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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.

June is National Homeownership Month, and throughout the month the National Association of REALTORS®  and the nation’s state and local REALTOR® associations will be helping to raise awareness about the benefits of owning a home and help Americans achieve the American dream of homeownership.

“As leading advocates for homeownership, REALTORS® understand the value of owning a home,” said Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “Owning a home is not only the best investment an individual can make to build their personal wealth, it also provides social stability, builds communities, and is a driving force for the economy.”

Homeownership reaps benefits for the homeowner, as well as the community. Through the mortgage interest deduction, homeowners are allowed to reduce their taxable income by a sizeable amount. Buying a home is also an investment because of equity gains and overall appreciation. In addition, studies show high and stable homeownership rates contribute many important social benefits to a community, by boosting the quality of living through education and civic involvement, while lowering crime rate and welfare dependency.

Barbic said the biggest hurdle for homeownership today is not demand; it is affordability. The California Association of REALTORS® reports the percentage of homebuyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in first-quarter 2019 rose to 32 percent from 28 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, and from 31 percent in the first quarter a year ago.

In Santa Clara County, 20 percent of households could afford to purchase a $1,220,000 median-priced home in the first quarter of this year, up from 18 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 and up from 17 percent in first-quarter 2018. To qualify, homebuyers needed a minimum annual income of $256,720. Their monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $6,420.

“Housing affordability has always been a challenge in the region because Silicon Valley is one of the best places to live in California. The weather here is great, the economy is good, and there is job growth,” said Barbic. “The door is still open for many homebuyers. First-time homebuyer programs and other programs for qualified families and individuals sponsored by public and private entities throughout the valley are seeking to help bridge the gap in affordability.”

Barbic noted when purchasing a home, choosing an agent is one of the most critical decisions a homebuyer will have to make. “Select an agent who is experienced and knowledgeable about the marketplace, down payment assistance programs that are available, the loan process, and one who is a good negotiator. These days many new models in real estate are offering buyers and sellers alternatives to the real estate transaction process, but they are not the same as having a trusted REALTOR®.”

A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate agent or broker who is a member of NAR, the world’s largest professional trade association. REALTORS® adhere to a strict code of ethics, which sets them apart from other real estate licensees and protects all parties to the real estate transaction. REALTORS®in violation of the code of ethics face disciplinary action by their association. They must complete 2.5 hours of ethics training once every two years to keep their membership in NAR.

“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,” said Barbic. “REALTORS® don’t just sell homes, they build communities, and are committed to making homeownership a reality for those who strive to achieve it.”

October 2020
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