TECH TIPS: PHOTOGRAPHY IN REAL ESTATE
NC REALTORS速 | THE SMART MOVE
THE VOICE OF REAL ESTATE IN NORTH CAROLINA
VOL 95 NO 1 | FEBRUARY 2016
What's Your Business Plan for 2016? Kim Dawson 2016 NCAR President
Good business planning can help both emerging and veteran agents .
Keeping Up With Millennials in the Political Landscape How will these young voters affect upcoming elections?
PROUD TO BE AN
NC RPAC GIVES THANKS
BROKERS: DO THIS FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAMS PROFILES IN GIVING BACK SOFIA CRISP
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5 reasons you should invest in professional photography.
Good business planning can help both emerging and veteran real estate agents start building more profitable businesses.
Proud to be an NC REALTOR® Incoming President Kim Dawson is looking forward to enacting positive change on a larger scale.
18 Keeping Up with Millennial
in the Political Landscape
Learn about political demographics and trends to better engage both clients and representatives.
20 Do This for High
Something to Talk About Housing Expectations for 2016
11 REALTOR® Partner Program 24
Inside NC REALTORS® NCAR Ombudsman Program
26 Government Affairs An Eventful Year Ahead 27
NC RPAC Thank You to Our 2015 Investors.
29 Forms Guy Forms Guy Gives Liz a Quiz
BROKERS: People want to feel understood and appreciated.
22 5 Minutes With..
TALK TO US
SOFIA CRISP: Learn about her passion for helping first-time homebuyers.
Help us spread the Smart Movement from the mountains to the coast. Learn more on pg. 7.
Have something to talk about? Sure you do — and we want to hear it! Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be featured in the next Insight. ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 3
As I step into the role as your new president, I can’t help but reflect on how our profession has changed over the years. We’ve experienced an economic downturn and are fortunate to be on the upside of that trend, having weathered the storm. We’ve seen major changes in technology and how we communicate with our clients and one another. And while changes in technology have helped facilitate simpler, speedier transactions, these trends have taken away from our human interaction with people from all sides of the table. My hope is that, in 2016, we will all pause for a moment and refocus on the personal touch. We are still in a sales business and communication and relationships are at the core of what we do. We have access to so many great benefits through the association and I want to make sure we’re all doing our part to spread the word about those resources. From utilizing the NCAR Legal Hotline when we’re faced with challenging situations, to taking advantage of one of our many REALTOR® Partners, it is my hope that we all learn about these available tools to maintain a higher level of professionalism. I would be remiss not to talk about the educational opportunities, including the GRI program, Leadership Academy and annual events and programming, which all equip us to do our jobs more effectively and to improve our professional reputations. My goal this year is to inspire us all to help raise the bar of professionalism for NC REALTORS®. We have to work hard to ensure our clients and communities see the value in working with a REALTOR®. One of the biggest struggles within our profession is earning the respect that we deserve. We will constantly be challenged by those who wish to harm our industry and threaten our livelihood, so we must remain diligently on our toes in anticipation of protecting our business. The trend of “raising the bar” is being demonstrated all over our industry — a big example to note was NAR’s newly mandated core standards, which help ensure we’re representing the real estate industry at the highest level of professionalism and community involvement. The introduction of NCAR’s Ombudsman Program this year will help us avoid ethics complaints and give us the opportunity to clear up misunderstandings we may have otherwise never known existed. You’ll see in this issue we introduce a new branding campaign, “NC REALTORS®: The Smart Move.” Our goal with this project is to reinforce the fact that working with an NC REALTOR® is always "The Smart Move." We are community advocates and an essential part of the home buying and selling processes. We are doing great things in this state and I look forward to representing and getting to know you this year. We should all be proud to be a North Carolina REALTOR®.
Insight Magazine, Volume 95, Issue 1 President Kim Dawson
Treasurer Kelly Marks
President-Elect Treasure Faircloth
Immediate Past President Tony Smith
REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENTS Region 1: Kathy Perry, Emerald Isle; Region 2: Deb Hays, Wilmington; Region 3: Bruce Gates, Goldsboro; Region 4: Brett Bushnell, Chapel Hill; Region 5: Lolita Malave, Greensboro; Region 6: Phil Rector, Pfafftown; Region 7: David Pierceall, Gastonia; Region 8: David DeSilva, Leslie Fisher, Charlotte; Region 9: David Wall, Asheville; Region 10: Linda Trevor, Asa Fleming, Raleigh; At-Large: Sandra O’Connor, Greensboro. Chief Executive Officer Andrea Bushnell Editor Blair Wilburn Assistant Editor/Designer Mckenzie Allen Communications Intern Kerri Hughes Contributors Nicole Arnold Will Martin Larry Kendall Bridget McCrea Mike Landes Kristin Nash Deirdre LePera Seth Palmer For Advertising information, contact Mike Buescher at 336-808-4229 or email@example.com. Insight (USPS 017602) is published four times a year during the months of February, May, August and November by the North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, 4511 Weybridge Lane, Greensboro, NC 27407. Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Rate is Pending at Greensboro, NC and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Insight Magazine; 4511 Weybridge Lane, Greensboro, NC 27407. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information regarding the subject matter covered. Articles which appear in Insight are an informational service to members. Their contents are the opinions of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent those of the North Carolina Association of REALTORS®. Advertising of a product or service does not imply endorsement, unless specifically stated. Prefer to read Insight electronically? To opt-out of paper copy mailings, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line of “Insight opt-out.”
4511 Weybridge Lane, Greensboro, NC 27407
Kim Dawson 2016 President 4 INSIGHT • February 2016
Phone: (336) 294-1415, Toll Free: (800) 443-9956
[SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT]
2002 The year our President Kim Dawson became a REALTOR®, after "losing" a coin toss with her husband. (pg 9)
5 The number of
elements agents should focus on when creating a solid business plan. (pg 14)
83 The percentage of
homebuyers who rated photos of properties for sale as the most useful website feature. (pg 16)
3.1M The number Celebrating the Brand In 2016, we are proud to celebrate the centennial of the trademark "REALTORS®" and using the term to identify real estate industry professionals who adhere to the Code of Ethics. REALTORS® have been working to improve American communities and helping families and businesses achieve their goals and dreams. While times are certainly different than they were in 1916, the dedication to excellence by REALTORS® remains steadfast and stronger than ever. For more information about the Centennial celebration and to share your story visit 100years.realtor.
of millennials in North Carolina, comprising the largest generational group in the state. (pg 19)
6,000 The number of
clients member Sofia Crisp and Housing Consultants Group has helped since 2007. (pg 22) ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 5
[SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT]
Feb. 10 Webinar Wednesday: Protect Your Assets! A Guide to Risk Management Learn to protect yourself from possible real estaterelated challenges with effective risk management, led by REALTOR® Partner Pearl Insurance.
Register at www.ncrealtors.org
Feb. 17 Partner Webinar: Taxbot Learn how to keep more commissions by taking all allowable deductions with REALTOR® Partner Taxbot.
Register at www. ncrealtors.org
Apr. 27 Partner Webinar: Taxbot Learn the best strategies for tax planning and how REALTOR® Partner Taxbot can help.
Register at www. ncrealtors.org
[ UPCOMING EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES ] Feb. 11 GRI: Business Planning Raleigh
Apr. 21 GRI: ABC’s of Financing Brunswick County
Feb. 24 GRI: ABC’s of Financing Hickory
Apr. 22 GRI: Balancing Business Risks & Ethics Brunswick County
Apr. 6 GRI: Technology Tools & Resources Hickory
Register at www.ncrealtors.org/gri
DID YOU KNOW? REALTORS® with a GRI designation earn about two times more than those without. The GRI can help YOU! Learn more and register for classes at www.ncrealtors.org/gri.
REGISTER BY FEB. 29 TO SAVE
2016 NC REALTORS® CONFERENCE
SEPT. 11-13 | THE GREENBRIER
6 INSIGHT • February 2016
ADVOCATES PARTNERS ADVISORS NEIGHBORS
As REALTORS®, nothing is more important to us than our clients and our communities. Their successes are our successes. Their growth, our growth. We are their advocates, their partners, their advisors, their neighbors. Last year, the National Association of REALTORS® mandated a new set of core standards for associations to meet, including emphasis on comsumer outreach. We saw this as an opportunity for NC REALTORS® to rebrand ourselves in an effort to ensure our communities and clients see us the same way that we view ourselves. NC REALTORS® are “The Smart Move.” Whether a client is a first-time homebuyer or downsizing empty nester, NC REALTORS® are “The Smart Move.” Whether a business owner is opening her first bakery or expanding a Fortune 500 company, NC REALTORS® are “The Smart Move.” Regardless of the real estate venture, NC REALTORS® have the professionalism, passion and know-how to help their clients make the best next step, whatever that step may be. So we’re starting the Smart Movement. With new, eye-catching creative, a robust social media and public relations strategy, an exciting contest and a showcase video, we’re spreading The Smart Move story from the mountains to the coast. We hope you’ll join us in sharing your smart move story. For more information on The Smart Move and how you can get involved, visit TheSmartMoveNC.com.
