March/April 2022: VOLUME 8 ISSUE 2
GO YOUR OWN WAY 22 Ways to Advocate in 2022
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NEW JERSEY REALTOR® A publication of New Jersey Realtors®
10 Hamilton Avenue Trenton, NJ 08611 Phone: 609-341-7100 njrealtor.com
Jarrod C. Grasso, RCE Chief Executive Officer PUBLIC RELATIONS AND MARKETING
DEPARTMENT Colleen King Oliver
Director of Public Relations &
Marketing | firstname.lastname@example.org
2022 OFFICERS Robert White
First Vice President
ADVERTISING SALES Laura Lemos | 973-822-9274
Important Dates & Deadlines
President’s View: A Strategic Approach to DEI
CEO’s Desk: The Fight for Independent Contractor Status
Legislative Update: 22 Ways to Advocate in 2022
8 Tips to Build Better Business Habits
12 Instagram Accounts to Inspire You
DESIGN Rebecca Ryan McQuigg | Encompass Media Group email@example.com
Investing in Customer Service Can Help Your Bottom Line
New Jersey Realtors® provides legal and legislative updates as well as information on a variety of real estate related topics solely for the use of its members. Due to the wide range of issues affecting its members,
NJ Realtors publishes information concerning those ®
Making the Most of Your Social Media
Boost Your Business with These 5 Free Tools
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Town Spotlight: Discover Downtown Metuchen
agents of NJ Realtor® are the sole responsibility of their author. NJ Realtors® disclaims any liability or responsibility for their content or accuracy. Where such articles and/or advertisements contain legal advice or standards, NJ Realtors® recommends that NJ Realtors® seek legal counsel with regard to any specific situation to which they may seek to apply the article. New
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Tech Column: Watch Out for Email Scams
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You Have Questions, We Have Answers—Fair Housing Edition
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2 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR ® | March/April 2022
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A Strategic Approach to DEI BY ROBERT WHITE
’m excited to share a glimpse at some of the forthcoming plans we have in place for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at the state level. At the direction of our NJ Realtors® Equal Opportunity and Cultural Diversity Committee, we’ve set in motion several projects that keep fair housing and diversity top of mind for all of 2022. We’ve crafted a strategic plan to provide education, awareness, and resources on fair housing and diversity to our members, local boards, and the general public. First, we’ll capitalize on some of the ongoing projects that are already established: • Work with industry partners Freddie Mac and the New Jersey Housing Mortgage and Finance Industry to further expand our Affordable Lending Initative • Promote the availability of deeply impactful educational sessions such as At Home with Diversity, implicit bias training, and Fairhaven. • Sustain our relationships with multicultural organizations (i.e. AREAA, NAREB, NAHREP, LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance.) • Engage brokers, owners, and managers specifically. • Continue promotion and involvement with SPIRE, NAR’s mentorship program.
4 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR ® | March/April 2022
• Continue to raise awareness for the World of Hope and Unity Scholarship from the New Jersey Realtors® Educational Foundation. Second, we’ll look to expand our reach with new projects: • Inviting national speakers to educate membership on specific data that impacts bias • Hosting a slew of educational sessions focusing on Fair Housing Month and Pride Month • Seeking opportunities to partner with other associations who are hosting DEI summits or events. • Hosting a youth art contest that focuses on fair housing and diversity • Identifying legislative opportunities where work can be done to limit bias and barriers • Train local boards and associations on NAR’s Actionable Roadmap for Local Associations Diversity and Inclusion • Increase member awareness and engagement of programs and educational efforts We hope this is just the start and we’ll have even more to share with you as the year progresses. I’m excited to get started and hope you’ll continue to be engaged on this topic and help us as we continue learning and growing.
FROM THE CEO’S DESK
The Fight for Independent Contractor Status A
t the beginning of the year, tens of thousands of Realtors® participated in our Call for Action for Gov. Murphy to sign A6206, which protects a real estate agent’s ability to have an independent contractor relationship with their broker. After conditionally vetoing the bill, the governor signed it into law. This law clarifies a 2018 law, which protects independent contractor status, is retrospective as well as prospective.
New Jersey Realtors® works to ensure that real estate licensees have the option to continue to work as independent contractors and that status stays protected. I ask members to stay vigilant and up to date on this topic by reading NJ Realtors® Weekly and following us on social media. As time evolves, our strategic advocacy plan will too. In the coming months, we’re exploring the possibility of text messaging for member communications, as it is a faster way to reach members.
Although this is a win, there is still a lot we still must do. I thank you for your continued support on this matter. If you’re not familiar with this issue, in the state of New Jersey, Realtors® are able to work as employees or independent contractors, with a majority working as the latter. In the past few years, this status has come under scrutiny. If the state revoked independent contractor status, it would likely cost thousands of jobs.
NEW JERSEY REALTOR ® | March/April 2022 | 5
I M P O R TA N T D AT E S & D E A D L I N E S
1-6 National Association
Women’s History Month
Fair Housing Month
2 Ash Wednesday
1 April Fools’ Day
9 RPAC Wine Tasting
2 Ramadan Begins
2 Eid al-Fitr
13 Daylight Saving Time
5-6 National Association of
5 Cinco de Mayo
17 St. Patrick’s Day 18 Holi 30 In-Person Candidate Training
Realtors® Realtor® Broker Summit
10 Palm Sunday 15 Tax Day
of Realtors® Legislative Meetings
8 Mother’s Day
14 Board of Directors Meeting 14 Flag Day 17 NJ Realtors
® Office Closed—Juneteenth
19 Father’s Day
30 NJ Realtors
® Office Closed—Memorial Day
Good Friday Passover Begins
17 Easter 22 Earth Day 22 Orthodox Good Friday 24 Orthodox Easter
For the Latest Industry News, Follow Us On @njrealtors
6 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022
FIRST-TIME BUYERS BE A HOME BODY
For New Jersey residents looking to buy their first home, saving enough money for a down payment often comes second to more immediate costs of living – student loans, childcare, rent, insurance, and additional expenses. There is a significant income ready segment of the New Jersey population poised to become first-time homebuyers, yet this initial down payment and closing cost hurdle is the # 1 impediment to their owning a home. New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency can help them over this hurdle.
FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER DOWN PAYMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM NJHMFA’s Down Payment Assistance (DPA) program provides $10,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance to first-time homebuyers. These funds need never be repaid if the borrower lives in their new home for at least five years without selling, refinancing, or defaulting. Learn more at TheRoadHomeNJ.com To partner on homebuying webinars for your current and potential clients, email firstname.lastname@example.org
L E G I S L AT I V E U P D AT E
22 Ways to Advocate in 2022 BY CATHERINE BEST
1. Respond to a Call for Action. When there is a piece of legislation that NAR or NJ Realtors® strongly supports or opposes, we might ask YOU to help. Contacting your state representatives or member of Congress is the most effective way to participate in grassroots advocacy.
8. Apply for a NJ Realtors® Committee. From Member Perks to Legislative to Communications, NJ Realtors® has more than 10 committees you can apply to volunteer on and make your voice heard in the industry, stay up-todate on what’s happening in the industry, and make connections with other Realtors®.
2. Sign up for REALTOR Party Mobile Alerts. Simply text the word REALTORS to 30644.
9. Sign up to Receive Email Updates from Your Elected Officials. Did you know your State Legislators and members of Congress send email updates to their constituents? They’ll keep you updated with what’s happening on the Hill and in Trenton.
3. Invest in RPAC. Learn more about the importance of the Realtors® Political Action Committee and how to invest at njrealtor.com. 4. Aware of a Local Issue? Contact NJ Realtors® Government Affairs Department. Recently, the team has worked to defeat burdensome rent control legislation and onerous sign ordinances. 5. Participate in Candidate Training. NJ Realtors® is hosting Candidate Training on March 30. You can also participate in virtual training on realtorparty.realtor. 6. Attend the 2022 Realtors Legislative Meetings from May 1-6. More information can be found at legislative.realtor. ®
7. Participate in NJ Realtors® Trenton Day. This is typically held in June, more information on 2022 Trenton Day will be released soon! 8 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022
10. Read the NJ Realtors® Legislative Issues Book. Each year, NJ Realtors® Government Affairs Department dives into current important legislative topics and publishes it at issuu.com/newjerseyrealtor. Read this year’s book for information on Independent contractor status, lead paint remediation, the state budget, and more. 11. Read State of the State Each Week in NJ Realtors® Weekly. Every Wednesday at 4 p.m., NJ Realtors® sends NJ Realtors® Weekly, a full membership weekly newsletter that has all of the industry’s top lines for the week. Each week, there’s a special feature, State of the State, which outlines legislation NJ Realtors® is watching, encourages you to take action on a certain matter, or explains an important issue. Not receiving it? Email email@example.com.
12. Call a Colleague and Tell Them About RPAC. RPAC is one of the top tools in NJ Realtors®’ arsenal. If one of your colleagues doesn’t know what RPAC is and what it does for the industry, be an advocate and tell them about issues RPAC has supported. 13. VOTE! This year, Primary Election Day is June 7 and the General Election will be held on Nov. 8. 14. Subscribe to the Realtor® Party Newsletter. Everything you need to know about the Realtor® Party delivered right to your inbox. Each month they share the industry by the numbers, Realtor® success stories, upcoming volunteer opportunities, and more. 15. Attend a Local Municipality Meeting. There are many meetings at the local level that might be of interest to a Realtor®, from a council meeting to planning board. Most municipalities post a calendar of meetings on their website. 16. Follow and Share NJ Realtors® Content on Social Media. NJ Realtors® shares all the industry news you never knew you needed—@njrealtors on Instagram, New Jersey Realtors® on Facebook, and @nj_realtors on Twitter. 17. Who Are Your Elected Officials? Visit house.gov to find out!
L E G I S L AT I V E U P D AT E 18. If You’re a Broker, Consider Joining NAR’s Broker Involvement Program. NAR’s Broker Involvement Program provides brokers with resources and tools to help rally their agents when there’s an important legislative issue. Joining the program gives brokers access to the Broker Portal and will send emails to your salespeople so they’re more involved in the industry. 19. Encourage Your Clients to Join NAR’s Home Ownership Matters Program Homeownership Matters is the National Association of Realtors® consumer advocacy program. Encourage your clients to join, read up on private property issues, and encourage them to take action when there’s a homeownership issue in their area. Visit homeownershipmatters.realtor.
20. Read the Realtor® Party Resource Guide. Discover what the Realtor® Party stands for with the Realtor® Party Resource Guide. It features educational resources, available grants, highlights Realtor® Party success stories, and more. Visit realtorparty.realtor/resourceguide. 21. If you Moved Recently, Don’t Forget to Update Your Voter Registration. Visit the State of New Jersey’s voter registration resource page to ensure your voter registration is up to date. The registration deadline for the primary election is May 17, 2022.
JERSEY RPAC Dollars Raised as of Feb. 8, 2022:
2022 RPAC Goal: $1,093,250.00 $819,937.50 $546,625.00
22. Join Online Industry Discussions Through the Hub. Did you know there’s an online messaging board for Realtors®? Visit thehub.realtor to read the latest news on the national level and subscribe to receive emails through the Hub to stay up-to-date on important industry issues.
N E W J E R S E Y L E G I S L AT I V E B I L L S A1814 – Lampitt (D6), DeAngelo (D14) Establishes the “Student Loan Assistance and Home Purchase Act.” New Jersey Realtors Position: ®
We are supporting this bill as it helps those with student loan debt be able to afford to purchase a home for the first time. Bill History: 1/11/2022 – Introduced in Assembly and referred to Assembly Higher Education Committee
A1892 – Tully (D38), Swain (D38) Allows municipalities to establish loan programs to fund replacement of lead service lines. New Jersey Realtors Position: ®
We support this bill allowing municipalities to create loan programs to assist homeowners in replacing lead service lines without creating a time-of-sale requirement. Bill History: 1/11/2022 – Introduced in Assembly and referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee
S207 – Bramnick (R21) Eliminates general purpose, supplemental and mansion realty transfer fees. New Jersey Realtors® Position:
We strongly support this eliminating realty transfer fee increases adopted in 2003 and 2004 to reduce the cost of buying and selling a home in New Jersey. Bill History: 1/11/2022 – Introduced in Senate and referred to Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee
NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022 | 9
Making the Most of Your Social Media BY MICHELE LERNER
Authenticity Makes a Difference
Whether you’re serious or funny, it’s important to be yourself when using social media.
