Senator Bob Wieckowski will honor several top achievers in the Latino Community on Friday afternoon when he hosts the 4th Annual Latino Heritage Leadership Awards Ceremony at the Council Chambers of Santa Clara.

One of this year’s honorees is Hilda Ramirez, the Director of PR, Communications, and Education for the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® (SCCAOR). Ramirez is one of the founders of the National Hispanic Organization of Real Estate Associates (NHORA), which advocates for consumer education and business leadership.

hilda-ramirez“I am so proud of Hilda’s community activism,” said SCCAOR CEO Neil Collins. “She is a very worthy recipient.”

Other honorees this year include Amanda Montez of Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Mario Vargas of All Stars Helping Kids, and members of the Hispanic Community Affairs Council. The event coincides with National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from September 15th through October 15th.

“I look forward to honoring Hilda Ramirez and the other recipients at my Latino Heritage Leadership Awards Ceremony this Friday,” said Senator Wieckowski. “Hilda is a great advocate for housing in Santa Clara County and helps local professionals better serve their clients by improving their marketing skills. Many businesses are better off because of the training and consulting she provides on important communication issues.”

The ceremony will start at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, October 7th. It will take place in the Santa Clara Council Chambers, located at 1500 Warburton Avenue. The event is free and open to the public; however, a limited number of RSVPs will be accepted. People wishing to attend are asked to call Senator Wieckowski ‘s District Office at 510-794-3900 or RSVP online at bit.ly/2cUlGYH .

Bob Wieckowski represents the 10th Senate District in the California State Legislature, one of the more diverse areas in the state of California. His district stretches from southern Alameda County into Santa Clara County. He was elected into office in 2014. While in office he has focused on job creation, clean technologies, protecting the environment and reducing unnecessary regulations.

chiliA new King of Cuisine was crowned last night at the 2016 Santa Clara County REALTORS® Foundation Chili Cook Off. Congratulations to Pete Smith of Intero Real Estate Services on his winning recipe, Pete’s Fire Breathing Dragon Chili. It was delicious; ingredients included 17 pounds of beef sirloin and a few jalapenos for extra kick. For the first time in the history of the event, the same entry received top honors from both the “Celebrity Judges and the People’s Choice Award”. Pete’s name will be proudly added to the perpetual trophy. Proceeds from the event support the grants awarded by the charitable arm of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS, the SCCR Foundation.

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Congratulations to SCCAOR member Erika Carrasco of Intero Silver Creek, who was recently recognized as one of the top Latino real estate agents in the country by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals [NAHREP].

“I feel very accomplished and blessed to be able to help out many families,” she said.

Carrasco, who ranked 90th on NAHREP’s list of Top 250 Latino Agents, generated more than $32.4 million in sales volume in 2015 on 89 transaction sides. She earned $886,762 in gross commission. Based on these numbers, she was named the top Latino agent in Northern California. She was the only agent from San Jose to make NAHREP’s list this year.

The 250 top Latino agents chosen this year were selected from 700 candidates, the largest pool of applicants NAHREP has seen to date. Altogether they generated more than $5.18 billion in total volume.

This is the second time Carrasco has been named a top Latino agent by NAHREP, which recognized her last year as well. She is in the Chairman’s Circle at Intero and ranks in the Top 1% of agents.

Carrasco, who is originally from Mexico, said language has been one of the biggest obstacles she has faced as a Latino REALTOR®. She estimates that 90% of her clients are Hispanic.

“My biggest satisfaction is being able to make my clients’ dreams of owning a home come true,” she said.

By Eric Boyenga, Boyenga Real Estate

The widespread accessibilstarsity of the Internet has brought about an era of increasing transparency in the world of real estate. With more people starting their search for a real estate agent on Google rather than asking their friend or neighbor, an agent or broker’s online reputation has become crucial.  More specifically, consumers are focusing heavily on the reviews and “star count” found on popular websites such as Zillow, Yelp, Facebook, Homelight, Trulia, Realtor.com to name a few. Because of this, many consumers often start and end their REALTOR® search online, bypassing the traditional personal recommendation. Even if a REALTOR® is referred by a friend or family member, a blemished reputation or weak online presence can cause the consumer to search elsewhere for an agent.

