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The National Association of REALTORS® is calling on Congress to act now to reform and extend the National Flood Insurance Program, which is set to expire on July 31. Allowing the deadline to lapse would deny necessary insurance coverage to homeowners and buyers in more than 20,000 communities nationwide.

The NFIP provides up to $350,000 of flood insurance coverage for federally-backed mortgage in 22,000 communities nationwide. It also provides an alternative to taxpayer-funded disaster assistance. While there is a growing market for private flood insurance, for many, the NFIP continues to be the primary source of asset protection against flooding, the most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S.

In November last year, the House of Representatives passed the NAR-supported 21st Century Flood Reform Act, which contains numerous important provisions for consumers. The Act reauthorizes the NFIP for a full five years, avoiding the uncertainty of short-term extensions and potential shutdowns and provides guidelines for creating better flood maps for the program. It limits maximum flood insurance premiums to $10,000 per year for residential properties, and directs FEMA to develop more granular rate tables to ensure fewer properties are overcharged by the NFIP. The bill sets aside $1 billion for flood mitigation assistance grants and increases access to private market flood insurance, which often offers better coverage at lower cost. The bill also addresses issues with repeatedly flooding properties that account for 2 percent of NFIP policies and 25 percent of claim payments over the history of the program.

The bill is now in the Senate. NAR is urging the Senate to act quickly. The last time the NFIP expired, approximately 1,400 home closings were interrupted each day until the program was reinstated. In all, the program has lapsed on a number of separate occasions for two months combined with a total of 23 separate short-term extensions.

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Earlier this week, the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) sent out a Red Alert to members about reaching out to their Assembly members and urging them to oppose AB 2364. C.A.R. is pleased to announce that AB 2364 FAILED last night on Assembly Floor. The bill only secured 25 YES votes, with 34 voting NO and the remainder Not Voting. All members of the Assembly were present, so those not voting did so intentionally.

C.A.R OPPOSES AB 2364 (Bloom and Chiu), which deters property owners from returning to the rental housing business for 10 years. The passage of AB 2364 would have significantly weakened the Ellis Act by discouraging new rental housing investment and would have ultimately made the state’s housing crisis even worse.

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REALTORS® discuss issues with Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

 

The leadership of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) joined more than 9,000 REALTORS® and guests from across the country in the nation’s capital this week for the 2018 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo to advance policy initiatives that strengthen the ability of Americans to buy, invest, own and sell real estate.

On their agendas this year were visits with members of Congress, regulatory agency officials and top industry leaders; attending some of the nearly 100 available conference sessions on topics ranging from policy to technology; and focusing on the yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.

REALTORS® are advocating support for several important legislative initiatives, including strong net neutrality protections to ensure the internet is open and competitive for consumers and businesses; renewing and strengthening the long-term viability of the National Flood Insurance Program; indexing homeownership tax incentives for future inflation and permanently extending the tax exclusion on mortgage debt forgiveness; and adopting sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in the Fair Housing Act.

NAR is also urging Congress to adopt sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in the Fair Housing Act. As members of NAR, REALTORS® subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics, which includes a commitment to provide equal professional services regardless of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, and as of 2009, sexual orientation, and since 2014, gender identity.

SILVAR leadership met with U.S. Representatives Anna Eshoo, who represents California’s 18th Congressional District, Jackie Speier, who represents the state’s 14th Congressional District and Ro Khanna, who represents District 17. Representing SILVAR at the Hill meetings were SILVAR President Bill Moody, President-elect Alan Barbic, NAR Directors Leannah Hunt and Jim Hamilton, Federal Political Coordinator of Congresswoman Eshoo Carole Feldstein, Executive Officer Paul Cardus and Government Affairs Director Ryan Carrigan. Also at the meetings was Board Director Joanne Fraser.
 

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SILVAR members get ready to meet their legislators.

 

In light of California’s ongoing housing availability/affordability and supply crisis, this year on Legislative Day, in addition to the “hot issues,” the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) asked REALTORS® to ask their legislators what they propose to do to increase the housing supply in California

C.A.R. senior vice president and chief lobbyist Alex Creel said home prices are too high because of the limited supply of homes and that’s because government at the state and local level is constraining supply and this has led to laws on rent control and exclusionary zoning. The state’s homeownership is among the lowest in the nation. Average rents in California cost 50 percent higher than the rest of the country.

“The solution to the housing affordability crisis is not price control. It is dealing with supply and the constraints that limit supply,” said Creel.

Creel said the legislature can help by streamlining the permitting process, fixing CEQA, requiring local government to meet their housing requirements, fund affordable housing and defeat bills that discourage construction of rental housing.

