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IMG_4744.JPGAbout 50 SILVAR members joined over 2,000 California REALTORS® in Sacramento on Wednesday for the annual California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) Legislative Day, the one day each year that the state’s REALTORS® meet with their legislators and discuss real estate-related policies and issues.

California Governor Jerry Brown spoke to California REALTORS® at the Sacramento Convention Center during the C.A.R. morning briefing. Brown said the economy has its cycles and at present the state’s economy is doing well, thanks to the business sector.

“California is the land of sunshine and smart people. That’s why people want to be here. Silicon Valley has the smartest people in the world,” declared the Governor.

Brown told REALTORS® to stay the course, stating, “REALTORS® are the backbone of what California looks like, of what California is.”

At a joint luncheon with members of the San Mateo County Association of REALTORS® and Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®, Los Angeles Times Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers analyzed the state’s political landscape. He indicated California has “places of great success and places of great struggle,” a dichotomy between urban versus rural, haves versus have nots, the highly employed places versus low employed.

Myers said it will be interesting to see how the state plans to implement the $15 minimum wage; how the state will expand the family leave law; and what arises from discussions on affordable housing. Other fundamental issues looming over California are education, transportation and water.

According to Myers, this year’s state elections may be the last chance to bring new blood to the state legislature, since new legislators will be serving 12-year terms due to the passage of Proposition 28. Myers also warned REALTORS® to expect a longer and confusing U.S. Senate ballot for the June 7 primary because of how the names of the 34 candidates seeking to replace retiring Senator Barbara Boxer are laid out on the ballot. Choose only one candidate. Selecting two or more candidates would disqualify your vote.

After the luncheon, SILVAR members met with Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, and Assembly members Rich Gordon and Evan Low. Members asked their support on the following bills:

SUPPORT C.A.R.-sponsored bill AB 2693 (Dababneh) – PACE Loan Disclosure, which seeks to change the super-priority status of PACE loans and to require disclosures to consumers before they obtain such a loan. A PACE loan allows a homeowner to borrow money to finance energy upgrades. The loan is then repaid as a surcharge on the property tax. The PACE loan takes primary position to the mortgage. If a homeowner takes out a PACE loan they may have difficulty refinancing or selling their home if the new mortgage holder, like Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), does not allow for PACE loans. If the cost of repaying the PACE loan and any mortgages on the property exceeds the purchase price of the home, the seller will be forced to make up the difference. This will prevent some homeowners from selling when they need or want to. Current disclosures given to homebuyers do not explain the potential consequences of using PACE loans. AB 2693 will require Truth in Lending type disclosures to borrowers.

SUPPORT C.A.R.-sponsored bill AB 2760 (Mathis) – Support Animal Regulations seeks to distinguish between a medically necessary companion or support animal and other animals kept as pets. C.A.R. wants to clarify current law to allow legitimate support animals to share rental housing and to allow landlords to avoid unnecessary litigation. Service animals, as defined under federal law, are animals individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual, like guide dogs and signal dogs. Companion animals simply provide comfort to an individual. They are not afforded the same protections under the ADA or California State Law as service animals, even though they are kept as the result of a mental health professional’s prescription, causing confusion for housing providers. The vagueness in state law allows individuals without a legitimate need to claim a status for pets that is not deserved. AB 2760 will allow tenants to keep a support animal on the property provided that the tenant has a prescription validating the need for the support animal from a California-licensed mental health professional. They must also comply with all federal, state and local requirements, such as vaccination or sterilization mandates.

OPPOSE SB 1053 (Leno) – Sec. 8 Housing Mandate, which seeks to expand protected classes under the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include those who receive government rental subsidies. SB 1053 forces residential rental property owners to participate in the federal and local government’s voluntary Section 8 housing program. Section 8 was always intended to be a voluntary program. By forcing property owners to accept tenants with housing vouchers or other subsidies, SB 1053 forces landlords to participate in Section 8 without regard to the property owner’s specific circumstances. It forces landlords to endure administrative burdens and increased costs due to delays that result from understaffed housing authorities and requires landlords to accept objectionable and burdensome lease terms. Under HUD rules, housing authorities must use a HUD formula to determine an “acceptable” rental rate.

