Insight | May 2017

Page 20




A. Faircloth 2017
REALTORS® President


10 BE EPIC COVER: NC REALTORS® launches EPIC member benefits campaign.

14 What

is the True Cost of Selling a House?

The importance of using a REALTOR® to help sort through closing costs and commissions

16 7 Tips to Enhance


When used the right way, your smartphone camera produces high-quality photos for your business and marketing needs.

20 Safety = Value

Four ways the CSSS designation adds value to your business.

25 Easy Icebreaker Ideas for Creating New Business

Using RPR to initialize conversations with potential clients.

Have something to talk about? Sure you do — and we want to hear it! Send us your comments, ideas or

stories to and you could be featured in the next Insight. • INSIGHT 3 May 2017 [ CONTENTS ]
Mobile Photography
owns the mineral rights on your property? 23 REALTOR® Partner Program Discounts on the products and services you use most. 10 14 16 20
exclusive access to benefits and services that, if
you from everyday REALTOR®
the superhero of
your own

President's MESSAGE

In the months since Inaugural, NC REALTORS® made great strides towards fulfilling our strategic plan. We’ve been MIXing it up across the state, meeting our members where you live, work and play through MIX Sessions. We’ve discovered a lot about your diverse needs, the real estate climate you work in and your pain points, and we’ve celebrated in your successes you’ve shared with us during broker dinners and focus groups.

We also made a positive and impressive impact on our REALTOR® political advocates during Legislative Meetings and Legislative Day. Together, we impressed upon those in power what the issues are that matter not only to NC REALTORS® but to all North Carolinians. I’m confident our voice was heard, and our collective influence is working as designed.

In April, NC REALTORS® also launched a new member campaign, Be Epic, which is designed to increase awareness of the intrinsic value offered to all members through the benefits and services available to you, while empowering you to be epic. I encourage you to explore the website,, read the article focused on this campaign on page 10 and discover all that NC REALTORS® has to offer.

Also within this issue of Insight, you will learn how to enhance mobile photography, explore the true costs of selling a home, uncover easy ice breakers for creating new business, discover the ins and outs of mineral, oil and gas rights for homeowners and witness the importance of advocacy as an avocation. Following a year-long rebranding of Insight to focus more on consumer content, most of these features are sharable and valuable to your clients.

I committed to you at the beginning of the year that 2017 was going to be the year of you. Through new member outreach strategies, such as the Be Epic campaign and MIX Sessions, NC REALTORS® will be positioned to better serve you. Stay tuned for future MIX Session events in the fall when we trek across the state to a city near you. We hope to see you there. Meanwhile, let’s thrive together.

Insight, Volume 96, Issue 2


Treasure A. Faircloth, GRI, E-PRO, CRS


Amy Hedgecock, CPM, GRI

Treasurer Kelly Marks, ABR, CRS, GRI

Immediate Past President

Kim Dawson, ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES


Region 1: Kathy Perry, Emerald Isle; Region 2: Deb Hays, Wilmington; Region 3: Lisa York, Sanford; Region 4: Wade Corbett, Raleigh; Region 5: Lolita Malave, Greensboro; Region 6: Stephen Long, Winston-Salem; Region 7: Todd Pierceall, Gastonia; Region 8: David DeSilva, Steven Bryant, Charlotte; Region 9: Randall Blankenship, Asheville; Region 10: Asa Fleming, Harriette Doggett Raleigh; At-Large: Danny Brock, Wilmington

Chief Executive Officer Andrea Bushnell, Esq., CIPS, RCE

Director of Communications & Marketing

Tracey Gould, M.S. IMC, CPSM

Editor Mckenzie Allen


Wendy Harris Tracey Hawkins Shane Johnson Bill Malkasian

For advertising information, contact Keri Epps-Rashad at 336-217-1049 or

INSIGHT (ISSN 24714127) (USPS 17170) is published four times a year in February, May, August and November by NC REALTORS®, 4511 Weybridge Lane, Greensboro, NC 27407. Periodicals Postage Prices paid at Greensboro, N.C. and additional mailing offices.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to INSIGHT, 4511 Weybridge Lane, Greensboro, NC 27407-7877.

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 and consumers. Their contents are the opinions of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent those of NC REALTORS®. Advertising of a product or service does not imply endorsement, unless specifically stated.

To opt-out of paper copy mailings, email with a subject line of “Insight opt-out.”

4511 Weybridge Lane, Greensboro, NC 27407

Phone: (336) 294-1415, Toll Free: (800) 443-9956

4 INSIGHT • May 2017

2017 Annual Sponsors



America’s Preferred Home Warranty

PNC Bank

RE/MAX Carolinas

SEI/Navica MLS

Two Men and A Truck


American Home Shield


NC REALTORS® would like to thank all 2017 Annual Sponsors.

APPLY FOR AN INNOVATION GRANT BY JULY 1 | Is your association working on a program, event or plan to change the way real estate business is typically thought about, made or conducted? Apply for the NC REALTORS® Innovation Grant Program. Funding will be available in amounts up to $5,000 per applicant. Email Caitlin Thompson at for more information.

Our NC REALTOR® PAC Star is...

Congratulations to Brunswick County Association of REALTORS® — the NC REALTOR® PAC Commercial Contest winner.

