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Every April, REALTORS® commemorate the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to remind every American that all persons have equal access to housing and that fair housing is not an option; it is the law.

“Homeownership is the largest single contributor to intergenerational wealth for American families, but it has not been accessible to all Americans on equal terms. Fair housing and equity issues are still prevalent in California,” says Brett Caviness, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.  

According to the California Association of REALTORS®, housing affordability for white/non-Hispanic households fell from 38 percent in 2020 to 34 percent in 2021. Seventeen percent of Black and Latino households could afford a median-priced home, down from 19 percent and 20 percent in 2020, respectively.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law three C.A.R.-sponsored bills and two fair housing bills that require implicit bias training for real estate professionals, address the supply and affordability challenges that disparately impact people of color and address appraisal bias.

“A home seller, home seeker, and real estate professional all have rights and responsibilities under the law,” says Caviness.

A home seller or landlord cannot discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. They cannot instruct the licensed broker or salesperson acting as their agent to convey any limitations in the sale or rental because the real estate professional is also bound by law not to discriminate.

Buyers or renters have the right to expect:

  • housing in their price range made available 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.
  • freedom from harassment or intimidation for exercising their fair housing rights.

Under the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, REALTORS® cannot deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® cannot abide by a request from a home seller or landlord to act in a discriminatory manner in a sale, lease or rental.

If you suspect discrimination, you may file a complaint at https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/.

In Silicon Valley, where inventory is at an all-time low and interest rates are rising and competition for home is fierce, many homebuyers feel dejected. Many feel they can never own a home in the region. Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® President Brett Caviness is one to say, “Never say never.”

“It may seem bleak because of the tough competition, but I’ve known first-time homebuyers who have succeeded in purchasing their first home. If that’s your goal, I would never give up trying,” says Caviness.

Below are some tips Caviness provides when searching for a home in this competitive market:

1. Find a REALTOR® you can trust. It is critical that the agent you choose is both skilled and a good fit with your personality.

“Not everybody knows there is a difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent. REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and must abide by a Code of Ethics. They are held to a higher standard of conduct and required to undergo additional training in current business practices, unlike other real estate licensees,” says Caviness. “A local REALTOR® can provide the vital market pulse, network of connections, and expert insight and skills needed not only to craft a compelling offer, but to get it accepted.”

2. Get your ducks in a row. Examine your budget, get your finances in order with adequate funds that are readily accessible. Make sure you have an excellent credit rating and getting pre-approved by a lender so you know how much you can afford.

Pro Tip: “Pre-approval with underwriting goes a step further than getting prequalified or even a standard preapproval because your lender will commit in writing to fund your loan pending a successful appraisal of the home and a few other conditions. This enables you to move quickly and make an offer that is not contingent upon obtaining financing,” explains Caviness.

3. Identify desired neighborhoods and your wants versus needs. Your REALTOR® can help you identify homes that meet your needs but may be in a location you did not yet consider, or have features you were not initially thinking of.

“Accept that no house is ever perfect. Focus on location and the things that are most important to you and let the minor stuff go. Certain wants, such as stainless appliances or hardwood floors, can be added later, but families with children may want to take into account the school district, number of bedrooms, and a decent sized backyard. These things cannot be addressed later,” says Caviness.

4. Be prepared to act quickly. Homes are not staying in the market long, so when a house that is in your budget and checks off many of your needs, be ready to submit an offer quickly, or you could risk missing out on the home altogether.

5. Bid competitively and limit contingencies. In a seller’s market buyers need to put forward their highest offer from the very beginning, or they are likely to lose out on the home.

“Don’t expect a discount. In San Mateo and Santa Clara counties it’s a ‘play to win’ market where buyers are paying over asking,” says Caviness. “With that said, don’t get caught in a buying frenzy either. Just because there is competition doesn’t mean you should just buy anything. After you’ve seen enough homes, you’ll feel comfortable going for the one that feels right.”

Caviness adds in multiple bidding situations it is advisable to limit contingencies and think what could be compelling to offer the seller like a quick close, or a period where they may stay in the home after the sale. “Be flexible and remove unnecessary contingencies. Inspections are necessary, but you may lose the bid negotiating on minor items you can replace or repair later. Now is not the time to be picky.”

Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) 2022 president, Brett Caviness, is one of the youngest REALTORS® to assume a REALTOR® association’s top leadership role. Like many millennials, Caviness, who is a REALTOR® with Compass, is reshaping the industry, so it is more in touch with the digital world; but more than that, he wants SILVAR REALTORS® to benefit from professional development and be a voice for their clients.

