Thank you to all our members who came out to our second General Membership Meeting of the year. We were welcomed by our 2019 President, Gustavo Gonzalez, who welcomed the packed crowd and shared some SCCAOR updates. We then heard from Otto Catrina, candidate for C.A.R. President-Elect 2021.

This meeting also featured a fantastic panel that discussed Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) aka “Granny Units”. A huge thank you to our panelists: Bob Wieckowski (CA District 10 Senator), Pam Foley (San Jose Councilmember), Rosalynn Hughey (Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement for San Jose), and Steve Vallejos (President of prefabADU). The panel was moderated by Chrissy Garavaglia (SCCAOR Government Affairs Director).

SCCAOR then recognized Membership Milestones for our long-standing members. Congratulations to everyone who hit a milestone!

We concluded the meeting with a local government affairs update from Chrissy Garavaglia, a C.A.R. update from Rick Smith, an NAR update from Mike Sibilia, and an MLSListings update from Karl Lee. You can see all the photos from this meeting on our Facebook page.

You can watch an archive of the Facebook Live video here:

This was the first SCCAOR General Membership meeting that featured interactive live polling. We asked the audience two questions after the panel on Accessory Dwelling Units, and they were able to cast their vote with their smartphone. The results of each question were then displayed live on the TVs in the room. Here are the results from each question:

 

This ongoing series explores the NAR Code of Ethics through various case interpretations. Please read through the following case and try to decide if there was any Code of Ethics violations. Then click the box at the bottom to find out the answer. (These cases have been provided by the National Association of REALTORS®.)


Code of Ethics Case Interpretation – Article 4: Responsibility for Subordinates

REALTOR® B, a sales associate in REALTOR® A’s office, exclusively listed a suburban house and subsequently convinced the seller to accept $60,000 less than the listed price. Several weeks after the transfer of title, the seller filed a written complaint with the Association, charging REALTOR® B with a violation of Article 4 in that REALTOR® B had sold the property to his mother without disclosing this relationship to his client, the seller, and that REALTOR® B got the price reduced for his mother’s benefit.

The complaint was reviewed by the Grievance Committee which, with the complainant’s concurrence, named REALTOR® A as an additional respondent.

At the hearing, REALTOR® B stated that he saw nothing wrong in selling the property to his mother and that the seller would have accepted the contract at the reduced price, even if the buyer had not been REALTOR® B’s mother. REALTOR® A stated that REALTOR® B was an independent contractor licensed with him. REALTOR® A acknowledged that he was accountable under the Code for the actions of other REALTORS® and REALTOR® associated with him but shared with the panel information on his firm’s orientation program. He noted that he required each licensee joining his firm to complete association-sponsored Code training. In addition, he required everyone in his firm to read Professionalism in Real Estate Practice, and produced a form signed by REALTOR® B stating that he had carefully read and understood his personal obligation under the Code of Ethics.

The panel found that REALTOR® B should have made his relationship to the buyer, his mother, unmistakably clear to the seller. He should have disclosed in writing that the buyer was his mother so there would have been no misunderstanding.

The Hearing Panel found REALTOR® B in violation of Article 4.

The Hearing Panel noted that REALTORS® are not presumed to be in violation of the Code of Ethics in cases where REALTORS® associated with them are found in violation. Rather, their culpability, if any, must be determined from the facts and circumstances of the case in question. It was the conclusion of the Hearing Panel that REALTOR® A had made reasonable efforts to ensure that REALTOR® B was familiar with the Code and its obligations, and that it would have been unreasonable to expect REALTOR® A to have known the purchaser was REALTOR® B’s mother. Consequently, REALTOR® A was found not to have violated Article 4.

See more case interpretations here

By Jen Beehler

I had a first-time buyer that I helped to purchase a townhome in downtown San Jose. When they had their housewarming party, I was thrilled that they invited me to attend and celebrate this momentous occasion. At the party, I met the buyer’s Aunt, Geetha. She was this sweet little older woman that shared stories of her family and plans for the future. She took my card, and I genuinely thought nothing of it but was warmed by our encounter.

A few months later, I get a call out of the blue from Geetha. She advises me that her husband is retiring and she wants to talk about estate planning with me. His monthly income would be limited with no chance of growth once he retired. She wanted to go over all their options so they went into this with eyes wide open and were prepared and sustainable.

