4 President's Letter
5 Inside NC REALTORS®
• NC REALTORS® Federal Political Coordinators Award
• NAR RPAC Hall of Fame
• Newest NC REALTORS® Staff
• Catching up with Katie Lynam
4 President's Letter
5 Inside NC REALTORS®
• NC REALTORS® Federal Political Coordinators Award
• NAR RPAC Hall of Fame
• Newest NC REALTORS® Staff
• Catching up with Katie Lynam
14 Artificial Intelligence in the Real Estate Industry General Counsel, John Wait, explains the legal dos and don’ts of using artificial intelligence and ChatGPT in your business.
20 We Open Doors: Leading and Giving Back with Openness and Sincerity
Get to know your NC REALTORS® President, Leigh Brown.
26 What Happens to the House in a Divorce or Separation?
Certified Family Law Specialist, Carole Albright, dives into the legal ramifications of a house for divorce or separation in North Carolina.
30 Taking Time Off Can Be Lifesaving
Discover how working too hard for too long can lead to more than just burnout.
36 The Steps for Hiring & Using a Virtual Assistant
Learn how virtual assistants free up valuable time for busy real estate professionals.
Have something to talk about? Sure you do—and we want to hear it! Send us your comments, ideas or success stories to email@example.com and you could be featured in the next Insight.
Insight, Volume 102, Issue 2
Treasurer Laurie Knudsen, C2EX, GRI
Immediate Past President
Regional Vice Presidents
Region 1: Adam Upchurch, Topsail Island
Region 2: Brooke Rudd-Gaglie, Oak Island
Region 3: Laurie Linder, Fayetteville
Region 4: Wallace Peiffer, Creedmoor
Region 5: Ray Alexander, Greensboro
Region 6: Paul McGill, Winston-Salem
Region 7: Carol Bradley, Monroe
Region 8: Edward Baesel, Charlotte
Region 8: Aric Beals, Charlotte
Region 9: David Noyes, Arden
Region 10: Lewis Grubbs, Raleigh
Region 10: Leslie Williams, Youngsville
At Large Representative: Dennis Bailey, Shelby
Chief Executive Officer
Andrea Bushnell, Esq., AHWD, CIPS, RCE
Vice President of Communications & Marketing
Mckenzie Allen, AHWD, C2EX
Graphic Design & Production Manager
Raquel Stubblefield, AHWD, C2EX
Content Marketing Coordinator Lia Ross, C2EX
Multimedia Coordinator/Staff Photographer Doug Klesch
Carole Albright, Lee Nelson, John Wait, Katharine Wendt
For advertising information, visit ncrealtors.org/advertise or contact Keri Epps-Rashad at (336) 217-1049.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line of “Insight opt-out.”
4511 Weybridge Lane, Greensboro, NC 27407 Phone: (336) 294-1415
I am honored to serve as your president this year with the mission of opening doors for all North Carolinians. As the real estate industry continues to evolve, it is important that we adapt and innovate to ensure that homeownership remains attainable for everyone.
In this issue of Insight, you will find articles highlighting our mission and my goals as president. You will also find articles that will help you in your business and personal life. “Taking Time Off Can be Lifesaving” reminds us of the importance of self-care and the benefits of taking a break. “The Steps for Hiring and Using a Virtual Assistant” offers practical tips on how to delegate tasks and improve efficiency. I hope you find these articles helpful and informative.
I am proud of the work we have done so far this year. We have continued to advocate for policies that support affordable housing and fair housing opportunities for all. In fact, at this year’s Legislative Meetings in Raleigh, we had a record number of attendees and over 200 firsttime attendees. I am overwhelmed by your response and willingness to use your voice to amplify the importance of private property rights in North Carolina.
Thank you for your dedication to our profession, our industry and our state. I am proud to serve alongside you as we work to open doors and make home possible for all.Harris, ABR®, AHWD, C2EX, CIPS, CRS, e-PRO®, GRI, PSA, SRES®, MRP, WHS Brown, ABR®, AHWD, C2EX, CIPS, CLHMS, CRS, e-PRO®, SFR®, SRES® Harrington, ABR®, ALHS, AHWD, C2EX, CIPS, CLHMS, CRS, GREEN, PSA Leigh Brown, 2023 NC REALTORS® President
Federal Political Coordinators (FPCs) are REALTOR® members who work to educate their assigned member of Congress on important issues facing the real estate industry. Annually, the NC REALTORS® Federal Political Coordinator Award recognizes one outstanding coordinator for their exceptional service to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and NC REALTORS®. The 2022 recipient, Lou Baldwin, excelled in his role as FPC—working with Senator Richard Burr for close to three decades.
Baldwin first began his FPC work when Senator Burr was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He continued to strengthen this relationship over the next 18 years, building on a strong foundation with his staff when Senator Burr was elected to the upper chamber. Beyond his duties as an FPC, Baldwin invested time in developing his contact team and inviting new members to attend NAR’s Legislative Meetings with the Senator. His attention to strengthening relationships has proven invaluable to the organization, helping to both educate the Senator on REALTOR® priorities and encouraging him to attend REALTOR® events.
With Senator Burr’s retirement in 2022, Baldwin now focuses on mentoring and engaging NC REALTORS® State Political Coordinators (SPCs). SPCs work with members of the NC General Assembly to advance REALTOR® priorities and serve as the voice of real estate.
“The SPC role is crucial in keeping close contact with our elected officials in the NC Legislature on issues affecting real estate and our profession,” says Baldwin. “We need to bring along REALTORS® who will continue our record of effective advocacy at the NC General Assembly.”
Baldwin recently participated in a Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) to expand the SPC program and lead a training session for SPCs during the 2023 NC REALTORS® Winter Leadership Meetings. He believes that one of the greatest responsibilities of REALTOR® leaders is identifying and encouraging tomorrow’s leadership within the association.
“We need to be constantly mentoring and recruiting new advocates in order to maintain our record of success in advocacy at all levels,” expresses Baldwin.
