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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.

There is a bright spot to the coronavirus pandemic, and that is the rise in adoption and foster applications in animal rescue and shelter facilities. In fact, some shelters have happily announced they are empty, while others like the Silicon Valley Humane Society, have announced due to overwhelming adoption demand, they have temporarily paused their adoption appointment sign-up for dogs and are only taking adoption appointments for those interested in meeting cats, rabbits, and pocket pets and even these appointments are filling up quickly.

“In this unprecedented time of shelter-in-place and social distancing, many individuals and families long for a little companionship,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “If you were planning to adopt a pet before the coronavirus pandemic, now could be a great time to take that step. More time at home means more time to bond with your new pet and work with them on training.”

According to the National Association of REALTORS® “2020 Animal House: Pets in the Home Buying and Selling Process” report, 66 percent of U.S. households currently have a pet or plan to get one in the future, proving that pets and their effects on a home, must be considered for a majority of households. Additionally, 43 percent of households would be willing to move to better accommodate their pet(s), demonstrating that this is a priority among consumers. A small percentage, one percent, of recent homebuyers said they were prompted to make their purchase by the desire for a better home for their pet(s). When searching for a new home, 18 percent of recent homebuyers said it was very important that their new neighborhood is convenient to a vet and/or outdoor space for their pet(s).

Within the past year, a median of 38 percent of REALTORS®’ clients have owned a pet, companion animal, or service animal; and 18 percent of REALTORS® have represented clients that have moved solely for their animal. When finding a home for their clients, the most important feature for REALTORS®’ clients in terms of their animals’ situation is a fenced yard. This was followed by a large enough home for the household and pet, and flooring.

Pets also come into play when REALTORS® work with sellers. The most common pet-related advice REALTORS® give their seller clients is take the animal(s) out of the home during showings and replace anything damaged by the pet(s). Eighty percent of Realtors recommend that their clients remove pets during showings when selling their home.

Groth cautions families not to adopt a pet just because they are home during the coronavirus pandemic. “The pandemic and our shelter-in-place orders won’t last forever,” said Groth. “Before you adopt a pet, consider how much time you will have to care for a dog, now and post-pandemic, is your job secure enough to afford pet-related expenses, does your current place of residence have space for a pet or, if you’re renting, does your landlord allow pets? Will you have the time and energy to commit to training your dog? These are important questions to consider.”

Every year in the month of April, REALTORS® observe the anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and use the time to educate consumers about housing discrimination and segregation, and to recommit to expanding equal access to housing. April this year has turned out to be different due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but NAR reminds members Fair Housing Month can be celebrated at home. Education, reflection, and discussion are meaningful efforts members can still undertake while practicing social distancing.

To mark the event, NAR is sharing curated lists of books, videos, podcasts and other resources for members to educate themselves throughout the month. NAR urges members to use this time to read, watch, listen, think, discuss and strengthen their fair housing knowledge and leadership with these tools.

As stewards of the right to own, use and transfer private property, REALTORS® reconfirm their commitment to upholding fair housing law and offering equal professional service to all in their search for real property. “Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, REALTORS® are using virtual tools to help homebuyers search for a home so they can achieve their dream of homeownership,” said Mary Kay Groth, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR).

At the federal level, NAR is advocating for a federal minimum standard for remote online notary. NAR also worked on further tax extensions for 1031 like-kind exchanges and opportunity zones, and wants to make sure the much-needed forbearance measures do not unintentionally lock up the mortgage marketplace.

As a designated U.S. Census Bureau national partner for the 2020 Census, NAR is urging its 1.4 million REALTORS® nationwide to help drive Census participation in their respective communities. The good news is over 70 million households have responded to date, representing over 48 percent of all households in America (52% in California), using the Census Bureau’s new online option.

Roughly $1.5 trillion is allocated to states and localities annually based off census results to fund roads, public transportation, hospitals, schools and other infrastructure. More specifically, this year’s results will influence the allocation of $93.5 billion to Federal Direct Student Loans, $19.3 billion to Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and $12 billion to the National School Lunch Program.

