XCHANGE '17 PREVIEW BREAK THE RULES CHANGE THE GAME
THE VOICE OF REAL ESTATE IN NORTH CAROLINA
MEMBER PROFILE Mike Hege and REALTOR® Care Day
VOL 96 NO 3 | AUGUST 2017
self Protect your nts and your clie tate from real es fore scams — be it's too late.
NC REALTORS® Elections
We need your vote August 14-17
Why it's not one-size-fits-all NCREALTORS.ORG
Be in business for yourself, not by yourself. With Support. Stay on top of your game from day one, with our comprehensive, ongoing training programs. Impress your clients using our full suite of marketing & sales materials. Keep your sales goals on track with our business planning tool & office support activities.
Looking for a change? Ready to take your career to new heights? Join our team. Call your local Weichert® office today or 800-301-3000, or visit jobs.weichert.com. © 2017 Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, Inc. Weichert® is a federally registered trademark of Weichert Co. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. REALTORS® is a federally registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a Member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Each WEICHERT® franchised office is independently owned and operated.
features 8 XCHANGE '17 Preview
NC REALTORS® signature, annual event is bigger and better than ever.
16 When Hackers Strike
NCE 17 E R E F N O C ® S NC REALTOR
COVER: Protect yourself and your clients from real estate scams
— before it's too late.
21 Office Space
What comes to mind when you think of office space?
26 Deck the Walls Winners Announced
Meet the NC REALTORS® who won our Instagram contest.
21 5 NC REALTORS® ELECTIONS & CANDIDATE INFO 6 CAPE FEAR REALTORS® EMBRACE BIP 11 LEGAL TALK Why obtaining accurate measurements for square footage and acreage is important. 15 MEMBER PROFILE: MIKE HEGE Mike Hege is committed to service and the future of Charlotte Regional's REALTOR® Care Day
TALK TO US
These NC REALTORS® know a thing or two about real estate, photography and Instagram.
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. ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 3
Summer is heating up and is in full force, and real estate is following suit. In May, existing home sales rose 1.1 percent nationwide, causing median sales prices to reach new heights. Regionally, existing home sales rose 2.2. percent and are now 4.5 percent above May 2016, and the median price was up 5.3 percent from the same time last year, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). While inventory still remains a challenge for NC REALTORS® and consumers across the state and around the country, the industry is strong and ablaze with opportunities. Real estate isn’t the only thing heating up. Let’s take a look at the exciting content you will find in this month’s issue of Insight. As the cover article suggests, cyber crimes are on the rise, and REALTORS® and consumers have reached their boiling point. We’ll provide you with some best practices to protect you, your data and your clients. But there’s a lot of positives to highlight, as well, including our signature, annual event. We’re in the final stretch to XCHANGE ’17. Have you registered yet? This event is going to be hot, hot, hot! Opening keynote Dan Thurmon will warm us all up and heat up the stage with acrobatics, juggling and a timeless message, “Off Balance on Purpose.” And our closing keynote speaker, Roy Williams, is on fire this year with his fourth NCAA Division I title under his belt. His message, “Motivating Champions,” will certainly ignite courage and inspiration in us all. Within this issue, you will also learn about Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association’s REALTOR® Care Day, why it’s so successful and what the vision is for the years to come. It’s all about making an impact and giving back to our communities. We also take a deep dive into commercial office design, exploring why it isn’t one size fits all and what the latest strategies and trends are to make the workspace functional, productive and sizzling. Finally, we'll honor three NC REALTORS® who won the Deck the Walls Instagram photography contest earlier this year by learning what makes each one spark. Each winner’s photo will be framed and proudly displayed during XCHANGE ’17. I’m personally looking forward to seeing you all at XCHANGE ’17 in September at The Omni Grove Park Inn where we will Thrive Together.
Insight, Volume 96, Issue 3 President Treasure A. Faircloth, GRI, E-PRO, CRS President-Elect Amy Hedgecock, CPM, GRI Treasurer Kelly Marks, ABR, CRS, GRI Immediate Past President Kim Dawson, ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENTS 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 Vice President of Communications & Marketing Tracey Gould, M.S. IMC, CPSM Editor Mckenzie Allen Content Marketing Intern Kerri Hughes Contributors Troy Crawford For advertising information, contact Keri Epps-Rashad at 336-217-1049 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Treasure A. Faircloth 2017 President
To opt-out of paper copy mailings, email email@example.com 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 • August 2017
2018 CANDIDATES & ELECTION INFORMATION
REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENTS
(Vote for one candidate)
(Vote for one candidate per region)
Asa Fleming AHWD, SFR
REGION 1 Sandy Hurst ABR, GRI
Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS®
TREASURER (Vote for one candidate)
Jacksonville Board of REALTORS®
REGION 2 James Goodman ABR, CRB, ePRO
Kelly Marks ABR, CRS, GRI
Brunswick County Association of REALTORS®
Greensboro Regional REALTORS® Association
REGION 5 Laurie Edwards
ISSUES MOBILIZATION COMMITTEE
High Point Regional Association of REALTORS®
(Vote for one candidate)
Kim Dawson ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES
Anita Emery ABR, AWHD, BPOR, GRI, MRP, SRS
Durham Regional Association of REALTORS®
FINANCE & BUDGET COMMITTEE (Vote for three candidates)
Mid Carolina Regional Association of REALTORS®
REGION 7 Marsha Jordan CRB, CRS, GREEN, GRI
Wendy Harris ABR, CRS, MRP
Lincoln County Board of REALTORS®
Longleaf Pine REALTORS®
REGION 8 Maren Brisson-Kuester
Tomp Litchfield CSSS
Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association
Washington/Beaufort County Board of REALTORS®
The NC REALTORS® elections will be held August 14 – 17, 2017 and voting will take place online only. The candidates listed on this page have been certified by the NC REALTORS® Certifying/Recruiting Committee, chaired by REALTOR® Sandra O'Connor. Visit ncrealtors.org/elections for more information and detailed candidate bios. Look for this graphic above on the homepage to cast your vote August 14 –17.