When asked why members should make time to get engaged, Baldwin responded, “Advocacy can be one of the most rewarding ways of serving our association and our fellow REALTORS®. As a REALTOR®, you already have the skills to be a great advocate. You also already serve as an advocate and resource for your clients every day.”
To mark Advocacy Month, NC REALTORS® would like to thank Baldwin for his unyielding dedication to our industry. We invite you to get involved, as well. There are opportunities at the state, local and national level for you to be a voice for REALTOR® priorities and advance the attainability of homeownership.
Baldwin said it best, “Advocacy is a team sport!”
NC REALTORS® is proud to announce its newest members of the National Association of REALTORS® RPAC Hall of Fame. The RPAC Hall of Fame recognizes dedicated members who have made a significant commitment to RPAC over the years by investing an aggregate lifetime amount of at least $25,000. The class of 2022 includes seven members at the $25,000 level and four members at the $50,000 level.
Among the Hall of Fame benefits are name plaques on the RPAC Hall of Fame wall located on NAR’s Washington, D.C. building rooftop, a personal plaque commemorating the installation and recognition pins with the Hall of Fame designation. The 2022 class, which will be inducted in May during the 2023 NAR Legislative Meetings, joins a prestigious group of fellow REALTORS® from across the state and nation that have gone above and beyond in demonstrating leadership and commitment to advancing the interests of the profession and protecting property rights.
Congratulations to our 2022 NAR RPAC Hall of Fame inductees!
Vote August 21-24, 2023
14 years of service
Masters Degree in Business
NCR Board of Directors
NAR Board of Directors
2022 NAR Law & Policy Liaison
2022 NAR ExecutiveCommittee
NCR Executive Committee
Past President Raleigh Regional RRAR Executive Committee
NCR 2021 RPAC Chair of Year
Make a difference in your community and participate in NC REALTORS® Gives Back from June 3 – 11, 2023.
• Visit ncrealtorshf.org/GivesBack
Contact Kentia Smith, NC REALTORS® Housing Foundation Director, at 336.217.1043 or email@example.com
The mission of the NC REALTORS® Political Action Committee (NC REALTORS® PAC) is to raise and disburse funds to promote homeownership, protect private property rights and increase political awareness for the real estate industry. The NC REALTORS® PAC Trustees are dedicated volunteers from the association membership that recognize the importance of NC REALTORS® PAC and are fully invested in its mission. Collectively, trustees make funding decisions based on recommendations/input from local associations, voting records for incumbents and a candidate’s support and/or knowledge of issues of concern to the real estate profession. Meet your NC REALTORS® PAC Trustees:
Contributions to RPAC are not deductible for federal or state income tax purposes. Contributions are voluntary and are used for political purposes. Suggested amounts are merely guidelines and you may contribute more or less than the suggested amounts. The National Association of REALTORS® and its state and local associations will not favor or disadvantage any member because of the amount contributed or a decision not to contribute. Your contribution is split between National RPAC and the State PAC in your state. NC RPAC supports the efforts of National RPAC and contributes a portion of its contributions to National RPAC. Contact your State Association or PAC for information about the percentages of your contribution provided to National RPAC and to the State PAC. The National RPAC portion is used to support federal candidates and is charged against your limits under 52 U.S.C. 30116. In-kind contributions/donations are not included for the purposes of the National RPAC State PAC split. NC law requires political committees to report the name, mailing address, job title or profession and name of employer or employee’s specific field for each individual whose contributions aggregate is in excess of $50 in an election cycle. North Carolina law prohibits contributions of cash in excess of $50 per day. Federal law prohibits contributions of cash in excess of $100 per year. Contributions can only be accepted from individuals; in the form of personal checks, credit/debit cards and cash less than $50 per day/$100 per year. Contributions from corporations or business entities cannot be accepted. This solicitation was paid for by NC RPAC.Sandra O'Connor Region 5 Trustee Rhonda Wilson-Henry Region 5 Trustee Jennifer Franklin-Rowe Region 4 Trustee Kim Dawson Region 4 Trustee Amanda Smith Region 3 Trustee Laurie Linder Region 3 Trustee Carol Bradley Region 7 Trustee Jennifer Frontera Region 8 Trustee Lee Allen Region 8 Trustee Dennis Bailey Region 7 Trustee Treasure Faircloth Region 6 Trustee Phillip Johnson Region 6 Trustee
• Contact Management
• Lead Automation
• Transaction Management
• Commission Reports
• Goal Tracking
• Landing Pages
• Team Features
• Time Management
• Software Tools
• Video Text Messaging
• 90+ Integrations
$29/MO. NO CONTRACTS
In the past year, NC REALTORS® added several phenomenal staff members. We hope you enjoy getting to know some fun facts about these individuals. For a complete list of NC REALTORS® staff and leadership, please visit ncrealtors.org/staff.
When did you join the staff?
Educational background: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with minors in History and Women’s & Gender Studies from Virginia Tech
Experience related to your current position: I was the former intern for Congressman Mark
Walker and worked at Holloway Consulting Inc.
Who inspires you?
I am very inspired by the women in my family, specifically my mom, grandma, and aunt. They brought me up to be a confident, God-fearing woman. I can always count on them for sound advice and counsel.
When did you join the staff?
Educational background: Graduated from Western Carolina University with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and Psychology
Experience related to your current position: I have worked numerous political and issue-based
campaigns in many states. Most recently, I worked for the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office as a Deputy Director over district offices. Previous to that position I spent five years working in political and governmental relations in New Jersey’s second Legislative District for two Assemblymen.
What is your favorite food?
I love cooking Italian and dining out for quality Asian cuisine.
When did you join the staff?
Educational background: Currently earning an Associates in Paralegal Technologies
Experience related to your current position: I worked in the real estate industry at a local association before joining NC REALTORS®.
What are you passionate about?
I can talk for hours about Criminal Law, forensic science, true crime and serial killers.
Where did you grow up? Where else have you lived?
I was born and partially raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I also lived in Durham, N.C. for a few years.
When did you join the staff?
