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SILVAR is excited to announce a new benefit for all members! You recently received emails from the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) about REALTOR® Secure Transaction, a new one-stop transaction dashboard available on Wednesday that will give you access to your Transactions, zipForm Edition account and more, including the addition of Glide on January 14, 2021. Glide is a platform for eSignatures, collaboration resource, and compliance tools needed for your real estate transactions.

We are happy to inform you that SILVAR has also partnered with Glide to provide you with a faster, simpler, and safer transaction platform designed to provide a modern experience for you and your clients.

As a member of C.A.R., you will receive a basic set of Glide features, which you can see HERE. SILVAR is providing you with additional features to maximize the value of your membership. These additional benefits include:

  • The addition of the PRDS form library available starting mid-January
  • The ability to fill all forms in Glide, eliminating the need to switch platforms
  • Complete PEAD-Vs and create transactions via MLS

Again, the Glide platform will give you access to eSignatures, collaboration resources, and compliance tools needed for your real estate transactions. Over the past three years, Glide has been used by over 40,000 agents in California to complete disclosures, AVIDs, and PEAD-Vs. We hope you also enjoy these new additional member benefits, and we are here to support you during your transition to using this new tool.

Silicon Valley REALTORS® can access their Glide benefit and learn more about Glide HERE.

* PRDS forms will remain available on the Instanet platform (in addition to Glide and Transactions, zipForm edition), but please note the Authentisign/DocBox benefit is ending January 1, 2021.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed real estate transactions for some people, housing markets in many areas of the country are showing a strength and resiliency unimagined earlier this spring. It is critical to understand the pandemic’s impact on real estate, from simply touring a home to the ability to close transactions.

As the situation continues to evolve, the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® encourages buyers and sellers to follow CDC guidelines to protect their health and safety. Below are some important tips on buying and selling a home during the pandemic from houselogic.com:

What Buyers Need to Know:
Home tours look a little different
–Where in-person showings are offered, potential buyers can expect quicker tours and asked to take extra precautions, such as removing shoes, using hand sanitizer, and refraining from touching items in the home. Many REALTORS® also are guiding buyers through virtual home tours.

Interest rates are low –Interest rates remain at all-time lows and home prices are rising or holding steady. As more people file for unemployment, however, mortgage lenders have tightened lending standards. Potential buyers can prepare for homeownership by understanding their budget, building a good credit history, and getting prequalified for a mortgage. Some lenders allow borrowers to lock in interest rates for limited time periods.

Don’t expect a discount –Home prices in Silicon Valley are holding steady, with majority of prices higher from one year ago, according to local multiple listing service MLSListings. The median sales price of cities in the county are exhibiting double-digit percentage increases year-over-year. Days on market for most cities are down to the single digits, a sign that homes are selling quickly. The sales-to-price ration averages 102 percent.

Expect delays –Those terminating a lease should leave some wiggle room, even an extra month or two, between moving out of a rental and into a new home in case of an unexpected delay. Hiring moving crews may prove challenging, so buyers should give movers as much notice as possible ahead of their scheduled move.

What Sellers Need to Know:
Use tech tools to help market and show your home
– For sellers uncomfortable with in-person showings, many digital tools are available to help them continue marketing and showing their home. A REALTOR® can help coordinate three-dimensional interactive property scans, virtual tours (either pre-recorded or live), on-demand open houses, and virtual staging to showcase their property. If sellers receive an offer on their home, their REALTOR® has the ability to present it to them virtually.

Take steps to protect yourself – “Sight unseen” purchases are not a new phenomenon, but this pandemic has certainly increased their prevalence. Sellers may want to include language in the purchase agreement that ensures buyers acknowledge they are responsible for personal verification, walkthroughs, and professional inspections to confirm that the property meets their needs.

Buyers are still searching – It continues to be a competitive market due to the limited supply of homes for sale. As potential buyers increasingly browse homes online, having attractive and accurate photos and videos is even more important. Sellers can use this extra time at home to make updates around their home and take fresh pictures of those improvements.