As president of SILVAR, Caviness wants to raise professional standards, help agents better serve their clients and community, and focus on homeownership rights. “I want to continue building member engagement through virtual and in person events and classes, and by delivering video content to our members. I want to enrich our REALTORS® community by focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion through strengthening involvement with affiliated organizations, committees, and overall member engagement,” says Caviness. “I also want to focus on recognizing and elevating the service our members are already doing all year and provide unique opportunities for REALTORS® to contribute to our local community and our Realtor community.”

A native of Iowa, Caviness graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a minor in real estate from the University of Northern Iowa. While in college he earned his real estate license and sold a few homes. In 2012, Caviness moved to Palo Alto and as soon as he got his California real estate license, he hit the ground running.

In 2017, at the age 29, Caviness had an individual sales volume of $19.3 million and 16 individual transaction sides. The following year, he was named one of 50 finalists nationwide to REALTOR® Magazine’s 2018 Class of 30 Under 30.

Early into his career, Caviness strived to be a leader in organized real estate. Before becoming 2021 president-elect, he joined SILVAR’s Menlo Park-Atherton District Council and served as the district’s chair and as California Association of REALTORS® Region 9 director in 2015. He joined the Young Professionals Network and taught classes at SILVAR on how agents can use video to market themselves and their listings. In 2016, he received the SILVAR President’s Award for his contributions to the association.

“I like being involved, contributing, being part of something bigger and giving back,” says Caviness.

Real estate is a hard business, says Caviness. He attributes his success to his personal desire and drive to succeed, and the fact that he did not have a safety net to fall back on. He learned the importance of customer service at an early age – delivering newspapers, working at Subway and Dairy Queen, and selling tickets to games in college. When someone asks if he is available, he does not answer “Sure”; he answers, “Absolutely!”

Now, more than ever, Caviness says REALTORS® need to go back to basics, take education courses, know the data, establish a relationship of trust with their clients, and be their voice.

“The clearest path to success is helping others, whether it is over the phone or meeting them in person. We need to make sure our clients know we’re available for them,” says Caviness.

The National Association of REALTORS® kicked-off its first-ever hybrid 2021 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego this week. The conference was attended by thousands of REALTORS® nationwide and over 300 International REALTOR® Members from 43 countries. The event included numerous education sessions, state leadership and economic forums, and global meetings, one of which highlighted SILVAR’s role as a NAR Ambassador Association. The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) was appointed NAR’s Global Ambassador Association to the Philippines in 2013 and has been successful in fostering a relationship with the Chamber of Real Estate & Builders Associations (CREBA) in the Philippines.

(IRMs)At the Global Alliances Advisory Board meeting, Vicky Silvano, NAR Global Ambassador to the Philippines, and Rose Meily, SILVAR public affairs & communications director, delivered a presentation on collaboration between NAR Global Ambassadors and Ambassador Associations, and their partner/cooperating associations in other countries. Silvano, who is a REALTOR® based in Chicago, stressed the importance of communication, collaboration and consistency between the global ambassador and the two associations.

Meily stressed the importance of staying in touch with the global ambassador and CREBA either via email, text or in person. She shared ways SILVAR has successfully partnered with CREBA. These include hosting NAR International REALTOR® Members (IRMs) from CREBA during their visits to Silicon Valley and many global programs which the SILVAR Global Business Council has offered live and virtually during the pandemic for SILVAR members and CREBA IRMs. The most recent event was SILVAR’s virtual trade mission to Silicon Valley in August.
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Nineteen members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) completed the 2021 SILVAR Leadership Academy on Sept. 23. The SILVAR Leadership Academy is a six-month training and development program structured to help participants develop their leadership knowledge and abilities and encourage them to get actively involved at SILVAR and eventually assume a leadership role. Candidates were asked to complete an application that included questions on issues and topics that impact the business of real estate, their civic involvement and leadership aspirations. Attendees were required to complete all sessions in order to graduate with their class.

