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The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 became effective on July 1 and requires every existing single-family residence having a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage to install or plug in a carbon monoxide device. Other existing dwelling units will need to have the devices installed by January 1, 2013.

A carbon monoxide detector is a relatively inexpensive device, similar to a smoke detector that signals detection of carbon monoxide in the air. It can be battery powered or a plug-in device with battery backup. The following FAQs on what homeowners should know about the new carbon monoxide law are provided by the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® from information from the California Association of REALTORS®, in accordance with the California Health and Safety Code.

How many devices and where do I place them in the home?

It is recommended that for minimum security, a CO alarm should be centrally located outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms, at least six inches from all exterior walls and at least three feet from supply or return vents.

For new one-to-two family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories and where work requiring a permit for alterations, repairs or additions exceeding $1,000 in existing dwellings units, a CO detector must be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom(s) and on every level, including basements within which fuel-fired appliances are installed and in dwelling units that have attached garages.

Are there any penalties for noncompliance with this law?
A violation is an infraction punishable by a maximum fine of $200 for each offense. However, a property owner must receive a 30-day notice to correct first. If an owner who receives such a notice fails to correct the problem within the 30-day period, then the owner may be assessed the fine.

Can a buyer rescind the sale if the dwelling doesn’t have the necessary carbon monoxide detectors?
While the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) has been amended to incorporate the seller’s certification that, by close of escrow, the seller will be in compliance with existing requirements for CO detector, smoke detector and water heater bracing, the TDS specifically states installation of a CO detector, among other appliances and devices, is not a precondition of sale or transfer of the dwelling.

Does a seller have any special carbon monoxide disclosure obligations?
Disclosure obligations are satisfied when providing a buyer with the TDS. If the seller is exempt from giving a TDS, the law doesn’t require any specific disclosures regarding CO detector devices.

Do landlords have any special obligations regarding carbon monoxide detectors?
All landlords of dwelling units must install carbon monoxide detectors. The CO device must be operable at the time that a tenant takes possession. However, the tenant has the responsibility of notifying the owner or owner’s agent if the tenant becomes aware of an inoperable or deficient CO device. The landlord is not in violation of the law for a deficient or inoperable CO device if he or she has not received notice of the problem from the tenant.

If the California Building Standards Commission adopts or updates building standards relating to carbon monoxide devices in the future, is the owner required to install the newer device?
Yes, when the owner makes an application for a permit for alterations, repairs, or additions to that dwelling unit with the cost exceeding $1,000.

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A new California law now ensures that any lender who agrees to a short sale must accept the agreed upon short sale payment as payment in full of the outstanding balance of all loans, regardless of whether the lender is a senior or junior lien holder. The new measure, signed by California Governor Jerry Brown on July 15, goes into effect immediately.

Last October, California passed a law requiring primary mortgage lenders to accept an agreed-upon short sale payment as full payment for the outstanding balance of the loan, but the rule did not apply to junior or second lien holders. The new law extends the requirement to junior or secondary lenders and ensures that once a lender has agreed to accept a short sale payment on a residential property (one to four units), all lien holders – those in first position and in junior positions – will consider the outstanding balance as paid in full and the homeowner will not be held responsible for any additional payments on the property.

The new law is considered a victory for homeowners, according to the California Association of Realtors, which sponsored the bill, SB 458, authored by Senate Majority leader Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro). “The signing of this bill is a victory for California homeowners who have been forced to short sell their home only to find that the lender will pursue them after the short sale closes, and demand an additional payment to subsidize the difference,” said C.A.R. President Beth L. Peerce.  

The new law does not apply if the short sale seller is a corporation, an LLC, or a limited partnership. It also prohibits a lender from requiring any “additional compensation” other than the proceeds of the sale in exchange for the lender’s approval.

REALTORS®  hope the new law will improve the short sale process for distressed sellers. “This provision also attempts to address instances when lenders have demanded additional compensation as a condition of their approval. It is now illegal for a lender to require such payments,” said Gene Lentz, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.  

