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In January, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency and urged Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent. Then last month, the Santa Clara Valley Water District called for mandatory measures to reach a water use reduction target equal to 20 percent of 2013 water use, through Dec. 31, 2014.

“We can’t take water for granted during this drought emergency and even under normal conditions. Water is our most precious natural resource. How we conserve and manage this resource will determine our future and that of generations to come,” said David Tonna, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR).

To help consumers conserve on water, SILVAR has compiled the following water conservation tips from the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Save Our H2O websites:

Conserve Water Indoors:
• Fix those leaks! To help detect hidden leaks, turn off anything that uses water and see if your water meter is still moving. If it is, there could be a leak somewhere. You can also put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak.
• Take (short) showers instead of baths. Showers use about a third as much water.
• Do not let the water run while shaving or brushing your teeth.
• When washing your hair or hands, turn the water off while you lather.
• Wash fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
• Run the dishwasher or washing machine on a full load.
• Install water-efficient devices such as high-efficiency toilets, high-efficiency washing machines, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.
• When washing dishes by hand, fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
• Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
• Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons every time.

Conserve Water Outdoors
• Reduce the time you water your lawns and water lawns in the morning to avoid evaporation.
• Keep grass at least two inches high to shade roots.
• Water trees slowly, deeply and infrequently to encourage deep rooting. Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes people make.
• Use a broom rather than the hose to clean off walkways, patios and other outdoor areas.
• Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
• Choose a water-efficient irrigation system, such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers. Save: 15 gallons/each time you water.
• Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool.
• Plant drought-resistant trees and plants.
• When washing your car, use a bucket of water or a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle instead of letting the hose run.

“If we follow these simple water conservation measures, we could save a lot of water and even save on our water bill. According to the Santa Clara Valley Water District, if everyone saved 20 gallons a day, we’d save more than 13 billion gallons a year in Santa Clara County alone,” said Tonna.

For more water conservation tips, visit at http://www.saveourh2o.org/ and http://www.valleywater.org/.

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The number of California homes that sold for a million dollars or more last year rose to the highest level in six years, and Silicon Valley neighborhoods continue to rank among the highest on the list of these high-end home sales.

A report from real estate information service DataQuick indicates a total of 39,175 California homes sold for a million dollars or more last year, up 45.1 percent from 26,993 in 2012. It was the highest number sold since 42,506 in 2007, according to DataQuick.

Hillsborough, Saratoga, Menlo Park, Cupertino, Los Altos, Woodside and Los Gatos, which are located in the five districts served by members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), were on the list of communities with the highest number of million-dollar home sales in the state. Hillsborough had 436 million-dollar home sales last year, with the most expensive home selling for $13.3 million; Saratoga, 332 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive purchased for $12.3 million; Menlo Park, 321 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive purchased for $5.5 million; Cupertino, 317 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive sold for $3.8 million; Los Altos, 267 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive purchased for $14.3 million; Woodside, 273 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive sold for $12 million; and Los Gatos, 243 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive sold for $4.8 million.

David Tonna, president of SILVAR, attributed the rise in high-end home sales in the region to a robust economy and rising home prices. “We are fortunate to have an economy that has made a comeback quickly, thanks to tech companies that are growing, some by leaps and bounds. The high demand for homes and lack of inventory has led to the appreciation of many homes,” explained Tonna.

Statewide, 840 homes sold for more than $5 million last year, an all-time high and up 20.3 percent from the previous high of 698 in 2012. In the $4-$5 million range a record 596 homes sold, up 29.3 percent from 2012. In the $3-$4 million range, a record 1,455 homes sold, up 31.3 percent from 2012. In the $2-$3 million range sales totaled 4,492, a record and up 37.4 percent from 2012. In the $1-$2 million range, 25,352 sold last year, up 42.5 percent from 2012.

The DataQuick report indicated the most expensive confirmed purchase in 2013 was a 15,355-square-foot, 8-bedroom, 14-bathroom beachfront Malibu mansion which sold for $74,500,000. The largest was a 25,447-square-foot, 16-bedroom, 18-bathroom mansion in Indian Wells that sold for $2,250,000.

According to the real estate information service a record 10,602 homes that sold for $1 million or more were bought with cash, up from 7,791 in 2012. Cash was used more frequently the higher up the price scale. Of those who did finance their purchase last year, the median down payment was 30 percent of the purchase price.

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On Feb. 25, SILVAR members enjoyed the Global Business Council Potluck, which featured an array of ethnic dishes provided by members and guests. Along with the good food and networking, members received information about global real estate, shared their experiences in this field of real estate, and offered tips on how to connect with foreign buyers. They also received information on how best to utilize Proxio, a new membership benefit for SILVAR REALTOR® members.

Special guest Sateesh Lele, vice chair of the California Association of REALTORS® Global Real Estate Forum, shared information from the Forum’s presentation at the C.A.R. Business Meetings in San Diego. Lele indicated Florida, California, Texas and Arizona continue to be the leading destinations for international buyers, while Canada, China, India, Mexico and the U.K. are home to majority of international buyers.

Davena Gentry, chair of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® Global Business Council, said even as home prices are appreciating, the US. is still relatively inexpensive in cost of living and housing, offering value, diversification, stability, and size. She shared information from a March 2013 CNBC article that indicated in Hong Kong, for example, the average property prices in the fourth quarter of 2012 ranged from $4,570 – $5,050 per sq. ft.

Read more here.

SILVAR REALTOR® members may now log in to Proxio, a leading global marketing and real estate networking platform that connects real estate agents from across the country and around the world. Proxio is a new membership benefit for SILVAR REALTOR® members that will enable them to share their listings with other real estate agents in more than 140 countries. SILVAR has partnered with Proxio to provide SILVAR REALTORS® a Standard Level membership to their Global MLS.

The global networking platform has been described as “similar to a LinkedIn for real estate agents, but more.” Access to ProxioPro gives agents networking opportunities and an agent and property search. Your listings and marketing materials will be automatically translated into 19 languages, 55 currencies and metric measurements.

The SILVAR ProxioPro Standard Level membership includes a member’s profile in the network of over 600,000 real estate professionals across the U.S. and in 140 countries, and international MLS exposure for members’ listings presented in 19 languages. In addition to the Standard Level features, the SILVAR member benefit package also includes two upgrades – the Multicultural IDX (M-IDX) widget for a member’s website, which includes a full MLS search and translations of all properties in MLSListings into Proxio’s 19 languages; and the Proxio SocialSearch™ app for a member’s business page, with full IDX in five languages – English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese. Both of these features – the Multicultural IDX (M-IDX) widget and the Proxio SocialSearch™ app for your Facebook business page, will be available to members in their Proxio account within the next two weeks.

Proxio is conducting live training classes for members at SILVAR to get them up to speed on this global tool. Cameron Garcia, who teaches the Proxio overview classes, encourages SILVAR members to complete their profile as best they can. Adding their specialties and a photo of yourself will provide agents and their listings better global visibility. Studies show agents are more receptive to connecting with other agents when they see a photo on their profile. Engaging with other real estate agents and establishing relationships can increase your listings’ exposure.

Garcia also assures members that the Proxio site is secure. Everyone who is a member of the Proxio international network is a legitimate real estate professional.

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