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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.

The California Association of REALTORS® issued the following statement on Senate Bill 50 yesterday:

“The California Association of REALTORS® is disappointed that SB 50 did not pass out of the California Senate today but C.A.R. remains deeply committed to advancing supply-oriented solutions to California’s severe housing shortage,” said C.A.R. president Jeanne Radsick.

“Sen. Scott Wiener deserves praise for his tireless work on SB 50 which recognized that supply is the solution to our housing affordability crisis. We also thank Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins for her efforts to advance the bill and to her ongoing commitment to passing a housing production bill during this legislative session.

“Now is the time to get serious about housing supply. We remain committed to working with Sen. Wiener, Senate President Pro Tem Atkins, the rest of the Legislature, Governor Newsom and housing groups to solving California’s housing shortage.”

SB 50, which encourages the development of mid-rise and multifamily housing construction around major transit hubs.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® thanks Sen. Jim Beall for promoting housing throughout California! We truly appreciate your efforts and support in seeking solutions to increasing our state’s housing supply.



In the past two weeks the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) issued several Red Alerts, mobilizing its members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® and other REALTOR® Associations urging them to contact their state legislators to support C.A.R.’s stand on a number of housing-related bills. Here is an update on those bills:

Assembly Bill 1482 – Tenancy: Rent Caps – PASSED
This statewide rent cap proposal that would apply to most properties not covered by local rent control ordinances, including rented single-family homes and condos in cities with rent control, passed 43-28 on Wednesday night. C.A.R. was able to successfully negotiate a deal with the bill’s author on amendments that allowed C.A.R. to remove its opposition and take a neutral position.

The proposal would prohibit landlords from raising the rent each year by more than 7 percent plus the annual increase in the cost of living. The bill’s author, Assemblyman David Chiu agreed to exempt property owners with 10 or fewer single-family detached homes and set the law to expire in 2023. C.A.R. withdrew its opposition to the bill once these concessions were made. This compromise strikes a balance between preserving the rights of rental property owners while allowing the protection of at-risk tenants.

Assembly Bill 1481 – Tenancy Termination: Just Cause – FAILED
AB 1481 died on the Assembly floor last night. Both C.A.R. and the California Apartment Association opposed this bill because it would have imposed just cause eviction policies statewide and would have required a property owner to provide relocation assistance to tenants for “no-fault” evictions. AB 1481 failed to get the 41 votes it needed to pass out of the Assembly.

SB 329 — Mandatory Section 8 – PASSED
Despite all of our best efforts, SB 329, which C.A.R. is OPPOSING because it creates an effective mandate that landlords participate in Section 8, passed the Senate floor last Thursday by three votes. It now moves to the Assembly where C.A.R. will continue to OPPOSE it.

AB 1590 — C.A.R.’s Sponsored First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit – PASSED
Good news! AB 1590, C.A.R.’s sponsored first-time homebuyer tax credit bill passed the Assembly. The vote was 61-3. This bill now moves to the Senate.

Members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® joined 2,500 California REALTORS® in Sacramento on May 1 for the California Association of REALTORS® annual Legislative Day. This year’s theme, “Homeownership Matters,” was evident in the speeches of REALTOR® officials and politicians, and in discussions the REALTORS® had with their respective legislators.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the special guest speaker at the morning briefing, said California is experiencing a “crisis moment, a crisis of confidence and a crisis of affordability.”

Newsom is deeply committed to address the housing issue and he wants to build 300,000 to 400,000 units on an annual basis. “Let us not forget that we are better off when we’re all better off,” said Newsom.

State Senator Scott Wiener, author of SB 50, the Housing Development Incentives bill, told REALTORS® at a luncheon that today’s zoning laws, crafted over 50 years ago, are outdated. Wiener said his legislation is about people and people’s lives.

