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Brokers share a light moment during their discussion. Left to right are Tom Tognoli, Intero Real Estate Services; Ryan Iwanaga, Sereno Group; Carol Burnett, Alain Pinel Realtors; and Don Tornincasa, Coldwell Banker.

Brokers share a light moment during their discussion. Left to right are Tom Tognoli, Intero Real Estate Services; Ryan Iwanaga, Sereno Group; Carol Burnett, Alain Pinel Realtors; and Don Tornincasa, Coldwell Banker.


Brokers/managers from SILVAR’s Los Gatos/Saratoga District educated members on the do’s and don’ts of the business at Wednesday’s tour meeting. The panel included Don Tornincasa, Coldwell Banker; Carol Burnett, Alain Pinel Realtors; Tom Tognoli, Intero Real Estate Services; and Ryan Iwanaga, Sereno Group. District Chair Karen Trolan served as moderator.

The brokers said all top agents are educated about the marketplace, they go on tour, keep in constant touch with their database, work long hours, and make it a point to meet potential clients every day, even during the holidays. They encouraged agents to pick up the phone, touch base with clients, send holiday cards.

“We’re in a relationship business. Take advantage of the holidays. It’s an opportunity to connect with people and thank your clients,” said Burnett.

The panel said
Iwanaga observed that the most successful agents are those who work hard in the first quarter of the year, which can define the whole year. He encouraged agents to start contacting potential clients and cultivate relationships now.

“Don’t wait for January 1 to do it,” said Iwanaga.

More than in the past, the real estate business is changing, and changing fast. There are now micro-markets that are also changing. Agents need to be open-minded, flexible, and embrace new things. Read, dedicate yourselves to improving your skills and look forward, said Tornincasa.

“Keep your eyes out in front of you,” added Tognoli.

Passing the exam is not enough. Agents need to invest in themselves, take seminars and learn.

“Preparation means opportunity,” said Tornincasa.

On technology, the brokers recommended embracing social media, but while engaging in social media is good, most important is building a good website because that is where people eventually come to find out more about the agent.

“You need to make sure your website says something to the world,” said Burnett.

The brokers set standards in their offices, discuss the Code of Ethics at office meetings, and some provide training, but in the end, it is up to the agent.

“You can’t teach ethics and honesty,” said Tognoli. Agents needs to care about their image, their behavior and their reputation.

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The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) received the platinum award from the National Association of REALTORS® for its global council program at the 2013 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco. Pictured here are (left to right) SILVAR president Carolyn Miller and executive officer Paul Cardus, who received the award from Nancy Suvarnamani and Furhad Waquad, 2014 and 2013 chair, respectively, of the NAR Global Business and Alliances Committee.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) received the platinum award from the National Association of REALTORS® for its global council program at the 2013 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco. Pictured here are (left to right) SILVAR president Carolyn Miller and executive officer Paul Cardus, who received the award from Nancy Suvarnamani and Furhad Waquad, 2014 and 2013 chair, respectively, of the NAR Global Business and Alliances Committee.

At the 2013 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Conference & Expo last week, NAR recognized SILVAR with a platinum award for its 2013 Global Business Council Achievement Program. SILVAR was one of a number of groups to be honored as Silver, Gold, and Platinum Councils. Of the over 100 existing global business councils, only five were awarded Platinum Council status, the program’s highest distinction, for having demonstrated exceptional commitment to building members’ awareness of the global and multicultural business opportunities in their local markets.

To help members reach out to a growing number of foreign buyers interested in purchasing property in the region, SILVAR formed a global business council at the beginning of last year. The council chaired by Jennifer Tasto took a lead in planning global programs, hosting global education courses, and building awareness among members of international business opportunities.

In the past year, SILVAR offered two Certified International Property Specialist Institutes attended by REALTORS® across the country. Upon completion of the week-long courses and other requirements, 43 attendees earned their CIPS designation – 32 were SILVAR members. They were recognized at a breakfast ceremony hosted by NAR on Saturday.

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California Association of REALTORS® President Kevin Brown announced this morning the successful outcome of C.A.R.’s work with U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to protect distressed homeowners from debt relief income tax associated with a short sale in California. As part of this effort, Senator Boxer requested the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide guidance on whether mortgage debt forgiveness in a lender-approved short sale would be taxable income under federal law, given California’s recent non-recourse laws for short sales, which were hard fought victories by C.A.R.

The IRS has clarified in a letter that California’s troubled homeowners who sell their homes in a short sale are not subject to federal income tax liability on “phantom income” they never received. The IRS recognizes that the debt written off in a short sale does not constitute recourse debt under California law, and thus does not create so-called “cancellation of debt” income to the underwater home seller for federal income tax purposes. This clarification rescues tens of thousands of distressed home sellers from personal liability upon expiration of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 on December 31, 2013.

C.A.R. is seeking a similar ruling from the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), which has been awaiting the IRS action. C.A.R. anticipates the FTB will act promptly. Short sales may raise other tax issues and, as always, homeowners should speak with their tax professional regarding the tax consequences of a short sale.

November 2013
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