Brunswick County will receive two full XCHANGE ’17 conference registrations along with a three-night hotel stay at The Omni Grove Park Inn for two guests.

Didn’t get a chance to submit your NC REALTOR® PAC commercial? Don’t worry! We’re extending the contest for a second place $100 Visa gift card and a third place $50 Visa gift card through May 31. Help us create some fun and educational awareness for NC REALTORS® PAC by submitting your best commercial. Email your videos to to enter.


MAURICE BROWN Partner Program Coordinator

Maurice Brown is a new addition to NC REALTORS®. Born in Durham, N.C., his college choice led him to settle in Greensboro where he secured a bachelor’s degree in business management. He later secured his MBA in management and accounting. Armed with a wealth of experience, Maurice plans to grow the NC REALTORS® Partners Program to new levels.


Bythal Bostic

Peggy L. Dry

Timothy Fulcher

Robert M Lovell Jr.

Suzanne S. Nash

Stacy L. Pascucci

Donald A. Singer

NC REALTORS® salutes each individual for their respective contributions to our industry.

As of 5/2/17 Visit for a full list of NC REALTORS® staff and contact information. • INSIGHT 5


million-plus members, which includes thousands of small businesses and corporations. The NAR Board of Directors, in fact, has adopted as part of the Association’s Preamble to the Code of Ethics the requirement to engage in “the creation of adequate housing, the building of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms and the preservation of a healthful environment,” along with the Golden Rule.

It’s been a bumpy ride since the NAR Express switched us onto a new track in 2010. Dues increased, available tools expanded, and for those unwilling to partake, core rules were later adopted to force the entire organization into step with the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Along the way, a third rail arose that may have gone unnoticed to many.

The Association exists to maintain the agent at the center of the transaction and to be the "voice for real estate." We have been riding those two well-worn rails for over 100 years. The Association’s DNA changed in 2010 when NAR pivoted away from being a trade association to becoming an advocacy organization.

Did you notice a hitch or a bump or two along the way? Have you noticed that the load has shifted from services to community-action based efforts? That’s the new, third rail: engagement in the community conversation. This new core value will build a new brand of relevance for local associations so members understand the importance of membership as the golden MLS handcuffs fade with technology innovation.

The Association is committed to defending property rights, homeowner interests, quality of life and economic development. As the largest professional association in many parts of the country, the Association has a duty to engage on behalf of its 1

“As an advocacy organization, REALTORS® at all levels should show that they are invested in the community through acts of goodwill, while actively engaging in the community conversation,” said Walt Witek, NAR Senior Vice President, Community & Political Affairs Division. “In doing so, the Association is able to effectively influence the rules and decisions that directly impact the community.”

For these reasons, like national, each state and local association should have a robust governmental and community affairs program, even going beyond Core Standards. This is important because real estate is the most regulated industry in America. Banking, for example, is regulated at the federal level, whereas real estate is regulated at local, state and federal levels. Action in the community, whether through a community action day or testifying at a town council meeting is

6 INSIGHT • May 2017
Bill Malkasian Vice President of Political Strategic Planning, NAR Shane Johnson Chief Operating Officer & In-house Legal Counsel, Cape Fear REALTORS®

intertwined as both actions impact lawmaker relationships and community branding. This is why Core Standards reflect these two equally important roles that governmental affairs and community affairs play. The National Association of REALTORS® expends 65 percent of total resources towards these two related areas, illustrating the importance of both.

Growing the Association’s community footprint is not easy. Existing groups often push back as they become uncomfortable with another voice at the table. “The essence of the REALTOR® Party is we support elected officials and candidates,” said NAR Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs and Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello. “Democrats and Republicans alike, who understand real estate issues.”

We take this position because we are unlike other groups in the arena of public discourse, that often gather around one ideology. Instead, the NAR Express is filled with Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Libertarians. So while we will experience bumps along the way, let’s all pledge to continue working hard to represent this wonderfully diverse group of leaders. #


How NC REALTORS® has become one of the state’s most powerful advocacy organization, thanks to our members

For many membership organizations, the business of the organization has focused more on managing the needs of members through education and other member benefits, and less on advocacy efforts, lobbying and communication with elected officials. NC REALTORS® is not one of those organizations. While it is absolutely committed to the growth and success of its members, providing a bevy of education opportunities, events and other member benefits, there has also been a realization and recognition of the value that advocacy has for members, their business, their clients and the real estate industry.

NC REALTORS® has not embarked on this journey alone. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reformed itself as an advocacy-focused organization almost a decade ago (See The New Third Rail). This effort has certainly reaped significant benefits in protecting the industry from unnecessary legislative and regulatory intrusion. To support those efforts, NAR has developed an extensive toolkit of resources for local, state and national advocacy. From the REALTOR® Party Platform, featuring the REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert Program, to the Voter Registration Initiative and a multitude of professional lobbyists, political operatives and policy professionals, NAR has committed the resources necessary to become one of the most powerful forces in the lobbying and political arenas.

