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Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) Legislative Committee members, including President-elect Mary Kay Groth, met with U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo on Wednesday at her Palo Alto office and discussed federal priorities for REALTORS® during the summer recess. These included the cap on state and local tax (SALT), mortgage interest deduction, and flood insurance, several other topics related to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and how support homeowners.

Eshoo said the good news is flood insurance under House Resolution 3167, the National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019, would be extended for five years and include funding to update flood maps and modernize the program. H.R. 3167 has cleared House committees and is awaiting a vote on the House floor.

Eshoo also expressed an interest on how mortgage financing could be eased and homeownership made more affordable to first-time homebuyers. H.R. 3141, the FHA Loan Affordability Act of 2019, would require FHA borrowers to pay mortgage insurance premiums only when their remaining principal balance exceeds 78 percent or more of the home value or sales price. Los Altos-Mountain View District Chair Greg Boudreau shared how a client of his refinanced and now had over 30 percent equity in their home, but would be required to pay mortgage insurance over the next 11 years, increasing their financing costs significantly.

Eshoo shared further information on the SALT Fairness Act, a bill she co-sponsored, which aims to reinstate the deductions that were lost during tax reform. This bill was introduced on a bipartisan basis and is awaiting committee action.

“Seldom does a bill impact so many of my constituents, and on average it costs homeowners in my district over $50,000 on an annual basis,” said Eshoo.

Eshoo represents U.S. Congressional District 18, which is located between the cities of San Francisco, Santa Cruz and San Jose, and includes portions of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

Meeting with Congresswoman Eshoo were President-elect SALT Fairness Act , Region 9 Chair Denise Welsh, NAR Director Leannah Hunt, Federal Political Coordinator for Congresswoman Eshoo Carole Feldstein, Los Altos-Mountain View District Chair Greg Boudreau, Palo Alto District Chair Lynn Wilson Roberts, Los Altos-Mountain View District LC Chair Barbara Williams and Menlo Park-Atherton District LC Chair Chris Isaacson.

It has come to the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®’ (SILVAR) attention that some SILVAR members are receiving spam emails that claim to have received the member’s email address from SILVAR. SILVAR does not share, sell, or trade email addresses. Member emails and mobile phone numbers are not listed in SILVAR’s membership directory on http://www.silvar.org. 

The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) suspects these could be phishing emails. We suggest you delete without opening or clicking any links.

Be cautious of any spam email claiming to have gotten your email address from SILVAR, C.A.R. or the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) attempting to sell you any goods or services. If the email is suspicious, the best option is to delete such unwanted SPAM.

SILVAR may only use your email address to directly send you REALTOR® Association-related information or important messages related to your real estate business that have been approved by SILVAR together with other communications to which you are subscribed.



Be cautious of any spam email claiming to have gotten your email address from SILVAR, C.A.R. or NAR attempting to sell you any goods or services. If the email is suspicious, the best option is to delete such unwanted SPAM.

Statewide housing affordability dipped in the second quarter of this year, according to the California Association of REALTORS®, though some San Francisco Bay Area counties showed some improvement.

According to the California Association of REALTORS® Traditional Housing Affordability Index, the percentage of homebuyers who could afford to purchase a median priced, single-family home statewide in second-quarter 2019 dipped to 30 percent from 32 percent in the first quarter of 2019 but was up from 26 percent in the second quarter a year ago.

A minimum annual income of $122,960 was needed to qualify for the purchase of a $608,660 statewide median priced, single-family home in the second quarter of 2019. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $3,070, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an interest rate of 4.17 percent. The interest rate was 4.62 percent in first-quarter 2019 and 4.70 percent in second-quarter 2018. 

San Francisco County was the least affordable county in the state, with just 17 percent of households able to purchase the $1,700,000 median-priced home. Forty-six percent of Solano County households could afford the $445,000 median-priced home, making it the most affordable Bay Area county.

In Silicon Valley, when compared with the first quarter of 2019, housing affordability stayed at the same level in the second quarter in the high-priced Silicon Valley counties of San Mateo (18 percent) and Santa Clara (20 percent) and San Francisco (17 percent).

“Home prices are starting to fall in line. Sellers are realizing they need to be realistic about pricing their home in this market. There is just so much buyers, especially first-time buyers, can afford, even with their high incomes and the low interest rates,” said Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

Not surprisingly, San Francisco (17 percent) and San Mateo (18 percent) counties were the least affordable places in the Bay Area, and requiring the highest minimum qualifying incomes in the state. An annual income of $343,420 was needed to purchase a home in San Francisco County, and an annual income of $338,870 was required in San Mateo County.