In their meetings with state Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, and Assemblymembers Marc Berman and Evan Low, Silicon Valley REALTORS® asked them to support the REALTOR® position on the following bills:

Vote YES on AB 1590 (Rubio) – First-Time Low- and Moderate-Income Homebuyer Tax Credit for Disadvantaged Communities. C.A.R. is sponsoring this bill which creates a first-time homebuyer tax credit for low- and moderate-income individuals and families purchasing a home in a disadvantaged community. AB 1590 allocates $50 million for first-time homebuyers who have never owned a principal residence; who earn 120 percent or less of the area median income; and who are purchasing a home in a disadvantaged community. The tax credit would be equal to 3 percent of the purchase price of the home or $5,000, whichever is less.

Vote YES on SB 50 (Wiener) – Housing Development Incentives. C.A.R. is co-sponsoring this bill which seeks to authorize the implementation of transit-rich housing project bonuses for new urban developments, so families can afford to live within the communities in which they work. SB 50 encourages the development of mid-rise, multi-family unit, housing construction with close, walkable access to bus and rail transit. Residential developments may only obtain a “height” bonus if they meet local planning, zoning and design requirements. Local governments may approve higher-density housing, with reduced or eliminated parking requirements, provided the site is adjacent to transit or near jobs.

Vote No on SB 329 (Mitchell) – Mandatory Section 8. C.A.R. is opposing this bill which forces all residential rental property owners to participate in all government assistance and housing subsidy programs, such as the Section 8 housing program, by entering into a legally binding contract with a government agency. This bill forces all landlords into contracts whose provisions they may not be able to fulfill. C.A.R. says the bill does not fix the underlying problems with Section 8. Since housing authorities are understaffed, it can take as long as 60 days before all applications are submitted, inspections made, and contracts signed. During that time, the unit sits vacant at a substantial loss to the landlord.

All staunch proponents of housing, the legislators thanked the REALTORS® for their support and advocacy. They called on REALTORS® and others to stand up and speak louder about the need for housing “because the other side is so loud.”

Low said he has received sharp, mean-spirited backlash from those who oppose his pro-housing stance, some even demanding his recall, but he is not wavering. “Oftentimes we need to speak truth to the powerful. I feel very strongly about this. It’s important to make courageous decisions,” said Low.

The California Association of REALTORS® has announced its sponsorship of legislation intended to help first-time, low- and moderate-income home buyers in disadvantaged communities. AB 1590, authored by Assembly Member Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), would create a targeted tax credit to help working families achieve their goal of homeownership. This legislation is especially timely, given the tight housing market.

“REALTORS® are sponsoring AB 1590 to help make the dream of homeownership a reality for low- and moderate-income Californians in disadvantaged communities,” said C.A.R. president Jared Martin in a statement. “Asm. Rubio’s bill specifically targets regions of the state that will benefit most from increasing the homeownership rate and is an important part of California’s overall fight to beat the housing affordability crisis.”

AB 1590 allocates $50 million to provide a tax credit to first-time homebuyers who meet specific criteria, which include that the homebuyer must have never owned a home previously; must earn 120 percent or less of area median income; and must purchase a home in a state-designated disadvantaged community. Current law identifies disadvantaged communities as areas with, among other things, concentrations of low-income individuals and families facing high housing costs.

Qualified first-time homebuyers who purchase a home between January 1, 2020 and January 1, 2023, will receive a tax credit of up to $5,000. The tax credit will help these first-time homebuyers cover unanticipated costs associated with homeownership. AB 1590 will first be heard in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on April 29.

“AB 1590’s targeted tax credit helps Californians who need it most,” said Martin. “It creates a pathway to homeownership for people who are currently priced out of the market. It gives working families an opportunity to build wealth and can lift entire communities across the state.”

Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, indicated, “During his State of the State speech earlier this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, ‘If we want a California for all, we have to build housing for all.’ REALTORS® pledge to work with the governor and legislature to make sure all Californians can achieve the American dream of homeownership.”

Barbic said state legislators have advanced a number of bills to help solve the housing crisis. AB 1590 is one of several bills that the California Association of REALTORS® is sponsoring.

“We need to address the affordability problem in order to keep our middle class families here. AB 1590 will help our skilled and service workers, our teachers, the bedrock of our state, achieve their dream of homeownership and remain in the state,” said Barbic.

On May 1, over 2,000 California REALTORS® from across the state will travel to Sacramento to the meet with their state senators and assembly members to discuss this and other housing-related bills. Members of the local trade association are scheduled to meet with State Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, and Assembly Members Evan Low and Marc Berman.

