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April is National Fair Housing Month and reminds every American that all persons have equal access to housing and that fair housing is not an option; it is the law. The Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, protects people from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status.

The National Association of REALTORS® and civil rights groups are currently pressing Congress to pass the Equality Act, which adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics under the Fair Housing Act and all other federal laws. NAR amended its Code of Ethics to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2011 and gender identity in 2013.

Under the NAR 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.

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, or national origin. They cannot instruct their real estate agent to convey any limitations in the sale or rental of their property.

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.

If you or your clients suspect discrimination, visit https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/ to file a complaint.

 

 

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A Bankrate survey conducted Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2019 found nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent of millennial homeowners have regrets about buying their home. Overall, 44 percent of American homeowners have regrets about their home purchase, according to the survey.

The most common regret cited was not factoring in unexpected maintenance or hidden costs (18 percent). Other areas of regret included feeling the house was too small (12 percent), house was too big (5 percent); house was in a bad location (8 percent); house was a poor investment (7 percent); monthly mortgage payments were too high (7 percent); and mortgage rate was not the best available (6 percent).

A lot of regret stems from high expectations and being unprepared for the home buying process, said Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors. “Purchasing a home is the most important decision a person can make. After spending a lot of money on the down payment, closing costs and other fees, it is likely to have an impact on a new homeowner,” said Barbic. “You can minimize buyer’s remorse by taking time to prepare for homeownership. It is not something you should rush into.”

Below are suggestions Barbic makes to take the trauma out of the home buying process:

  1. Find a professional and experienced Realtor with whom you are comfortable and trust. “Real estate is changing now that we have so much information at our finger tips. How we use that information is important. We have heard of many buyers who have made offers sight-unseen,” said Barbic. “You need a good agent whom you can trust, who knows the market and has experience handling the particular needs of homebuyers, whether it is identifying homes and neighborhoods, or negotiating for the best deal. Remember you are not just buying a home; you’re investing in your future.”

    2. Get pre-approved for a home loan right away.
    A preapproval letter sends a powerful message to the seller that you’re a serious qualified buyer and ready to go.

    3. Factor maintenance and repair costs into your budget.
    Even if you buy a new home, there will be some expenses that you did not expect.

    4. Accept that no house is ever perfect.
    Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house that you overlook issues like amenities, noise level, schools, or traffic that could have a big impact once you live in the home.

    5. Don’t get caught in a buying frenzy. Just because there is competition does not mean you should just buy anything. Even though you want to make your offer attractive, don’t neglect inspections that help ensure that your house is sound.

“Choose a home first because you love it, not solely for its future appreciation. A home’s most important function is to be a comfortable, safe place to live for you and your family,” said Barbic.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® Los Gatos-Saratoga District got off to a good start for the new year with over 100 members in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting. An upbeat District Chair Jim Hamilton told members 2019 “will be what you make it.”

The first meeting featured a top producer panel with Carol Jeans (Sereno Group), Michael Nevis (Alain Pinel Realtors), Mary Clark (Intero Real Estate Services), Chuck Nunnally (Keller Williams Bay Area Estates) and Audrey Hutton (Hutton Mortgage Group).

The panelists, all experienced in the business, are doers and work hard. Nevis said “the knowledge that this is my business” is what motivates him each day. Nunnally stressed real estate takes hard work and like a hunt, he is constantly searching for business.

Asked their thoughts on forming teams, Nunnally, Jeans and Clark prefer to be independent, while Hutton believes teams are important to grow your business. Her team is comprised of five people who each have roles in the business. Nevis also has a team and finds it serves as a good sounding board. He did note you have to really get to know the person before forming a team.

The top producers stressed the importance of referrals. Referrals only happen through relationships and maintaining then, said Nevis. He likes to invite clients to his home for dinner, to meet his family and get a glimpse of his lifestyle.

“This way things are more real, more personal than talking about average price and days on market,” said Nevis.

Hutton likes to wow her clients, pleasantly surprising them with candy and the like. She holds parties and education classes for past clients.

The REALTORS® stressed the need to get to know clients at an intimate level and connect frequently. Jeans likes to write her past clients, while Clark likes to stop by their home twice a year to connect. She also holds annual client appreciation parties or invites them to events, like a Giants game.

“Keep in touch with past clients and show them your care,” said Nunnally. “This is a people business.”

The REALTORS® said the 2019 housing market may not be as fast and furious as in the past, but they don’t believe it will crash and burn either. Nunnally advises agents to attend seminars, get educated about the market, and spend money. You need to spend money in order to make money in real estate, he said.

Jeans encourages agents to learn as much as they can, work with discipline, build relationships and “remain who you are in the business.” She believes there will always be a demand for homes in the region.

