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Buying property in Silicon Valley makes perfect sense, according to Referral Realty broker Moise Nahouraii. Nahouraii recently showed SILVAR members why.

Nahouraii said in addition to the advantages of historic low mortgage interest rates, low home prices and high rents, property appreciates in Silicon Valley three times more than anywhere else in the state. The top three industries leading the country out of the recession are high tech, energy and medical industries, which all exist in Silicon Valley.

“Land here is gold!” exclaimed Nahouraii.

Additionally, in a survey of Silicon Valley CEOs, 84 percent considered housing as a top problem in the region; 67 percent said the cost of housing was one the most pressing challenges. Majority of respondents want government to approve more affordable housing.

This is the best time to invest in real estate in Silicon Valley because rents are rising because of high demand due to foreclosures, short sales, unemployment, damaged credit, loss of stocks, increased debt, stringent loan qualifications by lenders, lack of down payment for a home, etc. Nahouraii showed bargain properties on the MLS and illustrated how purchasing a single-family home (self-managed) and multi-unit property (self-managed) could generate a positive cash flow for an investor.

“Investment should carry itself because you could lose your job tomorrow. You have the most stability in Silicon Valley than anywhere else,” said Nahouraii.

Silicon Valley REALTORS® continue to learn as much as they can about today’s market and what to expect in the coming months. Dr. Robert Kleinhenz, California Association of REALTORS® Deputy Chief Economist, will give Silicon Valley REALTORS® information on “What’s Ahead for Our Real Estate Market” at SILVAR’s annual Economic Seminar and General Membership Meeting on Thursday, November 3, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Computer History Museum, 1401 North Shoreline Blvd. in Mountain View.

Dr. Kleinhenz manages C.A.R.’s research and economics department, which gathers and publishes information on the California housing market, and conducts survey research of consumers and C.A.R. members. He has a Doctorate in Economics from the University of Southern California and regularly speaks to local, state and national audiences.

It will be interesting to have Dr. Kleinhenz highlight a number of national, statewide and local real estate issues that are shaping our market environment today.

What do some of the region’s brokers have to say about 2011 and what to expect for 2012?

On a panel at Tuesday’s SILVAR Menlo Park/Atherton District meeting were brokers of the larger real estate companies – Mike James (Coldwell Banker), Maureen Barker (Keller Williams), Larry Klapow (Intero Real Estate Services) and Don Faught (Alain Pinel Realtors). They told SILVAR REALTORS® that compared to other markets, the Bay Area is doing quite well.

“You are definitely very, very fortunate,” Faught told Silicon Valley’s REALTORS®. “California is on sale … Interest rates are great, money is free.”

Yet, consumers hesitate. The brokers said the biggest challenges facing consumers are uncertainty about the future, the lack of jobs or fear they may not have a job in the future, and difficulty meeting strict loan requirements. Klapow said there is a “crisis of confidence.” People are nervous about the future and those who want to purchase homes are having a difficult time getting a loan. Barker said people are feeling so much uncertainty about the future that even with lower home prices and interest rates, they won’t act.

Asked about the role of the Internet and technology in real estate, James said consumers today have access to so much information, and it is the REALTOR®s job “to make sense of the information and educate them.” 

“Technology helps facilitate what we need, but we need to get in touch with consumers and each other,” said Faught.

The brokers spoke about the importance of social media. “Social media is here to stay,” declared Barker. “Real estate is going to be transacted differently, especially by the next generation. … It’s a vehicle to help build who we are, but you need to get smart about how you do it. It’s about creating relationships and being in touch.”

The brokers also discussed the benefits of participating in organized real estate. James noted, “The more involved you are, the better you will be. There are benefits to staying connected and networking with your peers.”

“It is important to have a voice in our industry in Washington,” stressed Klapow.

“We need to be involved,” said Faught, who is California Association of REALTORS®’ treasurer and 2012 president-elect. “If we are not involved in politics, there won’t be an industry.”

How should agents prepare for 2012?

James believes 2012 will be a lot like 2011. “If you don’t like 2011, then you need to change what you are doing, put more effort and reach out to all areas,” said James. “Retool, revamp or you will slip.”

“Mindset is number one. You need to have the right mindset,” said Barker. “Now is a great opportunity to focus on what you love to do, find the right niche, use your gifts, sharpen your area of expertise, take classes, learn more about social media, and video blogging, challenge yourselves to stay up with it.”

“Remain relevant. Filter through information and apply to each client’s unique situation. Find new and fresh things, show your true value,” said Klapow.

Faught said, “We are affected by what we know. During the slow time, work on yourselves. Our value is educating consumers. We need to work ourselves so we can work the data and help consumers understand it.”

Borrowers who are current on their home loans may be able to refinance for lower interest rates, even if they are seriously upside down. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on Monday that it will broaden the scope of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) by removing the current 125 percent loan-to-value cap for fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Other program enhancements include, among other things, reducing certain fees, eliminating the need for a new property appraisal if the FHFA has a reliable automated valuation model (AVM) estimate, and extending HARP until the end of 2013. New federal guidelines for the HARP changes should be released to mortgage lenders and servicers by November 15.

The basic eligibility requirements for an enhanced HARP loan are as follows:

• Existing mortgage loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Check here here to see whether a borrower has a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan.

• Existing mortgage loan must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before June 1, 2009.

• Existing mortgage loan cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously (except for Fannie Mae loans refinanced between March and May 2009).

• Current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be more than 80 percent.

• Existing mortgage loan must be current, with no late payments in the past six months, and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.

 

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