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Realtors® help out local school districts. p. 10

Table of Contents Features 10 Helping Wasatch Front Students 12 Realtor® Awards to be featured in Two Events

14 10 Skills You Have to Calm Commission Gripes

18 Five Rules Agents Should Follow to Not Become a Tragic Statistic

Brian Swan, JD

20 10 Things Every Agent Should

Know About the Housing Market

Dave Anderton

22 11 Mortifying Home Buyer

Behaviors that Make Real Estate Agents Cringe Cathie Ericson

24 When Clients Talk Politics, Stay Above the Fray Graham Wood

Columns 7 More Housing Options Needed Adam Kirkham – President’s Message

Departments 8 Happenings 8 In the News 26 Housing Watch 28 Realtor® Connections 28 On the Move

On the Cover: Illustration: Kelley Anderson Photo left: Dave Anderton

This Magazine is Self-Supporting Salt Lake Realtor® Magazine is self-supporting. The advertisers in this magazine pay for all production and distribution costs. Help support this magazine by advertising. For advertising rates, please contact Mills Publishing at 801.467.9419. The paper used in Salt Lake Realtor® Magazine comes from trees in managed timberlands. These trees are planted and grown specifically to make paper and do not come from parks or wilderness areas. In addition, a portion of this magazine is printed from recycled paper.

Salt Lake



Maga zine

September 2018 volume 78 number 9

The Salt Lake REALTOR® (ISSN 2153 2141) is published monthly by Mills Publishing, located at 772 E. 3300 South, Suite 200 Salt Lake City, Utah 84106. Periodicals Postage Paid at Salt Lake City, UT.  POSTMASTER:  Send address changes to: The Salt Lake REALTOR,® 772 E. 3300 South, Suite 200 Salt Lake City, Utah 84106-4618.

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Salt Lake


® ®

Maga zine

President Adam Kirkham Summit Sotheby’s International First Vice President Scott Robbins Summit Sotheby’s International

Scott Colemere Colemere Realty Associates Kimberly Farber IMPOWER Real Estate Brian Gottfredson Coldwell Banker Residential Tony Ketterling Equity Real Estate

Second Vice President Alicia Holdaway Summit Sotheby’s International

Mike Morgan Realtypath

Treasurer Matthew Ulrich Ulrich Realtors®

Mary Olsen Utah Key Real Estate Jodie Osofsky Utah Key Real Estate

Past President Troy Peterson Equity Real Estate

Steve A. Perry Wise Choice Real Estate Sophie Reece Berkshire Hathaway

Directors Cheryl Acker Utah Key Real Estate

Michael Rowe Berkshire Hathaway

Advertising information may be obtained by calling (801) 467-9419 or by visiting

Managing Editor Dave Anderton Publisher Mills Publishing, Inc. President Dan Miller Art Director Jackie Medina Graphic Design Ken Magleby Katie Steckler Patrick Witmer Office Administrator Cynthia Bell Snow

More Housing Options Needed

Sales Staff Paula Bell Karen Malan Paul Nicholas Chad Saunders Office Assistant Jessica Snow

Salt Lake Board: (801) 542-8840 e-mail: Web Site: The Salt Lake Board of REALTORS® is pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation. We encourage and support the affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. The Salt Lake REALTOR® is the monthly magazine of the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS®. Opinions expressed by writers and persons quoted in articles are their own and do not necessarily reflect positions of the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS®.


he Wasatch Front’s red hot housing market was the topic of a special town hall event at the Realtor® Campus in August. A panel made up of elected officials, home builders and developers discussed the fast-paced housing market we face. Demand has outpaced the supply of homes. The result has led to bidding wars that in some cases see buyers making offers 20 to 25 percent above asking prices.

Naturally, some people are frustrated. Currently there are 28,000 households being created each year in Utah. Last year only 23,000 housing units reached the market. The deficit could last for years. According to Chris Gamvroulas, president of Ivory Development, there are 45,000 Utah families still doubled up in homes with other family members. These 45,000 families aren’t buying homes. The answer, as simple as it sounds, is more supply. Some progress is being made. In the first half of 2018, there were 9,211 residential units approved on the Wasatch Front/Back, a 38 percent increase compared to the first half of 2017, according to Construction Monitor. Yet, even at today’s current pace of home building, supply will still fall short of the number of new households created this year. According to the University of Utah, the housing shortage will persist over the next three to four years. Maybe longer. Higher densities and mixed-use communities are the answer. Daybreak in South Jordan is a good example of how this can be accomplished. Daybreak’s blend of townhomes and detached housing attracts all age categories. Contrast this with some cities where one-third or half-acre lot zoning is now mostly made up of aging baby boomers with no children at home. The “one type fits all” zoning requirements imposed by some cities is not a lasting solution to Utah’s growing population. Aimee Winder Newton, chairwoman of the Salt Lake County Council, said her 22-year-old son recently married. The couple purposely chose to only look at townhomes because they didn’t want to maintain a yard. Cities need to offer people a wider selection of housing options; from rentals and condominiums to townhomes and single-family options. The private sector demands it.