The new law still preserves fraud and waste as exceptions to its protections, such as a lender seeking damages for a borrower’s fraud or waste. The law applies to any short sale transaction which closes on or after July 15, 2011. It does not apply to short sale transactions that closed prior to that date.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® advises short sale sellers to still consult with appropriate professionals to evaluate all issues that may impact their decision to pursue a short sale process, including adverse impact on credit and tax consequences.”

This is a call for all REALTORS® to respond to the Loan Limits Call for Action. It seems the National Association of REALTORS® may have an opportunity to get an amendment to a bill that’s being debated on the Senate floor as early as Monday.

FHA and Conforming loan limits will drop DRAMATICALLY on September 30th. Bank of America has already lowered its loan limits for new loans, and others will follow suit. Early next week, the U.S. Senate will consider amending the Military Construction Appropriations bill to maintain the current loan limits for at least another year. The National Association of REALTORS® and the California Association of REALTORS® support this effort.

Please respond to this Call for Action NOW to urge California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to work to maintain the current loan limits through this amendment or some other means.

For several months the National Association of REALTORS® has been working with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to minimize the potential impact on real estate professionals who assist financially distressed clients obtain short sales. On July 7, NAR President Ron Phipps met with FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz to further highlight the importance of this issue to REALTORS®. In a statement issued today, the FTC announced it will not enforce provisions of the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule against real estate brokers and their agents who assist financially distressed consumers in obtaining short sales from their lenders or servicers. This is a substantial victory for REALTORS®.

The statement says as a result of the stay on enforcement, these real estate professionals will not have to make several disclosures required by the Rule that, in the context of assisting with short sales, could be misleading or confuse consumers. As more and more American homeowners seek short sales, it is especially important that the Rule not inadvertently discourage real estate professionals from helping consumers with these types of transactions.

The MARS Rule was issued pursuant to authority granted by Congress in 2009. The issuance of the Rule followed numerous FTC and state enforcement actions against companies that claimed to be able to obtain from consumers’ mortgage lenders or servicers a loan modification or other relief to avoid foreclosure. The Rule covers companies or individuals, among others, who assist consumers in obtaining approval of a short sale from their lender or servicer.

A short sale occurs when a home is sold for an amount less than the balance owed on the mortgage loan, and the lender or servicer agrees to accept the proceeds of the sale instead of pursuing foreclosure. Short sales can benefit consumers by allowing them to escape from a mortgage that they cannot afford, while avoiding foreclosure. Many real estate professionals assist distressed homeowners by providing both traditional services associated with selling their homes (e.g., listing the property) and working to seek lender or servicer approval of a short sale.

The MARS Rule requires companies offering mortgage assistance relief services to disclose certain information to consumers about the services they provide, bans collection of advance fees, and prohibits false or misleading claims. After the Rule went into effect, a number of real estate professionals who help consumers with short sales raised concerns about complying with the Rule. These professionals pointed out that some of the required disclosures could confuse consumers or could be inaccurate in this context.

At this time, the Commission has announced that it will not enforce most of the provisions of the MARS Rule against real estate professionals who are engaged in obtaining short sales for consumers. The stay applies only to real estate professionals who: 1) are licensed and in good standing under state licensing requirements; 2) comply with state laws governing the practices of real estate professionals; and 3) assist or attempt to assist consumers in obtaining short sales in the course of securing the sales of their homes. The stay exempts real estate professionals who meet these requirements from the obligation to make disclosures and from the ban on collecting advance fees. These professionals, however, remain subject to the Rule’s ban on misrepresentations.

The Commission stated that the stay does not apply to real estate professionals who provide other types of mortgage assistance relief, such as loan modifications. In addition, the FTC will continue to enforce the Rule and Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive practices, against all other providers of mortgage assistance relief services.

The Commission vote approving the MARS Rule enforcement policy was 5-0. It can be found on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release. More information about the Rule can be found here, and information about consumers’ mortgage rights can be found here.

