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The 13th Annual Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Golf Tournament will be held on Monday, Sept. 17 at the Los Altos Golf & Country Club, 1560 Country Club Drive, Los Altos. Early bird reservations at a price of $225 are now available for SILVAR members until April 15.

Regular cost per person is $275, which includes green fees, golf cart, lunch, and award ceremony reception. Registration starts at 11 a.m., with a Shotgun Start at 12 p.m. (Scramble Format). A no-host cocktail reception will be held at 5 p.m.

The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Golf Tournament is a wonderful opportunity for members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) to help their communities while enjoying a spectacular day of golf. Proceeds from the annual event go to the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, which makes grants available to organizations that help youth, disadvantaged individuals and low-income families and seniors in the communities where SILVAR members live and work. The golf tournament proceeds also fund the Charitable Foundation’s annual Scholarship Program, which awards a $1,000 scholarship grant to each of 18 graduating seniors selected from public high schools in Silicon Valley.

Members may now register online at http://ims.silvar.org/. For sponsorship opportunities or more information, contact SILVAR Development Director Kelly Dadsetan at (408) 200-0117, or email kdadsetan@silvar.org.

California homeowners need to beware of phone, mail or personal solicitations from scam artists offering assistance related to the recent national mortgage settlement. The California Attorney General’s office has issued a warning about this latest scam and REALTORS® are passing on the warning to their clients.

The national mortgage settlement reached last month by 49 state attorneys general and the federal government with five of the largest loan servicers – Bank of America/Countrywide, JPMorgan Chase/Washington Mutual, GMAC Mortgage/Ally Financial, Citibank/CitiMortgage and Wells Fargo/Wachovia provides as much as $25 billion in relief to distressed borrowers and direct payments to states and the federal government. The agreement settles state and federal findings that the country’s five largest loan servicers routinely signed foreclosure related documents outside the presence of a notary public and without really knowing whether the facts they contained were correct. The settlement provides benefits to borrowers whose loans are owned by these banks and to many of the borrowers whose loans they service.

Third parties claiming to offer homeowners access to funds under the national mortgage settlement are likely running a scam. Homeowners receiving such solicitations should not provide any personal or financial information and should report the solicitation to the California Department of Justice or file a complained online at http://ag.ca.gov/contact/complaint_form.php?cmplt=CL.

“Scam artists are preying on the vulnerability of desperate homeowners. Their goal is to make a quick profit through fees for services they claim they can do,” said Suzanne Yost, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

Californians seeking relief under the state’s $18 billion mortgage settlement are advised to follow these tips to avoid falling prey to such scams:

  • Be skeptical of third party phone solicitations. Only your bank/loan servicer can assist you with regard to the recent national mortgage settlement.
  • Do not give your personal financial information to a solicitor such as your bank account number, social security number or even the name of your loan servicer. Your bank will already have this information.
  • Never pay an up-front fee for mortgage-related services. It is against California law and should be reported to the California Department of Justice.

If you think you may be eligible for relief under the national mortgage settlement, call your bank directly. For additional information regarding the mortgage settlement, please visit: http://oag.ca.gov/nationalmortgagesettlement and http://oag.ca.gov/nationalmortgagesettlement/faqs

For free, trustworthy advice, homeowners may also call a HUD approved counselor at (888) 995-4673, or call Keep Your Home CA at (888) 954-5337.

The National Association of REALTORS® and SILVAR applaud the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) final rule limiting Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks from dealing with mortgages on properties encumbered by certain types of private transfer fee covenants and in certain related securities. Transfer fees are contractual arrangements where an owner pays a fixed amount or a percentage of the sales price when transferring the property.

NAR fully supports FHFA’s decision to ban private transfer fees, which it believes increase the cost of home ownership, provide no benefit to home buyers, and do little more than generate revenue for developers or investors. NAR has long been vocal in its opposition to private transfer fees. There is virtually no oversight on where or how the fee proceeds can be spent, on how long a private transfer fee may be imposed. It also often places an inappropriate delay on the transfer of property.

The final rule excludes private transfer fees paid to homeowner associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and certain tax-exempt organizations that use private transfer fee proceeds to benefit the property. Fees that do not directly benefit the property are subject to the rule, and would disqualify mortgages on the property from being sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or used as collateral for Federal Home Loan Bank advances. With limited exceptions, the rule applies only prospectively to private transfer fee covenants created on or after the date of publication of the proposed rule on February 8, 2011. Covenants created before that date, as well as covenants created after that date pursuant to certain agreements entered into before that date, would be exempted from the rule.