Adam Kirkham President

Permission will be granted in most cases, upon written request, to reprint or reproduce articles and photographs in this issue, provided proper credit is given to The Salt Lake REALTOR®, as well as to any writers and photographers whose names appear with the articles and photographs. While unsolicited original manuscripts and photographs related to the real estate profession are welcome, no payment is made for their use in the publication. Views and opinions expressed in the editorial and advertising content of the The Salt Lake REALTOR® are not necessarily endorsed by the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS®. However, advertisers do make publication of this magazine possible, so consideration of products and services listed is greatly appreciated.

OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE SALT LAKE BOARD OF REALTORS ® REALTOR® is a registered mark which identifies a professional in real estate who subscribes to a strict Code of Ethics as a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. October 2005

September 2018 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | 7


In the News

Scott Robbins President

Buyers Want a Faster Mortgage Process

Alicia Holdaway First Vice President

Image licensed by Ingram Image

Matthew Ulrich Second Vice President

Steve Perry Treasurer

2019 Executive Team The 2019 Executive Team was announced at the August Board of Directors meeting. The 2019 president is Scott Robbins of Summit Sotheby’s International. First vice president is Alicia Holdaway of Summit Sotheby’s International. Second vice president is Matthew Ulrich of Ulrich Realtors®. Steve Perry of Wise Choice Real Estate is treasurer. Past president is Adam Kirkham of Summit Sotheby’s International. The Executive Committee is elected by the 16-member Board of Directors. Each position is a one year term.

New Directors Elected Four Realtors® were elected to the 2019 Board of Directors. They include: Rob Ockey, Century 21 Everest, Steve Perry, Realtypath, Dawn Stevens, RealtyOne Group, and Matt Ulrich, Ulrich Realtors®. Each director will serve a four-year term beginning on Jan. 1, 2019. The Board of Directors is made up of 16 Realtors®. Three of the 16 directors are appointed from the largest brokerages. The remaining 13 positions are elected. The Board of Directors sets policy and priorities for the association.

8 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | September 2018

Home buyers want the mortgage process to be less onerous and faster. But they also want more personal interaction as they navigate a transaction and very big decision in their life, according to Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey, a survey of about 3,000 recent home buyers. “As the Amazons and Ubers of the world continue to raise the bar for ‘consumer-grade’ experiences, home buyers have made it clear that it’s also time for the home purchasing and mortgage processes to change,” writes Henry Carson, senior vice president of digital products, at Fannie Mae’s Perspectives blog. Overall, borrowers want less paperwork. They said gathering the necessary financial information to apply and get approved for a loan is the most difficult part of the mortgage process, which was particularly true for those over the age of 45 or those who’ve purchased more than one home in their lifetime.

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Helping Wasatch Front Students


embers of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors® in August participated in Tools for Schools, a fundraising event that provided school supplies, clothing and food to Wasatch Front students. Laura Fidler, cochairwoman of the Charity Committee and a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Residential, helped organize the event. For three days, Realtors® and members of the public dropped off school supplies and other needed items. Radio station Z104 and its hosts, Dave and Deb, were on location in the parking lot of the South Towne Mall and slept in school buses to raise awareness. Many Salt Lake brokerages contributed to the cause including Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, which gave $5,700 in cash. By the end of the campaign, four school buses were filled with food and supplies and delivered to 10 participating school districts. Fidler added that many Wasatch Front families have great needs. In the Granite School District alone, 65 percent of the students live at or below the poverty level. A special thanks to Jolene Rickard-Lehman, of AllPoints Inspections, who provided lunch to 200 people.