For additional information on the MARS Rule you can visit http://www.realtor.org/topics/mars

Joe Han, managing broker for Keller Williams Realty in Cupertino listens to a question before directing it to his company's panel of Asian REALTORS® (left to right) Harvey Young, Mimi Wang, Niru Pujare and Grace Pak.

According to 2010 U.S. Census 2010 data, Asian Americans were the fastest growing ethnic or racial group in California, rising 31.5 percent since 2000. In fact, Cupertino’s proportions of Indian and Chinese Americans are the highest in Santa Clara County. This is why Joe Han, managing broker with Keller Williams Realty in Cupertino, decided to introduce SILVAR members to a panel of Asian American REALTORS® from his office. At a Cupertino/Sunnyvale District tour meeting this month, the panel with Harvey Young, who is Chinese American; Mimi Wang, Vietnamese American; Niru Pujare, Indian; and Grace Pak, Korean American, shared their respective backgrounds, the role their culture plays in business, and practical tips to use when dealing with Asian American clients.

Han explained the Asian culture is probably the most difficult culture to understand because it has many subgroups. While the subgroups share some general traits, they also have their own distinct values and beliefs.

Traits shared by Asians are their sense of courtesy and hospitality. They value social relationships and form them before business relationships. Young said it’s a way of developing trust between business partners. In the Asian culture, trust means everything in business. With Indians trust goes so far that most Indian clients will only work with people they know, so referral is always best, Pujare noted.

Asians are very family-oriented; extended family is considered just as important. When a couple brings many family members to see a house, it is just as important to pay attention to them, especially the elders. It is also common for parents to financially contribute toward the purchase of a home for their children, said Wang. In some instances, the parents will have the final say.

Greeting clients can differ across the Asian subgroups. Pay attention to receiving and presenting business cards. Hand your business card and receive their business card with both hands while facing them. Never write on the business card or place the card in your back pocket.

Chinese Americans shake hands, but Vietnamese and Koreans bow to the elderly and make no eye contact. Pujare said Indian clients from the city may shake a woman’s hand, but if they come from a small town, they are more conservative and will not shake hands with a woman.

Young said when it comes to negotiation and decision making, among Chinese Americans the person making the most money usually makes the decisions. Wang said among the Vietnamese the husband makes the decisions, but the wife and parents have a big impact. Pujare said in the Indian culture the wife chooses the home, but the husband makes final decisions regarding money.

Asians have a strong sense of faith, but are also superstitious and pay attention to numbers, colors, and the principles of Feng Shui. When presenting a gift, a practice in many Asian cultures, do not give knives, a clock or scissors because these items signify death, cautioned Wang. Pak said Koreans will say no when initially presented with a gift, but continue to offer until the client takes it. Also, when dining with clients, Koreans take the lead from the eldest in the group.

Colors do not have the same meaning to all Asians. To the Chinese, the color red means good luck; to Koreans, it means mourning or death. White for most Asians signifies death and is worn at funerals, while black can be worn to weddings. The color purple is not worn to happy events because it is a sign that happiness “won’t last.”

The numbers 3 and 7 are lucky for Koreans and 9 means long life, so pricing an item $99.99 is good, said Pak. Young said the Chinese believe 8 is a lucky number and 4 is an unlucky number because the pronunciations of these numbers sound like words that mean wealth and death, respectively. He said many Chinese avoid the digit 4 in their phone number and home address, so don’t be surprised if they ask you to change a house number or a document that has this page number.

Pujare said Asian Indians don’t attach meaning to colors and numbers, but they are particular about direction. Don’t bother showing Indian clients a house that faces south; if it faces east then that’s all right, she said. Pak said Koreans are amenable to having a living area in the south, but they will not like a home if the stairway is by the bathroom, or if the stove is across from the sink because “fire and water don’t mix.”

See more tips in Han’s presentation “Better Understanding of Asian American Cultures.”