The California Association of REALTORS® is alerting members about a fraudulent email that has been sent to several REALTOR® members from around the state asking them to wire their delinquent REALTOR® 2019 dues. In these reported cases, the email with the subject line “2019 Dues Deadline – LAST CALL” came from a yahoo.com email address.

If you have received such a message, please DO NOT respond to it. It is likely that the sender is phishing for your financial information, or seeking information for other phishing attempts later.

Valid emails regarding your dues should come from your REALTOR® Association’s email address. If you have paid your 2019 dues, please completely disregard the spam email. If you have not paid your 2019 dues, or are not sure if you have, please contact your REALTOR® Association.

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

red alert-cropped

PLEASE CALL TODAY! VOTE COULD BE MONDAY!    

The California Association of REALTORS® is OPPOSING SB 231 (Hertzberg), a bill that allows local governments to circumvent the State Constitution and Proposition 218 to tax property owners directly for costs related to stormwater infrastructure projects without the legally required public vote. C.A.R opposes SB 231 because it uses legal “sleight of hand” to allow local governments to impose new taxes without required voter input. The bill will be considered by the ENTIRE Assembly as soon as Monday, June 19th.

WHAT TO DO: Call your Assembly Member TODAY! Urge them to vote NO Vote on SB 231.

Call 1-800-798-6593. Enter your Assembly Member’s PIN number to be connected to their office.

When staff answers the phone, you can use the following script:   “Hi, this is (insert your name). I’m a constituent. Please ask the Assembly Member to Vote No on SB 231. Don’t allow local governments to impose sewer taxes by side-stepping voters.”

 

REALTORS® are concerned about the recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will begin insuring mortgages on certain properties with Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans. REALTOR® officials say there ought to be more disclosures regarding the risks associated with PACE loans.

A PACE loan allows a homeowner to borrow money to finance energy upgrades. The loan is repaid as a surcharge on the property tax. The PACE loan takes primary position to the mortgage. If the cost of repaying the PACE loan and any mortgages on the property exceeds the home’s purchase price, the seller will be forced to make up the difference.

California Association of REALTORS® President Pat “Ziggy” Zicarelli said in a statement, “Although C.A.R. supports voluntary consumer-friendly energy improvement programs for homeowners, C.A.R. believes that HUD was ill advised to approve placing PACE loans in a senior position to FHA first mortgages. Doing so places FHA homebuyers and taxpayers at risk and does homeowners a disservice by approving a loan product without consumer protections and which is aggressively sold to homeowners who rely on FHA financing for safe and affordable mortgages.”

REALTORS® say PACE loans are unfairly expensive and carry higher interest rates than the first mortgage or a home equity loan. “This loan product has no minimum disclosures, no underwriting of the borrower, no proof that the borrower has the ability to repay, no three-day right to rescind, no marketing limitations, no interest rate or fee caps, no kickback prohibitions; nothing,” added Zicarelli.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac prohibits PACE loans to be placed in a senior position to the mortgage. Both the FHA and Fannie Mae currently offer mortgage financing that allows borrowers to finance energy efficiency improvements at lower rates than PACE liens. HUD’s announcement, which is contrary to FHFA’s current policy will only confuse homeowners, homebuyers, REALTORS®, lenders, escrow, title and the housing market overall.

The National Association of REALTORS® also expressed its concern, especially with regard to delinquent foreclosed properties. “A foreclosed property with a PACE loan in the primary position will likely remain on the market longer than it should, further increasing uncertainty in mortgage markets and placing unnecessary pressure on homeowners,” NAR President Tom Salomone said in a statement.

Karen Trolan, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, said, “Now, more than ever, the California legislature must pass AB 2693 (Dababneh), a C.A.R.-sponsored bill that would ensure consumers are aware of the consequences of PACE loans and have the opportunity to rescind after a three-day cooling off period. Current disclosures given to home buyers do not explain the potential consequences of using PACE loans. AB 2693 will require Truth in Lending type disclosures to borrowers.”

 

 

 

 

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