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Properties have been marketed off the MLS before, but these days, it’s happening more often and creating controversy because inventory is at an all-time low, said Bailey. In fact, today, inventory is at its lowest levels since 2005 and new listings continue to decline. The average days on market (DOM) is now 35 in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, down 60 percent from 2011.

Robert Bailey, MLSListings Inc. chair, told SILVAR members this week that May 2012 had the highest exclusions of property on the MLS since 2007. Between January and November 2012, off-MLS transactions accounted for 20 percent of total home sales or nearly $1 billion in sales volume. He indicated in Menlo Park alone, during this period 20.32 percent of all home sales were off-market. In Atherton, 31 percent of total sales were off-market.

Bailey said MLSListings does not support private MLSs or MLS clubs because their purpose runs counter to the company’s goal of fostering an environment of cooperation and collaboration. He said while it is not MLSListings’ purpose to define a REALTOR®’s business model, the MLS is a cooperative effort.

MLSListings provides for the exclusion process, has rules regarding it and imposes fines if rules are broken, but it can’t stop it. It is up to REALTORS® to address the dilemma. Bailey asked members to visit the MLSListings website and take a survey on the topic and engage in the discussion. Weekly survey questions are on the Pro homepage at For a forum for community discussion, visit

MLSListings received 1,035 responses in the first week of the survey. Findings showed 24 percent of respondents use off-market listings (OML); 34 percent never use OML; and 34 percent said they don’t know about OML. Meanwhile, 64 percent of respondents believe the use of OML is exclusionary or discriminatory, either legally or ethically. Discussions generated interesting comments for and against the OML practice.

Bailey invited members to take part in the survey and discussion. “Let your thoughts be known,” he said.

The MLSListings chair reminded SILVAR members that they own the MLS. “You are the stakeholders. That’s what makes us unique,” said Bailey.

View Bailey’s presentation here.


The PRDS Forms Committee has a revised Supplemental Seller’s Checklist (“SSC”). The revisions are intended to make the form more user-friendly and to assist sellers in making a full and complete disclosure of those material facts impacting the value or desirability of a property. These latest revisions make the form much easier for sellers to understand and use.

SILVAR will be offering a course soon on these revisions and disclosure issues that relate to both the SSC and the Transfer Disclosure Statement (“TDS”). In the meantime, SILVAR REALTOR® members can check out the August 2012 issue of the Silicon Valley REALTOR®, SILVAR’s monthly newspaper, which includes a detailed explanation of the revisions provided by SILVAR board attorney and PRDS Forms Committee member Dave Hamerslough.

PRDS Forms is an extensive line of paper and online forms for residential purchase and sales transactions. These forms are available online free of charge as a member benefit to all SILVAR (Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®) and SAMCAR (San Mateo County Association of REALTORS®) REALTOR® members. The online version of the forms is an extremely robust and intuitive platform that is far easier to use than other platforms. Created by REALTORS® for REALTORS®, these forms are highly acclaimed, and have been heavily used for over 25 years by listing agents from leading offices in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Peninsula.

The Standard Forms Committee, which is composed of 25 members from SILVAR and SAMCAR, meets every other week and works very hard to make sure all forms are current and reflective of local practice. The revised PRDS Supplemental Seller’s Checklist is a product of the committee’s work and efforts to continually get educated about recent laws passed and requirements in surrounding areas, take the information and input it into the forms.

REALTOR® members may access the new PRDS SCC form online free of charge by visiting

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® would like to pass this warning from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). NAR is alerting members about a website of suspicious origin, which is misusing the REALTOR® trademark in what seems to be an attempt to get money from real estate practitioners.

The site,, supposedly publishes consumer complaints about real estate agents. However, an investigation by the New Jersey Association of REALTORS® showed a string of complaints against its members, all using similar phrasing, which leads to suspicion that the complaints are not legitimate. Moreover, when agents who have been the subject of a complaint attempt to make contact, the site offers them the “opportunity” to pay to have the complaint and have their name removed from the site.