More than 140 golfers enjoyed a beautiful Monday on the golf course at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club in San Jose and even raised over $5,000 doing it at the Los Gatos/Saratoga District Charity Golf Tournament.

The District would like to thank the generous sponsors for a very successful event:
Lunch Sponsor: Thrasher Termite & Pest Control – Janet Thrasher

Appetizer Sponsor: First American Home Buyers Protection Corporation

Beverage Cart Sponsors: Tour Factory Bay Area, Darrell Monda, and State Farm Insurance Agents Yvonne Kendall and Laura Peterson

Hole Sponsors: Alain Pinel Realtors (Los Gatos), American Home Shield, Cort Furniture Rental, JCP/LGS Disclosures, Law Offices of Peter N. Brewer, Princeton Capital, Property I.D., and Von Kaenel Real Estate

Tee Bag Sponsor: Harrell Remodeling, Inc.

It was a pleasant day on the golf course and everyone appeared to have fun during the cocktail hour and program. Special items were also raffled, including the cash prize of $480, which was won by Phil Castaneda. A very special thanks goes to SILVAR Board Director John Tripp for overseeing this very successful event, as well as the Los Gatos/Saratoga District Council members for putting this event together.

The following are the golf tournament results:
First Place: (Score 56) Doug Evans, Matt Paulo, Tom Gibbons and Michael Geary. They received a certificate for a foursome of golf with carts at Half Moon Bay Golf Links, donated by Coldwell Banker – Los Gatos.

Second Place: (Score 57) Gregory Howell, Doug Hollingsworth, Rich Hamilton and Justin Estrada. They received a foursome of golf at Cinnabar Hills donated by Cinnabar Hills.

Third Place: (Score 59) Peter Ye, Dave Park, Charles Kim and Walter Kim

Closest to the Pin: (Canyon 5) Bob Cranmer-Brown 3’0”, (Mountain 6) Nick Pagonis 0’7”

Long Drive: (Canyon 1 Men) Doug Evans, (Canyon 1 Women) Connie Prince, (Mountain Men) Ron Minearo, (Mountain Women) Wendy Tomaro

The Third Place winners and winners of the Closest to the Pin and Long Drive each received a $72 gift certificate to Cinnabar Hills Golf Club.

VIEW PHOTOS

Late last month, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, joined by Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, announced a series of new homeowner regulations aimed at enhancing the standards and training for estimating the replacement value on homeowners insurance in the event of a disaster. These new regulations also represent a concerted effort to significantly curb the common problem of underinsurance that many homeowners face.

The new regulations include provisions for laying out requirements applicable to replacement value and replacement cost estimates to create a more consistent, comprehensive and accurate replacement cost calculation; setting forth training standards for agents and brokers who sell homeowners insurance; creating standards for real estate appraisers who estimate replacement cost for insurance purposes; requiring the application of certain standards when estimating replacement and construction costs; and establishing record keeping requirements.

The regulation addresses how insurance companies communicate with their customers when they are making a sale, ensuring they give them complete and accurate information and not mislead them. According to Commissioner Jones and complaints filed with the Department, when policies are sold to customers there has been confusion about what a “replacement cost” estimate actually covers. This regulation clears up that confusion. Insurance companies are not required to provide an estimate, but if they do, it must be complete and include certain components.

SILVAR is happy to announce great news and another free benefit for members. Instanet has officially released tablet support. PRDS subscribers are now able to log in to create transactions, forms and edit forms just like you currently do using your desktop or laptop. You can access PRDS Forms on Instanet on popular Apple, Windows and Android-based tablet devices such as the iPad/iPad2, Xoom, Galaxy, Playbook and others at no additional charge. 

Instanet’s approach has been to make its site “tablet friendly,” rather than require users to learn an entirely new interface and download an app for a certain device. The goal is to provide as many features as possible on as many devices as possible.

As a current PRDS/Instanet user, all you need to do is log into your existing Instanet account through your tablet browser and you will automatically be accessing the new version. There is no new software to install or apps to download.