Where do you call home?
We live in Carrboro, in the same house we moved to 24 years ago. I guess you could say I’m great at helping other people move, I just can’t move myself. Years ago we decided our next home would be on the water, so we’re actually in the middle of building a new house on Hyco Lake in Semora. It’s going to be a change of lifestyle for us; being on the water is good for us.
Tell me a little about your family:
My daughter, Ketra (28), lives in Denver, Co. She is my free spirit. You know when they say to give your kids wings? Her wings are huge! She has traveled the world since she was 11 years old with her swim team and church choir. Ketra is not afraid to do anything and I envy her. My son, Gavin (25), is the conservative, hard working, practical one. He played soccer from three years old through college, first at University of Denver, and later for UNC-Charlotte. He was part of their first NCAA finals team, playing UNC-Chapel Hill for the championship. He’s now a focused, motivated business man. He and Ketra are extremes — like night and day — but both are very hardworking and devoted young adults. My husband Jim was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, and it brought us all closer together. I saw a very different side of my children during that time. They pulled together and created a great bond to be supportive of us. And, Jim was amazing through it all. He is the most positive person I know. He’s in a good place now and has been cancer free for two years in February. That whole ordeal changed our family. Before, we were all in a million directions and now we’re all about family first and then we fit everything else in. 8 INSIGHT • February 2016
[KIM DAWSON, 2016 PRESIDENT]
MEET NCAR'S NEXT PRESIDENT Late last year, Insight magazine caught up with Kim Dawson after a day of meetings at the NCAR headquarters office in Greensboro. With managing her office, working with clients, building a home and transitioning into a leadership position at the state association, it was a calm break in an otherwise typical day for Dawson. As the incoming President of NCAR, Dawson is looking forward to enacting positive change on a larger scale. “I really believe in what our organization does for our members,” she says, “and I think it’s important we all take the time to give back.” Dawson was raised from an early age to get involved and this sentiment is entrenched at the core of what she believes. Dawson grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Her father started working at a bank at 13 in order to support his mother and his sister, after his dad passed. Dawson remembers watching her father rise through the ranks in the banking industry – first becoming president of the bank and eventually president of the Illinois Bankers Association (IBA) and a director with the American Bankers Association. She fondly remembers sitting in the audience when he was installed as president of the IBA. It was his diligent work ethic, commitment to family and civic involvement that influenced Dawson to be a leader and value the importance of giving back to her industry and community. Dawson attended Drake University in Iowa, where she met her husband Jim Dawson as a freshman, and they’ve been together ever since. After marriage, they relocated quite often with his business, living in five states over the span of 10 years. She “did the Midwest.” It wasn’t until they lived in North Carolina that Dawson landed in real estate. While between jobs, Jim decided to pursue a real estate license and asked Dawson to join him as a way to spend time together. At the end of their class, Jim said, “Okay, one of us needs to become a REALTOR®, and one of us needs to find a ‘real job.’” So, they tossed a coin. At the time, she jokes that she “lost” the coin toss, becoming a REALTOR® in January of 2002, while Jim found a "real job." But, now she knows she was the real winner. Being part of a wonderful company that she loves, Dawson thrives in getting to help people and make a difference in their lives.
Kim Dawson is ready to prove why we should all be proud to be NC REALTORS®.
Can you name a person who has had a strong impact on you as a leader? Early in my real estate career, I was fortunate to work with Ace Robbins, my broker-in-charge at Prudential in Chapel Hill and an NCAR past president. He talked about NCAR with such pride and joy that I was envious of those friendships and camaraderie. It was his passion for the friendships he built through the association that inspired me to get involved with NCAR. So, I got on the Forms Committee and went from there. What is one characteristic you think every leader of NCAR should possess? I think all leaders should be open to the ideas of others around them and not be afraid of the opposition. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned through my leadership experiences — I like to hear the other side of the story. The discussions that happen from opposite opinions build an even better decision. Quite often, it’s the blend of the two which makes the final outcome even stronger. You’ve created a more unified force if you’ve taken the blend. So often, we don’t want to have people on our committees who have different opinions or who don’t agree with us, but I’ve learned over time the value of having people who think differently. That’s the best thing for an organization. ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 9
[KIM DAWSON, 2016 PRESIDENT]
Tell me a little about your extended family: Most of the rest of my family still lives in Chicago area. Really, I’m the only one that moved away. We have big family events and it’s only a two-hour plane ride to go back, so we visit often. What did you want to be when you were 5? I wanted to be a dancer. But, I only danced in one play in middle school — HMS Pinafore. I was not confident enough to be in front of others and pursue it. Very first job: I worked at the five and dime. I was 15 and could walk there from my high school. Hobbies: I like to take old jewelry and redesign it. It’s my stress reliever. I also enjoy decorating and am an out-of-practice artist. But, of course, spending time with my kids and supporting their endeavors is probably my biggest pleasure. Last vacation: In Christmas of 2014, both kids had time off at the same time — a first in many years. We hadn’t had a real family vacation together in 15 years (due to sports), so we told them to pick a place for us to go. Well, they went for it and picked Italy! We made it work and created many wonderful memories. How do you maintain the personal touch with clients? A personal handwritten letter has been my signature since I got in the business. I write thank you cards to customers after each transaction. I always hand sign my holiday cards, each with a personal note. As great as technology is, somewhere along the way we lost the personal touch. Now is the time to bring it back. 10 INSIGHT • February 2016
"I want to make sure we’re all spreading the word on how valuable the NC REALTOR® is to our community and our clients." Tell me about your current company. I’ve been with Coldwell Banker Advantage since April 2014. I went there to help with a merger acquisition after they bought a local boutique firm. I had already announced my campaign for presidency with NCAR and fortunately, they took me on board and were extremely supportive, always wanting to know what they could do to help me be successful in that role. It’s been wonderful. While it’s a large franchise, the company operates like a family company and the owners take pride in their REALTORS®. I know I can pick up the phone to call one of the owners and they’ll take time to call me back. They’re in tune with the industry, which is one of the things that made me attracted to the company. They know what’s going on and that’s important to REALTORS®. They want their agents to understand why it’s important to be involved. What do you see as the future for real estate? We are in changing times. There are lots of questions about using a REALTOR® in the transaction process and that’s why it is important for us to prove the value of our profession. It’s not just about the commission, it’s about the knowledge REALTORS® bring to the table. That’s what we don’t get credit for — the information about communities, housing, the closing transaction and navigating the crazy mortgage industry. It’s the REALTORS® job to help the client navigate and understand how to get from A to Z in the closing process. We’ve seen the changes with TRID, although this is only the beginning of that. I anticipate there will be people challenging commissions and how we’re paid. As much as I’d like to say real estate is on the upturn and things are going to be good, we have to be prepared for challenges. We have to proceed with caution, yet, still reach for the stars. And, we have to do it in a smart way. That’s one thing I like about the team here at NCAR. We come up with the big ideas,
but then we spend time determining the right way to do it. We do that conservatively, assessing the pros and cons and the long term aspect of every decision. What are you priorities for the coming year as president of NCAR? I want to spread the word about all that NCAR offers and does for its members. During my campaign, I realized how many people don’t know about the services NCAR provides. They don’t understand the REALTOR® Partner Program and they take for granted our legal hotline. When I was at NAR’s annual conference in San Diego last fall, I attended the Presidents’ Forum and realized how much NCAR already offers that other states don’t even have established. We are ahead in many ways and our members just don’t realize that. It has been an ongoing struggle to make members realize what they get in return for their dues. That’s one of my big goals this year. I also want to help raise the bar of professionalism for the North Carolina REALTOR®. One of the biggest struggles within our profession is earning the respect that we deserve as REALTORS®. We need to make people aware of the responsibilities we have to our clients and communities. We don’t do a good enough job of tooting our own horn and it’s something we need to focus on as an industry. I think we’ve done a better job of getting there legislatively, through our grassroots program. We’ve been able to tell people the difference we are making in their tax dollars. And, they’re getting it — they’re signing up. We need to continue those efforts and let the public know we’re making a difference and we’re saving them money. I want to make sure we’re all spreading the word on how valuable the NC REALTOR® is to our community and our clients. We’re in a good place, but there is so much more we can do to make ourselves better. Finally, my goal for this year is to give people a reason to be proud to be an NC REALTOR®.