Larry McNeill ABR, ePRO, GRI
Brunswick County Association of REALTORS®
Mollie Owen Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS®
NAR DIRECTOR (Number of Directors to be elected will be determined after July 31)
Lou Baldwin GRI
Bruce Williams AHWD, CRS, GRI
Winston-Salem Regional Association of REALTORS®
Brunswick County Association of REALTORS®
Patrice Willetts AHWD, ABR, GRI, SFR, SRES, SRS
Myra Zollinger CRS, GRI
Cape Fear REALTORS®
Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS®
ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 5
LOCAL AE ACHIEVEMENTS
Cape Fear REALTORS® embrace Broker Involvement Program
EALTOR® advocacy is important for all members, but it is especially important that the voice of our leaders is heard. That is the true value of the Broker Involvement Program (BIP). The BIP allows brokers-in-charge and qualified brokers special access to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) advocacy tools and calls for action. Through these tools, they can directly engage their agents on important issues for their business and their clients. NC REALTORS® encourages all local associations to connect their brokerages with the BIP. While many have, none has taken it to heart as much as Cape Fear REALTORS®. Through their efforts, they have brought their total BIP participation to 94 percent, or 192 of their 205 qualifying persons. This is an incredible accomplishment and something which will afford NAR and NC REALTORS® unique access to contact agents within these brokerages when their voice is needed. Learn more about BIP: realtoractioncenter.com/realtors/brokers 6 INSIGHT • August 2017
NC REALTORS® is proud to recognize two association executives for recent achievements: Tessa Hultz, AE to the Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS®, was inducted into the Dr. Almon R. (Bud) Smith, RCE AE Leadership Society. Members of this society are recognized as leading contributors to the industry and the profession. Much like a fellows program, members play an active, ongoing role as innovators and mentors for the AE community. Charlene Bellavance, AE to the Carolina Smokies Association of REALTORS®, received a Judith Lindenau REALTOR® Certified Executive (RCE) Scholarship. The RCE designation exemplifies goal-oriented AEs with drive, experience and commitment to professional growth.
Memoriam REMEMBERING THOSE WE LOST THIS YEAR Edward D. Alexander Bythal Bostic Diana Creek Peggy L. Dry Timothy Fulcher Theodore B. Hardeen Linda B. Kolarov Robert M Lovell Jr. Suzanne S. Nash John W. Orr II Stacy L. Pascucci Donald A. Singer Hugh S. Wallace III NC REALTORS® salutes each individual for their respective contributions to our industry. As of 7/13/17
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September 17-19, 2017
eXPERT Highlights SEPTEMBER 18 | 9 A.M.
"Making More Money - Being a Safer Real Estate Agent & Protecting the Consumer" Learn how to safely screen and show clients, to use the latest technology and apps for protection and to gain loyal clients and more business.
| The Omni Grove Park
e game. NC REALTORS®’ Break the rules, change th and better than ever. Join signature event is bigger education, speakers and us for three days of events, . Grove Park Inn in Asheville ni Om e Th at l al , ng ki or netw the new at XCHANGE '17. ith w in d an d ol e th ith w It’s out
U THERE? O Y E E S E W L IL W
HEADSHOTS FOR $10
SEPTEMBER 18 | 10:30 A.M.
Update and improve your marketing headshot for 2017, and help raise money for Homes4NC!
“More Than Houses"
How do you differentiate yourself in a world where it seems everyone has a license? Come for business ideas to help define your brand and become the ultimate REALTOR® and community advocate.
SEPTEMBER 18 | 1:45 P.M. “zipForm® & DocuSign”
Have you noticed the new features in zipform® Plus and Docusign? Knowing just a few tips and tricks with these programs will allow you to manage transactions more efficiently and help you go paperless.
CUSTOMIZE YOUR EDUCATIONAL JOURNEY 16 eXPERTS | 18 SESSIONS | 4 TRACKS
ROOKIE REALTOR® | TECHNOLOGY | LEGACY | ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE
REGISTER ONLINE! xchange17.com
ion descriptions and Find daily schedules, event and sess is $299 for members speaker bios. Full registration fee 5. ber tem through Sep
RESERVE YOUR ROOM
The Omni Grove Park Inn
you’ll receive a Once you complete registration, . confirmation email with hotel info 7 201 16, ust Hotel Cut-Off Date — Aug lity) 8 INSIGHT • August 2017 (Subject to availabi
SEPTEMBER 17 | 6 P.M. Opening Session Keynote
"Off Balance on Purpose"
Dan is known for delivering powerful, customized opening and closing keynotes in jaw-dropping style. He does handstands on podiums, while discussing balance. He juggles sharp objects to teach principles of performance under pressure. He weaves through the audience on a six-foot unicycle to visually amplify principles for navigating change. You get the idea. Dan uses every bit of his passion and ability to educate and inspire his audiences. The results and experiences are unlike anything any other speaker can offer.
TINY HOUSE TOURS
Meet special exhibitors Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons and get a glimpse of what tiny house living is really all about.
YOU WILL LOVE ABOUT XCHANGE 17:
SEPTEMBER 17 | 1-5 P.M. SEPTEMBER 18 | 8 A.M.-5 P.M. Seminar Session
SEPTEMBER 18 | 12:55-1:20 P.M.
llow ndreds of fe Meeting hu
Getting advice straight from the eXPERTS
Meet with over 100 exhibitors who have the tools you need to be the ultimate game changer in your business.
