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There’s been a lot of talk about immigration these days. This is a topic that impacts real estate, especially in Silicon Valley, a place that has attracted foreign buyers. So the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) Global Business Council has teamed up with the California Council of Residential Specialists to offer a Lunch & Learn on “What Every REALTOR® Needs to Know About Immigration” on Wednesday, September 27, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at SILVAR.

From featured speakers Sophie Alcorn and Lisa Wendl, you will learn about:

  • U.S. immigration policy
  • Some common immigration statuses
  • Immigration pitfalls and red flags
  • How immigrants can qualify for mortgages

Alcorn is a Stanford-educated, New York Times-featured expert on U.S. immigration law. She founded Alcorn Immigration, where she and her team obtain visas and green cards for highly-motivated individuals.

Wendl obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from Fudan University in Shanghai and MBA in finance from the University of Illinois, Chicago. She worked as a business analyst at a biotech company for three years, then got into the field of real estate lending and investment where she has worked for 25 years.

Cost is $15 for SILVAR and CRS members and $20 for non-members and at the door. Register at ims.silvar.org, or call SILVAR at (408) 200-0100. Seating is limited. These events fill up quickly, so make sure you register early.

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Criminals continue to hack email accounts and many are targeting REALTORS® and their clients. This scam is especially alarming in the Bay Area because home prices are high, inventory is low, and buyers are trying to close deals quickly because of the competitive market.

According to a recent news report, the email of a REALTOR® was hacked by criminals who had monitored the REALTOR®’s correspondence with her client. When it came time for the client to wire the remainder of the down payment to close escrow, the hackers sent an email message from the REALTOR®’s account to her client telling them to wire the money to a fraudulent account. Luckily, the amount was off and the client called the REALTOR® to verify the amount.

REALTORS® and their clients need to be on high alert for email and online fraud. The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® is asking REALTORS® to follow and share with their clients these prevention tips issued by the National Association of REALTORS®:

  • Immediately contact all parties to all of your upcoming transactions and inform them of the possibility of this fraud. Attorneys, escrow agents, buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and title agents have all been targeted in these scams. You can also download and distribute NAR’s online fraud prevention handout, accessible here.
  • If possible, do not send sensitive information via email. If you must use email to send sensitive information, use encrypted email.
  • Immediately prior to wiring any money, the person sending the money must call the intended recipient to verify the wiring instructions. Only use a verified telephone number to make this call.
  • Do not trust contact information in unverified emails. The hackers will recreate legitimate-looking signature blocks with their own telephone number.
  • Never click on any links in an unverified email. In addition to leading you to fake websites, these links can contain viruses and other malicious spyware that can make your computer – and your transactions – vulnerable to attack.
  • Tell your clients that if an email or a telephone call ever seems suspicious or “off,” that they should refrain from taking any action until the communication has been independently verified as legitimate.
  • Clean out your email account on a regular basis. Your emails may establish patterns in your business practice over time that hackers can use against you. In addition, a longstanding backlog of e-mails may contain sensitive information from months or years past. You can always save important emails in a secure location on your internal system or hard drive.
  • Change your usernames and passwords on a regular basis, and make sure your employees and licensees do the same.
  • Make sure to implement the most up-to-date firewall and anti-virus technologies in your business.

 

 

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Today more than one-third of all Americans are minorities. In fact, in California 43 percent of families speak another language at home other than English. You can maximize your earning potential by learning to work in Silicon Valley’s culturally diverse market. Enroll now in the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) At Home With Diversity® certification course which SILVAR is offering on Monday, September 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This six-hour course taught by NAR certified international instructor David Wyant will teach you how to access and analyze demographic data to assess cultural attributes in your local market; how to attract and serve multicultural and international clients; and how to develop a business plan to address specific needs of those clients.

Earn the confidence of your potential buyers and obtain the At Home With Diversity certification. You will also obtain a pin and logo to add to their website and business card.