Thus, after the joint luncheon, SILVAR members met with Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, and Assembly members Evan Low and Marc Berman and discussed the housing issues and asked them to take C.A.R.’s position on the following bills:

AB 1979 (Bonta/Steinworth) – Homeownership Savings Accounts – SUPPORT
This bill allows homebuyers to establish a Homeownership Savings Account (HSA) to purchase a home without paying tax on the interest earned on funds in that account; permits taxpayers to exclude from gross income earned on money contributed to a HSA up to 20 percent of the median home price as determine by the Department of Housing and Community Development; and permits contributions to HSA from relatives and others, as well. This would help families struggling for a down payment on a home, benefiting 3.5 million families.

SB 1469 (Skinner) – Accessory Dwelling Units – SUPPORT
Despite recent changes to state law making it easier to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs), many local governments are using overly restrictive ordinances and other loopholes to deny their development. This bill would streamline the approval process for building ADUs by prohibiting the imposition of impact fees, connection fees and other fees levied by local entities on construction of ADUs and would only permit local government to deny construction if it adversely impacts fire and life safety. It also states if the local government fails to act on the application within 60 days, the project would be approved.

AB 2618 (Bonta) – Specialty Licensing – OPPOSE
C.A.R. opposes this bill because it requires real estate licensees to complete a mandatory property management certification program to perform property management services that they are already licensed to provide. It also requires private owners to obtain this certification even if they use a licensee to manage their property. The measure is unnecessary, duplicates existing law, and provides no additional consumer protections. There is no data to support the need for additional certification or training.

READ MORE HERE

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The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) 7th Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Institute took place last week with 15 students registered, including SILVAR CIPS designees who took some courses for audit. REALTORS® enrolled came from around the San Francisco Bay Area and as far as Sacramento.

Interestingly enough, among the full-time REALTORS® registered, only one student was born in the U.S. The other students were born in China, Taiwan, India, and the Philippines. The composition of this year’s class says everything about the cultural diversity in Silicon Valley, according to CIPS instructor David Wyant.

This was the seventh time Wyant and his wife and assistant Patsy, returned to Silicon Valley to teach the CIPS Institute at SILVAR. The Wyants travel all over the world teaching the global real estate courses and are able to share valuable insights with their students. Wyant was named International Instructor of the Year at the National Association of REALTORS® Conference and Expo in Chicago last November. He has received the same award twice before, in 2012 and 2009.

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

Wyant said global real estate opportunities are everywhere. People move to Silicon Valley from other countries and foreign-born individuals residing here move to new markets. People here may look to invest in property overseas.

“No matter which audience you cater to, the CIPS designation will provide you with the knowledge and tools to expand your business globally,” said Wyant.

Thank you to this year’s CIPS Sponsors of the Day: Darrell Monda with TourFactory; Kyle Chuang with Farmers’ Insurance; Anita Rodal, international liaison with AFEX (Associated Foreign Exchange) and president of SBPI Services, Inc.; and Kim Kim P Nguyen and Suzette Reboton, premier mortgage consultant and vice president and senior branch manager of HSBC Bank USA, Cupertino.

SEE PHOTOS HERE

 

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Cupertino-Sunnyvale District Chair Jeff Bell being interviewed by Maureen Naylor, reporter for KTVU Channel 2 News, at a home for sale in Mountain View

 

Jeff Bell, board director and 2010 president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, was featured in KTVU news on Tuesday, in a story about how the low inventory and rising home prices are impacting even high paid tech workers in the region.

As of January 2018, Bell indicated the median sales price of a single-family home in Santa Clara County was $1,170,000, up 26 percent from a year ago. In Mountain View, where he has a listing, the median is $2,400,000, up 51 percent from last year.

According to MLSListings Inc., homes in Santa Clara County are being scooped up at a rapid pace, staying on the market between six to eight days. One home located in the Mountain View Whisman School District was only on the market a mere two days. Currently there are only six listings in Mountain View.

Bell said in order to qualify for a home priced at $2.4 million, a buyer would have to have an annual income of $340,000, with no other consumer debt (credit cards, car loans, etc.). With a 20 percent down payment, a buyer’s monthly payment, including principal, interest, insurance and property taxes, would amount to a whopping $12,185.25.

Bell observed while challenging, the cost does not appear to have deterred tech workers. He noted in one day he had 80 groups of potential buyers walk through the Mountain View listing, majority of whom were high-tech workers, many who worked at nearby Google. He said most who were keenly interested in purchasing the home were dual income couples.

“They are the type of buyers who are in the best position to afford such a home in this current hot market,” said Bell.