For some agents, social media is a fun part of their day where they interact with friends and acquaintances. For others, it’s part of a strategic marketing plan.
Roro always answers questions or comments about real estate by offering resources or information rather than just posting “Call me!”
“At first I wasn’t using social media but now 99 percent of my referrals are from people I’m connected with there,” said Shana Martine Sanchez, a Realtor® with The Home Real Estate Group with Coldwell Banker Realty in Summit and Vice Chair of NJ Realtors® Young Professionals Network Committee.
Consistently posting only about listings can make it obvious that you’re using social media for promotional purposes rather than to connect with people.
hether you’re a fan of Instagram or Facebook or prefer the professional interactions on LinkedIn or the free-forall nature of TikTok, there’s no escaping it: social media is an important element of nearly every Realtor®’s marketing plan. If you don’t use social media, you could be missing out on opportunities to connect with potential clients, deepen your community relationships, and widen your network within the real estate world.
To be successful using social media, you need to be visible, engaging, interesting, and, most of all, authentic, said Sanchez. While you may be wary of spending too much time on social media, it can be a valuable way to reach new customers and increase your visibility. “If you’re on social media and you put a glimpse of a house in front of someone, they may not even be thinking about moving until they see it. It’s a great way to grab people’s attention,” said Alyssa Abrusci De Sario, a Realtor® with Re/Max Heritage Properties in Flanders. Tez Roro, a Realtor® with Keller Williams Suburban Realty in Livingston and Chair of the NJ Realtors® Young Professionals Network Committee, once received an offer on a multi-family property through Instagram. “The buyer hadn’t even seen the property, and he found me on Instagram,” said Roro.
“You need to avoid coming across as too sales-y,” said Roro. “A litmus test for me is to post and comment and share information about topics and groups I’d be interested in regardless of being a real estate agent.”
“I’m a former middle school teacher, so I know what it’s like to try to get people to pay attention,” said Colleen Hadden, a Realtor® with Compass in Moorestown. “I do what I call ‘edu-taining’ and try to make things fun or do something funny while providing some education. My friends know I’m a goofball and I have three boys, so I let people see that side of my personality.” Other agents may be more successful with their social media if they stick to videos about the market or other topics rather than trying to be funny if they’re not comfortable with that, said Hadden. For Hadden, social media is fun and a stressreliever even more than a marketing tool. Sanchez doesn’t love filming videos of herself, so she often interviews other people on video to post. “I think every agent should find what they like to post about or read about rather than copy other
10 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022
agents,” said Sanchez. “It’s also important to connect with other people on social media by reading their posts, sharing them, and commenting on them. It can’t be one-way.” While being true to yourself and your personality are important, De Sario recommends stepping outside your comfort zone sometimes, too.
“Try something new on social media occasionally or experiment with video if you haven’t used it much,” said De Sario. “Follow someone you might not normally follow and be the name that people recognize. I followed a salesperson I met at a car dealership, and I ended up with a $1.4 million referral because the salesperson thought I did a good job marketing on Instagram.”
Balancing Personal and Professional Posts Part of being authentic is sharing a little of your personal life and interests alongside your real estate posts. Most agents have both a personal page and a business page on Facebook and Instagram. However, there’s plenty of crossover between the pages. “I plan social media posts about one month in advance and include a mix of educational items about real estate, town activities and local businesses,” said Sanchez. “I’m more spontaneous with stories on Facebook and Instagram, so those tend to be something I post when I’m out with friends or stopping at a local coffee shop and want to post about them.” To avoid social media overload, Chrissy Ferreira, a Realtor® with eXp Realty in Montclair, prefers to post “stories” that disappear in 24 hours more often than posting to her news feed. “If someone doesn’t have a lot of time to scroll through their social media, they’re more likely to check stories that they know will disappear,” said Ferreira. “It creates a sense of urgency.”
Ferreira checks her news feeds to make sure she splits her posts between personal and professional topics evenly. “I like to post a lot of positive motivational messages, so I share videos and posts often that may make someone’s day better,” said Ferreira. “If I’m posting about real estate, I try to share a photo or video and turn it into a teachable moment.” De Sario posts a mix of her daily activities, local events, photos of homes for sale, open houses and more. “I post anything that grabs people’s attention and usually post an Instagram story twice a day,” said De Sario. “I also make sure to use a lot of hashtags including names of towns so that people can find me if they’re searching for neighborhoods by keywords.” The main benefit of social media is visibility. Sanchez has also made friends in real life by meeting someone through social media and following up with an inperson meeting.
Lifting Your Community through Social Media Facebook groups for various towns and interests are a prime way agents can support their community. “I’m active in the PTA and attend Board of Education meetings and planning and zoning meetings that I post about,” said Roro. “During the pandemic I started a ‘Buy Nothing’ project in our town and it took off right away with people sharing items on social media they didn’t need and asking for things they needed.” On LinkedIn, Roro connects people she knows and posts a weekly real estate item, along with items about parenting, education, and small businesses, since she’s also vice president of her local chamber of commerce. “People are buying a town, not just a house, so I like to share things about my community on my posts,” said Hadden. “Colleen’s Community Connections” on Instagram is part of Hadden’s marketing plan. For example, January was National Soup Month, so Hadden filmed an Instagram Reels video outside Campbell’s Soup Co. headquarters in Camden, and then posted once each week at different local restaurants known for their soup. “I like to tag local businesses to give them exposure,” said Hadden. “They’re often grateful and will share the posts on their social media platforms, too.” Many of Sanchez’s social media videos are interviews with local business owners, particularly women, and highlights of community activities.
NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022 | 11
Social Media Metrics
Some agents, including Ferreira, track their social media to see which types of posts resonate the most and increase her connections. Others simply enjoy social media and pay less attention to the impact of particular posts.
