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Bees may be pests to some people, but they are important to agriculture. One third of the world’s food supply is pollinated by bees. Without bees to keep plants and crops alive, the world will not survive. Members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® recently learned of this sobering thought from beekeeper and honey bee location expert, Art Hall. Hall asked the REALTORS® to relay the information to homeowners, stressing the importance of bees to the world’s survival. The honey bee, which is the most endangered bee, is responsible for over $30 billion a year in crops.

Beekeeping originally started in Egypt in 2400 B.C. European beekeeping began in the 1300s. There were no honey bees in America until the Europeans brought bees to Virginia in 1621. Hall said today there has been an increase in backyard beekeeping as more people become aware of their threat of extinction.

Hall removes bees from homes, backyards, and commercial structures for a fee. He warns it is not enough to just kill bees with spray, as their remnants create spores of black mold, which destroys structures and is also a mandatory disclosure. Bees need to be removed, the area of their location, if a structure, then needs to be cleaned, sealed and calked.

Hall donates the bees he removes to the 4-H, the Future Farmers of American, and anyone who will prove that they will keep the bees alive and not kill them.

The beekeeper stressed the world needs to save honey bees because they pollinate hundreds of plants upon which livestock feed. Bees help create billions of dollars of increased yield. He noted one fruit tree grower said bees can mean a difference of 40 to 50 percent increase in yield.

Bees are dying due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder, which occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave the queen behind. Other reasons are parasites, imported bacteria, and pesticides.

To protect the bee population, homeowners can reduce pesticide usage, support local beekeepers, plant year-round forage and tell neighbors and friends about the importance of their survival.

 

 

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Earlier this week, the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) sent out a Red Alert to members about reaching out to their Assembly members and urging them to oppose AB 2364. C.A.R. is pleased to announce that AB 2364 FAILED last night on Assembly Floor. The bill only secured 25 YES votes, with 34 voting NO and the remainder Not Voting. All members of the Assembly were present, so those not voting did so intentionally.

C.A.R OPPOSES AB 2364 (Bloom and Chiu), which deters property owners from returning to the rental housing business for 10 years. The passage of AB 2364 would have significantly weakened the Ellis Act by discouraging new rental housing investment and would have ultimately made the state’s housing crisis even worse.

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SILVAR members get ready to meet their legislators.

 

In light of California’s ongoing housing availability/affordability and supply crisis, this year on Legislative Day, in addition to the “hot issues,” the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) asked REALTORS® to ask their legislators what they propose to do to increase the housing supply in California

C.A.R. senior vice president and chief lobbyist Alex Creel said home prices are too high because of the limited supply of homes and that’s because government at the state and local level is constraining supply and this has led to laws on rent control and exclusionary zoning. The state’s homeownership is among the lowest in the nation. Average rents in California cost 50 percent higher than the rest of the country.

“The solution to the housing affordability crisis is not price control. It is dealing with supply and the constraints that limit supply,” said Creel.

Creel said the legislature can help by streamlining the permitting process, fixing CEQA, requiring local government to meet their housing requirements, fund affordable housing and defeat bills that discourage construction of rental housing.

Thus, after the joint luncheon, SILVAR members met with Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, and Assembly members Evan Low and Marc Berman and discussed the housing issues and asked them to take C.A.R.’s position on the following bills:

AB 1979 (Bonta/Steinworth) – Homeownership Savings Accounts – SUPPORT
This bill allows homebuyers to establish a Homeownership Savings Account (HSA) to purchase a home without paying tax on the interest earned on funds in that account; permits taxpayers to exclude from gross income earned on money contributed to a HSA up to 20 percent of the median home price as determine by the Department of Housing and Community Development; and permits contributions to HSA from relatives and others, as well. This would help families struggling for a down payment on a home, benefiting 3.5 million families.

SB 1469 (Skinner) – Accessory Dwelling Units – SUPPORT
Despite recent changes to state law making it easier to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs), many local governments are using overly restrictive ordinances and other loopholes to deny their development. This bill would streamline the approval process for building ADUs by prohibiting the imposition of impact fees, connection fees and other fees levied by local entities on construction of ADUs and would only permit local government to deny construction if it adversely impacts fire and life safety. It also states if the local government fails to act on the application within 60 days, the project would be approved.