Educational background: Masters of Social Work from West Virginia University
Experience related to your current position: I’ve worked with a multitude of marginalized populations experiencing housing challenges. I’ve
When did you join the staff?
Educational background: BSBA from UNC-Charlotte and Accounting Certificate from Guilford College
Experience related to your current position: I worked as an Auditor for 14 years and as the Finance Director of a regional non-profit for nine years.
worked from the spectrum of supporting someone with attaining new housing or linking homeless clients to housing resources. In addition, I have overseen several fundraisers that benefited my clients’ housing needs and other life challenges.
If you could go back in time to any era, which would it be?
I would go to Ancient Egypt. I love studying ancient history like Greek or Roman mythology.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Nobody is ever 100% ready to do anything—at some point, you just go for it!”
Where would you like to go on vacation if you had a month off and money was no object? Portugal and Italy
In March during Women’s History Month, NC REALTORS® celebrated the fearless women who shape the association, their communities and the real estate industry. Katie Lynam of Raleigh was first featured in the February 2021 Insight as a rookie in the real estate industry. Read her article at ncrealtors.org/ NewKidsOnTheBlock
What has been your favorite thing about working in real estate?
I’ve grown tremendously the past few years. Real estate is challenging and fulfilling for me. I’m a people person and love to have fun. For me, real estate is straight-up fun. I get to meet people with all different personalities, backgrounds and stories, who are aligned with similar goals. I enjoy the excitement of the market and love the thrill of healthy competition and getting my team the win. I get to make a difference in other people’s lives. Real estate is not only one of the most equitable investments, it’s also one of the most fun investments you can choose. I also appreciate that working in real estate drives me to continually improve myself and challenge my own expectations. Working for a commission only lights a fire to make others’ dreams come true in order to make yours come true, too. I am always learning new communication skills and how to connect with others on a stronger level.
What has been the most challenging?
The market has been an insanely wild ride ever since I started in September 2019. I’ve often been told I haven’t seen a “normal” market, which is probably true. I learned to “fly” in the crazy world of 2020—first with the lockdowns and then the uncertainty. These challenges taught me to dig deep into my clients’ motivations to move, listen to their concerns, help them uncover answers and focus on those motivated buyers. From May 2020, the market went berserk with crazy,
high-buyer demand and low inventory—the lowest our area had possibly ever seen. That had a big learning curve. Having buyers lose out in multiple offers did not sit well with my competitive spirit, so I learned fast. I learned to explain situations, get crystal-clear on my clients’ expectations and criteria upfront, reassure nervous buyers, put situations in perspective, remind clients’ of their goals and get creative in finding wins. Once I learned how to successfully navigate that seller’s market, it became my favorite market so far because I thrive on the energy. Then, after that wild ride with 5-figure due diligence fees and tens of offers per house, the seller’s market slammed on the brakes with interest rate hikes and political concerns. That’s when I started my own business—talk about shifting! It’s been tough to learn to pivot approaches every several months. However, it has taught me to be flexible and really lean into the market and message of the moment.
Professionally, my greatest accomplishment so far is starting my own business. In the last six months, I have taken the skills and experience I’ve gained over the last three years and launched my own team, Dream Home Realty with Keller Williams. Personally, my greatest accomplishment is buying my first home. That has been a massive step and adjustment for me. I am amazed at how quickly it happened; at the age of 25 and just three years into my real estate career. My other greatest personal accomplishment to date is completing a full marathon. When I finished the marathon, I said it may be a one-and-done race, but I’m going back for more!
My whole life, my mom has been an inspiration to me, especially over the last ten years. A lot of people who know me professionally wouldn’t know, but my mom has overcome many obstacles. In 2012, my mom, younger brother and I were hit head-on by a drunk driver in a high-speed collision. My mom suffered a traumatic brain injury, lost use of the right side of her body and was told she would never walk again. She refused to give up. Instead, she worked hard and proved her doctors wrong. After six years and eight months in a power wheelchair, she took her first steps! You would never know if you met her today. Now, she enjoys walking up to four miles at a time and runs her own business as a health coach focused on brain health. Her determined spirit and joyful faith have had a tremendous impact on me.
right next to the mountain bike trails with no family. My fantasy does not include how I will make money, but it does involve spending a lot of time on gnarly trails and spending copious amounts of money on carbon fiber bikes and cool gear. Anyway, in my first test, I asked ChatGPT to “find me land near Wilkesboro with a view of the mountains.” It was not so impressive this time:BY JOHN WAIT General Counsel
Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) has rapidly infiltrated various industries, revolutionizing the way they operate. The real estate sector is no exception. AI has been implemented in various aspects of real estate, including property search and evaluation, market analysis and client engagement. This article provides a comprehensive review of the current usage of AI by REALTORS® and real estate brokers.
I didn’t write that opening paragraph. Not one word. I took about 10 seconds to register my Gmail account with viral sensation ChatGPT, and then I asked it to “write a paper about artificial intelligence being used by REALTORS® and real estate brokers.” It gave me 450 words in about 20 seconds. I watched the screen as it dutifully wrote each line with perfect grammar (and no backspacing for typing errors . . . show off).
The rest of the article AI wrote for me is, frankly, as good, coherent and thoughtful as the opening paragraph. Instead of reprinting that article here, however, I decided to put ChatGPT to the test. After all, it had just written an impressive article for me about, well, itself. I wanted to see if it could deliver on the three items it mentioned as “revolutionizing” our industry.
Sometimes when I’m watching TV at night with my family, I daydream about living in a mountain house in Wilkesboro
I’m sorry, I am an AI language model and do not have the ability to search for specific properties. However, you can use real estate websites . . . to search for properties near Wilkesboro, NC with mountain views.
Well, so much for a property search. Next, I decided to test property evaluation, and I asked it to “evaluate my home located at [home address].” I got the same non-answer answer. With ChatGPT batting 0 for 1, I decided to test its second claim about market analysis. I asked it to “write an article about real estate prices in Clemmons, N.C.,” which happens to be my hometown and where I was recently the mayor for four years. The response this time was quite good:
Clemmons, North Carolina is a charming and growing suburban town located in Forsyth County. The area is known for its beautiful natural scenery, high-quality schools, and a growing economy. As a result, it’s no surprise that the real estate market
in Clemmons is thriving and attracts many potential buyers and investors. In this article, we will discuss the current trends in real estate prices in Clemmons, North Carolina.