NAR legal staff checked the WHOIS record for the site and discovered it is hosted on servers located in the Seychelles. NAR found that the site was recorded as having been initially registered on January 1, 2013, making the site’s claim of having been around since 2002 very suspect.

NAR has received a number of calls from members who have been informed via email that their name is listed at the site. NAR attorneys are investigating and, if necessary, will take steps to have the site shut down.



Last Thursday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released the “qualified mortgage” rule setting guidelines to ensure that home loans will be given only to qualified borrowers who can repay them, thus protecting consumers from predatory lending. Lenders who follow these rules in making a loan will be protected from liability.

While the QRM (qualified residential mortgage) overseen by the Federal Reserve has not yet been announced, the National Association of REALTORS® applauds the CFPB for creating a broadly defined Qualified Mortgage rule that establishes strong consumer protections while ensuring continued access to safe, affordable mortgage credit.

Under the new guidelines, which take effect on January 2014, lenders must obtain and verify an applicant’s financial information, including employment status, income, assets, debts, and credit history. Borrowers must have enough income or assets to repay the loans. Interest-only and undocumented income mortgages, including loans in excess of 30 years or in which the principal increases over time, will no longer be allowed.

Under the “ability to repay” rule set by the new guidelines, lenders will be required to look at a borrower’s ability to repay over the long term by looking at a borrower’s current income and assets, employment status, credit history, the mortgage monthly payment, other payments like property taxes and other debt obligations. A borrower’s total debt obligations, including the mortgage and other loan obligations is limited to 43 percent of the borrower’s monthly income.

There is no minimum down payment requirement for qualified mortgages. Earlier proposals of a down payment of as much as 20 percent in order to qualify for a mortgage raised concerns that such a requirement would disqualify potential borrowers from owning a home.

Banks are not required to follow either the QM or QRM rules; however, they probably will. By following the QM guidelines, lenders get a measure of protection from litigation. By following the QRM guidelines not yet announced, banks will be able to sell their loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

NAR urges regulators to mirror the forthcoming Qualified Residential Mortgage rule after the QM rule to ensure affordable credit remains available to qualified borrowers.


In order to conform state law to the federal law that recently passed extending mortgage debt forgiveness, the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) is sponsoring Senate Bill 30, so California homeowners on the brink of foreclosure can get much-needed debt relief.

One of the major successes Congress reached in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations was the extension of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act for another year. The measure will continue to exempt from taxation mortgage debt that is forgiven when homeowners and their mortgage lenders negotiate a short sale, loan modification (including any principal reduction) or foreclosure.

While debt relief has been extended at the federal level, the state exemption expired at the end of 2012, so forgiven mortgage debt is considered taxable state income for now. SB 30 (Calderon, D-Montebello) will extend the sunset date in California law to January 1, 2014. Upon its passage, the measure will be retroactive to January 1, 2013.

SILVAR’s 2013 President Carolyn Miller and Board of Directors were installed last night at the Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club in Menlo Park. California Association of REALTORS® President Don Faught administered the oath of office to this year’s leadership team. Serving as emcee for the evening was SILVAR NAR Director John Tripp.

Miller is a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Real Estate Services in Cupertino. Serving with Miller on SILVAR’s leadership team are the following officers: David Tonna, (Alain Pinel Realtors), President-elect; and Phyllis Carmichael, (Coldwell Banker), Treasurer.

SILVAR Board Directors for 2013 are Suzanne Yost (Alain Pinel Realtors), Past President; Gene Lentz, (RE/MAX Distinctive Properties), Region 9 Chair; David Barca (Alain Pinel Realtors), Menlo Park/Atherton District Chair; Karen Trolan (Alain Pinel Realtors), Los Gatos/Saratoga District Chair; Mary Combes (Coldwell Banker), Cupertino/Sunnyvale District Chair; Sara Spang (Keller Williams), Palo Alto District Chair; Bonnie Kehl (Coldwell Banker), Los Altos/Mountain View District Chair; John Tripp (Foundation Trust), NAR Director; Mark Burns (Referral Realty), Eileen Giorgi (Alain Pinel Realtors), Chris Isaacson (Coldwell Banker), Bill Moody (Referral Realty), Directors At-large; and Guillaume Peters (Sunviva Construction), Affiliate Chair.