10 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | September 2018

Photos: Dave Anderton, Laura Fidler September 2018 | Salt Lake Realtor ÂŽ | 11

Illustration: Kelley Anderson

Realtor® Awards to be featured in Two Events Service-based Realtor® Awards to be presented at the December Holiday Social. Production Awards luncheon in January will recognize the top 500 Realtors® by MLS sales volume.


n 2018, the Salt Lake Board of Directors adopted a new and improved way of conducting the Annual Awards event. In past years it has always been a challenge to look at and judge the hundreds of different types of Realtor® business models and then attempt to place them into only a few awards categories. Many business models are so unique that they do not fit within the awards categories the Board has had in the past (i.e., small sales team, sales person of the year, etc). With the difficulties associated with this process, the Board will take a new forward thinking and more inclusive direction with awards. The awards will be broken

12 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | September 2018

down into two separate events - (1) the Holiday Social / Service Awards event in December, and (2) a Realtor® 500 Awards luncheon with the top 500 producing Realtors® to be held in January of the following year. I. Holiday Social / Service Awards event in December Later this year service based awards will be given out at our annual Holiday Social in December. At this event in December, in addition to inaugurating our new leadership team, service based awards, as opposed to production or sales volume awards, will be given out to our members in more of a celebration format. Recipients of these service based awards will be recognized in the local newspaper as we have done in the past. With this new approach to awards, there will be more of an emphasis on how Realtors® give back to the community and less emphasis on a Realtors® sales

– O U R PA S S I O N –








When we talk about how Summit Sotheby’s International Realty and our sales associates differ from the competition, we typically talk about market share, significant sales, and global brand power. The truth is, our commitment to excellence in real estate is only matched by our commitment to our community. We are proud to share that our agent-run 501c3, “Sotheby’s Cares”, has raised more than $690,000 since its inception, enabling us to support the very communities that have embraced us. Thank you to our sales associates for not only being pillars in the real estate industry, but pillars of social responsibility – making a difference to local and national non-profits through each real estate sale. Our sales associates’ unwavering support of “Sotheby’s Cares” is just one reason why Summit Sotheby’s International Realty is like no other.

MMXVIII Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Sotheby’s International Realty® is a licensed trademark to Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, Inc. An Equal Opportunity Company. Each office is independently owned and operated. Copyright© Summit Sotheby’s International Realty 2018.


With this new approach to awards, there will be more of an emphasis on how Realtors® give back to the community and less emphasis on a Realtors® sales volume or number of homes sold.

volume or number of homes sold. The idea here is to promote the value and benefit Realtors® play in the community beyond just selling homes and earning a commission. The following awards will be presented at the Holiday Social / Service Awards event: 1) Realtor® of the Year - This prestigious award is determined by a committee comprised of the past 5 recipients of this award. It is an award that is not based on sales volume but rather focuses more on an individual Realtor® who has given back to the industry and community. There will be no self-nominations for this award. Individual Realtors® may be nominated by a one of his or her peers in the industry or by the judging committee. The Realtor® of the year will be featured in the local newspaper. 2) Affiliate of the Year - This award is selected by the past 5 recipients of the awards. It too focuses on outstanding affiliates who give back to the industry. The recipient of this award will appear in the local newspaper. 3) Good Neighbor - This year, not 1, but 3 individuals will be selected as Good Neighbor Award winners. As some of you know, the NAR selects 5 Good Neighbor Recipients each year so we are mirroring this approach with our awards. There are so many Realtors® who do tremendous work in the community and we want to recognize as many as possible each year going forward. There will be an online application process for this award. Recipients of this award will appear in the local newspaper. 4) Distinguished Service Award - As in the past, recipients of this award earn Distinguished Service by (1) obtaining 50 points throughout the given year for Board participation, or (2) by being a major RPAC investor ($1000). Those wishing to receive this award by earning points will fill out a simple online application similar to what has been done in the past. One change this year will be that all Sterling RPAC major investors ($1000) will automatically receive this award and will not have to apply online. Those wishing to receive this award by investing in RPAC must have their investment made no later than Nov. 15, 2018. Recipients of this award will appear in the local newspaper free of charge.

