Insight | August 2021

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VOL 100 NO 3 | AUGUST 2021

Buyer Love Letters Plus + NC REALTORS® Elections + New Demands for the New Normal + How to Write Killer Listing Descriptions



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August 2021 Features 14 New Demands for the New Normal

After the COVID-19 pandemic and months of social distancing, there’s a heightened interest in real estate amenities and sources of community.

16 2021 NC REALTORS® Convention & Expo

NC REALTORS® can finally be Together Again to celebrate the important milestone of the association’s 100th year.

18 Buyer Love Letters

Are they legal? Do they discriminate? North Carolina real estate professionals and attorneys weigh in.

24 How to Write Killer Listing Descriptions


Make your listings stand out by utilizing these suggestions from real estate gurus.



Remembering Past President James A. “Jimmie” Basinger, Jr., Top Tech Issues Every Real Estate Pro Faces


2021 Candidates and Important Election Information


NC REALTORS® across the state impact hundreds of homeowners with community service and support.


Test your knowledge on this pop quiz



Have something to talk about? Sure you do—and we want to hear it! Send us your comments, ideas or success stories to and you could be featured in the next Insight. • INSIGHT  3

Insight, Volume 100, Issue 3 President Kelly Marks, ABR®, CRS, GRI

Treasurer Laurie Knudsen, GRI

President-Elect Wendy Harris, ABR®, CIPS, CRS, MRP

Immediate Past President Maren Brisson-Kuester

Regional Vice Presidents Region 1: Kim Endre, Kitty Hawk Region 2: Tony Harrington, Wilmington Region 3: Bruce Gates, Goldsboro Region 4: Jon Fletcher, Durham Region 5: Kathy Haines, Greensboro Region 6: John McPherson, Clemmons Region 7: Dennis Bailey, Shelby Region 8: Brenda Hayden, Charlotte Region 8: John Ogburn, Charlotte Region 9: Katie Wangrin, Asheville Region 10: Teresa Pitt, Fuquay Varina Region 10: Renee Smith, Apex At Large Representative: Sofia Crisp, Greensboro Chief Executive Officer Andrea Bushnell, Esq., CIPS, RCE Vice President of Communications & Marketing Mckenzie Allen Graphic Design Coordinator Raquel Stubblefield Content Marketing Coordinator Aliyah Ross Contributors Michael Cooper, Lee Nelson For advertising information, visit 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 with a subject line of “Insight opt-out.”

We made it to August. There are so many exciting things happening in our association and state as we start to return to normalcy. The market is hot in most regions of our state, and inventory is at a record low. What a time to be in real estate, right? As offers get more competitive, REALTORS® need to be held to the highest professional standards, including our Code of Ethics. In this issue, you will uncover tips for handling buyer love letters, which is particularly interesting in light of the state of Oregon’s recent passing of a bill to ban them. You will also read about the demand for real estate amenities and community and how to keep your listings at the top of every buyer’s search. Your state association is also busy this summer. In June, you collaborated with organizations in your communities to support hundreds of North Carolina families and homeowners. The third annual NC REALTORS® Gives Back Day on June 24 was a huge success, and we could not have done it without you. Don’t miss highlights from this day of service in this magazine. Don’t forget, we’re celebrating 100 Years in 2021, and we’re moving closer to our big celebration event happening at this year’s Convention in October in Wilmington. And guess what? It’s in person! Have you signed up? You don’t want to miss the fantastic speakers and sessions to help your business grow, the opportunities to network and discover new products and services in the Expo, and FINALLY the chance to hug, fist bump or wave at your friends and colleagues from all over the state. I look forward to seeing your faces in person. Register at Lastly, be sure to check out the candidate information for our 2022 Officers. Voting takes place in September, and it’s important for all of you to have a say in who leads our association into the next century. Keep a lookout for an email with voting instructions. I am excited for all that this quarter has in store for us. I know you are busy, but I do hope you take some time to do something nice for yourself. Until we meet again,

4511 Weybridge Lane, Greensboro, NC 27407 Phone: (336) 294-1415

Kelly Marks, 2021 President

REMEMBERING JAMES A. “JIMMIE” BASINGER, JR. March 31, 1923 – March 9, 2021 James A. “Jimmie” Basinger, Jr., 1988 NC REALTORS® Past President, passed away on March 9, 2021, at the age of 97. In 1961, Jimmie joined his father’s firm, Basinger Realty, and quickly became a top producer in Charlotte. He lead the local MLS in sales for several years in the early 1960s. Jimmie served as president of Canopy REALTOR® Association (formerly named Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association) in 1969. In 1974, he was recognized for his service at the local level by being named Charlotte’s REALTOR® of the Year and received the NC REALTORS® Regional Service Award for his contributions to the real estate industry in the Charlotte region. In 1991, Jimmie received the REALTOR® of the Year award at NC REALTORS®. In addition to local and state-level contributions, Jimmie served as a director for the National Association of REALTORS®.

