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Kung Hei Fat Choy! This year’s new Chinese zodiac animal king – the Metal Ox, will bring a year of recovery, reclaim and discovery, according to feng shui Master Y.C. Sun. At the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® Global Business Council Lunar New Year celebration last Friday, Sun said the Metal Ox is known to have mythical power to stabilize a bad situation created by the Rat in 2020 and start the process of recovery.

Sun predicts by mid-June we should return to some form of “normal” life, and by next February 4, 2022, the year of the Water Tiger, “we will see a healthy community and a strong economy, as well as people are busy traveling and having fun.” This scenario is similar to the year of the Rat in 2008, during the Great Recession which ended in 2009, the year of the Earth Ox.

Sun said the Metal Ox requires people to be diligent and provides them with a combative spirit, perseverance, mental toughness, and the determination to overcome adversity, such as the pandemic. The Ox is disciplined, easy going, trusting, and introspective, but occasionally suffers from irrational fears, such as fear of impending doom. The Ox also can be stubborn and competitive. When provoked, it becomes enraged.

The Metal Ox’s positive energy is directed to fight for justice, defend and protect safety, security and the interests of family and loved ones. Its negative energy can lead to violent confrontation, disruption, domestic violence, robbery, suicide.

Sun predicts unusual weather will occur in January, May, September, and November, and earthquakes possibly happening in March, June, July, August, and September in Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Peru, Taiwan and Alaska, including a possible large-scale earthquake at Xinjiang, China. He sees July (from July 7-August 7) as a bad month, as karma between the Wood Goat and Metal Ox come in conflict.

For the housing market, Sun said the recovering economy, low mortgage rates, increased buyer demand for investment income, first-time buyers and low inventory will lead to greater competition for desirable homes and further home price appreciation. High-earning millennials turning 28 years old will buy their first-time homes, and the oldest millennials will trade up.

Sun sees real estate being strong for the next 4-5 years, but noted 2021 will be a hard-working year for real estate agents as they face intense competition and reduced transaction fees, and become efficient in technology. Except for the southeast and northwest cities, Sun said the housing market should remain steady with good price growth particularly in San Jose-Sunnyvale, Oakland-Hayward, Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Napa, Oxnard, Riverside, Las Vegas, Reno, Phoenix, Austin.

Find out more HERE.

At the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® virtual installation ceremony on Feb. 4, the association recognized members for their valuable contribution to the association and community in the past year. The 2020 SILVAR Appreciation Awards were presented by 2020 SILVAR President Mary Kay Groth and CEO Paul Cardus.

Mary Kay Groth, a REALTOR® with Sereno Los Gatos and resident of the town, was named 2020 REALTOR® of the Year. The prestigious award is bestowed on a member who continually demonstrates skills, competency, knowledge and selfless service to the public, clients and to SILVAR.

Presenting the award to Groth, Cardus noted 2020, the 25th anniversary of SILVAR, was a year unlike any other. “The worldwide global pandemic and a national reckoning with injustice and inequality reached deep into the Realtor family. It tested bonds, but ultimately underscored the tenacity, spirit and commitment of Realtors who embraced the challenges at hand.”

Cardus praised Groth for her “gracious servant leadership, her authenticity, empathy and compassion.” He said as 2020 president of SILVAR, Groth “showed resilience in the face of adversity and trailblazing leadership by listening and responding to the needs of our members, communities and association. She found strength and inspiration in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘everybody can be great…because anybody can serve… You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.'”

Recognized by Groth were Kyle Chuang, Affiliate of the Year; Brian Chancellor, Spirit of SILVAR. Eileen Giorgi received the President’s award.

Groth said Chuang, a Farmers Insurance agent, is a regular sponsor and participant in association events, where he shares his knowledge and updates on the changing world of insurance. She described Chuang as a “hardworking, hands-on leader and a great proponent of our association.”

“His willingness to help where needed enhances the image of our association and our Realtor and affiliated professional members. ‘Treat people how you want to be treated’ is his personal motto,” said Groth.

The Spirit of SILVAR award is bestowed to a REALTOR® who reflects the association’s commitment to supporting and contributing to the communities it serves. Groth described Chancellor, who is vice president of Experience at Sereno Palo Alto, as “a man of great integrity.” She said Chancellor’s continued community service activities have proven his dedication to making the community a better place.