Cost of the course is $110 for members and non-members. Registration is on a first-come first-served basis. Register at ims.silvar.org or call SILVAR at (408) 200-0100.

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Silicon Valley’s economy is booming, but pockets of poverty exist. Non-profit agencies that provide housing and support services to the low income and homeless say despite the region’s economic prosperity, they are seeing more families and youth in need.

“Life can change suddenly for anyone. When crisis hits, things happen and a family can become homeless,” said Kohinoor Chakravarty, director of Development and Communications for West Valley Community Services (WVCS).

At a meeting held in the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) office in Cupertino, Chakravarty said the agency, which serves underprivileged families and the homeless in Cupertino, Saratoga, West San Jose, Monte Sereno and Los Gatos, provides 672,380 pounds of food to low-income and homeless families and $167,829 in emergency assistance for rent, utilities and deposits. Its food pantry provides 1,223 individuals with groceries, household items, diapers and personal care items. The agency also has special programs that help families during the holidays and school year with holiday food baskets and shopping spree, its backpack program and back-to-school event, which helps over 100 children shop for clothes for school.

WVCS has also opened food pantries in De Anza and Foothill colleges for about 200 students who are homeless, with no food or place to live. “High rents forced their families to move out of the area, but these students chose to stay because they know finishing their education is the only way to get out of the cycle of poverty,” said Chakravarty.

Marie Bernard, executive director with Sunnyvale Community Services, told REALTORS® that homelessness and hunger in Santa Clara County are exacerbated by skyrocketing rents. One-bedroom apartments are renting for $2,542 on average, and two-bedroom apartment rents average $3,228.

“For many families, it’s a choice of rent over food,” said Bernard.

Like WVCS, SCS is the first stop for families seeking help. Last year, the agency helped 7,991 low-income residents, a 16 percent increase from 2015. The agency has also extended its help to the Alviso area, where there are many people who are underserved and families whose homes are red-tagged because their utility bills are backed up for six to eight months.

“Keeping people fed and housed is the best economic investment our county can make,” said Bernard. She said while it costs to feed and help the poor, it would cost more if the county did not provide the help.

Chakravarty and Bernard said the non-profits cannot provide their services without help from residents who volunteer to help sort the food and distribute them to needy families. Local grocery stores donate food to their food pantries.

“Without volunteers uniting behind us, we cannot do this work. You can make it happen because you are our community,” Chakravarty told the REALTORS®.

SILVAR’s Cupertino/Sunnyvale District, through the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, has donated $750 to West Valley Community Services. The donation will be used to purchase backpacks for WVCS’s Back-To-School Backpacks program. Pictured above with the big check are Cupertino/Sunnyvale District tour director Mark Burns with Chakravarty.

 

 

 

 

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PLEASE CALL TODAY! VOTE COULD BE MONDAY!    

The California Association of REALTORS® is OPPOSING SB 231 (Hertzberg), a bill that allows local governments to circumvent the State Constitution and Proposition 218 to tax property owners directly for costs related to stormwater infrastructure projects without the legally required public vote. C.A.R opposes SB 231 because it uses legal “sleight of hand” to allow local governments to impose new taxes without required voter input. The bill will be considered by the ENTIRE Assembly as soon as Monday, June 19th.

WHAT TO DO: Call your Assembly Member TODAY! Urge them to vote NO Vote on SB 231.

Call 1-800-798-6593. Enter your Assembly Member’s PIN number to be connected to their office.

When staff answers the phone, you can use the following script:   “Hi, this is (insert your name). I’m a constituent. Please ask the Assembly Member to Vote No on SB 231. Don’t allow local governments to impose sewer taxes by side-stepping voters.”

 

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Here are SILVAR members ready to meet state legislators.

 

Early this month, about 50 SILVAR members traveled to Sacramento for Legislative Day, joining over 2,500 California REALTORS® for their annual meetings with their respective legislators. At the meetings, REALTORS® assumed the role of “lobbyists for the day” and discussed bills that could impact homeowners and private property rights.

In the morning, REALTORS® gathered at the Sacramento Convention Center for a briefing by California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) leadership. C.A.R. President Geoff McIntosh underlined the importance of REALTORS® coming together in support of homeownership.

“We are the largest supporters of private property rights in the state,” said McIntosh. Governor Jerry Brown was back this year to speak to the REALTORS®. He, too, stressed the importance of the profession and the need to work together. “You touch people in the most important time of their life, when they buy a house,” said Brown.

At the joint luncheon with neighboring associations, guest speaker Assemblyman Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga) mentioned when REALTORS® visit Sacramento, their legislators listen to them. He said legislators like him would think, “You matter because you are from home. I will hear your message.”

Steinorth values homeownership. “Renting is not the path to success. The pathway to middle class success starts with homeownership,” he said.

And while he is for affordable housing, Steinorth said “once it transcends the goal of homeownership, I oppose it.”

Steinorth then talked about AB 53, a bill he authored that would allow individuals to save up to $10,000 tax free which would go toward the purchase of their first home. He explained while the solution to the housing affordability crisis is to increase supply, the state also needs to increase better buyers who save and are financially responsible.

The Assemblyman called on REALTORS® to get involved in their communities and in government. “The decision needs to come from the industry to educate us because you are the experts, the job creators. You make dreams a reality,” said Steinorth. “For every transaction you make you have created a better lifestyle for someone. You are all about the transaction, relationships, the community.”

At their meetings with Assembly members Marc Berman and Evan Low and state Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, SILVAR REALTORS® discussed three main issues:

Oppose AB 1059 (Gonzales Fletcher), which prohibits dual agency in commercial real estate transactions. If passed, it would drastically limit consumer choice.

Oppose to SB 649 (Hertzberg), whose intent is to expand the state sales tax to services. While the bill does not impose the tax itself, it lays the framework for a service tax. Real estate is the most service intensive business, with 10-12 services, like home inspections, appraisal, pest control, insurance, etc. A service tax on real estate services would hurt housing affordability and especially adversely impact low and middle class families.

Support legislation that seeks to increase the supply of housing and oppose bills that discourage its creation, like stricter rent control. The only solution to the housing affordability problem is to increase the housing supply. Price controls are not the solution. Policies like rent control don’t work. Telling property owners that they can’t change market rates discourages investment in housing.
READ MORE HERE

 

Each year in April, REALTORS® join the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and rest of the nation in recognizing April as Fair Housing Month. Forty-nine years ago, on April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark U.S. Fair Housing Act, Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1968, which strives to ensure equal housing opportunity for all and prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status. In 2012, HUD published new regulations to ensure that its core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Fair Housing Month is an opportunity to recommit to the principle that fair housing is an essential part of everything we do. REALTORS® play a vital role in ensuring fair housing for all and strive to make the American dream of homeownership accessible to all,” says Denise Welsh, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “This year’s theme – ‘Fair Housing Equals Opportunity’ – reminds us that everyone have the same opportunity and rights when renting, owning, or buying a home.”

Home sellers and landlords have a responsibility and a requirement under the law not to discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. You cannot instruct the licensed broker or salesperson acting as your agent to convey for you any limitations in the sale or rental because the real estate professional is also bound by law not to discriminate. Under the law, a home seller or landlord cannot establish discriminatory terms or conditions in the purchase or rental; deny that housing is available, or advertise that the property is available only to persons of a certain race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

Home seekers have the right to expect that housing will be available to you without discrimination or other limitations based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. This includes the right to expect:

  • Housing in your price range made available to you without discrimination
  • Equal professional service
  • The opportunity to consider a broad range of housing choices
  • No discriminatory limitations on communities or locations of housing
  • No discrimination in the financing, appraising, or insuring of housing
  • Reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities
  • Non-discriminatory terms and conditions for the sale, rental, financing, or insuring of a dwelling
  • To be free from harassment or intimidation for exercising your fair housing rights.

Real estate professionals are prohibited by law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. A request from the home seller or landlord to act in a discriminatory manner in the sale, lease or rental cannot legally be fulfilled by the real estate professional.

If you suspect discrimination, you may file a complaint with the nearest HUD office, or by contacting them at http://www.hud.gov

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Top left to right: 2016 REALTOR® of the Year David Tonna, Affiliate of the Year Eric Temple, Spirit of SILVAR Nina Yamaguchi. Bottom left to right: 2016 C.A.R. Region 9 Chair David Tonna, President’s Award Paul Cardus, President’s Award Brett Caviness
At the installation of the 2017 leadership of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) on Jan. 19, special recognition awards were given to members for their valuable contributions in 2016. Presenting the following awards were SILVAR 2016 President Karen Trolan and Executive Officer Paul Cardus.

 

2016 REALTOR® of the Year: David Tonna (Alain Pinel Realtors, Los Gatos)
A REALTOR® for almost 30 years, Trolan noted there is not a committee in which David Tonna has not served or chaired, from Lock Box Selection, MLS Advisory, PRDS Forms Advisory, Budget and Finance, the Legislative Committee, Education/Membership, Tour Policy and Sign Ordinance, Global Business Council, the Board of Directors and C.A.R. Region 9. Tonna helped found the Bay Area REALTOR® Leadership Academy (BARLA) and initiated SILVAR’s Ombudsman program. His service to communities includes RSVP, Little League Baseball, AYSO soccer, his local school board, and his church.

Tonna was also recognized for his work as the local trade association’s 2016 California Association of REALTORS® Region 9 Chair.

2016 Affiliate of the Year: Eric Temple (Willow Glen Organics, San Jose)
Describing 2016 SILVAR Affiliate Chair Eric Temple, Trolan said, “He has proven to be a dedicated workhorse and a great ambassador for our Association.” In 2016, Temple was successful in bringing SILVAR’s affiliated professionals together so they could learn about their role, benefits and opportunities as members of SILVAR. Temple also spearheaded and worked hard to bring to his District other successful events and fundraisers, like bowling and the annual member ice cream social.

Spirit of SILVAR: Nina Yamaguchi (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Cupertino) As one of the leaders in real estate in Silicon Valley who began her real estate career over 40 years ago, Trolan noted Nina Yamaguchi to this day continually works behind the scenes for the success of the Association. Yamaguchi is a past president of SILVAR and was a longtime California Association of REALTORS® Director. Yamaguchi, who believes in giving back to the community, founded and chairs the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Scholars Program, a program that has been close to her heart for nearly two decades.

Upon its 18th year this fall, the scholars program will have provided $324,000 to more than 300 students in Silicon Valley who have been recipients of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Scholars Program.

President’s Award:
Brett Caviness (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Menlo Park)
Paul Cardus (SILVAR Executive Officer)
The President’s Award is presented at the discretion of the president to an individual who’s service to the Association is worthy of special thanks and recognition. Trolan presented the first President’s award to SILVAR Executive Officer Paul Cardus. She thanked him for the tremendous support and guidance he had given her in her role as president last year.

Trolan presented the second President’s Award to Brett Caviness for his service as chair of the Menlo Park/Atherton District. She said as 2016 chair of the Menlo Park/Atherton District, Caviness, who is a new REALTOR®, worked hard to raise member attendance at the District’s monthly meetings by bringing in many interesting speakers. Caviness has also helped members be more in touch with technology, especially in the area of video marketing, with classes at SILVAR.

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The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) 2017 leadership team was installed on Jan. 19 at the Los Altos Golf & Country Club. California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) 2006 President Vince Malta administered the oath of office to SILVAR’s new president, officers and board of directors. SILVAR represents over 5,000 REALTORS® and affiliates engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula and in the South Bay. The local trade association seeks to promote 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.

Denise Welsh, a broker associate with the Alain Pinel Realtors Los Altos was installed as 2017 president; Bill Moody, a REALTOR® with Referral Realty, Cupertino, 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 Karen Trolan (Alain Pinel Realtors), past president; Chris Isaacson (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage), Region 9 chair; Leannah Hunt (Sereno Group), National Association of Realtors director; Young Jacob (Intero Real Estate Services), Menlo Park/Atherton District; Penelope Huang (Dreyfus Sotheby’s International Realty), Palo Alto District; Kathryn Tomaino (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage), Los Altos/Mountain View District; David Hunt (W.A. Krauss & Co. Property Management), Cupertino/Sunnyvale District; Mary Kay Groth (Sereno Group), Los Gatos/Saratoga District; Directors At-large Jeff Bell (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage), Katherine Frey (Alain Pinel Realtors), Davena Gentry (Sereno Group), Ryan Nunnally (Alain Pinel Realtors), Bryan Robertson (Catarra Real Estate), Mark Wong (Alain Pinel Realtors); and Art Clark (Obeo Ewalk), Affiliate chair.

A REALTOR® for 30 years, Welsh has been active in organized real estate, having served in multiple leadership positions, including SILVAR board director and California Association of REALTORS® Region 9 director. She is also an active volunteer in the Los Altos community, where she lives and works.

In her address to members, Welsh spoke about the value of and her pride in being a REALTOR®. “This is such an open industry that anyone can be an agent, but not everyone can be a professional REALTOR®. We are engaged in helping our clients with the most important decision of their life,” said Welsh. “We are set apart by the quality and service we deliver to our clients and the professional standards that we set.”

This year’s installation sponsors were MLSListings Inc., Alain Pinel Realtors, DeLeon Realty, Sereno Group, the SILVAR Districts of Los Altos/Mountain View, Los Gatos/Saratoga and Palo Alto, Supra, Alain Pinel Realtors Los Gatos – Jeff Barnett, EverBank – John Woodfin, Tour Factory – Darrell Monda and SmartZip – Stephanie Matsuoka.

 

 

 

 

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Nina Yamaguchi, managing broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Cupertino, shared prospecting tips with members at a recent Silicon Valley Association of  REALTORS® Cupertino/Sunnyvale District tour meeting.

Yamaguchi said with market is changing. Inventory for the entry level market is tight and the luxury market is passed its peak. It is highly likely that the lack of inventory and a dip in sales because of it will continue.

“With that framework, it is more important than ever to get listings,” stressed Yamaguchi.

Here are some of her suggestions:
1. Don’t ignore expired listings. Check with the former listing agent about the status of the expired listing. There also are many internet sites that help find people for a fee, such as beenverified.com, peoplefinders.com. intelius.com and theredx.com.

2. Don’t ignore print. While online is popular, many people still like print, especially seniors. Silicon Valley has many senior residents. Advertise in the newspapers, send out Just Listed and Just Sold cards. Follow these up with a phone call or door knocking.

3. Tap your sphere of influence – friends, family, former co-workers.

4. Tap into your database of referrals and past clients.

5. Door knock in neighborhoods where a home has just sold, or send out “missed opportunity” mailings. It may interest neighbors to know that the house on their street sold at a good price.

6. Get with technology. Text a short video or a pre-listing presentation.

7. Use social media and post on Facebook.

8. Invite the neighbors to your open houses.

9. Farm around your successes.

10. Do the basics.

“All the basics still work,” said Yamaguchi. “You need to be consistent and show up.”

Yamaguchi said her top farmers do everything consistently, from sending out mailers, advertising in the newspapers, maintaining a strong internet presence, door knocking, to holding open houses every weekend.

“I’m a firm believer in open houses because they are a great way to get buyers and sellers,” said Yamaguchi.

In closing, Yamaguchi shared this quote from Nelson Mandela: “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

“If you are fearful, you are not going to get anywhere. If you follow your hopes you’ll be successful,” said Yamaguchi.

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