For more information and resources on buying or selling a home, visit www.houselogic.com.

The National Association of  REALTORS® (NAR) Board of Directors today strengthened REALTORS®’ commitment to upholding fair housing ideals by approving a series of recommendations from NAR’s Professional Standards Committee that extend the application of Article 10 of the Code of Ethics to discriminatory speech and conduct outside of members’ real estate practices.

Article 10 prohibits REALTORS® from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity in the provision of professional services and in employment practices. The Board approved a new Standard of Practice under the Article, 10-5, that states, “REALTORS® must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs” against members of those protected classes.

The Board also approved a change to professional standards policy, expanding the Code of Ethics’ applicability to all of a REALTOR®’s activities, and added guidance to the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual to help professional standards hearing panels apply the new standard.

Finally, Directors approved a revision to the NAR Bylaws, expanding the definition of “public trust” to include all discrimination against the protected classes under Article 10 along with all fraud. All REALTOR® Associations are required to share with the state real estate licensing authority final ethics decisions holding REALTORS® in violation of the Code of Ethics in instances involving real estate-related activities and transactions where there is reason to believe the public trust may have been violated.

These changes are effective immediately, though the changes cannot be applied to speech or conduct that occurred before today. NAR has produced training and resource materials to assist leaders with understanding and implementing the changes and will be rolling those out in the coming weeks.

READ MORE HERE, INCLUDING FAQs

Bay Area residents already beleaguered by the coronavirus pandemic are still facing wildfires that continue to erupt around the region. The heavy smoke from the fires continues to endanger the health of residents.

Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), called on residents to take steps to protect themselves from the wildfire smoke. “Our hearts go out to our brave firefighters and the victims of the fires across the state. Breathing the unhealthy air from the fires is dangerous, especially for children whose lungs are still developing, and for those who have heart or lung diseases or asthma and other high health risks.”

SILVAR shares the following tips from various agencies, including the Center for Disease Control and Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency, to protect families from wildfire smoke.

Pay attention to air quality alerts. Stay informed by visiting http://www.sparetheair.org. Sign up for Spare the Air Text Alerts on the website.

Stay indoors with windows and doors closed. Now is not the time to do outdoor activities, like mowing, trimming bushes, or running and other strenuous activities.

Protect yourself from smoke. If you need to be outside, use a N95 mask or greater that fits snugly on your face. N95 masks are precious protective equipment for frontliners treating coronavirus patients, so to conserve their use, please heed advice to stay indoors.

Run the air conditioner. Keep your air conditioner’s fresh air intake closed and make sure your air filter is clean. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.

Do not add to indoor or outdoor air pollution. Do not burn candles or use gas or propane. Do not fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum. It is illegal to use fireplaces, woodstoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices during a Spare the Air Alert.

Reduce smoke in your vehicle. When on the road,close your car windows and vents. Run the air conditioner in recirculate mode.

Conserve on energy. To prevent service interruptions, reduce your energy usage, including use of major appliances during peak hours of 3-10 p.m. Keep air conditioning at 78 F degrees and turn off all unnecessary lights.

June is National Homeownership Month, a time to recognize the value of homeownership. Owning a home is more than an address. When you invest in homeownership: you build financial stability, gain the freedom to create a home that fits your lifestyle, and play a role in strengthening your community.

Since Americans have been forced to shelter in their place of residence due to the coronavirus pandemic, the home has come out on top. Families are discovering their home and improvements they can make. Homeownership has mattered even more to prospective buyers.

“The home is now not just a place to live, but also a place to work,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) and a REALTOR® with Sereno Group. “With more companies allowing their employees to work remotely, surveys show a growing trend in buyer preferences to expand their home search farther from the city to places with more open space and for larger homes with a dedicated space for a home office.”

The social benefits of homeownership are many. Homeowners move far less frequently than renters, making it easier to build community networks and support systems. This results in a higher membership in voluntary organizations, greater social interaction in their communities, better school performance by children living in owned homes, a higher rate of high school graduation and higher earning, and better physical, psychological and emotional health outcomes.

The pandemic has caused a drop in home sales, but it has not brought transactions to an absolute halt. In fact, market activity has grown in the past month as REALTORS® embrace technology to help their clients achieve their dream of homeownership. Since traditional open houses are banned, SILVAR REALTORS® like Mary Jo McCarthy are holding open houses virtually.

McCarthy, a REALTOR® with Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, recently told SILVAR members, “It’s the path that we’re in, so I felt I have to learn it. I’m in the weeds right now and just figuring out how to navigate, but it shows my clients that I’m moving ahead with technology.”

In-person showings are allowed now, but with only three persons – two from the same household and the agent. Health and safety restrictions must be followed. Mitra Lahidji, a REALTOR® with Compass, described the process. “We kept a 6-foot distance from each other, we had face masks and gloves. I gave booties to my clients, two persons only, and then wiped the areas we touched.”

“We are so fortunate technology has allowed us to be in touch ‘face to face’ with our clients,” said Groth. “For now, the best value we can give our clients is to know our marketplace so every buyer who wants to achieve their dream of homeownership can, and to also be a voice of calm and assurance when they are feeling overwhelmed with all that is happening around us.”

The National Association of REALTORS® is celebrating the new era of homeownership and recognizing the people, policies, and programs that are #CreatingHome now and into the future. Visit https://homeownershipmatters.realtor/homeownership-month-2020/ for homeowner stories and expert advice.

There is a bright spot to the coronavirus pandemic, and that is the rise in adoption and foster applications in animal rescue and shelter facilities. In fact, some shelters have happily announced they are empty, while others like the Silicon Valley Humane Society, have announced due to overwhelming adoption demand, they have temporarily paused their adoption appointment sign-up for dogs and are only taking adoption appointments for those interested in meeting cats, rabbits, and pocket pets and even these appointments are filling up quickly.

“In this unprecedented time of shelter-in-place and social distancing, many individuals and families long for a little companionship,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “If you were planning to adopt a pet before the coronavirus pandemic, now could be a great time to take that step. More time at home means more time to bond with your new pet and work with them on training.”

According to the National Association of REALTORS® “2020 Animal House: Pets in the Home Buying and Selling Process” report, 66 percent of U.S. households currently have a pet or plan to get one in the future, proving that pets and their effects on a home, must be considered for a majority of households. Additionally, 43 percent of households would be willing to move to better accommodate their pet(s), demonstrating that this is a priority among consumers. A small percentage, one percent, of recent homebuyers said they were prompted to make their purchase by the desire for a better home for their pet(s). When searching for a new home, 18 percent of recent homebuyers said it was very important that their new neighborhood is convenient to a vet and/or outdoor space for their pet(s).

Within the past year, a median of 38 percent of REALTORS®’ clients have owned a pet, companion animal, or service animal; and 18 percent of REALTORS® have represented clients that have moved solely for their animal. When finding a home for their clients, the most important feature for REALTORS®’ clients in terms of their animals’ situation is a fenced yard. This was followed by a large enough home for the household and pet, and flooring.

Pets also come into play when REALTORS® work with sellers. The most common pet-related advice REALTORS® give their seller clients is take the animal(s) out of the home during showings and replace anything damaged by the pet(s). Eighty percent of Realtors recommend that their clients remove pets during showings when selling their home.

Groth cautions families not to adopt a pet just because they are home during the coronavirus pandemic. “The pandemic and our shelter-in-place orders won’t last forever,” said Groth. “Before you adopt a pet, consider how much time you will have to care for a dog, now and post-pandemic, is your job secure enough to afford pet-related expenses, does your current place of residence have space for a pet or, if you’re renting, does your landlord allow pets? Will you have the time and energy to commit to training your dog? These are important questions to consider.”

The National Association of REALTORS® MLS Policy Statement 8, also known as the MLS Clear Cooperation Policy, takes effect for all MLSs beginning today, May 1. NAR’s Board of Directors adopted the policy last November.