Chancellor served nine years on the board of Child Advocates of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and six years on the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation board. He has served as a mentor (initially through the Big Brother and Big Sister Program) for young African American males in East Palo Alto without fathers and continues to stay in touch with and support them today. He is serving his fifth year on the Palo Alto Community Fund board and in the Leadership Circle of donors to Partners in Education.

“Through his service, actions and support, he provides a voice to those in our communities who we too often don’t hear, engage or respect,” said Groth.

The President’s award is presented to an individual whose service to the association is worthy of special thanks and recognition. Groth said Giorgi, a REALTOR® with Sereno Los Gatos, has been an integral part of volunteer work at SILVAR for many years, serving in various capacities, as a board director, president of the association’s charitable foundation, chair of the REALTOR® Volunteer Service Program, and on the Los Gatos-Saratoga district council.

“As I became involved with SILVAR, she was a discreet cheerleader and encourager, a good sounding board and one who always served without expectation of recognition. Her heart is one that gives willingly and selflessly,” said Groth.

In the local real estate association’s first-ever virtual ceremony, the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® 2021 leadership team was installed on Feb. 4 on Zoom. National Association of REALTORS® 2020 President Vince Malta administered the oath of office to 2021 SILVAR President Joanne Fraser, and California Association of REALTORS® 2021 President Dave Walsh installed SILVAR’s 2021 officers and board directors. Compass Executive Vice President and Regional Office Manager Jeff Barnett served as master of ceremonies. SILVAR REALTOR® Robert Reid led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance, Joey Hallatt, a REALTOR® from Phoenix, Ariz., sang “God Bless America,” and 2021 NAR Vice President of Advocacy Leigh Brown delivered the Inspiration Message.

SILVAR’s 2021 officers are Fraser, a REALTOR® with Compass, Los Altos; Brett Caviness, a REALTOR® with Compass, Menlo Park, President-elect; and Jeff Bell, broker manager of Coldwell Banker Realty, Cupertino, Treasurer.

SILVAR’s 2021 board directors are Mary Kay Groth (Sereno), Past President; Alan Barbic (Sereno), Region 9 Chair; Jim Hamilton (Compass), NAR Director; District Chairs Katherine Frey (Independent Broker), Los Altos-Mountain View;  Elizabeth Doyle (Sereno), Los Gatos-Saratoga; Selena Young (Coldwell Banker), Menlo Park-Atherton; Pat Kapowich (Independent Broker), Cupertino-Sunnyvale; Lori Buecheler (Compass), Palo Alto; and Directors At-large Ketan Jashapara (Compass), Karen Trolan (Sereno), Suzanne Yost (Compass), and Eileen Giorgi (Sereno).

A former nurse for 14 years, a REALTOR® for 43 years and a world traveler, Fraser has a lifetime of experiences. She told friends, colleagues, and family who watched the ceremony on Zoom and FacebookLive that she wants to give back to SILVAR and the real estate community.

Fraser moved to Mountain View from Maryland in 1970, and worked as an RN in the emergency room, critical care, medical and surgical at Stanford and El Camino hospitals until she decided to change careers. She took real estate courses at night and received her license in 1977.

A Certified Residential Specialist and member of the Residential Real Estate Council (formerly CRS), Fraser served as 2007 president of the CRS NorCal chapter, was regional vice president, and served on the national RRC board and various committees. She was the 2006 and 2016 CRS of the Year and received the 2012 CRS Medallion award for her volunteer service.

Fraser has achieved NAR Emeritus status, served on NAR’s Global Business & Alliances Committee and Certified International Property Specialist Advisory Board. At SILVAR, Fraser has served as president of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, chair of the Global Busines Council, a board director and member of many committees.

Sharing her excitement for the upcoming year, Fraser said she wants to move on from a pandemic year. “It’s the time to turn the page; it’s not going to be the same old thing,” she said.

Fraser urged members to get more involved in association activities and share her passion for leadership. “Leadership is having a vision and looking for the future … I’m truly looking forward to building a team, people who want to work together for a common goal, so that we can make SILVAR the best association in the Bay Area.”