14 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | September 2018

5) President’s Award - Each year the Board President may give out an award to anyone he or she feels has gone above and beyond for the Realtor® family. This award recipient will be recognized at this same event in December. II. Realtor® 500 Top Producer Awards event in January The Board will hold a separate Top Producer luncheon in early 2019 called the “Realtor® 500.” The purpose of the event will be to recognize the top 500 Realtors® according to MLS production rankings for the prior year, and to also recognize major RPAC investors. In an effort to promote the use and benefit of our local MLS, sales production not reported to the MLS will not be counted in the Realtor® 500 rankings. Only Realtors® in good standing with the Board pursuant to the Board’s policies will be eligible to receive this award. Any member of the Realtor® 500 who invests $1,000 or more to RPAC will automatically receive a “Hall of Fame” award similar to what has been done in the past. All Realtor® 500 members’ names will be featured in the local newspaper and other Board communications. However, Hall of Fame members who are part of the Realtor® 500 will be given additional recognition and their professional picture will be included in the local newspaper add, free of charge. A recognition plaque will also be given to Hall of Fame Realtor® 500 members. Realtor® 500 members who are not RPAC major investors will only have their names featured in the local newspaper recognizing sales performance but will not receive the Hall of Fame award. Realtor® 500 members for the given year will be personally invited to attend the Realtor® 500 luncheon where a keynote speaker will be featured. The Realtor® 500 members will receive a special invitation in the mail and also via email and will be asked to rsvp to Board staff for the luncheon. There will be no application process as the Realtor® 500 names according to MLS production rankings will be invited. If a Realtor® 500 member is part of a team, only the team leader will receive an invitation to the event. Brokers for any Realtor® 500 member will also be invited to the event. Due to the complexity and difficulty of categorizing hundreds of different business models, other production awards that have been done in the past such as salesperson of the year and team awards will not be recognized going forward. This will be a great networking event and celebration of outstanding sales performance and a time for many more Realtors® to come together as a Realtor® family in a more inclusive way to celebrate their successes.



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Five Rules Agents Should Follow to Not Become a Tragic Statistic By Brian Swan, JD


eal estate agents take on a lot of tasks. They market properties. They represent home buyers and sellers. They negotiate deals. What no one really thinks about are the situations that those tasks require: Walking into complete strangers’ homes; showing vacant homes; driving new clients around in their personal vehicle. These situations hold inherent risks and agents need to take them seriously. The industry is aware of the many stories where agents such as Beverly Carter from Arkansas who was kidnapped and killed while showing homes. It is stories like these and the risks of the job that deemed September as Realtor® Safety Month. Real estate professionals need to talk about these stories rather than ignore them. With a 20-year martial arts background, as well

18 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | September 2018

as being a former certified and licensed firearms instructor, self-defense is not foreign to me. Consequently, I’ll lay out five rules agents should follow to improve the likelihood of not becoming a tragic statistic. 1. Carry a Healthy Distrust. While successfully selling real estate requires a good human connection with people you meet for the first time, your personal safety requires just the opposite. You must find the balance between connecting with new people while also staying cautious. The best way to accomplish this is to keep a professional demeanor. When you are professional, you subconsciously stay emotionally detached, which naturally keeps your guard up.

2. Always Follow. Business is about leadership, but safety is about following. Follow your new client into the house. Follow the homeowner from room to room. When people are in front of you, you can see potential threats. 3. Stay Near Exits. Stand in the middle of a room with a stranger and you might not make it out the door. Stay near the door while the client or prospective client examines the room. As some rooms might require entering at some depth, the best advice is to tread into the room just enough to get the necessary vantage points but remain within safe distance of the exit. 4. Inform Others. Tell family members and/ or associates which address(es) you’ll be visiting and who you’re meeting. Additionally, have family members or associates download

a phone tracking app and be sure to turn on your GPS for all appointments and showings. 5. Self-Defense. Understand that attacks will typically come from multiple attackers, someone with a physical advantage, or by surprise. Because learning a martial art takes time, sometimes years, to become efficient in, the better method to self-defend is to carry something that is legal in your state and designed for self-defense. What to carry is a personal choice with many considerations, including any training you need and your comfort with it. Be sure to discuss those considerations with an expert, including the item’s effectiveness in neutralizing threats and defending your life. Stay safe out there. Brian Swan, JD, is vice president real estate products, OnCourse Learning and General Manager of Stringham Schools.







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September 2018 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | 19

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10 Things Every Agent Should Know About the Housing Market By Dave Anderton


f you’re a Realtor®, the most common question asked by friends and family members is, “How is the housing market?” How you answer says a lot about your experience and knowledge of the market. Here are 10 key economic indicators of the current housing market.

1. Salt Lake is one of the top housing markets Salt Lake City is one of the Top 10 housing markets in the nation. ranked Salt Lake City No. 6 on its list of the 10 housing markets to Rule 2018 (Las Vegas was No. 1).

20 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | September 2018

2. Median prices on the rise The median price of a single-family home on the Wasatch Front was $330,000 in this year’s second quarter. That’s up 10 percent from a median price of $300,000 last year and up 20 percent from $275,000 in 2016. In Salt Lake County, the median single-family home price was $353,000, up 8 percent year-over-year. 3. Homes are selling within days During the second quarter, Wasatch Front homes were on the market a median of just 10 days.

