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The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), a professional trade organization representing over 4,500 REALTORS® and Affiliate members engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula and in the South Bay, has come out in opposition to a Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) proposal that would mandate the replacement of all uncertified wood-burning devices with gas-fueled, electric or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified heating devices that meet or exceed NSPS Subpart AAA, upon the sale or transfer of residential or commercial property.

In a letter addressed to BAAQMD, SILVAR President Chris Isaacson stated, “We cannot over-emphasize the impact this rule would have on the Silicon Valley housing market. What little it does to reduce wintertime air pollution does not warrant the substantial difficulty it would cause for people who are trying to sell their homes.”

According to SILVAR, implementation of this rule would be complicated, costly, ineffective, overreaching and intrusive to residents. Installation of gas and electrical inserts or EPA certified heating devices would require construction or placement of gas or electric lines into a fireplace, triggering structural, slab foundation and other issues that would be costly. The cost of the units alone range from several hundred to thousands of dollars.

Isaacson said the government should implement regulations that fix problems while negatively impacting the fewest number of residents. The fireplace amendment does the exact opposite and does not correct the problem of air pollution. This rule would force people to remove fireplaces with literally no evidence that the people buying the home would violate “Spare the Air” restrictions, or ever burn wood.

SILVAR contends the rule is an ineffective, senseless solution to solving the problem of air pollution, since it would only affect about 40 percent of homes in 40 years. “This Rule punishes everyone for the bad acts of a few. If implemented, this Rule will hamstring the real estate market, cost home sellers potentially thousands of dollars, and by 2050 will only impact less than half of the fireplaces in the region. This Rule is a broad brush that does not even attempt to target the actual bad actors,” said Isaacson.

SILVAR strongly recommends taking a different, more sensible approach to improving air quality. The Association recommends increasing Spare the Air days and stepping up its enforcement, and providing incentives to homeowners who install the suggested gas-fueled, electric or EPA-certified heating devices.

“Figure out the areas where people are burning excessively and target those areas with either mandatory or voluntary burn bans. If changing out the fireplace is still a goal, then incentivize homeowners to remove or retrofit. This harsh and excessive regulation is not the right way,” said Isaacson.

View SILVAR President Chris Isaacson’s letter to BAAQMD here.

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Dave Walsh, vice chair of MLSListings Inc. and vice president and managing broker of Alain Pinel Realtors’ Almaden office in San Jose, gave a group of 25 Canadian home builders an overview of the Santa Clara County  housing market during their visit to the San Jose area this month.

Dave Walsh, vice chair of MLSListings Inc. and vice president and managing broker of Alain Pinel Realtors’ Almaden office in San Jose, gave a group of 25 Canadian home builders an overview of the Santa Clara County housing market during their visit to the San Jose area this month.

Twenty-five members of the Canadian Homebuilders Association – Alberta were on a two-day housing tour of homes in Santa Clara County March 12 and 13, and learned about the Silicon Valley housing market and challenges to urban development from local speakers.

At a breakfast presentation arranged by the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, Dave Walsh, vice chair of MLSListings Inc., shared local housing data with the builders. Walsh described Santa Clara County, which is at the heart of Silicon Valley, as “the single, most crazy market.”

Walsh said the region once filled with orchards, has become the leading hub of high-tech innovation and development in country. Recent growth has led to record-setting home prices. Home prices today have now exceeded the 2007 high, but there are far fewer homes on the market. Santa Clara County’s February median home price of $950,000 is “the best February ever,” said Walsh. The median is 20 percent above the median peak of $790,000 in February 2007. The problem is the county just had 1.4 months of inventory, with only 1,761 single-family homes for sale in February.