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WHAT’S YOUR BUSINESS PLAN
FOR 2016 BY BRIDGET MCCREA
Not just for newbies, good business planning can help both emerging and veteran real estate agents start building more profitable businesses.
12 INSIGHT • February 2016
As a well-known author on personal time management, Alan Lakein once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” He followed that up with, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” Neither one of these quotes is lost on the busy, time-strapped real estate agent who has only so many hours in the day to get everything done — both personally and professionally. And while technology has made communications, planning and tracking a little easier, it has also put new demands on the agent who is now operating in a 24/7/365 environment. On a more positive note, there’s nothing like a New Year to get real
MEET THE EXPERT estate professionals thinking about business planning and goal-setting — both of which can help REALTORS® better manage their time while working toward (and hitting) shortand long-term goals. For the typical agent, this exercise should be divided into basic business planning (where you are now and where you want to be over the next one to five years); marketing planning (how you’ll market yourself in 2016 in order to hit your business planning goals); and budgeting (tracking money in and money out with the overall goal of maintaining profitability and business growth).
Taking a step back
Mark Given, “chief thinker” at Mark Given Seminars in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., and a GRI instructor, says too many agents jump right into the business, eager to start closing deals and earning income. And while the drive to succeed can be “enough” for
Mark Given is an author, international speaker and expert on helping individuals and companies get the results they want in their business. He is also the author of the Business Planning course for the N.C. GRI program and has been teaching it across the state. Given's course raises awareness by asking the hard questions: Is your financial house in order? How much do you really make an hour, and is that enough? Don't know these answers... then we'll see you in class! The Graduate REALTOR® Institute will provide you with the tools to improve your business and maximize your potential. Learn more at www.ncrealtors.org/gri.
some agents, the majority would benefit by taking a step back and reassessing their current and future goals and accomplishments. “A lot of agents that get into the business have never run companies before, so they skip the planning step,” says Given. “Instead, they draw on their own past experiences and set their sights on showing and selling houses.” This laser-like focus can be detrimental for the agent who doesn’t understand exactly what it takes to run a profitable enterprise that posts year-over-year growth. “Just because you’re getting commission checks doesn’t mean you’re going to be free and clear of your expenses and debts at the end of the year,” Given points out. “In fact, running a real estate business can be pretty expensive.” With that in mind, Given says both new and existing agents will benefit from a 2016 “gut check” that includes a new (or updated) business, marketing and budgeting plan. For new agents, he says going beyond the licensing processes and talking to experienced agents who are “in the know” is a good first step when developing a plan. Ask these agents how long it took
to close their first sale, how long it typically takes to get that allimportant first commission check, what they spend on marketing (and what avenues work best for them) and any other tips they can provide on how to effectively budget (both professionally and personally) when working on a commission basis. “Figure out what it really costs to run your business, including marketing, MLS and other fees that you may have to pay out of pocket during your first few months in business,” Given advises. “Then, determine exactly how much business you’ll need to generate in order to ensure profitability every month.”
Factor in the ups and downs When planning out their business and marketing activities over the next 12 months, agents should also factor in any seasonal fluctuations and other ebbs and flows that might impact their revenue streams. If, for example, a REALTOR® works mainly in coastal towns where the summer months are “hot” and the winter months are “not,” then stockpiling some cash during the busy times is a good idea — knowing that the commission checks may slow when the climate changes. “The lean times will come” says Given, “and it pays to prepare for them.”
ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 13
5 ELEMENTS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR BUSINESS PLAN In its Field Guide to Writing a Business Plan, NAR advises agents to focus on these five elements when creating a solid business plan
1. Define your mission & vision
Writing a solid business plan begins by defining your business’s mission and vision statement. Though creating such a statement may seem like fluff, it is an important exercise. The mission and vision statement sets the foundation upon which to launch your business.
2. Set goals
Next, translate your mission and vision into tangible goals. If your mission statement is to make every client feel like your most important client: how specifically will you implement this? Do you want to grow your business? Is this growth measured by gross revenue, profit, personnel or physical office space?
3. The marketing plan
The Marketing Mix concerns product, price, place and promotion. What is your product? How does your price distinguish you from your competitors — is it the industry average, upper quartile or lower quartile? How does your pricing strategy benefit your clients? How and where will you promote your services? What types of promotions will you advertise? Will you ask clients for referrals or use coupons? Which channels will you use to place your marketing message?
4. Form a team
Ensuring the cooperation of all colleagues, supervisors and supervisees involved in your plan is another important element to consider. Is your business plan’s success contingent upon the cooperation of your colleagues? If so, what specifically do you need them to do?
5. Implementation & follow-up
Set dates (annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly) to review your business plans goals. Are you on track? Were the goals reasonable to achieve, impossible, or too easy? How do you measure success — is it by revenue, profit or number of transactions? And lastly, how do you plan to implement your business plan’s goals?
14 INSIGHT • February 2016
Pointing to the recent National Association of REALTORS®’ statistic that 50 percent of new agents never make it to the five-year mark, Given says budgeting can play a major role in an agent’s early and ongoing success in the industry. “A lot of people just don’t realize how much it’s going to cost to get started and to keep things going for five-plus years,” says Given. To buck this trend, agents should develop a realistic budget that factors in both business and personal expenditures and assets over a 12-month period. Factor in how much cash you have in reserve, how much money your spouse or significant other is making each month (if applicable) and how much commission you can reasonably expect during your first six to 12 months in business. Then, use a mobile budgeting app like Mint, GoodBudget or PocketExpense (or, a basic spreadsheet) to input your income and expenditures, figure out how much money you spend on a monthly basis, find areas where you may be able to cut back and get a good handle on your budget. “Come into it as prepared as possible,” says Given, “and the odds of success will be much better than if you just ‘wing it.’”
Not just for newbies
Good budgeting can also help veteran agents who, after a full year of closing deals and depositing commission checks, find themselves missing the mark when it comes to overall profitability. “There are a lot of agents who do very well in this business, but spend everything they make,” says Given, who tells REALTORS® that simply tracking profits and losses throughout the year can help them quickly identify “red flags” that may be draining the company’s profitability. On the marketing front, you can use a similar approach to figure out which efforts are paying off and which are draining your budget. A banner ad program that costs $5,000 a month may sound good in theory, but if, after three months of use, it has only produced a single sale, then that $60,000 a year will probably be better spent on another advertising mechanism. Without the solid numbers in front of you (in this case, the money spent and the results achieved), it’s often easier to keep making those $5,000 payments than it is to reassess your marketing approach. Looking around at the current marketplace, Given says there’s no time like the present to start planning out your successful real estate career. Market optimism is high, interest rates are still low and the climate is favorable for the ambitious individual who is either getting into real estate for the first time or looking to further his or her career by taking the time to plan out a strategy for 2016. “It used to take three to five years to make money in this business, but if you plan things out and take the right steps — and if you’re wise about marketing and profitability — you can really speed up that timeline and build a profitable business.”
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Realty Executives North Carolina Offices Where will YOUR star shine?
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ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 15
[Photography in Real Estate[ BY: DEIRDRE LEPERA REAL TRENDS RESEARCH STRATEGIST
REAL Trends, in partnership with Virtuance, surveyed hundreds of top-producing real estate professionals across the country to find out how real estate brokerages and agents use professional photography in their businesses. We found that there were five clear and compelling reasons why real estate sales associates and/or brokerages choose to invest in professional photography.
You have a duty to your seller Of those surveyed, 94 percent of the agents and 73 percent of brokers felt passionate about the importance of using professional photography. Several agents and brokers cited that the importance of using professional photography stemmed from their obligation to their seller. One independent broker in Arizona went so far as to say, “You have to [use professional photography]. You are doing a disservice to your clients otherwise. People are visual, and you have to grab them.”
Drives your online traffic According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 83 percent of homebuyers rated photos of properties for sale as the most useful website feature. In the same report, 43 percent of buyers looked at homes online as their first step in the home-buying process. This was up from 35 percent in 2011. This trend will continue to increase incrementally over time, and 16 INSIGHT • February 2016
it makes sense to give your buyers the quality content they are seeking on your own website.