In Santa Clara County, homebuyers needed an annual income of $268,680 to qualify for the purchase of a $1,330,000 countywide median-priced single-family home in the second quarter of 2019. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, would be $6,720, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an interest rate of 4.17 percent.

“I know everyone is tired of hearing about wire fraud, but it is more relevant today than ever. Criminals are getting more creative and we need to work together and continue to inform our clients of things to look out for,” said Kathy Gamch at a Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) Cupertino-Sunnyvale District tour meeting.

Gamch, who is title and escrow AVP sales at the Chicago Title Cupertino and Saratoga branches, and escrow branch managers/senior escrow officers Mary Dickerson and Hapi Yamato reminded SILVAR members that consumers continue to be duped by wire fraud. Last year, the Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 20,000 business email compromise complaints with adjusted losses over $1.2 billion.

According to the FBI, consumers average $8 million in losses reported each month due to wire fraud. REALTORS®, real estate brokers, closing attorneys, buyers and sellers are targets for wire fraud. Many have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because they simply relied on wire instructions they received via email.

How it works is a fraudster will hack into a participant’s email account to obtain information about upcoming real estate transactions. After monitoring the account to determine the likely timing of a closing, the fraudster will send an email to the buyer purporting to be the escrow agent or another party to the transaction. The fraudulent email will contain new wiring instructions or routing information, and will request that the buyer send funds to a fraudulent account. 

Hackers are creative and tend to add a sense of urgency to their emails, like the need for immediate action, said Dickerson. “It’s important for buyers in a transaction to pay extra close attention. If you notice inconsistencies in email addresses and domain names, or if there’s a sudden, unexpected change in the email address that you’re working with, call a trusted phone number and talk to someone who is working on your transaction – your REALTORS®, escrow officer, loan agent. Do not call phone numbers mentioned in the potentially fraudulent email.”

The escrow officials said buyers should first obtain the phone number of their REALTOR® and escrow officer as soon as an escrow is opened. Then prior to wiring, call the phone number they received and speak directly with their escrow officer to confirm wire instructions. If they receive a change in wiring instructions supposedly from their escrow officer, they should be suspicious as wiring instructions are rarely changed.

“It is all of our responsibilities to protect our clients from being victims of wire fraud,” stressed Yamato. “Over communicate to your clients about verifying in person or over the phone before wiring. One simple phone call can prevent a devastating loss!”

Here are more tips they shared for REALTORS® and their clients:

  • Educate your clients about wire fraud occurring in real estate transactions.
  • Understand the protocols of transmitting wire instructions for the title companies you work with and communicate those protocols to your clients.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication on all email accounts.
  • Use a complex password and change passwords on a regular basis. They recommend using passphrases.
  • Regularly check your email rules for any that you did not send yourself.
  • Read emails carefully and if something seems off, call the sender using a known, trusted number.

At “What REALTORS® Should Know About Vastu,” members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® learned about vastu shastra from Gautam Rana, a longtime practitioner and vastu consultant with Yogic Dwelling in San Ramon. Vastu is the counterpart of the Chinese art and science of feng shui.

Like feng shui, the science says if you are not connected with nature, you will not achieve balance in your life. Vastu also seeks harmony with the five elements of nature – water, air, fire, earth and space, but vastu is a more complex science than feng shui.

Rana studied the science in India and adheres to the guidelines of vishwakarma prakash, an ancient scripture of vastu, which pays attention to the entrance, the shape of the structure, and the elements placed inside the property. Rana said vastu places importance on 16 zones, 32 entrances and the placements of elements in a property.

“The facing of the property has no relevance in vastu,” stressed Rana. “The only way a house can be accurately analyzed is by finding its center.”

Rana sketched a house on white board and illustrated to members how the science is applied. By dividing 360 degrees around the center of a house, building or any other type of structure you get 32 possible locations or entrances.

Once you have calculated the entrance locations. The directions (north, south, east, west) are further divided into 16 zones, which determine the adverse or beneficial effects to those living there (ex. wealth, career, success, illness, accidents, etc.) The use of different techniques in accordance with the five elements in the form of colors and/or metals can mitigate the negative effects.

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