To respond to the needs of our members and local associations, NC

REALTORS® followed suit with its own advocacy and outreach tools. For starters, the association’s Government Affairs Department has grown from a staff of four to more than 11 professionals, representing the areas of legislative affairs, regulatory affairs, political communication, political outreach, political fundraising and grassroots outreach. NC REALTORS® also developed a robust Shared Government Affairs Director program that provides assistance to four local associations to help them engage with local elected officials. Additionally, the growth of internal programmatic functions like the NC Homeowners Alliance and the NC Property Rights Fund help to promote the voice of real estate through targeted engagement with consumers and elected officials. Like NAR, NC REALTORS® differentiated itself as a legislative and advocacy leader. This leadership has produced continued success for its members’ interests before the General Assembly and the industry as a whole. However, this success exists only because of the engagement and involvement of REALTORS®. REALTOR® members lend support to both NC REALTORS® and NAR efforts through response to Calls for Action, investments in NC REALTORS® PAC and participation in events like the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C. and NC REALTORS® Legislative Meetings in Raleigh. It is important for these efforts to continue and multiply to ensure that the REALTOR® brand remains the true voice of real estate at the federal, state and local level. • INSIGHT 7
Each state and local association should have a robust governmental and community affairs program, even going beyond Core Standards.


Who owns the mineral rights on your property?

Minerals in place underneath the surface of the earth, including oil and gas, can be owned separately from the surface of the property. So what does that mean to buyers and sellers?

Minerals and mining rights can be created and transferred separately from the surface rights, and those mineral rights constitute a separate and distinct property interest. Confusing? Maybe a bit. Let's break down the situation.

Who owns what?

The owner of the mineral rights typically has the authority to use the surface of the property in such ways and to such an extent as is reasonably necessary to obtain the minerals under the ground. Therefore, unless otherwise agreed upon, the mineral and gas rights owner may enter onto the land to explore for production, construct roads to the drill site, build pipelines, storage tanks, power stations and other structures and perform other activities consistent with the owner’s right to exercise its oil and gas rights.

A buyer should understand fully what, if any, rights are severed from a property the buyer seeks to purchase.

On the other hand, a landowner or seller should understand their rights and obligations before entering into any agreement transferring mineral, oil or gas rights to their property.

North Carolina's take

North Carolina law now requires most sellers of residential property, including builders and sellers of new construction, to provide a Mineral and Oil and Gas Rights

Mandatory Disclosure Statement (available on the N.C. Real Estate Commission's website) to interested buyers before they make an offer. The seller’s representations regarding the severance of mineral, oil and/ or gas rights are based upon the seller’s actual knowledge and not the representations of any real estate agent engaged by the seller or buyer.

The owners of some residential properties are not required to provide a Mineral and Oil and Gas Rights

Mandatory Disclosure Statement, including, but not limited to, owners of vacant real estate (i.e., with no residential dwelling) and lenders that own property acquired after foreclosing on their loans.

The standard contract form used in many residential real estate sales in N.C. is the Offer to Purchase and Contract (form 2-T), which is jointlyapproved by NC REALTORS® and the N.C. Bar Association. The contract makes it clear that a buyer’s receipt of a Mineral and Oil and Gas Rights

Mandatory Disclosure Statement does not modify or limit the obligations of the seller under the contract to provide “good title” to the property except as may be assumed or specifically approved by the buyer in writing.

When to get legal advice

The severance of mineral, oil or gas rights affects the title to the property. Discovering and rendering opinions on

8 INSIGHT • May 2017 legal

matters affecting title to real property is outside the scope of a real estate broker’s expertise and constitutes the practice of law. In addition, a real estate agent representing a seller or buyer would not be expected to conduct an independent investigation to confirm whether the seller’s representations on the Mineral and Oil and Gas Rights Mandatory Disclosure Statement are correct. A North Carolina real estate attorney should be engaged to determine whether any such rights have been severed from the property. This determination typically is a part of the title search performed by the closing attorney. If mineral, oil and/or gas rights have been or will be severed from the property, the buyer should consult with an attorney about the potential consequences of proceeding with any purchase of the property. #

The information in this article has been taken from the Buyer and Seller Advisories, which are available to NC REALTORS® online at

HOTLINE: NC REALTORS® have free, unlimited access to our Legal Hotline and lawyers with more than 30 years experience. Call 800-443-9956 or email with any questions regarding contracts, forms, fair housing, disclosure and more.

Agent Duties Regarding Mineral, Oil and Gas Rights Disclosure

QUESTION: Regarding the Mineral and Oil and Gas Rights Disclosure Statement, are agents expected to confirm whether mineral, oil or gas rights have severed by a previous owner or by the current owner?

ANSWER: Generally speaking, the answer to your question is “no.” There are six representations a seller must complete in the Disclosure Statement. The first three relate to mineral rights, and the last three relate to oil and gas rights. The listing agent would ordinarily not be expected to conduct an independent investigation to confirm the accuracy of any “no” answers or, in the case of a “no representation” answer, confirm that mineral, oil or gas rights have not been severed by a previous owner. Discovering and rendering opinions on matters affecting title to real property is outside the scope of a real estate broker’s expertise and constitutes the practice of law.