Wins you more listings This may be the most obvious reason to use a professional photographer for your business. One of the primary responsibilities of a listing agent is to successfully market a property to get a seller the best sales price possible. The majority of that task relies on a strong visual representation of the home, especially as homebuyers increase their online home shopping activities.
Solidifies your brand image We know that photos often serve as the first impression of the home and must capture the attention of the buyer. The truth is that they also serve as the first impression of your brokerage or your personal brand as an agent. If you aren’t producing the same quality of photos for each of your listings, you have to ask yourself, “What message are you
sending to your potential clients?” We asked what one feature agents felt to be the most important. Some 75 percent of agents and 73 percent of brokers ranked “quality of property photographs” as the most important feature. The second highest ranked feature was “consistency in the look and feel of property photographs.” These two features together are the basis for creating a reliable and trustworthy brand.
Best bet for your time and money The cost of professional photography has dramatically shifted in the last 10 years. A service that could cost around $1,000 is available now at about one-tenth of that cost. Agents and brokerages combined reported paying on average $160 for property photos. When asked whether or not the agents and brokers felt they received a good return on their investment, the answer was a resounding "Yes!". Even agents who were paying closer to $300 or more for their property photos still felt that it was worth the investment.
ABOUT VIRTUANCE Based in Denver, Virtuance was founded in 2010 and is one of the fastest-growing real estate photography companies in the world. Virtuance is the creator of HDReal®, an awardwinning, proprietary imaging system designed specifically to market real estate. Using artificially intelligent automated algorithms and highly trained HDReal®certified photographers, Virtuance produces real estate marketing images that are proven to drive online traffic and result in conversions through more inquiries and property showings. Virtuance supports the HDReal® system with a comprehensive array of marketing tools and platforms, including interactive floorplans, listing videos and social media marketing.
Hands down, professional photography for your listings is one of the simplest ways you can shape your brand and business. What’s even better is you don’t need to do the heavy lifting. Using a professional photographer allows you to focus on the activities that only you can do to build your business. If you are a broker/owner or manager, consider finding a way to bring professional photography into your company on a consistent basis. The incentive of having a photography solution in place for your agents is something that benefits you both.
METHODOLOGY In April 2015, REAL Trends emailed a 38-question survey to the nation’s top-producing real estate brokerages and agents as identified by the REAL Trends 500 and America’s Best Real Estate Agents by REAL Trends in partnership with the Zillow-Trulia Group. The email survey remained open for 45 days and had 437 respondents. In addition, REAL Trends interviewed 10 real estate professionals between May and June 2014. These professionals ranged from broker/owners, managers, agents and coaches. Some were a part of major national brands, and others were a part of independent brokerages. These professionals had all been involved in the real estate industry for a period of 12 years or more. All of those interviewed had used or were familiar with the company Virtuance. REAL Trends requested all parties to provide complete data from their 2014 calendar year. The average is the primary statistical measure used throughout this study. Due to rounding and omissions for space, percentage distributions may not add to 100 percent.
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of the REAL Trends Newsletter and is reprinted with permission of REAL Trends Inc. Copyright 2015. ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 17
18 INSIGHT • February 2016
Keeping Up with Millennials in the Political Landscape BY: MIKE LANDES | DIRECTOR OF POLITICAL OPERATIONS
Electoral politics is a gamble. If you’re a strategist, a pundit or even a regular citizen who’s interested in advocacy, you’ll have to make a prediction at some point. Who’ll win the election? Who’s coming out to vote? What will the biggest issues be in a given race? Some of the answers to these questions are obvious. Others demand the attention of experts and divide the opinions of commentators all over the country. To understand the political landscape well enough to predict the future, strategists often examine the changing demographics in local and statewide communities. How many millennials live in North Carolina, and will they turn out to vote? What about baby boomers and Generation Xers? How should we expect them to vote on issues like the Mortgage Interest Deduction and the upcoming statewide spending referendum? Strategists also look into the trends that belong to each of those demographics. How does each generation communicate, and what do individuals in those generations like to talk about? Millennials are exceptionally active on social media, and while their fascination with cat videos is worthy of dissection, they also engage with different parts of the political spectrum than their predecessors. Political scientists all over the United States research American demographics and trends to better understand how electoral politics are shaped over time. In a recent presentation* to the North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation (NCFEF), an organization dedicated to education and non-partisan political analysis, Dr. Rebecca Tippett and Dr. Michael Bitzer spoke about their research in demography and what to expect from the newest politically-engaged generation, the millennials. Dr. Tippett, the UNC Demography Center’s director of demography, and her study found that millennials make up the largest generational group in North Carolina with more than 3.1 million individuals. They also found that as a group, millennials tend to reside primarily in urban areas, as well as in areas where colleges/universities are located. This data is further supported by the fact that 49 percent of millennials in the state have received some form of post-high school education. But the data also shows many concerning trends for the millennial generation. As a likely result of the Great Recession and consequential economic downturn, millennials have a lower rate of labor force participation than previous generations. Due to this, a majority of millennials (77 percent) rent their place of residence, while some still reside with their parents or other family members (35 percent). Additionally, millennials have the lowest rates of voter registration of all generational groups. Based on their review, millennials make up only 24 percent of all registered voters. This is due to the fact that only 57 percent of millennials are registered to vote.
Dr. Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College, noted in his presentation to the NCFEF that millennials appear to be stepping away from partisan political leanings. He found that 48 percent of registered millennials consider themselves politically independent, rather than identify with a specific ideology. As far as registration, 38 percent of millennials are registered independent, while 36 percent are Democrats and 25 percent are Republicans. One percent of millennials have registered as Libertarians, marking the largest generational affiliation to the Libertarian movement of any of the generations mentioned. Millennials are also far less interested in politics than older generations, though this may change as they grow older. Bitzer also observed that millennials receive their news from different sources than their parents and grandparents. While 60 percent of baby boomers receive their news from local TV, only 37 percent of millennials use that as their primary source of information. Instead, millennials rely on communication mediums like social media. According to his analysis, Bitzer found that 61 percent of millennials get their news from Facebook. How do these changing demographics change the current political climate? How does this information affect our analysis and predictions of electoral politics? When we examine millennials, it isn’t easy to paint a picture of what our electorate will look like once they reach prominence. However, there are a few key points of interest for NCAR’s Government Affairs Department: 1. Millennials’ movement to the political center. Fewer and fewer young voters feel the same party loyalty as their parents. 2. Millennials rent instead of buy. At a time when US homeownership is at its lowest rate in decades, millennials are renting at higher rates than their predecessors. 3. Millennials’ reliance on social media for information. Millennials’ disinterest in using more traditional forms of media changes the manner in which we try to engage with them and educate them about the importance of the real estate industry. I encourage NCAR members to learn as much as you can about political demographics and trends. This kind of information is crucial to making decisions about how to engage with our clients and elected representatives. In the meantime, you can find every member of the Government Affairs Department on Facebook and Twitter – it’s how you can tell we’re keeping up with the kids. *To view these full presentations, visit http://www.ncfef.org/#!presentations-/x4xjz
ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 19
Brokerage RETURN ON APPRECIATION
Do This for High Performance Teams People want to feel understood and appreciated. Do that and you’re golden. BY LARRY KENDALL, CHAIRMAN OF THE GROUP, INC. AND AUTHOR OF NINJA SELLING How do you recruit, motivate and retain a high-performance team? In his excellent book, “The Heart of Coaching,” Thomas Crane cites a research study by Glenn Tobe & Associates. In this survey, managers and their team members were each asked to rank a list of performance motivators. What managers thought team members wanted most from their jobs and what team members wanted most bore little resemblance to each other. There was a significant gap! Managers ranked money as the top motivator—wages, income and commission split. However, money only ranked No. 5 to team members, important but not as important as their top three: 1. Appreciation 2. Feeling “in” on things 3. Understanding attitude Where did these top three motivators for the team rank with the managers? Dead last! Managers were out of touch with what motivated their people. What would it cost to do these three activities? A little investment of your time. Your ROA (Return on Appreciation) will be huge! Improve your recruiting, performance and retention by putting your focus on these three areas. 20 INSIGHT • February 2016
Make the rounds. Face time is a key. We encourage our managers to walk through their offices and see their people at least twice a day.
Send notes, emails and phone calls. As chairman of our company, I have a goal to acknowledge at least five of our people a day personally. That’s 25 a week. Given the size of our organization (250 people), I’m having personal interaction (and showing appreciation) to everyone at least once a quarter. Our managers should have far more interaction with their people, preferably weekly.
