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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.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, REALTORS® across the country have increased their philanthropic and volunteer efforts. According to the National Association of REALTORS® Community Aid and Real Estate (CARE) Report, the median annual value of REALTOR® association donations to communities doubled from $5,000 in 2018 to $10,000 in 2020. REALTORS® have responded to the pandemic by donating money or nonperishables to food banks, volunteering at such organizations, donating masks and protective gear, donating school meals to children, and providing stable and secure housing to those in need.

In Silicon Valley, members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) have stepped up holiday giving online on the Peninsula and in the South Bay. “It is even more important to give this year because the pandemic has impacted thousands of families in Silicon Valley,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the local REALTOR® association. “Since SILVAR’s five districts could not hold their traditional fundraising events live this year, our districts have partnered with non-profits in their service areas to brighten the holidays for families in need.”

SILVAR’s Menlo Park-Atherton and Palo Alto districts are asking members to donate to LifeMoves, a non-profit that provides family, individual, veteran, community outreach services for those in need and finds shelter for the homeless in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. “So far, our districts have raised over $5,000 for LifeMoves during our meeting last week. After a tumultuous year like this, I think everyone is feeling extra gratitude for what we do have and want to help make a difference and impact in our community,” said Francesca Lampert, Menlo Park-Atherton District chair.

To donate, visit https://www.lifemoves.org/. Your donation will help give a gift to each of the 1,200 people the agency serves every day.

SILVAR’s Los Altos-Mountain View District is donating to Community Services Agency, which provides vital social services for residents of Mountain View, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills and serves as a safety net so families’ independence and self-reliance can be restored and maintained. Visit the CSA holiday donation site at https://www.csacares.org/donate/.

Cupertino-Sunnyvale District is promoting giving to Sunnyvale Community Services and West Valley Community Services. Both non-profits provide critical food and emergency and support services to low income and homeless individuals and families in their service areas. Ninety-eight percent of SCS clients have incomes under 200 percent of the poverty level. Children represent 35 percent and seniors make up 13 percent of the agency’s clients. You can donate to SCS at https://svcommunityservices.org/donate-online/.

WVCS serves 22,000 in the west valley communities of Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, and West San Jose. You can make an online donation or adopt a family through their Gift of Hope program at https://www.wvcommunityservices.org/gift-of-hope.

Every year funds raised from the Los Gatos-Saratoga District’s annual pumpkin auction are donated to the Family Giving Tree. This year, the district has its own link on the FGT website, where SILVAR members can log on and select gifts by category – toy, price range, age, etc. To donate, visit the FGT site at https://familygivingtree.org/.

“REALTORS® in the trenches see the systemic inequities with our very own eyes and it inspires us to be part of a sustainable solution, pandemic or not. Together we support and contribute to organizations that seek to grant some sense of normalcy to those that could use a helping hand,” said Elizabeth Doyle, Los Gatos-Saratoga District chair. “We encourage everyone who can, to give when you can. We are better together when we help raise one another up.”

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


September is recognized as REALTOR® Safety Month and National Preparedness Month. In light of the wildfires that continue to burn and disrupt the lives of many individuals and families, it is a good time to stress preparedness in case you need to evacuate your home, says Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR).  

“Although evacuation warnings and orders have been lifted in Santa Clara County, we need to be vigilant and have a plan and know what to take and what to do in case we need to evacuate our home,” says Groth.

SILVAR shares the following evacuation tips from ready.gov, the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, and HouseLogic.com, a source of information for homeowners, homebuyers and sellers from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Make a Plan

  • Assign an out of state contact whom you will contact to let them know where you are going.
  • Decide on where to meet as a family in case you get separated.
  • Always have your gas tank full or half full in case you must evacuate right away.
  • In case the power shuts off, have a battery-operated radio and keep a charged battery pack for your cell phone, so you will not be cut off from the news and can contact people.
  • Sign up for free text alerts from your county.
  • Learn how to safely shut off all utilities in your home.
  • Prepare a checklist of what to take and what to do.

What to Take

  • Your driver’s license, proof of insurance, medical records and other important documents, including passports and Social Security cards
  • A grab-and-go bag with essential supplies, such as water, food, medication, and first-aid supplies, pet food, including face coverings and hand sanitizer to protect you from coronavirus
  • Cash in small bills, as the ATM machines may not be working

What to Do Before You Leave

  • Lock all the doors and windows in your home.
  • Unplug electrical equipment and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and protective clothing.
  • Gather your pets and load them in the car.

“Having a plan and a checklist of what to do and take will keep you calm if the worst-case scenario happens and you must evacuate your home,” says Groth.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2020 Member Profile, the typical REALTOR® has not changed much since the NAR 2019 survey. REALTORS® continue to come from a variety of demographic groups and career backgrounds. They represent the various age, ethnic, and language that define their local communities. They are more tech savvy today, using their smartphone and computer on a daily basis and online tools to communicate with clients.

The typical REALTOR® is a 55-year-old, college-educated White female, and a homeowner. Sixty-four percent of all REALTORS® are women. For 73 percent, real estate is their only occupation. Also largely unchanged from the previous year, 69 percent are married, 16 percent are divorced, and 10 percent are single or never married.

Eighty percent of REALTORS® are White, while 10 percent are Hispanic/Latino, 6 percent Black, and 5 percent Asian/Pacific Islanders. Eighty-two percent are fluent only in English. Respondents under 50 years old were most likely to be fluent in another language, with Spanish being the most common second language. Thirteen percent said they were born outside of the U.S.

Already before the coronavirus pandemic, REALTORS® had begun to adapt technology to advance their business. Among the 12,464 members who responded to the survey, more than nine in 10 members use a smartphone and a computer daily, while just about all members regularly email clients. Text messaging is the preferred means of communication for REALTORS® (94%), followed by email (91%) and telephone calls (89%). Seventy percent of members said they have a website for business use. Majority use social media apps to communicate with clients. REALTORS® were typically most active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

“The survey was conducted prior to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent nationwide stay-at-home orders. REALTORS® are very innovative, and if the same survey is conducted today, it would show an even higher percentage of REALTORS® utilizing tech tools, and they have done so successfully from the start of a transaction to completion,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

On average, members have nine years of experience in the industry. Seventeen percent have more than 25 years of experience. Sixty-five percent of respondents have sales agent licenses, 22 percent hold broker licenses, and 15 percent have their broker associate license. Seventy-three percent of members indicated they specialize in residential brokerage.

“People tend to use the terms REALTOR® and real estate agent interchangeably, but they are not the same. Although both are licensed to sell real estate, a REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and pledges to follow the Code of Ethics, which contains 17 articles and standards of practice that are higher than regular business practices or those required by law,” said Groth.

Groth added, “REALTORS® must abide by a Code of Ethics, which is diligently enforced by our peers through the Grievance and Professional Standards process. As such, a REALTOR® is held to an even higher standard of conduct than other real estate licensees. Only REALTORS® can use the REALTOR® trademark by their name.”

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.

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