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The California Association of REALTORS® issued the following statement on Senate Bill 50 yesterday:

“The California Association of REALTORS® is disappointed that SB 50 did not pass out of the California Senate today but C.A.R. remains deeply committed to advancing supply-oriented solutions to California’s severe housing shortage,” said C.A.R. president Jeanne Radsick.

“Sen. Scott Wiener deserves praise for his tireless work on SB 50 which recognized that supply is the solution to our housing affordability crisis. We also thank Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins for her efforts to advance the bill and to her ongoing commitment to passing a housing production bill during this legislative session.

“Now is the time to get serious about housing supply. We remain committed to working with Sen. Wiener, Senate President Pro Tem Atkins, the rest of the Legislature, Governor Newsom and housing groups to solving California’s housing shortage.”

SB 50, which encourages the development of mid-rise and multifamily housing construction around major transit hubs.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® thanks Sen. Jim Beall for promoting housing throughout California! We truly appreciate your efforts and support in seeking solutions to increasing our state’s housing supply.



Real estate experts forecast despite lower interest rates, this year’s housing market will continue to be a challenge with the housing shortage. Mary Kay Groth, 2020 president of the Silicon Valley of REALTORS®, tells buyers they should not be discouraged. Groth is a REALTOR® with Sereno Group in Los Gatos, CA.

“Buyers should not give up their dream of homeownership. They need to be prepared, find an experienced REALTOR® they can trust, and be ready to jump in when they find the right home,” says Groth. “All real estate is local, so it is important to work with a REALTOR®who is familiar with your neighborhood of choice.”

Here are strategies Groth suggests homebuyers employ:

1. Examine your finances.
Before beginning your home search, examine your monthly income, expenses, debt payments (auto loans, student loans, minimum credit card payments) and savings. Figure out how much you can use for a down payment. Depending on the loan you qualify for, you’ll need at least 3 to 20 percent for a down payment.

2. Check your credit score. A higher credit score typically means a better interest rate and loan options. According to the Federal Reserve, 90 percent of mortgages taken out by homebuyers in the first quarter of 2019 had a score of at least 650; 75 percent had a score above 700.

2. Get pre-approved by a lender.
Once you have organized your finances, visit a lender (it is advisable to visit more than one lender) and get pre-approved for a mortgage loan; not just pre-qualified.

“A pre-approval letter from a lender shows sellers you are a serious buyer and have the lender’s backing,” says Groth.

Groth advises buyers to be cautious about paying the maximum they can afford. “You will need some reserve to enhance the home, do repairs or purchase furnishings. You want to be comfortable with your house payments and be able to keep your house.”

3. Begin your home search. With pre-approval and a price range, you can begin your home search with your REALTOR®. Let your REALTOR®know your criteria for a home. Focus on important characteristics that will matter for the next five years – location, amenities, community, etc. With the help of a skilled and experienced REALTORS®, you will be able to learn the fair market value of homes selling in the area.

4. Be ready to decide quickly. When you find the right home, go in with your absolute best offer. “In a multiple offer situation, you may not get a second chance,” says Groth.

5. Avoid complex contingencies. Don’t be overly demanding. Contingencies can weaken a “sure deal.” The seller wants assurance the contract will close escrow in the designated time frame.

6. Include a personal letter to the seller. Groth notes, “A personal letter to a seller puts a real person behind the offer. There have been multiple offer situations where sellers have been moved by a buyer’s letter that price did not matter.”

7. Understand the documents. When your REALTOR® reviews the purchase contract, disclosures and other documents, make sure you understand. If you don’t understand, ask.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has been designated by the U.S. Census Bureau as a National Partner for the upcoming 2020 Census. To encourage full participation which will ensure accurate data, NAR is asking its 1.4 million REALTORS® nationwide to help drive Census participation in their respective communities.

In addition to determining appropriate Congressional representation, roughly $1.5 trillion is allocated to states and localities annually based off of Census results – delivering funds for roads, hospitals, schools and countless other public services. More specifically, this year’s results will influence the allocation of $93.5 billion to Federal Direct Student Loans, $19.3 billion to Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and $12 billion to the National School Lunch Program.

NAR has also prepared a toolkit for members to help communicate the Census’ importance to their clients, friends and community. The promotional materials emphasize the importance of responding to the 2020 Census and include ways REALTORS® can be involved in the 2020 Census. Also included are template Facebook posts, template tweets, infographics, along with other informational resources provided by the Census Bureau.