SEPTEMBER 17 | 1-5 P.M. SEPTEMBER 18 | 11:30 A.M. - 5 P.M.
Scoring sweet sw ag at the NC REALT ORS®
LIVE AUCTION: SEPTEM BER 17 | 9:30 P.M. SILENT AUCTION: SEPT EMBER 9–18
BRING YOUR STARTING FIVE AND SAVE! The per person rate for a team is only $250 — about a $50 savings compared to the individual rate. As an extra bonus, your team also receives eXCLUSIVE access and a premium spot in line to meet and take a team photo with Roy Williams!
RS® NC REALTO
The luxurious and historic atmosphere of The Omni Grove Park Inn
Letting loose at Club X featuring SIMPLY IRRESTISTABLE
Touring a Tiny House
Helping to raise money for Homes4NC Opportunities for brewery tours, Biltmore tours and more
Bonding as a team to improve your business
y Williams o R y r a d n he lege Meeting t SEPTEMBER 19 | 8 A.M. Closing Session Keynote
NC REALTORS® CONFERENCE 17 Download the APP
Don't let FOMO stand in your way. Customize your schedule, and always know what fun is around the corner. Download the Yapp app using this link on your mobile device: my.yapp.us/RHEUAP
Roy will reveal how he built his legacy as a three-time NCAA Division I tournament champion coach on positive team building and collaboration, while undoubtedly changing the game in the process. Following the presentation, NC REALTORS® will have the exclusive opportunity to ask Roy, an Asheville native, his secrets to success during a 20-minute Q&A session followed by a one hour meet and greet.
ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 9
Find your path at C21.com
THEY SAY ROBOTS WILL REPLACE US. BUT NO ROBOT HAS THE SAVVY AND SWAGGER OF A CENTURY 21 AGENT, BACKED BY A GLOBALLY-CONNECTED SUPPORT NETWORK. ®
ROBOTS DON’T HAVE THE MOST RECOGNIZED NAME IN REAL ESTATE.* AND THEY’RE NOT THAT GREAT AT LEAD GENERATION, UNDERSTANDING CLIENTS’ NEEDS, OR ENVISIONING THE FUTURE. ROBOTS SERIOUSLY LACK IMAGINATION.
TAKE THAT ROBOTS ©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. *Study Source: 2016 Millward Brown Ad Study.
CALL THE LEGAL 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding contracts, forms, fair housing, disclosure and more.
SQUARE FOOTAGE & ACREAGE
For Good Measure
BY: WILL MARTIN | GENERAL COUNSEL
Why obtaining accurate measurements for square footage and acreage is important. Square Footage Most properties are listed in a multiple listing service (MLS), and most MLSs in North Carolina require a property’s square footage to be reported. When square footage is reported, it is important for the seller and listing agent to take the necessary steps to ensure that the reported value is reasonably accurate. Remember, some sources of square footage information may not be as reliable, for instance the square footage determined by the property owner, included in property tax records or in a
listing, appraisal report or survey prepared in connection with an earlier transaction. Agents may only report square footage that meets the “Living Area Criteria” as set forth in the NC Real Estate Commission’s Residential Square Footage Guidelines, available in the “Publications” section of the Commission’s website. If the square footage of a property is a material consideration to a buyer, it is up to the buyer to verify the accuracy of the reported square
If the square footage of a property is a material consideration to a buyer, it is up to the buyer to verify the accuracy. ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 11
NC REALTORS® FORMS UPDATE:
A number of residential forms in the NC REALTORS® forms library have been revised or created effective July 1. The revised forms are updated on ncrealtors.org. They have also been provided to NC REALTORS®’ approved forms software vendor.
Always think carefully about the square footage being reported Advice from the NC REALTORS® Legal Hotline QUESTION: Do buyer agents have a duty to verify square footage information? ANSWER: We have written previously about the responsibilities of listing agents to provide accurate information if they choose to report the square footage of their listings in their advertising. But buyer agents have responsibilities as well. The Real Estate Commission has published Residential Square Footage Guidelines which can be viewed on the Commission's website under the "Publications" tab. On page 6 of that publication, the Commission writes as follows: "Generally speaking, an agent working with a buyer (either as a buyer’s agent or as a seller’s agent) may rely on the listing agent’s square footage representations except in those unusual instances when there is an error in the reported square footage that should be obvious to a reasonably prudent agent. For example, a buyer’s agent would not be expected to notice that a house advertised as containing 2,200 square feet of living area in fact contained only
footage. Because real estate agents are expected to be able to accurately calculate the square footage of most dwellings, the buyer’s agent may assist in measuring the property and calculating its square footage. However, an agent may engage another professional such as a statelicensed or state-certified appraiser to assist, especially if the structure is of an unusual or complex design. Because all properties are unique, minor discrepancies in calculating 12 INSIGHT • August 2017
2000 square feet. On the other hand, that same agent, under most circumstances, would be expected to realize that a house described as containing 3,200 square feet really contained only 2,300 square feet of living area. If there is such a “red flag” regarding the reported square footage, the agent working with the buyer should promptly point out the suspected error to the buyer and the listing agent. The listing agent should then verify the square footage and correct any error in the information reported." Based on the Commission's own guidance, your failure to notice an 80 square foot discrepancy in a condo listed as having 900 square feet does not mean that you would definitely receive discipline by the Commission. However, that does not mean that your buyer client might not file a lawsuit in an attempt to hold you and your firm responsible for damages. The best suggestion we can give to buyer agents: always think carefully about the square footage being reported. When in doubt, tell your client... and ask for verification.
square footage are not considered to constitute negligence on the part of the agent by the Real Estate Commission. Slight variations in tape readings and small differences in rounding off or conversion from inches to decimals, when multiplied over distances, will cause reasonable discrepancies between two competent measurements of the same dwelling. In addition, discrepancies between measurements may also be attributable to reasonable differences in interpretation.
