South Florida Real Estate and Community News

June 29, 2020

Guarantees? Don’t forget you could be wrong.

Realtor® Keith represented two buyers, Bobby and Betty, and showed them four houses. Betty then asked to see one of the properties a second time, then a third, then a fourth. Bobby and Betty seemed as if they were on the cusp of committing to the house they visited over and over but told Keith they’d like to “sleep on it.”

When Keith didn’t receive a call the next day, he called Bobby and Betty,

Bobby told Keith that he was a bit hesitant on the price. “There’s a rumor that my company will have some executive transfers that could impact me this year,” he said. “I’m hesitant to commit that much money to a house only to lose some if I have to sell within 12 months.”

Realtor Keith tried to reassure the prospect by phone but couldn’t get Bobby to commit. Keith then dictated a letter stating that the house was an exceptional bargain at the asking price and “our office guarantees to get your money out of it for you any time over the next year if you should need to sell.”

Bobby was convinced, and he came in with Betty later that day to sign the contract.

Six months later, Bobby called Keith and said he wanted to sell that same house. He was, indeed, being transferred, and he needed to get his equity out of the house so he could afford another home in his new community.

Keith listed the house at the same price Bobby and Betty had paid for it. After a month, however, there had been no offers, and Bobby was getting anxious because the transfer was at hand. He then reminded Keith that his office had guaranteed he would get his money out of the house within the year.

Keith explained that the market had changed over the past six months – that it had become much less active and that Bobby and Betty might have to reduce their price by $10,000 or $15,000 to attract a buyer.

Bobby then filed a complaint with the local Realtor association. He charged Keith with misrepresentation, exaggeration and failure to make good on a commitment. After examining the complaint, the Grievance Committee referred it to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing.

In response to questioning by the Hearing Panel, Keith agreed that he had written the letter to Bobby and Betty in good faith at the time the letter was written because he’d been certain at the time that he could obtain a price for the property that would ensure Bobby and Betty “got their money out of the house.”

Kevin did not control the local real estate market, and he had no way of knowing that it would slow over the following six months, he said. And while he regretted that the home would likely sell for less than Bobby and Betty had paid, the fault lay with the market and not Kevin.

The Hearing Panel reminded Keith that the market wasn’t the issue, nor his opinion of the market when Bobby and Betty first bought the house. The pertinent issue was Keith’s written “guarantee” to Bobby and Keith’s current failure to make good on his written commitment.

The Hearing Panel’s conclusion: Keith had engaged in misrepresentation and was in violation of Article 2 of the Realtors Code of Ethics.

Original Source

June 26, 2020

Law Takes Aim at Emotional Support Animal Certificate Abuse

JUNE 24, 2020

The new law, SB 1084, was a session priority for Florida Realtors as the continued abuse of online “ESA certificates” created major problems for property managers.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1084 into law this week, which seeks to curb growing abuses of emotional support animal (ESA) certificates.

The new law was a major session priority of Florida Realtors as the continued abuse of online “ESA certificates” presented significant problems for many Realtors who are also property managers. The law establishes what can be considered reliable information for an ESA.

One of the main components of the law, which is based on new federal guidelines, is that patients must establish the need for an ESA through a licensed medical practitioner with whom they have an established professional relationship. Additionally, the law creates a civil penalty for the falsification of documentation used to support the need for an ESA.

Other changes in the law of interest to Realtors include the need for separate supporting documentation for each emotional support animal in a household, liability for any damages done to a person or property where an ESA resides, and a housing provider’s ability to ask for supporting documentation if the disability is not readily apparent.

Finally, the law allows a housing provider to deny an ESA if they believe the animal will cause harm to people or the property of others. The bill does not address restaurants, airplanes or other public places. The effective date is July 1, 2020.

Questions? Call Florida Realtors Legal Hotline, a free service included with membership.

© 2020 Florida Realtors®

Original Source

Posted in Uncategorized
June 25, 2020

You Could Be the Fall Guy for Your Seller’s Lies

When Kristen Martinez and her family bought a home in the Seattle area two years ago, she specifically asked about the electrical wiring. “We had been told [by the seller] when we bought the house that there was no knob-and-tube wiring,” Martinez says. This older form of electrical wiring is less resistant to damage and more prone to causing fires. The issue went undetected during an inspection because the electrical work appeared to have been masked, says Martinez, who wasn’t at the inspection. But as soon as the Martinez family moved into their new home, they realized they had been deceived.