AB 2618 (Bonta) – Specialty Licensing – OPPOSE
C.A.R. opposes this bill because it requires real estate licensees to complete a mandatory property management certification program to perform property management services that they are already licensed to provide. It also requires private owners to obtain this certification even if they use a licensee to manage their property. The measure is unnecessary, duplicates existing law, and provides no additional consumer protections. There is no data to support the need for additional certification or training.

READ MORE HERE

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

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

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

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

 

 

READ MORE HERE

 

 

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The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) 7th Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Institute took place last week with 15 students registered, including SILVAR CIPS designees who took some courses for audit. REALTORS® enrolled came from around the San Francisco Bay Area and as far as Sacramento.

Interestingly enough, among the full-time REALTORS® registered, only one student was born in the U.S. The other students were born in China, Taiwan, India, and the Philippines. The composition of this year’s class says everything about the cultural diversity in Silicon Valley, according to CIPS instructor David Wyant.

This was the seventh time Wyant and his wife and assistant Patsy, returned to Silicon Valley to teach the CIPS Institute at SILVAR. The Wyants travel all over the world teaching the global real estate courses and are able to share valuable insights with their students. Wyant was named International Instructor of the Year at the National Association of REALTORS® Conference and Expo in Chicago last November. He has received the same award twice before, in 2012 and 2009.

The CIPS Institute provides training in international business issues, including currency conversion, cultural awareness, legal and tax requirements, transaction principles of international real estate, and specifics about the real estate markets in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

Wyant said global real estate opportunities are everywhere. People move to Silicon Valley from other countries and foreign-born individuals residing here move to new markets. People here may look to invest in property overseas.

“No matter which audience you cater to, the CIPS designation will provide you with the knowledge and tools to expand your business globally,” said Wyant.

Thank you to this year’s CIPS Sponsors of the Day: Darrell Monda with TourFactory; Kyle Chuang with Farmers’ Insurance; Anita Rodal, international liaison with AFEX (Associated Foreign Exchange) and president of SBPI Services, Inc.; and Kim Kim P Nguyen and Suzette Reboton, premier mortgage consultant and vice president and senior branch manager of HSBC Bank USA, Cupertino.

SEE PHOTOS HERE

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Cupertino-Sunnyvale District Chair Jeff Bell being interviewed by Maureen Naylor, reporter for KTVU Channel 2 News, at a home for sale in Mountain View

 

Jeff Bell, board director and 2010 president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, was featured in KTVU news on Tuesday, in a story about how the low inventory and rising home prices are impacting even high paid tech workers in the region.

As of January 2018, Bell indicated the median sales price of a single-family home in Santa Clara County was $1,170,000, up 26 percent from a year ago. In Mountain View, where he has a listing, the median is $2,400,000, up 51 percent from last year.

According to MLSListings Inc., homes in Santa Clara County are being scooped up at a rapid pace, staying on the market between six to eight days. One home located in the Mountain View Whisman School District was only on the market a mere two days. Currently there are only six listings in Mountain View.

Bell said in order to qualify for a home priced at $2.4 million, a buyer would have to have an annual income of $340,000, with no other consumer debt (credit cards, car loans, etc.). With a 20 percent down payment, a buyer’s monthly payment, including principal, interest, insurance and property taxes, would amount to a whopping $12,185.25.

Bell observed while challenging, the cost does not appear to have deterred tech workers. He noted in one day he had 80 groups of potential buyers walk through the Mountain View listing, majority of whom were high-tech workers, many who worked at nearby Google. He said most who were keenly interested in purchasing the home were dual income couples.

“They are the type of buyers who are in the best position to afford such a home in this current hot market,” said Bell.

 

 

 

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Feng Shui Master Y.C. Sun

Gong hei fat choy! Prominent astrologer and feng shui master Y.C. Sun recently shared his forecast for 2018, the Year of the Earth Dog, with members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. This is going to be a year of highs and lows, said Sun.

Protectionism will be on the rise this year, a “classic pullback and comeback story,” said Sun. There will be violent ground movement – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, rebuilding of aging infrastructure like roads, levees, bridges rails, and in line with dry earth, there will be drought, flooding, fire, traffic and accidents.

The year will also be characterized by market volatility, economic and political chaos, but expect a comeback by Labor Day, said Sun. The country’s GDP will rise to 4 percent by year-end, but there will be lots of chaos before that.