Sanchez highlights activities, interesting posts and listings of other real estate agents, even those outside her brokerage, on social media. “It’s important for agents to network with other agents,” said Sanchez. “It’s also good to let your clients know that you play nice in the sandbox with other agents and other companies.” As Chair of the Young Professionals Network for New Jersey Realtors®, Roro has developed close friends with that network and their Facebook group. Tagging NJ Realtors® and the National Association of Realtors®, other agents and brokerages at real estate events means agents are more likely to share each other’s posts, said Ferreira. She likes to celebrate the success of other agents on social media and share her enthusiasm when they do a good job. “When I told people I was going into real estate a lot of people called it a ‘cutthroat’ business,” said Hadden. “But I find it’s very collaborative. I’ve met a lot of other agents through social media and ended up inviting them to meet for coffee. It helps us all to get to know each other.”
Please make sure your social media is in compliance with any advertising rules set by the New Jersey Real Estate Commission, as well as adheres to the National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics 12 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022
“People focus a lot on numbers, especially the number of followers they have,” said Hadden. “To me, it’s quality, not quantity that matters. If you have 10,000 followers around the world that’s not nearly as important as having a few local followers that you can convert into leads.” Hadden converted seven followers who were strangers to her outside of social media into customers in 2021, about half buyers and half sellers.
“Our goal in using social media is to get our brand name in front of people as often as we can,” said De Sario. “The more they see us, the more they remember us so when they hear of someone buying or selling a house, they’ll think of recommending us.” Real estate is about who you know and trust, said Ferreira. “Social media offers a way for people who don’t know me to get to know me, and for people who do know me to get to know me better,” said Ferreira.
“That may not sound like a lot of people but to me it was surprising,” said Hadden. “Each one contacted me and said, ‘this feels a little weird, but I feel like I know you from seeing you on Instagram and I’d like you to help me buy a place or sell my house.”
Khunatorn – stock.adobe.com
Making Agent Connections with Social Media
One of De Sario’s most successful social media posts was highlight the streets and houses with the best Christmas lights in Northern New Jersey, which was shared widely.
IDEAS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA YOU CAN POST TODAY
Download the Canva app on your smartphone and share a motivational quote using a free Canva template. When you pick up morning coffee from your favorite local shop, post a photo on Instagram stories and tag the shop.
3) 4) 5)
Do you have a morning routine? Bring your followers along for the ride through Instagram stories. Post your less perfect photos from the week into a carousel post, also known as a photo dump. Create a short form video explaining the top lines from your town NJ Realtors® Housing Data.
WE’RE BACK IN-PERSON!
CANDIDATE TRAINING ACADEMY presented by
Are you a Realtor® interested in running for public ofﬁce? Join New Jersey Realtors® and representatives from the National Association of Realtors® and Real Strategies for an introduction on what it takes to run for political ofﬁce. This full day of training will provide future candidates with a valuable head start in their political journeys as well as helpful information on how to run a successful campaign. The Candidate Training Academy is a one-day in personevent and is complimentary to New Jersey Realtors® members. Lunch will be provided.
March 30, 2022 NJ Realtors® Headquarters 10 Hamilton Ave, Trenton, NJ 08611
Tom Duke firstname.lastname@example.org | 609.341.7109
NEW JERSEY REALTOR ® | March/April 2022 | 13
Discover Downtown Metuchen BY ERIN McFEETERS
he tree-lined streets, charming homes, and countless small businesses welcome you into the Borough of Metuchen, and as soon as you take the exit, the hustle and bustle of the New Jersey Turnpike dies down almost instantly. This community is known for its small business commercial growth, community pride, easy access to major transit, and more. “Metuchen is a small tightly-knit walkable community, with access to transit and neighborliness that is hard to find elsewhere,” said Isaac Kremer, Executive Director of the Metuchen Downtown Alliance. The alliance is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization whose goal is to manage and revitalize the business district of Metuchen. Since the late 1800s, after the New Jersey Railroad finished the tracks to New Brunswick, Metuchen has been known as a commuter town with strong commercial ties. Those doing business in New York City sought after Metuchen in the late 19th century and began to build homes during this era—many historic homes around town are from this period. Even though it became a commuter hotspot, Metuchen was not an independent borough until 1900. 14 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022
“We’re a community of volunteers where people give generously of their time and talent on projects of importance to them and the community,” said Kremer. “Other communities look to Metuchen as a standard for innovative thinking in planning and design, supporting small businesses, and creating a vibrant community that includes everyone.”
TOWN SPOTLIGHT According to Kremer, 137 businesses have opened since 2016, and 83% of those businesses are still open today. He attributes the success to alliance initiatives such as storefront improvement grants, regular downtown cleaning, commercial market research, reviving neglected public spaces, and more.
While many businesses are on the newer side, walking downtown feels like taking a step back in time with the town’s oldstyle architecture and colonial homes. All of Metuchen is packed into less than three square miles making it extremely walkable from home to downtown to the train station too.
Main Street is chock-full of unique places to dine, shop, and explore. Everywhere you turn, there are small businesses you can’t find anywhere else. Find uncommon meatballs at Lotsa Balls, the perfect slice of coffee cake at Pastry Lu, one-of-a-kind gifts at Papillon & Company, and Irish favorites at Hailey’s Harp & Pub.
However, the increasing desire for walkability and proximity to New York City pushed Metuchen’s single family median sales price up 15.2% in 2021 to $600,000 year-to-date according to New Jersey Realtors® housing data. Prices in the townhouse-condo market segment also increased in 2021 to $285,500, a 26.9% percent year-to-date. Metuchen has come a long way from having a couple of shops near the train station. With the new town plaza, the increasing number of small businesses, and developments underway, Metuchen’s continues to grow in popularity amoungst first-time buyers looking to plant roots. Kremer expects the remaining vacant spaces downtown to fill, new projects will bring new housing and commercial space, and entertainment opportunities will grow with the anticipated transportation of the Forum Theater into a state-of-theart performing arts center. The alliance plans to continue its efforts to expand public spaces in the next few years and foresees the downtown to bring in more tourists too. “Downtown is the heart of the community that every day draws people together. When neighbors and friends encounter one another on Main Street, that is where new connections and ideas are sparked that enhance the community and make it a better place to live for everyone else,” said Kremer. “Most fundamentally, Metuchen has the heart of a small town with amenities typically found in much larger places.”
NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022 | 15
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Watch Out for Email Scams BY WILLIAM THOMPSON NJ REALTORS® DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY
“Welcome… You’ve got mail.” Do you remember the rush you would get when you dialed into your AOL service to catch up on the latest news? It was a simpler time, when email was sent between people you knew or company newsletters you could remember signing up for, and most importantly, you likely read every email that entered your inbox. The invention of email came about in the early 1970s as part of ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet we know today, and was used just as we use email today—to message a user who could log in on their own time to read and reply. In just a few years, before the Internet was even publicly available, what is considered the first spam message was sent, an unsolicited email to hundreds of users informing them of a product launch. Since then, spam messages have evolved to be much more malicious and with email being such an integral part of our day-to-day businesses, do you know the signs to keep yourself safe?
A very common and ever evolving type of scam is a phishing scam. Scammers will send a message, claiming to be from a company, one they know or are hoping you do business with, asking you to update your information. Information imposters are attempting to gather include: your sign-on credentials, which can be used to access your account and take control, your personal details such as name and address, so they have the necessary information to verify your identity when they contact a company claiming to be you, or it may be your credit card details, so they can rack up charges before you even click ‘save’. Phishing scams have become more sophisticated than ever where the fraudulent website can sometimes be indistinguishable from the legitimate one.
I hope this warning is unnecessary, but just in case, I need you to know that the Nigerian Prince does not actually need your help and you’re not a beneficiary of a recently passed celebrity’s estate (R.I.P. Betty White). While widely considered a joke, sophisticated and even targeted versions of the scheme, known as a 419 scam, can be convincing as they can use your personal life events to build trust and a relationship with you. 419 scams, named for the Nigerian criminal code the scheme violates, request that victims pay an “advance fee” so they may receive a larger payout, which will never come.
• Verify the Sender Look at the email address the message is coming from and verify it’s from a known email, be sure to check for misspellings and that the domain (e.g. @company.com) is correct. • Verify the Content Before you reply, ask yourself a couple of questions: Were you expecting this request? Would it make sense for the sender to make this type of request? Does the language and tone used match how the sender usually writes? • Confirm Offline If ever a request gives you pause, whether by phone, text message or email, listen to your gut! Contact the sender, by phone or preferably in-person, using information you know to be accurate. NEVER use the contact information in the message itself.
A variation of a 419 scam is known as whaling or CEO fraud. In this scheme, you’ll receive an email from, what looks to be, a member of your brokerage’s, franchise’s, or even association’s, leadership asking you to either perform a task, such as buy gift cards and mail them, or provide information (i.e. someone asking for your social security number to process a check.) This type of scheme is especially successful because the scammer is using clout and influence to catch you off guard in the hopes that you’ll comply first and ask questions later.
Here are some best practices to keep yourself safe while sifting through your inbox:
There is no fool-proof way to determine if an email is a scam or a request is illegitimate. The best you can do is stay vigilant and take a minute before you reply to question the intent. If you’re ever in doubt, reach out. NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022 | 17
Legal Resource Library When legal questions arise in your day-to-day business, visit legal.njrealtor.com for answers. We hope you will find this legal resource a useful member benefit as you navigate being a Realtor® and upholding federal and state laws and regulations while also providing your clients with the highest level of service.
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You Have Questions, We Have Answers—Fair Housing Edition The New Jersey Realtors® Legal Resource Library is intended to help answer legal questions that arise in your day-to-day business. Browse the library and respective categories at legal.njrealtor.com to see if your question has been answered. If not, submit a new question. Disclaimer: Answers are current as of date of printing, but please visit legal.njrealtor.com for any updates.
Are service dogs permitted when a buyer buys a condominium and the condominium association does not permit pets?
An assistance animal, which includes a service animal, is not a pet under the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and therefore not subject to such a pet policy. A reasonable accommodation must be provided with regard to assistance animals. The reasonable accommodation requirements apply to all housing covered by the FHA regardless of whether the housing is private, public, or receives federal financial assistance. The Assistance Animals Notice applies only to housing, including public and common use areas of housing developments and facilities covered by FHA, including apartments, condominiums, cooperatives, single family homes and other types of housing covered by the FHA. An assistance animal can be a service animal, which must be trained to provide a service, like a seeing eye dog, or can be an animal that will do work, perform tasks, provide assistance and/or therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities, which typically are called support animals. An animal that does not qualify as an assistance animal is subject to the policy concerning pets, including a no pet policy.
Rejecting Lease Applicants Due to Age
A landlord wants to reject a prospective tenant due to old age and the fear that an incident will occur on the premises. Normally I know that age is not a protected class for regular housing. Is it ok for the landlord to reject the tenant in this case?
The NJ Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) and Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) do not prohibit discrimination on the basis of age in a housing context. Nonetheless, a landlord should be very careful when refusing to rent a dwelling to an individual based on different standards than those they apply to other applicants.
An agent ‘s property description included this phrase, “The living area is good for guests or it can be used for your teenage kid”. Is this a Fair Housing violation? Should the description be revised to be inclusive of everyone, not a specific group?
All real estate advertised is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to advertise “any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.”
The same applies under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), which includes additional protected classes. Under the LAD, it is illegal to discriminate against a prospective or current buyer or tenant because of actual or perceived race, creed/religion, color, national origin, ancestry, marital status, sexual/affectional orientation, domestic partnership status, civil union status, gender, pregnancy and breastfeeding, armed forces, nationality, disability, gender identity or expression, familial status, source of lawful income. Advertisements should indicate that housing is open to all persons and should not, either directly or indirectly, indicate or suggest a preference or limitation. Advertisements should avoid using descriptions of the dwelling, its tenants, or its neighborhood that refer, either explicitly or implicitly, to protected characteristics.
NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022 | 19
Tips to Build Better BUSINESS HABITS BY LINDSEY GETZ
s a Realtor®, your communication and active listening skills are likely right on point, and it’s likely your proficiency in these areas led you to became a Realtor® in the first place. But what about your business habits? When you’re not in the field and talking to clients, do you feel like you are practicing good habits to help you to improve—and expand—your real estate business? These areas can often need improvement so we talked with Realtors® around the state to develop eight habits to improve your business and bring you success.
“It can be easy to get caught up in the new person that wants to see a house, but what about those five people from last week?” said Lotan. “The follow-ups, the phone calls, and the paperwork are where the ball can be dropped—but you can’t let it.”
You can be busy and have multiple transactions occurring simultaneously, but if you are ignoring the back end and not remaining organized, it can ruin your business, said Michelle Pais, Realtor® founder and CEO of the Michele Pais Group, a division of Signature Realty. “It’s about working on your business, not just in it,” said Pais. “I would always set aside some specific hours each week just to work on the business. This is the time when you should be building systems and implementing strategies that are going to help you run your operations.”
Use the 80/20 Rule
According to David Lotan, ABR®, Realtor® at Lifestyle International Realty in Secaucus, 80% of your time should be focused on 20% of your business. In other words, if you get too caught up with new clients, you could start to damage relationships with existing ones.
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When you first obtained your license, you likely wore a lot of hats. Even early on, it’s important to remember you can’t do it all, said Naeem Boucher RealtorAssociate® and founder of Naeem Boucher Properties, headquartered in Montclair. “You have to have the proper systems in place, and you likely need an assistant managing your schedule,” said Boucher. “If you can’t go to all the showings you’re landing, you might need a showing agent. And if you can’t get to all the paperwork, you need someone who can do that for you. You have to be able to delegate.”
Organization is Everything
According to Pais, technology can help facilitate these efforts and there are many software systems such as zipForms or Quickbooks, to assist with back-end management.
Know That You Can’t Do It All Yourself
Pais agrees and said, “Fire yourself from some of the tasks you’re currently handling and hire someone to do them for you.” She said a good rule of thumb for when it’s time to hire an assistant is when you have about 25 transactions per year. She adds at any point if you feel a lot is slipping through the cracks, it may be time for help.
Immerse Yourself in Knowledge
There is always something new to learn, which is why you should immerse yourself in knowledge, said Adam D’Annunzio, Realtor® Keller Williams Realty Jersey Shore. “Always be learning. The more you invest in yourself, the better you’ll be able to help clients. There is no greater return on investment than investing in yourself,” said D’Annunzio.
Show Up Every Day
“Always be learning. The more you invest in yourself, the better you’ll be able to help clients. There is no greater return on investment than investing in yourself.”
The importance of showing up cannot be undervalued. “It sounds basic, but most agents get into the business because they want freedom of their schedule,” said D’Annunzio. “This is the worst reason to get into real estate. The top agents and business owners know that you have to consistently and diligently follow a schedule to be successful.” Lotan agrees and adds that owning your own business is far from the traditional corporate workplace.
– Adam D’Annunzio, Realtor® Keller Williams Realty Jersey Shore
“When you’re an independent contractor and running your own business, there is always that temptation to stray from your focus,” said Lotan. “But it is imperative that you treat this like a business. Of course, we don’t work a traditional 9-5—we work a 24/7 schedule.”
Do the Thing You Dread the Most, First When it comes to certain unwanted tasks like making a phone call that an offer was turned down or a huge pile of paperwork to complete, it can be easy to push them to the side. Lotan recommends making a habit of doing the tasks you dread the most, first.
“If you have to make a difficult phone call with some bad news, you might be inclined to put it off all day,” said Lotan. “Then you basically spend all day dreading it and having it negatively impact your day. Instead, tackle it right away— and turn it into a positive. Say, here’s the bad news, but let’s find a way to turn this into a positive. It’s all about taking the negative and putting it away.”
Invest in Your Business
To succeed, you’re going to need to continue to invest in your business. “You need to spend money to make money,” said Lotan. “Investing in a good customer relationship management system is key. There are tools out there that can help make you better and support your business, but you need to budget for them. CRMs are crucial to automating your business and helping with mundane tasks.”
Never Stop Improving
When things are going well, it can be easy to become complacent. But Boucher attributes his success to continually making an effort to improve—every single day. “Every day I’m talking to myself about how I can be better,” said Boucher. “Where is there a gap that I need to fill in? Every day I’m being critical of myself and of my business. The day that we stop doing that is the day we start to fall short. There are always ways to improve.”
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Accounts to Inspire You BY ERIN McFEETERS
From home trends to organization tips to apartment tours, Apartment Therapy is an account you’ll want to follow for content to share. The photos on Apartment Therapy’s feed are bold, inspiring, and your clients will love it all.
This creative company founded by Brit Morin aims to entertain and educate women. The company’s profile will help you discover your full potential, encourages women entrepreneurship, and will inspire you on the daily.
Entrepreneur Magazine celebrates and inspires businesspeople. They share travel tips, success stories of entrepreneurs, and every day tips.
Ever heard of Vayner Media or Crush It!? International bestselling author, Gary Vaynerchick is an entrepreneur who helped transition his father’s liquor store business to e-commerce and is known for his success on YouTube. Gary posted a new wine tasting video every day for five years—the channel grew in popularity, he appeared on national television, and is now known as the voice for entrepreneurs.
Whether you’re a broker or a salesperson, you can benefit from learning from Harvard Business. Their page focuses on management, the challenges of building a career, and more.
HouseLogic’s profile is targeted to homeowners and potential buyers. They share seasonal homeowning tips, home design inspiration, home remodels, and more.
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Ibram X. Kendi is a professor at Boston University, founder of the Center for Antiracist Research, is a New York Times bestselling author, and is a National Book Award Winner. Follow him for diversity resources, daily inspiration, and antiracist educational materials.
If want to grow your social media accounts, following Later Media on Instagram is the perfect place to start. While yes, the company promotes its social media marketing platform tool, they also share amazing tips for success on Instagram. As the official Instagram partner, they know first-hand what’s trending on Reels, secret Instagram tips, ways to increase engagement, and more.