4. Sales fell slightly in the second quarter Home sales did experience a slight drop off in the second quarter in Salt Lake County, down 5 percent compared to the second quarter of 2017. However, sales in July were up. Most of the slowdown can be attributed to a lack of housing units for sale.

according to the National Association of Home Builders. Here in Utah, over the past 10 years the development costs for a building lot increased from $37,000 to $52,000. Permit and impact fees for 18 Utah cities surveyed by the University of Utah increased from $12,000 in 2007 to more than $15,000 in 2017.

5. Multiple offers are above asking price With limited housing inventory, home buyers in some cases are offering 20 to 25 percent above asking prices. Multiple offers are common.

8. increasing housing prices don’t threaten Utah’s economic growth According to the University of Utah, increasing housing prices don’t threaten economic growth at this point. The Wasatch Front has a housing price advantage over most West Coast cities as well as Denver and Reno.

6. Limited supply of inventory One of the biggest challenges buyers face is a limited supply of housing inventory. The shortfall in housing units has been persistent and will likely continue for the next three or four years. In 2017 there were more than 28,000 households created in Utah, but the increase in housing units was 23,000, according to the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. Some good news: there were 9,211 residential units approved on the Wasatch Front/Back in the first six months of 2018, that’s 38 percent more units approved compared to the first half of 2017, according to Construction Monitor.

9. Utah is No. 1 in job growth Utah leads the nation in job growth which is the primary driver of a robust housing market. At 71.3 percent, Utah has the No. 7th highest homeownership rate in the nation (tied with Vermont).

7. Rising lumber costs mean higher home prices Nationally, higher lumber prices have increased the price of an average single-family home by nearly $9,000 and added $3,000 to the price of the average condo or townhome,

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10. Real estate benefits the economy Real estate accounts for 19 percent of the nation’s GDP and is a major driver of the economy. The sale of a typical home generates roughly $64,000 in secondary expenditures such as moving costs and other services that flow through the economy. Dave Anderton is the communications director of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors®.

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11 Mortifying Home Buyer Behaviors That Make Real Estate Agents Cringe By Cathie Ericson


s much as home buyers hope and pray they’ll land their dream home, they don’t always act like it. Want proof? Just ask their real estate agents, who are often witness to a variety of home buyers’ odd, off-putting behaviors that can jeopardize the deal they apparently hope will come to pass. Recently we shared some of the cringe-inducing moments that agents have experienced with sellers—and boy, were some of them doozies. But buyers, guess what? You can be trouble, too. Here we shine the spotlight on buyer behaviors gone horribly wrong. As tempting as they may seem to some of you, don’t try these at home. Anyone’s home.

22 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | September 2018

1. You broke something in a seller’s home, Part 1 “Years of air guitar practice doesn’t mean you’re entitled to pick up a client’s Les Paul ... and showcase your version of ‘Vaya Con Dios.’ Drop the guitar, and this will cost you much more than just a house contract.” – Ashley Smith, Realty Associates, Irving, TX 2. You broke something in a seller’s home, Part 2 “I had a client try to test the shower pressure during a showing—and ended up breaking off the faucet handle, with the water on and no way

to turn it off! My buyer ended up flooding the bathroom. Just wait for the inspector to test this type of thing.” – Charlie Panoff, Triplemint Real Estate, New York, NY 3. You were late ... for the umpteenth time “Clients who are chronically late for appointments make me look bad, since the seller often goes to great lengths to be available at the agreed-upon time. Canceling is even worse, since they have likely cleaned up the house and gotten it show-ready.” – Renay Brown, Real Estate One, Royal Oak, MI 4. You ripped up the carpets to see what was underneath “Many buyers are convinced that there are gorgeous hardwood floors lurking under the carpet, and instead of just asking the seller, they decide to rip up a corner of the carpet to see what’s underneath. Hey, you’re not on HGTV; you actually just destroyed some property, which is a liability to both you and your agent.” – Ashley Smith, Realty Associates, Irving, TX 5. You brought your dog, and it went bananas “One couple brought their dog to a showing. Unfortunately the sellers also had a dog, and even though it wasn’t there at the time, the scent made the buyers’ dog crazy. He started running off and marking his territory all over the house. Even in less extreme cases, pets can also unwittingly damage a home, or the seller may be allergic to them.” – Shawn Breyer, Breyer Home Buyers, Atlanta, GA 6. You lowballed, badly “I often have home buyers compare a current property to one in a similar area that was bought at a lower price point—several years ago. Buyers need to remember that home prices depend on many factors such as location, features, the rarity