Photo Credit: Hankins & Washington Funeral Service

His love of the real estate profession and unwavering desire to serve others in a kind and gracious manner endeared him to everyone who had the opportunity to know and work with him. Jimmie was renowned for his wonderful and never-ending stories and jokes.



TOP TECH ISSUES EVERY REAL ESTATE PRO FACES A year plus into the pandemic, real estate agents rely more on tech tools than ever before. Don’t let these everyday tech issues slow you down, especially in this market. Let us take that pressure off your shoulders with some tips from your free member benefit Tech Helpline. Resetting Your Facebook Password More agents today rely on social media for real estate marketing, especially Facebook. Most real estate pros remain logged into Facebook on both their computer and phone for easy work access. However, there are times where an agent either accidentally logs out or changes a device. Agents often have trouble remembering their Facebook password to sign back in. Tech Helpline can help you quickly get back into your Facebook account by walking you through your options, including how to reset your password. Wi-Fi Network Issues Real estate professionals depend on Wi-Fi being readily available for their work. Losing an internet connection can be a huge detriment to your work routine. If you can’t fix the issue on your own, find that troubleshooting is too time-consuming, or are experiencing slow internet speed or disappearing Wi-Fi networks, reach out for assistance. Tech Helpline analysts are Wi-Fi troubleshooting experts.

Backing Up or Restoring Lost Data One of the worst things that can happen to any real estate professional is having a hard drive on their computer crash. It’s even more traumatic when you didn’t back up your data beforehand. Tech Helpline can help you set up your computer for regular automatic backup protection to avoid this nightmare scenario. Tech Helpline also provides guidance on using a cloud storage service, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, to protect your files. Tech Helpline also can help in recovering lost files or restoring lost data. Printer Problems Successfully installing a new printer is not easy. It’s one of the most common tech challenges real estate professionals reach out to Tech Helpline to fix. Helpline analysts can help you set up your new printer right the first time. If you have a printer that stopped working correctly, Tech Helpline will troubleshoot to help you get back to business. Fast, friendly tech support is just a call, chat or email away. Tech Helpline is a free member benefit for all NC REALTORS®. Learn more at This article was pulled from a recent post on the Tech Helpline blog. Read more at • INSIGHT  5

2021 VOTE ONLINE September 13 – 16, 2021

CANDIDATES AND ELECTION INFORMATION The NC REALTORS® elections voting will take place online. The candidates listed on this page have been certified by the NC REALTORS® Certifying/Recruiting Committee. Visit for detailed candidate bios, voting rules and to vote.




(Vote for one candidate)

(Number to be elected determined after July 31)

(Vote for one candidate in each region)


Randall Blankenship ABR®, AHWD, GRI, Certified Global Luxury Specialist

Central Carolina Association of REALTORS®

Land of the Sky Association of REALTORS®

TREASURER (Vote for one candidate)

Laurie Knudsen GRI

Treasure Faircloth CRS, GRI, e-PRO®, C2EX Winston-Salem Regional Association of REALTORS®

REGION 1 Adam Upchurch SPS Topsail Island Association of REALTORS®

REGION 2 Brooke Rudd-Gaglie GRI Brunswick County Association of REALTORS®

Canopy REALTOR® Association


Sandra O’Connor ABR®, AHWD, CIPS, CRP, GRI

REGION 5 Ray Alexander

Greensboro Regional REALTORS® Association

Greensboro Regional REALTORS® Association

Stephanie Walker ABR®, AHWD, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO®, GRI, PSA, RSPS, SFR®, SRES®, SRS, GSI (Gold Standard InstructorREEA)

REGION 7 Carol Bradley AHWD, C2EX

(Vote for three candidates)

Renee Cooney ABR®, AHWD, C2EX, GRI, SRES® Carolina Smokies Association of REALTORS®

Kim Endre ABR®, AHWD, C2EX, CRS, e-PRO®, GREEN, GRI, RSPS, SFR®, SRES® Outer Banks Association of REALTORS®

David Zeitz GRI Longleaf Pine REALTORS®

6  INSIGHT • August 2021

Outer Banks Association of REALTORS®


Union County Association of REALTORS®

REGION 8 Geena Fie ABR®, ASP, BPRO, CLHMS, CRS, CIAS, e-PRO®, SFR®, SPS Canopy REALTOR® Association

(Vote for one candidate)

Kim Dawson AHWD, ABR®, C2EX, CIPS, CRS, GRI, SRES® Durham Regional Association of REALTORS®

REGION 10 Lewis Grubbs ABR®, AHWD, C2EX, CRS, GRI Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS®