Sponsors of the installation ceremony include Presenting Sponsor Compass, TourFactory, JCP-LGS Hazard Disclosures, and Water Tower Creative.

The 22nd annual Silicon Valley REALTORS® Scholars Program for graduating seniors from 18 public high schools in Silicon Valley is underway. The scholars program is sponsored by the Charitable Foundation of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, 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 Silicon Valley. The scholars from the Class of 2021 will be selected from high schools in thecommunities served by members of the local REALTOR® association. 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 the local business community and the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

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 over $380,000 to graduating high school seniors in Silicon Valley.

 “The annual Silicon Valley Scholars Program is our members’ way of showing our support for our students, schools and communities. We see value in supporting our youth and investing in their future, especially at a time when their academic life has been much altered by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Nina Yamaguchi, chair of the scholars program of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. “Our excellent educational institutions are a major reason why Silicon Valley is a top housing market. For this we thank the students, teachers, administrators and school board members in our communities for their hard work and dedication in making the schools in our communities among the best in 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 5 for submission to the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. For further information, please contact Nina Yamaguchi at (408) 861-8822 or nyamaguchi@cbnorcal.com.

SILVAR is excited to announce a new benefit for all members! You recently received emails from the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) about REALTOR® Secure Transaction, a new one-stop transaction dashboard available on Wednesday that will give you access to your Transactions, zipForm Edition account and more, including the addition of Glide on January 14, 2021. Glide is a platform for eSignatures, collaboration resource, and compliance tools needed for your real estate transactions.

We are happy to inform you that SILVAR has also partnered with Glide to provide you with a faster, simpler, and safer transaction platform designed to provide a modern experience for you and your clients.

As a member of C.A.R., you will receive a basic set of Glide features, which you can see HERE. SILVAR is providing you with additional features to maximize the value of your membership. These additional benefits include:

  • The addition of the PRDS form library available starting mid-January
  • The ability to fill all forms in Glide, eliminating the need to switch platforms
  • Complete PEAD-Vs and create transactions via MLS

Again, the Glide platform will give you access to eSignatures, collaboration resources, and compliance tools needed for your real estate transactions. Over the past three years, Glide has been used by over 40,000 agents in California to complete disclosures, AVIDs, and PEAD-Vs. We hope you also enjoy these new additional member benefits, and we are here to support you during your transition to using this new tool.

Silicon Valley REALTORS® can access their Glide benefit and learn more about Glide HERE.

* PRDS forms will remain available on the Instanet platform (in addition to Glide and Transactions, zipForm edition), but please note the Authentisign/DocBox benefit is ending January 1, 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed real estate transactions for some people, housing markets in many areas of the country are showing a strength and resiliency unimagined earlier this spring. It is critical to understand the pandemic’s impact on real estate, from simply touring a home to the ability to close transactions.

As the situation continues to evolve, the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® encourages buyers and sellers to follow CDC guidelines to protect their health and safety. Below are some important tips on buying and selling a home during the pandemic from houselogic.com:

What Buyers Need to Know:
Home tours look a little different
–Where in-person showings are offered, potential buyers can expect quicker tours and asked to take extra precautions, such as removing shoes, using hand sanitizer, and refraining from touching items in the home. Many REALTORS® also are guiding buyers through virtual home tours.

Interest rates are low –Interest rates remain at all-time lows and home prices are rising or holding steady. As more people file for unemployment, however, mortgage lenders have tightened lending standards. Potential buyers can prepare for homeownership by understanding their budget, building a good credit history, and getting prequalified for a mortgage. Some lenders allow borrowers to lock in interest rates for limited time periods.

Don’t expect a discount –Home prices in Silicon Valley are holding steady, with majority of prices higher from one year ago, according to local multiple listing service MLSListings. The median sales price of cities in the county are exhibiting double-digit percentage increases year-over-year. Days on market for most cities are down to the single digits, a sign that homes are selling quickly. The sales-to-price ration averages 102 percent.

Expect delays –Those terminating a lease should leave some wiggle room, even an extra month or two, between moving out of a rental and into a new home in case of an unexpected delay. Hiring moving crews may prove challenging, so buyers should give movers as much notice as possible ahead of their scheduled move.