If a broker knew or should have known about a severance of mineral, oil or gas rights, the broker would be required to make disclosure. Typically, a broker wouldn’t know or have reason to know. However, an example where a broker did have special

knowledge was brought to our attention by an NC REALTOR® member. He knew that mineral rights had been severed from the title of a lot he owned in an older subdivision because he had been told when he bought the lot that the mineral rights had been retained by the developer when the lot had first been conveyed. If that broker becomes involved in listing or selling another lot in that same subdivision, we would suggest he discuss the matter with the seller up front. If the seller doesn’t know whether rights have been severed from the title to the property, the seller should be encouraged to engage a real estate attorney to make that determination. If the seller doesn’t want to do that, the listing agent should advise the seller that the listing agent will be under an obligation to disclose to prospective buyers the possibility that mineral rights have been severed from the title to the property.

On the other hand, if the broker represents a buyer who is interested in purchasing a lot in the subdivision, he should advise both his buyer client and the listing agent that mineral rights may have been severed from the title to the property.

Links to two publications by the N.C. Department of Justice on the subject of oil and gas leases can be found on the N.C. Real Estate Commission’s website at under “Resources” and “Related Links.”
Advice from the NC REALTORS® Legal Hotline

s NC REALTORS®, you have exclusive access to a variety of benefits and services that, if maximized, will catapult you from everyday REALTOR® to the superhero of your own story. And who hasn’t dreamt of being a superhero since childhood?

We believe that NC REALTORS® are more than brokers, members and people. You are superhuman problem-solvers, never-take-nofor-an-answer opportunity finders, stop-til-you-drop home hunters. Just like every other superhero in history, NC REALTORS® rely on superpowers — NC REALTORS® member benefits and services — to keep you relevant, “in the know” and ahead of industry trends.

10 INSIGHT • May 2017


These extraordinary powers energize, educate and empower NC REALTORS® to differentiate from the average real estate broker in a hyper-competitive marketing environment. What we’ve discovered recently, is that while these member benefits and services have been a part of your membership since the first day you joined NC REALTORS® — albeit a few of them may have been added and removed over the years — many of our members are unaware of the breadth and depth of their value. Now we’ve made it easy to demonstrate and reinforce our value proposition with the right tools to reach you right where you are — in print, in person and online.

Complete with a comprehensive member benefits packet, video, microsite ( and epic member outreach across the state during the MIX Sessions events, NC REALTORS® has made it our mission to clearly communicate the real value we offer our members throughout the REALTOR® journey and to provide you with the tools, knowledge, trends and data to make you an epic NC REALTOR®.

40,000 MEMBERS

$300,000 granted to HURRICANE FLOOD VICTIMS

$100,000+ in SPONSOR/PARTNER REVENUE to offset member events

$2,500 in MEMBER SCHOLARSHIPS awarded

$8,427 SAVED BY REALTORS® as a result of legislative action preventing the taxation of real estate services and commissions.*

3,000 LEGAL CALLS fielded by in-house counsel


*Based on earning $55,000 in commission. • INSIGHT 11

Designed to be bold, adventurous and fun, the brand is larger than life, inspiring NC REALTORS® of all experience levels to take risks, dive in and be epic. With bright pops of color, integrating pop art graphic design strategies, infographic-style icons and superhero silhouettes, the new member benefits collateral is certain to catch the attention of REALTORS®, while hopefully inspiring you to take full advantage of everything your membership has to offer. From the most popular, valuable and exclusive benefits like unlimited access to the legal hotline and forms, to targeted benefits like scholarship programs and education opportunities, NC REALTORS® offers a plethora of benefits for every member.

So how does an NC REALTOR® become the superhero of your own story anyway?

First and foremost, you need to be the author of your own story — blazing your own trails, reaching new heights, leaping buildings in a single bound and growing with every opportunity. Create your own adventure with NC REALTORS®. Determine where and how you can get the most value from your membership.

Second, get involved and stay engaged. Define your own success and the success of your peers by joining committees, giving back to your local communities and being the voice of real estate by shaping the association, the profession and the industry. Make an impact. Make your voice heard.

Third, take advantage of the full suite of educational programs, certifications and specialty areas that NC REALTORS® has to offer — from GRI to the NC REALTORS® William C. Bass Leadership Academy to specialty areas such as the Property Management Division. These courses, certifications and specialty areas define and portray you as an epic NC REALTOR® that’s committed to professional development and your target consumers. Not only will you increase your earning potential, you will differentiate yourself among other REALTORS® to make you more competitive in the marketplace. And we know how competitive superheros can be!

Finally, maximize the epic networking opportunities provided across the state — from MIX Sessions to the annual conference to Legislative Meetings and more. Each event is ripe with opportunities to network with other REALTORS®, legislators, NC REALTORS® staff and partners and vendors, which can boost your business in different ways. Where else will you have the captive attention of potentially 1,000-plus REALTORS® in one venue? Your membership and association is what you make it. Let’s make it epic together. #

“When I think of an EPIC REALTOR® and who epitomizes what it means to be truly epic, several NC REALTORS® come to mind. But, for 2017, the ultimate epic NC REALTOR® has to be our President Treasure Faircloth. Treasure’s dedication to and impact on real estate education and CRS, the local, state and national associations of REALTORS®, to her family and to her community is second to none. Her drive, spirit and leadership shines through with everything she tackles, and she truly defines what it means to be an epic NC REALTOR®.”

Learn more about Treasure and how she became epic in the Artistry in Leadership article, featured in Insight, February 2017.