Mark Burns and Minh Ngo, executive director of CEEF, show members the sign that can be placed on the yard of property they sell that shows they support the schools when they participate in the sign rider program.

The Cupertino Educational Endowment Foundation (CEEF) thanks SILVAR and members of the Cupertino/Sunnyvale District for their longtime support for the Cupertino Union School District (CUSD).  CEEF supports public education for students by working in partnership with CUSD, parents, and the community to raise funds for educational programs beyond what is possible through federal and state funding.

At yesterday’s district tour meeting, CEEF executive director Minh Ngo thanked members for supporting “An Evening of Aloha,” a gala held recently to honor CUSD’s Teachers of the Year. The gala raised $75,000 for the schools. As a result of the community’s generosity, each of the district’s 25 school sites will be granted $3,000 for music, arts, and technology programs.

Due to cuts in state and federal funding, the past few years have been rough for the schools, said Ngo. Although a parcel tax passed last year, that money cannot fund badly needed building and ground improvements at the schools. Ngo said CEEF is working very closely with CUSD and gearing up for a bond measure campaign this summer. Details about the measure are still being finalized.

Ngo said even if CUSD is the second lowest funded school district in the state, the support around the schools is unique. “There is an entire culture of support around education,” said Ngo. “Almost every individual has high expectations and rallies around the students, which in turn makes them outperform because of the support they receive.”

REALTORS® support the schools by participating in the Cupertino/Sunnyvale District’s sign rider program. REALTORS® can donate $250 of their commission for every property they sell in the school district. Signs that say they support the schools are then placed on the yards of homes they sell. REALTORS® also support sign rider programs for the Sunnyvale and Santa Clara school districts.

Mark Burns said supporting the schools is a way to give back to the community, since the quality of the school district is important for REALTORS® selling property. “Helping the schools helps all of us,” said Burns.

SILVAR congratulates the 2012 officers and board directors of the Filipino American Real Estate Professional Association (FAREPA) – Santa Clara County Chapter. The association also celebrates 10 years as a real estate organization in the South Bay.

At their installation luncheon on March 9, SILVAR Region 9 Chair Jeff Bell administered the oath of office to 2012 FAREPA President Richard Martinez, a financial advisor with Transamerica Financial Advisors; Barbara Kuang (Farmers Insurance), vice president; Jerry Quintos (Abbot, Stringham & Lynch CPA), treasurer; Paul Stewart (San Mateo County Association of Realtors), immediate past president; and Fe Casem (IBIS Universal Corporation), Evelyn Greenleaf (Consultant), Marlo Ibon (Intero Real Estate Services), Richard Miller (RateComb.com), directors.

SILVAR President Suzanne Yost, a guest speaker at the event, congratulated FAREPA’s new leadership team for its commitment. “It takes courage to step into leadership positions. SILVAR values its partnership with groups like FAREPA,” said Yost. “Partnerships are key to success and all real estate professionals should treat each other with care and nurture these relationships every chance they get.”

On behalf of FAREPA, Past President Stewart presented special honorary Filipino awards to Yost, Bell, and Barbara Lymberis, president of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®. SILVAR Public Affairs Director Rose Meily was presented the Member for Life award. Stewart referred to the REALTOR® associations as flagships of FAREPA and other ethnic real estate groups, and thanked them for their support.

SILVAR Region 9 Chair Jeff Bell (far right) administers the oath of office to FAREPA's 2012 officers and board directors (left to right) Treasurer Jerry Quintos, Directors Richard Miller, Fe Casem, Evelyn Greenleaf and Marlo Ibon, Vice President Barbara Kuang, FAREPA President Richard Martinez, Immediate Past President Paul Stewart.

The Obama Administration has announced two initiatives to help homeowners and their families. The Administration is reducing fees for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) borrowers seeking to refinance and providing relief to servicemembers and veterans.

FHA is reducing both the upfront and annual fee for FHA borrowers looking to utilize the streamline refinance to take advantage of historically low interest rates. For loans originated prior to June 1, 2009, the upfront premium is reduced to .01 percent and the annual fee is reduced to .55 percent. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released Mortgagee Letter 12-4, which outlines all the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) changes; increases for new purchase transactions, and decreases for streamline refinances.

The announcement includes several efforts to support servicemembers and veterans who were wrongfully foreclosed upon, wrongfully charged higher interest rates, and who were forced to sell their home for a loss due to a permanent change in service. Foreclosure protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) are being expanded and $10 million will be paid into the Veterans Housing Benefit Program Fund. This relief will be provided by loan servicers Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Ally, Citi, and Wells Fargo.