Tell Us Your Story

Visit FAIRHAVEN Challenge! • INSIGHT  7

#NCRGivesBack REALTORS® are a driving force in North Carolina’s communities. NC REALTORS® Give Back Day is a way for local associations and their members to come together and participate in a housing-related service project in their area. This annual initiative began in June 2019 by the William C. Bass Leadership Academy and continues on now under the management of the NC REALTORS® Housing Foundation— NC REALTORS® housing opportunity foundation. Many local boards across the state showed up on June 24, 2021 to make a difference in their communities. This year’s projects included everything from beach cleanups, stocking food pantries and renovating apartments or homes of those in need. Thank you to the local boards who participated! To learn more about NC REALTORS® Gives Back Day, please visit


Salisbury/Rowan Association of REALTORS®

570 hours

Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS®

of community service provided

130 bags filled for foster children

Burlington-Alamance County Association of REALTORS®

1 school renovated 8  INSIGHT • August 2021

Gaston Association of REALTORS®

Jacksonville Board of REALTORS®

Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS®

227 families served 12 exterior doors painted

300+ NC REALTORS participated


local associations supported projects • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Albermarle Area Association of REALTORS® Brunswick County Association of REALTORS® Burke County Board of REALTORS® Burlington-Alamance County Association of REALTORS® Canopy REALTOR® Association Cape Fear REALTORS® Carteret County Association of REALTORS® Durham Regional Association of REALTORS® Gaston Association of REALTORS® Jacksonville Board of REALTORS® Salisbury/Rowan Association of REALTORS® Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS® Winston-Salem Regional Association of REALTORS®

Jacksonville Board of REALTORS®

240 bags of trash collected

$100,000 Canopy REALTOR® Association

given to charities and community initiatives

Gaston Association of REALTORS®

150+ houses repaired • INSIGHT  9

Yes, our culture does make a difference.

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 Each Weichert® franchised office is independently owned and operated. ©2021 Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, Inc. Weichert is a federally registered trademark owned by Weichert Co. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Making good agents great


QUIZ Take our latest quiz on our most popular, weekly Q&As. BY WILL MARTIN, GENERAL COUNSEL


Under the Offer to Purchase and Contract (Form 2-T), if a party fails to perform a contractual obligation prior to closing, that obligation remains binding on them after closing. True or False?


If the parties have signed an Offer to Purchase and Contract, but the Settlement Date has been left blank, the contract is not enforceable under any circumstances. True or False?


If an offer made on Form 2-T includes an Additional Earnest Money Deposit, but there is no Initial Earnest Money Deposit, it is a valid offer. True or False?


It is a violation of the real estate license law for a broker to sell their own property to a buyer if the buyer isn’t represented by another broker. True or False?


under the Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreement (Form 201). True or False?


A landowner may be held liable if they change the flow of surface water across their property and it causes damage to others. True or False?


The Offer to Purchase and Contract—Vacant Lot/Land (Form 12-T) may not be used if the buyer is interested in subdividing the property after the buyer closes on it. True or False?


A listing agent could be disciplined for failing to disclose the existence of multiple appraisals of the property that have been below the contract price. True or False?

HOW DID YOU DO? Turn the page to discover the answers. A broker may present offers on the same property on behalf of multiple buyers whom the broker represents • INSIGHT  11

legal QUIZ Answers 1.

False, unless the parties agree in writing that the obligation remains binding after closing or the obligation is, by its nature, one that must be performed after closing. See paragraphs 4(h) and 18 of Form 2-T. Virtually all obligations imposed on the parties by Form 2-T may be performed prior to closing. Those obligations do NOT survive closing unless the parties agree otherwise. (Which contractual obligations survive closing? January 21, 2021, Category: Forms/Offer to Purchase and Contract/Miscellaneous)


False. As a general proposition, the parties to a contract must agree on all essential terms to make it legally binding. However, when the parties have clearly intended to enter into a contract but have not agreed on an essential term, a term which is reasonable may be supplied by a court in order to “save” the parties’ bargain. Regardless of whether the contract is enforceable, an agent’s failure to ensure that it contains all essential terms could subject them to discipline by the Real Estate Commission or by their association of REALTORS® for violating the Code of Ethics. (Is there a binding contract if the Settlement Date is left blank? February 4, 2021, Category: Contract Law)


True. An EMD is not required for a contract using Form 2-T to be binding. Should a buyer choose to offer an EMD, he or she is free to choose whether that deposit will be paid “up front” as an Initial EMD, or on some other, specified date as an Additional EMD, or both. The parentheses around the word “Additional” are intended to suggest that, in some cases, the “Additional” EMD is, in fact, the only EMD referenced in the contract. (Can an offer include an additional earnest money deposit but no initial earnest money deposit? February 11, 2021, Category: Forms/Offer to Purchase and Contract/Contract Formation)


False. Real Estate Commission Rule 58A.0104(o) prohibits brokers selling their own property from representing the buyer, but there is nothing in the Rule that would prohibit the broker/seller from working directly with an unrepresented buyer on the broker’s own behalf, provided that the buyer clearly understands that the broker is representing the broker’s own interests and not those of the buyer. (Can a broker sell their own property to an unrepresented buyer using the standard forms? February 25, 2021, Category: Forms/Miscellaneous)