New York Times Bestselling Author and entrepreneur Marie Forleo is known as was referred to as “the thought leader for the next generation,” by Oprah Winfrey. She shares tips every day to help you achieve your goals, shares thought provoking quotes to inspire you, and helps you build habits to live a better life.
We couldn’t resist sharing our own page. Follow us for industry updates, content to share with your clients, housing market updates, business tips, and upcoming events.
Realtor.com’s® main Instagram page is a great place to find content to share with your clients. From voting for your favorite bathroom design to home improvement tips to home improvement before and after—give them a follow and you’ll be drooling over the home interiors they post.
Engage with other Realtors® around the country on Realtor.com’s® Instagram page dedicated for real estate professionals. Follow for real estate content ideas, trending markets, technology webinars, and design tips.
Bonus Accounts to Consider Following Stay up to date with what’s going on in your local community by following your local board, MLS, elected official, town, chamber of commerce, favorite small businesses and more. Syifa5610 – stock.adobe.com
NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022 | 23
Oilheat. Know more, sell more. Secure More Listings with Three Easy Steps In a seller’s market like the one we’re in, the Realtors who succeed are the ones with the most listings. And the fastest way to more listings is to market yourself as the agent best suited to sell all types of homes. Here are three surefire steps for securing more listings of oil-heated homes:
1. Communicate your
knowledge. Be ready to talk about Bioheat® and the advent of ultra-low-sulfur heating oil in New Jersey. Sellers want to know that you’ll be able to position their home in the most positive light, and being familiar with today’s new oilheat will go a long way.
2. Show off your connections. Let the sellers know that no matter what questions come up during the process, you will know exactly whom to call. Have a list of local heating oil companies, tank testing companies, homeowner’s insurance providers, etc., who will be able to handle any issues that arise.
3. Showcase your marketing tools. During the listing presentation, give the sellers a copy of the Homebuyer Welcome Pack, available FREE to you. Explain that you’ll use the Welcome Pack to help buyers get familiar with oilheated homes and use it as a tool to let sellers know you’re better positioned to sell the home than other Realtors.
To learn more or to order copies of the Homebuyer Welcome Pack, visit OilheatPROS.com/NJ
PRO$ Corner Equipment Rebates Available for Your Customers! Did you know that homeowners are now eligible to receive an equipment rebate when they upgrade their oilheat system to a new, higher-efficiency system in 2022? Homeowners who live in New Jersey and install a new oilheat boiler, furnace or heating and hot water system that meets the minimum efficiency standards of the New Jersey Clean Energy Program can receive a rebate of up to $700. All your clients need to do is connect with their local heating oil company and agree to have the work completed. They will receive the rebate up front and the heating oil company will do the rest! Your clients can also “double up” their rebates by securing one rebate through their heating oil company and a second rebate directly through the NJ Clean Energy Program, for a maximum of $1,400! Learn more at:
15 Minutes Can Make All the Difference Realtors know better than anyone that time is money. And PRO$ is here to help you make more money with just a few minutes of your time. When you schedule a brief, 15-minute presentation with PRO$, you’ll learn everything you need to secure more listings and close more sales. Our local experts will meet with you in your office, bring our FREE materials and get you answers to the tough questions that can blow up a sale. Visit OilheatPROS.com/NJ or contact Program Director Susan Janett at email@example.com to schedule your presentation today!
Paid for by the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey and the National Oilheat Research Alliance
Investing in Customer Service Can Help Your Bottom Line C
ustomer service is about being part of a team with your clients, pitching in where you can, and ultimately helping them through a successful transaction. According to Cindy Napp, Realtor-Associate® in Spring Lake, 2022 will be the year of customer service. Napp makes a point to help her sellers clean up their homes and stage it to receive top dollar. When working with buyers, she keeps her rolodex filled with contacts such as electricians and veterinarians to help new homeowners find what they need when they move to the area. “We are all working together to go forward,” said Napp. “This is the most important thing this year for our industry.”
Things are changing in the real estate world. New ways of buying and selling properties have emerged, and the pandemic changed the ways the industry does business. Even with streamlined business processes, Ronnie Glomb, Designated Realtor® and CEO of Your Town Realty, said lack of communication is the number one failure reported on surveys against agents.
BY LEE NELSON
“Communication is the top reason they discount the use of an agent,” said Glomb. “If you don’t want to pick up the phone and talk to customers, it will be really hard to succeed.”
“Things are changing in the real estate world. New ways of buying and selling properties have emerged, and the pandemic changed the ways the industry does business.” Create A Customer Service Plan
Customer service means treating each client the same no matter their price point, said Rachael Hite, a business development specialist with Finance of America Mortgage. Hite helps real estate agents with their business planning, marketing, and customer service. “The client has the same needs. It’s all about the importance of taking care of someone during their homeownership journey,” said Hite. NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022 | 25
It’s vital to take time to learn about your clients wants and needs during the home buying or selling process.
Some of the best ways to provide fantastic customer service includes setting boundaries when you first start working with the client such as business hours and preferred communication method. Hite recommends mapping out every part of a transaction to make space for the customer, regularly checking in with your clients, and creating a customer service routine. “People need to create a routine with customer service. Don’t throw it together at the last minute,” said Hite. “Organization creates calm. Don’t show houses one way to some people and other ways to others. With prep and planning, others will understand that is your brand. You have standards.”
Know Your Clients
It’s vital to take time to learn about your clients wants and needs during the home buying or selling process.
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“The more you ask, the more you learn,” said Napp. “The more you can hone in on what they really want, the better you can serve them.” Tammy Cottrell, Realtor® and manager/broker associate at Century 21 Action Plus Realty in Cream Ridge recommends listening more and talking less when it comes to initial conversation with clients. “Make your customers feel like they are your only customers. That will ensure they will become your client for life,” said Cottrell. Have an outline or a plan in place to help guide the buyers or sellers to they know what to expect. By being open and honest, they become more open to you. When working with couples, help them get on the same page by creating a want and need list to bring with you to every showing. It’s an important conversation to have with partners and it helps them decide together what they really need to be happy. “You take that list with you to every showing and open house. Then when walking through the home, everyone can realistically look at what’s most important to both of them,” said Hite.