The sessions touched on a variety of topics, including the REALTOR® Association Structure at the Local, State and National Level, How Organized Real Estate Helps You and Your Business, Communicating & Conducting Meetings Effectively, Resolving Conflict Situations & Building Consensus, Local, State and National Legislative Actions That Affect Your Business, and Fair Housing and Implicit Bias in Real Estate. The guest speakers from local, state and national organizations involved in real estate included U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo, 2020 California Association of REALTORS® President Jeanne Radsick, 2005 C.A.R. President and SILVAR National Association of REALTORS® Director Jim Hamilton, NAR Director of Governmental Advocacy Sydney Barron, C.A.R. Senior VP for Governmental Affairs and Chief Lobbyist Sanjay Wagle, C.A.R. Manager of Public Policy John Scribner, and attorney for Californians for Homeownership Matthew Gelfand.

Two sessions were devoted to the new NAR L.E.A.D Vision Course. L.E.A.D. stands for Lead, Elevate, Accelerate and Deliver. The course focused on creating a vision, team building, leadership styles, active listening, and other topics. It was the first time the course was taught to members of a local/state association. Steve Francks, CEO of the Washington Association of REALTORS®, and Suzanne Yost, chair of SILVAR’s Leadership Academy Committee, taught the eight-hour course.

The last session focused on “A Leader’s Role in Fair Housing, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.” Guest speakers included Farrah Wilder, Vice President & Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at C.A.R.; Allen Okamoto, Broker, T. Okamoto & Co., Founding Director & Director Emeritus at the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) and NAR Board Director, and Matt Difanis, Broker, Champagne, Illinois and NAR Board Director.

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Nearly 60 members from the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, the Philippine Chamber of Real Estate & Builders Associations, Inc. (CREBA), the Filipino American Real Estate Professional Association (FAREPA) and other guests joined SILVAR’s virtual trade mission to Silicon Valley yesterday. The program, hosted by SILVAR’s Global Business Council (GBC), took participants from the Philippines virtually on a Philippine Airlines plane to the U.S., landing in San Francisco and spanning top spots in the heart of Silicon Valley, from Apple, LinkedIn, Facebook, to Google.

Welcoming trade mission participants to the region was GBC Chair Atsuko Yube and SILVAR CEO Paul Cardus. Evangeline (Vangie) Yia, CREBA vice president of International Affairs, said CREBA members were happy for the opportunity to join the trade mission. Among those joining the trade mission were Philippine Real Estate Commissioner Eduardo Ong and Andy Mañalac, CREBA vice president for Housing Affairs.

SILVAR is the National Association of REALTORS® Ambassador Association to the Philippines and CREBA is its partner association there. Yube said few agents from the Philippines have been able to travel abroad and their country has been closed to foreigners due to the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic there. The virtual trade mission gave Philippine International REALTOR® Members (IRMs) a chance to learn about Silicon Valley’s housing market without having to physically travel here. It was also an opportunity for SILVAR members to network, get to know other agents from the Philippines, and build relationships.

The trade mission program included an overview of the housing markets of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties by Michelle Ronco, senior product marketing manager with Aculist, a subsidiary of MLSListings, SILVAR’s multiple listing service. Ronco showed charts illustrating the market trends through the years and that showed momentum in the market despite the pandemic.

MLSListings Director of Outreach Mark Messimer then explained what an MLS is and the services it provides its subscribers. The Philippines does not have an official MLS system. The IRMs were curious and asked if they could join MLSListings. Messimer said only REALTORS® whose brokers are members of the MLS can be members of MLSLIstings, but access to IRMs is something that can be explored.

Joanne Fraser, president of SILVAR, then walked guests through the real estate transaction process in Silicon Valley, highlighting the many forms, inspection reports, disclosures and advisories that REALTORS® and their clients need to review thoroughly. She explained the importance of disclosures and the difference between escrow and title insurance, which Commissioner Ong noted are only used in the Philippines when dealing with very large transactions. Fraser then took participants on a virtual tour of a Los Altos condominium, which had just sold at 5 percent over asking at a price of $1,676,000, setting a record for the building.

Vicky Silvano, NAR Global Ambassador to the Philippines, explained how IRMs can work with SILVAR REALTORS® and how to use international referral forms from NAR. She noted being a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) can give REALTORS® an edge in global real estate. An open forum for sharing of information and Q & A followed the presentations. The program then ended with a virtual tour of the Google complex in Mountain View.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) will be hosting a virtual trade mission to Silicon Valley on Thursday, August 12, from 5:30-7 p.m. Since international travel has not opened in all countries, many REALTOR® associations have found a virtual trade mission helpful for learning about other countries. Joining SILVAR’s virtual trade mission will be members of the Philippine Chamber of Real Estate & Builders Associations (CREBA), International REALTOR® Members (IRMs) and guests from other parts of the world.

