Monday, March 9, 2009

Quincy Virgilio, 2009 SCCAOR President Q&A

Quincy Virgilio
2009 SCCAOR President

With so much uncertainty in the housing market, it's a good time to seek insight from real estate leaders who have their fingers on the pulse of the market. We recently sat down in a question-and-answer session with Quincy Virgilio, the 2009 president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors to get some advice for homeowners, home buyers and home sellers.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - With so much uncertainty in the housing market, it's a good time to seek insight from real estate leaders who have their fingers on the pulse of this market. We recently sat down in a question-and-answer session with Quincy Virgilio, the 2009 president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, to get some advice for homeowners, home buyers and home sellers in Silicon Valley

Virgilio is also broker and owner of Realty World -- California Property Network, and the Mortgage Network in San Jose. He has more than two decades of experience, a half decade of service with the association and 800 closed transactions under his belt.

He's married to Lynn Virgilio, advertising director at Grass Valley's historic The Union newspaper. They have two adult children Nicolette and Dominick. The family man is also an avid golfer known to bicycle a century for charity.

These days, much of his time is spent as the helm of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors (SCCAOR).

Q: What is SCCAOR?

A: In our community, SCCAOR's role is to be the "go to" source for all things related to the real estate industry, to support private property rights and to bring home ownership opportunities to the community. The association is also a trade group serving members (7,700, down 16 percent from a year ago) with education, information and tools to be successful professionals. It also enforces our code of ethics and professional standards. Enforcement helps protect consumers (who have access to the enforcement process) by assuring that they get a transaction that meets our standards. SCCAOR members also benefit from our affiliation with the California Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.

Q: What is your role as president of SCCAOR?

A: I am the face of the organization, my role is to represent our members publicly, and to lead our members, and our board of directors toward the successful completion of our goals.

Q: The housing crisis is on the minds of everyone, especially homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages, potential home buyers and those who want to sell their home. What steps are you, in your role as president, and SCCAOR taking to help homeowners keep their homes?

A: Part of our strategic plan is to make sure that organized real estate is at the table discussing, finding and implementing the help and solutions needed during this challenging time.

Our goal is to get involved at all levels of the governmental, political and civic communities working on these issues. Through these goals we are involved with the city of San Jose's foreclosure task force, and have already helped with a foreclosure fair where homeowners were able to work directly with their lenders to obtain loan modifications on the spot. It that was not possible, they got answers to their questions from reliable professionals. Another fair is coming in April.

I am also meeting with all of our city council members and county supervisors to examine ways that we can help them. We are trying to conduct public forums with council members in each district to discuss housing problems facing neighborhoods.

We are also working on a counseling program to help people through the process (of homeownership) and to connect with nonprofits already doing this work.

Q: Likewise, what can home buyers expect from the association?

A: Reliable information, direction and support.

Q: How does the association assist homeowners who want to sell their home?

A: This is the primary role of our Realtor members. We have a public website that helps connect buyers and sellers with our members. Go to and click on "Consumer Info."

Q: There have been some complaints from the real estate industry that the media is not fair in its coverage of the housing crisis. How can the media assist the association and the public in terms of reporting about the crisis and other housing issues?

A: Another goal for our association is to increase, with the media, the relevance and importance of our association and members. We are meeting with reporters and media sources to help them understand the importance of reporting accurate information. We are meeting with them to show that there are great opportunities coming out of the challenges we face. Now I know that good news simply does not sell, but I believe that being responsible and reporting the good news is going to go far with the readers, viewers and listeners. All media can help by contacting our association for the facts and reliable, accurate information prior to presenting a story.

Q: The Obama administration's "Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan" rolled out in March. The $275 Billion Plan includes:

• A refinancing program for "responsible" borrowers who haven't missed payments and whose loans are larger than the value of their homes.

• A loan modification provision with incentives for lenders to modify certain mortgages.

• A change to bankruptcy rules to allow judicial mortgage modifications designed to reduce mortgage balances to fair market value.

How will these provisions play in Silicon Valley?

A: We must wait after the details are announced to determine the impact. Preliminary information reveals many of our homeowners may not qualify for help offered by the plan. Additional help eventually may be included for our higher cost area.

The reduction of mortgage balances by bankruptcy judges is a bad plan, one that will further hurt the recovery of the housing sector and stall the lending crisis. Lenders will have to factor this possibility into the price we pay for money, thereby raising interest rates to cover the potential losses incurred by the write downs. It's just a bad plan at the worst time.

One way everyone could be helped would be by allowing everyone to modify the terms of their loans to a 4 percent interest rate. If that does not help our economy, then I'm confused. If every homeowner could reduce their mortgage payments across the board, I think the money saved on mortgage payments would show up in consumer purchases.

Q: What advice do you think home sellers need most in the current housing market?

A: First, if you do not have to sell your home, don't! Now is not the time to test the market. Second, get accurate information from a reliable Realtor about what the market is saying. Remember, Realtors do not set the price at which your home will sell. The market does. Finally, be realistic when you price you home. Properly priced properties will sell quickly.

Q: What advice do you think home buyers need most in the current housing market?

A: You make your money when you buy your house. Buy right. Remember buying a home is a long term investment and, more importantly, buying a home is creating an asset that will grow over time. Take advantage of getting the lowest interest rate possible. That's the true cost of owning a home. With the current inventory levels, the right home is out there. Be sure to get professional help from a Realtor.

Q: What advice do you think homeowners most need in the current housing market?

A: Real estate is cyclical, and appreciation will return. If possible, pay down the principal balance on your existing mortgage and improve your equity position. Pay attention to what is going on in your neighborhood, and stay informed. Call your Realtor for reliable, accurate information. They'll be glad to help.

Q: Are there any comments you'd like to make to your constituency, consumers or the public at large?

A: I would encourage everyone to get involved. There's a lot going on in our community and, now more than ever, we need everyone to be pushing in the same direction.

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group -- DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. Perkins is also a National Real Estate Examiner. All the news that really hits home from three locations -- that's location, location, location!

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