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The Housing Trust of Santa Clara County is asking SILVAR REALTORS® to inform their clients that money is available to help Santa Clara County residents purchase their first home.

“We have money and we want to help. There’s plenty of money for people to qualify,” Dan Lachman, director of lending for The Housing Trust of Santa Clara County, told a focus group composed of SILVAR REALTORS® meeting in Mountain View this week.

Lachman discussed The Housing Trust’s current homebuyer assistance programs and sought feedback from the REALTORS® on how the nonprofit lender can more effectively provide opportunities in Mountain View. The Housing Trust is planning to have a public outreach event for Mountain View residents in the fall. Mountain View City Council member Margaret Abe-Koga joined Lachman and the REALTORS® at the meeting, stating she wishes more people who work in Mountain View could avail of the home buyer programs, so they could live in Mountain View, as well.

The Housing Trust of Santa Clara County makes loans and grants to increase the supply of affordable housing, prevent homelessness and assist qualified individuals and families in buying their first home. Lachman specifically asked the REALTORS® to inform their clients of two programs that provide assistance to first-time home buyers – the Closing Cost Assistance Program (CCAP) and the Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP). In order to qualify for either of these programs, the household income for a four-member household cannot exceed $126,000, or the income for a single-member household cannot exceed $88,200.

The Closing Cost Assistance Program (CCAP) for first-time homebuyers provides 3 percent of the purchase price up to $15,000 towards the down payment, closing costs or other transaction expenses associated with a home purchase. No interest or principal payments are due during the term of the loan. This loan is due when the borrower sells the house or refinances the home, or in 30 years, with a 3 percent deferred interest rate.

The Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) is an amortizing 30-year second mortgage available for moderate-income first-time home buyers. Second loans of 17 percent of the purchase price up to $85,000 are available under this program, with the interest rate at 1 percent above the interest rate of the first loan.

Lachman and his team have offered to speak to companies and business about the non-profit lender’s loan programs. See the next scheduled workshop here. For more information about The Housing Trust, its programs and program guidelines, visit www.housingtrustcc.org

In line with its global initiative to provide educational opportunities for members to succeed in global real estate markets, SILVAR is offering members and other real estate professionals the opportunity to complete classroom requirements for the National Association of REALTORS® Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Designation on Nov. 26-30.

CIPS courses provide training in international business issues, such as currency conversion, cultural awareness, and legal and tax requirements. The CIPS curriculum focuses on ownership and transaction principles of international real estate, including specifics on the real estate markets in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East/Africa and the world. Attend the 5-day CIPS Institute at SILVAR and fulfill the classroom requirements for the CIPS designation. You must complete the two core courses, three elective courses, and pass a multiple-choice exam at the end of each course.

The week-long courses will be taught at SILVAR by David Wyant, CIPS, ABR, AHWD, ePRO, GRI, TRC, SFR, a certified NAR faculty member, and 2009 NAR International Instructor of the Year.

SILVAR is offering an early bird registration special of $550 for the entire CIPS Institute (five courses) for any Association of REALTOR® member who registers by Oct. 15! Regular cost for the entire institute for SILVAR members is $599/$625 after Nov. 1; non-members, $625/$650 after Nov. 1.

It is also possible to take individual courses. Each course for SILVAR members is $150/$165 after Nov. 1; Non-members $175/$190 after Nov. 1. Breakfast and light lunch included each day.

Many business professionals take one or all of the CIPS courses in order to expand their knowledge and skills about international business. The invitation to attend SILVAR’s CIPS courses is open to the public.

VIEW FLYER for more details and registration form.

It is expensive to live in the heart of Silicon Valley, but buyer demand for homes, including million-dollar homes, continues to be strong. Real estate information service DataQuick lists the following Silicon Valley communities among the highest ranked areas for million-dollar homes sales in California in the second quarter.

  • Hillsborough topped the list with 134 sales in 2012 Q2, up from 118 in 2011 Q2, with the most expensive home purchased for $5.28 million.
  • Saratoga ranked second with 126 million-dollar homes purchased in 2012 Q2, up from 93 in 2011 Q2, with the most expensive of purchased at $5.35 million.
  • Cupertino ranked fifth (after Manhattan Beach and Newport Beach in Southern California) with 105 million-dollar homes sold in 2012 Q2, up from 88 in 2011 Q2, with the most expensive home purchased for $2.45 million.
  • Los Altos ranked sixth after Cupertino with 102 million-dollar home sales in 2012 Q2. The most expensive home was purchased for $6 million. Los Altos had 81 million-dollar home sales in 2011 Q2.
  • In Los Gatos, the most expensive home purchased cost $4.66 million. There were 67 million-dollar homes purchased in the zip code of 95032, up from 44 in 2011 Q2. In the Los Gatos zip code of 95030, 62 million-dollar homes were purchased last quarter, up from 31 in the second-quarter last year.

Despite the hype over Facebook’s IPO, Menlo Park and Palo Alto made the list, but had fewer million-dollar home sales in second-quarter 2012 than the same time last year, according to DataQuick. Menlo Park had 100 million-dollar homes sold in second-quarter 2012, down from 124 last year, with the most expensive home purchased for $4.8 million. Palo Alto had 62 million-dollar homes sold, down from 69 in 2011 Q2, with the most expensive home purchased for $3.15 million.

Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) president Suzanne Yost, who is an associate broker with Alain Pinel Realtors in Los Gatos, is not surprised that many of the communities located within SILVAR’s five districts made the list. “Silicon Valley’s economy is healthy compared with other parts of the state because it is the heart of innovation, with many successful tech companies,” said Yost.