Sellers and their agents must also take care in making representations about the acreage of property being listed for sale. If property boundaries are at all in doubt, a seller should consider having the property surveyed prior to putting it up for sale. A buyer should give serious consideration to obtaining a new survey of the property from a North Carolina registered surveyor, to avoid unnecessary complications. A survey will normally reveal such things as encroachments on the property from adjacent properties (fences, driveways, etc.); encroachments onto adjacent properties; road or utility easements crossing the property; violations of set-back lines; lack of legal access to a public right-of-way; and indefinite or erroneous legal descriptions in previous deeds to the property. Although title insurance companies may provide lender coverage without a new survey, the owner’s policy contains an exception for easements, set-backs and other matters which would have been shown on a survey. Many such matters are not public record and would not be included in an attorney’s title examination. In addition, if you do not obtain your own survey, you would have no claim against a surveyor for inaccuracies in a prior survey. While real estate agents are not trained, and do not have the expertise to measure or calculate a property’s acreage, they may be able to help a seller or buyer identify a North Carolina registered surveyor, who must be licensed by the NC Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors. The license status of a surveyor can be checked on the Board’s website under “License Lookup.” If the standard Offer to Purchase and Contract is used, the buyer should have any square footage calculation and/ or survey completed during the Due Diligence Period. # The information in this article has been taken from the Buyer and Seller Advisories, which are available to NC REALTORS® online at ncrealtors.org.
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member PROFILE MIKE HEGE • REALTOR® and Broker-In-Charge at Pridemore Properties, a boutique real estate firm located in Huntersville and Charlotte, NC. • 2016, 2017 Chair of REALTOR® Care Day, an all-day home-repair project to help those who have critical home maintenance needs across the Charlotte-metro area.
'Gosh, we're really helping people' Mike Hege is committed to service and the future of REALTOR® Care Day
EALTORS® in Charlotte are giving back to the community through the annual REALTOR® Care Day project. The project, which began in 2009, assists local residents living at or under the poverty line with exterior home repairs. Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Mike Hege, has been involved with the project since its inception and chaired the project for the past two years. “I originally volunteered, looking for something to give back to the community,” he said. “I was on the original development committee and thought, ‘Gosh, we’re really helping people.’” When the project first began, it operated in a manner similar to Habitat for Humanity, where volunteers assisted with building a house for one resident or family. In an attempt to help more people in the community, the project later shifted to focus on helping 20-30 people a year, with more minor renovation projects that can be completed in a day. Although chair of the project, Hege credits the success to the committee and volunteers. “The site selection process is lots of site visits, meetings, and sponsorships. These are amazing human beings who give themselves tirelessly. They do it without any furrowing of the brow, so to speak. I’m so grateful that we have such a great group of people to work with. It really turned out great.” This year, the project also facilitated a food drive, which collected several thousand canned goods that were donated to four different food pantries. This part of the project is expected to continue in the future. “We’re the wealthiest country in the world, and we’ve got people starving in our own backyard.”
Hege believes that the project, although eight years old, is just getting started. “I have a long-range vision that we could work with NC REALTORS® and the state association. In my mind I think we can lead a legacy that spreads to other counties,” he said. “Our group here does good in the community, and it’s not just the benevolence of giving back; it’s actually tangible.” Part of Hege’s future plan includes increasing the scale of the projects and continuing to cultivate partnerships, like their current one with Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, to make a larger impact. “There’s just such a reward factor,” he said. “The encouragement it gives to the community is astounding.” ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 15
COVER | CYBERSECURITY BEST PRACTICES
WHEN clients p l e h o t is e s o p r u p milies A REALTORSÂ®' fa ir e h t r fo n e v afe ha ike r t s find a home, a s s r e k c a h n e h happens w t a h w , o S . s e n o and loved family t a h t b o r y l e t ? m and comple a e r d d n a y t i r u c of their se
BY: TROY CRAWFORD | CLAIMS COUNSEL LAWYERS MUTUAL LIABILITY INSURANCE COMPANY OF NORTH CAROLINA
Picture this scenario…a young couple is very excited about closing on their first home, one they saved for years to purchase. Throughout the process, they worked with a REALTOR®, and thought nothing of it when they received an email from this REALTOR® requesting they change the wiring instructions to a different account with the closing attorney. Little did they know this email was a scam. In an instant, all of their hard-earned savings was gone…all of it. Without the available funds, the couple is unable to move into their new home, and with no other existing residence under contract, faces the future with no place to call home and no way to pay for alternate housing. This situation is based upon hundreds of similar accounts across the United States, resulting in tens of millions of dollars being directed to international criminal organizations. These scammers are smart, sophisticated, and their methods are constantly evolving. So, how do they do it?
1. Extraction: The hacker uses something called an “email extractor,” or software that enables them to collect addresses for thousands of people in a particular industry. If they were to choose the real estate industry, for example, agents, brokers, officers and anyone with a real estate-related extension in their email address gets targeted.
2. Phishing: The hacker sends a phishing email to the thousands of addresses they just harvested. These emails are designed to look very official and include links or attachments. All the hacker needs is one agent to take the bait, and they’re in, with full access to that particular agent’s account and client information.
3. Research: The hacker then takes the time to learn everything from listing addresses to sales prices to loan amounts and title company names. Sometimes hackers observe accounts for months at a time to learn local and industry-specific terminology, processes, diction and individual transaction details.