12 INSIGHT • May 2017

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What is the true cost of

In North Carolina, the seller is responsible for paying commission per their agreement, as well as preparation of the deed and revenue stamps per the standard Offer to Purchase and Contract. REALTORS® refer to this as “CPR” because you can never have enough acronyms, and occasionally during a listing presentation, a less-informed seller may suddenly look like they are in need of CPR when their REALTOR® starts breaking these numbers down.

14 INSIGHT • May 2017

selling a house?

Seller Expenses

Let’s start with the easy stuff. Deed Preparation and Revenue Stamps will not break the bank in most cases, but there are other costs the seller may have to pay. Some of these “incidental” costs may include recording a power of attorney, wiring fees for loan payoffs, home warranty, etc.

You can also expect a buyer to ask for all or a portion of their closing expenses to be paid. This should, of course, be looked at with the whole picture of an Offer to Purchase. Some sellers feel as though they should never pay a penny of buyers' closing expenses. However, our role as REALTORS® is to understand sellers' beliefs and temper them with the realities of the current market. Is the end goal to not pay any of the buyers closing expenses? Or, is the end goal to sell the real estate to accomplish investment net, a particular timeline or other criteria? This is an important discussion to have with your REALTOR® during the listing presentation. There is no sense in waiting for the first offer to come in to begin to understand the negotiation process. This will only put you in catch up mode.


Because the seller is responsible for paying commission, some people assume this is also the reason sellers pay both sides of the commission in North Carolina.

It is not. There is no requirement from the state that instructs the seller to pay the buyer's agent’s commission. Then why do we do it?

One reason is tradition. Appraisers prefer using homes in the REALTOR® Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for comparables because they are able to confirm the terms of the sale of each property. As REALTORS®, we confidentially report relevant sales information after closing. This information is vital for the present and future valuation of properties. If commissions are paid differently, then value adjustments will be needed.

Another reason sellers may find themselves responsible for commissions could be related to military markets in North

Carolina. The Veterans Administration (VA), which backs the federal loans that military families primarily use to purchase homes, puts restrictions on who pays commissions. The VA will not allow a buyer to pay REALTOR® fees or commissions. Therefore, the responsibility falls on the seller. Because VA loans make up over 90 percent of owner occupied home purchases in these areas, a seller would be excluding a big chunk of potential buyers by stating they are not willing to pay the buyer side commission. Talk with your REALTOR® about competitive commission rates that will attract buyers to your property. Please keep in mind that while commission is considered negotiable, often times the real estate company sets the commission rate, and individual agents do not have the ability to negotiate beyond the company policy. Also, in any commission negotiation, be mindful that the commission the seller pays is not usually the commission the REALTOR® representing them actually receives. Under some company policies, commission is paid to a firm, which then splits that commission or takes out fees from the REALTOR®.


Wendy Harris is a Broker with Team Harris Real Estate in Fayetteville, N.C.

Why use a REALTOR® in the sales transaction?

An interesting fact that consumers should research and confirm for themselves is that year after year studies conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® prove sellers get more money for their property when using a REALTOR® to represent their best interests in a transaction. If you are using a REALTOR®, they will be advocating for you and negotiating for you. Selling real estate is a large task that, if done correctly, should seem fairly simple. Selling real estate is a team effort, and the REALTOR® is there to protect their client’s assets and reduce their liabilities and risk. In fact, this makes for a great future discussion. # • INSIGHT 15


In today’s world, smartphones give us the power to communicate not only in words, but in photos as well. Technology has got us to the point where the camera on your smartphone can act as a legitimate high-quality solution for your photography needs.

Though the quality does not beat that of a digital camera, mobile photos can work not only for your personal life, but for your business, too. There is, however, an unofficial artistic standard that dictates the use of these photos, especially when it comes to attracting likes or engagement on social media. People don’t want to see low-lit photos of your cat while it’s eating. While that may seem enticing to you, others may not find it so enjoyable and may scroll past your photo on social media channels. So, if you’re trying to post to get likes or stimulate conversation, here are a few tips to enhance your experience as a mobile photographer.

1. Shoot with the light at your back

It’s easy to take lighting for granted when snapping a photo, but a simple tip to shooting somewhere indoors with windows or on a sunny day is to make sure you have your back to the source of the light. This will allow your subject to be more defined and will make it easier for your camera to pick up more colors and details. If you shoot toward the sun or a window, your subject will look more like a silhouette, and their background will be hard to distinguish. It may take some rearranging, but it will be worth it.

TIPS: Use photo editing apps like Instagram to help enhance your photos, through premade filters.

2. Use Flash Outside

When shooting outside, make sure the flash setting is turned on. This may seem unnecessary, but when you use the flash, your smartphone camera continuously auto-adjusts its settings to your environment. Think about the conditions of a partly cloudy day. The sun shines for a while and then hides behind the clouds. It’s tough to keep your camera settings consistent in these conditions. However, if you use your flash, you don’t have to worry about adjustments because your mobile camera does the work for you.

3. Shoot horizontally

Because most of us hold our phones vertically to make calls, to text or to utilize an app, we get in a bad habit of taking photos while holding the phone vertically, without really analyzing what we are shooting. But, shooting photos in the landscape mode, or by holding your phone horizontally, gives you a chance to showcase more in your photo. It also gives you more control as you have to use two hands to steady and take the photo.