Yost added, “Our members have reported a surge of foreign buyers. They are attracted to the region’s weather, diversity, excellent schools, good mix and proximity to shopping, entertainment, the arts and services. We’re not that far from San Francisco, close to the freeways and airports. Buyers know they can’t go wrong and they are willing to pay the price for these amenities.”

SILVAR has five member districts, allowing members to work closely with their communities. They are the Menlo Park/Atherton District (including Portola Valley, Woodside and East Palo Alto), Palo Alto District, Los Altos/Mountain View District (including Los Altos Hills), Cupertino/Sunnyvale District and the Los Gatos/Saratoga District (including Monte Sereno).

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on Tuesday that it will align guidelines for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sales and allow lenders and servicers to quickly and more easily qualify borrowers for a short sale. 

The new guidelines issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to their mortgage servicers will offer a more streamlined approach to the short sale process by consolidating existing short sales programs into one standard short sale program. The program rules will expand eligibility criteria of borrowers, so homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments, yet suffer from specific hardships, will be able to qualify more quickly for a short sale.

Effective Nov. 1, homeowners with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage will be allowed to sell their home in a short sale even if they are currenton their mortgage, if they have an eligible hardship. Servicers will be able to expedite processing a short sale for borrowers with hardships such as death of a borrower or co-borrower, divorce, disability, increase in housing expenses, unemployment, disability, or relocation for a job, without any additional approval from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

“We are pleased with the new guidelines. REALTORS® at the local, state and national level have long advocated for a more streamlined, standardized short sale process. Improving short sale eligibility will allow more families to avoid foreclosure and reduce the negative impact foreclosures have on families and communities,” said Suzanne Yost, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

Some specific changes include:

  • Eliminates current Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sale programs and creates a single standard short sale process for both entities (Fannie and Freddie HAFA programs will expire at the end of the year).
  • Enables servicers to quickly and easily qualify certain borrowers who are current on their mortgages for short sales without waiting for an approval from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  • Offers special treatment for military personnel with Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.
  • Standardizes and clarifies foreclosure suspensions on a property with an approved short sale.
  • May pay borrowers up to $3,000 in relocation assistance.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer up to $6,000 to subordinate lien holders to expedite a short sale.

Additionally, FHFA clarified that a borrower experiencing a hardship must wait at least two years before becoming eligible for a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. These changes follow FHFA’s announcement in June that established strict timelines for servicers to respond to short sales within 30 days of receipt of a short sale offer, provide weekly status updates to the borrower, and communicate a final decision to the borrower within 60 days of receipt of the offer.

At this month’s Palo Alto District tour meeting, Palo Alto brokers said the market environment has greatly improved from a year ago. While inventory is still low, it has been slowly rising.

Keller Williams managing broker Bob Stelzer indicated demand is coming back strong, and there has been a significant rise in listings since April. His data showed Menlo Park with 52 current active listings compared with 26 in April; Palo Alto 51, compared with 29 in April; and Los Altos 45 compared with 24 in April. High-end property sales increased substantially in the first half of this year in comparison to the same time last year.

Sellers are becoming realistic, according to the brokers. Many sellers caught up in the hype of Facebook’s IPO and thinking they would strike gold by waiting for prices to skyrocket, now realize the phenomenon did not create the “super market” they thought it would. These sellers are now ready to sell.

Broker Tim Foy of Midtown Realty, however, believes inventory is low because people are still looking for stability. Despite the uptick, he expects low inventory for a while. “It won’t change overnight. It’s a market reality,” commented Foy.

According to Alain Pinel Realtors broker Bob Gerlach, it’s not the Facebook IPO phenomenon that is driving the market, but rather, it’s interest from Chinese and other foreign buyers. He said majority of transactions through his office are with Chinese cash buyers. Foreign interest in property in the area has created a “dramatic effect” in the market, said Gerlach.

Gerlach indicated an obstacle to the market rebound is a pocket of sellers who can’t sell because they don’t have better places to go. Buyers these days are more selective. “It is a discretionary market,” he noted.

The brokers said listing agents need to make their sellers aware that despite the high demand, not all houses are “entitled” to top market prices because today’s buyers are more informative. There is more discretion now regarding “housing with a blemish,” added Foy.

Mark Burns, Sujatha Venkatraman and Carolyn Miller pose by all the backpacks donated by the District.

Thanks to the Cupertino/Sunnyvale District, 62 students from low-income families in the Cupertino and Sunnyvale school districts will be sporting new backpacks at the beginning of this school year. The backpacks are an annual project of the District.

The backpacks were presented to Sujatha Venkatraman, director of Stability Support Services for West Valley Community Services, at yesterday’s Cupertino/Sunnyvale District tour meeting. The non-profit agency distributes the backpacks yearly to disadvantaged students in both communities. Venkatraman thanked SILVAR members for continuing to support the program through the years.

“We value your support each year,” said Venkatraman.

Venkatraman said in addition to backpacks, WVCS is partnering with JCPenney in Cupertino to allow local children the chance to shop for new back-to-school clothing tomorrow, August 4. She said volunteers paired with each child help the children choose which items they need and keeping track of how much they have spent.

According local school officials, a child who comes from a family where there is significant economic or emotional crisis tends to have major attendance issues in school. In addition, families who are already struggling to pay for basic needs, face difficult choices, such as having to compromise on rent, gas, food, etc. so their children can get the essentials needed for school success, like backpacks, school supplies and appropriate clothing. Many families cannot afford new clothes for their school-aged children, which can hinder both attendance and successful learning. Venkatraman said the support from SILVAR and other businesses in the community help make the school year brighter for the children.

August 2012
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