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Rebecca jensen

With improved snow pack and reservoir levels, California water providers want the state to reduce or eliminate emergency drought measures imposed last year. Some experts caution abandoning conservation measures would be a bad move. They say although El Niño brought heavy rains to California this winter, it’s not enough for the state to recover from four dry years.

Even if the state and cities relax water restrictions, we should not ease up on water conservation measures, according to Rebecca Jepsen, a University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardener who writes a monthly gardening column in the San Jose Mercury News.

Jepsen, who is also a REALTOR® with Alain Pinel Realtors, is passionate about saving water. “We all need to continue cutting back on water usage,” she recently told members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

According to Jepsen, as of 2014, California needed 11 trillion gallons of rain to recover – that’s 17 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. From June through February, California residents were able to cut water usage 23.9 percent compared to their 2013 usage, almost reaching Gov. Jerry Brown’s target of 25 percent. The state is currently at about 80 percent of normal.

The State Water Resources Control Board is scheduled to meet next month and will possibly ease rules for Northern California, which received much of the winter’s rainfall. Southern California wasn’t quite as lucky and has experienced less rain and hotter, drier temperatures.

Jepsen said dropping water conservation measures altogether would be unwise. She explained 50 percent of water goes to the environment – to streams, rivers and wetlands. The remaining 50 percent is controlled – 80 percent is devoted to agriculture, which is needed to grow food, and 20 percent to municipal/residential use, of which 50 percent goes to outdoor irrigation.

Outdoor usage of water is an area residents need to improve upon. According to the UCCE Master Gardener, a typical turf lawn uses 57 inches of water per year. She suggests removing or replacing turf lawns with eco-lawns, meadow lawns, sedges and herbs. Use thyme and manzanita as groundcover. These lawn options save water and are attractive, she said.

Jepsen shared the following outdoor water-saving tips with REALTORS® to share with their clients: 1. Don’t run irrigation systems during the middle of the day. The best time to water is between 5-8 a.m.

  1. Use efficient low-flow irrigation and check for leaks. Leaky irrigation systems can waste 6,000 gallons a month. Invest in a SmartController, which doesn’t run when it rains and runs more frequently during hot, dry spells.
  2. Remove overgrown, tired, inappropriate plants.
  3. Apply 2-3 inches of compost and mulch around plants and trees to retain water and feed the soil.
  4. Water just enough to keep plants healthy. Jepsen noted contrary to what some people think, lawns and outdoor plants do not need to be watered as often or as much.

Jepsen also encourages families to grow their own food. “You’ll have food at your table and it’s a relaxing. Grow what you want to eat and share with your neighbors,” said Jepsen.
 


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Cupertino, CA – The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) announced today that it has been re-certified as a Bay Area Green Business by the California Bay Area Green Business Program, after meeting new and stricter standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste. 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 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, was the first REALTOR® association in the state to obtain the green certification in 2007. With stricter guidelines in place, SILVAR this month completed the re-certification process administered by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and Santa Clara County.

Certification as a Green Business is in line with the REALTOR® association’s goal of community involvement by being proactive in conservation and concern for the environment. SILVAR educates its members and collaborates on projects that create a more sustainable environment. Many real estate offices in the communities SILVAR serves have followed suit and achieved green certification.

“We are very pleased that we have been recognized as a Green Business. Undergoing re-certification under more stringent requirements was a task worth achieving. We want to continue to be an example for our region and members,” said SILVAR Executive Officer Paul Cardus.

The Green Business Certification Program is a successful partnership of environmental agencies and utilities that assists, recognizes and promotes businesses and government agencies that operate voluntarily in a more environmentally responsible way. To be certified “green,” participants must comply with all regulations and meet program standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste. This certification focuses on helping businesses improve and implement green best practices for office operation.

