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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.

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For over 100 years Congress has incentivized homeownership through the mortgage interest deduction and by protecting taxpayers from double taxation. The proposals put forward by both Houses of Congress would roll back these two cornerstones of the tax code and would, instead, become a tax increase for middle-class homeowners.

The mortgage interest deduction and the state and local tax deduction are incentives that are critical for a strong housing market that creates jobs and builds stable communities. Keeping the MID, but eliminating or limiting deductions for state and local taxes, including property taxes, nullifies the incentive to purchase a home, would bring down home values and hurt the American dream of homeownership,

Congress needs to protect taxpayers from double taxation by maintaining the deduction for state and local taxes, including property taxes. Not allowing the average homeowner in California to deduct their property, state and local taxes would effectively raise their taxes and allow the federal government to tax families on money already paid to the state and local governments!

If you haven’t contacted your member of Congress, please TAKE ACTION NOW

The 25 top brokers around the country, including Silicon Valley, have done exactly that in their Letter to the House Leadership yesterday.

TAKE ACTION HERE and tell Congress – Do not raise taxes on middle class homeowners in order to cut taxes for corporations!

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The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is asking members for help in urging members of Congress to reform the tax code AND protect middle class homeowners.

The current tax reform proposal from Washington, D.C. will become a tax increase for middle class homeowners because the plan threatens homeownership tax incentives, like the mortgage interest deduction and the state and local property tax deduction. These incentives are critical for a strong housing market that creates jobs and builds stable communities. Home-owning families with incomes from $50,000 to $200,000 could face average tax hikes of $815 in the year after enactment.

Take action now and tell Congress – Do not raise taxes on middle class homeowners in order to cut taxes for corporations!

TAKE ACTION HERE

2017-NAR-Global-Platinum

For the fifth straight year, the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) Global Business Council (GBC) has earned the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Platinum Award for Global Achievement. The platinum award is the highest distinction presented by NAR to an association for having demonstrated through its global business council exceptional commitment to building member awareness of global and multicultural business opportunities in their local markets.

SILVAR is the only association in Northern California to achieve platinum council status since the program’s inception in 2011. NAR stated SILVAR’s global council “has shown the highest level of service to its global members by consistently providing them with the tools they need to handle international real estate in addition to connecting your council to the global community in your area.”

Under the leadership of 2017 Global Business Council chair Tess Crescini, a broker with Heritage Homes & Investments, SILVAR GBC this year presented two programs on immigration and types of visas for foreign buyers and investors, the “Learning from Leaders” program in partnership with Silicon Valley YPN, and the “Learn to be a Leader” workshop. Both leadership programs were made possible in part by a NAR Diversity Initiative grant.

The GBC helped promote NAR’s At Home with Diversity certification course and SILVAR’s sixth Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Institute. The GBC also coordinated a visit to SILVAR by young professionals from Secovi, a Brazilian real estate organization. The trade mission included engineers, real estate attorneys, developers, property managers, economists and real estate agents.

SILVAR partners with other real estate associations throughout the year to promote awareness and education in global real estate. As NAR Ambassador Association to the Philippines, SILVAR partners with the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations Inc., the largest real estate umbrella organization in that country. SILVAR member and past GBC chair Jennifer Tasto is NAR’s President Liaison to the Philippines.

SILVAR GBC is one of a select few Platinum Councils in the country in 2017. Reaching the Platinum award level places SILVAR in the top 11 percent of councils operating nationwide. The prestigious award will be presented at the Nov. 3-6 NAR Conference & Expo in Chicago.

 

REALTORSafety2011

REALTORS® should review safety tips because they face more on-the-job risks than many other business professionals. REALTORS® are at risk when they show homes to strangers or meet them at open houses, and even when they put themselves out on the internet and on social media. Attackers look for unsuspecting, vulnerable targets, so prevention is the best self-defense. If you act like a victim, you could be one.

