You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.

SILVAR 2012 President Suzanne Yost stressed the importance, value and benefits of being a SILVAR member at the association’s Menlo Park/District  meeting this week. She reminded everyone of SILVAR’s mission statement:

“The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® is dedicated to being a leader in the real estate industry by promoting the highest ethical standards of real estate practice, representing the interests of property owners, and providing exceptional service to its membership.”

Membership at SILVAR, the California Association of REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS® allows REALTORS® to have great opportunities at the local, state and national level. The associations’ lobbying efforts allow members to stay on top of what’s happening at the local, state and national level even before others know about it, said Yost.
Yost said SILVAR has been successful largely due to its district council model, which enables each district to retain its individuality, serve members’ needs and their respective communities.

SILVAR is financially secure, with 4,000 primary members. Thanks to sound fiscal management, the Association has not had to increase dues since 2002, and continues to provide important benefits to members. Some of the many benefits include PRDS Forms, education courses, tour sheets, political advocacy, the weekly newsletter and monthly newspaper, lockbox and keys.

Yost encouraged members to take advantage of volunteer opportunities by participating in district events and programs. “One of the values of being a SILVAR member is getting involved,” said Yost. “We get more out of it than we give.”

She also stressed the importance of each member abiding by the Code of Ethics, which is what differentiates REALTORS® from real estate agents. SILVAR takes the grievance process seriously, she said. Complaints are professionally handled by SILVAR’s Grievance and Professional Standards committees.

It’s a good time to be a REALTOR® and a SILVAR member. Yost has good feelings about 2012. “I feel we’re coming out of a tunnel, and things will be better. It truly is a year of possibilities,” said Yost.



The National Association of REALTORS® Federal Credit Union was ranked as the number one credit union with the fastest growth in membership from June 2010-June 2011, according to Callahan & Associates’ 2012 Credit Union Directory.

Callahan & Associates indicates credit unions grew membership rosters by 0.59 percent as of June 2011, bringing the total credit union membership base to 92.3 million. That number actually increased since Bank Transfer Day on November 5, 2011, the day designated for people to switch from commercial banks to not-for-profit credit unions in protest of increasing bank fees.

The REALTORS® Federal Credit Union is a unique special member benefit that offers REALTORS® a banking resource designed specifically for REALTORS®. REALTORS® and their families are eligible to become RFCU members, as are NAR staff and the staffs of state and local REALTOR® associations and boards, and their families.

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Internet-based RFCU is designed to accommodate REALTORS®’ busy schedules. RFCU offers access to thousands of surcharge-free ATMs nationwide, secure online banking and bill pay, safe deposits, affordable loans and trusted advice. Some of the many benefits include money market savings accounts, no-fee eChecking with debit cards, personal loans and credit lines, real estate loans and credit lines, share certificates, 24-hour online account access, and 24-hour Member Care support by phone or online. RFCU offers competitive interest rates on both savings and lending, and funds are federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

RFCU is owned by its members and directed by an elected volunteer board. SILVAR member Jeff Barnett, vice president and regional manager of Alain Pinel Realtors, is the current board treasurer. “I would urge every member of SILVAR to look into this special member benefit. The RFCU offers exclusive rates and offers products available only to members,” said Barnett.

For more information regarding services, benefits and membership requirements, visit RFCU’s website at


Lawmakers are expected to turn their attention to reforming the secondary mortgage market this spring, although passage of legislation may not take place till 2013. National Association of REALTORS® Government Affairs discusses some key issues that are expected to be discussed this spring and what prospects of reform look like in this 6-minute video.

The California Association of REALTORS® is warning members of yet another identity theft scheme – an unexpected IRS refund. If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS requesting that you file a “tax refund request,” do not fall victim to this identity theft scheme.

Numerous people are receiving unsolicited email informing them that a $9,390.55 IRS tax refund is due them if they complete a tax refund request form. The email code will be forged to appear as if it originated from a trusted source, usually the IRS or an IRS tax preparer, but viewing the “message header” or “message source” will reveal its origin to be something else, and the link will not lead to a trusted domain, but one controlled by identity theft criminals.

If you file a tax return and a refund is due, you will automatically receive your refund. You will never be contacted by the IRS, and there is no tax refund request form. Never disclose personal information to any unsolicited inquiry, as compelling as the story may be.

If you have questions or concerns about any IRS tax refund you may have due, you should access the official IRS “Where’s My Refund” online application at the following destination:,,id=96596,00.html.