The median home price in Clemmons, N.C. is currently around $310,000, which is a significant increase from recent years. This trend is reflective of the growing demand for homes in the area as well as the overall appreciation of the real estate market. Homes in Clemmons tend to range in price from the mid-$200,000s to over $500,000, depending on the size, location and features of the property.
The rest of the article went on to give short synopses about the demand for real estate in Clemmons and a medium-term forecast about the market over the next few years. As you might imagine from the first few paragraphs, it was a very sunny forecast, but also generally accurate on the facts. For the third and final test, I decided to see how AI might suggest engaging with a real customer. I told ChatGPT to “write a short message to a real estate client from a broker’s perspective”:
I hope this message finds you well. As your real estate broker, I wanted to touch base and see if there have been any developments or updates regarding your real estate needs. If you’re still in the market for a new property, I would be more than happy to assist you in your search and provide you with any information or support you may need.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a showing, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
Wow, this seems like a more applicable message to a prospect rather than an existing client, but in my opinion, this was an impressive response. AI wrote the message in less time than it would take me to just type out a copy, and I am not a slow typist by any means.
ChatGPT is a general AI tool that can be used for many
things. It is not specifically tailored for real estate. However, there are other companies out there using AI for real estatespecific needs. You’ve probably already received solicitations from companies who use AI to chat with prospective customers, predict home values and market trends, manage existing customers, populate contracts, generate leads, offer virtual assistants and more. Depending on the service provided, AI might be front and center interacting with a customer, or it might be running in the background and automating much of the tasks that, up until recently, required a human touch.
So, how should brokers use AI? Of course, answers will vary widely. But here are a few things to keep in mind as you incorporate these new AI tools into your practice.
During the sign-up, ChatGPT provided a warning to me: “While we have safeguards in place, the system may occasionally generate incorrect or misleading information and produce offensive or biased content.” If you use ChatGPT or some other company to, for example, create descriptions of properties you are listing, be sure to: (1) independently verify the accuracy of the information; and (2) ensure that the content complies with fair housing laws.
You’ve likely already seen AI-generated art in your social media feed. It is important to know that this kind of art is not created in a vacuum, nor is anything else AI makes. Rather, most AI models analyze millions and billions of data sets, examples and templates. It then synthesizes these inputs to create “new” content. For example, if you use AI to create images of a home to showcase a new build or renovation project, the AI-generated image may borrow from other copyrighted work. Posting such content could therefore be a violation of someone else’s copyright, which means that just like any other picture, agents should verify they have the appropriate license before publishing an AIcreated image.
Under Article 2 of the Code, REALTORS® must “avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts” relating to a property or transaction. The License Law has a similar prohibition. If you use AI to add or change the furnishings or features of a home, be sure to disclose those edits clearly to the consumer.
In my law practice, I have had to help several agents navigate allegations of violating the DNC Registry rules. These rules become tricky to navigate when you are using automated lead generation in conjunction with a virtual assistant, which can easily cause a violation if an agent is not careful. If you use AI to locate and contact prospects, be sure that the vendor you are using is taking steps to comply with the DNC Registry and conduct your own scrub of the data for compliance.
Evolving technology has always been part of real estate, and these new AI-based tools will undoubtedly continue to become more prevalent. The law and the Code will adapt to it over time, but the fundamental rule and focus will remain the same. If you maintain your fiduciary duty to the best of your ability and be open and honest with every consumer, you will navigate these new waters with ease. And in cases where you have a question, the NC REALTORS® Legal Hotline is available to assist.
Six Figures in Twelve Months: Real Estate Planning On Steroids with AI
Speaker: Marki Lemons Ryhal
Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2023
REALTOR® Appraisers & Brokers – Grab a Seat at the Table! Are you a North Carolina REALTOR® who wants to make a difference when it comes to appraisal issues? Joining the NC REALTORS® Appraisal Section advances your professional career and connects you with others in the state to discuss appraisal policies. Membership gives appraisers a seat at the table when important policy decisions are being made and provides brokers with a better understanding of the appraisal industry. Join us for guest speakers at the membership meetings and become a part of the conversation. Membership is open to appraisers and brokers. An appraisal license is not a requirement to join.
You might find Leigh Brown gathering eggs on her family’s want-to-be farm, playing the piano, running through the countryside, cooking a meal with ingredients grown in the garden or attending one of her two teenagers’ events. Other times, she’s leading two successful businesses, including One Community Real Estate® in Concord and her motivational keynote speaker company, Leigh Thomas Brown, Inc.
All of that doesn’t include her time now as the 2023 President of NC REALTORS® or all of her other volunteer commitments. It may seem wild to understand how she fits all of this into her schedule, but for Brown, it’s part of her DNA and her mission to enrich the lives of fellow REALTORS® and their communities.
“I find joy in service alongside my colleagues who pour their hearts and souls into neighbors they may never meet,” she says.
On her Facebook page, Brown stated three New Year’s resolutions for REALTORS®:
• Answer the phone every time it rings.
• Read your emails.
• Stop bragging about your earnings.
Being upfront and honest with a lot of humor has helped push Brown to many of her successes, including owning her own brokerage, her own public speaking business and being a leader in many community and REALTOR® organizations.
“I’m a little different than other leaders. I’m very visible on social media. My goal is to provide value, knowing I will never know who is watching and listening,” she adds.
Brown hopes that one day someone comes along who is the creative, imaginative, thoughtful person that changes real estate forever.
“It’s that person that comes behind you and eclipses you. I’m always looking for somebody that blows past me. I hope that happens while I’m in leadership. I want to open a door, and they plow right past me,” she emphasizes.
Her Real Estate Business and Volunteerism
She began 23 years ago as a second-generation REALTOR®. Her father, a very successful REALTOR® in the state, got his license in 1978. She was honored to have him install her as president of NC REALTORS® in January.