The new NAR policy requires listing brokers who are participants in an MLS to submit their listing to the MLS within one business day of marketing the property to the public. Agents may promote a listing only within their brokerage – not with others on the MLS or outside of the brokerage.

The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reviewed and adopted the policy with more details to its model rules for CA MLS, and on April 15, the MLSListings Board of Directors adopted the C.A.R. model rule changes. The C.A.R. SELM form has been modified to refer to the policy.

Within the MLSListings service area, the Clear Cooperation Policy applies to one to four-unit residential property and vacant residential lots. It does not apply to commercial listings and new construction of five plus units.

Brokers/agents can still take an exclusive listing, but can only promote or advertise the listing within their brokerage. If advertised to the public or to an outside agent, the listing must be added to the MLS within one business day as an Active listing.

Public marketing or advertising includes, but is not limited to conveying or displaying any information about the property or its availability for sale through or on any windows, signs, public facing websites, social media, brokerage or franchise operated websites (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (ex: email, text or phone blasts, social media messaging), multi-brokerage or franchise listing sharing networks, flyers or written material or on any applications available to the public or through conducting an open house.

This rule only applies to “excluded” or “exclusive” or “waivered” listings. Listings entered as Coming Soon on the MLS may only be advertised as Coming Soon off the MLS.

For the next month, MLSListings will be educating brokers and agents about the new rules. MLSListings is urging agents to communicate with their broker about the new policy. Brokers, in turn, need to counsel their agents. Agents need to counsel their sellers about what it means to have an “exclusive” listing.

If caught violating the rule, an agent must enter the listing as Active. Agents in violation will receive courtesy notices for violations with a copy sent to their broker or office manager. The fine for a violation is $500 and escalates until the property is listed or the NAR maximum of $15,000 is reached. Many MLSs are imposing fines upwards of $5,000.

Visit MLSListings Clear Cooperation Resource Page

View MLSListings’ video on Clear Cooperation Implementation

California Governor Gavin Newsom has extended the state stay-at-home order through the end of May and has California’s Pandemic Roadmap to safely re-open all businesses and institutions stages. Meanwhile, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, along with the four other Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, have announced they will ease some of their Shelter-in-Place (SIP) restrictions effective Monday, May 4. With regard to the practice of real estate, the Santa Clara County Public Health Order states (SILVAR has confirmed that the same applies to San Mateo County):

“Service providers that enable real estate transactions (including rentals, leases, and home sales), including, but not limited to, real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, and title companies, provided that appointments and other real estate viewings must only occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit (except that in-person visits are not allowed when an occupant is present in a residence);

Previously, private showings and walk-throughs were not allowed when an occupant was living in the residence. This mirrors prior direction for limited photography/videography, inspections, and necessary work to close a transaction, while generally limiting it to no more than three people at a property at one time.

The following guidance for showings of properties continue:

  • No open houses.
  • Virtual showings are highly encouraged. If a virtual viewing is not feasible, then an in-person viewing of the property may be done by appointment only.
  • During the in-person showing of the property, all social distancing protocols must be practiced, and protective measures, such as the wearing of gloves, cloth face coverings, and not touching of surfaces and maintaining a distance of six feet between each other must be followed.

For more information on this announcement, visit the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® website at http://www.silvar.org.

Dear fellow REALTORS® and SILVAR members,

As I write this from my home office, I realize some of what I say could be old news by the time this is published, but I will press on.

As you know, Real Estate has been deemed an essential business during the COVID-19 crisis.  The reaction to this has been mixed. Initially, REALTORS® felt this was a good thing, but it has caused confusion since we live in an area that is under the stricter rules mandated by the various County Health Departments.

The California Association of REALTORS® has been criticized for putting out conflicting information and guidelines, but it has been very clear, as has SILVAR, that our local rules are different, and we must adhere to them. No Open Houses … residential viewings must only occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit. In person visits are not allowed when the occupant is still residing in the residence.