 

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has introduced S. 2144, a bill that would make the mortgage debt forgiveness rules permanent. The rules that currently provide relief for homeowners on short sales, foreclosures or loan modifications expire December 31, 2012. This relief is essential to affected homeowners so they will not have to pay tax on the forgiven debt.

A companion bill in the House will be introduced soon. See additional information here.

The California Association of REALTORS® is OPPOSING SB 1220 (DeSaulnier), which imposes a transfer tax to generate funds for affordable housing.

C.A.R. is opposing SB 1220 because it will add to the cost of buying a home at a time when the housing market is struggling to recover. While C.A.R. is an aggressive advocate for affordable housing, the association believes it sets bad precedent to fund affordable housing by making housing less affordable.

Stay tuned for more information and a potential Red Alert!

On Thursday, SILVAR President Suzanne Yost updated members of the Cupertino/Sunnyvale District on the state of the Association. Yost announced the Association is financially secure (SILVAR hasn’t raised dues since 2002) and stressed that SILVAR highly values its membership.

SILVAR offers many valuable member benefits, including PRDS Forms, a complete line of paper and online forms for residential purchase and sales transactions. PRDS Forms were developed specifically for Silicon Valley’s REALTORS® by Silicon Valley REALTORS® who saw the need. These forms are highly acclaimed and available online free of charge as a SILVAR member benefit.

Yost assured members their dues dollars are very well spent, especially on government affairs. She highly credited SILVAR Government Affairs Director Adam Montgomery for his work in successfully warding off many point of sale and transfer tax proposals that could have hurt homeowners had they passed. A recent example is proposed regulations that would have included sewer lateral inspection and compliance mandates at the transfer of property for homeowners in southern San Mateo County. She added since it is a large association with a strong government affairs staff and many accomplishments, “SILVAR has a footprint” at the local, state and national REALTOR® level.

Yost noted SILVAR’s District Council system is an especially good model that emerged upon the merger of the five boards in 1995. This model provides another level of opportunities for leadership. Having more people “with ears close to the ground” helps ensure that the Association meets the needs of agents working in all five districts.

Members are very lucky to be doing business in Silicon Valley, said Yost. Recent speaking engagements before the New York State Association of REALTORS® and the Michigan State Association of REALTORS® brought home this fact, she said. While REALTORS® everywhere have had to face tough markets during the past three years, Silicon Valley’s housing market is improving due to its location and strong tech and other innovative industries.

SILVAR’s president encourages members to take part in the Association. Join your District Council, get involved in activities at the District and Association level, volunteer for RSVP (REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program) and help others in your community, Yost urged.

“We always want to develop new leaders and give you the opportunity to become leaders,” she stressed.

Yost is excited about a couple of new Association components this year. There is SILVAR’s Young Professional Network (YPN), which welcomes all members – the young, as well as the seasoned professionals. SILVAR is also developing a Global Business Council, an initiative which will have a strong education component to help REALTORS® learn how to effectively work with international buyers. She added that SILVAR highly values its Affiliate members and a group is currently working on written policies and guidelines for Affiliates.

Last, but not least, Yost urged members to continue to stay positive. “The numbers are getting better,” said Yost. “2012 is the year we’ll come out of this. 2012 will be better.”

The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation presented a $1,500 grant to the Edgewood Center for Children and Families at Monday’s Menlo Park/Atherton District meeting. John Tripp, 2012 president of the Charitable Foundation, presented the check to Jamilla McCallum, kinship program director of the San Carlos center.

Edgewood Center for Children and Families helps children and families take back their future by working with them to overcome severe challenges like abuse, neglect, mental illness and crisis. The center is the oldest children’s charity in the western U.S., and began as a refuge for Gold Rush orphans. Edgewood now serves more than 5,000 children and families in the Bay Area each year, offering a broad range of behavioral health, family support, and educational services.

McCallum explained the center’s kinship program helps relatives of those who need help, she explained. Family members often step up to fill the gap when a crisis situation takes parents from a child. These “kinship caregivers” often have special needs themselves, linked to age, poverty, poor health, social isolation, and inadequate access to information and services. The Edgewood Kinship Program addresses the unique needs of each caregiver and child by providing referrals to basic services and a break from daily stresses.

Tripp thanked SILVAR members for their support of the Charitable Foundation. He urged members to continue giving to the Foundation. The Charitable Foundation grants support three main causes: families, youth and housing. He noted these grants would not be possible without the help and support from SILVAR members.

 

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