“He proved that REALTORS® can retire, but most don’t,” she laughs.
One month before the pandemic began in 2020, Brown started her own real estate company—One Community Real Estate in Concord.
“Why not?” she says. “It actually was great timing, to be honest. In North Carolina, REALTORS® were not considered essential until the end of April.”
That extra month gave her time to work things out, and “my client base came with me.” She built a team of ten agents for her boutique firm in the heart of Concord’s historical area.
“The revitalization of Concord is the core of our business. Half of the downtown Concord businesses are womenowned,” she adds.
She and her team are active members of the community. “We give back. We are partners with Habitat for Humanity, and we partner heavily with other community organizations.”
Brown also serves as a board member of the REALTORS® Relief Foundation, which began after 9/11 to provide housing-related assistance to disaster victims.
In 2009, Brown did something she never thought she would. She started her own keynote speaking company— Leigh Thomas Brown, Inc. And now, she’s an international, motivational keynote speaker for early-career and experienced REALTORS® looking to build their industry presence. Her goal is to help REALTORS® define and communicate their value and become impactful in building their business.
“That was all by accident,” she states. “In the first part of my career, my only goal was to sell. I went to every conference and Mastermind session, making notes on how to sell more houses.”
But in 2007, an instructor of a Mastermind group from Virginia kept asking her to talk.
“I don’t speak in front of people,” she would tell him over
and over again. “I don’t want the microphone. I don’t have anything to give.”
She finally agreed to be on a panel with three gentlemen.
“It was wildly successful. But part of the audience resonated with me and not them,” she adds. “Part of the audience needed to hear from a woman and a southern voice.”
After the event, Brown realized she had something to give to other REALTORS®.
“For all the years prior, I was receiving without giving. There’s a point you can’t just keep taking. My career trajectory changed. If someone else sees something in you, they might be right. I wish he was alive today to see all this.”
One of the joys for her of being an instructor and speaker is traveling to five countries and 49 states so far.
“My husband is plagued by me always saying, ‘I could live
here’ everywhere we go. I love the history and the unique characteristics of all these places,” she states.
Brown loves so many things in life, including the 20 years as a wife and her two teenagers—one a junior and one a senior in high school. Even though Brown admits she is an open book, her quiet time at home becomes her salvation. The ten acres she and her husband bought hold a special place for her.
“We have 35 chickens and a turkey. We are trying to live a sustainable path and are being thoughtful about what we eat. We have a garden and a composting pile.”
Her son sells the eggs at a farmer’s market, and dozens of eggs have been given to Brown’s clients as a closing gift, if
they want them. She even gave away eggs to two lucky guests at her Inauguration in January.
She loves gardening, cooking, needlepoint and running, but singing and playing the piano have been her passion since she was young. Her childhood home was equipped with an orange baby grand piano her mother got from the tv station she worked at.
“My sister and I were set up with piano lessons from Gertrude—the lady that slapped your hands with rulers. I loved her. I never let it go.”
Brown became the accompanist starting at her middle school. She thought she’d end up a high school choir director. She quickly discovered she was “so outclassed at top music schools.”
But she still plays now at church sometimes, at weddings and funerals and for her own enjoyment.
When all the churches shut down during the beginning of the pandemic, her mother and father would come to her house, and they’d take requests from people online for their favorite hymn.
“I started my live streams. My dad would sing with me. People sent me hymn books from all faiths and religions.”
It’s hard for many who know Brown to believe she’s an introvert. But being introverted isn’t the same as shyness or reservedness. It has to do with how you gather energy.
“People drain us. It takes a lot out of us to deal with people. By 9 p.m., my meter is empty. I wrap up my day.”
She’s learned that to be successful as an introvert you must mirror the people you are with and surround yourself with all types of personalities and perspectives. It’s something she picked up as a bartender in college.
“I was so shy. I didn’t have any desire to work with the general public. Yet, I waited tables and bartended in college and became a bar manager after college.”
One of her regulars was a stockbroker. He hired her and took her to Manhattan.
“I didn’t belong there. I didn’t like the ‘money people’ and the way they were when they were dealing with money.”
When Brown moved to Texas as a young woman to sell chain saws for Husqvarna, she wanted to buy a house. Her father referred her to a Dallas-area REALTOR® he had met at a conference.
“I was a young, single female. This was pre-internet. The guy calls me on the landline, I told him my price point, and he blew me off.”
So, she took things into her own hands and started touring around the suburb of Grapevine. She saw a brick ranch and called the number on the Century 21 sign. Quickly, the chain-
smoking, deep-voiced REALTOR® came cruising up in her gold car, showed Brown the house, and sold her the house.
“I didn’t even know if that REALTOR® was good or bad. I had a question about the house, and it fit my price point. Her level of knowledge didn’t even matter then or her ethics.”
The woman was willing to help Brown because the other guy didn’t treat her like she was important. That experience, plus her dad’s guidance, taught her never to discriminate on price point.
“Technology may have moved on, but people haven’t changed a lot,” she states. “We want to be valued and noticed. We want somebody to talk to us and not at us.”
Her Year as President
Brown’s hopes as president of NC REALTORS® include helping all North Carolinians who strive to achieve the American Dream and representing all REALTORS® who choose to uphold and live by the oldest Code of Ethics in the United States.
Her theme, “We Open Doors,” spotlights how REALTORS® are opening doors across North Carolina. Not just physical doors, but doors of opportunity and change. She’s spent the last few months traveling to local associations across the state, spreading this message and connecting with members on a more personal level.
“I want people to remember me as somebody that lifted them up. I want to be that person that reached out to them and listened when they talked,” she adds. “I want people to know I genuinely care.”