“We had come to realize that the seller—who is a house flipper and electrician—did a shoddy job hiding the bad wiring and illegally connected dangerous knob-and-tube wiring with [more modern] wiring,” Martinez says. About $7,000 later, the Martinez family’s electrician completely rewired their home, but they still come across safety issues. “It has been a terrible experience.”

Sellers can be held legally liable under most state laws for not disclosing property defects and material facts, such as leaky basements or knowledge of lead paint. You, too, can suffer legal consequences if you don’t disclose material defects found on the property that you become aware of in the course of serving your client. But if your seller is hiding problems he or she is aware of, and you’re none the wiser about them, can the finger be pointed at you? Legally, you can’t be held liable for property issues you don’t have knowledge of in most jurisdictions. But your reputation as an agent—having even unwittingly represented a seller who lied—could inadvertently take a hit.

Even if you’re selling a property “as is,” which indicates the buyer must accept the home’s condition, the buyer still has the right to know what the problems are. “The buyer [must have the information available to] make an educated decision about whether or not to make an offer,” says Kevin Deselms, a sales associate with RE/MAX Alliance in Golden, Colo.

If you suspect your client is either unaware of property issues or being less than forthcoming about them, and you want to ensure more transparency in the transaction, you could disclose your observations of the property’s condition to the buyer and encourage them to seek further professional advice, says Bryan Zuetel, a real estate attorney and broker-owner of Esquire Real Estate Inc., in Irvine, Calif. “For instance, an agent might smell a moldy scent in the basement and see what looks like mold, but the agent is not qualified—nor required to—conclude that there is mold in the basement,” Zuetel says. “The agent could simply disclose a ‘moldy scent’ or a ‘moldy appearance’ in the basement, and advise all parties to engage the proper professionals for further evaluation. Whether a seller acknowledges the issue is not relevant to the agent’s duty to disclose.”

Cassandra Corum, managing broker at Sotheby’s International Realty in Beverly Hills, Calif., takes this approach, cautioning that “we can’t force a seller to tell the truth, and sometimes they may not know the truth. The home could have flooded prior to their ownership, so their experience has been that the property has never flooded.” Corum makes sure to get the disclosure form, including her notes about her observations of the property, to the buyer before they schedule a home inspection. That way, the buyer can make a more informed decision about how they want to proceed earlier in the transaction. “This is tricky,” she says, “because you can’t say [a problem exists where it might not], but you would hope and assume that a comment about an odor, for example, would turn on a lightbulb and move the buyer to schedule a mold inspection.”

Though you have no duty to search for property defects yourself, it would be wise to pay attention to the home’s condition as you and your client prepare it for market. If you notice a potential problem the seller has not told you about, ask your client questions to gauge their knowledge of the issue and willingness to fix it. Uncooperativeness at this juncture may mean you’re working with an unscrupulous seller—and you’d be better off walking away from the deal. “One listing, however great it may be, is not worth an agent’s license,” says Vincent Averaimo, an attorney with Milford Law in Milford, Conn. “Rather than get involved in deceit, it is a more prudent business decision to walk away from the deal and advise your broker immediately.”

Fred Glick, e-PRO, a sales associate with Arrivva Inc., in Aptos, Calif., says it’s best to be painfully honest with sellers about the importance of a disclosure form at the start of the business relationship. “I tell them that this form can be used in court to prosecute them,” he says. “It could be used to prove fraud, which could be criminal. I encourage the seller to do an inspection of the property before we list and allow buyers to get their own inspections.”

Most buyers will do their own inspections anyway, which likely will reveal whatever issues sellers may want to hide and possibly lead to a termination of the offer or a large negotiation on the home’s price, says Nancy Wallace-Laabs, SFR, co-partner at KBN Homes in Frisco, Texas. Therefore, not being upfront about property issues quite literally eats away at the seller’s bottom line. “The headaches that ensue with a dishonest client are not worth the price of any commission you might make on the property,” Wallace-Laabs says.

Original Source

Feb. 3, 2020

Time Frames of a Purchase Contract

Minding time periods of a purchase contract is an essential element of our Realtor duties. An expiration date of any of the given time periods can result in a Buyer losing their deposit or the Seller failing to close on their property.

Three important time periods to consider are:

  1. Loan Approval Period
  2. Inspection Period
  3. Condo Rider/ Condo Docs – 3-day rescission period

Loan Approval Period: The Loan Approval Period mentioned in Paragraph 8 (Financing) of the “AS IS” Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase is often overlooked and sometimes misinterpreted by Realtors. In its current revision (June 2019), the Buyer has two choices to make prior to the expiration of the Loan Approval Period if the Loan Approval has not been received:

  1. Waive Loan Approval, in which event this Contract will continue as if Loan Approval had been obtained
  2. Terminate this Contract

As previously stated, the above two choices are only made if the Loan Approval has not been received by the mortgage lender.

