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Every day REALTORS® across the nation put themselves in positions where they can be victims of dangerous crimes. Whether it’s putting up signs along the highway, meeting a new client, or showing a house to a prospective buyer, your personal safety is often at stake. To raise awareness about this important issue, the month of September is officially designated by the National Association of REALTORS® as REALTOR® Safety Month.

“The safety of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®’ 5,000 members is a top priority. An open house can be a great sales tool, but it also exposes you to numerous unfamiliar people for the first time. Thieves and assailants have been known to prey on open houses. We always caution our members to be watchful of suspicious behavior when hosting an open house,” said Brett Caviness, president of SILVAR.

Take these steps to stay safe at open houses:

  • If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at an open house.
  • Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  • Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  • Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
  • Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and email.
  • When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  • Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  • Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  • Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  • Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

For more information on REALTOR® and consumer safety, visit www.realtor.org/safety.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR)has formed a new partnership with the Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. A Memorandum of Understanding between the local REALTOR® association and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance local chapter was approved by SILVAR’s Board of Directors at its meeting on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The collaboration will allow both groups to identify opportunities that cultivate LGBTQ+ leaders and mobilize members in support of mutually beneficial federal policies, among other pro-LGBTQ+ and real estate industry initiatives.

“SILVAR has long championed homeownership for all, and this includes the LGBTQ+ community. We’re proud to announce our partnership with the Silicon Valley Alliance as we celebrate Pride Month in June and work toward initiatives that will benefit the real estate industry and our communities as a whole,” said SILVAR President Brett Caviness.

Homeownership in the U.S. is currently around 65%, while LGBTQ+ homeowner rates are lower, at about 49%. The LGBTQ+ community continues to face housing discrimination and does not feel they are welcome in certain communities where they would like to live. Nearly half of renters do not pursue homeownership due to fears of discrimination.

The National Association of REALTORS® amended its Code of Ethics in 2011 and 2014 to ensure REALTORS® uphold housing protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community. NAR has worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development as it has reinforced its Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“SILVAR’s partnership with The Alliance is in line with NAR’s core values to lead change while advancing diversity and inclusion,” said SILVAR CEO Paul Cardus. “SILVAR and Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance have a shared commitment in protecting private property rights and advancing the American Dream of homeownership for all.”

“The Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is grateful for the partnership and support SILVAR has offered us without hesitation,” said Jessa Walsh, Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ Alliance president. “Homeownership is the single most fundamental building block for creating long-term and generational wealth. It’s a challenging goal for anyone, especially in Silicon Valley. It’s our goal through the Alliance to ensure no one in our community experiences additional barriers in their pursuit of homeownership based on who they love or how they identify.”

Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance vision is to create a world free of housing discrimination. “We believe it is imperative to educate ourselves, our agents, and our staffs on how to work with the LGBTQ+ community and ensure there is an inclusive space for everyone within our real estate industry,” said Walsh.

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Every April, REALTORS® commemorate the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to remind every American that all persons have equal access to housing and that fair housing is not an option; it is the law.

“Homeownership is the largest single contributor to intergenerational wealth for American families, but it has not been accessible to all Americans on equal terms. Fair housing and equity issues are still prevalent in California,” says Brett Caviness, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.  

According to the California Association of REALTORS®, housing affordability for white/non-Hispanic households fell from 38 percent in 2020 to 34 percent in 2021. Seventeen percent of Black and Latino households could afford a median-priced home, down from 19 percent and 20 percent in 2020, respectively.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law three C.A.R.-sponsored bills and two fair housing bills that require implicit bias training for real estate professionals, address the supply and affordability challenges that disparately impact people of color and address appraisal bias.

“A home seller, home seeker, and real estate professional all have rights and responsibilities under the law,” says Caviness.

A home seller or landlord cannot discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. They cannot instruct the licensed broker or salesperson acting as their agent to convey any limitations in the sale or rental because the real estate professional is also bound by law not to discriminate.

Buyers or renters have the right to expect:

  • housing in their price range made available without discrimination.
  • equal professional service.
  • the opportunity to consider a broad range of housing choices.
  • no discriminatory limitations on communities or locations of housing.
  • no discrimination in the financing, appraising, or insuring of housing.
  • reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities.
  • non-discriminatory terms and conditions for the sale, rental, financing, or insuring of a dwelling.
  • freedom from harassment or intimidation for exercising their fair housing rights.

Under the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, REALTORS® cannot deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® cannot abide by a request from a home seller or landlord to act in a discriminatory manner in a sale, lease or rental.

If you suspect discrimination, you may file a complaint at https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/.

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.”

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.

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.

awards

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Top left to right: 2016 REALTOR® of the Year David Tonna, Affiliate of the Year Eric Temple, Spirit of SILVAR Nina Yamaguchi. Bottom left to right: 2016 C.A.R. Region 9 Chair David Tonna, President’s Award Paul Cardus, President’s Award Brett Caviness
At the installation of the 2017 leadership of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) on Jan. 19, special recognition awards were given to members for their valuable contributions in 2016. Presenting the following awards were SILVAR 2016 President Karen Trolan and Executive Officer Paul Cardus.