Census data is also used to draw district lines to determine appropriate Congressional representation for the next decade. California is one of 10 states likely to lose a congressional seat since more people left California than moved in over the course of a year. If California loses a seat in Congress, the state’s number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will drop from 53 to 52 and it could cost the state billions of dollars in federal funds.

Groth urges those who have not to please respond to the Census. “If you are unable to respond online, a paper questionnaire can be mailed to you by calling toll free 1-844-330-2020. I assure you the Census Bureau will never ask for bank account or social security numbers, donations, or anything on behalf of a political party. Strict federal law protects the confidentiality of Census responses.”

Dear fellow REALTORS® and SILVAR members,

As I write this from my home office, I realize some of what I say could be old news by the time this is published, but I will press on.

As you know, Real Estate has been deemed an essential business during the COVID-19 crisis.  The reaction to this has been mixed. Initially, REALTORS® felt this was a good thing, but it has caused confusion since we live in an area that is under the stricter rules mandated by the various County Health Departments.

The California Association of REALTORS® has been criticized for putting out conflicting information and guidelines, but it has been very clear, as has SILVAR, that our local rules are different, and we must adhere to them. No Open Houses … residential viewings must only occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit. In person visits are not allowed when the occupant is still residing in the residence.

Doesn’t that seem extreme, you say. Let’s consider what the ordinance says: The intent of this Order is to ensure that the maximum number of people shelter in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible to slow the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the impact on delivery of critical healthcare services to those in need.

When assessing if what your are doing for you and/or your clients, the above isn’t just a guideline; it is the law. Yes, transactions are being closed, movers are still moving (based on guidelines that allow this), but it is our responsibility as REALTORS® to be an example of following our Code of Ethics Preamble for “the preservation of a healthful environment.”

Since COVID-19 and its impact on us, I think it’s safe to say we all agree on many things – this is unchartered territory, we miss our colleagues and face-to-face interaction, we have a heightened level of anxiety for the future. We can adapt to new situations quicker than we may have though – we can spend more time with family, we can appreciate the beauty of where we live, and there are many other things we can add to the list. 

Like many, if not all of you, virtual meetings have become the norm. For me, today was another example of seeing friendly faces on my computer screen that I would normally be sitting in a room with and having a discussion that resulted in the same outcome – discussion, review, discussion and eventually a decision. As efficient as that may have been, I missed being together. That has been the reality for many over the past several weeks. And it will continue until our Shelter in Place order is lifted.

When we have come out on the other side of this crisis, there are many thoughts we will have in hindsight. One that I heard recently is the question, “Did I do enough?” If we keep that in perspective, we can’t help but make this crisis and adversity a time to grow. Be safe, stay healthy and keep pressing on.

Mary Kay Groth
2020 Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) President

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.

Real estate experts forecast despite lower interest rates, this year’s housing market will continue to be a challenge with the housing shortage. Mary Kay Groth, 2020 president of the Silicon Valley of REALTORS®, tells buyers they should not be discouraged. Groth is a REALTOR® with Sereno Group in Los Gatos, CA.

“Buyers should not give up their dream of homeownership. They need to be prepared, find an experienced REALTOR® they can trust, and be ready to jump in when they find the right home,” says Groth. “All real estate is local, so it is important to work with a REALTOR®who is familiar with your neighborhood of choice.”

Here are strategies Groth suggests homebuyers employ:

1. Examine your finances.
Before beginning your home search, examine your monthly income, expenses, debt payments (auto loans, student loans, minimum credit card payments) and savings. Figure out how much you can use for a down payment. Depending on the loan you qualify for, you’ll need at least 3 to 20 percent for a down payment.

