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There is a bright spot to the coronavirus pandemic, and that is the rise in adoption and foster applications in animal rescue and shelter facilities. In fact, some shelters have happily announced they are empty, while others like the Silicon Valley Humane Society, have announced due to overwhelming adoption demand, they have temporarily paused their adoption appointment sign-up for dogs and are only taking adoption appointments for those interested in meeting cats, rabbits, and pocket pets and even these appointments are filling up quickly.

“In this unprecedented time of shelter-in-place and social distancing, many individuals and families long for a little companionship,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “If you were planning to adopt a pet before the coronavirus pandemic, now could be a great time to take that step. More time at home means more time to bond with your new pet and work with them on training.”

According to the National Association of REALTORS® “2020 Animal House: Pets in the Home Buying and Selling Process” report, 66 percent of U.S. households currently have a pet or plan to get one in the future, proving that pets and their effects on a home, must be considered for a majority of households. Additionally, 43 percent of households would be willing to move to better accommodate their pet(s), demonstrating that this is a priority among consumers. A small percentage, one percent, of recent homebuyers said they were prompted to make their purchase by the desire for a better home for their pet(s). When searching for a new home, 18 percent of recent homebuyers said it was very important that their new neighborhood is convenient to a vet and/or outdoor space for their pet(s).

Within the past year, a median of 38 percent of REALTORS®’ clients have owned a pet, companion animal, or service animal; and 18 percent of REALTORS® have represented clients that have moved solely for their animal. When finding a home for their clients, the most important feature for REALTORS®’ clients in terms of their animals’ situation is a fenced yard. This was followed by a large enough home for the household and pet, and flooring.

Pets also come into play when REALTORS® work with sellers. The most common pet-related advice REALTORS® give their seller clients is take the animal(s) out of the home during showings and replace anything damaged by the pet(s). Eighty percent of Realtors recommend that their clients remove pets during showings when selling their home.

Groth cautions families not to adopt a pet just because they are home during the coronavirus pandemic. “The pandemic and our shelter-in-place orders won’t last forever,” said Groth. “Before you adopt a pet, consider how much time you will have to care for a dog, now and post-pandemic, is your job secure enough to afford pet-related expenses, does your current place of residence have space for a pet or, if you’re renting, does your landlord allow pets? Will you have the time and energy to commit to training your dog? These are important questions to consider.”

The National Association of REALTORS® MLS Policy Statement 8, also known as the MLS Clear Cooperation Policy, takes effect for all MLSs beginning today, May 1. NAR’s Board of Directors adopted the policy last November.

The new NAR policy requires listing brokers who are participants in an MLS to submit their listing to the MLS within one business day of marketing the property to the public. Agents may promote a listing only within their brokerage – not with others on the MLS or outside of the brokerage.

The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reviewed and adopted the policy with more details to its model rules for CA MLS, and on April 15, the MLSListings Board of Directors adopted the C.A.R. model rule changes. The C.A.R. SELM form has been modified to refer to the policy.

Within the MLSListings service area, the Clear Cooperation Policy applies to one to four-unit residential property and vacant residential lots. It does not apply to commercial listings and new construction of five plus units.

Brokers/agents can still take an exclusive listing, but can only promote or advertise the listing within their brokerage. If advertised to the public or to an outside agent, the listing must be added to the MLS within one business day as an Active listing.

Public marketing or advertising includes, but is not limited to conveying or displaying any information about the property or its availability for sale through or on any windows, signs, public facing websites, social media, brokerage or franchise operated websites (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (ex: email, text or phone blasts, social media messaging), multi-brokerage or franchise listing sharing networks, flyers or written material or on any applications available to the public or through conducting an open house.

This rule only applies to “excluded” or “exclusive” or “waivered” listings. Listings entered as Coming Soon on the MLS may only be advertised as Coming Soon off the MLS.

For the next month, MLSListings will be educating brokers and agents about the new rules. MLSListings is urging agents to communicate with their broker about the new policy. Brokers, in turn, need to counsel their agents. Agents need to counsel their sellers about what it means to have an “exclusive” listing.

If caught violating the rule, an agent must enter the listing as Active. Agents in violation will receive courtesy notices for violations with a copy sent to their broker or office manager. The fine for a violation is $500 and escalates until the property is listed or the NAR maximum of $15,000 is reached. Many MLSs are imposing fines upwards of $5,000.