4. Rule of Thirds

The next time you take a photo, try positioning the subject toward the right or left side of the screen to utilize the “rule of thirds,” or a method in which the subject is lined up on the two outer vertical lines of an even 3x3 grid. Different from a headshot or standard portrait where the subject is centered, the rule of thirds naturally takes your eyes on a journey through the photo. It doesn’t take away from the subject, but rather helps the viewer notice the details around the subject. To turn on the grid, refer to your phone’s camera settings.

5. Turn on HDR for your photos

The HDR, or High Dynamic Range, function is a great tool because it essentially combines three photos into one to create a well-balanced photo. When shooting in HDR, your camera will take an overexposed photo, an underexposed photo and a photo based on the current camera settings. This helps to define the highlights (brightness) and the shadows (darkness) without having to manually adjust your camera settings. The HDR function is available on both iOS and Android devices. • INSIGHT 17

Contact Tyler Helms at for more information on how to make mobile photography work for your business.

6. Stay focused


SATURATION: Used to making the colors in the photo stand out more.

HIGHLIGHTS: Takes all of the bright points in a photo and makes them brighter.

SHADOWS: Increasing shadows will lighten the dark points, decreasing will darken the dark points.

BRIGHTNESS: Refers to the lightness or darkness of the image based on every pixel in the frame.

7. Use a photo editor

CONTRAST: Increasing contrast makes light areas lighter and dark areas darker in a photo.

SHARPEN: Increases the contrast to make an object seem more in focus.

BLUR: Makes a portion of the image seem out of focus to draw attention to a subject or object.

EXPOSURE: Determines how light or dark an image will appear when captured.

This may sound like common sense, but make sure your photos are in focus! There is nothing more annoying than a picture that is blurry or out of focus. Sure, there are ways to professionally manipulate photos that don’t come out just right, but why go to all that trouble when the simple remedy is to focus your photo from the start. To do this on your phone, tap the subject on the screen of your phone and then take your photo. This tapping action identifies what you want to be in focus and then adjusts the exposure of your camera so your subject is well defined.

Some photos turn out great, some not so great. For those that need to be brightened or need some color adjustments, use a photo editor. Both iOS and Android phones come with photo editing tools through their photo gallery app. Some of the most popular tools used to adjust photos are the highlights, shadows and saturation tools. The highlights and shadows tools help bring out the brighter and darker elements in your photo. The saturation tool helps to adjust the color of your photo; more saturation makes the colors pop in your photo whereas less saturation removes the color intensity and richness. Your ultimate goal will help you determine what adjustments to make.

You can also use photo editing apps like Instagram to help enhance your photos, through premade filters. Remember, especially when posting on social media apps like Instagram, people want to see creative photos that are pleasing to the eye, so use a photo editor to help make your photos stand out, not to distract. #

18 INSIGHT • May 2017
1 2 3 4 5 6
You can find these editing options on both iOS and Android smartphones.
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Earn the CSSS designation to stand out from the crowd, increase your bottom line and form lasting relationships with clients.

20 INSIGHT • May 2017


Tracey Hawkins, a.k.a. "Tracey, the Safety Lady," is founder and CEO of Safety and Security Source. See her speak at XCHANGE '17 in September to learn more about adding safety to your business to make more money.

SAFETY VALUE= Putting Business into Your Safety Plan

As a former real estate agent and safety educator for over 22 years, Tracey Hawkins had to find a way to get agents excited about safety. Unfortunately, it often takes a tragedy to get agents to attend safety classes despite those classes being scheduled and encouraged by leadership. For whatever reason, agents would not show up, and this translated into an unwise investment on behalf of REALTOR® associations and boards.

Tracey had an "aha moment" nearly five years ago when she decided she needed to show agents how to make more money by taking safety seriously and integrating it into their businesses. She recalled a previous conversation with an association education director that told her agents will not attend classes unless they are learning how to make more money. Tracey’s challenge was to find a way for agents to learn safe work practices and to convert that knowledge into safe business techniques that would give them an edge.

So Tracey created a designation class where agents could complete two, threehour CE classes to earn the Consumer Safety and Security Specialist (CSSS) designation. The goal was to add safety and value to consumer relationships. Taking this extra step would make the agent stand out from the crowd, increase their bottom line and form lasting relationships with clients.

Four ways the CSSS designation adds value to relationships: SELLERS

During listing presentations, sellers are inundated with marketing presentations from agents that consistently promote the same things: we can put your house in the MLS, we will hold it open, we will create promotional flyers, etc. What was missing from this approach was safety.

Through the CSSS designation, agents learn to focus on the safety and security of the real estate process from the very first meeting. The agent utilizes a security checklist and walks through the house with the seller (this step is solely for safety reasons and not to look at the condition of the house for marketing). The agent will query the seller about lighting, locks, landscaping and getting financial documents, jewelry and valuables out of sight. These agents are determining security vulnerabilities and offering advice on eliminating them so that the seller has peace of mind when the house is on the market. Typically, the “average” agent hasn’t taken the time to show concern for their safety nor the safety and security of the seller's family and possessions. The security-focused agent stands out from the crowd. • INSIGHT 21


Agents are not legally allowed to answer certain buyer questions about crime or safety in a neighborhood. This omission can be awkward when buyers are looking to agents for guidance in finding a safe home for their family.