As an example: given a 30-day Loan Approval Period and reaching day 28 without a Loan Approval, I suggest the following:

  • Make contact with the Loan Originator and discuss the ability to obtain the Loan Approval. If an Approval can be obtained by the next business day (day 29 of the time period), be sure to have it in the Seller’s Realtor’s hands by 5 pm on the 29th day of the time period.
  • If the Loan Originator is not providing clear answers, not able to provide a Loan Approval, or simply stalling, please have your Buyer sign a Release and Cancellation of Contract and provide the ‘Release’ to the Seller’s Realtor.

Inspection Period: The Buyer should exercise their right to inspect and should do so as soon after the effective date as possible. Prompting a Buyer to setup an inspection within a day or two from the effective date of the purchase contract will keep the pressure off the process by providing adequate time for decisions. Should the Buyer not like the inspection results, they can exercise their right to cancel the contract within the Inspection Period.

If the Buyer does not like the inspection results and wants to ask the Seller to make concessions or repairs, the Buyer must do so during the Inspection Period. Any agreements made shall be executed during the Inspection Period as well. Once the Inspection Period expires, the Buyer has no further right to cancel for reasons stemming from the inspection.

Condo Rider/ Condo Docs: The Buyer has a legal right to be provided with and review a copy of the Condo Docs (if a Condominium Association exists). Condo Docs include the following with no exceptions: current copy of the declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation, bylaws and rules of the association, and a copy of the most recent year-end financial information and frequently asked questions and answers document.

The above documents shall be provided to the Buyer and the Buyer shall have 3 days to decide whether or not they wish to cancel the purchase contract. This is only applicable if Paragraph 5(b) is checked on page 2 of the Condominium Rider and, in my opinion, should always be the selected option. If you are representing a Seller of a condominium unit, please present a copy of the Condo Docs to the Buyer’s Realtor immediately after effective date to start the 3-day rescission period.

Feb. 3, 2020

Look Around: Is Someone Sabotaging Your Sale?

A house just won’t sell and you may be stumped as to why– and occasionally someone may be sabotaging your sale. Some real estate professionals have found that the saboteur is a neighbor or even the seller’s own child.

In one situation highlighted in The Wall Street Journal, a real estate agent had been showing a $10 million mansion in Los Angeles’s Benedict Canyon area for several months. Buyers responded positively to the home but no one was buying. The agent later discovered that the sellers’ housekeeper was worried about losing her job if the home sold, so she gave buyers a long list of problems with the house, such as a neighbor’s barking dog, the loud echoes of the canyon at night and a neighbor’s loud parties.

After learning about this, the agent told the seller to make sure the housekeeper wasn’t at the showings, and a buyer was found within weeks.

In another incident, a renter in Manhattan who did not want to move would freeze the apartment prior to every showing and leave rat traps lying around, even though there weren’t any rats.

Other attempts to sabotage a deal are even more blatant: A teenager was upset that his home was about to be sold so he threw a huge party while his parents were away. The boys and his friends painted graffiti all over the tennis court and guest house the day before the final walkthrough, the buyer’s agent Joseph Montemarano said.

“The parents had to pay to have the court repainted and resurfaced and repair the guest house,” Montemarano says. “Luckily, my buyers were pretty OK with it. They just told the seller to make it right.”

And sometimes the deal killer is more unintentional.

Leslie Turner, a real estate pro in Charleston, S.C., recalls a local building inspector who was discussing the home’s condition with the buyer and using alarming language in describing the house that ended up spooking the buyers. The inspector was hired to check out an 1882 home that was under contract for $1.5 million. His report, however, “made it sound like there was a parade of imaginary horribles,” and the couple ended up walking away from the home.

“You always want to protect your clients and have them have a really thorough home inspection, but it’s just the way this guy delivers the news – he doesn’t have a good bedside manner,” Turner told the Wall Street Journal. “I’ve seen people miss out on perfectly good properties because of this deal killer.”

The Charleston home sold the next day to a different buyer who understood the quirks of historic homes and wasn’t spooked by the inspector’s report.