True. In signing Form 201, a buyer specifically consents in paragraph 5 to the firm’s representation of others

12  INSIGHT • August 2021

who may be interested in purchasing the same property. The broker must disclose the situation to all the buyers, advise them that the broker will not give any of them specific advice on what terms to include in their offers, and provide each of them the same information about the property. The broker should also understand that while the risks in representing more than one buyer on the same property can be managed, there is still risk in doing so. (Three Buyers, One House, and One REALTOR® March 11, 2021)


True. A landowner is legally permitted to make a reasonable use of his or her land, even if the use alters the flow of surface water and causes some harm to others. However, the landowner may incur liability when the interference with the flow of surface waters is unreasonable and causes substantial damage. Reasonableness is a question of fact to be determined in each case by weighing the extent and character of the harm to the affected landowner against the benefit to the landowner who has altered the flow of the surface water. (Do I have to disclose that my seller’s neighbor is mad at him? March 18, 2021, Category: Disclosure)


False. The note at the top of Form 12-T states: “This contract is intended for unimproved real property that Buyer will purchase only for personal use and does not have immediate plans to subdivide.” The note was included because there is a statute that imposes criminal penalties for transferring lots in an unapproved subdivision. However, if the buyer intends to seek approval of a subdivision of the property after he completes the purchase, the statute would not apply, and Form 12-T could be used to put the property under contract. The buyer should be advised that subdivision approval is not assured and to consult with an attorney about the likelihood of that approval. (Can a buyer who intends to subdivide a listed property use Form 12-T to make an offer? April 15, 2021, Category: Miscellaneous/Other Laws & Rules)


True. A property’s value will fluctuate over time with market conditions, and one person’s opinion of the value of the property on a particular day normally is not considered a material fact that must be disclosed. However, depending on the particular circumstances, the existence of multiple low appraisals could be considered by the Real Estate Commission to be a material fact, which would trigger the duty to disclose. (Does a listing agent have to disclose prior low appraisals? April 22, 2021, Category: Disclosure)

STUDY HARD If you’re not doing so already, be sure to read the Q&As that appear in the REALTOR® Rundown every Monday. It’ll help you on the next quiz!




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14  INSIGHT • August 2021

New demands for the new normal Last July, I returned home to work as a Shared and Regional Government Affairs Director for NC REALTORS®. I’m excited to be back in western North BY MICHAEL COOPER Carolina. I grew up Shared & Regional in North Wilkesboro Government Affairs Director and attended college at Appalachian State University. I missed the mountains. I missed the Blue Ridge Parkway, the scenery and the quality of life. It turns out that I wasn’t alone. In 2020, members of the High Country Association of REALTORS® sold 3,253 listings. Those sales totaled over $1.1 billion. Both the sold listings and sales total were record highs for the association. The real estate market has been like that throughout the state of North Carolina. Much of the increased demand has been because of low interest rates. The interest rates will eventually go back to normal, but after the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a new “normal.” More Americans have the option of working from home, which is the reason why they are spreading out. Big cities like Raleigh and Charlotte will continue to thrive, but so will the rest of North Carolina. In my 10-county, western region, we have Grandfather Mountain, Pilot Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Linville Gorge, Lake James, Chimney Rock and the New River. These regions have hiking, camping, skiing, some of the best golf courses in the country, and some of the best disc golf courses in the world. Who wouldn’t want to live here? Now, more people can. The demand won’t go away—at least not any time soon. Right now, there are more REALTORS® in the western region than there are homes for sale on the market. That’s why we need new inventory and why we need to address the barriers to development. We

also need to start thinking about the future. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the greatest challenges facing North Carolina was the rural-urban divide—now it’s the digital divide. As a result, broadband will be a major priority for REALTORS® going forward. In fact, REALTORS® in this region are utilizing association resources to prepare for the future. In January, the High Country Association of REALTORS® used a Smart Growth Poll from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to survey 400 residents in Ashe, Watauga, Avery, and Alleghany County. Now, they’re using the results to advocate for new housing inventory and broadband access while working with local stakeholders to conduct a local Housing Needs Assessment. In addition, other associations in the western region are focusing on the heightened interest in amenities and sources of community, such as parks, greenways, bike trails, dog parks and downtown breweries. This focus led these associations to apply for NAR grants to fund a Main Street Development Assessment in their town. Likewise, there are plenty of ways for REALTORS® to get involved in placemaking. My region is full of places—like Morganton, Marion, Mt. Airy, Sparta, and West Jefferson—that are reinventing themselves and enjoying their moment. It’s time for all NC REALTORS® to use the association’s clout to make this growth sustainable. This means utilizing our REALTOR® Political Action Committee Local Candidate Fund to engage in municipal elections, answering Calls for Action, joining the NC Homeowners Alliance, serving as a State Political Coordinator, organizing a town hall, volunteering on a local planning commission or running for public office as a REALTOR® champion. I’m excited to be back in the foothills and excited about the future. I recently bought a house in North Wilkesboro thanks to a fantastic REALTOR® named Yvonne. House searching took us several months because new people keep coming to this area, but that’s a good problem to have. Now, it’s time to think about what comes next.