Nevis encourages agents to team up with someone with experience and “find your cheerleaders,” while Hutton advises agents to be specific, have a purpose, and share their goals with their clients.

“This year will be awesome. There is opportunity in any market,” said Clark.

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A REALTOR® workshop hosted by the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) early this month brought together board directors and representatives of neighboring REALTOR® and multicultural real estate associations interested in strengthening their leadership skills. “Learn to Be a Leader 2” is the second leadership workshop the local REALTOR® association has conducted that was partly funded by a National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Diversity Initiative grant.

Key speaker California Assembly Member Evan Low shared his views on leadership and his experiences as a former Campbell City Council member, mayor and state legislator. Low’s talk was followed by the NAR Leadership 300 course facilitated by Steve Francks, CEO of the Washington REALTORS® Association and NAR Leadership Academy instructor.

Low said the concept of leadership is subjective depending on the characteristics one likes, and it can have misconceptions, often bringing leaders in conflict with opposing sides. “We are put on a pedestal that sometimes is unattainable. We are supposed to have all the answers, but we are human also,” said Low.

Whether in a professional or community organization or politics, a leader should be able to communicate. “Make a person feel you are invested in them. It’s a people business that needs a personalized touch,” said Low.

No matter the differences, leaders should have respect. “A leader is someone who gains your respect because you know where his heart is,” added Low.

The California Assembly member indicated engagement is important, particularly in this environment. “We are all Americans, we are all human. We need to create an environment that supports all of us. We must be all together,” said Low.

READ MORE HERE

 

Even though income and sales volume of REALTORS® have dropped slightly in the past year, membership in the National Association of REALTORS® has increased, as more younger agents continue to enter the industry. According to the “2018 National Association of REALTORS® Member Profile,” membership increased 6 percent from 1.22 million in March 2017 to 1.30 million in April 2018.

“Younger Americans are seeking business opportunities that working in real estate provides,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. But Yun also noted the overall trend is still a slightly older age profile.

Members of NAR account for about half of all active real estate licensees in the U.S. REALTORS® go beyond state licensing requirements by subscribing to NAR’s Code of Ethics and standards of practice and committing to continuing education.

“All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They display the REALTOR® logo on their business card or other marketing material,” explained Bill Moody, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. The REALTOR® association has over 4,500 REALTORS® and affiliate members engaged in the business of real estate on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

“REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are required to complete a two and a half hour Code of Ethics course every two years,” said Moody.

The NAR member survey found the median age of REALTORS® was 54 this year, slightly up from 53, the last two years. Sixty-three percent of realtors are female. The typical REALTOR® is a 54-year-old white female who attended college and is a homeowner.

Sixty-five percent of REALTORS® are licensed sales agents, 21 percent hold broker licenses, and 15 percent hold broker associate licenses. New members tended to be more diverse than more experienced members. Twenty-five percent with two years of experience or less were minorities, up from 22 percent last year.

According to Moody, the national survey reflects the profile of incoming members in the local REALTOR® group, which has over 4,500 members. “Our new members definitely reflect a younger and more diverse group of agents,” said Moody.

Impacted by low inventory, the typical number of transactions decreased slightly from 12 transactions in 2016 to 11 transactions in 2017. REALTORS® said the main factors limiting potential clients in completing transactions are difficulty finding the right property (35 percent), housing affordability (17 percent), and difficulty in obtaining mortgage financing (12 percent).

 

 

Khanna

U.S. Representative Ro Khanna met with members of SILVAR, the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® (SCCAOR), and Bay East Association of REALTORS® at the SCCAOR office on Wednesday. Khanna represents the 17th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Cupertino, Fremont, Milpitas, Newark, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.

Khanna said he is proud of Silicon Valley because the region is the economic engine of the country and provides its citizens with many economic opportunities for growth and success. Khanna noted it is the valley’s turn to give back to the country and expand these economic opportunities to the rest of the country. Only then will the country be able to break out of its gridlock and be competitive in relation to the rest of the world.

“We have the best and the brightest. When you think of the valley, you don’t just think of the engineers and people in high tech. You also think of the electricians, the REALTORS®, dentists, doctors. It’s the community that works cooperatively toward economic achievement, which has resulted in economic success,” said Khanna. “We are privileged, our kids are privileged, because of all the opportunities we have living in the valley, but we aren’t going to make it as a nation if those economic opportunities aren’t extended to the rest of the country.”

Khanna’s goal in Congress is to create economic opportunities and a pathway for people regardless of where they live. To that end, Khanna shared his three concrete ideas to make this happen: 1) install high speed internet for all, which will enable anyone across the country to work for high tech and other companies that are based anywhere in the country, including California; 2) create technical institutes across the country, much like land grants, with two-year certifications in different industries to prepare people for real life skills; 3) provide tax incentives for companies to hire people in places that have been left out of economic progress.