of the property, and most importantly, the current market.” – Brett Ari Fischer, Lee & Associates Residential, New York, NY 7. You cheaped out on the earnest money deposit “The point of earnest money is to demonstrate that you are a serious buyer. When you stand firm on a very low amount, like 1% or so, it makes the seller wonder if you are going to try to back out since you don’t have much to lose.” – Earl White, House Heroes, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 8. You pulled a 180 during negotiations “I have had buyers assure me they are not concerned by what the inspection uncovered because they are handy, and that they are prepared to fix it themselves. Then when it comes time to make the offer, they insist that the seller fix it all— at their cost of course.” – Renay Brown, Real Estate One, Royal Oak, MI 9. You asked way too many questions “Of course, home buyers should ask questions, but some clients start querying me on everything from the watts of energy each lightbulb expends to the insulation factor within the thickness of the drywall. Multiply those questions by the entire property, and it’s way too much to handle.” – John Powell, Help-U-Sell, Tucson, AZ 10. You procrastinated on making a decision “Often, we’ll come across a beautiful home right when we start our search, or an ideal property comes on the market, but the customer wants to wait on the chance that something better may come along. That’s a surefire way to lose your dream home. Instead, home buyers need to ask themselves, ‘Will I be upset if somebody else nabs this property because I wasn’t fast enough?’ If the answer is no, then it may not be their dream home. However, more times than not, buyers change their mind and decide they want that home after all as soon as it is no longer available.” – Brett Ari Fischer, Lee & Associates Residential, New York, NY 11. And finally, you used the potty “Home buyers need to realize the bathroom is not for them. Take care of your business at home or in a public facility. Using a seller’s restroom should be a last resort for emergencies only.” – Ashley Smith, Realty Associates, Irving, TX Cathie Ericson is a journalist who writes about real estate, finance, and health. She lives in Portland, OR. Reprinted from Realtor® Magazine Online, August 2018, with permission of the National Association of Realtors®. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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September 2018 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | 23

When Clients Talk Politics, Stay Above the Fray How divisive public discourse is affecting business relationships—and what you can do about it. By Graham Wood


harla Lau sensed where the conversation was going with one of her clients—and it wasn’t about houses. It was shortly after the presidential election last November, and the aftermath of the intensely partisan contest was clearly on the buyer’s mind. As Lau and her client toured listings together, the buyer began making leading comments about abortion and “alternative lifestyles,” begging for her response, Lau said. He criticized Congress and the rancor in Washington. And then Lau braced when he turned his attention to her personally: “So, who did you vote for?” She declined to respond. “Yes, I have my thoughts and beliefs, but they are mine,” said Lau, ABR, GRI, vice president of Coldwell Banker Fleming-Lau Realty in Fort

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Smith, Ark. “I have found it’s not safe or wise— professionally or personally—to discuss personal beliefs with strangers.” She told her client she would rather they stay focused on discussing real estate, and they moved on to have a friendly working relationship. Lau is hardly alone. In this hyperpolitical environment, practitioners are finding themselves grappling with potentially uncomfortable conversations with clients more frequently than ever. “This kind of thing still happens all the time with clients,” said Joe Mock, e-PRO, a sales associate with Cutler Real Estate in Cincinnati. “I’ve had to deal with politics in my business more now than at any other point in my 21 years in real estate. I’ve heard more than once: ‘I’ll bet you’re a

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Republican because you’re a businessman.’ And I literally said, ‘I don’t talk religion or politics with clients.’” Even if you know better than to raise contentious topics, do you have a ready approach for dealing with others who tend toward the incendiary? How much discomfort will you tolerate from quarrelsome peers before deciding to leave a brokerage or stop working with a client whose views you find virulent? Or are you the one who needs to develop better filters for your own speech? Blurred Lines Between Professional, Personal Savvy real estate practitioners have long been careful to avoid mixing political talk with business, but in today’s world, deep ideological divides and rampant rhetoric from all sides are putting many on edge and sometimes blurring professional lines. No matter where you go—on social media or in the real world—polarizing commentary is making it trickier to assess how to navigate your communications with clients and colleagues, even when you’re not the one getting political. Given that real estate is a relationship business at its core, the professional advice to simply stick to the nuts and bolts of helping buyers and sellers

“Great reputations are built one brick at a time, and buildings can come down with one bad move. You can destroy your reputation with one comment.”