 

 

 

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Feng Shui Master Y.C. Sun

Gong hei fat choy! Prominent astrologer and feng shui master Y.C. Sun recently shared his forecast for 2018, the Year of the Earth Dog, with members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. This is going to be a year of highs and lows, said Sun.

Protectionism will be on the rise this year, a “classic pullback and comeback story,” said Sun. There will be violent ground movement – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, rebuilding of aging infrastructure like roads, levees, bridges rails, and in line with dry earth, there will be drought, flooding, fire, traffic and accidents.

The year will also be characterized by market volatility, economic and political chaos, but expect a comeback by Labor Day, said Sun. The country’s GDP will rise to 4 percent by year-end, but there will be lots of chaos before that.

Be careful in April, particularly April 5 through May 4. It is going to be a bad and disaster-ridden month because the karma between the month of the Fire Dragon and Year of the Earth Dog will be in big conflict.

The President was born in the Year of the Fire Dog. The fire dog does not get along with the earth dog, so expect him to face a lot of trouble and challenges in health and in politics this year. He will encounter chaotic issues in March, in the second half of April, two weeks in June, and in October.

As for real estate, Sun said business will be good, but will slow down. It will be tough to be a real estate agent because of so much competition due to the housing shortage and low affordability. Dallas, San Antonio, Stockton, Las Vegas, Orlando, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, Charlotte, Tulsa, Nashville, Houston, Tampa will be the top U.S. markets this year. In the Bay Area, top markets are San Jose, South San Francisco, Daly City, San Bruno, Hayward, Concord, Vallejo, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa.

As for feng shui and the home, Sun said good locations are the center (happiness, celebration, always keep the middle of your home clean, free from clutter), southeast (money/fame), south (best energy for writing, studying, research), northwest (tender loving care, family values, promotes romance), southwest (change, travel, relocation). “Bad” locations are the north (disaster, misfortune), northeast (arguments), east (decline of energy, loss of money, robbery), west (sickness).

If your house faces any of these “bad” locations, Sun suggests placing six copper coins under a mat or placing a copper bell by the entrance. You can also add a peace lily. For homes that face east, add a large glass of water or blue decoration. For homes that face northeast, add a red decoration.

The feng shui master’s advice for the Year of the Earth Dog: “Time for meeting real people to get connected, getting in shape, eating healthier food, spending less time on social media/games, learning a new skill, be kind, be proactive, or becoming the barking dogs (that) seldom bite!”

installation awards

Top left to right: 2017 REALTOR® of the Year Chris Isaacson; Affiliate of the Year Darrell Monda; Spirit of SILVAR Leannah Hunt. Bottom left to right: 2017 C.A.R. Region 9 Chair Chris Isaacson; 2017 President Denise Welsh was presented with her own gavel, a thank you for her service; President’s Award Susan Tilling.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® Installation Dinner on Jan. 25, SILVAR 2017 President Denise Welsh and Executive Officer Paul Cardus presented the 2017 Appreciation Awards to recognize certain members for their valuable contributions to the Association last year.

Welsh first thanked her fellow board members and committee chairs for their support last year, and said it was a privilege to serve the membership of SILVAR as president. Recognized for their outstanding contributions were:

2017 REALTOR® of the Year: Chris Isaacson (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage)
Welsh said Chris Isaacson has been a REALTOR® for slightly over a decade and in that time he has achieved so much for the Association in many different roles, from serving on the district council, as 2015 president of SILVAR, a California Association of REALTORS®® (C.A.R.) Region 9 director, 2017 SILVAR Region 9 chair, and National Association of REALTORS®® (NAR) director.

Welsh described Isaacson as a quiet and effective leader. Working on issues ranging from political to financial, Isaacson has shared his vision and expertise with the Association and its members. “Through his strong, calm leadership, and with an unflappable demeanor, he has strengthened and grown our Association,” said Welsh. Isaacson was also recognized for his leadership and excellent work on behalf of SILVAR and members as 2017 SILVAR Region 9 Chair.

2017 Affiliate of the Year: Darrell Monda (TourFactory)
Welsh said Monda, a longtime affiliate of SILVAR, “has proven to be a dedicated workhorse and a great proponent of our Association.” His firm provides essential state-of-the-art services to SILVAR’s REALTOR® members. Welsh recognized Monda’s professional support for all programs across the Association, from tour meetings, to the CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) Institute, to the bocce ball tournament in Los Gatos.

“His generosity of spirit and willingness to roll up his sleeves and help where needed enhances the image of our Association and our REALTOR® and affiliated professional members,” said Welsh.

Spirit of SILVAR: Leannah Hunt (Sereno Group)
Leannah Hunt is a REALTOR® who reflects the Association’s commitment to supporting and contributing to the communities it serves and is one of the leaders in real estate in Silicon Valley. Welsh said Hunt “has worked on the frontlines and behind the scenes for the success of the Association.”

