As the 2010 market moved at a snail’s pace to recover, SILVAR members received important advice on how to manage their business during this challenging time from speakers and panels of experts at tour meetings. Here are just some highlights:

Experts like Carole Rodoni, DRE Commissioner Jeff Davi, Dr. Lawrence Yun (at the October general meeting), Leslie Appleton Young (at the November Los Gatos/Saratoga meeting) assured REALTORS® 2010 would be better for real estate, that the market has improved, but recovery will be slow, and it’s the local market that matters.

Carole Rodoni already emphasized at the Palo Alto and Los Gatos/Saratoga District tour meetings in January: “There is no ‘national market.’ What only matters is the local market, and in it there could be as many as 50 sub-set markets, depending on inventory, assets, profiles, appraisals. It’s for sale to the highest bidder. Cash is king and almost guarantees a 10-day close.”

Moise Nahouraii

Moise Nahouraii of Referral Realty on market trends at a Cupertino/Sunnyvale District tour meeting in February:  “Whenever you consult with your clients and they tell you the housing market here is going down the drain, tell them ‘There’s no way it will. This area is gold country.’ …You need to be put the information in a format that is understandable to your client. Knowledge is power.”

Beginning in March and throughout the year, real estate attorneys Harry Price and David Hamerslough, Edward Lear, Esq., founder of Century Law Group LLP, Victoria Naidorf and Bill Jansen, alerted REALTORS® on critical issues pertaining to short sales and REOs:  identify the potential risks to the buyer from the very beginning, don’t give legal advice, always consult a lawyer and tax accountant who can give the client their expert advice, and most important, document, document, document.

From a Los Gatos/Saratoga District Top Producer Panel:

  • Mary Pope-Handy (Sereno Group): achieve success through blogging and social media. “These sites allow people to get to know you, like you, trust you.”
  • Jerry Houston (Coldwell Banker): “You first have to establish friendship. Integrity and knowledge are important and will show you can handle a transaction well. Your clients will come back.”
  • George Montanari (Alain Pinel Realtors): “You need to grow your business or you die. The competition will eat you up… You need to adapt, learn, change.”

Brian Crane (Intero Real Estate) offered three strategies from: time management, time blocking and bring family, exercise, meditation, prayer and work into balance.

In April and again a few months later, managing broker for Coldwell Banker Northern California’s Cupertino office, Nina Yamaguchi shared “the good, the bad and the ugly” experiences of managing brokers have encountered. Lessons learned: do not be a property manager; if you recommend vendors, make sure they are licensed and make sure you recommend more than one; pay attention to escrow instructions; do not be too helpful; never advertise what is not or what it could be; follow the law.

In May, national sales trainer Davin Hope at the Los Altos/Mountain District tour meeting said the key to a good listing presentation lies in the science of communication. In Palo Alto, professional speech coach Patricia Fripp also stressed REALTORS® need to “practice, practice, practice.”

From a panel from Coldwell Banker Northern California’s Cupertino office:

  • Dave Clark: “Always give something of value; be creative,”
  • Rebecca Yen: “You need to give your clients information they need, such as the value of their home. Put yourself in the shoes of the owner.”
  • Dave Meunier: “Persistence is the key,” ….
  • Mary Tran: “Things are changing so fast in the high tech. Young buyers and sellers are very high tech today.” …

In June, Los Altos/Mountain View District tour meeting, Iris Harrell of Harrell Remodeling said REALTORS® who become more knowledgeable about these latest housing trends can serve well as their clients’ trusted advisor because green building is the hottest trend. Green homes sell faster and at higher prices than traditional homes, Belmont designer and stager Jean Cary also emphasized at a Palo Alto monthly tour meeting later in the year.

A lender panel with Terri Bertrand (Loan Source), Neil Reid (Wells Fargo), Joe Edens (MetLife) and Judy Hamilton (Skyline Financial) in Los Gatos advised REALTORS® to know and have a good relationship with their lender so miscommunication doesn’t occur and the transaction is smooth.

In July, author and historian Michael Svanevik took SILVAR members back in time and recounted how the city of Menlo Park came to be, with interesting anecdotes on Stanford University founders Leland and Jane Stanford, the origin of neighboring cities like Palo Alto and Atherton.

Mark Messimer

Throughout the year, MLSListings Inc. with MLSListings Inc. Director of Outreach Services Mark Messimer and Director of Marketing Jim Herrera stepped up its outreach to all districts regarding MLSListings’ new home page on, Matrix search tools and products which can provide that can help members in their business.

In August, the Cupertino/Sunnyvale District tour meeting featured an affiliate panel specializing on  insurance, design, escrow, inspections and mortgage loans with Walt Rowley of  Liberty Mutual Group, BJ Hardin of BJ Hardin Designs, Linda Bentson of Old Republic Title, Allen Dugan of AMD Home Inspections and Kenneth Chan of HSBC, who addressed specific scenarios pertaining to their area of expertise.

Members learned more about PRDS Forms’ transition to Instanet Solutions from PRDS Board of Directors President Mark Burns, who walked them through the basics.

REALTOR® Tech Fair Trilogy was offered August through October by SILVAR REALTORS® from the districts of Los Altos/Mountain View, Palo Alto and Menlo Park/Atherton. The meetings focused on the best smartphones and applications for real estate, including social media business strategies from Chris Alston, CEO of Keller Williams Realty – Cupertino and Ken DeLeon (Keller Williams) and from Aaron Wheeler (Oakville Properties).

From Keller Williams-Cupertino, Chuck Blair and Chen-Chen Wu, top agents on lead generation, shared tips: computers don’t do all the work; buyers need the excitement of you finding the right house for them, so face-to-face contact is important; leads are generated through signs, other listings, some open houses, meeting people, being involved in charity work, and in your organization.

In September, Sgt. Greg Davis of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Chief Scott Seaman also this year stressed the importance of being safe. “When you’re in the kind of business you’re in, there will be people scamming you,” Davis warned. “Be watchful of who’s coming through the properties. Be watchful of your own personal belongings.”

In Los Altos, brokers Chris Trapani (Sereno Group) and John Thompson (Intero Real Estate Services) shared books that give insights to being better professionals and successful in the business.

In October, Carol Burnett, broker with Alain Pinel Realtors, introduced her “Superstar Panel” with Berta Bower, Mark Wong and Kevin Cole, who stressed the importance of having a referral business noting a referral business depends on building personal relationships with people.

In November, Palo Alto local brokers each conveyed their message about current market conditions and expectations.

  • Tim Foy (Midtown Realty): “It’s an outstanding time to buy. Don’t wait for your competition, don’t wait for interest rates to rise, get your property out there now,” said Foy.
  • Robert Stelzer (Keller Williams Realty): Agents have a duty as members of the MLS, and they have an obligation in their best interests of their clients, to share their listings in the MLS.
  • Bob Taylor (Taylor Properties): Not all agents do business the same way. Silicon Valley agents need to continue to “be diligent in our business, and not casual as in other places.”
  • Michael Dreyfus (Dreyfus Properties): Consumers need to refocus their goals on buying a home in Palo Alto “because it’s a great home and a great place to live,” instead of how quick and how much the home will appreciate.

In Cupertino, an affiliate panel with Mark Falcone, mortgage consultant with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, spoke on loan tune-ups; Kenneth Chan with HSBC shared important points about portfolio lending; and Thao Benioff, mortgage planner with RPM Mortgage, again stressed: “Make sure you communicate well with your lender.”