“I want people to remember me as somebody that lifted them up. I want to be that person that reached out to them and listened when they talked.” – Leigh BrownLee Nelson is a freelance journalist from Illinois. She writes for REALTOR® Magazine, several state REALTOR® Magazines and websites, and loanDepot.com. Tanya Monroe (left) and Stacie Gosiene (middle) pose with two of Brown’s books—”The Seven Deadly Sins of Sales” and “Outrageous Authenticity” Tony Harrington, 2023 NC REALTORS® President-Elect, and Brown at the NC REALTORS® Raleigh office
In many marriages, the largest asset is the marital home. Not only does it have significant financial value, it usually has great sentimental value for the owners. If a couple is separating and looking towards divorce, one of the first decisions separating spouses will have to make is who is moving out of the home. In North Carolina, neither party can “kick out” or “lock out” the other party absent a court order or agreement so sometimes the hardest part of separating is actually getting separated. Before or after separation, however, the parties can settle some or all of their marital issues, including whether to sell the Residence, in a contract typically called a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement.
If the parties decide to sell the home, the Separation Agreement can spell out the steps the parties will take to sell the residence, including the listing agent, listing price, terms for reducing the price over time, repairs needed and how the sales proceeds will be divided. It is important to address who will live in the residence and who will be responsible for paying the mortgage and other expenses related to the residence until it sells.
Alternatively, the Agreement could provide that one party will retain possession and ownership of the house. A deed transferring title to the party retaining the residence will need to be executed but first, the party retaining the home should take steps to refinance or assume any
mortgage, equity line or other loan on the home thus releasing the party moving from the residence from liability on the debt. At the time the moving party is released from the debt, that party should execute the deed transferring their interest to the other party. The deed should include language acknowledging that the conveyance is made pursuant to the terms of a separation or incident to divorce and vests fee simple title in the grantee as his or her sole and separate property.
If the party retaining the home is the only party to the deed, the moving party could execute a free trader agreement waiving the requirement that a new deed be executed, but the best practice is to execute a new deed
including the conveyance language stated above.
If after the Separation Agreement is signed, a party refuses to comply with the listing terms such as failing to put a for sale sign in the yard, failing to sign the deed to the party retaining the residence, etc., the other party can seek a court order requiring the party to comply with the terms of the separation agreement. The court can also execute a Commissioner’s Deed substituting the judge’s signature for the party refusing to sign. Once the party retaining the residence records the deed, he or she is the lawful owner.
If your client needs assistance with regard to his or her rights in divorce, recommend that they seek advice from a local family law attorney who can
help them make decisions regarding their home as well as child custody, financial support, and alimony. A family law attorney can also prepare or review separation agreements, free trader agreements and deeds so if your client has questions about these documents or the divorce process, refer them to an attorney.
Carole Albright is the managing partner at Law Firm Carolinas. She is a North Carolina certified family law specialist and has practiced family law in the state for over 25 years. Additionally, Carole is a registered Parliamentarian and has worked with NC REALTORS® and local REALTOR® boards at Ethics Hearings and NC REALTORS® meetings.
“In North Carolina, neither party can ‘kick out’ or ‘lock out’ the other party absent a court order or agreement…”
The Homeowners Alliance represents your interests in the North Carolina General Assembly.
From insurance to taxes, your representatives make decisions that directly impact your wallet. That’s why the NC REALTORS® started the Homeowners Alliance.
By joining, you can stay up-to-date on some of the most important issues for homeowners. We’ll never charge you for membership, and we’ll never tell you who to vote for. The ONE Group Fighting
When Asa Fleming started out in the real estate world, he tried to be all things to everyone.
“Everybody’s urgency was my emergency,” says Fleming, broker associate at Asa Fleming Real Estate at Allen Tate Company in Raleigh/Glenwood. “But I learned. And now I take breaks quarterly, at least three to five days at a time.”BY LEE NELSON
Lee Nelson is a freelance journalist from Illinois. She writes for REALTOR® Magazine, several state REALTOR® Magazines and websites, and loanDepot.com.
He’s involved in at least a dozen things, including running a few nonprofits and opening Central Wake High School, a charter school for dropout prevention. He also serves as the Chair of the Wake County Planning Board and continues to be an active member of the Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS® (RRAR), NC REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), where he has served on multiple committees.
“When things get too much, and it’s all work and no play, I begin to notice. I get frustrated, and I don’t want to be bothered by anyone,” he adds.
That’s when it’s obvious that it’s time to go somewhere and take a break. But heading out from all that on his annual deep fishing trip to the coast
gives him clarity again. He also pads days on the beginning or ending of a real estate conference so there is time to have fun and just unwind. Sometimes, he takes his kids out of school to hang out with him at Disney, the Bahamas or the Smokey Mountains. A few times, he goes alone just to decompress and clear his brain so he can focus on real estate when he gets back.
His story reflects many agents’ worlds—many hours on the job helping others and being involved in the community. But he’s one of those that understands the importance of relaxation, fun and time away from the career. It could be lifesaving.
The work-from-home explosion during the pandemic led to very long workdays for REALTORS®. Work was coming from everywhere.
One-third of surveyors told the American Psychological Association that their workload makes it hard to actually
get away from it all. Even the 42 percent who say they actually take time off, dread coming back because their workload has piled up.
Without escapes and time off from work, burnout can happen. Burnout has become so rampant that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a syndrome in the International Classification of Diseases. The WHO explains that burnout results from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been addressed. Symptoms can show up as feelings of energy depletion, increased mental distance from the job, feelings of negativism and reduced effectiveness.
A Framingham, Massachusetts Heart Study found that vacations actually reduce the risk of heart disease. It tracked subjects over a nine-year period and found a positive correlation between more frequent vacations and longer, healthier lives. Men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks.
Mental health also becomes affected by no time off. Vacations can improve someone’s mood and reduce stress by getting away from the environment associated with anxiety. A Canadian study of more than 800 lawyers shows vacations reduce depression and buffer against job stress. A small Japanese study finds a short, three-day leisure trip can reduce perceived levels of stress and the stress hormone cortisol.
Fleming sees newer agents working two or three years in a row without any time off.
“I don’t want to tell them to stop, but they need to know that a week away will refocus their efforts,” he comments
Beatrix Masotti saves time off at the end of each year just to take a nice holiday break from it all. She and her husband own land and raise a garden and Scottish Highland cows.