Load into your calendar all your team members birthdays and anniversary dates of joining your company. When those dates pop up on your calendar, make sure you let team members know they are appreciated.
Share what is happening and what is about to happen in your company or office, so they feel in on it. Let them know first so they are not learning about it on the street. Communicate your message more than once (some research says seven times) so everyone gets it.
Get to know your team members personally — their families, their goals, their whys. You will have a better connection with them and understand what he or she is going through.
Read the book, “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” by Gary Chapman and Paul White. Everyone likes to be appreciated in one of five ways.
Have you ever heard of the Hawthorne Effect? It’s a term in psychology that developed out of a study in Hawthorne, California decades ago. Industrial psychologists were trying to figure out how to motivate workers in a manufacturing plant to higher levels of productivity. One theory they tested was the lighting in the plant. Their theory was that if the workers could see better (more light); they would be more productive. As the light level was increased, sure enough production went up. However, surprisingly, as the light level was reduced, production went up again! They kept lowering the level of light and production was soaring in a plant that was almost dark. How could this be? The psychologists discovered that humans performed better when they know someone is watching them— that someone cares about what they are doing. This is now called the Hawthorne Effect. Put the Hawthorne Effect to work in your organization. It starts with communication and appreciation. Whether it is the Hawthorne study, the Glen Tobe & Associates study or just my personal experience motivating salespeople for over 40 years, appreciation, connection, communication and understanding are the keys to recruiting, performance and retention. It’s simple, and what does it cost? Your ROA (Return on Appreciation) will be huge!
Here’s a system to do it:
What managers thought team members wanted most from their jobs and what team members wanted most bore little resemblance to each other. There was a significant gap!
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of the REAL Trends Newsletter and is reprinted with permission of REAL Trends Inc. Copyright 2015.
ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 21
PROFILES IN GIVING BACK
Sofia Crisp of Housing Consultants Group Director of Community Outreach Nicole Arnold sat down with 2015 Regional Service Award winner Sofia Crisp and learned about her drive to help others overcome challenges and find stability and security in homeownership.
In 2016 Sofia Crisp celebrates the twelfth year of her nonprofit, Housing Consultants Group. She has always had a passion for helping first-time homebuyers. A former registered nurse, Crisp volunteers for her church nursing ministry and gospel choir, serves on the Family Service Committee of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro and volunteers with her local Girl Scout troop. She is a respected leader among her peers and was elected as the 2016 Vice President of Homes4NC, NC REALTORS® housing opportunity and disaster relief foundation. You became a REALTOR® in 1993. What made you decide to found your nonprofit, Housing Consultants Group (HCG), in 2004? I visited a good friend who worked for Self Help Credit Union. Real estate was booming in the early 2000s, and she had 50 closings that year. Out of the 50 closings, she had talked with 300 people. I wondered what happened to the other 250 people. My friend’s answer was that those potential clients needed more time, help and homebuyer education. A light bulb went on in my mind. I could help those people. I could keep them from falling through the cracks. How many people has HCG helped since it began? Since 2007, we have helped at least 6,000 clients.
Learn more about the Housing Consultants Group at
www.housingconsultantsgroup.com 22 INSIGHT • February 2016
How do potential homebuyers find HCG? They find us through the local municipalities in the Triad area that offer downpayment assistance. They also find us online through our website and by word of mouth. We advertise our homebuyer classes at local recreation centers and churches. REALTORS® and lenders also refer potential homebuyers to us when they need more preparation before qualifying for a home loan. What is the biggest obstacle facing prospective homebuyers who need your services? Most clients don’t know how to start the process of buying a home. They don’t know what they don’t know. We find that people are willing to sit through an eight-hour class on a Saturday just to learn how to start the process. Once they have this knowledge, they are ready for deeper level learning in a face-to-face appointment with our staff. What has changed in your service delivery from when you started to now? Ten to 15 years ago, the only people in our classes were those who were already approved by a lender. Now more of our students are coming to us needing preliminary financial instruction as they work to secure financing. In the beginning we described our services as “financial literacy.” Then, we realized that clients needed more, so we changed our language to “financial capability.” Now, I describe our services as “financial empowerment,” because we offer a full range of educational opportunities. We are able to help clients stepby-step with individual budgeting and savings plans. We also
"There are over 80 housing counseling agencies across the state. At least 25 of these are HUD-approved housing counseling agencies that provide one-on-one homebuyer education. REALTORS® should look for those agencies that provide face-to-face educational services."
offer post-purchase classes to teach savings discipline that anticipates the cost of home repair and maintenance.
discipline. Clients must be willing to make substantial changes in their spending behaviors or their circumstances.
What do you see as the benefits of homeownership for a family or an individual who completes education with HCG and becomes a homebuyer? Research shows that neighborhoods made up of homeowners are safer with less crime. Research also demonstrates that children are better students when they come from homes owned by their parent or guardian. It makes sense because children and families need stability in their lives. Children especially do not benefit from changing schools often and moving multiple times. The community benefits from homeownership from a safety perspective, but also from a tax base perspective. Homeowners pay taxes, and governments can provide services from that consistent tax base.
What can REALTORS® do to better equip first time homebuyers to be successful homeowners? There are over 80 housing counseling agencies across the state. At least 25 of these are HUD-approved housing counseling agencies that provide one-on-one homebuyer education. REALTORS® should look for those agencies that provide face-to-face educational services.
Do you think homeownership is for everybody? Homeownership is not for everybody. In our classes, we teach that the purchase of a home is just the beginning; your work is not finished. We discuss the self-discipline and the costs required for preventative maintenance. Seventy-five dollars per year in gutter cleaning may save you from a $1,600 bill for shingle and siding damage down the road. We emphasize that when things go wrong, there is no landlord to call. Your nonprofit helps people every day who have suffered a financially devastating event like job loss, prolonged illness or divorce. From your perspective, what does it take for a person to bounce back and become a homeowner again? The first obstacle to overcome is the pride preventing him or her to ask us for help. We see people every day who have never asked for or needed assistance. But circumstances have led them here so we treat everyone with respect. We do not judge; we do not dwell on the past. We welcome them with warmth and provide them with proven adult-learning methods. The second challenge is a lack of willingness or “coachability” on the client’s part. Clients get answers from us, but the answers may not be what they want or expect. To come back from difficult circumstances, the client must be receptive to our training. The third challenge is self
Learning money management skills begins at home and should continue in school. If you could impart one piece of wisdom to parents of schoolchildren today, what would that be? Parents need to encourage, embrace and teach the value of saving money. Parents also need to model this behavior for their children. Every child needs to have a savings account, not one where parents contribute, but one of their own. The child needs to manage the account actively, at an age-appropriate level. Parents also need to talk with their children about debt. Don’t hide the mortgage, don’t hide the car payment. Everything has a cost. Some things you pay for over time. Some things (like houses) build equity. Children need to understand good and bad debt and how to build equity. You are an active member of Greensboro Regional REALTORS® Association and NCAR, where you are the 2016 Vice President of Homes4NC. Why do you give your time to the NC REALTOR® charitable foundation? Homes4NC helps REALTORS® give back to their community with care and compassion. The foundation provides value through its ability to impact individual homebuyers, certify Workforce Housing Specialists (WHS) and partner with other nonprofits in the housing industry. WHS designation in particular is near and dear to my heart because it takes REALTORS® to another level. Specialists are familiar with all the resources potential homeowners need. They understand that working with first time homebuyers is a challenging, emotional, work intensive experience but also a rewarding one. Why would a client not want to work with a Specialist? He’s made a friend for life, and the Specialist has made a client for life. ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 23
[INSIDE NC REALTORS®]
Simply put, the Ombudsman Program is informal telephone mediation. In some cases it can address and solve minor complaints from the public. It can also solve interREALTOR® conflicts before they become serious issues.
WHAT IS THE OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM? Like a mediator, an ombudsman helps parties find solutions; however, the ombudsman process does not replace mediation. It is a more informal process that will take place earlier and, if successful, will avoid the need for a more formal mediation process and potentially a formal hearing ethics or arbitration hearing.