Be careful in April, particularly April 5 through May 4. It is going to be a bad and disaster-ridden month because the karma between the month of the Fire Dragon and Year of the Earth Dog will be in big conflict.

The President was born in the Year of the Fire Dog. The fire dog does not get along with the earth dog, so expect him to face a lot of trouble and challenges in health and in politics this year. He will encounter chaotic issues in March, in the second half of April, two weeks in June, and in October.

As for real estate, Sun said business will be good, but will slow down. It will be tough to be a real estate agent because of so much competition due to the housing shortage and low affordability. Dallas, San Antonio, Stockton, Las Vegas, Orlando, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, Charlotte, Tulsa, Nashville, Houston, Tampa will be the top U.S. markets this year. In the Bay Area, top markets are San Jose, South San Francisco, Daly City, San Bruno, Hayward, Concord, Vallejo, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa.

As for feng shui and the home, Sun said good locations are the center (happiness, celebration, always keep the middle of your home clean, free from clutter), southeast (money/fame), south (best energy for writing, studying, research), northwest (tender loving care, family values, promotes romance), southwest (change, travel, relocation). “Bad” locations are the north (disaster, misfortune), northeast (arguments), east (decline of energy, loss of money, robbery), west (sickness).

If your house faces any of these “bad” locations, Sun suggests placing six copper coins under a mat or placing a copper bell by the entrance. You can also add a peace lily. For homes that face east, add a large glass of water or blue decoration. For homes that face northeast, add a red decoration.

The feng shui master’s advice for the Year of the Earth Dog: “Time for meeting real people to get connected, getting in shape, eating healthier food, spending less time on social media/games, learning a new skill, be kind, be proactive, or becoming the barking dogs (that) seldom bite!”

As both the House and Senate sharpen their vision for tax reform, REALTORS® want to ensure homeownership is protected throughout the tax reform debate.

“We are watching closely for changes to current law that might leave middle-class homeowners – and homeownership broadly – in a worse place than it is today,” said National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “A near doubling of the standard deduction, combined with the elimination of other deductions, like the state and local tax deduction, can turn the American dream into a nightmare for families, as the rug is pulled out from under them. Simply preserving the mortgage interest deduction in name only isn’t enough to protect homeownership.” Now that both the House and Senate have passed their own versions of The Tax Cut and Jobs Act, a Conference Committee will address the differences between both bills and come up with a final version of a tax reform bill. It could happen anytime next week, as their goal is to vote on the bill by the end of the week.

NAR is asking Congress to support the following provisions for inclusion in the final legislation:
Mortgage Interest Deduction: Retain current law to maintain a total cap of $1 million on primary first and second homes.

Capital Gains Exemption: Retain current law of exempting gains of up to $250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for joint filers for primary residence lived in for two of the past five years of ownership.

State and Local Tax Deductibility: The limitation of deductibility to property taxes should be expanded to include state and local income taxes and the cap should be increased and indexed to inflation These provisions would add needed protection to current and future homeowners and strengthen the ability of qualified American families to purchase a home.

Denise Welsh, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, emphasized it is important to keep homeownership intact for everyone who wishes to purchase a home. “Let’s not let tax reform quash the American dream of homeownership. While the bill reduces taxes on average in every income group, we have grave concerns that with the elimination of the state and local tax deductions and limiting property tax deductions, millions would still see their taxes go up and home values would drop,” said Welsh.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced this week that it will raise the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2018 to $453,100 on one-unit properties and a cap of $679,650 in high-cost areas. The previous loan limits were $424,100 and $636,150, respectively. This is the second straight year and the second time that the FHFA has raised the conforming loan limits since 2006.

The conforming loan limit determines the maximum size of a mortgage that Government Sponsored Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can buy or guarantee. Non-conforming or jumbo loans typically carry a higher mortgage interest rate than conforming loans, increasing monthly payments and negatively impacting affordability for families to purchase homes.

The FHFA decided to raise the conforming loan limits due to rising home values. In most of the country, the 2018 maximum loan limit for one-unit properties will be $453,100. In high-cost areas like Santa Clara and San Mateo counties and most counties in the Bay Area, the cap will be $679,650. Maximum loan limits for 2018 are up in all but 71 counties or county equivalents in the U.S., according to the FHFA. For a list of the 2018 maximum loan limits for all counties and county-equivalent areas in the U.S. click here.

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