More About Michael | NC REALTORS® Shared and Regional Government Affairs Director Michael Cooper graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor in Science in Communications. He joined NC REALTORS® in July 2020 as the Shared and Regional Government Affairs Director of several western counties in North Carolina. His coverage area includes the following local boards/associations: High Country Association of REALTORS®, Surry Regional Association of REALTORS®, Yancey-Mitchell Board of REALTORS®, Burke County Board of REALTORS®, McDowell Board of REALTORS® and Rutherford County Board of REALTORS®. For more information about local and regional government issues in Michael’s region, please email him at • INSIGHT  15

2021 NC REALTORS® CONVENTION & EXPO October 16 – 19, 2021 | Wilmington, NC

Anyone connected to the business of real estate has something to gain and learn by attending Convention. Real estate isn’t just about selling properties; it’s about connecting so that business is better for all. “We’re all showing houses, we’re all REALTORS®, but we all have a higher goal in our careers, and that’s to get involved and help others exceed,” says Cristina Grossu, broker with Realty One Group Select in Moorseville. The Convention experience has a lot to do with learning, networking and growing your business, but it’s also a time to celebrate. In fact, for the last 100 years, NC REALTORS® have looked forward to Convention as a time to celebrate victories, convene with friends and make critical decisions to impact the future of the association and the real estate industry. “I’m looking forward to setting the stage to bring our North Carolina REALTORS® to Wilmington so that we can celebrate our 100th year,” shares Patrice Willetts, a broker with The Property Shop International Realty in Wilmington. And thankfully, after a year and a half apart, NC REALTORS® can finally be Together Again to celebrate this important milestone, rebuild relationships after challenging times and continue the legacy of impacting communities and homeowners across North Carolina. Join us for one heck of a celebration as we cheers to 100 years of advocacy, professionalism and leadership. Reconnect with hundreds of your North Carolina REALTOR® colleagues as we make plans for the future of our industry. Take time to boost your skills and your business success with the best products and services available, plus industry insight from top experts in the field. Don’t miss the opportunity to be Together Again for our Centennial Celebration. See you in October!

WHAT NC REALTORS® MEMBERS SAY “It’s all about the people. It’s about us being together.” – Wendy Harris, Fayetteville

“It’s an awesome opportunity to network and just learn more about our industry.” – Tom Gale, Wilmington

“You will learn a lot. You will network with people. You will you will learn things that you didn’t even know could be in your wheelhouse.” - Patrice Willetts, Wilmington

“I think any agent, whether you’re a newer agent or a seasoned agent, should get involved and go to Convention, just to meet people and see how everybody else is getting involved. It’s really eyeopening to see how there’s so many different positions and different levels of the association.” - Cristina Grossu, Mooresville








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Love Letters

18  INSIGHT • August 2021


BY LEE NELSON Lee Nelson is a freelance journalist from the Chicago area. She has written for Yahoo! Homes,, and REALTOR® Magazine. She also writes a bi-monthly blog on

aureen Roberge is experiencing insanity from her buyers to get their offers accepted. “Every moment, the market is changing,” says Roberge, broker/owner of, Inc. and LKN Commercial in Cornelius. In early spring, many buyers in her area were writing buyer love letters to sway sellers in their direction. Back then, those letters might have won the house with a good quality offer, but now she’s seeing people offering $30,000 plus over asking price with no contingencies and sometimes no inspections. Some buyers give huge non-refundable due diligences, like a recent one of $100,000 that sparked the sellers’ eyes. “Who is going to walk away from that? There were better offers, but who’s going to say no to that amazing number,” she adds. She admits it is challenging for buyers to be treated fairly no matter what a love letter might say. When she reads a lovely buyer letter and their heartfelt story, she understands how these potential homeowners are trying their very best and putting it all out there. They desperately want that house, but then another person comes in with all this extra money. “It’s a seller’s market, slam dunk. Buyers are taking on a lot of responsibility,” Roberge adds.

THE RULES AND COMMON SENSE To stand out from the crowd in this low-inventory, low-interest-rate world, buyers believe writing a love letter will increase their chances of connecting with a seller. No buyer intends to discriminate, but buyer love letters disproportionately affect protected people. The NC REALTORS® Executive Committee approved in April new wording for REALTORS® to avoid liability from these buyer letters. Basically, the seller or buyer should have a discussion with the real estate agency on how any such letter should be handled. “Buyer love letters aren’t illegal or in violation of any rule or regulation, as far as I know,” says Will Martin, general counsel for NC REALTORS® and manager at Martin & Gifford, PLLC in Winston-Salem. He and his two partners have only answered questions involving buyer letters about 13 times in the past two years on the NC REALTORS® Legal Hotline. Most of the questions come from listing agents wondering if they are required to present the letters when they submit an offer. Buyer letters becoming a concern with fair housing laws has been a relatively recent phenomenon, he adds. “It seems like it’s a topic on everybody’s radar screens now because there have been articles written about it,” Martin explains. “At the end of the day, if a client wants to do one, it would be hard to say, ‘I’m not going to present any letter.’” If the letter is based on objective criteria and all the features about the property, then that would OK. • INSIGHT  19