NCAR's Ombudman Program
Ombudsman Procedures adopted by the North Carolina Association of REALTORS® are intended to provide enhanced communications and initial problem-solving capacity to the professional standards process. NCAR is charged with the responsibility of receiving and resolving ethics complaints and requests for arbitration filed against its members. NCAR ombudsmen will be utilized to field and respond to a wide variety of inquires and complaints. Here's a quick overview of the program: HOW WILL I KNOW TO ASK FOR AN OMBUDSMAN? Many complaints do not expressly allege violations of specific articles of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and may not concern conduct related to the Code. Some complaints are transactional, technical and procedural issues that can be readily responded to. Some complaints are due strictly to lack of communication. These types of issues may be appropriate for the Ombudsman program. WHAT ARE REALTOR® OMBUDSMAN BENEFITS? You can receive non-judgmental real estate related information in a timely manner and at no cost. WHO ARE THE OMBUDSMEN? REALTORS® appointed to be Ombudsmen must: • Meet criteria for extensive real estate experience; • Demonstrate objectivity; • Participate in a training program; • Possess extensive knowledge of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice. 24 INSIGHT • February 2016
HOW DOES THE OMBUDSMAN PROCESS WORK? The NCAR Ombudsman Program Administrator will assemble information to be sent to the NCAR Ombudsman via e-mail. This information may include: • Name, phone number and role of the complainant; • Name, phone number, and role of the respondent; • If the respondent is a broker, the name of principal broker and/or managing broker. The NCAR Ombudsman will make all necessary contacts in an attempt to resolve the complaint. If the efforts are not successful, the Ombudsman will advise the Complainant about the next step(s) in the complaint process. THE OMBUDSMEN WILL NOT: • Adjudicate/make the final decision; • Give legal advice; • Determine who is right or wrong; • Disclose communications – the process is CONFIDENTIAL; • Make any written record of discussions and/or agreements.
A GREAT SUCCESS Insight sat down with Diane Disbrow, 2015 National Association of REALTORS® Professional Standards Committee Chair, to learn why the ombudsman program is good for NC REALTORS®: "This is a huge benefit to NC REALTORS®. With the assistance of an ombudsman, REALTORS® now have a chance to clear up misunderstandings they may have never known existed. I’ve had experiences where this valuable service has helped a member get a transaction back on track to ensure the consumer has a positive real estate experience. It’s an opportunity to improve our professional reputation as REALTORS®."
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION The following Association Executives will receive a $750 scholarship to the 2016 Regional AE Conference: • Brittani Cowles – Wilkes County Assn. • Tiffany Daugherty – Lincoln County Board • Elizabeth Hensley – Burke County Board • Laurie Ridenhour – Lexington-Davidson County Assn. • Chris Triepke – Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board • Dana Wooten – Johnston County Assn.
The following Association Executives will receive a $1000 scholarship to NAR’s 2016 AE Institute: • Nancy Atkinson – Cleveland County Assn. • Melinda Greene – Goldsboro Wayne County Assn. • Lillian Threlkeld – Mountain Lakes Board
The following Association Executives will receive a $500 scholarship to NAR’s 2016 Leadership Summit: • Elizabeth Hensley – Burke County Board • Darlene Spivey – Neuse River Region Assn.
Congratulations to these individuals for their hard work and dedication to the industry.
Applications are now being accepted for President-Elect, Regional Vice Presidents for Regions 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10, Finance and Budget Committee members, Issues Mobilization Committee member and NAR Directors to begin serving in 2017. Also, because of several resignations, we will elect Region 2 and Region 8 Vice Presidents for one year and an Issues Mobilization Committee member for one year. The deadline for receiving applications is March 11, 2016. If you are interested in serving the association, contact Donna Peterson at 336-808-4221 or email@example.com to obtain an application. Elections will be held August.
NCAR STAFF CONTACTS NCAR staff can be reached by telephone at 800-443-9956 during normal business hours Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Greensboro: 4511 Weybridge Lane, Greensboro, NC 27407; Raleigh: 421 Fayetteville Street, Suite 1109, Raleigh, NC 27601 ADMINISTRATION Andrea Bushnell Chief Executive Officer firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-808-4222 Bryan Jenkins Chief Financial Officer email@example.com Direct Dial: 336-294-3112
Lee Ann Martin Accounting & Education Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-217-1048 Sherry Harris Administrative Assistant email@example.com Direct Dial: 336-808-4230
Donna Peterson Executive Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-808-4221
Mike Buescher Director of Business Development email@example.com Direct Dial: 336-808-4229
Caitlin Thompson Compliance Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-217-1042
Caroline Main Receptionist email@example.com Direct Dial: 336-808-4220
Phyllis Lycan Accountant firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-808-4224
COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING
Denise Daly Membership Records Coordinator/Bookkeeper email@example.com Direct Dial: 336-808-4223
Blair Wilburn Director of Communications & Marketing firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-808-4228
Mckenzie Allen Communications Specialist email@example.com Direct Dial: 336-808-4227 Samantha Ashburn Electronic Communications Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-808-4226 Tyler Helms Technology Manager email@example.com Direct Dial: 336-808-4225 Robin Cooper Partner Program Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-217-1047
EVENTS Mandy Lowe Events Director email@example.com Direct Dial: 336-808-4236 Keri Epps-Rashad Meeting & EXPO Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Direct Dial: 336-217-1049
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS Cady Thomas Chief Lobbyist email@example.com Direct Dial: 919-573-0996
Seth Palmer Director of Political Communications and Shared Local Government Affairs Director firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 919-573-0992
Kristin Nash Director of Political Fundraising email@example.com Direct Dial: 919-573-0995
Mike Landes Director of Political Operations firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 919-573-0984
Shanell Smaw Political Fundraising Assistant email@example.com Direct Dial: 919-573-0991
Isabel Villa-Garcia Legislative Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 919-573-0983
Nicole Arnold Director of Community Outreach and Local Government Affairs email@example.com Direct Dial: 336-808-4237 Jason Evans Shared Local Government Affairs Director firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-808-4234
Susanna Hailey Field Representative email@example.com Direct Dial: 919-573-0989 Paul Mott Field Representative firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 919-573-0988
LEGAL Will Martin General Counsel email@example.com Kay Bailey Legal Programs Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-808-4235
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Ellie Edwards Director of Professional Development email@example.com Direct Dial: 336-808-4231 Monica Huckaby Professional Development Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Dial: 336-217-1051
ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 25
An Eventful Year Ahead BY: SETH PALMER | DIRECTOR OF POLITICAL COMMUNICATIONS
ith the ink barely dry on what was an eventful 2015, this year has the makings of being all that and more. In the waning days of their 2015 session, legislators modified the state’s election schedule, meaning those who desired to run for election this year have already filed in December. As opposed to past years, the primary election is upon us; this year occurring on March 15. This legislative session also has an accelerated start date of April as opposed to its normal May date. Many issues await the legislature and while it is intended to be a “short” session, all indications point towards one with big issues to address. So what does all this mean for REALTORS®? First and foremost, it means that you need to remain vigilant and ready to respond when issues impact your business. This can be achieved by responding to Calls for Action from either NCAR or NAR, participating in Legislative Meetings on the national and state level [NCAR Legislative Meetings are June 20-22 in Raleigh] and following NCAR emails and publications. Staying informed on issues that impact you and your business is half the battle. Secondly, make sure you take the time to register to vote and also vote in this year’s elections. Across North Carolina, you will have the opportunity to vote for officials at all levels of government. From your president, United States senator and congressman, to the governor and members of the General Assembly, all the way to local officials, you will have the opportunity to make your voice heard in the ballot box. Support candidates who advocate for REALTOR® priorities, like strong communities, smart growth principles and protecting homeownership. You can also help to support REALTOR®friendly candidates on the local, state and national levels by investing in NC RPAC. Finally and most importantly, keep NCAR Government Affairs staff in the know. We work to stay informed on
26 INSIGHT • February 2016
issues throughout the state but we can’t do it without you. If you are having an issue with a local or state government regulation which is negatively impacting how you do business, let us know. NCAR Government Affairs staff has been working throughout the winter to develop new tools to keep you informed of new issues and engaged in topics that directly impact REALTORS®. Debuting in just a few weeks, you will see a new Government Affairs Update with updated graphics and a changed format. We will also be rolling out new NC RPAC materials, our Social Responsibility Report and revised website content like issue white papers and a new FAQ section. Watch your email for updates. Stay informed. Stay engaged. This year’s statewide primary will take place Tuesday, March 15. Elections will be held for officials at all levels (national, state and local), as well as for a statewide bond initiative to provide $2 billion for infrastructure at our state’s community colleges, universities, state parks and government buildings. Not registered to vote or need to change your registration? Contact your local Board of Election. You have until February 19 to register or make changes in order to be eligible to vote in the primary. Early voting begins Thursday, March 3 and continues until Saturday, March 12. Early voting sites are set by counties. You can find a list of sites and other election information by visiting www.ncsbe.gov.