This new online era of agent search has made it critical to build and manage your online reputation.  Having powerful reviews as an agent or a team goes a long way in helping buyers and sellers decide who they end up choosing to represent them. But going further than that, the reviews of individual agents will reflect back on their brokerage or team as a whole and vice versa. So while agents should place a heavy focus on the client experience knowing the power of positive reviews, brokers should simultaneously be keeping a close eye on their firm’s online reputation, as well as the reputation of the agents working under them. The interesting and inevitable transition from word of mouth recommendations to online reviews has transformed consumer’s search, and understanding the industry’s transformation will help agents and brokerages succeed in the modern world of real estate.

The Santa Clara County REALTORS® Foundation, the charitable arm of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®, raised more than $18,500 for those who are homeless at a breakfast event held at the Capital Club on July 28th. The Foundation’s ultimate goal is to raise $1 million for those who are without shelter in Santa Clara County.

“The purpose of the Foundation is to bring REALTORS® together to help our communities with compassion and our $1 Million Homeless Challenge aligns perfectly with our mission and goal,” explained Bonnie Wilson of Alain Pinel REALTORS®, who chairs the organization.

Wilson and all the other REALTORS® who attended the event have pledged to give 1 percent of their commissions to the Challenge.

“It was terrific to see so many REALTORS® happily donating a portion of their commissions to help the homeless through the SCCR Foundation,” said Rick Smith of Windermere Properties, who will serve as President of SCCAOR in 2017. “Housing is our business. Seeing REALTORS® step up to help those that do not have a place to live was gratifying.”

Kevin Cole was the top donor. Others included Dee Ramirez, Bob and Berta Bower, Leslie Zhong, Brad Gill, Nomita and Jagi Shahani, Barbara Lymberis, Doug Goss, Gustavo Gonzalez, Mary Tian and Jackie Walker.

“It was exciting and heartwarming to see so many of our members showing up and giving their time to learn more about eradicating homelessness from our Valley,” Lymberis said. “As a REALTOR® community, we should feel an obligation to jump into the huge, coordinated effort being made by our city, county and other organizations in helping to end homelessness right where we live.”

Guest speaker Doniece Sandoval, who is the founder and CEO of Lava Mae, said she is working with the City of San Jose and Santa Clara County to bring full-service pop-up centers to local homeless communities. Her company brings bathroom buses to those who are homeless in San Francisco. Sandoval said her goal is “to bring dignity and hospitality to the homeless.” The SCCR Foundation hopes to partner with Sandoval and provide volunteers.

Those who would like to contribute to the SCCR Foundation’s $1 Million Homeless Challenge may do so at www.realtorshelpinghomeless.com.

Learn more about the Santa Clara County REALTORS® Foundation at www.sccrfoundation.org.

By Nick Pham, Broker/Owner of PN Real Estate and Planning Commissioner for the City of San Jose

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You can become more knowledgeable as a REALTOR® by tapping into the City of San Jose’s web site. The site provides a lot of great information about the housing market, development projects and even permit projects.

When you are aware of the city’s future development plans, you become more of an area expert.You can better help your clients with their buying, selling and investment decisions.

Every city planning department has a “General Plan” that outlines the future of the city. San Jose’s General Plan Envision San Jose 2040 outlines all the major community strategies, growth areas and land use policies for the entire city for the next 24 years.

The city’s web site also provides land zoning information as well as building permit information. You can simply enter a property address and find out what zone it is in and potentially how the neighboring zoning may affect your client’s decision.

San Jose has seen major development growth since the stock market crash of 2010.   There are many projects, both residential and commercial, sprouting in every neighborhood.

I have learned that by being a resource of information, my clients often reach out to me about their real estate and non-real estate-related questions. This continues to put me in front of them.

dave-walshLocal REALTOR® Dave Walsh has announced his candidacy to join the California Association of REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) leadership team as 2018 Treasurer. As one of the most influential trade organizations in the state of California, C.A.R. promotes professionalism in real estate and advocates for its members’ ability to conduct business as well as real property ownership and the preservation of real property rights.

“I’m excited about continuing to give back to a profession that has meant so much to me and my family,” Walsh said. “There is a real sense of community that organized real estate brings to the table as we work to make our communities stronger by advocating for home ownership and private property rights.”