Source: “Who Killed the Deal to Sell Your House? It Was an Inside Job,” The Wall Street Journal (May 15, 2018) [Log-in required]

Jan. 30, 2020

Financial Wellness For Realtors

Tuesday, February 18 • 12:30 – 2:30 pm

Chicago Title Insurance Co.
13800 NW 14 Street, Suite 190, Sunrise, FL 33323

Learn how to secure your financial future with every property you close with actionable easy steps you can begin implementing with your next transaction. Marianela has over 15 years of experience in the tax and financial planning arena.

RSVP to Iliana Cardentey -

Posted in Success/Learning
Jan. 3, 2020

Broward Biz After Hours - Jan 16, 2020

Thursday, January 16 • 5:30 - 7:30 pm

Bahama Breeze
2750 Sawgrass Mills Circle, Sunrise 33324

Join us at one of West Broward’s top venues and enjoy complimentary appetizers, one drink ticket & great drink specials as you network with other local area real estate professionals.

FREE to all REALTORS® & Guests

Posted in Uncategorized
Dec. 17, 2019

Does a transaction broker represent the transaction or the person?

A common phrase attorneys on Florida Realtors Legal Hotline hear is that a licensee “represents the transaction” when working with a buyer, seller or both in a transaction broker relationship. This isn’t technically correct because a transaction broker provides a limited form of representation to a person, unless they’re providing services to both sides and provide a limited form of representation to both.

The title of transaction broker refers to a list of required legal duties the licensee will owe. It may help understand the transaction broker relationship by looking at the required duties a transaction broker would owe in relation to the others.

There are currently three types of relationships a licensee can form when meeting a party. See below for a chart that organizes these relationships from the fewest legal duties to most.

These relationships move from no brokerage relationship (fewest required duties), to transaction broker (additional required duties), to single agent (most required duties).

No Brokerage Relationship

Duties owed

  1. Dealing honestly and fairly
  2. Disclosing all known facts that materially affect the value of residential real property which are not readily observable to the buyer
  3. Accounting for all funds entrusted to licensee

How established

By providing a written copy of the no brokerage relationship notice disclosure located at Fla.Stat. §475.278(4)(c) to the party before showing property.

Transaction Broker Relationship

Duties owed

  1. Dealing honestly and fairly
  2. Disclosing all known facts that materially affect the value of residential real property and are not readily observable to the buyer
  3. Accounting for all funds
  4. Using skill, care, and diligence in the transaction
  5. Presenting all offers and counteroffers in a timely manner, unless a party has previously directed the licensee otherwise in writing
  6. Limited confidentiality unless waived in writing by a party. This limited confidentiality will prevent disclosure that the seller will accept a price less than the asking or listed price, that the buyer will pay a price greater than the price submitted in a written offer, of the motivation of any party for selling or buying property, that a seller or buyer will agree to financing terms other than those offered, or of any other information requested by a party to remain confidential
  7. Any additional duties that are mutually agreed to with a party

How established

It is presumed that all licensees are operating as transaction brokers unless a single agent or no brokerage relationship is established, in writing, with a customer. Fla.Stat. §475.278(1)(b).

Single Agent Relationship

Duties owed

  1. Dealing honestly and fairly
  2. Disclosing all known facts that materially affect the value of residential real property and are not readily observable
  3. Accounting for all funds
  4. Skill, care, and diligence in the transaction
  5. Presenting all offers and counteroffers in a timely manner, unless a party has previously directed the licensee otherwise in writing
  6. Confidentiality
  7. Loyalty
  8. Obedience
  9. Full disclosure

How established

By providing a written copy of the single agent notice located at Fla.Stat. §475.278(3)(c) to the party before, or at the time of, entering into a listing agreement or an agreement for representation or before the showing of property, whichever occurs first.

Original Source

Dec. 16, 2019

Find Your Next Listing With These Geographic Farming Tactics

RPR gives you access to data, tools and reports that can help you “wow” your clients and close more deals. However, from time to time, we like to “wow” our users and show them features and capabilities within RPR that can really help them build their business.

By digging a little deeper into the platform, you can go beyond basic property information and valuations. You can use RPR to conduct research that will help you identify specific targets and create areas to farm for leads.

Real estate farming is possibly the most proactive position an agent can take to build inventory. The method includes a series of steps that analyze a given neighborhood, ZIP code or market area to determine how many homes are most likely to sell, at what price range, and how long they will be on the market.