Have questions? Send us an email (GAInfo@ncrealtors.org).
2016 Legislative Issues State budget One of the most significant pieces of legislation every year, this year’s budget will certainly be something to watch.
Mortgage Interest and Property Tax Deductions While these deductions were protected in last year’s budget and tax reform efforts, we will remain vigilant to ensure no adverse changes are made this session.
Public-Private Roads Prior to adjourning the 2015 session, the General Assembly directed the Department of Transportation to study public and private roads to determine new ways to maintain roads throughout the state. NCAR was a strong advocate for this legislation and has been a participant in the study. The final report is due out in April.
Insurance While numerous bills were presented during the 2015 session, no progress was made on insurance reform last year. NCAR has worked over the interim with Senator Michael Lee to develop a comprehensive insurance reform package which we expect will be introduced in the early part of this year’s session.
Contact Seth Palmer at email@example.com.
Hall of Fame (Lifetime Investments total $25,000 and up) Douglas Brindley* Danny Brock* Leigh Brown* Andrea Bushnell* Robert Carter Cindy Chandler* Bill Gallagher* Swayn Hamlet Alan Holden Tommy Lawing* Tomp Litchfield* Sandra O’Connor* Jerry Panz Scott Rooth Buddy Rudd Tony Smith Allen Tate Ronald Thompson* Stephanie Walker* Patrice Willetts* Mary Edna Williams Myra Zollinger*
($10,000 or $5,000 renewal) Hadi Atri Leigh Brown* Bradley Cohen* Tony Smith
Golden R’s ($5,000 or $2,000 renewal) Douglas Brindley* Maren Brisson-Kuester* Danny Brock* Ray Burton* Andrea Bushnell* Brenda Carroll Cindy Chandler* Glenn Cobb* Wade Corbett
Linda Craft Kimberly Dawson Asa Fleming* William Gallagher* Bruce Gates Swayn Hamlet Tessa Hultz* Thomas Lawing* Tomp Litchfield* Valerie Mitchener Christopher Nave* Sandra O’Connor* Buddy Rudd Cady Thomas Leland Thomas Ronald Thompson* Stephanie Walker* Patrice Willetts* Mary Edna Williams Myra Zollinger*
Crystal R's ($2,500-$4,999.99 or $1,500 renewal) Randall Blankenship* Nancy Braun Diana Braun Robert Carter Michael Davenport Anne Marie DeCatsye Jason Gentry Wendy Harris Amy Hedgecock Erin Nixon Jerry Panz Roger Parham Teresa Pitt Joe Rempson Kourosh Sharifi William Shugart Mike Slocum Renee Smith Russell Wing
*Indicates President's Circle members
NC RPAC continues to be one of the largest PACs in the state. It’s a nonpartisan committee organized for the specific purpose of raising funds to support political candidates of all parties, and it exists through the voluntary investments of members, their spouses and their families. NC RPAC raised over $626,000 in 2015, reaching 119 percent of our $525,000 goal. More than 8,400 NC REALTOR® members invested in the PAC, bringing our statewide participation to 25 percent. This year proved to be one of the most successful fundraising years in NCAR history. We also ended the year with 175 major investors, 23 President’s Circle members and 41 of the 52 local associations met or exceeded goal this year! The leadership and staff of NCAR greatly appreciates your voice, time and investments and would like to give a big “thank you” to each of you. (A complete list of all 2015 investors can be found on our website at www.ncrealtors.org.)
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Sterling R's ($1000-$2499.99) Eddie Alie Lee Allen Jim Allen Mary Burt Allen Nena Alsaker Lou Baldwin* Tema Barnes Michael Barr Margaret Bishop Kirk Booth Shawn Britt Phyllis Brookshire Rosemary Buerger Brooke Burr Brett Bushnell Michael Butrum Kathryn Carpenter Randall Carson Crystal Copas Connie Corey David Costner David Cross Cynthia Cumbie Allen Dargins Laurie Davis David Deal Harriette Doggett Rosemarie Doshier John Dowdy Sandy Ellington-Graves Anita Emery David Evans Bonzie Everson James Fagan Treasure Faircloth Willard Fishburne Leslie Fisher Margaret Fisher Van Fletcher Peter Frandano Amy Gamble Bridget Graves Kevin Green Kathy Haines Mary Halter W. Neal Hanks Joseph Hartsell Zanthia Hastings Brenda Hayden Debra Hays Diane Honeycutt Heather Hopkinson Scott Hoyt Ruth Hudspeth Marlyn Jamison Tony Jarrett
Charles Jetton Deborah Key Dan Kingsbury R. Gilliam Kittrell Linda Kolarov Curtis Leonard Eric Locher Christopher MacDonald Teresa MacFarlane Robert Mahool Lolita Malave Kelly Marks James McBrayer Calinda McMickle Larry McNeill Timothy Milam Gina Miller Ann Milton Marcus Nance Steven Norris Chet Oehme John Ogburn Mollie Owen Joe Padilla Mark Parker Laurie Phillips Sherri Pickard Sheila Pierce Denise Pilkington Scott Pridemore Robert Rabon Jill Rekuc George Rich Jacqueline Ricks-Sample Mark Saunders James Sherrill Elliotte Sherrill Colleen Shriver Betty Smith Tom Somerville Margaret Sophie Darlene Spivey Marian Stafford April Stephens Michael Tavener Ida Terbet Richard Tolson Joseph Tomlinson James Townsend Linda Trevor* Joshua Tucker Lucia Turlington Isabel Villa-Garcia Joann Wainio Sharpe Wall James Wallace Donald Walston David West Leslie Williams
Bruce Williams John Wood Barry Woodard Dana Wooten Scott Wurtzbacher Leslie Young John Young David Zeitz
Governor's Club ($500-$999.99) William Aceto Bruce Alexander Nancy Anderson Virginia Black Sarah Brown Teresa Byrd Brooke Cashion Alison Combs David Cooper M. Kent Copeland Cathy Cottle Steina De Andrade Steven Dozier Susan Duncan Daniel Fenyak James Goodman Melissa Greer Cathy Griffin Lewis Grubbs Bill Guill Carol Hampton David Kennedy John Kindbom Terri King Dolores Knudsen John Leatherwood Andrew Leung Jeffrey MacIntosh Mark Mansfield Ilona Matteson Shane McDevitt Paul McGill Jane McNeil Kathryn Merlo Zan Monroe Sam Ogburn Kyle Olinger Andrew Pressley Sherrie Puffer Nancy Radtke Patrick Riley Bob Robbins Elisabeth Shuey Tom Smith Cassandra Snyder Eddie Speas Jennifer Spencer
Sharon Stevens Jeffrey Sweyer Christopher Toolan Yuriy Vaynshteyn Nancy Whitt Elizabeth Wiederhold Rachel Wiest John Wilander Robert Wiley David Worters
Capitol Club ($250-$499.99) Anne Alexander Kathryne Alonso Catherine Anderson Gayleia Bailey Brendan Bailey Jonathan Barefoot Donna Barham James Barnes Tom Barton Kathy Beacham Jean Benham Gray Berryman Heather Bonner Philip Bowman Faye Brock Bo Bromhal Tammera Brooks Robert Broome Cherie Burris Steve Candler Jane Cannon Douglas Carson Allison Caudle Hoi Chan Brad Cherry Dorothy Ciarrocchi William Coin Sharon Collins Kimberly Conroy Cirila Cothran Marlys Currie Diana Davis Frank DeRonja Michelle Edwards Mitchell Kimberly Endre Mary Fouty-Davis Susan Franks Jennifer Frontera Melanie Gates Blake Ginther Heather Gool Stephanie Gossett Sumit Gupta Herbert Hayes Jeanette Holland
Karen Hollingsed Terry Horner Stacey Horowitz Wendy Hostetler Louis Jewell Matthew Johnson Tom Johnson Donna Johnston Kris Kiegiel Dawn Kilby Christopher Kirkman Julie Kohlenberg Tache Cynthia LaChapelle Michael Lancsek Sharon Laney Patricia Langevin Marcus Larose Alan Leary N. Vernon Luffman Harry McComb Patricia Midgett Henry Miller Mike Miller Jon Morris George Munford Thomas Nielsen Betty Norman Douglas Nunnally Mindy Oberhardt Sarah OBrien Gregory Payne Larry Peele Marlene Peeler Wallace Peiffer Bertha Pyne Michael Ransom Boston Reid David Reitzel Colleen Rhynders Linda Rike Jan Ringeling Ginger Robles Janice Rosenberg Michael Ryden Leila Schellenberg Hensley Scott Willie Snow Dorothy Stark William Taylor William Trull Monica Underwood Tracy Vanderpool Pam Vines William Watson Louis Weil Queen Wheeler Donald Whiteside Margaret Wood *Indicates President's Circle members
FORMSGUY Forms Guy Gives Liz a Quiz DEAR FORMS GUY, I don’t have a specific question for you, but I was just wondering what’s on your mind these days? Sincerely, Liz DEAR LIZ: Thanks for asking. I’ve been in a reflective mood recently, pondering the thousands of questions my law partner and I have gotten over the past year. In fact, I’ve picked out 10 of my favorites from our weekly Q&As. Would you like to hear them? Sincerely, Forms Guy
LIZ: Shoot! FORMS GUY: Don’t be discouraged, Liz. We’re just getting started. Here’s question No. 2: If a buyer and seller agree to a new settlement date, does the 14-day permitted delay period still apply? LIZ: Yes!