Walsh brings more than 36 years of real estate experience to his candidacy. Having served as President of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® in 2008, during the last economic downturn, he has experienced leading through difficult times.

“I am truly optimistic about the future, but there will be challenges along the way,” Walsh said. “Technology is disrupting the real estate industry and  more change is coming to our profession in the form of tax reform. Our leaders must be prepared and ready to guide our membership through the turbulence ahead.”

Walsh serves as broker of an Alain Pinel Real Estate office and founder of the largest Open Tour and Marketing Meeting in the Santa Clara Valley. His real passion comes out though in community service and advocacy. Walsh has raised tens of thousands of dollars annually for local schools and the Santa Clara County REALTORS® Foundation. He is also a C.A.R. and National Association of REALTORS® Director, weighing in on policy that impacts real estate at the state and national level.

The California Association of REALTORS® includes more than 100 local member Associations and more than 170,000 REALTORS®, REALTOR® Associates and affiliate members who abide by a rigid code of professional ethics.

More information about Dave Walsh can be found at http://www.davewalsh418.com/.

 

Members of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® had the opportunity to learn first-hand about differences that exist in real estate between the U.S. and China and how to effectively work with Chinese buyers while on an excursion to China at the end of October that included a professional conference with Beijing agents.

“We have a huge percentage of Chinese buyers in the Bay Area,” explained SCCAOR President Craig Gorman. “In order to work with them effectively, you need to know about Chinese culture. The best thing is to go there and experience it yourself.”

More than 150 top-producing agents attended a one-day conference at Beijing Homelink, the country’s largest real estate agency. Some of the many topics discussed included buyer and seller representation, fiduciary duty, ethics, portals and web sites, and the tremendous influence that Asian culture has had on real estate in the U.S., for example with Feng Shui.

“There is no course that can be taught that can replace what one learns from personal experience,” said Hilda Ramirez, Director of Professional Development at SCCAOR, who led the delegation to China. “The excursion provided an invaluable look into the everyday lives of the Chinese people at a variety of economic levels. An information exchange with Homelink agents in Beijing is an experience REALTORS® dream of.”

Suzana Kubota of Coldwell Banker Previews International said she came back with a better understanding of why schools and education play such an important role in the home buying process for Chinese people and the high standards and expectations the Chinese set.

Anne Hansen, a broker with Realty ONE Group, had the opportunity to meet with young 30-somethings who aspire to be real estate professionals. “They were dying for information,” she said. “How do you get listings. How do you get inventory. They want to be trained in sales. I think they’re very passionate.”

The Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® will lead a delegation of its members to China today through Oct. 28th on a trip that will include a presentation at the Beijing Homelink Real Estate Agency, the country’s largest real estate company.

Sixteen people are traveling to China, including Hilda Ramirez, director of Public Relations, Communication and Education for SCCAOR, Anne Hansen, a REALTOR® with Realty ONE Group who serves on SCCAOR’s Board of Directors; Pauline Martinez, a broker at AALIS Platinum Properties; and Suzana Kubota of Coldwell Banker, who will all be speaking at Beijing Homelink.

“It is an honor to speak at Beijing Homelink and to lead a group of SCCAOR members to China, where they can learn more about the people, history and culture of this rapidly changing country,” Ramirez said.

“We are delighted that SCCAOR will be coming to Beijing Homelink to lead a discussion about nuances that exist between the United States and China when it comes to the real estate industry,” said Gene Shi, President of Beijing Homelink International Operations.

SCCAOR CEO Neil Collins noted that, “The Bay Area is home to a very large Asian population and with Chinese investors continuing to be a major force in our market we knew we needed to do more to prepare our members for success. SCCAOR members will be one of the very first REALTOR® associations to visit China. Over the next several days, our members will be immersing themselves in the culture and meeting with their Chinese counterparts.”

The Chinese are the biggest group of foreign home buyers in the U.S. and account for 16 percent of foreign buyer activity, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Sales from Chinese home buyers reached a record $28.6 billion between April 2014 and March 2015.

The trip to China was made available to all SCCAOR members. Participants will visit Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou.