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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® FutureTech 2018, held April 19 in Los Altos, led 200 REALTORS® and brokers in discussions about smart home technology, big data and virtual reality. Products and services showcased at the event were intended to put agents on the forefront of technology so they can better serve their clients in the 21st century, according to Palo Alto broker Michael Dreyfus, with Golden Gate Sotheby’s Realty.

Dreyfus, who chairs the local trade association’s Palo Alto district, opened the program by noting the business of real estate has come a long way from big listing books, which agents and their clients valued, to paperless documents and virtual tours.

A session on the future of smart homes moderated by CBS News technology journalist Larry Magid, featured Sean Paterson, head of marketing and sales for Noon Home, a smart lighting system that wirelessly generates light in different levels to transform the look and feel of a home, and Sophie Le Guen, director of product management of Nest, which produces programmable, sensor-driven, WiFi-enabled thermostats, smoke detectors, security cameras, and other security systems.

Another on how big data is going to affect the future of real estate featured Dave Wetzel, CTO & COO of multiple listing service provider MLSListings Inc., Avi Gupta, president and CEO of SmartZip, which offers predictive marketing services so agents can land more listings by identifying homeowners most likely to sell in any neighborhood; and Stas Alexandrov, founder & CEO of iDevelop.city, an application that allows brokers and developers to view lots, find a place for a building, and see all the specific restrictions in one place.

 

 

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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Pictured are members of the Japanese real estate delegation with SILVAR board directors, Global Business Council members and guests.

Fifteen real estate professionals from Japan came to Silicon Valley early in this month to network with Silicon Valley REALTORS®, bring cultural awareness, and learn about similarities and differences in doing business in the U.S. and Japan.

 

At the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), the Japanese real estate professionals also learned about home inspection and typical inspection services provided to homeowners in the U.S. SILVAR Global Business Council member Atsuko Yube, a REALTOR® with Global Estate Link, arranged the visit. Yube, who is also a past president of the Asian Real Estate Association of America Silicon Valley (AREAA SV) and a board director of AREAA Global Inc., said home inspection is new in Japanese real estate because typically, when purchasing property, the Japanese buyer will tear down the home and build new.

Yube explained it has been the custom in Japan to build new homes because the Japanese like things new. There is also the traditional belief that bad fortune can transfer from the previous owner to the owner. Because of the preference for new and their beliefs, secondhand homes are not as desirable and are heavily discounted. Homes that are newly constructed begin to depreciate in value from the day they are purchased. Most homes are rebuilt after 25 to 30 years.

“The re-sale market has not been strong historically, so when the age of a property is more than 20 years old, its value drops to zero with the property essentially having no value,” said Yube.

Upon arriving at SILVAR, executive officer Paul Cardus and president-elect Alan Barbic welcomed the visitors and shared some information about organized real estate in the U.S., the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTORS®, the REALTORS® Code of Ethics, and membership in the Association of REALTORS®. The real estate professionals met with board directors Mark Wong, Ryan Nunnally and Joanne Fraser, members of the Global Business Council, and leadership from other real estate associations, including Tess Crescini, chair of SILVAR’s Global Business Council and co-president of the Filipino American Real Estate Professional Association Silicon Valley (FAREPA SV), and Anna Maria Valenzuela and Tracey McNeeley, president and director of membership services, respectively, of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® Silicon Valley (WCR SV).

Introductions were followed by a presentation by Yube on Silicon Valley real estate in Japanese. SILVAR member Chika Mori, a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty, presented information about the MLS, also in Japanese. Her presentation was followed by a presentation on home inspection in the U.S. by Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, who flew all the way from Chicago to speak to the group, and Larry Tringali, with Property Inspection Services.

After the presentations, the visitors, members and guests, met for a special evening mixer. Like many foreign guests that visit Silicon Valley, the Japanese real estate professionals were interested in the giant tech companies and were fortunate to tour Google and Facebook during their visit.

 

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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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