2. Check your credit score. A higher credit score typically means a better interest rate and loan options. According to the Federal Reserve, 90 percent of mortgages taken out by homebuyers in the first quarter of 2019 had a score of at least 650; 75 percent had a score above 700.

2. Get pre-approved by a lender.
Once you have organized your finances, visit a lender (it is advisable to visit more than one lender) and get pre-approved for a mortgage loan; not just pre-qualified.

“A pre-approval letter from a lender shows sellers you are a serious buyer and have the lender’s backing,” says Groth.

Groth advises buyers to be cautious about paying the maximum they can afford. “You will need some reserve to enhance the home, do repairs or purchase furnishings. You want to be comfortable with your house payments and be able to keep your house.”

3. Begin your home search. With pre-approval and a price range, you can begin your home search with your REALTOR®. Let your REALTOR®know your criteria for a home. Focus on important characteristics that will matter for the next five years – location, amenities, community, etc. With the help of a skilled and experienced REALTORS®, you will be able to learn the fair market value of homes selling in the area.

4. Be ready to decide quickly. When you find the right home, go in with your absolute best offer. “In a multiple offer situation, you may not get a second chance,” says Groth.

5. Avoid complex contingencies. Don’t be overly demanding. Contingencies can weaken a “sure deal.” The seller wants assurance the contract will close escrow in the designated time frame.

6. Include a personal letter to the seller. Groth notes, “A personal letter to a seller puts a real person behind the offer. There have been multiple offer situations where sellers have been moved by a buyer’s letter that price did not matter.”

7. Understand the documents. When your REALTOR® reviews the purchase contract, disclosures and other documents, make sure you understand. If you don’t understand, ask.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) last week hosted a delegation of International REALTOR® Members from the Philippine Chamber of Real Estate & Builders Association (CREBA). The IRMs were in town for the National Association of REALTORS® 2019 Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

NAR maintains formal relationships with 100 organized real estate associations around the world, giving REALTORS® confidence in working with professionals that abide by a Code of Ethics. These bilateral partnerships exist in 85 countries to help members establish business partnerships and referral opportunities. SILVAR is NAR’s Ambassador Association to the Philippines and CREBA is SILVAR’s partner association there.

Also attending the event at SILVAR were NAR Global Ambassador to the Philippines Vicky Silvano, Filipino American Real Estate Professional Association Silicon Valley (FAREPA SV) President Cheryl (CJ) Javier and FAREPA SV board directors, SILVAR President Alan Barbic, President-elect Mary Kay Groth, Global Business Chair Joanne Fraser and GBC planning committee members Mark Wong, Ketan Jashapara, Chika Mori, David Tonna, Mitra Lahidji and Lisa Wendl.

Read more and see photos here:

https://www.silvar.org/press-release-1901.htm

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The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) 2019 leadership team was installed last night at the Los Altos Golf & Country Club. California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) 2019 President-elect Jeanne Radsick administered the oath of office to SILVAR President Alan Barbic and the 2019 officers and board directors. C.A.R. 2005 President Jim Hamilton served as master of ceremonies and welcomed members and guests at the special event. Immediate Past President Bill Moody led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance and 2019 President-elect Mary Kay Groth delivered the inspiration message.

SILVAR’s 2019 officers include Barbic, a broker associate with Sereno Group Los Gatos; Groth, a REALTOR® with Sereno Group Los Gatos, President-elect; and Jeff Bell, a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cupertino, Treasurer.
Joining SILVAR’s lead officers are Moody (Referral Realty), Past President; Denise Welsh (Alain Pinel Realtors), Region 9 Chair; Leannah Hunt (Sereno Group), NAR Director; Jasmine Lee (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage), Menlo Park-Atherton District; Lynn Wilson Roberts (Compass) Palo Alto District; Greg Boudreau (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage), Los Altos-Mountain View District; Jim Light (Jim Light Broker), Cupertino-Sunnyvale District; Jim Hamilton (Alain Pinel Realtors), Los Gatos-Saratoga District; Directors At-large Mark Burns (Referral Realty), Joanne Fraser (Alain Pinel Realtors), Katherine Frey (Katherine Frey Real Estate), Penelope Huang (Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Real Estate), and Karen Trolan (Alain Pinel Realtors).