Unwittingly, some of these letters could violate fair housing laws in a subtle way. For instance, someone might talk about taking photos of their children’s stockings hanging on the beautiful fireplace mantel. That signifies someone celebrating Christmas. Any subtle words describing someone’s race, sexual orientation or more can sway someone one way or another through these biases. Plus, videos and photos definitely showcase even more information, which Martin says are definitely a no-no. Article 10 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics prohibits REALTORS® from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity in the provision of professional services and in employment practices.

Martin adds that a problem could arise when two offers contain similar terms, but one of the potential buyers writes a letter sharing her origin, which happens to be the same as the seller. “If Buyer #1 discovers these facts, he may point to the letter as some evidence that the seller took Buyer #2’s national origin into account in deciding to accept her offer, which would be a violation of state and federal Fair Housing Laws,” he states. These situations can become more complicated for the agent if the buyer makes the letter part of the offer. “I don’t know if agents should be reading the letters in any situation. Generally, I would say avoid it,” Martin adds. “These letters try to be heartwarming,” states Charlie Moody, assistant director of the Regulatory Affairs Commission for the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. “We haven’t gotten any complaints about buyer letters. But it’s about the fear of what could happen,” she says. “In this market, they are so popular because of the multiple-offer situations. People are wondering what they can do to get their offer ahead of the crowd,” she adds.

The REALTOR® Code of Ethics REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. – Article 10 20  INSIGHT • August 2021

“For some people, they want to avoid certain types of people moving into their houses. It’s not just race, but any one of the protective classes,” Moody explains. “We don’t want brokers to police these letters.” The hope is to stop it at the buyer level. Brokers can advise their buyers not to write them. But she believes the tides will turn in the market, and there will be no need to write love letters. She also encourages agents to talk with their clients about the implications and pitfalls of a love letter. Moody recommends that the broker says to the client that a love letter is not relevant to the contract, and it shouldn’t be part of the offer. STILL PREVALENT IN SOME AREAS Many of the potential purchasers for Nancy Braun still want to write love letters. “They talk about the home itself and why it’s perfect for them,” says Braun, broker/owner of Showcase Realty in Charlotte. “The letter can work somewhat. But cash is still king,” she states. “If sellers are getting another offer that includes no appraisal, no repairs, buyers paying sellers’ closing costs, and a quick close, it’s hard for the seller to turn that down and pick someone who wrote a nice letter,” she adds. “However, if you are in a market for a house over $300,000 in her area, and no investors are competing for it, that love letter might still make a difference in the area,” Braun says. “If two offers are equal, the sellers might feel connected to one of the buyers more.”

Braun is experiencing very competitive and crazy bidding wars. “If the letter states that they appreciate the house and have become attached to the house, I have seen situations where my sellers have picked a buyer over another offer because of the letter,” she states. Many REALTORS® still encourage their buyers to compose these letters to help give an edge, gain a personal connection or pull at the seller’s heartstrings.

To stand out from the crowd in this low-inventory, low-interest rate world, buyers believe writing a love letter will increase their chances of connecting with a seller. No buyer intends to discriminate, but buyer love letters disproportionately affect protected people.

OPTIONS OTHER THAN BUYER LETTERS Braun doesn’t discourage her agents from using buyer letters, but she does acknowledge that personal letters can also be a detriment because there is a lot of bias out there that isn’t fair. However, these alternative efforts by agents to help clients shine could help to eliminate the use of buyer letters: Create a Strong Multi-Offer Package Braun and her agents put together professional packages for the seller or listing agents with the buyer’s credit score (if they provide it), a robust approval letter from the lender and a letter from her company including impressive statistics on closings. Be a Great Communicator Be friendly and nice to your fellow agents. “You need to understand that they are being bombarded by many buyer agents,” Roberge states. “In a polite way, find out what the sellers really want—such as a better closing date or the refrigerator. Don’t kill the deal by asking for something that the buyers might want when they move.” Talk by Phone or in Person with the Listing Agent “We get tons of offers for our listings, but we hardly ever hear from the buying agents,” Braun remarks. “They will text, but I think there is value in having that conversation. You need to tell us about your buyer, put a picture in that listening agent’s head so they know more about them. You can’t just blindly represent someone.” Know Your Lenders Well “I’ve been in this business 16 years, and I’ve worked with lenders since 2009,” Roberge adds. “Some of them give priority approvals to her clients by going through more documentation. Many of her clients are just waiting on the right house, and that means there’s not much more they have to do themselves.” Make It Easy for the Other Agent Roberge communicates to the listing agent that she will arrange the inspection the Monday after acceptance of the offer. “I’m efficient and get things done. Explaining that the seller and the agent won’t be waiting on you gives your client an edge.” Write a Different Kind of Letter “When I get a notification that we are going under contract, I write everybody involved a nice letter saying I appreciate their effort in showing this property,” Roberge states. She includes in her letters that she will keep everyone apprised of things going on. She also calls the agents who are showing one of her properties that she already has an offer on it. “It’s a two-way street. It’s tough out there right now,” she adds. • INSIGHT  21