4. The strike: The hacker uses this research to ABOUT TROY Troy Crawford joined Lawyers Mutual in 2010 as claims counsel. His primary area of work with Lawyers Mutual is real estate claims.
send an email to buyers, instructing them to reroute funding from their lender to a new, fraudulent account. Since the hacker is actually inside the agent’s email account, it looks like a very legitimate message and buyers are likely to trust it and the instructions.
ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 17
COVER | CYBERSECURITY BEST PRACTICES Reports of wire scams surfaced in North Carolina beginning in 2015, but over the last two years, several dozen instances have been reported. The money stolen in those instances includes both incoming funds necessary to complete a home purchase and the net proceeds due to sellers. Additionally, there have been instances of loan payoffs being diverted. In an effort to educate the real property lawyers to the risks and available preventative efforts to protect home buyers and sellers, Lawyers Mutual, the North Carolina State Bar Association, various title insurers and their agencies produced numerous alerts, articles, continuing education seminars and videos. However, the instances of fraud continue to increase, with more reported events in the first five months of 2017 than in 2015 and 2016 combined. Real estate professionals rely on technology for instant and remote communication and the ability to close back-to-back transactions, including sending and receiving wires. It is also no longer practical for closing attorneys to deposit checks and wait for the funds to clear the Federal Reserve banking system. Because of this, professionals must work diligently to avoid being the source of a compromise.
ES C I T C A R P t s be for AGENTS While additional security procedures are encouraged beyond the scope of this article, those listed here are free and easy to implement. Users with even minimal technical knowledge should be able to apply these measures to day-today business operations. For even more protection, however, consult an IT professional to ensure security measures are up to industry standards. 18â€‚ INSIGHT â€˘ August 2017
WATCH THIS VIDEO: The Homeless Homebuyer
Real estate-scams happen everyday. Protect yourself and your clients with more tips from this video. WATCH IT: ninjio.com
Here are a few recommendations for all real estate professionals to adopt: 1. Proper password security. Not only should passwords be sufficiently complex, they should change regularly. A key element of wire scams is the hackerâ€™s research stage, where they are monitoring email accounts for lengthy periods of time. Changing passwords regularly may deny access to hackers before the opportunity to strike ripens. 2. Multi-factor authentication. This service is provided for no charge under most email programs including Outlook 365 and Gmail. While the specifics vary, utilizing this feature requires a user to complete additional verification steps before new computers or devices can access an email account. For example, an account holder will receive a six-digit code via text message, which then must be entered into the new accessing device. Should an unauthorized device be used in an attempt to access the account, the user is notified immediately. 3. Reviewing IP logs. While potentially more technical than the other steps, this free, preventative measure allows the user to see the physical location of devices accessing the account. If devices appear outside the United States or anywhere the user has not traveled, fraudulent activity should be presumed.
KEEP yourSAFE clients
Additionally, real estate professionals must educate clients to the risks presented in sending and receiving wires. Unfortunately, clients are the parties most likely to be inconvenienced by new preventative measures, during what is admittedly an already hectic and stressful time. Here are a few important recommendations to communicate to your clients:
1. Wiring instructions should only be provided in communications directly between the closing attorney and the party sending or receiving a wire. Allowing wiring instructions to be forwarded through a REALTOR® or other party allows an additional point of interception, adds to the delay of their receipt, prevents other security measures and potentially creates liability for the REALTOR® or added party. 2. EVERY wire request initiated by the closing attorney should be verified and the more personal the verification, the better. For seller proceeds, it is important for insureds to verify wiring instructions in-person at the closing ceremony. There is no known wire fraud that has taken place in the United States when an inperson verification occurred. If all sellers are unable to attend the ceremony, it is recommended that wiring instructions be included in the same package as the deed, lien waiver and other original closing documents. Also utilize a signed and notarized seller wiring directive, if possible. But
even then, the closing attorney should attempt to verify the instructions over the telephone directly with the seller. Reminding your seller client that such a call will likely be necessary can avoid additional delay in disbursement of funds. Email verification alone is inadequate.
3. Before sending any wire, buyers, their parents or anyone sending funds on the buyer’s behalf should verify the accuracy of the wiring instructions directly and exclusively with the closing attorney. Contact information should be obtained directly from the attorney’s web page, and not from the email used to transmit the wiring instructions. 4. Any request to change wiring instructions should be assumed to be fraudulent. Hackers often use the phrase “wiring instructions changed due to a banking error or other fraudulent activity” when trying to extract funds from buyers and sellers. Any email with that phrase or similar, must be treated as suspicious and be followed up with a phone call to verify authenticity. Closing attorneys will not change wiring instructions during the course of an individual closing except under the most extreme of circumstances. Should sellers legitimately need to change wiring instructions themselves, they should understand this will be considered a major red flag to the closing attorney and extensive verification will be required. Insureds are advised not to accept changes to wiring instructions and to only transmit a check when instructions change.
5. Faxed wiring instructions should not be assumed to be any safer than those received via email. Numerous ‘spoofing’ services exist which allow a sender to display any number on Caller ID and the printed sender line. Like all other wiring
instructions, those received via facsimile transmission should be verified in person or through a telephone call to the law office, using contact information not included in the fax.
6. Wires to a closing attorney should be sent only to the law firm’s trust account. The name on the trust account should match the law firm name exactly and should be in the same geographic location as the office.
7. Attorneys should never send wires overseas. Once money leaves the United States, it is likely gone forever. Most individuals and small businesses owning property in the United States should have a domestic banking relationship. 8. After initiating a wire transfer, buyers should telephone the law office and provide details of the wire transmission and specifically request the attorney’s office confirm receipt. If the wire is not received in a timely manner, the delay should be investigated and possible remedial action taken. The ability to reverse wires is more successful when fraudulent activity is detected within 24 hours of transmission. Again, the confirmation of transmission telephone call should be made using contact information directly from the attorneys’ website and not the email or fax containing the wiring instructions.
