, or trade email addresses. Member emails and mobile phone numbers are not listed in SILVAR’s membership directory on http://www.silvar.org. 

The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) suspects these could be phishing emails. We suggest you delete without opening or clicking any links.

Be cautious of any spam email claiming to have gotten your email address from SILVAR, C.A.R. or the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) attempting to sell you any goods or services. If the email is suspicious, the best option is to delete such unwanted SPAM.

SILVAR may only use your email address to directly send you REALTOR® Association-related information or important messages related to your real estate business that have been approved by SILVAR together with other communications to which you are subscribed.



Be cautious of any spam email claiming to have gotten your email address from SILVAR, C.A.R. or NAR attempting to sell you any goods or services. If the email is suspicious, the best option is to delete such unwanted SPAM.

Statewide housing affordability dipped in the second quarter of this year, according to the California Association of REALTORS®, though some San Francisco Bay Area counties showed some improvement.

According to the California Association of REALTORS® Traditional Housing Affordability Index, the percentage of homebuyers who could afford to purchase a median priced, single-family home statewide in second-quarter 2019 dipped to 30 percent from 32 percent in the first quarter of 2019 but was up from 26 percent in the second quarter a year ago.

A minimum annual income of $122,960 was needed to qualify for the purchase of a $608,660 statewide median priced, single-family home in the second quarter of 2019. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $3,070, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an interest rate of 4.17 percent. The interest rate was 4.62 percent in first-quarter 2019 and 4.70 percent in second-quarter 2018. 

San Francisco County was the least affordable county in the state, with just 17 percent of households able to purchase the $1,700,000 median-priced home. Forty-six percent of Solano County households could afford the $445,000 median-priced home, making it the most affordable Bay Area county.

In Silicon Valley, when compared with the first quarter of 2019, housing affordability stayed at the same level in the second quarter in the high-priced Silicon Valley counties of San Mateo (18 percent) and Santa Clara (20 percent) and San Francisco (17 percent).

“Home prices are starting to fall in line. Sellers are realizing they need to be realistic about pricing their home in this market. There is just so much buyers, especially first-time buyers, can afford, even with their high incomes and the low interest rates,” said Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

Not surprisingly, San Francisco (17 percent) and San Mateo (18 percent) counties were the least affordable places in the Bay Area, and requiring the highest minimum qualifying incomes in the state. An annual income of $343,420 was needed to purchase a home in San Francisco County, and an annual income of $338,870 was required in San Mateo County.

In Santa Clara County, homebuyers needed an annual income of $268,680 to qualify for the purchase of a $1,330,000 countywide median-priced single-family home in the second quarter of 2019. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, would be $6,720, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an interest rate of 4.17 percent.

“I know everyone is tired of hearing about wire fraud, but it is more relevant today than ever. Criminals are getting more creative and we need to work together and continue to inform our clients of things to look out for,” said Kathy Gamch at a Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) Cupertino-Sunnyvale District tour meeting.

Gamch, who is title and escrow AVP sales at the Chicago Title Cupertino and Saratoga branches, and escrow branch managers/senior escrow officers Mary Dickerson and Hapi Yamato reminded SILVAR members that consumers continue to be duped by wire fraud. Last year, the Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 20,000 business email compromise complaints with adjusted losses over $1.2 billion.

According to the FBI, consumers average $8 million in losses reported each month due to wire fraud. REALTORS®, real estate brokers, closing attorneys, buyers and sellers are targets for wire fraud. Many have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because they simply relied on wire instructions they received via email.

How it works is a fraudster will hack into a participant’s email account to obtain information about upcoming real estate transactions. After monitoring the account to determine the likely timing of a closing, the fraudster will send an email to the buyer purporting to be the escrow agent or another party to the transaction. The fraudulent email will contain new wiring instructions or routing information, and will request that the buyer send funds to a fraudulent account. 

Hackers are creative and tend to add a sense of urgency to their emails, like the need for immediate action, said Dickerson. “It’s important for buyers in a transaction to pay extra close attention. If you notice inconsistencies in email addresses and domain names, or if there’s a sudden, unexpected change in the email address that you’re working with, call a trusted phone number and talk to someone who is working on your transaction – your REALTORS®, escrow officer, loan agent. Do not call phone numbers mentioned in the potentially fraudulent email.”

The escrow officials said buyers should first obtain the phone number of their REALTOR® and escrow officer as soon as an escrow is opened. Then prior to wiring, call the phone number they received and speak directly with their escrow officer to confirm wire instructions. If they receive a change in wiring instructions supposedly from their escrow officer, they should be suspicious as wiring instructions are rarely changed.

“It is all of our responsibilities to protect our clients from being victims of wire fraud,” stressed Yamato. “Over communicate to your clients about verifying in person or over the phone before wiring. One simple phone call can prevent a devastating loss!”

Here are more tips they shared for REALTORS® and their clients:

  • Educate your clients about wire fraud occurring in real estate transactions.
  • Understand the protocols of transmitting wire instructions for the title companies you work with and communicate those protocols to your clients.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication on all email accounts.
  • Use a complex password and change passwords on a regular basis. They recommend using passphrases.
  • Regularly check your email rules for any that you did not send yourself.
  • Read emails carefully and if something seems off, call the sender using a known, trusted number.

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