When agents have a safety-first mindset, they can incorporate their safety training from the CSSS designation and become a resource for the buyer. The most important part is learning what crime prevention and resources are available to share.

Tracey encourages agents to lead their clients to the local police department’s crime prevention unit and/or website. Most agencies have Facebook pages or a place where a crime log is located. This encourages buyers to do the research on their own to determine what risks they are or are not willing to take in a neighborhood where a potential home may be.


The FSBO market is full of homeowners who don’t think they need a real estate agent. Imagine their dismay when they put their sign out and are immediately besieged by agents calling, offering to put their house in the MLS and hold it open. Granted, getting that listing is desirable for agents, but Tracey encourages interested listing agents to approach FSBOs sellers differently and offer to help them maneuver the process in a safer manner. Agents should create a safety checklist specifically for FSBOs that contains tips and suggestions that these sellers probably never thought about. FSBOs are laser focused on making more money by saving a commission. They haven’t thought about the vulnerable position they are putting themselves and their families in by opening their homes to the public.


Finally, agents who invest in the CSSS designation can implement that training into their businesses and marketing. This knowledge will give consumers confidence that the agent is careful and values safety and security. #


Apps are all the rage in the technology sector. According to the 2016 Member Safety Report by the National Association of REALTORS®, over 42 percent of agents use a safety app for work. Here are a few to consider.

LIFE 360

• Location sharing among your private circles

• Automatic alerts when members of your circle arrive or depart specific locations

• Check-in to deliver your location update to everyone in your circle

• Help alert button sends a message to everyone in your circle when you need help


• Reverse phone look up

• Filters out spammers, virtual phones numbers, inactive numbers

• Performs soft criminal background checks and examines various criminal databases such as public sex offender registries

• Identity verification to help REALTOR® know exactly who they are going to meet

• Allows for appropriate discretion before showing a property

Sometimes it is not advantageous for agents to use a smartphone-based app. The phone can be taken from the agent, there may not be a cell signal available or the GPS location may not be accurate. In these cases, a wearable app is recommended.


• The compact design allows the user to call for help discreetly

• At the push of a button, the monitoring center is notified

• Two-way communication can be initiated, not just an alarm signal

• Service includes a portal for monitoring location by family, friends or even the agent's office staff

• Geo fences can also be set to alert designated contacts when entering or exiting a location


When you complete six hours of real estate agent safety continuing education training, you are not only earning CE credits and learning how to work safely as an agent, but you will be qualified to help consumers make safe and secure choices when they work with you. LEARN MORE AT SAFETYANDSECURITYSOURCE.COM

22 INSIGHT • May 2017
Special Savings on the Products and Services You Use Most! REALTOR® PARTNERS NC REALTORS® Contact Maurice Brown Scan the QR Code for more information Enjoy discounts on office supplies, furniture, technology products and copy and print services. Providing state-of-the-art home security and automation at discounted pricing. Save 20% on the best tenant screening tools available. Save up to 30% on overnight shipping, 16% on select ground shipping and up to 10% on business services. Turn expenses into deductions with this app and receive a 50% discount. Receive 10% off any subscription, 20% off any multi-office location and 10% off advertising. Brought to you by NC REALTORS® and NAR Free access to zipForm®Plus including seamless integration solutions for e-signature and option to add to mobile devices. Receive 5% and 10% off franchise and independent catalog orders. FORMS Savings on auto, pet and recreational vehicle insurance plans. INSURANCE SERVICES Access comprehensive real estate errors & omissions insurance. Protect what matters most –your income – with discounts up to 30%. Store, sync, save and search all text conversations with clients. Receive 20% off complete inbound marketing solutions to generate and close more leads. Note: No discounts available Let them handle your property and casualty insurance needs so you can focus on your clients. Receive free diagnostics and 10% off all remote Tech Support services. BUSINESS SERVICES TECHNOLOGY SERVICES Receive discounted rates for Formulator Desktop® and the new Formulator Online®.



SEPTEMBER 17 – 19, 2017










Rookie REALTOR®, Legacy, Technology and AE Education







Register by May 31 to win XCLUSIVE time with Roy Williams! Ten registrants will be chosen to jump the line during the one hour meet and greet and photo opp with Roy Williams following his presentation. You’re automatically entered for a chance to win if you’re registered for XCHANGE ’17 by May 31.

SEPTEMBER 17 | 1:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.



It all starts here at the eXpo Grand Opening Celebration and Tailgate Party. Enjoy a cold beverage, watch your favorite NFL games and start exploring the latest tools and trends.



Meet Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons, filmmaker duo embarking on an extraordinary expedition across the nation in their tiny house on wheels.

SEPTEMBER 17 | 6:00 P.M.


Opening Session Keynote

“Off Balance On Purpose”

SEPTEMBER 18 | 9:00 P.M. – 12:00 A.M. CLUB X


Get ready to dance the night away with Simply Irresistible at Club X – the XCLUSIVE conference club.

SEPTEMBER 19 | 8:00 A.M.


Closing Session Keynote “Motivating Champions”

Easy Icebreaker Ideas for Creating New Business

In supercharged real estate markets, every move counts. That’s why Jickson Chacko, a REALTOR® with Cherry Creek Properties in Denver, Colorado, never overlooks an opportunity to shop for new clients, literally.