9. Likewise, sellers should expect to receive a telephone call from the closing attorney verifying their proceeds were transmitted and the details of the wire. Sellers should review the details to make sure they are accurate and immediately inform the attorney. # ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 19
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Worst day of my life
A completely open desk transitions to a semi-open system by pulling out a sliding storage drawer.
This may seem to demonstrate a flair for the dramatic, but the Gibbons character in Office Space experiences intense dissatisfaction with his employer, work environment, and the infamous TPS Reports — so much so that he claims to his therapist that each day is the worst day of his life. “So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it.” Shades of gray-clad partitions, monotone walls and furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E), and a uniform, cubicle farm served as the primary backdrop for this film, mocking mid-90’s white-collar office employees and familiar themes. Gibbons’ feelings aren’t necessarily a direct or exclusive result of the interior design of his workplace. But given the portrayal of his unsettled behavior in the space, it’s definitely a contributor.
COURTESY OF MOVIESTILLSDB.COM
Office Space What comes to mind when you think of office space? Scenes from the 1999 cult film and pop culture favorite, Office Space, featuring Ron Livingston (Peter Gibbons), likely starts replaying in your mind. BY: TRACEY GOULD
ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 21
© ERIC LAIGNEL COURTESY OF CallisonRTKL
Did you get the memo?
Not all office space is created equal, like the TPS Reports in Office Space’s fictional IT firm, INITECH, and thankfully most contemporary office space in 2017 looks nothing like the office environment depicted in the film. In another classic scene, Gibbons takes a drill to his cubicle partition, allowing it to crash to the ground, revealing floor-to-ceiling windows and a great view of the world outside. His satisfying kick-back, reclined pose with his hands behind his head and a big smile on his face says it all: employees need sensible and functional space to be satisfied and productive at work. And by all means — systems furniture shouldn’t unnecessarily block views and natural sunlight.
Life imitating art
Just like Gibbons’ cubicle, the past 20 years of office interior design has seen a notable shift. Liz Wozny, associate vice president with Callison/RTKL, a global architecture, planning and design firm, says office space has evolved. “In the past, the emphasis was on fully closed 22 INSIGHT • August 2017
Current office space trends incorporate a hybrid style, mixing the 1950s closedoffice environment (right) with flexible open spaces. COURTESY OF MOVIESTILLSDB.COM
offices. Then trends shifted toward fully open office spaces. Now what we’re seeing is a mix between the two.”
The jump to conclusions mat The industry didn’t just naturally get to this point on a naturally cyclical design pendulum. Most end users may assume it’s just the evolution of office space the way fashion trends come and go every 20 years (think platforms and flannels). Like fashion, the built environment does experience similar shifts, adapting to better suit the nature of work, to meet organizational goals, and accommodate technology. For example, in the first 50 years
of the 20th century, rows of corridor offices reigned. In the 1950s, a “Mad Men” environment took shape with closed offices around the perimeter and secretaries and accountants in the open, middle office area. Then in the late 50s, the open office that many environments are based on today became wildly popular with free-flowing systems based on a department’s synergy, eliminating personal offices, adding in plants — all to inspire collaboration. It has served as a cost-efficient and flexible workspace solution for owners for decades. Today, a modest shift is transitioning away from open, fish bowl spaces to multipurpose, uber-flexible areas with semi-private focus rooms.
Architects, interior and furniture designers, psychologists and corporate culture change agents spend years actively researching how employees, owners, clients and others engage with their professional environments. They study data points and behaviors, such as the amount of time employees spend on the phone and in the office (via badge swipes, not timesheets), which furniture pieces or areas of the office get used most often and how they’re used (via ethnographic studies), and employee satisfaction through selfreporting channels. These professionals learned the pros and cons from open versus closed environments and ultimately developed an approach to the corporate office with a good balance of space and system design.
Typical work day
Wozny indicates it’s important for organizations to provide employees a balance of formal and informal workspaces, taking into consideration how much space is needed for each location, team, role and individual — a hybrid office. It’s just as important to reduce overall wasted space for owners as it is to ensure employees have all the space they need — but not too much or
the wrong type of space. One employee may only need a traditional desk with phone access for two hours in a day, as they spend the majority of their work time collaborating with other teams in design review and pin up sessions followed by an hour at the end of the day in heads-down production-type of work best suited in a focus area. An employee’s personal work space and the communal spaces available to them should motivate and inspire, eliminating the Gibbonsstyle work ethic of coming in 15 minutes late then zoning out for an hour at a time. As he said, “Yeah, I just stare at my desk, but it looks like I’m working. I do that for probably an hour at lunch, too. I’d say in a given week I probably only do about 15 minutes of real, actual work.” Don’t let this be an exchange your organization and employees have. Design your space where employees can thrive.
“People can work from anywhere now. While organizations are promoting more work strategies, we’re losing a sense of culture in the process,” Wozny said. She emphasizes how important it is for organizations and design teams to blend trends, creating environments that drives employees back in the office, creating a space for employees to work
together in the same space, and to maintain the culture. In one classic scene from Office Space, Gibbons is seated across from a management team, seeking to downsize the staff, “Looks like you’ve been missing quite a bit of work lately,” one of them states to Gibbons who has been less than motivated in the office lately. Gibbons replies, “Well, I wouldn’t say I’ve been MISSING it Bob.” This speaks directly to the essence of what current designers are trying to overcome by creating personalized workspaces and designing around technology in the process. How does your office environment encourage employees to want to come into the office? Gone are the days, for instance, where large desktop computers were on every employee’s desk, therefore tying that person to the desk eight hours a day, five days a week. One Wall Street Journal article showcasing the best and worst office designs explored the role of technology and cost on office space, and Janet Pogue McLaurin, principal of Gensler, stated the obvious driver of the flexible and user/role-specific office space movement was due to the size and shape of changing technology and its influence in the commercial office space, “Technology [has] become more mobile, allowing employees to work from
How does your office environment encourage employees to want to come into the office?