Below are general safety tips provided by Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® Past President Karen Trolan, who teaches the safety and self-defense course to SILVAR REALTORS® every year:

  1. Be aware that social media is a tool used by criminals to track their prey as agents leave a web trail on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Don’t post where you will be, especially if you will be hosting an open house alone.
  2. Be Aware; notice anything out of place or unusual. Be suspect of everyone. Don’t let your guard down.
  3. Walk erect and proud to deter criminals. Don’t act like a victim; show strength.
  4. Always have your cell phone where it is easily accessible. Pre-program emergency numbers into speed dial, including 911.
  5. When confronted by an assailant, don’t engage! Stay calm and think! Use your sales skills to talk them out of it and let you go.
  6. Use the Military 5-point Contingency Plan. Let people know: – WHERE you are going. – WHO you will be meeting. – WHEN you will be back. – WHAT to do if you don’t return. – The ACTION to take if they cannot contact you.
  7. Always meet a client for the first time in the office or a public place.
  8. Leave your property tour itinerary with the office or colleague/family, with the addresses of the properties you plan to show.
  9. When visiting a property with a client you don’t know, take separate cars. If they make you feel uneasy, bring along a buddy.
  10. When showing a home, do not venture into confined or closed-in areas where you might get trapped, like basements, bathrooms, or walk-in closets. Know where the exits are. Always position yourself between your clients and a safe exit.
  11. At the home, look around the room for items that you could use as a weapon, in case of emergency. Be aware that an assailant will try to take the weapon away from you.
  12. If you are in a bad situation and can’t call for help, press call (preset) and leave the line open so the person on the other line can hear and get help for you. You can also get a “panic alert” or security alarm system for your phone.
  13. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, escape the situation immediately.
  14. When confronted by an assailant, the best thing you can do is scream as loud as you can and run!!! Get away from the situation.

When you’re in a confrontation, you only have a few seconds and a few moves to try. Before an attacker has gained control of you, you must do everything you can to inflict injury so you can get away. Be smart by being aware and prepared!

 

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is calling on members to donate funds to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation to support storm victims in Texas. Martin Edwards, president of the NAR foundation board, said, “Harvey may require our REALTOR® family’s largest effort since Hurricane Katrina—or even 9/11. Hopefully, REALTORS® across America will heed the call to donate, as on-the-ground membership in Texas will be stretched beyond belief.”

NAR is asking members to join in this effort with a personal donation to the Foundation. You can do so in less than one minute using your credit card on NAR’s secure online form. Or you can send a check payable to RRF to REALTORS® Relief Foundation, 430 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Write “RRF Contribution” in the memo line.

Please send your donation today so your contribution can reach people who need it now Together, as REALTORS®, let’s continue to make a difference.

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The National Association of REALTORS® is asking all REALTORS® to urge their Members of Congress to support the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Without congressional action, the NFIP is set to expire on September 30.

Please respond to NAR’s Call for Action and urge your member of Congress to pass “The 21st Century Flood Reform Act” H.R. 2874 as soon as possible. Persuading Congress to extend this program is very important to the industry, its members and their clients. If the NFIP lapses, more than 40,000 real estate transactions per month will be in jeopardy.

H.R. 2874 contains numerous provisions of critical importance to consumers and REALTORS®:

  • Reauthorizes NFIP for a full five years, avoiding the uncertainty of short term extensions and potential shutdowns
  • Caps NFIP rates at $10,000 per year for property owners
  • Directs FEMA to develop more granular rate tables, to ensure fewer properties are over charged by NFIP
  • Sets aside $1 billion for flood mitigation assistance grants
  • Increases access to private market flood insurance

TAKE ACTION HERE

Represent Investors and Become One Yourself

Real Estate Investing is a new course that will teach REALTORS® how to work with investors as they set their goals, plan, evaluate, and acquire properties, as well as manage them. REALTORS® will also learn how to become real estate investors themselves.

One of the priorities of National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President Bill Brown is to help REALTORS® prepare for retirement by providing education on becoming a real estate investor, not just helping others invest in real estate. While REALTORS® are busy helping homebuyers achieve their dream of homeownership, they themselves lack retirement assets. “Too many REALTORS® don’t have the assets to retire,” according to Brown said at the 2016 Leadership Summit in Chicago. Brown wants members to make sure they can take care of themselves when they retire.

Real Estate Investing will be offered at SILVAR on Tuesday, September 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with NAR 2012 and 2009 Instructor of the Year David Wyant. SILVAR is co-sponsoring this course with the West San Gabriel Valley Association of REALTORS®. Cost is $110 for members and $125 for non-members. Register at ims.silvar.org, or call SILVAR at (408) 200-0100.

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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.

 

 

AHWD

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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