Visit MLSListings Clear Cooperation Resource Page

View MLSListings’ video on Clear Cooperation Implementation

The coronavirus is directly impacting families in the Bay Area as state and county have ordered residents to stay home, except those who must provide essential services. Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) President Mary Kay Groth offers these tips for families and Realtors coping with the new normal in their lives.

Don’t panic
“Although the news is distressing, we should do our best not to panic,” says Groth. “We should stay informed with the latest news and be smart about taking precautions to prevent the virus from coming into our home and infecting our family.”

The Stay in Place directive is a good thing, says Groth. “It definitely means pausing our daily activities, but it is the right thing to do. Social distancing is one of the best tools to minimize exposure to and spread of the virus.”

Stay connected
Families can still connect with friends and relatives. “Staying home does not mean cutting ties with everyone. Thankfully, technology allows us to connect in many different ways. In addition to phone calls, text messages, emails, connect through FaceTime, Zoom, Messenger and other apps,” suggests Groth.

With schools closed, Groth encourages parents to talk to their children about the COVID-19 virus. “Young children may not understand what is happening. Parents need to assure them that all will be well and that staying home keeps them safe while doctors fight the virus,” says Groth. “We need to look at the situation positively, as an experience that can bring you and your children closer together.”

Additionally, multi-generation families should try to maintain as much distance as possible in order to keep safe. Designate a special room for older family members, especially grandparents, if you can, so they’ll have their own space, where they can feel safe and comfortable.

Maintain good hygiene habits
Even if you are home, continue to wash your hands and sanitize all points of contact, like counters, tables and doorknobs. Health care providers stress the most important thing you can do is wash your hands thoroughly for at least for 20 seconds.

Do home maintenance work
Take care of home maintenance tasks you have put off, like replace a light bulb, fix a leaky faucet, clean the garage, file papers, or trim bushes and plants.

Exercise
If you get cabin fever, walk around your neighborhood, but keep your distance from others by staying six feet away from other individuals.

REALTORS® can still work
Even if client-facing activities are at a pause now, work need not stop for REALTORS®, says Groth. “REALTORS® can organize their data base and stay in touch with their clients by email, text messages and phone calls. Check in with your older clients, see how they are doing. Many would welcome a friendly phone call from you.”

Groth urges REALTORS® to continue learning. “Check MLSListings’ on-demand videos and webinar classes. This is also a good time to take the California Association of REALTORS® 45-hour online continuing education courses for license renewal, which is a free member benefit.”

“The market was solid before this outbreak, we will get through this and families will be stronger after we weather this crisis together,” said Groth.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, REALTORS® expect the outbreak to negatively impact their business, primarily in the areas of home sales and time on market. Flash pulse surveys by both the California Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® imply, at least in the short-term, that home sales will be down compared to what would have been the case due to the spread of coronavirus.

According to the C.A.R. flash pulse poll conducted March 6-9 via email, due to the coronavirus outbreak half of California REALTORS® expected there will be a negative impact on home sales and 49 percent said time on market will be impacted. Conversely, 36 percent said they expect there will be no impact on home sales or time on market (38 percent).

Other areas that REALTORS® said would be negatively impacted were home prices (40 percent), closing (38 percent), supply (37 percent) and market competition (28 percent). More than one-half (55 percent) said there would be no impact on market competition, closing (53 percent) or price (45 percent). More than one in four REALTORS® (26 percent) said they had clients who put their home purchase or home sale on hold, and more than one-third of REALTORS® had clients asking them coronavirus market-related questions.

With the situation still uncertain and changing rapidly, Joel Singer, CEO of C.A.R., said, “It is a logical reaction to this reality that the global economy will be slowing in historically unprecedented ways for some period of time.”

NAR conducted a similar pulse survey of members on March 9-10, 2020, a week after C.A.R.’s pulse survey. NAR’s Economic Pulse Flash Survey found among REALTORS® who responded, 37 percent said lower mortgage rates excited homebuyers much more than the stock market correction, yet almost eight out of 10 (78%) said there has been no change in buyer interest due to the coronavirus. Sixteen percent said buyer interest has decreased due to coronavirus, with members in California and Washington State citing larger decreases in buyer interest, 21 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

Nearly nine in 10 members (87%) said coronavirus has not affected the number of homes on the market. In Washington State and California, 5 percent and 4 percent of members, respectively, reported homes were removed from the market.