“We are weekend farmers,” says Masotti, managing broker-in-charge at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Asheville. “I like spending time with the cows. They have a really good temperament.”
As a couple, they like to visit other farms or attend auctions.
“I enjoy the time off to relax and not
Burnout has become so rampant that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a syndrome in the International Classification of Diseases.
be on a schedule. But my phone is never off,” she admits.
She works with dozens of agents in six counties who are doing deals all weekend when she is off. But she’s there for them with their questions and concerns.
“I do encourage my agents that there is nothing like a long weekend to rejuvenate and get back on track,” she adds.
So many of them didn’t take time off during the pandemic. It was either feast or famine. But many in early 2021 to mid2021 were on hyper mode. She started to see the possibility of burnout for many of them.
“I had to rein in a few of them and tell them to take some time for themselves,” Masotti states. “This is a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week business. We work when others can’t work. It’s a very demanding business, but you can manage it if you do it right.”
She teaches them that clients don’t need to know what they are doing all the time. Just tell them you are busy and can’t meet them at certain times. Instead, give them options of when you can meet them.
Time blocking becomes critical to better manage an agent’s time.
“You are the boss. You make the decisions. It’s unlike going to a job. You have to create your own tasks,” Masotti says. “The old saying that if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. That goes for [real estate agents], too.”
As a real estate professional, you have to be in the right frame of mind to advise people. When anyone is under stress, they may not make the right decisions for themselves or their clients, she believes.
Before starting many of her days, Christina Asbury can be found fishing out of her boat or duck hunting. It helps her get in the right frame of mind to make the deals as a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Sneads Ferry. She even keeps her fishing rod in her trunk if she has a 15-minute break while near a public fishing dock.
“Being back to nature and being able to be near calm waters gives you peace and quiet for a while,” she adds. “I get up at 4:30 a.m. sometimes. You really don’t think about your bank account when you get to watch the sunrise while fishing.”
She and her family take vacations everywhere from cruising to touring
New York City. She also likes to wrap vacations around a conference or real estate meeting. She feels fortunate to be afforded reimbursable travel through national and state REALTOR® meetings and trainings.
She enjoys getting out of her comfort zone and experiencing the hustle and bustle of a big city since her lifestyle is so laid back.
“It’s nice to go to a metro area and then come back to the pace of Eastern North Carolina,” she adds. “You need breaks for a mental recharge. You can’t just burn a candle at both ends, or you become a lunatic.”
Helen Gentry wears many hats and works several jobs, so vacations and long weekends become crucial.
At a minimum, her goal every year is to take one vacation consisting of several days plus a few weekends away and a staycation where she stays home to recenter. She helps clients as an agent at Mason Peak Mountain Properties in Franklin. She also owns Helen Gentry Coaching and works as a franchise and entrepreneur coach.
“We have all been through so much in the past two to three years with the pandemic. We all need breaks to refuel, refresh and recharge,” she adds.
She understands how challenging it is for dedicated, driven entrepreneurs to step away and take breaks. But breaks become necessary to safeguard against burnout in the long term. She tries to promote a culture of being encouraging and supportive of agents that she works with and offers to assist with anything they need when they go out of town.
“Clients deserve an agent who is fully present, focused and not trying to work through severe exhaustion and brain fog. I have personally experienced and seen that working under the latter conditions all too easily leads to errors that can adversely affect our clients and their transaction,” Gentry adds.
When she was younger, she didn’t have a career but just worked various jobs.
“I would swoop in, succeed, exhaust myself, burn out, leave, start over somewhere else and do it again,” Gentry states. “A different strategy is required. Time off allows us time to evaluate our businesses and lives, assess what’s working and what isn’t and brainstorm new ideas.”
Mental health also becomes affected by no time off. Vacations can improve someone’s mood and reduce stress by getting away from the environment associated with anxiety.Christina Asbury Helen Gentry
We know your life and your profession have been impacted by COVID-19. Property managers are on the front lines, keeping our businesses clean and safe, and working with tenants on rent solutions that will keep communities intact. Times are challenging, and we’re here to help. NC REALTORS® PMD provides advocacy, education and tools to support North Carolina’s professional property managers during this time of uncertainty.
Providing resources to create, expand and encourage homeownership opportunities for North Carolinians
The NC REALTORS® Housing Foundation certifies REALTORS® as Workforce Housing Specialists* so that these real estate professionals can better understand the important issues and economic barriers facing those entering the housing market. The Housing Foundation provides educational programs, housing resources, and downpayment assistance that help more North Carolinians affordably purchase a home of their own. The Housing Foundation has been working to enhance this certification and increase the benefits to this very special group of REALTORS® and their clients. For more information and to become a Workforce Housing Specialist, visit ncrealtorshf.org/become-a-specialist
Lee Nelson is a freelance journalist from Illinois. She writes for REALTOR® Magazine, several state REALTOR® Magazines and websites, and loanDepot.com.
Ian Bertolina has been using virtual assistants for at least 15 years. Virtual assistants (VAs) become remote workers hired on a contract basis and assigned duties to free up your time.
“My approach is to eliminate everything that won’t make me productive, which basically is looking for new business,” says Bertolina, owner of Bertolina Commercial Real Estate Services, Inc. in Charlotte.
He admits he’s had some good virtual assistants, and some that he had doubts about. Right now, he hires three of them to do different tasks for him. One does his social media, which he has a light footprint on. One handles his website, listings and listing services. The last one, Denise Harenda, works for him researching companies and dealing with administrative bills. She’s been with him for many years.
“Most people in the real estate business are so hands on and like to control everything,” he adds. “But when you hire a virtual assistant, you really aren’t giving up control. You are having someone do the work, and you are reviewing it. That’s different than doing it yourself.”
He believes that virtual assistants take away agents’ excuses for not being out there looking for new business.
“You can get so buried in administrative stuff, and it takes away from what you really should be doing,” he says.
Virtual assistants free up valuable time for busy real estate professionals. But before you even search for one, figure out exactly what things you need your assistant to help you with.