At the helm of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® this year is Suzanne Yost, a REALTOR® who is passionate about organized real estate and highly values professional standards and the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

Yost has been actively involved in organized real estate long before becoming a SILVAR member in 2009. Yost was named REALTOR® of the Year in 2006 by the Santa Cruz Association of REALTORS® and Salesperson of the Year in 1982 by San Luis Obispo Board of REALTORS®.

Involvement in organized real estate provides opportunities for REALTORS®, including the tools they need to succeed in business, says Yost. Associations provide education courses to sharpen a REALTOR®’s knowledge and skills, networking opportunities, and valuable information they need to know to assist their clients in making a decision that’s right for them.

Yost said SILVAR’s Government Affairs staff, the local government committees and Political Action Committee have been successful in warding off proposals that would hurt REALTORS® and homeowners, like business license taxes, transfer taxes, time of sale restrictions, sign ordinances, rent control, zoning, to name a few.

Yost is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Clara University School of Law. She is a broker associate with Alain Pinel Realtors in Los Gatos. She is also a trainer for new agents and a statewide instructor of real estate continuing education classes.

Yost has served as a California Association of REALTORS® Director and as member and chair of a number of NAR and C.A.R. committees. At SILVAR, she chaired the Professional Standards Committee in 2009, joined the Board of Directors in 2010, and co-chaired the Bay Area REALTOR® Leadership Academy (BARLA) in 2011.

In the 32 years she has been practicing real estate, Yost has witnessed three housing market downturns. She is certain the market will come out of this one. “This downturn is lasting longer than the others, but the market will bounce back again. I’m already seeing positive things happening,” says Yost.

Yost advises fellow REALTORS® to “stay positive, get back to basics, and get involved.”

As members take advantage of the opportunities SILVAR offers, they also can give back to the Association and their community. Most of all, Yost wants all members to adhere to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, because “it’s what defines a REALTORS® and sets us apart from other licensees.”

There are unlimited possibilities in real estate, says Yost. This is her theme for 2012: A Year of Possibilities. She wants SILVAR’s members to take hold of these possibilities and run with them.

The 2012 leadership team of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS (SILVAR) was installed Jan. 12 at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga. California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) treasurer Chris Kutzkey administered the oath of office to the association’s 2012 president Suzanne Yost and the board of directors.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® represents over 4,000 REALTORS® and affiliates engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula and in the South Bay. SILVAR promotes the highest ethical standards of real estate practice, serves as an advocate for homeownership and homeowners, and represents the interests of property owners in Silicon Valley.

Yost is a broker associate with Alain Pinel Realtors, Los Gatos. Also on the leadership team are Carolyn Miller (RE/MAX Real Estate Services), president-elect, and Phyllis Carmichael (Coldwell Banker), treasurer.

In addition to the three lead officers, the following members sit on the 2012 board of directors: Gene Lentz (RE/MAX Distinctive Properties), past president; Jeff Bell (Coldwell Banker), Region 9 chair; Chris Isaacson (Coldwell Banker), Menlo Park/Atherton District chair; Cassie Maas (Luxor Real Estate Group), Los Gatos/Saratoga District chair; Niki Miller Maroko (RE/MAX Real Estate Services), Cupertino/Sunnyvale District chair; Jane Volpe (Midtown Realty), Palo Alto District chair; Denise Welsh (Intero Real Estate), Los Altos/Mountain View District chair; John Tripp (Foundation Trust), NAR director; David Barca (Alain Pinel Realtors), Bill Moody (Referral Realty), Bill Rehbock (Coldwell Banker), Bryan Robertson (Sereno Group), David Tonna (Alain Pinel Realtors), directors at-large; and Richard Miller (, affiliate chair.

A graduate of California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara University School of Law, Yost was named REALTOR® of the Year in 2006 by the Santa Cruz Association of REALTORS®, Salesperson of the Year in 1982 by the San Luis Obispo Board of REALTORS®, and has served as director and chair of a number REALTOR® committees at the national and state level. She was SILVAR’s 2009 Professional Standards Committee chair, a 2010 board director, and 2011 co-chair of the Bay Area REALTOR® Leadership Academy. Yost is a Los Gatos resident.

The 2011 Appreciation Awards were presented to Julia Truesdale Keady (Alain Pinel Realtors), REALTOR® of the Year; Richard Miller (, Affiliate of the Year; Eileen Giorgi (Alain Pinel Realtors), Spirit of SILVAR; and SILVAR board attorney Dave Hamerslough (Rossi, Hamerslough, Reischl and Chuck) and Vickie Naidorf (legal counsel for Coldwell Banker), President’s Award.