Few people from the Philippines and other countries have been able to travel abroad and their country has been closed to foreigners due to the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic there. This virtual trade mission will give real estate agents a chance to learn about Silicon Valley’s housing market without having to physically travel here. It will also be an opportunity for SILVAR REALTORS® to network, get to know other agents from the Philippines and other countries, and build relationships.

SILVAR is the National Association of REALTORS®’ Ambassador Association to the Philippines and CREBA is SILVAR’s partner association there. The program also will be a good opportunity for SILVAR members to meet agents from the Philippines and other countries and expand their real estate business globally.

The program agenda will include:

  • Welcome address by SILVAR Global Business Council Chair Atsuko Yube
     
  • Aculist Senior Product Marketing Manager Michelle Ronco will provide the latest update on the local housing market and places that are especially hot.
     
  • MLSListings Director of Outreach Mark Messimer will educated IRMs on functions of a multiple listings service since the Philippines and many other countries do not have the service.
     
  • SILVAR President Joanne Fraser will educate guests on how real estate transactions are conducted in Silicon Valley.
     
  • NAR Global Ambassador to the Philippines Vicky Silvano will speak on how IRMs can collaborate with SILVAR REALTORS® in the global marketplace, including the benefits of a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation.
  • Small breakout sessions will give attendees the opportunity to network, get to know each other, and build relationships.

For more information about the virtual trade mission, contact rmeily@silvar.org.

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June is National Homeownership Month, a time of year when housing advocates highlight the importance of homeownership and its impact upon the lives of American families, local neighborhoods, and the national economy. The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) and its nearly 5,000 members engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula and in the South Bay are staunch advocates for homeownership and homeowners in Silicon Valley.

“Homeownership is an investment in the community,” said SILVAR President Joanne Fraser. “When more people own homes, everyone benefits. For most American families, their home is their largest investment. Homeownership builds wealth and serves as the cornerstone of health and security.”

Homeownership provides tax advantages and the opportunity to build equity. Moreover, homeownership provides social benefits for families and communities. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, homeowners move far less frequently than renters, making it easier to build community networks and support systems. This results in more stability for families, better school performance by children living in owned homes, a higher rate of high school graduation and higher earning, better physical, psychological and emotional health outcomes, a higher membership in voluntary organizations, and greater social interaction in their communities.

Fraser noted during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, having a home became more important to many families than ever before. “The home became a place to live and work as many companies allowed their employees to work from home. This ultimately contributed to the state’s current housing market boom.”

At a recent market data presentation for local associations, California Association of REALTORS® Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine said the state’s housing market boom is a double-edged sword. Levine indicated California is the second worst state for overcrowded housing and fifth lowest homeowner vacancy ratio in the nation.

In April, California’s median price hit over $8 million. Levine said while good for sellers, this has impacted housing affordability. “Buyers are falling farther and farther behind.”

Fraser is hopeful additional help may be on the way. “The state senate’s ‘Building Opportunities for All’ housing package is expected to help expedite building of more housing, create jobs and stimulate economic development projects. President Joe Biden’s First Down Payment Homebuyer Tax Credit proposal could be significant in aiding first-time homebuyers. With home prices rising higher than ever, any down payment assistance helps families looking to buy.”

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® is launching the 2021 SILVAR Leadership Academy. The sessions will start in April and is open to all REALTOR® members of the association who are interested in learning more about how they can make a difference in real estate and grow in their professional and personal lives.

The SILVAR Leadership Academy will be an intensive six-month program. Participants will learn about the REALTOR® association structure of SILVAR, the California Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®, fair housing and implicit bias in real estate, and how local, state and national legislation affects their business and their clients. They will receive “hands-on” training on communicating and conducting meetings effectively, networking with other real estate professionals, resolving conflict situations and building consensus.

The leadership academy is the second part of a Diversity & Inclusion grant which SILVAR has received from NAR. In February the local trade association completed the first part of the grant with a program that focused on “Faces & Voices of Leadership in Real Estate.” The event featured a panel of past and present leaders of multicultural real estate associations and key speakers Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee and Bay East Realtor and community leader Mony Nop. Discussions focused on their leadership roles and experiences.