We first explored what downsizing would look like and we quickly learned that prices had increased dramatically since they bought their home. Any type of downsizing would be accompanied by a larger tax bill than they paid now, so the value was not truly adding up.

She invited me to coffee in her home so I could evaluate the property to determine market value. Her home had a wonderful layout that included a bonus room at the back of the house. It had a private entrance, vaulted ceilings, and loads of light. The space was about 400 square feet. As we sat down for coffee, we devised a plan to turn that room into a rental unit that could be used to offset her mortgage to accommodate their future restricted budget.

I connected her with contractors, guided her through design, and helped her choose materials that would have minimal upkeep and withstand the beating a rental needs to be able to take.

In the end, she created a wonderful studio apartment that was beautifully finished. It rents for $1500 per month which helps cover a majority of the whole property’s monthly output. This creative solution will give their family security moving into retirement and will ensure they could stay in their family home for as long as they so desired.

Finding the solution for your clients doesn’t always involve a transaction. Sometimes it means helping them pull out the potential in exactly what they currently have so their lifestyle and needs are being met, while simultaneously protecting their financial foundation.

 


These REALTOR® Hero stories are part of a new series where SCCAOR Members write about all the extra care, compassion, and creativity exhibited during a transaction that sets the “REALTOR® Hero” apart. Do you want to be featured on our blog? Click here to submit your story!

In the wake of some recently reported thefts that have occurred during open houses in Santa Clara County, we would like to remind all our members to stay vigilant when putting on an open house. Individuals have been attending open houses where they pose as potential buyers. While in the home, they are targeting wallets, purses, jewelry, and other small items.

Since holding an open house will expose you to people that you’ve never met before, it is critical that you follow all possible safety precautions. Even a buyer that seems legitimate could quickly decide to steal a small item on a whim. We encourage you to read NAR’s blog post on 10 tips for holding a safe open house and watch this video on open house safety.

SCCAOR reached out to local Brokers to see what tips they offer to their agents when it comes to preventing theft at an open house. The following information comes from Doug Goss, Broker Associate of Keller Williams Bay Area Estates:

What advice and/or training do you provide to agents in regards to open houses?

“The C.A.R. Residential Listing Agreement Paragraph 10 and Seller’s Advisory Paragraph 4C address Security Precautions. We recommend that Agents go over these paragraphs in detail with the Seller so they understand there is risk with people coming through the home during showings or open house and to make sure all valuables are put away and secured. This includes, cash, jewelry, prescription drugs, firearms, cell phones, laptops/tablets and other valuables. I have also added expensive perfume to the list as I had a client in Willow Glen last year who had a bottle of expensive perfume stolen from the top of her bedroom dresser during an Open House.”


What tips do you have for providing a high level of service and protecting the homeowner’s assets?

Prior to an Open House, take a look around the property to make sure nothing has been left out that may be tempting for someone to walk away with. If you do find something, place in a drawer for safe keeping and let the Seller know where you placed it or replace when you are finished. Also, on large properties or multi-story properties, we recommend having assistance with the Open House. Many Lenders love to co-host Open Houses with Agents so they can pre-qualify potential Buyers and pick up business. It provides another set of eyes and ears to keep track of visitors when they are in different areas of the property. Also, when you are finished with an Open House, go back and double check ALL windows and doors. I have heard of thieves going through Open Houses and unlocking windows and doors so they can come back after the Open House and gain access.


Any other information that you can share?

Always let somebody know where you are holding Open House. If you are holding Open House in a remote area, always have someone co-host with you. Some areas have limited cell access and could be very risky. Also, when you are hosting an Open House, make sure you secure your own valuables while at the Open House. Do not leave your purse, briefcase, cell phone or laptop out in the open. While you are showing the home to a potential Buyer, a thief could easily take these items (or wallet, cash, credit cards out of a purse) and walk out with them.

SCCR Foundation Group Photo

The Santa Clara County REALTORS® Foundation (SCCR Foundation) recently participated in Rebuilding Day, a bi-annual home repair blitz organized by Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley (RTSV). Over 40 local REALTORS® volunteered their time to work on two homes in the Villa Teresa Mobile Community in San Jose.

