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REALTORS® need to be watchful and always take safety precautions when they host an open house. Recently, it was reported that a visitor at an open house in Willow Glen was caught on a Nest security camera going through all the drawers and closets of the homeowner. The female visitor had told the REALTOR® she had a child sleeping in the car and asked if the REALTOR® could watch the car out the front door while she looked at the home. The individual then proceeded to enter the master bedroom, bathroom and bedroom and was caught on camera going through the nightstand drawers, dresser drawers and closets looking for valuables. Fortunately, the owners had locked away their valuables prior to the open house, so nothing was stolen.

These days with the short supply of homes for sale and rising rents, many buyers are scrambling to buy homes and this has caused more traffic at open houses. REALTORS® hosting an open house need to be on the alert. Open houses can be a great sales tool, but hosting one exposes you to unfamiliar people, and while more traffic increases the potential for crime.

Below is a list of safety tips for both REALTORS® and their clients from the National Association of REALTORS® Safety Resources Kit:

  1. Remind your clients that strangers will be walking through their home during showings or open houses. Tell them to hide any valuables in a safe place. For security’s sake, remove keys, credit cards, jewelry, crystal, furs and other valuables, including expensive electronics like computers and laptops, from the home or lock them away during showings. Also remove prescription drugs and don’t leave personal information like mail or bills.
  2. If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  3. Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  4. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and email.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Be alert to the pattern of visitors’ arrivals, especially near the end of showing hours. In some areas, a group of thieves will show up together near the end of the open house and, while a string of “potential buyers” distracts the agent, the rest of the group walks through the house, stealing any valuables they come across.

Visit NAR’s REALTOR® Safety website for more safety tips at www.REALTOR.org/Safety.

 

2016 BOD

The 2016 Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR)  leadership team was installed Thursday night at La Rinconada Country Club in Los Gatos. California Association of REALTORS® 2013 President Don Faught administered the oath of office to SILVAR’s new president, officers and board of directors. C.A.R. 2005 President Jim Hamilton served as master of ceremonies and welcomed about 180 members and guests to the special event. Alain Pinel REALTORS® Vice President/Regional Manager Jeff Barnett led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance and delivered the inspiration message.

Karen Trolan, a REALTOR®, broker and assistant manager of the Alain Pinel REALTORS® Los Gatos office, was installed as 2016 President; Denise Welsh, a REALTOR® with Alain Pinel REALTORS®, Los Altos, President-elect; and Phyllis Carmichael, a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Los Altos, Treasurer.

Joining SILVAR’s lead officers as this year’s board directors are Chris Isaacson (Coldwell Banker), past president; David Tonna (Alain Pinel REALTORS®), Region 9 Chair; Brett Caviness (Coldwell Banker), Menlo Park/Atherton District Chair; Amy Sung (Pacific Union International Real Estate), Palo Alto District Chair; Katherine Frey (Alain Pinel REALTORS®), Los Altos/Mountain View District Chair; David Hunt (W.A. Krauss & Co. Property Management), Cupertino/Sunnyvale District Chair; Suzanne Yost (Alain Pinel REALTORS®), Los Gatos/Saratoga District Chair; and Directors At-large Jeff Bell (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage), Davena Gentry (Sereno Group), Eileen Giorgi (Sereno Group), Gene Lentz (Keller Williams Realty), Cassie Maas (Alain Pinel REALTORS®), Ryan Nunnally (Alain Pinel REALTORS®); and Affiliate Chair, Eric Temple (Willow Glen Organics).

Trolan is a Los Gatos resident and has been a REALTOR® and broker for 30 years. She began her real estate career with Van Vleck REALTORS® and continued on with Cornish & Carey and later Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. From top agent, Trolan moved up the ranks quickly to vice president and manager of the Cornish & Carey’s Palo Alto Midtown office, vice president/managing broker for the Los Altos office, and finally, when Coldwell Banker bought Cornish and Carey, Trolan was named senior vice president and regional manager of Silicon Valley Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

Despite suffering severe injuries from a tragic airplane accident in 2009 that left her paralyzed from waist down, Trolan through sheer perseverance and hard work went back to doing most of the activities she did before the accident. In April 2011, Trolan joined the Alain Pinel REALTORS® Los Gatos office, where she is currently assistant manager, responsible for agent improvement, community involvement and other special projects.

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The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® joins other local and state REALTORS® associations and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) in praising Congress for passing and the President for signing into law sweeping legislation of more than 2,000 pages to fund the Federal Government for Fiscal Year 2016. The new legislation will put an end to the series of stop-gap funding measures known as “Continuing Resolutions” that have funded the government since the start of FY2016 on October 1, 2015. This new bill will expire in September 2016.

A significant piece of the tax legislation includes the extension of a number of expired tax provisions important to supporting homeowners and real estate investment, such as Mortgage Debt Forgiveness, Mortgage Insurance Premium Deductibility, Immediate Expensing of Business Equipment and Certain Real Estate, Charitable Deduction for contributions of real property for conservation purposes, Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA), Energy Tax Credit for New Homes, National Flood Insurance Program.

NAR sent a letter to House and Senate tax-writing committees as the final package was being developed to ask for support on maintaining these key provisions. “These tax extenders offer critical support for consumers, homeowners, commercial property investors and small businesses alike,” said Tom Salomone, 2016 NAR president. “We’re grateful for the leadership shown on this important piece of legislation and look forward to continuing our work in support of homeownership.”

Extending tax relief for mortgage debt forgiveness as a win for REALTORS®, according to Salomone, because this provision protects underwater homeowners from incurring a large tax bill on phantom income in connection with a workout or a short-sale. Since 2007, this tax relief has strengthened individual communities and the broader economy as more distressed homeowners were offered the flexibility to responsibly address an underwater mortgage. The tax extenders deal offers an additional two years of protection covering tax years 2015 and 2016.

The bill also includes a permanent extension of a 15-year cost recovery period for the depreciation of qualified leasehold improvements. This provision ensures that a commonsense cost-recovery period remains permanently in place for improvements made to nonresidential commercial property.

The real estate-related provisions likewise include the renewal of certain incentives to promote energy efficient commercial and multifamily buildings. Similarly, an expired tax credit of between $1,000 and $2,000 for energy-efficient new homes is extended for an additional two years under the bill.

The legislation permanently extends rules allowing small–and mid–sized businesses to immediately expense business equipment, rather than depreciate the equipment over several years. This is important to Realtors who are independent contractors and purchase new computers, copiers, cameras and even vehicles in the course of doing business.

Finally, the tax bill includes changes to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) that will ease restrictions on investment in commercial real estate.

“Doing Business in the Philippines,” hosted by the global business council of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® in November, attracted more than 40 association members and guests. The Philippines is Asia’s second fastest growing economy today and the business of real estate there is booming, according to Philippine-based real estate agents.

The program, moderated by National Association of REALTORS® President’s Liaison to the Philippines Jennifer Tasto, had as panelists International REALTOR® Members from the Philippines from the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations Inc. (CREBA). CREBA is the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®’ cooperating real estate association. It is the largest real estate umbrella organization in that country. The delegation included Bernard Umali, Evangeline Yia, Arlene Posadas and Connie Castellano. Their presentations focused on buying and selling property, estate settlement, project selling, ownership of land and registering property in the Philippines.

The Filipino REALTORS® said Philippine real estate is one of the best businesses today. They said the country has an estimated population of 101 million people. Top buyers of Philippine property are early nesters due to the country’s young population, business process outsourcing workers, overseas Filipino workers and investors.

Why buy real estate in the Philippines? They said the Philippine economy rebounded with a growth of 5.6 percent in the second quarter of 2015, defying a regional slowdown which has affected countries like China and Japan.

“Filipinos are among the most globally connected in the world,” said Tasto.

Tasto said over 10 percent of Filipinos (an estimated 10 million people) live outside the Philippines and work in over 150 countries. Overseas Filipino worker remittances are at a record high, posting $26.93 billion in 2014. Of this money, 60 percent is devoted to real estate investment.

The cost of real estate in the Philippines is much more affordable than in other Asian countries, along with the rate of return on investments, added Tasto. The panelists also indicated growth in business process outsourcing and tourism has spurred real estate sales.

The Filipino REALTORS® noted bank real estate loans hit $24.47 billion in 2014, fueled by sustained demand for new homes and office space. The migration rate in Manila also has made the country’s capital a favored location for residential condominiums.

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