“Given that a home transaction is a major commitment, the uncertainties on how the economy will play out and the spread of the virus itself are barriers to homebuying and selling. The stock market crash is no doubt raising economic anxieties, while the coronavirus brings fear of contact with strangers,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “At the same time, the dramatic fall in interest rates may induce some potential buyers to take advantage of the better affordability conditions. It is too early to assess the likely impact as to whether lower interest rates can overcome the economic and health anxieties.”

Due to coronavirus concerns, C.A.R. and NAR have cancelled meetings and suspended non-essential volunteer and staff travel for association business. Also cancelled is the annual REALTOR® Legislative Day set for April 28. Legislative Day is the one day each year when over 2,000 California REALTORS® travel to Sacramento to meet their respective legislators and discuss real estate-related legislation that could impact property rights, their clients and their business.

In accordance to the March 17-April 7, 2020 Shelter in Place directive, the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) office in Cupertino will be closed. Staff will do their best to serve members while working remotely. Members can email membership@silvar.org with questions.

“Our primary concern is the health of our members and staff. This is the “new normal.” When the Shelter in Place order is lifted, all broker tours, open houses and showings will resume,” said SILVAR Executive Officer Paul Cardus.



The seven leading MLSs in Northern California, including MLSListings, announced the creation of have formed NorCal MLS Alliance, a data share collaborative which will ensure real estate professionals in Northern California have the greatest access to MLS data in and near the areas they do business. This move will give subscribers greater access to listing data for all major Northern California counties via Matrix. Initial implementation is slated for Q3 2020.

Three different MLS systems serve the seven MLSs in the NorCal MLS Alliance: Matrix (CoreLogic), Paragon (Black Knight), and Rapattoni. Each MLS has thousands of agents using their system. With the creation of NorCal MLS Alliance, each of the three systems will have all of the data in their respective data base. This means MLSListings subscribers will be able to seamlessly access this new, larger set of data via Matrix, their home system, without having to change to a different and unfamiliar system (i.e., no more switching systems from Matrix to Paragon to Rapattoni). Agents will continue to use the same system they are accustomed to, but with substantially more listing data from a much wider geography. NorCal MLS Alliance’s collaborative data sharing initiative will provide brokers and agents with a single set of listing data that will cover most of Northern California, from the Bay Area to the Central Valley to the crest of the Sierra Mountains. To REALTOR® members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® and other MLSListings subscribers, this means MLSListings will be adding San Francisco, North Bay, and Central Valley counties to the data shared with the East Bay, enabling agents to enter listings and search data covering 22 Northern California counties and reaching over 60,000 real estate professionals.

Plans are to implement Phase 1 with shared system data to include the six Bay Area MLSs (SFAR, BAREIS, bridgeMLS, CCAR, BayEast and MLSListings) by the third quarter of 2020, with continued access to Metrolist data through the current reciprocal system that is already in place. Phase 2 of the project, which will further integrate and interconnect data from the nine-county service area of MetroList with the Bay Area systems, is set for 2021.

Real estate experts forecast despite lower interest rates, this year’s housing market will continue to be a challenge with the housing shortage. Mary Kay Groth, 2020 president of the Silicon Valley of REALTORS®, tells buyers they should not be discouraged. Groth is a REALTOR® with Sereno Group in Los Gatos, CA.

“Buyers should not give up their dream of homeownership. They need to be prepared, find an experienced REALTOR® they can trust, and be ready to jump in when they find the right home,” says Groth. “All real estate is local, so it is important to work with a REALTOR®who is familiar with your neighborhood of choice.”

Here are strategies Groth suggests homebuyers employ:

1. Examine your finances.
Before beginning your home search, examine your monthly income, expenses, debt payments (auto loans, student loans, minimum credit card payments) and savings. Figure out how much you can use for a down payment. Depending on the loan you qualify for, you’ll need at least 3 to 20 percent for a down payment.

2. Check your credit score. A higher credit score typically means a better interest rate and loan options. According to the Federal Reserve, 90 percent of mortgages taken out by homebuyers in the first quarter of 2019 had a score of at least 650; 75 percent had a score above 700.

2. Get pre-approved by a lender.
Once you have organized your finances, visit a lender (it is advisable to visit more than one lender) and get pre-approved for a mortgage loan; not just pre-qualified.