READ MORE HERE

 

 

 

Although year-over-year home sales have fallen for the second consecutive month, appraiser Roger Miller with Taketa Miller & Associates recently told members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® that they shouldn’t be too concerned about recent changes in the housing market.

The housing market is “doing just fine overall,” said Miller.

In fact, Miller said this is the longest period of appreciation he has witnessed in his 40 years in business and he believes it will continue for a while.

Homes have appreciated an average of 20 percent in Silicon Valley. Miller indicated the year-over-year median home price is up 23 percent in Los Gatos and up 23 percent in Saratoga. In Mountain View, the median is up a whopping 25 percent, in Cupertino 19 percent, and in Sunnyvale and Los Altos 17 percent.

Miller said inventory has increased, but sales are down in some places and days on the market have lengthened from an average of seven to 10 days to one month in some areas. It’s not a bad thing, said Miller. It just means the market is settling down.

Watch the specific micro market you are in, said Miller. In places closer to Apple and Google, homes are still selling at a quick pace. In Cupertino, a 2,700 square foot home sold for $2.36 million in just nine days. In Sunnyvale, a $1.9 million home sold in nine days. In Mountain View, a 1,400 square foot home priced at $2.3 million sold in eight days.

The Silicon Valley appraiser said the market usually slows down from the second week of May because of graduations and summer vacation. With the school year starting earlier this year, he expects it to heat up again around the second week of August.

“Take a vacation and be ready to come back in mid-August,” Miller told the REALTORS®.

Miller said the local economy is especially good, with Google’s plans of expanding to San Jose. Unless the giant companies like Facebook, Apple, Google, LinkedIn and eBay are transported somewhere else, he believes the housing market will stay hot for some time.

“I don’t see the market coming down in a while. It’s a little down, but even as it settles down, it will settle down at a higher price,” said Miller.

It is important for REALTORS® to learn about Propositions 13, 60 and 90 and two propositions that will be on the November ballot, Propositions 5 and 10, because they are the first person consumers go to for information about housing.

Approved by California voters in 1978, Proposition 13 caps the maximum amount of the assessed value of real property to one percent and limits property tax increases to no more than 2 percent per year as long as the property is not sold.

Propositions 60 and 90 stem from Prop 13. Prop 60 allows anyone over the age of 55 to transfer the base year value of their original residence to any replacement residence of equal or lesser value in the same county. Prop 90 extends these provisions to a replacement residence in a different county that accepts Prop 90 transfers. Homeowners must buy the replacement home within two years of selling the existing one, or vice versa.

Propositions 60/90 are incentives for senior homeowners to downsize and move into smaller, less expensive homes without being penalized with a higher property tax. The counties that accept Prop 90 transfers are Alameda, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Santa Clara, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Tuolumne and Ventura. El Dorado is dropping out effective November 7.

Proposition 5 is the California Association of REALTORS®’s Property Tax Fairness Initiative and would allow seniors to transfer their tax assessments from their prior home to their new home anywhere in the state and as many times as they wish. The transferred property tax benefit would apply through a proportionate formula whether or not a senior homebuyer purchases up or down in price. C.A.R. estimates the passage of Prop 5 would provide more liquidity in the market and free up 43,000 transactions.

Those opposed to Prop 5 claim it would mean a $150 million a year in lost revenue to the state budget, but according to REALTORS® this analysis does not take into account the property tax increases that might occur when the original homes are sold and assessed at a higher tax rate; nor does it take into account the economic benefits of having someone move into a new community.

Proposition 10 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which limits the use of rent control in California and allows landlords to increase rent prices to market rates when a tenant moves out. This proposition would allow local governments to adopt rent control ordinances and rules on how much landlords can charge tenants for renting apartments and houses. Cities will be free to impose rent control on any residential unit, including single-family homes and new construction. This proposition would lock in low rents and dissuade investors from building much needed housing in the state.

C.A.R. is supporting Prop 5 because it would be good for housing, and actively opposing Prop 10 because it would hurt housing.

 

The California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) officially became the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) effective July 1, 2018. The DRE has been re­-established after five years as a bureau under the Department of Consumer Affairs.

All telephone, email and website contacts will remain the same. Licensees can use the department’s eLicensing system to reprint license certificates reflecting the change to a department, but will not receive new pocket cards unless their license is being renewed.

Licensees will not be required to change their business cards or marketing materials to reflect the change, as long as their license numbers remain on those materials.

To learn more, visit http://www.dre.ca.gov.

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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