READ MORE HERE

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SILVAR’s 2018 leadership team.

 

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® 2018 leadership was installed Jan. 25 at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club. California Association of Realtors 2013 president Don Faught administered the oath of office to SILVAR’s 2018 president, Bill Moody, and the 2018 officers and board directors. C.A.R. 2005 president Jim Hamilton served as master of ceremonies.

SILVAR’s 2018 officers include Moody, a REALTOR® with the Referral Realty, Cupertino; Alan Barbic, a REALTOR® with Sereno Group, Los Gatos, president-elect; and Phyllis Carmichael, a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Los Altos, treasurer.

Joining SILVAR’s lead officers are Denise Welsh (Alain Pinel Realtors), past president; Karen Trolan (Alain Pinel Realtors), Region 9 chair; Leannah Hunt (Sereno Group), National Association of Realtors director; district chairs Jasmine Lee (Intero Real Estate Services), Menlo Park-Atherton District; Penelope Huang (Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty), Palo Alto District; David Casas (Intero Real Estate Services), Los Altos-Mountain View District; Jeff Bell (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage), Cupertino-Sunnyvale District; Ryan Nunnally (Keller Williams Bay Area Estates), Los Gatos-Saratoga District; and Mark Burns (Referral Realty), Joanne Fraser (Alain Pinel Realtors), Katherine Frey (Katherine Frey Real Estate), Mary Kay Groth (Sereno Group), Lynn Wilson Roberts (Alain Pinel Realtors), and Mark Wong (Alain Pinel Realtors), directors At-large.

Moody is a native of Silicon Valley and a U.S. veteran, having served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968. He is a graduate of the former Ellwood P. Cubberley High School in Palo Alto and San Jose State. Moody has served as chair of SILVAR’s Cupertino-Sunnyvale District and as a California Association of Realtors Region 9 director.

In his address to members and guests, Moody said he spent 25 years in high tech sales before getting his license 15 years ago. Quoting the late Steve Jobs, Moody said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

READ MORE HERE

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2017 Los Gatos/Saratoga District Chair Mary Kay Groth passes the gavel on to 2018 District Chair Ryan Nunnally.a caption

 

Ryan Nunnally, a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Bay Area Estates, was installed on Wednesday night as 2018 chair of SILVAR’s Los Gatos-Saratoga District. More than 90 SILVAR members and guests attended the District’s annual Holiday Reception and Installation held at La Rinconada Golf & Country Club in Los Gatos. The evening also gave members an opportunity to celebrate the year’s achievements and welcome the holiday season.

2017 District Chair Mary Kay Groth welcomed everyone and before relinquishing the position, mentioned she was very grateful for the opportunity to have served the District and glad she had stepped up and got involved in organized real estate. Groth urged SILVAR members to get involved and heed the Calls for Action from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.).

“It’s good we stay involved as REALTORS®. Please answer the Call for Actions because it is important to our business,” said Groth.

Noting getting involved in organized real estate, while it has many rewards, is also a time commitment, Groth thanked the members of this year’s District Council for helping her with the tour meetings and events this year. They include Alan Barbic, Shawn Carroll, Pelin Erdal, Eileen Giorgi, Audrey Hutton, Nunnally, David Tonna and Suzanne Yost.

Then, in keeping with the District’s tradition, past District chairs who were present were asked to come forward and pass the gavel on to the incoming District chair. The gavel was passed from Marlene Rodman to Jeff Barnett, Dennis Byron, David Tonna, Mark Von Kaenel, Karen Trolan, Alan Barbic, Suzanne Yost, and on to Groth, who then handed it to Nunnally.

READ MORE VIEW MORE PHOTOS HERE

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