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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.”

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2020 Member Profile, the typical REALTOR® has not changed much since the NAR 2019 survey. REALTORS® continue to come from a variety of demographic groups and career backgrounds. They represent the various age, ethnic, and language that define their local communities. They are more tech savvy today, using their smartphone and computer on a daily basis and online tools to communicate with clients.

The typical REALTOR® is a 55-year-old, college-educated White female, and a homeowner. Sixty-four percent of all REALTORS® are women. For 73 percent, real estate is their only occupation. Also largely unchanged from the previous year, 69 percent are married, 16 percent are divorced, and 10 percent are single or never married.

Eighty percent of REALTORS® are White, while 10 percent are Hispanic/Latino, 6 percent Black, and 5 percent Asian/Pacific Islanders. Eighty-two percent are fluent only in English. Respondents under 50 years old were most likely to be fluent in another language, with Spanish being the most common second language. Thirteen percent said they were born outside of the U.S.

Already before the coronavirus pandemic, REALTORS® had begun to adapt technology to advance their business. Among the 12,464 members who responded to the survey, more than nine in 10 members use a smartphone and a computer daily, while just about all members regularly email clients. Text messaging is the preferred means of communication for REALTORS® (94%), followed by email (91%) and telephone calls (89%). Seventy percent of members said they have a website for business use. Majority use social media apps to communicate with clients. REALTORS® were typically most active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

“The survey was conducted prior to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent nationwide stay-at-home orders. REALTORS® are very innovative, and if the same survey is conducted today, it would show an even higher percentage of REALTORS® utilizing tech tools, and they have done so successfully from the start of a transaction to completion,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

On average, members have nine years of experience in the industry. Seventeen percent have more than 25 years of experience. Sixty-five percent of respondents have sales agent licenses, 22 percent hold broker licenses, and 15 percent have their broker associate license. Seventy-three percent of members indicated they specialize in residential brokerage.

“People tend to use the terms REALTOR® and real estate agent interchangeably, but they are not the same. Although both are licensed to sell real estate, a REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and pledges to follow the Code of Ethics, which contains 17 articles and standards of practice that are higher than regular business practices or those required by law,” said Groth.

Groth added, “REALTORS® must abide by a Code of Ethics, which is diligently enforced by our peers through the Grievance and Professional Standards process. As such, a REALTOR® is held to an even higher standard of conduct than other real estate licensees. Only REALTORS® can use the REALTOR® trademark by their name.”

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) requires that every REALTOR®, in order to maintain membership in the Association of REALTORS®, must complete a 2 1/2 hour Code of Ethics course every two years. This means all REALTOR® members of an Association of REALTORS® MUST COMPLETE the ethics training at some point between the cycle of January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. Failure to comply with this required ethics training is a violation of a membership duty and will result in suspension and possible termination from the member’s primary Association.

Training may be completed through local associations or through another method, such as home study, correspondence, classroom courses, or online courses. Code of Ethics training is also included in CalBRE license renewal requirements, so if a member has renewed their license between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018, their Code of Ethics requirement is covered. If you have already taken Code of Ethics training for this period outside of California license renewal, via NAR or the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.), or elsewhere, please email a copy of the certificate to  your primary Association before the deadline of December 31, 2018.

If you have not taken a Code of Ethics course since January 1, 2017, you can take the free online training offered by NAR. For more information on this mandatory NAR requirement and online classes, visit NAR CODE OF ETHICS ONLINE.

If you are uncertain as to when your license expires, please call your primary Association. The next compliance cycle will start January 1, 2019 and end on December 31, 2020.

 

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has announced that the new .REALTOR® top-level domain will be available October 23, 2014 to members of NAR and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

With the Internet undergoing vast changes, the creation of over 1,900 new top-level domains, and with nine out of 10 recent buyers beginning their home search online, it has become even more critical for REALTORS® to create a branded space online. The .REALTOR® domain will help REALTORS® stand apart from other real estate professionals, creating a more positive online experience for consumers who are searching for information on buying or selling property. Having a .REALTOR® domain will inform consumers that they are working with a REALTOR®, a trusted real estate professional who subscribes to NAR’s strict Code of Ethics.

The top-level domain will be made available only to real estate professionals who are REALTORS®, members of NAR or CREA. The domain will also be made available to state and local REALTOR® associations, association multiple listing services, affiliated institutes, societies and councils and NAR strategic business partners.

Starting October 23, members will be able to go to http://www.claim.REALTOR to claim their .REALTOR® domain. NAR will provide the first 500,000 members NAR and 10,000 CREA who register for a .REALTOR® domain with a free one-year license. For more information, visit http://www.about.REALTOR.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports more Americans chose to buy a home during the third quarter of 2011. Home ownership jumped to 66.3 percent during that period, up from the 13-year low of 65.9 percent from the previous quarter, according to the bureau’s report.

“Housing affordability has been at a record high this year,” says Gene Lentz, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “This is a golden opportunity for people with secure jobs and good credit who want to achieve the American dream of homeownership.”

“Whether somebody is buying or selling a home, finding a good REALTOR® and understanding his or her role should be the first step in what could be the most important transaction in a lifetime,” adds Lentz.

Lentz notes that not all real estate agents or brokers are REALTORS®. A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate agent or broker who is a member of National Association of REALTORS®, the world’s largest professional trade association. The “REALTOR®” designation is used by real estate agents and brokers who must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and actively pursue continuing education to increase their professionalism and skill. The Code of Ethics sets REALTORS® apart from other real estate licensees and protects all parties to the real estate transaction, not just a REALTOR®’s client. If a local Association of REALTORS® finds a REALTOR® in violation of the Code of Ethics, disciplinary action can be imposed.

REALTORS® must complete ethics training by taking at least 2.5 hours of instruction at least once every four years to keep membership in NAR. For a REALTOR®, living with the Code of Ethics means being honest and dependable, never putting your interests ahead of your client’s, and speaking the truth to all parties.

When evaluating a potential real estate agent, there are certain questions you should ask. First, ask whether the agent is a REALTOR®. Then ask the following questions:

  • Does the agent have an active real estate license in good standing? To find this information, you can check with your state’s governing agency.
  • Does the agent belong to the Multiple Listing Service? Multiple Listing Services are cooperative information networks of REALTORS® that provide descriptions of most of the houses for sale in a particular region.
  • Is real estate their full-time career?
  • What real estate designations does the agent hold?
  • Which party is he or she representing–you or the seller? This discussion is supposed to occur early on, at “first serious contact” with you. The agent should discuss your state’s particular definitions of agency, so you’ll know where you stand.
  • In exchange for your commitment, how will the agent help you accomplish your goals? How will the agent show you homes that meet your requirements and provide you with a list of the properties he or she is showing you?

Visit the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® website at www.silvar.org for a list of REALTORS® by location.

 

 

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