Notices about the 2020 Census will be mailed in mid-March. The Census Bureau will offer a guide in roughly 60 different languages.

This year will mark the first time the questionnaire can be completed online, while options to respond over the phone and through the mail will still be available. In addition, NAR is reminding its members and U.S. residents that the Bureau will never ask for bank account or social security numbers, donations or anything on behalf of a political party, and strict federal law protects the confidentiality of Census responses.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has partnered with Photofy, the content creation app, to create a custom version of the app pre-loaded with “That’s Who We R” social media graphics and videos for REALTORS® to share with consumers. The app is a FREE member-only benefit.

“That’s Who We R” is a campaign launched by NAR last year as a rallying cry that instills pride in a REALTOR®’s everyday actions. The campaign uses the iconic block R logo, representing membership in NAR and differentiates REALTORS® from non-member agents.

The new app boosts the image of the REALTOR® and allows REALTORS® to quickly and easily personalize a selection of content from NAR’s “That’s Who We R” advertising campaign to share on social media, educating consumers about why you, as a REALTOR®, are different from other agents. REALTORS® can add their photo, logo, or contact information and share assets to their social media accounts, all in just a few taps. New content will be added as it becomes available for REALTORS® to share.

REALTORS® may use their NRDS ID to sign up today at Photofy.com/NAR for free access to Photofy’s exclusive toolset for NAR members and start leveraging the national ad campaign on social media.

The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation donated $41,618 in 2019 to different non-profit organizations that help homeless and low-income individuals and families in Silicon Valley. Funds this year also went to scholarships for graduating seniors from 18 public high schools in the REALTOR® association’s service area.

The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation is a trust that makes grants available to organizations from donations by REALTORS® and affiliate members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR). In addition to voluntary contributions from members, grants are funded by proceeds from the local trade association’s district fundraisers. In 2019, SILVAR’s Los Altos-Mountain View District annual pumpkin auction in October raised $5,005, which the district donated to the foundation. Net proceeds of $1,786 from the Los Gatos-Saratoga District’s annual bocce ball tournament were also donated to the foundation.

“Rising home prices and rents have taken a toll on many residents. We are very concerned that more people are being displaced and are homeless in Silicon Valley,” said Eileen Giorgi, president of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. “We thank our members for their continued support and contributions to the communities where they work and live. With their help we are thankful that we are able to continue our commitment to the welfare and prosperity of these communities.”

The 2019 grant recipients include Adolescent Counseling Services, which provides a network of skilled family therapists and support groups for teens and young adults in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties; East Palo Alto Kids Foundation, which promotes educational opportunities for students in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park; Westwind 4-H Riding for the Handicapped, which provides children with disabilities the opportunity to have fun while improving their coordination and strengthening their muscles; Youth Community Service, which provides service learning and leadership activities to underserved students in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Palo Alto; and Jasper Ridge Farm, which helps children and adults facing physical and emotional challenges through therapeutic interaction with gentle farm animals.

SILVAR districts, through the Charitable Foundation, likewise made donations to local organizations in 2019. The Los Gatos-Saratoga District donated $5,335 raised at the district’s annual pumpkin auction to the Family Giving Tree’s Operation Reindeer program for holiday gifts, including clothing essentials and food certificates, to needy families and seniors in the community. The Cupertino-Sunnyvale District presented $750 each to West Valley Community Services and Sunnyvale Community Services for their respective Back to School programs for low-income students. The Los Altos-Mountain View District spring and fall legal updates raised $1,783, which the district donated to Community Services Agency, which provides a variety of social services like emergency one-time rent and utility financial support, vouchers for clothing, eyeglasses, school supplies, food and more for residents of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

In 2019, the Charitable Foundation Scholars Program presented a $1,000 grant to each of 18 graduating seniors from public high schools in Silicon Valley. The foundation has been assisting students with the scholarship grants for the past 20 years, awarding a total of $360,000 in scholarships to date. In 2020, the scholarship grant will increase to $1,500.

The Charitable Foundation also supports further education for U.S. veterans. The John Tripp Silicon Valley Scholarship grants $500 awards to veterans enrolled at Foothill and De Anza colleges. In 2016, the foundation presented $25,000 to Foothill-De Anza Foundation, an auxiliary organization of the Foothill-De Anza Community Colleges District for the creation of the endowment. The late John Tripp was a veteran of the Korean War and past president of SILVAR and the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. The foundation will be establishing another veterans scholarship at West Valley College.

January 2020
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