“A pre-approval letter from a lender shows sellers you are a serious buyer and have the lender’s backing,” says Groth.

Groth advises buyers to be cautious about paying the maximum they can afford. “You will need some reserve to enhance the home, do repairs or purchase furnishings. You want to be comfortable with your house payments and be able to keep your house.”

3. Begin your home search. With pre-approval and a price range, you can begin your home search with your REALTOR®. Let your REALTOR®know your criteria for a home. Focus on important characteristics that will matter for the next five years – location, amenities, community, etc. With the help of a skilled and experienced REALTORS®, you will be able to learn the fair market value of homes selling in the area.

4. Be ready to decide quickly. When you find the right home, go in with your absolute best offer. “In a multiple offer situation, you may not get a second chance,” says Groth.

5. Avoid complex contingencies. Don’t be overly demanding. Contingencies can weaken a “sure deal.” The seller wants assurance the contract will close escrow in the designated time frame.

6. Include a personal letter to the seller. Groth notes, “A personal letter to a seller puts a real person behind the offer. There have been multiple offer situations where sellers have been moved by a buyer’s letter that price did not matter.”

7. Understand the documents. When your REALTOR® reviews the purchase contract, disclosures and other documents, make sure you understand. If you don’t understand, ask.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) last week hosted a delegation of International REALTOR® Members from the Philippine Chamber of Real Estate & Builders Association (CREBA). The IRMs were in town for the National Association of REALTORS® 2019 Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

NAR maintains formal relationships with 100 organized real estate associations around the world, giving REALTORS® confidence in working with professionals that abide by a Code of Ethics. These bilateral partnerships exist in 85 countries to help members establish business partnerships and referral opportunities. SILVAR is NAR’s Ambassador Association to the Philippines and CREBA is SILVAR’s partner association there.

Also attending the event at SILVAR were NAR Global Ambassador to the Philippines Vicky Silvano, Filipino American Real Estate Professional Association Silicon Valley (FAREPA SV) President Cheryl (CJ) Javier and FAREPA SV board directors, SILVAR President Alan Barbic, President-elect Mary Kay Groth, Global Business Chair Joanne Fraser and GBC planning committee members Mark Wong, Ketan Jashapara, Chika Mori, David Tonna, Mitra Lahidji and Lisa Wendl.

Read more and see photos here:

https://www.silvar.org/press-release-1901.htm

Statewide housing affordability dipped in the second quarter of this year, according to the California Association of REALTORS®, though some San Francisco Bay Area counties showed some improvement.

According to the California Association of REALTORS® Traditional Housing Affordability Index, the percentage of homebuyers who could afford to purchase a median priced, single-family home statewide in second-quarter 2019 dipped to 30 percent from 32 percent in the first quarter of 2019 but was up from 26 percent in the second quarter a year ago.

A minimum annual income of $122,960 was needed to qualify for the purchase of a $608,660 statewide median priced, single-family home in the second quarter of 2019. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $3,070, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an interest rate of 4.17 percent. The interest rate was 4.62 percent in first-quarter 2019 and 4.70 percent in second-quarter 2018. 

San Francisco County was the least affordable county in the state, with just 17 percent of households able to purchase the $1,700,000 median-priced home. Forty-six percent of Solano County households could afford the $445,000 median-priced home, making it the most affordable Bay Area county.

In Silicon Valley, when compared with the first quarter of 2019, housing affordability stayed at the same level in the second quarter in the high-priced Silicon Valley counties of San Mateo (18 percent) and Santa Clara (20 percent) and San Francisco (17 percent).

“Home prices are starting to fall in line. Sellers are realizing they need to be realistic about pricing their home in this market. There is just so much buyers, especially first-time buyers, can afford, even with their high incomes and the low interest rates,” said Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

Not surprisingly, San Francisco (17 percent) and San Mateo (18 percent) counties were the least affordable places in the Bay Area, and requiring the highest minimum qualifying incomes in the state. An annual income of $343,420 was needed to purchase a home in San Francisco County, and an annual income of $338,870 was required in San Mateo County.

In Santa Clara County, homebuyers needed an annual income of $268,680 to qualify for the purchase of a $1,330,000 countywide median-priced single-family home in the second quarter of 2019. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, would be $6,720, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an interest rate of 4.17 percent.

At “What REALTORS® Should Know About Vastu,” members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® learned about vastu shastra from Gautam Rana, a longtime practitioner and vastu consultant with Yogic Dwelling in San Ramon. Vastu is the counterpart of the Chinese art and science of feng shui.