with transactions may not always cut it. “There’s an expectation for you to be genuine and transparent as a real estate professional. But you want to make sure your genuineness is not provocative in a way that disrespects people,” says 2011 NAR President Ron Phipps, who is helping to develop a Realtor® University course on online etiquette for real estate professionals. “Great reputations are built one brick at a time, and buildings can come down with one bad move. You can destroy your reputation with one comment.” Severing Ties with Serious Offenders Sometimes, practitioners have to make hard decisions in order to avoid conflict over personal views with their customers—including disassociating with those who become too irate. Politics (continued on page 30)

September 2018 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | 25

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September 2018 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | 27

On the Move

REALTOR® Connections

Sheridyn and Gary Cannon Give $12,500 to RPAC Sheridyn and Gary Cannon have invested $12,500 in the Realtors® Political Action Committee (RPAC). The couple are owners of West Jordan-based Cannon and Company Real Estate Services. In 2018, Gary invested $10,000 and Sheridyn invested $2,500. Last year Gary was the second member of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors® to invest $50,000 or more in lifetime contributions to RPAC. Sheridyn’s investment qualifies as a Crystal R designation. Gary said he first started giving to RPAC in 1989. “If you start with a little, over time it will be a lot,” Gary said. “I can’t think of a more powerful and easier way to make a difference in the state of Utah in protecting private property rights for ourselves, and for all individuals who own or plan on owning any property.” Cannon and Company are home to 30 agents, each of which has contributed his/her fair share to RPAC.

Steve Perry joins Wise Choice Real Estate as Principal Broker Wise Choice Real Estate announced that Steve Perry joined the firm as principal broker. In this role and as part of the executive team, he will assist in leading the development team. Steve was licensed in 2000. He most recently worked for Realtypath where he was promoted to executive broker and general manager. He helped grow Realtypath to more than 1,070 real estate agents. Steve currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Salt Lake Board of Realtors®. He is the liaison for the Young Professional Network and serves on the Government Affairs Committee. Steve has been a Golden R and Sterling R investor to RPAC. Steve is the proud father of six children and has been married over 29 years to his lovely wife April. Salt Lake Realtor® Magazine welcomes announcements on new Realtors®, affiliates, awards, office openings and professional accomplishments. Send your news to News received is published at the discretion of Salt Lake Realtor® Magazine. 28 | Salt Lake Realtor ® | September 2018

Windermere Real Estate Utah, a leading residential and commercial real estate company, today announced it acquired Rising Star Realtors® in Park City and Bryson Real Estate in Bountiful. Agents with each brokerage will join the Windermere family. Windermere’s current Park City office has moved to the office of Rising Star Realtors® at 1835 Three Kings Drive. The new Park City office is part of the Iver’s Tunnel that connects to the Spiro Mine. The tunnel and mine were once used by skiers in the 1960s to access ski runs. Nearly 20 agents will work from the office serving the real estate needs of Park City and Wasatch Back clients. Daimon Bushi, is the branch broker of the Windermere Park City office. Windermere’s new Bountiful office is at 152 West 500 South. Jared Bryson is branch broker. Within the past 18 months, Windermere Utah has grown to 10 Utah office locations including, Sugar House, Bountiful, Cottonwood Heights, 9th and 9th, Downtown Salt Lake City, Harvard-Yale, West Valley City, Layton, Park City and Coalville. Low inventory, rising home prices, and higher interest rates are making it more difficult, but they aren’t keeping some people from closing on a home, according to the results of a survey of released today by®, The Home of Home SearchSM. In fact, 34 percent of those who purchased a home were unphased by price and rate hikes, 51 percent didn’t pay above asking, and 42 percent only made one or two offers. The typical profile of a successful buyer in the first half of 2018 is someone who was in the market for six months or less (61 percent), made four or fewer offers (72 percent), and bought a threebedroom, two-bath home. Those that had an easiest time buying a home were older buyers, above the age of 55 years old, according to the survey that was conducted by Harris Research and includes online responses from more than 1,000 people who closed in 2018.

