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Last month on April 27, after an absence of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® were among over 2,000 California REALTORS® who once again traveled to the State Capitol for Legislative Day. Legislative Day is the California Association of REALTORS®’ pinnacle REALTOR® legislative event. REALTORS® make up the largest business interest group that comes to Sacramento each year to meet with their elected officials and discuss issues affecting homeownership and the real estate industry.

At a morning briefing held at the Sacramento Convention Center, C.A.R. President Otto Catrina welcomed members to the event. He noted the REALTORS®’ presence at the State Capitol showed they value homeownership and private property rights.

“We need to remember to fight for homeownership, private property rights, free enterprise and responsible government. We are here to support not just our business but our clients,” said Catrina.

C.A.R.’s new CEO John Sebree greeted California REALTORS® and reminded them that April is Fair Housing Month. Sebree said, “We all have the opportunity to be part of the transformative solutions to make sure all people have access to homeownership.”

Sebree mentioned C.A.R.’s partnership with nonprofit housing organizations to provide closing cost grants up to $10,000 for eligible first-time homebuyers from underserved communities, and C.A.R.’s fight for and successes in fair housing legislation, including legislation that removes discriminatory language in property records.

Among the speakers at the morning briefing were Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher, who indicated “homeownership is a fundamental principle.” Gallagher urged REALTORS® to continue educating legislators on the need to drive housing costs down for California families and belief that legislators can work across the aisles to ensure the California dream of homeownership remains viable for the future. He estimated 2.5 million homes need to be built by 2030.

“We must move through all the obstacles to make sure that the dream of homeownership can be achieved,” said Gallagher.

Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Robert Hertzberg spoke on the need to build more homes. “It’s all about housing. Homeownership is the backbone of our community. It builds generational wealth. It is something we need to focus on at the core, the opportunity to give people hope, and help the ‘missing middle.’”

The highlight of the morning was California Governor Gavin Newsom’s address to REALTORS®. Newsom fiercely chastised critics and stressed, “facts matter.” He indicated California had 21% growth five years prior to the pandemic. Last year, California’s economy, along with two smaller states, grew the fastest. California grew 7.8% last year.

Newsom noted the state is dominated by venture capitalists, and that the state is number one in factory jobs, in manufacturing, and in household income growth. California had the largest surplus in the U.S., and was able to give $12 billion in tax rebates last year.

Additionally, the state has passed 31 housing bills and 17 bills pertaining to CEQA, but Newsom said, “We got more work to do to address housing at all income levels.”

Newsom thanked REALTORS® for keeping the economy moving, for all they did during the pandemic, and for creating opportunities for families and contributing to the state’s growth.

“I have pride in this state. I think the best days are ahead of us. We are moving in the right direction as we haven’t done in the past,” said Newsom.

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.”

The 23rd annual Silicon Valley REALTORS® Scholars Program for graduating seniors from 18 public high schools in Silicon Valley is under way. The scholars program is sponsored by the Charitable Foundation of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), a professional trade organization representing 5,000 REALTORS® and affiliate members engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

The REALTOR® scholars program is a partnership with local public high schools in SILVAR’s service area. Principals and faculty at 18 participating high schools nominate three exceptional graduating seniors. Final selections will be made by a committee that includes representatives from SILVAR.

The Charitable Foundation will award $1,500 to one nominee from each school in recognition of their exemplary record, outstanding academic performance and community spirit. Since its inception, the program has awarded $409,500 in scholarships to high school seniors in Silicon Valley.

“This program is part of a long-term effort to make an investment in our collective future – our youth,” said Nina Yamaguchi, Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Scholars Program chair. “The annual scholarship program is our way of thanking the students, teachers, administrators and school board members in our communities for their hard work and dedication to make the schools in our communities among the best in California and in the nation.”

The participating schools include Leigh High School and Lynbrook High School in San Jose; Westmont High School in Campbell; Fremont High School in Sunnyvale; Los Altos High School in Los Altos; Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos; Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto; Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton; Santa Clara High School and Wilcox High School in Santa Clara; Cupertino High School, Homestead High School and Monta Vista High School in Cupertino; Prospect High School and Saratoga High School in Saratoga; Mountain View High School in Mountain View; and Woodside High School in Woodside.