Walsh showed how home prices increase the closer one gets to Palo Alto, the central economic focal point of Silicon Valley, home to Stanford University and other prominent tech firms, and close to Facebook in neighboring Menlo Park and Google in Mountain View. Homes in Palo Alto are selling 110 percent of asking price, at an average of $1,491 per square foot. In Gilroy, which is about 50 miles from Palo Alto, homes are selling 99 percent of asking price at an average price of $284 per square feet. In Saratoga, which is about 18 miles from Palo Alto and has an excellent school district, homes are selling 102 percent of list price at an average of $812 per square foot.

Read more here.

REALTORSafety2011
A new survey from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found while 96 percent of REALTORS® have never been a victim of crime, more than two-thirds (40 percent) have found themselves in situations where they have feared for their safety or the safety of their personal information. Some of the most common circumstances that resulted in fearful situations were open houses, showing vacant and model homes, working with properties that were unlocked or unsecured and showing homes in remote areas.

The survey asked members how safe they feel while on the job and nearly 3,000 Realtors from across the country answered questions about their personal experiences, and the safety procedures and materials provided by their brokerage. The survey found one-third of members surveyed carry a self-defense weapon. Female REALTORS® are more likely to carry pepper spray, while male REALTORS® more commonly carry a firearm. Thirty-eight percent have participated in self-defense classes as a proactive safety measure, and 13 percent use a smart phone safety application to track their whereabouts or alert colleagues of an emergency. Also, before showing a property, the typical Realtor meets about half of their prospective buyers whom they haven’t previously met, in a real estate office or other neutral location.

Awareness, prevention and defense tactics are key to staying safe, according to Karen Trolan, president-elect of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. This is why this month, the local trade association is sponsoring “REALTORS® Training Realtors,” a free safety and self-defense training class that will teach agents risk awareness, safety tips, and how to protect yourself and survive in a hostile situation.

“Safety is so important for agents. Because they interface with the public all the time, both female and male agents should know how to protect themselves,” said Trolan. “REALTORS® Training REALTORS®” will be held on Friday, March 27, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Pacific Coast Academy, 14170 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos. Taught by REALTORS® Laura Welch (Century 21 M&M), Carla Bunch (Marbella Properties) and Trolan (Alain Pinel Realtors), the class is FREE, but space is limited to 45 participants. Register online at ims.silvar.org, or call (408) 200-0100.

Trolan added that awareness of potentially dangerous situations is just as important as the self-defense. “The training will focus on three important aspects of safety – awareness, prevention and self-defense,” said Trolan.

The National Association of REALTORS®, the California Association of REALTORS®, and local REALTOR® groups like the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, make safety resources and materials available to their members throughout the year. Additionally, the REALTOR® associations dedicate the entire month of September to bringing more awareness to REALTOR® safety among members.

Nationally renowned feng shui master and fortune teller Master Y.C. Sun was at the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) Young Professionals Network (YPN)/Global Business Council (GBC) Lunar New Year Celebration last week and gave members advice on what to expect this year which, according to the Lunar Calendar, is the Year of the Wooden Goat. Master Sun also spoke on the principles of feng shui.

Master Sun said goats are graceful, kind, gentle, shy, emotional and caring. They possess humility and sympathy. They dislike conflict and the lack of support from peers, family or friends. This year, agents must focus on teamwork, collaboration and partnership.

2015 will be a good year for real estate, Master Sun told REALTORS®, though the feds are ready to get out of the market and expected to raise short-term rates slightly in April or June. Chinese investment in real estate will focus on bigger ticket items of residential/commercial properties in big cities like New York.

Growth areas with hot markets will be to the north (Chicago, Twin Cities, Sacramento, Denver), southwest (Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, San Jose, Phoenix), east (D.C., Boston, Long Island, Queens, East Bay), and the northwest (Seattle, Portland). The Bay Area will continue to be a hot market, but due to the tight supply and high prices, he urges buyers to focus on their second choice neighborhoods. Booming areas will be by the water, like properties in Oakland, Lake Merced, San Francisco Mission Bay, Richmond Marina Bay, Alameda, etc.

Read more here.

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