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How to Write

Killer Listing Descriptions When Jo Mangum started as a real estate agent in 1993, it took her a long time to write out a listing’s description. “Most agents go through a metamorphous. They first use lots of adjectives to describe things such as the beautiful landscaping,” says BY LEE NELSON Mangum, Vice President of Learning for Century 21 Real Estate in Raleigh. “As I became more successful and more educated, I learned a different technique. Before writing anything, you first ask, ‘Who is buying this house?’” 24  INSIGHT • August 2021

These days, potential buyers won’t read everything on a description. “They are scanners and won’t read every detail,” she adds. “They read the first few sentences and won’t get past that until you pack the description with what is most important to that buyer of the house.” Elizabeth Danziger, President of Worktalk Communications Consulting in Los Angeles for 34 years, offers customized writing training targeted to many different organizations. “It’s all about helping people do their marketing and writing more effectively,” she says. “The biggest mistake in my experience in all written communication is that people do not focus on the reader. They write what’s important to them and not to their reader.”

For instance, for REALTORS®, she suggests really thinking about what potential buyers care about. Listing descriptions should give the readers a vision or picture of what life will be like once they purchase this home instead of the nuts and bolts. “Instead of saying, four-bedroom home, talk about relaxing in your beautiful back yard,” she states. Another way agents should change their writing style includes adding more verbs and more action. Adjectives can be useful, but also overused. “Don’t just make a grocery list of things in the house. Use your verbs. Verbs can be magical,” Danziger remarks. For instance, instead of writing, “a big back yard,” say,

“Enjoy watching your children running and playing in the spacious back yard” or “Relax with your glass of wine on the shaded patio as you view the sun setting each evening.” “Poor writing means lost money, time, productivity and good will,” she states on her website. Today’s Buyer is Different With the low inventory, low interest rates and the pandemic, so many people are buying a home sight unseen throughout the state. “You need to put emphasis on your house being everything to that buyer, like having a home office,” • INSIGHT  25

Listing descriptions should give the readers a vision or picture of what life will be like once they purchase this home. Mangum states. “You should talk about separate office quarters—something we never worried about before the pandemic. The common denominator today is that we are selling lifestyle versus features.” Sure, the buyer wants a great kitchen, great main bedroom and bathroom, plus other things. But they also want a place for their kids to do schoolwork undisturbed and a place to entertain or staycation at home. Many families or even single people decided when they were hunkering down for months that they needed more

COVID-19 changed the way people think about their homes and what their biggest needs and wants are when they move to a new place. room to spread out. They wanted a yard, patio or balcony to escape the house and to entertain when they could. They wanted one or two home offices, where their children could do homeschooling, and they could work online. Some even wanted bigger kitchens because the pandemic forced them to cook a lot more. “My job is to look at the neighborhoods and get more information about who these people are,” Mangum says. Details and Professional Photos Still Remain Important to Buyers Pam Webb started as a REALTOR® in 2014. She began selling mostly foreclosures and helping buyers. “Things have changed so much in those short, seven years,” she adds. “It seemed like we became a seller’s market overnight. And it’s getting more and more competitive over time,” says Webb, REALTOR® at San Byrd REALTORS® in Archdale. She also serves as President of the High Point Regional Association of REALTORS®. When Webb first got into real estate, she used to measure her sellers’ homes by herself and do the photography. But using professional photographers has added so much value to her descriptions and to capture lookers online. “I now put on the top of the description if it’s in a USDA financing area or other desirable information. Then, I talk 26  INSIGHT • August 2021

about what stands out to me or what the owners love the most about the house,” she adds. Webb then expands on the listing by commenting on highlights such as a new HVAC system, the type of countertops, or anything that really grabs someone’s attention if they walked inside the property. It amazes her that some agents put no remarks in their listings. Even though it’s a hot market, Webb still tries to include things that are important or special about the home. She also recognizes that some REALTORS® feel they don’t need a professional photographer anymore because the house will sell anyways. “But I feel that this makes me a better agent and truly does look more professional on the websites. Plus, it excites the sellers that the agent took pride in their home,” she states.