FORMS GUY: Tell you what, I’ll pose each of the questions to you and we’ll see how many you get right, okay?
FORMS GUY: Right, unless the parties agree otherwise. Also, there’s a new optional checkbox in the Agreement to Amend Contract form that allows a fourday delay rather than a 14-day delay. Read more about that in the Q&A dated August 4, 2015. It’s in the archived Q&As under “Forms/Contract-Related Forms.”
LIZ: This is very exciting!
LIZ: What’s the next question?
FORMS GUY: Question No. 1: Is the new Mineral, Oil and Gas Rights Mandatory Disclosure Statement required for sales of vacant land?
FORMS GUY: Question No. 3: If a seller sells the fuel in a tank back to the fuel provider after she’s entered into a contract to sell her property, but the fuel is still in the tank at settlement, does the buyer get the fuel as part of the purchase price?
LIZ: I don’t see why it shouldn’t be, so my answer is yes. FORMS GUY: I agree that there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be required for vacant land sales, but it isn’t, so the correct answer to the question is “no”. Read the Q&A I wrote on January 6, 2015. You can find it in the archived Q&As under the category “Real Estate License Law and Rules” on the Legal Department page of the NCAR member site.
LIZ: Since the fuel is still in the tank at settlement, I think the answer is yes. FORMS GUY: Wrong, Liz. Go back and read paragraph 2(b) of the Offer to Purchase and Contract. And while you’re at it, review the Q&A dated August 25, 2015, under “Forms/Offer to Purchase and Contract” in the archived Q&As.
BY: WILL MARTIN | GENERAL COUNSEL LIZ: Gosh, I’m only one out of three so far. What’s question No. 4? FORMS GUY: It’s another fixtures question, Liz. Is a free-standing stove a fixture that conveys with the property according to the contract? LIZ: If it’s not a built-in stove, it’s personal property, not a fixture, so the answer is clearly no. FORMS GUY: I hate to break it to you, Liz, but you clearly whiffed again. You’re correct that a free-standing stove ordinarily would not be considered a fixture by law, but the question was whether it’s a fixture according to the contract. “Range/stove/oven” is on the list of items in paragraph 2(b) of the contract that are considered fixtures and included in the purchase price. So, whether the stove is a fixture or not is irrelevant because the parties have agreed between themselves that it’s a fixture for purposes of their contract. LIZ: Where can I find that Q&A? FORMS GUY: It’s under “Forms/Offer to Purchase and Contract” and it’s dated September 8, 2015. LIZ: Okay, what’s the fifth question? FORMS GUY: Let’s say a buyer agent delivers a due diligence fee to the listing agent, and the listing agent
NCAR’s lawyers write weekly Q&As and those appearing in Insight based on calls they receive through the Legal Hotline. As a member of NCAR, you now have free, unlimited access to the Hotline! Have a legal question? Call 800-443-9956 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 29
[FORMS GUY] acknowledges receipt by signing on the last page of the contract. The question is, when the listing agent delivers the due diligence fee to the seller, should the seller also sign the seller acknowledgment on the last page? LIZ: Hmm…I think the answer is no, but since I’ve gotten the last three answers wrong, I’ll say yes. FORMS GUY: Correct! To understand why, read the Q&A dated July 21, 2015 in the archived Q&As under “Forms/Offer to Purchase and Contract.” LIZ: Whew. I’m back on track. What’s question No. 6?” FORMS GUY: As a general rule, who should sign the listing agreement on property that’s in an estate? LIZ: The heirs of the deceased owner and the heirs’ spouses, if any, along with the administrator of the estate. I know that one because I called you with that very question a few months ago. FORMS GUY: Right again, Liz. The Q&A is under “Forms/Listing Agreement Forms” and is dated March 3, 2015. Ready for question No. 7? LIZ: Ready! FORMS GUY: If a buyer terminates a contract during the due diligence period and the seller doesn’t dispute the buyer’s right to a refund of the earnest money deposit (EMD), can the escrow agent pay the EMD to the buyer without the seller’s written consent? LIZ: Yes? FORMS GUY: Good guess, Liz. That’s three in a row. It’s a good idea for the escrow agent to try to get the seller’s written consent, but if the seller won’t sign for some reason, it’s okay to disburse the EMD to the buyer as long as there isn’t any indication that the seller disputes the buyer’s right to get it back. This Q&A is dated April 1, 2015 and is in the archived Q&As under “Real Estate License Law and Rules.”
30 INSIGHT • February 2016
LIZ: Quick, ask me another question while I’m hot, Forms Guy. FORMS GUY: Question No. 8: If an agent decides to change firms, is it okay for the agent to contact the sellers on all the agents’ listings to see if they want to terminate their listing agreements with the firm and sign new listing agreements with the agent’s new firm? LIZ: No, that would be unethical. FORMS GUY: Right. It would be okay for the agent to contact the sellers to inform them that he or she is changing firms, as long as he or she doesn’t say or do anything to induce the sellers to cancel their listing agreements with the firm. For more information, see the Q&A dated December 2, 2014 under “NAR Code of Ethics.” LIZ: I’m five-for-eight now. Lay another one on me, Forms Guy. FORMS GUY: No top-10 list would be complete without a question about disclosure of material facts. LIZ: My favorite category. FORMS GUY: Okay, here you go. Question No. 9: If a buyer gives the seller a copy of an inspection report done on the seller’s property and then terminates the contract, is the inspection report a material fact that must be disclosed by the listing agent to other potential buyers? LIZ: If the report contains material facts, yes indeed. FORMS GUY: While I wholeheartedly agree that the listing agent must disclose any material facts revealed by the inspection report, I do not agree that the listing agent is obliged to give the report itself to other interested buyers. So I’m afraid I have to consider your answer incorrect. I suggest you review the Q&A on the subject dated November 24, 2015 under the “Disclosure” category. LIZ: Shucks! Can you at least give me half a point for my answer?
FORMS GUY: Nope, no partial credit. You’re now five-for-nine, Liz and we’re down to the last question. If you want a passing grade, you need to get this one right. LIZ: I’m so nervous! FORMS GUY: We’ll round out the quiz with a good old-fashioned agency question. Let’s say a buyer submits an offer and the listing agent emails the buyer agent and says the seller will accept the offer if they increase it by $5,000. After consulting with the buyer, the buyer agent changes the purchase price in the original offer by $5,000, the buyer initials and dates the change and the buyer agent emails the updated offer back to the listing agent. The listing agent emails back saying that the sellers will accept the revised offer and that as soon as the sellers sign it, he will email a copy back to the buyer agent. Question No.10 is, has a binding contract been created at this point? LIZ: I don’t think so. FORMS GUY: Is that a “no” answer, Liz? LIZ: Yeee….sssss. FORMS GUY: Congratulations, Liz, you got it right! The standard listing agreement does not confer authority on agents to bind their principals to real estate contracts, and unless there is evidence that the sellers had executed another agreement, such as a power of attorney granting the listing agent such authority or permitting the listing agent to represent himself as having such authority, the listing agent did not possess either the actual or the apparent authority to bind the sellers to a contract. See the Q&A dated March 17, 2015 under “Agency” in the archived Q&As. LIZ: That was fun! Let’s do it again. FORMS GUY: Maybe next year. So long for now, Liz. I hope you sell a lot of real estate in 2016! Contact Will Martin at email@example.com if you have a suggested discussion topic for Forms Guy.
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Proud to be an NC REALTOR®: Incoming President Kim Dawson is looking forward to enacting positive change on a larger scale.