“The Rebuilding Day event is always a fantastic opportunity for REALTORS® to give back to their community,” said Don Jessup, SCCR Foundation Chair. “I am so proud of everyone that came out to support our Foundation in helping make a difference in the lives of these homeowners.”

Volunteers painted the exteriors of the homes and replaced the paneling around the sides of the porch. The two homes were part of RTSV’s “Adopt-a-Park” initiative, in which several hundred volunteers from various organizations came together to make critical improvements to 14 homes in the Villa Teresa Mobile Community.

The SCCR Foundation is the charitable arm of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®, which is made up of over 6,000 REALTORS® and Affiliates in and around the Bay Area. The SCCR Foundation aims to bring organized real estate together by investing in our neighborhoods with compassion, foresight and action.

Visit the SCCR Foundation website to learn more about the great work being done by REALTORS® in our community.

 

By Barbara Lymberis

REALTORS® are often challenged to go above and beyond the usual when dealing with a client’s particular situation. In the case of one of my recent clients, an encouraging word…in fact, hundreds of them…can go a very long way!

In early 2016, I took a listing in Saratoga, CA with Nick, my real estate partner and husband. Our client, Jan, had been severely injured in a horseback riding accident and was in a wheelchair, virtually unable to walk (although she subsequently slowly recovered). Her son, who was also disabled, lived with her but was not able to assist her, so her daughter who lived in the area, but not very close by, was dropping in as her schedule permitted to check on the family. Jan was a skilled nurse and was depressed at her inability to fulfill her nursing obligations. She did attempt to go back to work while in the wheelchair, but it wasn’t easy and her duties were necessarily reduced.

When Jan bought the home ten years ago, she had been assured that all prior work was done with the necessary permits. As we got into the sale process, we found that this wasn’t the case at all, and no permits could be found. The garage had been rebuilt, without permits, and in order to expand the home, the garage would have had to be torn down, which she wasn’t prepared to do either financially or physically. On top of that, all of the belongings from her deceased mother were packed into the garage from top to bottom.

The rest of that home was also in what could only be called a “hoarding” situation. The home was fairly large and Jan hadn’t been able to clean for quite a while due to her disability. When she decided it was best to sell the house, a huge issue was breaking this roadblock of procrastination and clearing out the home.

It looked like we were facing a perfect storm of hurdles. To make matters worse, we then found out that a bank wouldn’t lend on the property! It was at this point that we knew we had to find a contractor to purchase it, and someone to help Jan clear everything out.

We found the perfect service to help Jan, but it was a struggle – she was so tired and in pain most of the time that she wasn’t able to work much on her own to sort and pack. After speaking with the service company, we decided to make encouraging calls to Jan every other day or so, and that seemed to really help. We also requested that they go out to assist Jan much more often than normal just to be sure she was making headway. We all did a lot of hand-holding, and we were all pulling for her!

We ended up receiving offers from two contractors, both of whom backed out of the deal. Then a third contractor made a decent offer, and we negotiated a free 60-day rent back as well – which ultimately had to be extended because Jan just couldn’t get out of the home in time and needed extra weeks! Luckily the contractor was in the middle of getting permits to begin work on the home and the process was delayed a few times!

The big day finally came when most everything was taken care of, and it was time to look for a smaller home for Jan and her son. We found them the perfect home in the Santa Teresa area. This recently remodeled home was a size that she could handle and it was very near a good friend of hers from work who offered to be Jan’s ride to work on a daily basis until she was able to drive herself again. They actually continued riding together even after her recovery. The house also had a large yard that was perfect for her dogs. Jan was so happy and grateful to have the entire ordeal behind her and to have landed in such nice surroundings at the end of the journey. It was a true joy to have made it all happen for her and to hand her the keys on the day escrow closed! It was truly one of our most difficult and most rewarding opportunities to help a client reach her goals.


These REALTOR® Hero stories are part of a new series where SCCAOR Members write about all the extra care, compassion, and creativity exhibited during a transaction that sets the “REALTOR® Hero” apart. Do you want to be featured on our blog? Click here to submit your story!

The Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® is happy to announce the promotion of Samantha Gutierrez to Education & Events Coordinator. She will join our Events and Education department after having already worked for over a year as a Membership Coordinator with the Association.