Within the description, provide the floor plan and a virtual tour to add appeal and extra information for potential buyers. “I always type my listings in capital letters. It’s not like it is screaming at you. It’s just bold and always gets attention. I also type in all the room sizes. Some agents don’t take the time to put the measurements in,” she says. A new field available on the MLS specifically asks if the primary bedroom is on the main level. Webb always tries to fill in that field. “I can normally put a listing together from start to finish in an hour,” she adds.

Lee Nelson is a freelance journalist from the Chicago area. She has written for Yahoo! Homes,, and REALTOR® Magazine. She also writes a bi-monthly blog on

Here are some suggestions from professionals on how to write better listing descriptions: < Go back to the house and walk around. Figure out who will be interested in buying the house— an empty nester, a family or a young, urban professional. “You have to get more granular on who will be living in this house,” Mangum says. “There’s always a primary customer.” Then, write the listing for that person.

Measure, measure, measure. > “Add in the dimensions of each room to the listing to help the potential buyers understand how it all fits together,” Webb adds. If you can get your photographer and video person to make a dollhouse image of the space with the 3D camera, that also emphasizes how rooms flow into each other. < Tell a story. Basic, dry information can bore the reader instantly. Add something sparkling in a storytelling style. “Add meaningful, compelling narrative about the lifestyle someone could have if they lived there,” Danziger remarks.

Include details about the neighborhood. > “Are there ten amazing restaurants two blocks away? Tell the buyers about that, too” says Webb.

< Research the National Association of REALTORS® Buyer and Seller Profile report every year. “It often tells you what buyers are looking for and gives you trends on different agent groups,” Mangum explains. “Once I discovered that 15 years ago, I found that I got more crafted and strategic in selling a house.” • INSIGHT  27

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Apply to Be an NC REALTORS® PAC Trustee The NC REALTORS® PAC Trustee Credentials Committee is taking applications for candidates for Regions 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10 for three-year terms. Elections will be held at the NC REALTORS® Board of Directors meeting during convention in October. For more information and an application, please email Kristin Nash at

Application Deadline: August 1, 2021 • INSIGHT  29

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First-time buyers make up a massive part of the home buyer demographic—31% of current buyers nationwide are buying a home for the very first time. Many of these buyers are millennials facing new challenges and barriers to home ownership, with lack of down payment, high debt and rising home prices topping the list. Affordable mortgage options from the NC Housing Finance Agency—a self-supporting public agency—can help buyers overcome these obstacles and help you to broaden your market and secure new clients for the long-term. Help Your Clients Finance Their Home Ownership Dreams The NC Home Advantage Mortgage™ offers stable, fixed-rate FHA, USDA or VA loans and forgivable down payment assistance up to 5% of the loan amount for qualified first-time and move-up buyers. The mortgage also offers 3% down payment assistance on conventional 97% LTV loans, reducing the amount of money your buyer has to bring to the table and making it more affordable for your clients to sign on the dotted line. First-time buyers (anyone who hasn’t owned a principal residence in three years) and military veterans who qualify for the NC Home Advantage Mortgage™ can get a more substantial down payment boost with the Agency’s NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment, which offers $8,000 in forgivable down payment help. Repayment of both down payment options is only required if the buyer sells, refinances or transfers the home before year 15 and is forgiven at a rate of 20% per year starting at the end of year 11. These options can help your buyers overcome the down payment hurdle and get them that much closer to making their dreams of owning a home a reality. First-time buyers and military veterans may also be eligible for the NC Home Advantage Tax Credit, a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) issued by the Agency that can save your buyers up to $2,000 per year on federal income taxes.

This frees up more money for buyers to put toward their mortgage, which just might make the difference for clients struggling to afford a home in a tight housing market. Buyers must apply and be approved for an MCC before the home purchase and can combine these tax savings with the NC Home Advantage Mortgage™ and its 5% down payment assistance, but not with the $8,000 assistance provided with the NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment. In conjunction with the NC Home Advantage suite of products, we offer community home buying programs, which can help new buyers purchase homes in partnership with local governments and nonprofit organizations. The Community Partners Loan Pool finances 0% interest, deferred subordinate mortgages for up to 20% of the sales price of a home when used in conjunction with the NC Home Advantage Mortgage™ or 10% when combined with a USDA Section 502 loan. This program gives buyers more buying power in the market, as the Community Partners Loan Pool may also be combined with other down payment assistance programs, including the $8,000 down payment help provided by the NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment. Get Educated with Our Marketing Resources If you want to use the Agency’s mortgage products to grow your client base, the Agency offers virtual trainings that not only provide continuing education credits but also secure your spot on the Agency website as a preferred real estate agent. This listing is a fantastic avenue for increasing your exposure to potential clients and generating more leads as it serves as an endpoint for the Agency’s product marketing. When potential buyers see our products, they find you next! The Agency also provides an extensive library of marketing resources, including videos, a specialized newsletter, customizable fliers, social media promotions and infographics to help you reach potential home buyers where they are and convert them into long-term clients for you. To learn more about how the Agency can help you reach more clients, find training classes and access free marketing materials, visit • INSIGHT  31

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