Liz Wozny IIDA, LEED AP, NCIDQ Associate Vice President Callison/RTKL
Jodi Williams AICP, LEED AP ID+C Associate Vice President CallisonRTKL © ERIC LAIGNEL COURTESY OF CallisonRTKL
ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 23
various places in the office, including conference and break rooms.” Today, with the advent of micro and smart devices, VPN and “the cloud,” technology follows the person. “People used to think about their personal workspace as their individual desk. And now people realize the entire building or campus is their workplace. And so choice and autonomy and having control over when and where you work is a key driver,” McLaurin said.
Upper management material
Why exactly is the relentless study of the modern-day employee so important? In large part because owners are becoming more sensitive to operational expenses, the toll of the pace of the workplace on the workforce, and the impact of the space on the employee. If not approached in the most datadriven way, organizations can suffer the consequences ranging from increased costs, decreased brand awareness, lower morale, a decline in productivity, etc. This strategy — or lack of one — doesn’t exactly sound like one that produces happy, healthy employees who will strive for increased roles and the responsibilities in the organization. “It’s about designing space that accommodates the people that needs to use them and giving them the comfort level to succeed,” stated Jodi Williams, associate vice president at CallisonRTKL. “Attracting and retaining talent and making [the space] the most attractive for their employees is crucial. Making it a productive environment without barriers to work and is supportive of the employees’ requirements is the only effective way.” This is particularly true as most offices need to comfortably accommodate multigenerations of the workforce — from Millennials to Baby Boomers — and allow for their very different working styles. How Millennials engage and use a space, for instance, is very different from how Boomers use the same space. Technology is one key reason. Multigenerational design speaks to the core value for designing for inclusion — physical and mental abilities, ages and more. “We’re seeing Boomers struggle with technology and device agnostic 24 INSIGHT • August 2017
technology, but they can adapt quickly.” Therefore, the workspace needs to have the infrastructure to support bandwidth to accommodate all users for all devices and for how each generational worker uses them. This includes a lot more smaller spaces to accommodate video and new technology, such as a quick one-onone video call. According to Williams, “The traditional open model doesn’t support this. Whether it’s a furniture solution or a small room or enclave to support the lack of visual and acoustic distractions,” a conscious and data-driven effort needs to be made before designing office space.
Unlike Gibbons, who insists, “It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care,” most employees do care about the work they do, the environment they work in, the impact they have, the people they work with, and the employer they work for. One recent client CallisonRTKL worked with, American Insurance Association (AIA), witnessed firsthand the benefits of adapting to a blended, flexible, functional workspace when they transitioned entirely from closed office space. By using furniture systems including Knoll’s Anchor™, employees now have an extremely customizable and modular office environment. The level of privacy and collaboration an
employee chooses is personal to them and can vary at any time of day. A completely open desk transitions to a semi-open system by pulling out a sliding storage drawer.
Choosing your friends (and your office space) wisely
When NC REALTORS® underwent an extensive renovation of its Greensboro Headquarters location, the design and leadership staff didn’t jump in feet first. Extensive time was spent surveying the staff, exploring adjacencies, and identifying elements that were required for staff to perform their best. Careful consideration was given to opening certain areas up to allow for infiltration of natural light into hallways across open areas, for instance. Various wall types were explored to optimize collaboration, such as glass walls for office suites. Today, the space mimics current design trends in the industry, providing a mix of open, collaborative spaces and closed offices with some communal public and traditional areas. Ultimately, much like Gibbons needed to choose his friends wisely in Office Space, organizations need to choose their design teams, design approach, and furniture systems wisely — focusing on what and whom works best to achieve their ultimate goals — since office space is no longer one-size-fits-all. # A conscious and data-driven effort needs to be made before designing office space.
© 2016 PAUL WARCHOL COURTESY CallisonRTKL
Deck the Walls was a 3-month photography contest on Instagram where NC REALTORS® competed for a chance to have their photographs printed, framed and displayed in the NC REALTORS® Greensboro and Raleigh offices. The photography entries included landscapes, nature, and architecture across North Carolina. All winning entries were selected based on the most number of likes per entry on Instagram. Check out the winning photos in person at XCHANGE '17. The photographs will be displayed at The Omni Grove Park Inn from Sunday, September 17, 2017 to Tuesday, September 19, 2017. 26 INSIGHT • August 2017
Grand Prize Winner: Toni Mims-Bowman Hometown: Rochester, NY Current location: Wilmington, NC Years in Real Estate Industry: 10 (8 in Mortgages, 2 as a REALTOR®) Favorite Part of My Job: I love helping people navigate one of their largest financial transactions and making sure all of their questions are answered. I’ve always loved working with first-time homebuyers. My favorite part is giving closing gifts.