 

2016 REALTOR® of the Year: David Tonna (Alain Pinel Realtors, Los Gatos)
A REALTOR® for almost 30 years, Trolan noted there is not a committee in which David Tonna has not served or chaired, from Lock Box Selection, MLS Advisory, PRDS Forms Advisory, Budget and Finance, the Legislative Committee, Education/Membership, Tour Policy and Sign Ordinance, Global Business Council, the Board of Directors and C.A.R. Region 9. Tonna helped found the Bay Area REALTOR® Leadership Academy (BARLA) and initiated SILVAR’s Ombudsman program. His service to communities includes RSVP, Little League Baseball, AYSO soccer, his local school board, and his church.

Tonna was also recognized for his work as the local trade association’s 2016 California Association of REALTORS® Region 9 Chair.

2016 Affiliate of the Year: Eric Temple (Willow Glen Organics, San Jose)
Describing 2016 SILVAR Affiliate Chair Eric Temple, Trolan said, “He has proven to be a dedicated workhorse and a great ambassador for our Association.” In 2016, Temple was successful in bringing SILVAR’s affiliated professionals together so they could learn about their role, benefits and opportunities as members of SILVAR. Temple also spearheaded and worked hard to bring to his District other successful events and fundraisers, like bowling and the annual member ice cream social.

Spirit of SILVAR: Nina Yamaguchi (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Cupertino) As one of the leaders in real estate in Silicon Valley who began her real estate career over 40 years ago, Trolan noted Nina Yamaguchi to this day continually works behind the scenes for the success of the Association. Yamaguchi is a past president of SILVAR and was a longtime California Association of REALTORS® Director. Yamaguchi, who believes in giving back to the community, founded and chairs the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Scholars Program, a program that has been close to her heart for nearly two decades.

Upon its 18th year this fall, the scholars program will have provided $324,000 to more than 300 students in Silicon Valley who have been recipients of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Scholars Program.

President’s Award:
Brett Caviness (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Menlo Park)
Paul Cardus (SILVAR Executive Officer)
The President’s Award is presented at the discretion of the president to an individual who’s service to the Association is worthy of special thanks and recognition. Trolan presented the first President’s award to SILVAR Executive Officer Paul Cardus. She thanked him for the tremendous support and guidance he had given her in her role as president last year.

Trolan presented the second President’s Award to Brett Caviness for his service as chair of the Menlo Park/Atherton District. She said as 2016 chair of the Menlo Park/Atherton District, Caviness, who is a new REALTOR®, worked hard to raise member attendance at the District’s monthly meetings by bringing in many interesting speakers. Caviness has also helped members be more in touch with technology, especially in the area of video marketing, with classes at SILVAR.

2016 BOD

The 2016 Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR)  leadership team was installed Thursday night at La Rinconada Country Club in Los Gatos. California Association of REALTORS® 2013 President Don Faught administered the oath of office to SILVAR’s new president, officers and board of directors. C.A.R. 2005 President Jim Hamilton served as master of ceremonies and welcomed about 180 members and guests to the special event. Alain Pinel REALTORS® Vice President/Regional Manager Jeff Barnett led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance and delivered the inspiration message.

Karen Trolan, a REALTOR®, broker and assistant manager of the Alain Pinel REALTORS® Los Gatos office, was installed as 2016 President; Denise Welsh, a REALTOR® with Alain Pinel REALTORS®, Los Altos, President-elect; and Phyllis Carmichael, a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Los Altos, Treasurer.

Joining SILVAR’s lead officers as this year’s board directors are Chris Isaacson (Coldwell Banker), past president; David Tonna (Alain Pinel REALTORS®), Region 9 Chair; Brett Caviness (Coldwell Banker), Menlo Park/Atherton District Chair; Amy Sung (Pacific Union International Real Estate), Palo Alto District Chair; Katherine Frey (Alain Pinel REALTORS®), Los Altos/Mountain View District Chair; David Hunt (W.A. Krauss & Co. Property Management), Cupertino/Sunnyvale District Chair; Suzanne Yost (Alain Pinel REALTORS®), Los Gatos/Saratoga District Chair; and Directors At-large Jeff Bell (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage), Davena Gentry (Sereno Group), Eileen Giorgi (Sereno Group), Gene Lentz (Keller Williams Realty), Cassie Maas (Alain Pinel REALTORS®), Ryan Nunnally (Alain Pinel REALTORS®); and Affiliate Chair, Eric Temple (Willow Glen Organics).

Trolan is a Los Gatos resident and has been a REALTOR® and broker for 30 years. She began her real estate career with Van Vleck REALTORS® and continued on with Cornish & Carey and later Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. From top agent, Trolan moved up the ranks quickly to vice president and manager of the Cornish & Carey’s Palo Alto Midtown office, vice president/managing broker for the Los Altos office, and finally, when Coldwell Banker bought Cornish and Carey, Trolan was named senior vice president and regional manager of Silicon Valley Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

Despite suffering severe injuries from a tragic airplane accident in 2009 that left her paralyzed from waist down, Trolan through sheer perseverance and hard work went back to doing most of the activities she did before the accident. In April 2011, Trolan joined the Alain Pinel REALTORS® Los Gatos office, where she is currently assistant manager, responsible for agent improvement, community involvement and other special projects.

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