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On Tuesday, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will consider eliminating Proposition 90, an important tool which for the past 20 years has made it possible for senior citizens (as defined as over age 55 in the law) and persons with disabilities to relocate and transfer their tax basis to San Mateo County, to move closer to families, jobs and vital services. Revoking Prop. 90 would negatively impact the ability of seniors and persons with disabilities to afford housing and move into the county.

Please join SILVAR, REALTORS® and homeowners in opposing this proposal by sending the message below to the Board of Supervisors before it meets on Tuesday, February 26.

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The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will consider repealing a property tax benefit for seniors and persons with disabilities wishing to relocate to San Mateo County at their upcoming meeting on Tuesday, February 26.

Proposition 90 provides anyone over the age of 55 with relief from Proposition 13 by allowing them to move from one county to another without undergoing a change in their basic property taxes. Proposition 90 stems from Propositions 60 and 110. Under these propositions, if a seller or spouse is over age 55 or if a seller of any age is disabled when their original residence is sold, the seller may transfer the base year value of their home to a replacement primary residence of equal or lesser value within the same county, provided certain conditions are fulfilled. Proposition 90 extended this benefit to seniors and the disabled who move to counties that adopted Proposition 90 rules.

Since Proposition 90 is a “local-option” law, each county has the option of participating. If a county has adopted a Proposition 90 ordinance, it accepts transfers of property tax base assessments from other California counties. If the county that the homeowner is moving from does not have a Proposition 90 ordinance, this does not affect the eligibility of the homeowner. At present, there are only eight counties that have adopted the Prop. 90 ordinance – Santa Clara, Alameda, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Orange, San Mateo, San Diego and Ventura.

In 2011, SILVAR REALTORS® successfully fought an attempt by Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone to eliminate the tax benefit for seniors and the disabled in Santa Clara County. Stone wanted the supervisors to eliminate Proposition 90 as a way to increase revenue, but SILVAR REALTORS® and senior residents objected to the proposal. More than 50 members from the SILVAR and the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® (SCCAOR) attended the county board of supervisors in June 2011 to oppose the elimination of Prop 90. Several recounted personal experiences with seniors and disabled clients who benefited from the measure, and who otherwise would not have been able to move to the county had the proposition not been in place.

In the end, the Santa Clara County supervisors listened and decided to continue to opt in on Proposition 90. “There is value to it at the personal level. We supported it then, we should support it now,” they said. The supervisors also noted, “It doesn’t feel right to take this away from the people who could use it. In the big picture, it just doesn’t feel right.”

San Mateo County’s seniors and disabled residents will be facing this dilemma when the ordinance is considered at the board of supervisors meeting next week. A majority vote by the supervisors is needed to repeal the proposition.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) hailed a rebuttal by the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) to an opinion editorial piece advocating the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction (MID).

“We are happy that California Association of REALTORS® President Don Faught was able to put the facts out there about the importance of the mortgage interest deduction to all homeowners, especially low- and middle-class families,” said SILVAR President Carolyn Miller.

Doyle McManus, a columnist with the Los Angeles Times, recently wrote an opinion editorial advocating the elimination of the MID. C.A.R. President Don Faught submitted a letter to the editor refuting the op-ed piece, questioning supporting a tax measure that would put a burden on lower- and middle-class families that can least afford it.

In his letter, Faught explained if the MID is eliminated, it would cost the average California taxpayer $3,940 annually, a substantial amount for those who need it the most. In California, 59 percent of taxpayers who claimed this deduction in 2010 earned less than $100,000 a year. The amount is considered not high income in California because home prices are among the highest in the nation.

“Eliminating the deduction would mean fewer home sales, not to mention a drop in other purchases that typically accompany a home sale such as furniture and other retail purchases. Already struggling local governments would see tax revenues fall, and since housing is widely regarded as a key economic driver, our country could be driven back to recession,” wrote Faught.

The MID allows an individual to deduct mortgage interest paid on mortgage debt of up to $1 million. The ability to deduct the interest paid on a mortgage can translate into significant savings at tax time.

Faught referred to a recent C.A.R. survey that found nearly eight in 10 home buyers said the mortgage interest and property tax deductions were “extremely important” in their decision to purchase a home. A Pew Research Center study last year also found 80 percent of Americans believe buying a home is the best long-term investment they can make.

“After all, renting is not the American Dream; homeownership is. For many, the mortgage interest deduction can mean the difference between attaining that dream or not,” Faught’s letter concluded.

Miller said REALTORS® will continue to defend the MID. “The mortgage interest deduction is not a loophole. It is a fundamental building block of equity for homeowners. For aspiring homeowners who don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings to buy a home outright, tax benefits like the mortgage interest deduction help them begin building their future through homeownership,” said Miller.