“Wherever I am, personally or professionally, it just comes naturally to talk to people about real estate,” said Jickson. “And using the RPR app as my icebreaker, I’m able to transition a casual conversation into a working relationship with ease.”

At grocery store checkouts, a dentist’s office or while at the local playground with his young son, Elijah, Jickson is confident enough in his abilities and the tools at hand to spark conversations about the real estate market, knowing he can act upon any inquiry just by tapping into RPR’s app on his mobile device.

“It’s always awkward for an agent to open with ‘Hi, I’m a REALTOR®. Can I have your contact info for my marketing lists?’ It’s much easier to just start talking to them about the market or the value of their home, and then instantly give them accurate information.”

Jickson’s next “natural steps” include pulling up RPR on his phone the moment a potential new client demonstrates curiosity about the value of their home, or what another home in the neighborhood has sold for.

“RPR’s app is a great way to initialize conversation with a potential client without even seeing their property.”

With RPR’s Realtor Valuation Model® (RVM®) — the only REALTOR®-owned, automated valuation product that incorporates listing and sales data from the MLS into a property’s valuation — Jickson can instantly share what the subject property is worth and the range it could be listed for. The app’s mapping feature also reveals every home in the neighborhood and hundreds of datasets to go along with each.

“People are amazed by what I can show them on my phone,” he said. “Especially those who are sitting on the fence about selling. I give them preliminary data, just enough to spark their interest, and then politely ask for their contact info to offer next steps.”

All it takes is an email address for

Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®) delivers on-the-go access to an all-encompassing real estate platform, available exclusively to REALTORS®, and offered at no additional cost. Easily accessed through desktop, iOS and Android devices. Learn more at

Jickson to capture a commitment. “Right then and there, I’ll create an RPR Property Report and send it to them using my phone. Within seconds, they’ve got more accurate information than they thought possible.”

RPR’s Property Report summarizes the overall characteristics of a property such as values, foreclosure activity, market statistics, demographics, property history, taxes and school information. The report also includes current and historical photos.

“Here’s the thing,” said Jickson. “RPR’s reports are beautiful. And they look like I wrote the whole thing myself over a long period of time. Then, I remind them that the report is free … and there’s more to come.”

Next, Jickson follows up with his prospects, offering a more thorough evaluation of the property or to set up a buyer tour. It’s then that he uses the RPR website to run a comps analysis, conduct a property search, refine the value of a subject property and/or run any of the eight branded reports afforded to him as a REALTOR®.

“There’s a lot of hand holding when working with clients,” said Jickson. “I make it my business to help buyers make indisputable offers, lead sellers to realistic list prices and for everyone I represent to benefit from the transaction. And I couldn’t do it without RPR.” # • INSIGHT 25 SPONSORED SECTION

Including stops in Labadee, Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico.

CE at Sea

February 17-24, 2018

Do you like big ships that are chock full of activities? Then you’ll love Harmony of the Seas, the new floating megaresort from Royal Caribbean. Join us for an educational adventure aboard the largest cruise ship ever.

Continuing Education & CIPS

Complete your 2018 Continuing Education will Bill Gallagher. OR work toward earning your CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) designation, with core classes and custom property tours in Cozumel and Jamaica.

Registerby June 30, 2017


May 26

GRI: ABC's of Financing

Cape Fear REALTORS® - Wilmington Register at

June 21

Webinar: RPR Mobile™ — Big Data, Powerful Reports — Anytime, Anywhere Register at

July 15-18

2017 Regional AE Conference

The Ballantyne Hotel - Charlotte Register at

July 20

GRI: ABC's of Financing

Winston-Salem Regional - Winston-Salem Register at

August 4

GRI: Technology Tools & Resources

Mountain Lakes - Murphy Vote online at

August 14-17

NC REALTORS® Elections

Vote online at

August 18

Technology Tools & Resources

Raleigh Regional - Cary Register at

September 17-19


Conference & Expo

The Omni Grove Park Inn - Asheville Register at

September 18

2018 Inaugural Installation

The Omni Grove Park Inn - Asheville Advance tickets required.

Serve Those Who Serve Our Country

Earn NAR’s Military Relocation

Professional (MRP) Certification

Hone in your knowledge and skills for working with active duty military buyers and sellers, as well as veterans with NAR’s Military Relocation Professional Certification.

To learn more, visit

C21.COM The CENTURY 21® brand received the highest numerical score among 5 real estate companies for first-time and repeat home buyers and sellers (tie for repeat home buyer) in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014-2016 Home Buyer/Seller Studies. 2016 study based on 5,837 total responses, measuring the perceptions and experiences of customers who bought and/or sold a home between March 2015 and April 2016, surveyed February-April 2016. Your experiences may vary. Visit © 2017 Century 21 Real Estate LLC. All Rights Reserved. CENTURY 21® and the CENTURY 21 Logo are registered service marks owned by Century 21 Real Estate LLC. Century 21 Real Estate LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Each Office is Independently Owned and Operated. According to the latest J.D. Power study, the CENTURY 21® brand is ranked “Highest Overall Satisfaction for First-Time Home Sellers, First-Time Home Buyers, Repeat Home Sellers, and Repeat Home Buyers (Tied in 2016) among National Full Service Real Estate Firms, Three Years in a Row”. Congratulations again to our many driven brokers and agents. THREE YEARS