As 2009 president, Keady spearheaded the Bay Area REALTOR® Leadership Academy, a leadership program designed to identify, train and develop existing and emerging leaders to serve and advance organized real estate. She was also recognized as 2011 C.A.R. Region 9 chair. Presenting the award, 2011 president Gene Lentz noted Keady “has performed in an exemplary fashion in every single committee or assignment that she has been given. They take huge effort and dedication.”

Affiliate of the Year Miller was recognized for “unequivocally embracing and adopting the principles, goals, and purposes of the association.”

As chair of the REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP), a free REALTOR® service assisting senior homeowners with household tasks, Lentz said Giorgi, who also served as 2011 president of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Trust, “personifies the essence of this award, through her hard work in making RSVP the success it is today.”

Lentz thanked Hamerslough and Naidorf for educating REALTORS® on legal issues and for their efforts in updating the association’s PRDS Forms purchase contract and creating the counties’ advisory.


G-Fee hikes could mean $15 a month more.

The law signed by President Obama two weeks ago to extend the payroll tax cut and maintain Medicare payments and unemployment benefits uses increases in the fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to guarantee mortgages to help offset its costs. The law also uses funds from premiums charged for insurance on FHA loans. As a result, the Federal Housing Finance Agency has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase their guarantee fees effective April 1 and will remain in effect through September 30, 2021.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) opposed the increase in fees to pay for non-housing-related purposes. Lenders who choose to pass this increase on to borrowers will likely increase the rate offered to a borrower by .1 percent sometime before April 1. Analysts estimate the increase in cost over 30 years to be between $4,000 and $5,400 on a $200,000 loan, or $11-15 per month.

FHFA’s Statement

NAR’s Letter Opposing the Increase

Charitable Foundation Trustee Lydia Kou presented a $2,000 check to Myllicent Hamilton, board director of the Westwind 4-H Handicapped Riding Program, a 2011 grant recipient, at this morning's Palo Alto District tour meeting.

The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, the charitable arm of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), donated $53,500 in the form of grants and scholarships in 2011. The Charitable Foundation is a trust which makes grants available to organizations from donations by members and friends of the local trade association.

The 2011 grant recipients are non-profit organizations that help homeless and low-income individuals and families in Silicon Valley. They include Assistant League of Los Gatos/Saratoga, Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC), Edgewood Center for Children & Families, Friends of Deer Hollow Farm, Housing Industry Foundation, JW House, JustREAD (on campus of Mountain View/Los Altos Union High School District), Partners for New Generations, Peninsula Association for Retarded Children & Adults (PARCA), ProjectREAD – Menlo Park, West Valley Community Services, Westwind 4-H Handicapped Riding Institute and YWCA of Silicon Valley.

As part of its annual Scholarship Program, the Charitable Foundation likewise presented a $1,000 grant to each of 18 graduating seniors from public high schools in Silicon Valley. The Foundation has been assisting students with the scholarship grants for the past 12 years. The Charitable Foundation grants included donations from SILVAR’s districts to their local community nonprofit organizations.

“Like last year, our local nonprofits have been hit hard by the weak economy and continue to need our help. We thank our members and friends for being so generous in their support of the Foundation this year,” said John Tripp, 2012 president of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. “We urge our members to continue their support this year, so we can continue our commitment to the welfare and prosperity of communities where we live and work.”

The Charitable Foundation trustees meet quarterly to evaluate grant applications. Serving on the 2012 Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Board of Trustees are Tripp, Lehua Greenman, Jimmy Kang, Lydia Kou, Carolyn Miller and Susan Sweeley.

Non-profit organizations operating within the areas served by the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® are eligible for grant consideration provided they meet the evaluation criteria below. Grant applicants are evaluated on the following guidelines:

• The community need for the expenditure, as well as the number of people who will be served;
• The impact on the recipient organization;
• The location of the community served; (Although requests for state, national and international projects are considered, preference is given to projects with a more local base.)
• The financial soundness and efficiency of the organization;
• Accuracy and completeness of the application;
• The structure of volunteer organization and level of volunteer support; and
• Appropriate use of the Foundation’s previous grants (if applicable).

For more information and details about the Charitable Foundation grants, visit or call SILVAR at (408) 200-0100.

January 2012


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