“I am very excited to be starting this new journey with SCCAOR,” said Gutierrez. “I look forward to being a part of bringing members the best possible events and classes that SCCAOR can provide.”

Samantha will report to Jodee Sousa, SCCAOR’s Education & Events Manager, and assist with the planning and marketing for all classes hosted in the SCCAOR office as well as all the member related events organized throughout the year.

“I am looking forward to working with Sam on education and events,” said Sousa. “She brings a lot of great insight from working directly with our members and she has already hit the ground running with some fresh ideas that our members will benefit from.”

In her free time, Samantha enjoys practicing the art of Improv comedy. She also enjoys watching the San Jose Sharks and enjoying the Bay Area music scene.

See all our upcoming Events and Classes on the SCCAOR Calendar.

This ongoing series explores the NAR Code of Ethics through various case interpretations. Please read through the following case and try to decide if there was any Code of Ethics violations. Then click the box at the bottom to find out the answer. (These cases have been provided by the National Association of REALTORS®.)


Code of Ethics Case Interpretation – Article 4: Indirect Interest in Buyer

REALTOR® A had taken two offers to buy a commercial property listed with him to the owner, Client B. Both offers had been considerably below the listed price, and on REALTOR® A’s advice, Client B had rejected both. REALTOR® C submitted a contract to REALTOR® A seeking a cooperative arrangement on REALTOR® A’s listing, which was agreeable to REALTOR® A. REALTOR® C brought a contract to REALTOR® A from a prospective buyer, a bank, offering more than the previous proposals, but still 10 percent less than the listed price. REALTOR® A took the offer to Client B and again advised him not to accept an offer at less than the full listed price. Again, the client acted on REALTOR® A’s advice. The bank revised its offer, proposing to pay the listed price. This offer was accepted by Client B, the owner.

About a month after the closing, the Association of REALTOR® S received a complaint from a director of the bank that had purchased Client B’s property, charging REALTOR®A and REALTOR® C with unethical conduct and duplicity which had resulted in the bank’s paying an excessive price for the property. The complaint stated that REALTOR® C was a stockholder in a corporation, one of whose officers was a director of the bank; that REALTOR® C, in a transaction that was handled through REALTOR® A, had evidently used his connection with the bank to induce the bank to buy at a price higher than the market; and that neither of the two REALTORS® had disclosed to the other officers of the bank the connection that existed between them and one officer of the bank.

At the hearing, REALTOR®A defended his actions by stating that he knew nothing of any business relationship between REALTOR® C, the cooperating broker and the buyer; that he had acted wholly in accordance with the best interests of his client, the seller. REALTOR® C demonstrated that he had negotiated solely with the president of the bank; that the director of the bank who happened to be an officer of a corporation in which he, REALTOR® C, held stock was at no time contacted during the negotiations; that the matter had never been discussed with that individual.

It was the conclusion of the Hearing Panel that the indirect relationship between REALTOR® C and the buyer was not of a nature to require a formal disclosure; that REALTOR® C could not be held to be in violation of Article 4. The panel pointed out, however, that in a borderline case where it could be reasonably inferred that a relationship did exist, the spirit of Article 4 would be better served if disclosure were made to avoid any possibility of unfortunate or unfounded suspicions.

The Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® is pleased to announce the promotion of Jodee Sousa as Education & Events Manager.

“I am excited to take on this new role and continue to bring new and engaging classes and events to our members,” said Sousa. “Stop by and see me when you’re in the office!”

Sousa was originally hired in late 2017 as SCCAOR’s Marketing & Events Coordinator. She worked on producing marketing collateral and planning all of the Association’s events. Her new role has her taking on more responsibility in this capacity as well as taking over ownership of all SCCAOR educational classes.

“Over the last year and a half, Jodee has become an essential part of our team,” said Spencer High, SCCAOR Director of Member Engagement. “She brings a lot of great experience to the table and I know that she will do a fantastic job in her new position.”

Outside of work, Jodee enjoys spending time with her 8-month-old son, Miguel, family, friends and Beaglier, Kali. A Disneyland trip is always on the horizon for her.

You can visit the calendar on our website to see all our upcoming classes and events.