Doesn’t that seem extreme, you say. Let’s consider what the ordinance says: The intent of this Order is to ensure that the maximum number of people shelter in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible to slow the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the impact on delivery of critical healthcare services to those in need.

When assessing if what your are doing for you and/or your clients, the above isn’t just a guideline; it is the law. Yes, transactions are being closed, movers are still moving (based on guidelines that allow this), but it is our responsibility as REALTORS® to be an example of following our Code of Ethics Preamble for “the preservation of a healthful environment.”

Since COVID-19 and its impact on us, I think it’s safe to say we all agree on many things – this is unchartered territory, we miss our colleagues and face-to-face interaction, we have a heightened level of anxiety for the future. We can adapt to new situations quicker than we may have though – we can spend more time with family, we can appreciate the beauty of where we live, and there are many other things we can add to the list. 

Like many, if not all of you, virtual meetings have become the norm. For me, today was another example of seeing friendly faces on my computer screen that I would normally be sitting in a room with and having a discussion that resulted in the same outcome – discussion, review, discussion and eventually a decision. As efficient as that may have been, I missed being together. That has been the reality for many over the past several weeks. And it will continue until our Shelter in Place order is lifted.

When we have come out on the other side of this crisis, there are many thoughts we will have in hindsight. One that I heard recently is the question, “Did I do enough?” If we keep that in perspective, we can’t help but make this crisis and adversity a time to grow. Be safe, stay healthy and keep pressing on.

Mary Kay Groth
2020 Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) President

The coronavirus is directly impacting families in the Bay Area as state and county have ordered residents to stay home, except those who must provide essential services. Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) President Mary Kay Groth offers these tips for families and Realtors coping with the new normal in their lives.

Don’t panic
“Although the news is distressing, we should do our best not to panic,” says Groth. “We should stay informed with the latest news and be smart about taking precautions to prevent the virus from coming into our home and infecting our family.”

The Stay in Place directive is a good thing, says Groth. “It definitely means pausing our daily activities, but it is the right thing to do. Social distancing is one of the best tools to minimize exposure to and spread of the virus.”

Stay connected
Families can still connect with friends and relatives. “Staying home does not mean cutting ties with everyone. Thankfully, technology allows us to connect in many different ways. In addition to phone calls, text messages, emails, connect through FaceTime, Zoom, Messenger and other apps,” suggests Groth.

With schools closed, Groth encourages parents to talk to their children about the COVID-19 virus. “Young children may not understand what is happening. Parents need to assure them that all will be well and that staying home keeps them safe while doctors fight the virus,” says Groth. “We need to look at the situation positively, as an experience that can bring you and your children closer together.”

Additionally, multi-generation families should try to maintain as much distance as possible in order to keep safe. Designate a special room for older family members, especially grandparents, if you can, so they’ll have their own space, where they can feel safe and comfortable.

Maintain good hygiene habits
Even if you are home, continue to wash your hands and sanitize all points of contact, like counters, tables and doorknobs. Health care providers stress the most important thing you can do is wash your hands thoroughly for at least for 20 seconds.

Do home maintenance work
Take care of home maintenance tasks you have put off, like replace a light bulb, fix a leaky faucet, clean the garage, file papers, or trim bushes and plants.

Exercise
If you get cabin fever, walk around your neighborhood, but keep your distance from others by staying six feet away from other individuals.

REALTORS® can still work
Even if client-facing activities are at a pause now, work need not stop for REALTORS®, says Groth. “REALTORS® can organize their data base and stay in touch with their clients by email, text messages and phone calls. Check in with your older clients, see how they are doing. Many would welcome a friendly phone call from you.”

Groth urges REALTORS® to continue learning. “Check MLSListings’ on-demand videos and webinar classes. This is also a good time to take the California Association of REALTORS® 45-hour online continuing education courses for license renewal, which is a free member benefit.”

“The market was solid before this outbreak, we will get through this and families will be stronger after we weather this crisis together,” said Groth.

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