You are currently browsing the daily archive for July 15, 2011.

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.

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