What Sellers Need to Know:
Use tech tools to help market and show your home
– For sellers uncomfortable with in-person showings, many digital tools are available to help them continue marketing and showing their home. A REALTOR® can help coordinate three-dimensional interactive property scans, virtual tours (either pre-recorded or live), on-demand open houses, and virtual staging to showcase their property. If sellers receive an offer on their home, their REALTOR® has the ability to present it to them virtually.

Take steps to protect yourself – “Sight unseen” purchases are not a new phenomenon, but this pandemic has certainly increased their prevalence. Sellers may want to include language in the purchase agreement that ensures buyers acknowledge they are responsible for personal verification, walkthroughs, and professional inspections to confirm that the property meets their needs.

Buyers are still searching – It continues to be a competitive market due to the limited supply of homes for sale. As potential buyers increasingly browse homes online, having attractive and accurate photos and videos is even more important. Sellers can use this extra time at home to make updates around their home and take fresh pictures of those improvements.

For more information and resources on buying or selling a home, visit www.houselogic.com.

Aside from being a presidential election year, much is at stake for REALTORS® this November. Property taxes, rent control, and the California Association of REALTORS®’ portability initiative are all on the ballot and could impact your business. Make sure REALTOR® voices are heard by registering to vote now. The deadline to register to vote for the November 3, 2020 election is Monday, October 19.

This year ballots will be going out one month prior to the election date and traditional precincts are no longer how Californians will vote; instead, California voters will need to return their ballot by mail, or return it to one of the approved vote centers in their county. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by November 3rd to be counted.

Make your REALTOR® voice heard. Register to vote on November 3rd.

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE
SAN MATEO COUNTY VOTING CENTER LOCATIONS
SANTA CLARA COUNTY VOTING CENTER LOCATIONS


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

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

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

Make a Plan

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

What to Take

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

What to Do Before You Leave

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

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

June is National Homeownership Month, a time to recognize the value of homeownership. Owning a home is more than an address. When you invest in homeownership: you build financial stability, gain the freedom to create a home that fits your lifestyle, and play a role in strengthening your community.

Since Americans have been forced to shelter in their place of residence due to the coronavirus pandemic, the home has come out on top. Families are discovering their home and improvements they can make. Homeownership has mattered even more to prospective buyers.

“The home is now not just a place to live, but also a place to work,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) and a REALTOR® with Sereno Group. “With more companies allowing their employees to work remotely, surveys show a growing trend in buyer preferences to expand their home search farther from the city to places with more open space and for larger homes with a dedicated space for a home office.”

The social benefits of homeownership are many. Homeowners move far less frequently than renters, making it easier to build community networks and support systems. This results in a higher membership in voluntary organizations, greater social interaction in their communities, better school performance by children living in owned homes, a higher rate of high school graduation and higher earning, and better physical, psychological and emotional health outcomes.

The pandemic has caused a drop in home sales, but it has not brought transactions to an absolute halt. In fact, market activity has grown in the past month as REALTORS® embrace technology to help their clients achieve their dream of homeownership. Since traditional open houses are banned, SILVAR REALTORS® like Mary Jo McCarthy are holding open houses virtually.

McCarthy, a REALTOR® with Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, recently told SILVAR members, “It’s the path that we’re in, so I felt I have to learn it. I’m in the weeds right now and just figuring out how to navigate, but it shows my clients that I’m moving ahead with technology.”

In-person showings are allowed now, but with only three persons – two from the same household and the agent. Health and safety restrictions must be followed. Mitra Lahidji, a REALTOR® with Compass, described the process. “We kept a 6-foot distance from each other, we had face masks and gloves. I gave booties to my clients, two persons only, and then wiped the areas we touched.”

“We are so fortunate technology has allowed us to be in touch ‘face to face’ with our clients,” said Groth. “For now, the best value we can give our clients is to know our marketplace so every buyer who wants to achieve their dream of homeownership can, and to also be a voice of calm and assurance when they are feeling overwhelmed with all that is happening around us.”

The National Association of REALTORS® is celebrating the new era of homeownership and recognizing the people, policies, and programs that are #CreatingHome now and into the future. Visit https://homeownershipmatters.realtor/homeownership-month-2020/ for homeowner stories and expert advice.

April 2021
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