See LA Times Op-Ed

Jessica Epstein

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) announces the hiring of Jessica Epstein as Government Affairs Director, effective today, February 8.

Epstein is a graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law and Barnard College, Columbia University. She is a former associate at Siegel & Yee and recently worked for Ground Floor Public Affairs, where she was involved in various political projects for the Bay Area, including the development and implementation of fundraising campaigns, political outreach and real estate development. She worked on similar projects on the East Coast, as well.

“We are very excited to have Jessica on board at SILVAR. With her experience and skills, she will be a valuable advocate for homeownership, private property rights and fair public policy for our members and Silicon Valley homeowners,” said SILVAR Executive Officer Paul Cardus.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® is a professional trade organization representing over 4,000 REALTORS® and Affiliate members 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.

The term “REALTOR®” is a registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and who subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

RSVPlogoforwebSILVAR’s REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP) will take place this year the week of May 6 -10. Volunteers are needed for this special community outreach program. This year, each district has set aside special days to help seniors in their community:

Cupertino/Sunnyvale District:
Wednesday, May 8
Los Altos/Mountain View District:
Wednesday, May 8
Los Gatos/Saratoga District:
Thursday, May 9

Menlo Park/Atherton District:
Wednesday & Thursday, May 8-9
Palo Alto District:
Wednesday & Thursday, May 8-9

SILVAR REALTOR® and affiliate members are encouraged to volunteer their time and skills to help the elderly and the homebound in their respective communities. During RSVP week, RSVP volunteers visit the homes of seniors who are physically and financially challenged and provide free assistance with household tasks like replacing light bulbs, changing furnace filters, washing windows, turning over mattresses, changing smoke detector batteries and other similar household tasks.

RSVP has expanded on the Peninsula and in the South Bay, with volunteers from the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® (SCCAOR) and the Santa Cruz County Association of REALTORS® joining SILVAR and SAMCAR members in this worthwhile outreach project. Last year, 386 volunteers helped 284 seniors in the Bay Area. A total of 213 volunteers from SILVAR helped 148 seniors in SILVAR’s five districts. RSVP t-shirts worn by volunteers from the four Associations are sponsored by MLSListings Inc.

“We are really proud that every year our members have stepped up to help the seniors in their community. We hope more members will be able to volunteer for this worthwhile project this year,” said Eileen Giorgi, SILVAR’s RSVP Committee Chair.

Volunteer now by clicking on the link below, completing the volunteer application and faxing it to SILVAR at (408) 200-0101. You may also call SILVAR at (408) 200-0100 and ask that an application be mailed to you. The deadline to volunteer is Friday, March 15. Applications from seniors requesting help are also due on March 15.

RSVP VOLUNTEER APPLICATION

RSVP SENIOR HOMEOWNER/RENTER APPLICATION

RSVP 2013 BROCHURE

The 14th annual Silicon Valley Scholars Program for graduating seniors from 18 public high schools in Silicon Valley is now underway. The scholars program is sponsored by the Charitable Foundation of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, the local trade association which represents over 4,000 Realtor and affiliate members on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

The REALTORS®’ scholarship program is a partnership with local high schools in Silicon Valley. Principals and faculty at 18 participating high schools nominate three exceptional graduating seniors each year. The program awards a $1,000 scholarship in recognition of exemplary records, outstanding academic performance and community spirit to one nominee from each of the schools.

The Class of 2013 Silicon Valley scholars will be selected from high schools in the communities served by members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. Final selections will be made by a committee that includes representatives from the local business community, area high schools, area colleges and the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

The annual Silicon Valley Scholars Program is an opportunity for SILVAR members to show their support for Silicon Valley’s communities and schools and to thank the students, teachers, administrators and school board members for their dedication and for working hard to make their schools among the best in the nation.

The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Scholarship Program has provided over $230,000 to 234 graduating seniors in Silicon Valley in the past 13 years. Participating schools include Leigh High School and Lynbrook High School in San Jose; Westmont High School in Campbell; Fremont High School in Sunnyvale; Los Altos High School in Los Altos; Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos; Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto; Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton; Santa Clara High School and Wilcox High School in Santa Clara; Cupertino High School, Homestead High School and Monta Vista High School in Cupertino; Prospect High School and Saratoga High School in Saratoga; Mountain View High School in Mountain View; and Woodside High School in Woodside.

Graduating seniors from the above-mentioned high schools who wish to apply for the scholarships may obtain an application from their school counselor. The completed application must be returned to the high school’s principal or scholarship counselor by Monday, March 11 for submission to the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation.

For further information, please contact Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Scholarship Program Chair Nina Yamaguchi at (408) 861-8822 or nyamaguchi@cbnorcal.com.

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