Politics (continued from page 25) Last year, Realtor® Magazine convened two focus groups—one with nine brokers and another with nine agents—during the Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., to learn how the highly charged political climate may be affecting business relationships. All participants acknowledged seeing a rise in politically infused online behavior from both colleagues and clients in the last year. Some said they’ve defriended or stopped following some business contacts. Several have a personal policy never to become online “friends” with a client until a transaction is over. Mock, who participated in one of the focus groups, said he has defriended both clients and personal contacts recently for making “serious” negative political comments on his Facebook page. Some have gone as far as to suggest the president be killed, he said. Mock believes associating with people like that threatens his business. “If you’re a friend of mine, anybody else who’s my friend is a friend of yours by association,” he said. “If I stayed friends with someone like that, my clients would have said, ‘That’s not the Joe I know.’” The focus group discussions also revealed that there is little consensus about how real estate companies should handle difficult situations. Four of the nine participating brokers said they have no formal social media policies in place. One broker from Oklahoma had to fire two agents who refused to “go neutral” on hot-button political issues on the company’s social media feeds. Because the business of real estate is often affected by politics, some participants said that focusing on Realtor® Party issues rather than partisan politics was the best way to avoid alienating clients and colleagues. “Politics are an inherent part of real estate and do have a place in client dialogue,” said Doug Sager, a sales associate with The Grubb Company in Oakland, Calif. “One of the many hats we wear as a real estate professional is the hat of a teacher. We educate our clients on matters that affect them, and we cannot be afraid to bring up topics that impact their goals. It also shows that Realtors® are about much more than seeking the next closing check; we are a viable political force with a powerful voice in all levels of government.” Is it Ever OK to Reveal Personal Views? Perhaps the person who needs to watch what they say is you. Real estate agents have lost clients—and their jobs—after making divisive political remarks in public forums. Even Realtor® association leaders have had missteps. During the 2016 election, Realtors® threatened to rescind their RPAC donations in response to a state president’s online political comments. And in January, an agent in Peoria, Ill., was fired after engaging in

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“Some participants said that focusing on Realtor® Party issues rather than partisan politics was the best way to avoid alienating clients and colleagues.» a cantankerous Twitter spat over political views that went viral online. Real estate pros are public ambassadors for their communities, so they should remember that they are representing their business and neighborhoods at all times and on all forums— even if their intent is to “switch” to their personal persona, said Marki Lemons-Rhyal, a Chicagobased real estate coach who teaches social media ethics. “You shouldn’t be a practitioner and shouldn’t have a license if you think, ‘I’ll say whatever I want to say,’” she said. “You don’t get to take your real estate hat off. If you get online and rant and rave, that sends the message that you won’t work with a certain type of client.” Of course, not everyone agrees that professionals must always avoid expressing personal beliefs. But if you do, you have to be willing to accept the consequences. Susan Young, broker in charge at Express Real Estate in Weaverville, N.C., recalled wrestling with the resignation of one of her five agents several years ago. Young said the agent left after expressing anger that Young posted a comment on Facebook supporting gay marriage, which was illegal in North Carolina at the time. “The agent told the owner of the company that if she ever ran into a problem, she didn’t think I would have her back because we didn’t share the same views,” Young recalled. The owner did not reprimand Young over the situation, and Young said she doesn’t regret her Facebook post. But she did learn a lesson about how her words can have a greater impact because of her higher position in her company. “I realized I’m the broker in charge, and I represent the entire company. It wasn’t just me losing something; the whole office lost a good agent,” she said. Some real estate pros simply aren’t sweating the risky consequences of working in a combative political climate. One Louisiana practitioner who participated in the focus groups noted that the business impact can accrue to his benefit if certain colleagues become known for their vitriol online or in person: “One of their clients is going to come over to me.” Graham Wood is senior editor for Realtor® Magazine. He can be reached at Reprinted from Realtor® Magazine Online, July 2017, with permission of the National Association of Realtors®. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.














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Why RE/MAX? Their story is my why. Find your why at

*As of year-end 2017. ©2018 RE/MAX, LLC. All rights reserved. Each office independently owned and operated. 18_300466






NEW Bountiful Office


9th & 9th

Wasatch Back Harvard & Yale

Salt Lake City West Valley

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IT’S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS In 1972, Windermere set out to change the real estate industry by putting relationships before sales quotas, with an emphasis on service to our clients and our community. While the real estate industry has changed substantially over the years, our core values of relationships, community, collaboration, and professionalism have remained central to how we do business, and will continue to do so for years to come.

WELCOME TO WINDERMERE! For more information about Windermere, contact our principal broker, Grady Kohler, at 801-815-4663. SUGAR HOUSE | UNION PARK | LAYTON | WEST VALLEY | PARK CITY 9 & 9 TH | HARVARD/YALE | BOUNTIFUL | WASATCH BACK | DOWNTOWN TH

Salt Lake Realtor – September 2018  
Salt Lake Realtor – September 2018