Most system functions will already work on the tablet. As Instanet makes more features “tablet ready,” it will give SILVAR updates for users. Instanet will also post a system message for users logging in on tablets, so they are aware of the updates.

PRDS and Instanet Solutions are pleased to bring this mobile technology to SILVAR members.

SILVAR’s Los Gatos/Saratoga District Charity Golf Tournament is sold out! However, if you are interested in sponsoring this special event, Hole Sponsorships are still available. Please contact Kelly Dadsetan at (408) 200-0100 or email kdadsetan@silvar.org soon.

The Los Gatos/Saratoga District Charity Golf Tournament will be held on Monday, July 11 at the Cinnabar Hills Golf Club, 23600 McKean Road in San Jose. Registration is at 10:30 a.m., with a Shotgun Start scheduled for 12 p.m. (Scramble Format) and awards ceremony with appetizers and no host cocktails slated for 5 p.m. The grand prize is a certificate for a foursome of golf with carts donated by Coldwell Banker (Los Gatos office) at Half Moon Bay Golf Links http://www.hmbgolflinks.com/.

Thank you in advance to the following generous sponsors for their support:

Lunch Sponsor:
Thrasher Termite & Pest Control – Janet Thrasher

Appetizer Sponsor:
First American Home Buyers Protection Corporation

Beverage Cart Sponsors:
State Farm Insurance Agents Yvonne Kendall & Laura Peterson
Tour Factory – Darrell Monda

Hole Sponsors:
Alain Pinel Realtors- Los Gatos
Cort Furniture Rental
JCP-LGS Disclosures
Law Offices of Peter N. Brewer
Princeton Capital
Property I.D.
Von Kaenel Real Estate

Tee Bag Sponsor:
Harrell Remodeling, Inc.

For sponsorship details, please contact Kelly Dadsetan at (408) 200-0100 or email kdadsetan@silvar.org.

SPONSORSHIPS 

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® is holding a Tech Trilogy for members this year. The first of the Tech Trilogy series hosted by the Los Altos/Mountain View, Menlo Park/Atherton and Palo Alto districts took place last Friday in Los Altos. Entitled “Social Media and Your Marketing,” Mary Pope-Handy of Sereno Group and Tim Hmelar of WebLunchBox and Intero-Mexico shared information with members on the importance of social media marketing. The pair walked members through the process, sharing tips on blogging, on cross linking sites and blogs, and on how to get on page 1 of Google.

Both Handy and Hmelar indicated Facebook is one social media tool that is a “powerhouse. “ It’s also important to use Twitter, LinkedIn, ActiveRain. Yelp can also be a good tool for business, they said.

Real estate purchasers are surfers, they said. In fact, 96 percent of first-time buyers start their home search online, so it’s important to be found on the Internet. If you have a website, you need to know HTML so you can make changes to your site. If you’re not blogging, you should. YouTube and using videos are also musts for REALTORS®.  Findings of a survey reveal 45 percent of respondents walked through a home they visited online; 29 percent located an agent via an Internet home search; and 75 percent of home owners say they’re more likely to list with a REALTOR® who makes videos.

Blogging can differentiate you and your knowledge from that of other agents. Companies that blog receive 97 percent more inbound links. These companies also report 55 percent more website visitors.

It’s important to get on page 1 of Google since a survey shows 68 percent of people do not go past the first page when they search for something. Use the right key words on your site and blogs and cross link them, they said. Pope-Handy showed members how, by using certain key words on her blogs and sites, her entries have appeared on page 1 as the first four top results, and of the 10 search results on the page, six were hers.

“Think of social media as a marketing plan. You need to have a crystal idea of what you want to accomplish,” said Pope-Handy.

The second of the three-part tech series is titled, “So What Can I Do with Instanet?” and slated for Tuesday, July 26 at the 8 am at the Left Bank in Menlo Park. The third part of the series is scheduled for Friday, August 5 in Palo Alto.

This year’s Tech Trilogy for SILVAR members is sponsored by Bank of America.

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