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The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) has issued a Red Alert, asking members to contact state legislators to urge for their “NO” vote on conference report AB 278. C.A.R. opposes provisions of the anti-foreclosure legislation sponsored by the state Attorney General, which will allow anyone to stop the foreclosure process by filing a lawsuit, with or without merit. The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® joins C.A.R. in asking all REALTORS® to respond to C.A.R.’s Red Alert and contact their respective state legislators.

Action Item
Please call your State Senator today at 1-800-969-3310 and enter your NRDS ID, followed by the “#” sign to be connected. Ask your Senator or his or her staff to vote “NO” on the conference report. Please note: C.A.R. is only targeting Democratic Senators only for this mobilization effort.

C.A.R. has supported careful and balanced reforms to the foreclosure process. However, C.A.R. opposes this conference report because it will further delay the housing recovery by inviting bad faith lawsuits and defaults, and make it difficult for even well-qualified borrowers to obtain financing.

Initially, the Attorney General had sponsored a package of bills, the so-called the “Homeowners Bill of Rights.” For procedural reasons, the majority of these bills have been under consideration by a Conference Committee made up of six legislators. REALTORS® had the opportunity to educate these legislators about C.A.R.’s concerns as part of Legislative Day and since then, C.A.R. lobbyists have been working directly with the conferees and legislative staff to make them aware of the unintended consequences of some of these proposals. The Conference Committee has now issued its final report and it may be considered by both houses of the Legislature as early as Monday, July 2.

One provision allows any borrower, no matter what the circumstances, to file a lawsuit. This will encourage opportunistic lawyers to pursue frivolous lawsuits, bringing unnecessary and unjustifiable delays to an already difficult and time consuming process. The language is so vaguely written that borrowers don’t even have to show that they have been harmed to file suit and be awarded damages. One-sided attorneys’ fees may still be awarded only to plaintiffs based on the very broad definition of a “prevailing party” in the report.

C.A.R. believes by restricting a lender’s ability to foreclose and exposing them to unnecessary liability, this report will dry up inventory, and it will further discourage lending other than to the most highly qualified borrowers. If lenders don’t have the remedy of foreclosure to ensure they can recover their security in appropriate situations, they will be less likely to lend; credit will be less available; and the housing market recovery will limp along even more slowly.

Additionally, these bills will artificially slow down the foreclosure process, keeping properties off the market that are legitimately in foreclosure. Finally, by removing the threat of foreclosure, the bill erodes the incentive for short sales, as well.

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After nearly a decade of decline the income of REALTORS® is growing, according to the 2012 National Association of Realtors® Member Profile. The study’s results are representative of the nation’s REALTORS®, who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

NAR member income rose for the first time since 2002. The median income of a REALTOR® rose 2.3 percent to $34,900 in 2011, which is the first overall gain in nine years.

REALTORS® account for about half of the two million active real estate licensees in the U.S.  Unlike other real estate licensees, REALTORS® go beyond state licensing requirements by subscribing to NAR’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, commit to continuing education, and have access to professional resources to better serve the needs of clients. 

The typical NAR member has 11 years of experience and works 40 hours per week; 60 percent are women, who account for 55 percent of brokers and 66 percent of sales agents. Members licensed as brokers typically earned $48,400 in 2011, while the median for sales agents was $27,200. Higher median income was reported by members in the business for 16 years or more, who earned $50,200. Seventy-two percent of REALTORS® receive no fringe benefits, although 23 percent are covered by errors and omissions insurance; only 6 percent receive health insurance.

“REALTORS® bring value to their clients by raising professional standards with specialized knowledge and expertise, which includes training for designations and certifications offered by NAR,” said NAR president Moe Veissi.

Thirty-two percent of REALTORS® hold at least one out of six certifications in specialized training. The most popular area of training, driven by the ongoing elevated level of distressed homes on the market, is the Short Sales and Foreclosures Resource Certification, held by 18 percent. In addition, 33 percent of REALTORS® have obtained at least one professional designation. 

The typical NAR member is 56 years old. REALTORS® are well-educated, with 48 percent holding at least a bachelor’s degree; 16 percent are fluent in other languages. Sixty-two percent of NAR members have a personal website, and nine out of 10 report their firm has a web presence. Fifty-four percent of the respondents use social or professional networking sites and 10 percent have a blog. 

Selling homes and property management are not all REALTORS® do, according to Suzanne Yost, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. The NAR survey shows REALTORS® are politically active – 93 percent participated in the last national election and 82 percent voted in the last local election. 

“REALTORS® fight for homeowners and buyers at the local, state and national level,” said Yost. “As strong advocates of homeownership and private property rights, we constantly strive to educate our representatives in government about policies that could impact our clients’ ability to achieve the American dream of homeownership. It makes sense to make sure you are working with a REALTOR®, not just a licensee, to take advantage of their commitment to ethical behavior and education.”

In May, Yost and other SILVAR members attended the NAR Mid-Year Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C. and the California Association of REALTORS® Business Meetings in Sacramento, where they discussed real estate-related issues with legislators. At these meetings REALTORS® asked legislators to continue supporting favorable legislation, such as extending the National Flood Insurance Program, preserving FHA programs, and opposing bulk sales of REOs.