Like feng shui, the science says if you are not connected with nature, you will not achieve balance in your life. Vastu also seeks harmony with the five elements of nature – water, air, fire, earth and space, but vastu is a more complex science than feng shui.

Rana studied the science in India and adheres to the guidelines of vishwakarma prakash, an ancient scripture of vastu, which pays attention to the entrance, the shape of the structure, and the elements placed inside the property. Rana said vastu places importance on 16 zones, 32 entrances and the placements of elements in a property.

“The facing of the property has no relevance in vastu,” stressed Rana. “The only way a house can be accurately analyzed is by finding its center.”

Rana sketched a house on white board and illustrated to members how the science is applied. By dividing 360 degrees around the center of a house, building or any other type of structure you get 32 possible locations or entrances.

Once you have calculated the entrance locations. The directions (north, south, east, west) are further divided into 16 zones, which determine the adverse or beneficial effects to those living there (ex. wealth, career, success, illness, accidents, etc.) The use of different techniques in accordance with the five elements in the form of colors and/or metals can mitigate the negative effects.

READ MORE HERE

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® 8th Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Institute was held June 10-14. 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.

After completing five courses and other requirements, REALTORS® earn the prestigious National Association of Realtors CIPS designation. There are about 3,250 CIPS designees in the U.S.

SILVAR has offered the CIPS Institute every year since 2012. Teaching this year’s classes was REALTOR® and broker associate Bobbi Decker, a NAR REBAC instructor.

“We had a very vital and enthusiastic group for this CIPS class at SILVAR this week. NAR is very eager to have its members up their professionalism, particularly in this global economy and changing market dynamics of the real estate industry,” said Decker.

The CIPS designation gives REALTORS® an edge over other agents when dealing with foreign clients. Decker noted that Silicon Valley is an epicenter for innovation. “Certified International Property Specialist is an essential designation for REALTORS® working in this melting pot that draws people from all over the world.”

According to NAR’s “2018 Profile of International Activity in U.S.Residential Real Estate,” foreign buyers purchased $121 billion of residential property from April 201 to March 2018. Five states accounted for 53 percent of total residential property purchases: Florida (19 percent), California (14 percent), Texas (9 percent), New York (five percent), and Arizona (five percent). The major foreign buyers were China ($30.4B), Canada ($10.5B), the United Kingdom ($7.3B), India ($7.2B), and Mexico ($4.2B).

The CIPS Institute had five sponsors this year. Anita Rodal, international liaison with AFEX (Associated Foreign Exchange) and president of SBPI Services, Inc., informed Realtors the exchange rate can fluctuate on a second by second basis, so the exchange rate on the internet is not be the actual exchange rate. She also explained how market volatility affects inter-bank currency exchange rates and how AFEX helps foreign buyers convert their money to dollars quickly and at a competitive rate.

Avery Bibbs, business development manager with First American Exchange Company, delivered a presentation on the 1031 exchange and tax updates for 2019. A 1031 exchange allows an investor to sell a property, reinvest the proceeds from the sale in a “like kind” property that is of equal or greater value and defer all capital gain taxes. Examples of “like-kind” property exchanges are a single-family rental house for a duplex, an apartment building for a retail center, land for an income producing vineyard, etc.

Michael Cobb, CEO of ECI Development, spoke on how local REALTORS® can help clients interested in purchasing property abroad. Cobb said in addition to investors buying property overseas, Americans are looking at retiring abroad. Their move overseas is driven by cost, having a higher quality of life for less money.

Lisa Wendl, a loan officer with General Mortgage Capital Corp., provided information on loan requirements for foreign buyers. Wendl said because it is getting harder for Chinese living abroad to get money out of China, she has clients who have bought high-end properties in the Bay Area who are seeking to do cash-out refinancing in order to remain liquid. If the China government does not ease up on its restrictions on the outflow of money, Wendl anticipates some Chinese will be forced to sell their homes.

Amy Ku, Sandy Lee and Dean Chang represented the team of Winnie Ho, premier mortgage consultant with HSBC. Ku said a portfolio lending bank, HSBC is a one-stop shop designed to accommodate global clients. HSBC a number of programs that offer flexible terms to foreign buyers, like interest-only loans and family assisted programs for buyers who need help in qualifying for loans.

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