Since 2007, SILVAR has been following most of the best practices required by the county as part of its policy to recycle and conserve energy, resources and money. Some of these practices included recycling, double-sided printing, use of email to communicate with members and providing member and customer services via the phone and Internet, including tour sheets and PRDS forms, to decrease the need for member travel and use of paper.

To be re-certified under the new guidelines, SILVAR expanded its conservation practices by using recycled paper and envelopes, recycling printer ink and batteries, transitioning all cleaning supplies, including paper towels, to items that are environmentally-friendly, and installing low-flow faucets in its restrooms and breakroom. SILVAR has joined the Spare the Air Day Program and encourages members and staff to participate in efforts to cut down on pollution by combining or eliminating trips and carpooling to meetings and association functions.

 

 

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$500 for paper option, $450 for paperless option through June!

If you haven’t had the opportunity to take the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Institute at the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, now is a good time to do so. SILVAR is offering its 5th CIPS Institute on June 20-24 for all members and non-members at a discount price through June. The five-day CIPS Institute costs $500 for the paper version, which includes a manual for each of the five courses offered, and $450 for the paperless option. Regular price for the CIPS Institute is $600.

The CIPS Institute provides training in international business issues, including currency conversion, cultural awareness, legal and tax requirements, ownership and transaction principles of international real estate, and specifics about the real estate markets in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

The week-long CIPS Institute, taught by National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2012 and 2009 International Instructor David Wyant includes two required core courses and three elective courses. Students must pass a multiple-choice exam at the end of each course. Upon completing the CIPS Institute, REALTORS® will fulfill the classroom requirements needed to earn the NAR CIPS Designation.

Members may enroll online at ims.silvar.org. Non-members may register by calling SILVAR at (408) 200-0100. The discount price includes a continental breakfast and lunch provided by our sponsors Darrell Monda – TourFactory, Larry Tringali – Property Inspection Service and Anita Rodal – AFEX (Associated Foreign Exchange) and SBPI Services, Inc.

Limited sponsorships for the CIPS Institute are still available. Each sponsor is given the opportunity to speak about their product or service on an assigned day. For more information on the CIPS Institute and sponsorships, contact SILVAR Public Affairs & Communications Director Rose Meily at rmeily@silvar.org, or call (408) 200-0109.

CIPS REGISTRATION FORM AND SCHEDULE

CIPS SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITY

At yesterday’s Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) Cupertino/Sunnyvale District tour meeting, Carol Burnett, vice president and managing broker of Alain Pinel Realtors Saratoga, warned members about hackers who have been breaking into email accounts of buyers and real estate agents in order to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. She said the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has urged all REALTORS®, their clients and other real estate professionals to be on high alert for these email and money wiring scams, also known as mortgage phishing scams.

Scammers are hacking into email accounts and using information about a real estate transaction to trick people, often home buyers, into a fraudulent wire transfer. The hacker sends a bogus email, which appears to be legitimate, informing the buyer that there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions. The email instructs the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account, which is actually the scammer’s account. If the buyer takes the bait, they could lose all that money in a matter of minutes.

Burnett said a similar scam happened to an agent in their office and their client, a first-time home buyer. The buyer received a phone call from someone claiming to be a representative of the title company who told the buyer to wire the closings costs of $500,000 to a different account. When the scam was discovered, all parties were immediately contacted, including the FBI. The buyer was able to recover most of the money, but not all. Not all buyers are as lucky, said Burnett.

Online scams targeting REALTORS® and their clients are on the rise. Burnett has learned other agents and clients in the Bay Area have been victims of these mortgage phishing scams. One victim lost close to a million dollars.

“This is really an important, serious matter. You have got to be careful,” Burnett told members.

Burnett shared the following tips to avoid being a victim of these mortgage phishing scams for REALTORS® and their clients.
• Never send any wiring information in an email.
• Always introduce the title company representative to your client.
• Put the phone number and other contact information of another party directly into your phone. Do not take it off an email that has been sent to you.
• Do not wire money until you get the okay from the title company.
• If you are instructed to wire money to a bank outside California, don’t. All banks have offices in the state.

See more Prevention and Damage Control Tips from NAR.

 

 

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