Joanne Fraser, president of SILVAR, said NAR is working to ensure REALTORS® are active leaders in the fight against bias and discrimination. Last year, NAR began implementing the fair housing “ACT” plan, – which emphasizes Accountability, Culture Change, and Training. As a part of this plan, NAR released a new interactive training platform – Fairhaven – designed to help combat discrimination in the real estate market. In addition, NAR developed an implicit bias training video with strategies to help Realtors override biases in their daily interactions.

“SILVAR is committed to fair housing for all. The Leadership Academy is in step with our goal of inclusion and diversity in housing and within our association,” said Fraser.

The sessions are scheduled for April 15, May 20, June 17, July 15, August 19, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Additionally, participants will be required to attend C.A.R.’s annual Legislative Day.

There is no cost to attend the leadership academy, but attendance in all sessions is required in order to graduate. “If you are interested in learning more about being a volunteer on a committee or district council, this is for you. If you are interested in becoming a better volunteer, this is for you. If you are a member of a SILVAR committee or district council, this is for you,” said Suzanne Yost, who is coordinating the Leadership Academy. Yost is a past SILVAR president and currently chairs SILVAR’s Professional Standards Committee.

SILVAR REALTORS® may access an application to join the program at www.silvar.org. They can also contact Yost at suzanneyost.realtor@gmail.com.

In the local real estate association’s first-ever virtual ceremony, the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® 2021 leadership team was installed on Feb. 4 on Zoom. National Association of REALTORS® 2020 President Vince Malta administered the oath of office to 2021 SILVAR President Joanne Fraser, and California Association of REALTORS® 2021 President Dave Walsh installed SILVAR’s 2021 officers and board directors. Compass Executive Vice President and Regional Office Manager Jeff Barnett served as master of ceremonies. SILVAR REALTOR® Robert Reid led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance, Joey Hallatt, a REALTOR® from Phoenix, Ariz., sang “God Bless America,” and 2021 NAR Vice President of Advocacy Leigh Brown delivered the Inspiration Message.

SILVAR’s 2021 officers are Fraser, a REALTOR® with Compass, Los Altos; Brett Caviness, a REALTOR® with Compass, Menlo Park, President-elect; and Jeff Bell, broker manager of Coldwell Banker Realty, Cupertino, Treasurer.

SILVAR’s 2021 board directors are Mary Kay Groth (Sereno), Past President; Alan Barbic (Sereno), Region 9 Chair; Jim Hamilton (Compass), NAR Director; District Chairs Katherine Frey (Independent Broker), Los Altos-Mountain View;  Elizabeth Doyle (Sereno), Los Gatos-Saratoga; Selena Young (Coldwell Banker), Menlo Park-Atherton; Pat Kapowich (Independent Broker), Cupertino-Sunnyvale; Lori Buecheler (Compass), Palo Alto; and Directors At-large Ketan Jashapara (Compass), Karen Trolan (Sereno), Suzanne Yost (Compass), and Eileen Giorgi (Sereno).

A former nurse for 14 years, a REALTOR® for 43 years and a world traveler, Fraser has a lifetime of experiences. She told friends, colleagues, and family who watched the ceremony on Zoom and FacebookLive that she wants to give back to SILVAR and the real estate community.

Fraser moved to Mountain View from Maryland in 1970, and worked as an RN in the emergency room, critical care, medical and surgical at Stanford and El Camino hospitals until she decided to change careers. She took real estate courses at night and received her license in 1977.

A Certified Residential Specialist and member of the Residential Real Estate Council (formerly CRS), Fraser served as 2007 president of the CRS NorCal chapter, was regional vice president, and served on the national RRC board and various committees. She was the 2006 and 2016 CRS of the Year and received the 2012 CRS Medallion award for her volunteer service.

Fraser has achieved NAR Emeritus status, served on NAR’s Global Business & Alliances Committee and Certified International Property Specialist Advisory Board. At SILVAR, Fraser has served as president of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, chair of the Global Busines Council, a board director and member of many committees.

Sharing her excitement for the upcoming year, Fraser said she wants to move on from a pandemic year. “It’s the time to turn the page; it’s not going to be the same old thing,” she said.

Fraser urged members to get more involved in association activities and share her passion for leadership. “Leadership is having a vision and looking for the future … I’m truly looking forward to building a team, people who want to work together for a common goal, so that we can make SILVAR the best association in the Bay Area.”

Sponsors of the installation ceremony include Presenting Sponsor Compass, TourFactory, JCP-LGS Hazard Disclosures, and Water Tower Creative.

May 2022
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