Welsh praised Hunt’s efforts to give back to the community by being active in an array of political and civic causes, serving on numerous boards.

“She is generous with her financial support as she is with her time. She is the REALTOR® face in her community,” said Welsh.

President’s Award: Susan Tilling (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage)
The President’s Award is presented at the discretion of the president to an individual whose service to the Association is worthy of special thanks and recognition. Susan Tilling has devoted many years of her time acting as a representative at C.A.R. and is a C.A.R. Director for Life.

Upon presenting this award to Tilling, Welsh said, “We are often asked why we get involved and volunteer. We are trying to find our ‘why.’ There are people who are involved out of a deep conviction that the time spent, the purpose of the organization, provides enough motivation for them to donate their time to the cause.

Welsh said Tilling “embodies the values and principles that drive so many of us to dig in and get involved with organized real estate, to fight for property rights and the ability of every man to achieve the American Dream. It is our ‘Why.'”

 

 

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SILVAR’s 2018 leadership team.

 

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® 2018 leadership was installed Jan. 25 at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club. California Association of Realtors 2013 president Don Faught administered the oath of office to SILVAR’s 2018 president, Bill Moody, and the 2018 officers and board directors. C.A.R. 2005 president Jim Hamilton served as master of ceremonies.

SILVAR’s 2018 officers include Moody, a REALTOR® with the Referral Realty, Cupertino; Alan Barbic, a REALTOR® with Sereno Group, Los Gatos, president-elect; and Phyllis Carmichael, a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Los Altos, treasurer.

Joining SILVAR’s lead officers are Denise Welsh (Alain Pinel Realtors), past president; Karen Trolan (Alain Pinel Realtors), Region 9 chair; Leannah Hunt (Sereno Group), National Association of Realtors director; district chairs Jasmine Lee (Intero Real Estate Services), Menlo Park-Atherton District; Penelope Huang (Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty), Palo Alto District; David Casas (Intero Real Estate Services), Los Altos-Mountain View District; Jeff Bell (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage), Cupertino-Sunnyvale District; Ryan Nunnally (Keller Williams Bay Area Estates), Los Gatos-Saratoga District; and Mark Burns (Referral Realty), Joanne Fraser (Alain Pinel Realtors), Katherine Frey (Katherine Frey Real Estate), Mary Kay Groth (Sereno Group), Lynn Wilson Roberts (Alain Pinel Realtors), and Mark Wong (Alain Pinel Realtors), directors At-large.

Moody is a native of Silicon Valley and a U.S. veteran, having served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968. He is a graduate of the former Ellwood P. Cubberley High School in Palo Alto and San Jose State. Moody has served as chair of SILVAR’s Cupertino-Sunnyvale District and as a California Association of Realtors Region 9 director.

In his address to members and guests, Moody said he spent 25 years in high tech sales before getting his license 15 years ago. Quoting the late Steve Jobs, Moody said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

READ MORE HERE

As both the House and Senate sharpen their vision for tax reform, REALTORS® want to ensure homeownership is protected throughout the tax reform debate.

“We are watching closely for changes to current law that might leave middle-class homeowners – and homeownership broadly – in a worse place than it is today,” said National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “A near doubling of the standard deduction, combined with the elimination of other deductions, like the state and local tax deduction, can turn the American dream into a nightmare for families, as the rug is pulled out from under them. Simply preserving the mortgage interest deduction in name only isn’t enough to protect homeownership.” Now that both the House and Senate have passed their own versions of The Tax Cut and Jobs Act, a Conference Committee will address the differences between both bills and come up with a final version of a tax reform bill. It could happen anytime next week, as their goal is to vote on the bill by the end of the week.

NAR is asking Congress to support the following provisions for inclusion in the final legislation:
Mortgage Interest Deduction: Retain current law to maintain a total cap of $1 million on primary first and second homes.

Capital Gains Exemption: Retain current law of exempting gains of up to $250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for joint filers for primary residence lived in for two of the past five years of ownership.

State and Local Tax Deductibility: The limitation of deductibility to property taxes should be expanded to include state and local income taxes and the cap should be increased and indexed to inflation These provisions would add needed protection to current and future homeowners and strengthen the ability of qualified American families to purchase a home.

Denise Welsh, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, emphasized it is important to keep homeownership intact for everyone who wishes to purchase a home. “Let’s not let tax reform quash the American dream of homeownership. While the bill reduces taxes on average in every income group, we have grave concerns that with the elimination of the state and local tax deductions and limiting property tax deductions, millions would still see their taxes go up and home values would drop,” said Welsh.

June 2018
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