Read more here.


SILVAR will be offering the class CRS 200: Business and Marketing for the Residential Specialist on February 12 and 13, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at SILVAR. REALTORS® who take this two-day course can earn 16 education credits toward a Certified Residential Specialist® designation. This course also can count as an elective toward a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation.

SILVAR is offering an early bird registration price of $250, if you register before January 31. After January 31, cost is $300. SILVAR Class Pass and member discount applies. Members may call SILVAR at (408) 200-0100 for details.

The CRS 200 course will be taught by Mark Given, a certified instructor for The Council of Residential Specialists (CRS). Given is a Ninja Selling Master Instructor, and has been a GRI Instructor for many states. He is author of the CRS elective “Going Green” course. He has served as a keynote speaker for private companies and state conventions, taught at the National Association of REALTORS® Convention and Mid-year meetings and is a practicing REALTOR® in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

The Certified Residential Specialist® (CRS) is the professional designation offered by the Council of Residential Specialists. The highest designation awarded to sales associates in the residential sales field, the CRS designation recognizes professional accomplishments in both experience and education.

With the CRS designation, you will be able to:
• Differentiate yourself as part of an elite group (3 percent of all REALTORS® hold the CRS designation).
• Increase your earning potential.
• Take advantage of a strong referral network.
• Attend specialized conferences and meetings.
• Have access to current industry news and information.

Since 1977, the Council of Residential Specialists has been conferring the CRS designation on agents who meet its stringent requirements. In 2010, CRS Designees earned nearly three times more than those REALTORS® who serve as sales agents.

To find out more about earning a CRS designation, visit


On January 1 both the U.S. Senate and House passed H.R. 8 legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The bill was signed by President Barack Obama.

Below is a National Association of REALTORS® summary of real estate related provisions in the bill:

Real Estate Tax Extenders
• Mortgage Cancellation Relief is extended for one year to Jan. 1, 2014.

• Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums for filers making below $110,000 is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.

• 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements on commercial properties is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.

• 10 percent tax credit (up to $500) for homeowners for energy improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.

Permanent Repeal of Pease Limitations for 99% of Taxpayers
Under the agreement, so called “Pease Limitations” that reduce the value of itemized deductions are permanently repealed for most taxpayers but will be reinstituted for high income filers. These limitations will only apply to individuals earning more than $250,000 and joint filers earning above $300,000. These thresholds have been increased and are indexed for inflation and will rise over time. Under the formula, the amount of adjusted gross income above the threshold is multiplied by three percent. That amount is then used to reduce the total value of the filer’s itemized deductions. The total amount of reduction cannot exceed 80 percent of the filer’s itemized deductions.

These limits were first enacted in 1990 (named for the Ohio Congressman Don Pease who came up with the idea) and continued throughout the Clinton years. They were gradually phased out as a result of the 2001 tax cuts and were completely eliminated in 2010-2012. Had we gone over the fiscal cliff, Pease limitations would have been reinstituted on all filers starting at $174,450 of adjusted gross income.

Capital Gains
Capital Gains rate stays at 15 percent for those in the top rate of $400,000 (individual) and $450,000 (joint) return. After that, any gains above those amounts will be taxed at 20 percent. The $250,000/$500,000 exclusion for sale of principle residence remains in place.

Estate Tax
The first $5 million dollars in individual estates and $10 million for family estates are now exempted from the estate tax. After that the rate will be 40 percent, up from 35 percent. The exemption amounts are indexed for inflation.

January 2013


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