The list can save on arguments and time. For instance, if a basement is very important to both of them, they can eliminate those homes that don’t have one. Clients will lean on your expertise to help them make a decision so take the time to talk about how the space could work for them.
Information is Key
One area agents fall behind on in customer service is not getting back to their sellers after an open house or a showing to fill them in about what happened. “Providing feedback, even if there isn’t any feedback, is important,” said Glomb. Tell them how many people showed up for the open house or explain what questions potential buyers asked during a showing. If you aren’t saying anything to your clients, they think you aren’t doing anything.
the price points, what it means to be part of that town, and who you call for getting things done. She believes strongly in collaboration and providing resources to newcomers and helped create an online guide which includes community events, upcoming fundraisers, small businesses, favorite restaurants, and other lifestyle information.
Stay in Touch
Cottrell tries to keep in touch with all her past clients throughout the years. After a closing, she sets them up on a preferred client club with her office. Clients are sent different printed marketing pieces in the year including some postcards, branded magazines, greeting cards, and a yearly calendar. “This helps keep me top of mind to my clients,” said Cottrell. “I also use an email drip campaign with a monthly real estate newsletter. I then add them to my social media accounts and my holiday mailing list as well.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals or reviews from your happy clients. Customer service is about getting back to basics and helping your clients through the home buying or selling process.
Many Realtors® hold annual parties and get-togethers to thank their clients and vendors.
Glomb recommends using technology and emails to inform buyers and sellers where they are in the process and what’s the next step.
Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals or reviews from your happy clients. Customer service is about getting back to basics and helping your clients through the home buying or selling process.
“We send out reminders about appraisals, home inspections, and more with follow-up emails,” said Glomb. “I carry about 100 listings on average. I wouldn’t be able to do it without a written plan and implementing my systems.” Cottrell makes it a priority to tell her clients about possible negative outcomes during each step of the process. “This way, if something goes wrong – such as during the inspection – then they are prepared and know how we can move forward, if need be,” said Cottrell.
“But the key is you need to follow-up occasionally with phones call and text messages. Or you can even stop by to say hello if you’re in the area. This will ensure to keep the relationship going,” said Cottrell.
Just as customers read reviews before making online purchases, potential home buyers and sellers will read reviews before choosing their Realtor®.
Give your Best During the Process
Napp makes sure her clients know they can turn to her for all kinds of help. If people are moving into her area for the first time, she shares information about every town, the nuances of them,
NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022 | 27
BOOST YOUR BUSINESS
WITH THESE 5 FREE TOOLS BY ERIN McFEETERS
Organize your work, projects, and deadlines with Asana. While companies use this tool for collaboration, it’s also a great space to organize everything from listing descriptions, meeting preparation, and content ideas for your social media page. The tool will help you stay focused on the tasks at hand while preparing for what’s ahead. Asana provides workspace templates for project management and to-do lists while giving users the option to customize and create the perfect workspace to help them get things done.
3 grammarly.com Free and Paid Version
Say goodbye to tiny grammatical errors in your listing descriptions and client emails with Grammarly. The platform has more than 30 million daily users looking to improve their writing skills and streamline their writing. Grammarly can be installed into your web browser and it will provide writing suggestions, correct grammatical errors, replace repetitive words, and more.
canva.com Free and Paid Version
If you’re looking for a way to boost the appearance of your social graphics or listing flyers but not looking to break the bank, look no further than Canva. This online design and social media publishing tool will help you shine with thousands of free templates and graphic elements at your fingertips. Canva also recently added a video editing tool, a social media scheduler, and GIF creation. Work on personal projects or share your project link with a teammate or colleague and work together. 28 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022
Diego – stock.adobe.com
asana.com Free and Paid Version
Tada Images – stock.adobe.com
When you’re running your business, sometimes you need to enlist a little help, and these digital tools will help you keep track of tasks, upgrade your business’s appearance, write close to grammatically perfect listing descriptions, and more. There are countless digital tools across the Internet, but try the free versions of these tools, and you’ll be well on your way.
workspace.google.com Free with Upgrade Option
From Gmail to Google Drive to Google Calendar to Google Meet, the Google Workspace has truly everything you need to stay organized. With your Gmail account, you have access to all Google applications, and there’s no need for licenses or additional services. Create to-do lists in Google Sheets, create a listing presentation in Google Slides, prep flyers in Google Docs, and more.
This content creation tool is free for Realtor® members. Both the National Association of Realtors® and New Jersey Realtors® have libraries of customizable pre-made graphics to post on your social media platform of choice. It doesn’t get any easier than that! Sign up at photofy.com/nar, and you will gain access to advertising campaign assets, social media templates, and a social media scheduler tool.
Questions? Comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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B O A R D / A S S O C I AT I O N N E W S
Have a few minutes? Challenge yourself!
Puzzle provided by sudokuoftheday.com. Get the answers to the puzzle on page 2.
Bubble Mania is Back!
MCAR Donates to Women Aware
The Ocean City Board of Realtors® held its annual Bubble Mania event which raises funds for the Ocean City Historical Museum—an innovative and informative community resource—and celebrates the heritage of Ocean City. The event is typically held in person, but the board pivoted to hold it virtually this year. In total more than $2,000 was donated to the museum.
Each year the Metro Centre Association of Realtors® Young Professionals Network chooses a charity to support. In 2021 the group chose Women Aware, a domestic violence service center whose mission is to promote the safety of families impacted by domestic violence in Middlesex County. In total, the MCAR YPN donated $600 to the organization.
Ocean City Board of Realtors® presenting funds to the museum.
Gabby Magsino, 2021 YPN Chair presenting a donation to Susan Dyckman, Development Director for Women Aware.
NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | March/April 2022 | 29
TECH FOR AGENTS
ON THE GO.
Stay seamlessly connected as your relationships move from app-based home searches, to your website, to face-to-face meetings and beyond. All the data you need to offer superior customer service is organized and at your fingertips.
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