And it’s critical to find a VA who specializes in the tasks you need done. For instance, you don’t want a marketing genius to do your accounting. You want someone to do the jobs efficiently and correctly.
The North Carolina Real Estate Commission lists some of the tasks unlicensed virtual assistants can handle for brokers:
• Offer information to potential tenants about listed properties based on what was already published and without negotiating.
• Create and distribute advertising materials, such as brochures and flyers.
• Distribute promotional materials regarding open house events.
• Assemble and verify public real estate information for agents.
• Put for sale or for rent signs on properties.
• Schedule and coordinate appointments for the agent.
• Order and supervise routine and minor repairs at the direction of a broker.
• Type up offers to purchase, contract, and lease forms with broker’s provided information.
However, Bertolina discovered that he didn’t necessarily have to narrow down his search to people who did specific things.
“Most virtual assistants are generalists and are so competent in many skills. Plus, they don’t need to be in your city. You send work, and they send it back,” he adds.
Bertolina has found several of his assistants by doing Google searches.
“Not all of mine actually live in my area though. But once you interview them, and maybe even meet them, you can tell if you are going to click,” he adds.
In fact, he’s never met one of his assistants in person, even though he has worked with her for years.
“But she’s got such a level of professionalism. That’s a common thing with virtual assistants, which was a pleasant surprise for me,” he states. “Plus, there is a real level of confidence. A lot of them are coming from the corporate world and just want their own business.”
He also suggests asking other brokers and real estate people if they use them. And then ask if they had any suggestions on where to find a good one.
“Many of these virtual assistants know how to market their business. They know people are searching on the
internet,” he adds.
Harenda works with several REALTORS® including Bertolina through her business, My Virtual Assistant Pro in Rock Hill, S.C., which she says is considered a suburb of Charlotte.
“You can also go to LinkedIn and find some virtual assistant groups. I belong to a couple of LinkedIn virtual assistant groups,” she says. “We really are wanting to help one another.”
AnnMarie Janni has looked for virtual assistants by using Facebook, Indeed and networking groups. Before hiring them, she asks the usual questions about experience and things like “What would you do in this situation?” She also has her team managers interview potential VAs so they can confirm if they are a good fit in general.
“We have a client care manager and an operations manager that are virtual,” says Janni, team leader and founder of Element Realty Group at Allen Tate REALTORS® in Cary.
Harenda highlights that red flags should pop up if a virtual assistant or a VA service company is too salesy or says they pretty much do everything.
Most VA individuals or services can be cost-effective solutions that price the work based on tasks or the number of hours worked.
However, Janni pays her client care manager 100 percent based on production.
“She is paid per closing and per listing, which is great for us because if we are not busy, we don’t have a guaranteed salary that we have to pay,” she comments.
For Harenda, she charges by 15-minute intervals, but it adds up to about $35 an hour.
“The more efficient we get, our clients still make out because we’re doing the same work in a quicker time,” she says.
She also offers packages for bookkeeping that run from $150 to $450, depending on what the client needs completed.
“If you are going to hire a virtual assistant for general administrative duties, it’s usually $25 to $50 an hour. But for those hiring a VA to design and run a website, it probably will be more,” she adds. “Some virtual assistants do charge per project. But we don’t do that because we found that some clients would add to them, and the scope became bigger. We were losing.”
As for how to pay them, Bertolina pays some of his assistants through PayPal and some prefer checks.
“At first, you develop a relationship, and if you pay them on time and are prompt, then you can establish how to pay them in a different way,” he adds.
Harenda became very busy during her first five years in the business, so she had another virtual assistant join her team.
“She now works exclusively with me while raising her twin daughters and working at home,” she says.
Janni’s virtual assistant keeps her on track with scheduling, communicating with others, helping plan client events and many other things.
“She researches my crazy ideas, too,” she adds.
But not every situation is successful. Janni encourages others working with VAs in the beginning to offer a detailed
job description and set clear expectations.
“It can be a little hit or miss, to be honest. You may think you’ve found the perfect person, and it turns out they are not,” Janni states. “My mantra is ‘hire slowly, fire quickly.’”
Harenda tells her potential clients that it might take three to six months to be in simpatico with each other.
“If you hire someone full-time in your office, you know it’s going to take that long to understand the company,” she adds. “We don’t do any work for people if they can’t do five hours a month. We need a good hunk of commitment to learn the business.”
The main reason LaCole Bailey decided to work with eXp Realty is due to their virtual world.
“It allows my team and I to conduct our business from anywhere in the world with optimal support,” says Bailey, RE Global Ambassador and broker at L.Bailey Real Estate Group, brokered by eXp Realty in Raleigh.
Also, when looking for a firm, having a virtual assistant was a key choosing factor. Her company includes monthly fees for brokers to pay for the VAs.
“Having a virtual assistant was part of the roadmap to grow my business,” she says. “After my rookie year, my business started to grow. With traveling and crazy hours, a virtual assistant would be more productive for my team.”
Some of her team members hire their own virtual assistants.
“The virtual world has given my team more time to get things done. It allows them to be present in more places,” she adds. “It allows for streamlining processes and organizing. This has allowed my team to double our business in a shorter amount of time.”
She admits that having a virtual assistant has helped her grow her team and business faster than expected.
“When hiring team members, I found that 98 percent of my team members requested a virtual assistant,” she states.
“The virtual world has given my team more time to get things done. It allows them to be present in more places. It allows for streamlining processes and organizing. This has allowed my team to double our business in a shorter amount of time.”
– LaCole Bailey, RE Global Ambassador and Broker at L.Bailey Real Estate Group
You’ll never feel alone when you are with Weichert ® . We believe a positive, encouraging environment is key to success. You’ll be plugged into a skilled team who wants to see you succeed and motivate you to be your best. You’ll be recognized for your achievements with annual awards. You’ll get up-to-date information, weekly webinars, in-person workshops, and Weichert University support to help you grow. Don’t settle for good enough. Go for great. Give your local Weichert office a call today or visit jobs.Weichert.com