What Inspires Me About This Image: This is one of my favorite locations in the area. My husband and I drive through here at least three times a week. There’s a beautiful view of the Cape Fear River on one side of the parking lot, and you can see deer on the other side. This area boasts beautiful sunsets year round, but during winter and early spring, it looks like an artist paints the sky to match his/her imagination of what the most beautiful sunsets would look like. The color schemes change daily. Funniest Working Moment: I’d been out especially late showing property to a client. When she wanted to know what might be on the other side of town in her price range, I pulled up some listings on our TV screen in the office. Normally, I’m a night owl, but I’d only had two hours sleep and been in the office for most of the day. So at 8 p.m., I was uncharacteristically tired. We looked at a few listings, and then I pulled one up that had been built in the 1960s. The house hadn’t had any updates done since then. We’re talking shag carpet, wood paneling, astroturf in the game room…a full-fledged game room, the whole nine! There were about 30 pictures, and when I got to the eight one, I started to crack up, and so did she. By the fifteenth picture, there were tears rolling down my face, but for whatever reason, I kept going! I finally got to the end, and I don’t know why, but I was compelled to read the description, which gave no hint of the story that those pictures would tell. Of course, we laughed more. After that, I had to apologize for my lack of professionalism and explained that this had never happened before. She was quick to wave aside that apology. My lesson? Don’t show listings that I haven’t previewed on the big screen especially when I’m exhausted! How do you use Instagram for your business? Why do you think this platform is so influential? How has your use of social media affected your business as a whole? I use Instagram in a multitude of ways. I share Open House information, photos of features that I like when we go on our weekly Caravan/ company property tours, funny memes, local food and just random pictures and videos from time to time. I think Instagram is so influential because, for the most part, we are a visual society. We like to “see” things to experience them. Since the "Gram" is mainly a photo and short video based platform, it allows that interaction and instant gratification. It’s a feast for the eyes. Social Media lets us get that message out there, sometimes inadvertently.
First Runner Up: Brenda Davis-Williams Current location: Kill Devil Hills, NC Years in Real Estate Industry: 17 Favorite Part of My Job: The best part of my job is working to ensure that people have a great time while visiting the Outer Banks of NC. What Made Me Choose This Image: The Outer Banks is known for the lighthouses. I felt this was a different take on it. Most Memorable Working Moment: My first angry guest who I turned around and had them laughing before they left my office. Favorite Weird Food Combination: Avocado with honey
Second Runner Up: Becca Leen Hometown: Danville, VA Current Location: Pinehurst, NC Years in Real Estate: 3.5 (since January 2014) Favorite Part of my Job: Photography, marketing, travel What I like Most About This Image: The stunning natural beauty and coastal views of North Carolina Sweetest Working Moment: A client shedding a couple tears when he first viewed his listing images. He stated that I truly captured and “felt” the home. TV Show I could Watch Forever: Million Dollar Listing and Southern Charm Charleston ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 27
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 blog.narrpr.com/
Client Engagement Leads to Early Buy-in Glen Moss, a Broker from Austin, Texas with more a decade of success in the real estate industry, takes client engagement seriously. He believes securing an early buy-in from would-be homeowners gives them ownership for the process. And he uses the RPR app to do so. “As soon as my clients are in the car, I give one passenger my WiFi enabled tablet and ask the other to use my smartphone,” said Moss, who holds several leadership positions with the Austin Board of Realtors®. “One touch opens the wide world of RPR.” Moss first directs his buyers to the app’s map feature which is guided by the phone’s GPS. He explains the color-coded icons (“for sale” or “recently sold,” among others) and shows the client how to move the map around to reveal on-and-off market properties in surrounding areas. Frequently, a client will find a listing not included on their tour. Right there in the car, Glen will show his buyer how to pull up the property’s characteristics, photos, taxes, history, and hundreds of other datasets. “They are simply amazed by what they see,” he said. “From there, I can take the journey in any direction, securing buy-in at every step,” he said. “I can use the app to email or text my buyers an RPR Property Report or use it again for one-click action to call the listing agent to schedule a showing. I can show them other homes in the area that have recently sold or let them dive into RPR’s neighborhood and school data,” Moss said “Moss shares that during buyer tours, clients will often comment on the curb appeal of a home for sale … “Gee, I wonder what that home is going for or what it looks like inside.” “Again, I direct my buyer to her phone. From the RPR map, she can see everything there is to know about the subject property, including RPR’s RVM® (Realtor’s Valuation Model®) which uses our real-time MLS data to generate the property’s estimated value,” Moss said. “This in itself, is priceless, compared with estimates we see on consumer-facing websites.”
About Glen: Glen Moss is the Broker of Glen Moss Realty LLC and Glen Moss Realty Property Management in Austin, Texas. As a selfdescribed “old-school Baby Boomer,” Glen’s passions include equal housing, understanding construction at a hands-on level, working with Millennials and everything in-between. ncrealtors.org • INSIGHT 29
EVENTS August 9 Webinar Wednesday: How Modern Tiny House Movement is Infiltrating the Housing Market Register at ncrealtors.org
GRI EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES Register at ncrealtors.org/gri
August 4 GRI: Technology Tools & Resources Mountain Lakes Board of REALTORS®
August 14 – 17 NC REALTORS® Elections Vote online at ncrealtors.org
August 18 GRI: Technology Tools & Resources Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS®
September 17 – 19 XCHANGE '17 - NC REALTORS® Conference & Expo The Omni Grove Park Inn - Asheville Register at xchange17.com
September 22 GRI: Balancing Business Risks & Ethics Mountain Lakes Board of REALTORS®
September 18 Inaugural Installation The Omni Grove Park Inn - Asheville Advance tickets required. Register at xchange17.com
September 26 GRI: Balancing Business Risks & Ethics Greensboro Regional REALTORS® Association
September 28 GRI: Business Planning Cape Fear REALTORS® September 29 GRI: Balancing Business Risks & Ethics Cape Fear REALTORS® October 5 GRI: Business Planning Winston Salem Regional Association of REALTORS® October 18 GRI: Balancing Business Risks & Ethics Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS®
Every Monday Quick tips for the REALTOR® on the go Join the NC REALTORS® Mobile Mondays Facebook Group
30 INSIGHT • August 2017
How the Modern Tiny House Movement is Infiltrating the Housing Market
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When Hackers Strike: Protect yourself and your clients from real estate scams – before it's too late.