SILVAR Board Director Bill Rehbock presented the Charitable Foundation’s $1,000 scholarshiip award to Allison Barry, graduating senior from Leigh High School, last week.

The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, the charitable arm of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, has presented the 2012 scholarship awards to 18 graduating seniors during senior awards night at the students’ respective public schools. Each student received a $1,000 scholarship.
 
Now in its 13th year, the Charitable Foundation’s scholarship program recognizes students who have exemplified outstanding achievements in academics, extracurricular/employment activities and community involvement. The selection committee included representatives from the local business community, area high schools, area colleges and SILVAR.
 
Students who received scholarships from the Foundation, the schools from which they graduated, and the colleges and universities they will be attending this fall are: Shona Hemmady, Cupertino High School (Yale University); Vicki Landaverde, Fremont High School (San Jose State University); Fiona Kelsey Flynn, Gunn High School (Cornell College); Allis Yao, Homestead High School (UC Berkeley); Allison Barry, Leigh High School (Harvey Mudd College); Jessica Shiwen Cheng, Los Altos High School (Pomona College); Morgan Gautho, Los Gatos High School (Duke University); Annie Ho, Lynbrook High School (San Jose State University); Thomas Chen, Menlo-Atherton High School (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); Dan Guo, Monta Vista High School (Stanford University); Nikhil Nag, Mountain View High School (University of Pennsylvania); Emily Chiu, Palo Alto High School (UCLA); Jennifer Huang, Prospect High School (UCLA); Renae Zelmar, Santa Clara High School (Soka University of America); Zara Jehan Sheikh, Saratoga High School (UC Riverside); Brittany Lynn Bolden, Westmont High School (University of Pennsylvania); Noama Iftekhar, Wilcox High School (UC Berkeley); and Alison Swayne Landes, Woodside High School (Boston College).

“As we mark the 13th year of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Scholarship program, we are very happy we are able to continue assisting the deserving winners as they embark on their college careers,” said SILVAR Scholarship Chair Nina Yamaguchi. “The seniors selected for the SILVAR Scholarship Program are among the cream of the crop. We believe through our scholarship program we can help our local youth achieve their dreams.”

SILVAR President-elect and Charitable Foundation Trustee Carolyn Miller presented the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation $1,000 Scholarship award to Vicki Landaverde, graduating senior from Fremont High School.

Thank you to the following SILVAR members who attended the senior award ceremonies at the selected high schools and presented the scholarships to the recipients: Chris Alston (Keller Williams), Carolyn Miller (Re/Max Real Estate Services), Jimmy Kang (Wells Fargo Home Mortgage), Vivian Wang (Coldwell Banker), Bill Rehbock (Coldwell Banker), Joanne Fraser (Coldwell Banker), Chris Trapani (Sereno Group), Mark Burns (Coldwell Banker), Mary Tan (Coldwell Banker), Dante Drummond (Alain Pinel Realtors), Robert Reid (Keller Williams), Nicole Maroko (Re/Max Real Estate Services), David Tonna (Alain Pinel Realtors), Russell Morris (Coldwell Banker) and Theresa Loya (Coldwell Banker).
 
The scholarship awards presented by the Charitable Foundation Trust are made possible by donations by SILVAR REALTORS® and affiliates. The scholarship program is a partnership effort between the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation and educators in SILVAR’s service areas. Scholarship recipients are selected from the high schools in the communities served by SILVAR members.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) has received reports from members doing business in Santa Clara County of a scam by individuals fraudulently posing as landlords and misrepresenting vacant properties for lease.

Using various websites, the scam artists advertise a home for rent, when the property is actually for sale. Prospective tenants who call the phone number provided in the false rental advertisement are then directed to provide an application fee and rental deposit immediately if they wanted to lease the unit.

The scam was discovered once prospective tenants contacted the actual listing agent to gain access to view the property. Law enforcement authorities have been notified of the attempted scam.

“It is tragic that people continue to prey on consumers who are in need of a place to rent. Potential renters are convinced to pay deposits and rent to unscrupulous people who take the money and run with the tenant left wondering what happened and with no funds to rent another property,” said Suzanne Yost, president of SILVAR. “We are asking consumers to always verify the owner of the property you intend to rent and heed guidance issued by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).”

The DRE last year issued a warning about “impostor landlords” and provides the following guidance to protect consumers from this type of scam:

  • Ask anyone offering a house for rent to provide you with proof that they own the house, and to show you their government issued picture identification. Then scrutinize the proof of ownership, as well as the identifications since there is also the risk that their identifications can be false.
  • If you think that you are dealing with an owner’s/landlord’s representative, you should check with the DRE to see if that representative or agent is licensed. This is because a real estate license is required, with some narrow exceptions, for a person to offer a house for rent as an agent of the owner. Check the license records on the DRE website (www.dre.ca.gov) and make sure you are working with legitimate licensees.
  • If you are an existing tenant, you should check with the County Recorder’s office to verify the property’s owner of record. If the house has been foreclosed upon, you should contact the new owner and verify with the current owner the person to whom you should be forwarding your rental payments.

If you feel you have dealt with a scammer in the area of a housing rental or have been defrauded in connection with rental of a house, please contact the DRE at the following numbers: For Spanish-speaking consumers, call 1-877-DRE-4321; for consumers in the Bay Area, call (510) 622-2552.

 

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