The scholarship is open to graduating seniors from the above-mentioned high schools who plan to attend a four-year U.S. college or university in the fall. Scholarship applications and a list of other requirements may be obtained from the student’s school guidance or career counselor.

The completed application must be returned to the high school’s principal or counselor by Friday, March 4, 2022, for submission to the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. For further information, please contact Nina Yamaguchi at (408) 861-8822 or nyamaguchi@cbnorcal.com.

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 holiday season is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, but it is also a busy time for consumers shopping for holiday items and presents. Often, they get distracted, putting their safety at risk.

“We all want to enjoy the holidays and stay safe and healthy, as the pandemic is still with us. It is also important to remember to keep your guard up because the month of December has the highest rate of home crime and scams. Rampant activity of porch pirates and the spate of smash-and-grab robberies in our malls and retail stores is very troubling,” says Joanne Fraser, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “Regardless of how you’re shopping this holiday season, please be cautious in stores and online.”

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® shares the following holiday home safety tips:

  • Keep the outside of your home well-lit. When you leave your home, place your inside lights on timers to make it appear occupied.
  • Trim your shrubs to about three feet and trees to no more than 10 feet to prevent burglars from lurking around your home.
  • Always keep your doors locked.
  • Do not place gifts under the Christmas tree where burglars can see them. Place a blanket over the presents, so they are not in full view of a window.
  • Do not overload wall outlets and extension cords.
  • Never use indoor extension cords outside.
  • If you have a live Christmas tree, cut two inches off the trunk, mount the tree on a sturdy stand, and keep it well-supplied with water and away from candles or a fireplace.
  • After the holidays, do not advertise your gifts by leaving their boxes at the curb for garbage collection. Break down the boxes or take the big boxes to a recycling center.
  • Social distancing is one of the best tools to minimize exposure and the spread of the coronavirus. When indoors with more than one person, wear a mask, maintain a distance of at least six feet. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Be aware of holiday scams:

  • When shopping at a mall or retail store, always be aware of your surroundings. Thieves watch to see if you are distracted.
  • Shop during the day, and if possible, shop with a group. Hide packages in your car and lock your doors.
  • Be aware that thieves place skimmers that look authentic on ATM machines. It is best to use an ATM that is inside a secure building.
  • If you can, use a credit card when you shop because debit cards typically do not have protection against fraud. Any fraudulent transaction made using your debit card will deduct funds directly from your bank account.
  • Only give to charities that are well-established. Never give out your credit card information to a charity over the phone.
  • Scammers are getting more intrusive and sending text messages with links. Do not answer texts you receive from unfamiliar senders or click on a link in the text.

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.
READ MORE HERE

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.

READ MORE HERE

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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The California Association of REALTORS® is providing members with FAQs and other documents that contain information members need to properly conduct business after the statewide reopening on Tuesday, June 15. While business will be easier to conduct after June 15, there are still some protocols that will apply, including those concerning groups where there are non-vaccinated individuals present.

C.A.R. has created an extensive and detailed new Q&A and Quick Guide to ensure that members are in compliance and well-informed with the new rules likely going into effect, including changes for open houses and showings. The Q&A addresses the following issues:

  • Physical distancing and cleaning requirements
  • Posting rules of entry
  • PEADs and other sign-in requirements
  • Wearing of masks 
  • Requiring proof of vaccination and/or negative COVID test results
  • Addressing claims of medical and religious exemptions to wearing masks
  • Conducting door knocking activities
  • Distributing flyers 
  • Reopening offices

C.A.R. encourages all California REALTOR® members to read the new Q&A and Quick Guide. Additionally, C.A.R. recently held a webinar addressing the reopening. A recording is available here.

This is still a dynamic situation, and more guidance may be issued from the state prior to June 15. In the meantime, staff at the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® will continue being available to serve members by phone, email and appointment for keys and lockboxes and store purchases. Information on reopening will be forthcoming.

SILVAR will continue to communicate new information from C.A.R. about the state’s reopening that may impact your business and update the FAQ as necessary. In the meantime, please check C.A.R.’s COVID website for FAQs and other important information.

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