Using RPR to conduct market research and applying the formulas below will help you in your farming efforts. A good farming strategy involves working through a set of five exercises to determine the area’s viability:

  1. Average price
    Predicting your average commission per transaction will determine how many properties you will need to close to make a profit in your farm area.From your area, pull all of the sold listings over the past two years to calculate the average price range of homes sold and then calculate what your commission would have been. Then jot down the number of closings you need to succeed.
  2. Amount of homes
    Your number of needed closings (from above), needs to be proportional to the number of homes in the farm area and the area’s turnover rate (which we’ll address next). Real estate experts recommend those just starting out choose a neighborhood that has up to 500 homes to make the effort worth the investment. That number is negotiable though as you don’t want to choose an area so large that your marketing effort is spread too thin to make a difference.
  3. Turnover
    One of the most important aspects of identifying a farm area, turnover rate, is a simple calculation that helps to identify whether the area has enough sales activity to sustain your prospecting campaign.Most agents look for areas with a 7% or higher turnover rate. For example, an area with 500 residences but only 25 sales in the past year only yields a mere 5 percent turnover rate –– not high enough to earn a decent profit even though there are so many homes in the area.To figure out the turnover rate in your potential farm area, divide the number of homes in your farm area by the number of homes sold in the last 12 months.
  4. Months of Inventory
    Another important measure of potential success is “months of inventory,” a calculation used to indicate how long it would take for the homes currently available to sell at the market’s present pace. The figure is primarily used to help REALTORS® predict how many listings are needed to keep their pipelines active over a given time period.A healthy market usually has between five and six months supply of inventory.To calculate months of inventory, from your farm area, divide the number of active listings on the market by the number of homes sold per month on average during the previous 12 months.
  5. Competition
    Lastly, knowing who is currently marketing to your potential farm area can lead to a make-or-break campaign. If one agent dominates the area, you may want to look elsewhere. An area with a variety of agents will more than likely be more open to a new face.

Here’s an article, with details and step-by-step directions, on how REALTOR® Trang Dunlap uses RPR to farm for leads. 

Original Source

Dec. 9, 2019

6 Success Tips for The New and Pro Real Estate Agent

“Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Napoleon Hill

How you think and what you do as a real estate agent on a day to day basis is what defines you. Yes, there are good days and bad days; after all, we are human.  Yet, as we enter the fourth quarter and end of 2019, now is a great time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.  Did you reach your goals or exceed them?  If not, let’s evaluate how creating a new mindset can propel you positively, beginning today!

Whether you are a new real estate agent or an established pro, mindset applies to everyone. Are you open to pursuing a new, strategic and energizing belief system? Following these steps can catapult you to a new level of success in business for 2020.

1. Think like an entrepreneur — not an employee.

How you think and behave is completely different when you are an entrepreneur vs. an employee. Many real estate agents entered the field after leaving the corporate world. Whether you were in sales or not, one thing you could count on was a steady paycheck. Many new real estate agents think that if they could generate a good income with their previous company, then those skills will transfer directly to the real estate business. It doesn’t always work that way.

To create a successful business as a real estate agent, top agents have developed systems and “growth mindsets.”

Here are several that the top real estate coaches teach on creating successful habits

  • Create your goals for 2020
  • Create daily, weekly and monthly goals
  • Be held accountable for those goals. Find a mentor, coach or mastermind group.
  • Give yourself time to learn rather than expect success immediately.

This is a great book. Check it out: Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert T. Kiyosaki

2. Work with a company that supports your goals and success

Choosing which company to partner with can be one of your most critical decisions. Interview with several companies before you choose which one to join.  Find out what they offer you in terms of technology, tools, and training.

  • Calculate how much it will cost you to be a part of the company.
  • Do they offer one on one training and mentoring?
  • Choose a company that is aligned with your values. Choose a broker or team leader who is aligned with your values, as that is the person you will call when you have questions or need help.

3. Let people know You Are in Real Estate — Don’t Be A Secret Agent

How do people know that you are in real estate? Some of the most successful real estate agents do the following:

  • Wear their name badge from their company every day. (Make sure it is large enough to be visible.) It is a conversation-opening opportunity.
  • Wear a shirt that lets people know that you work in real estate.
  • Get a magnet that has your name, brokerage name and slogan (if you have one) for your car.

Check Out: The Millionaire Real estate agent By Gary Keller

4. Make Lots of Mistakes and Don’t Take It Personally

The world of real estate is anything but boring, and things happen that can easily throw you off course. One thing about real estate is certain: no two days are the same. It is an ever-changing, exciting business.  Some agents want to be perfect before they move forward, so they take course after course and never end up taking the ball and running with it. Why? Many times, it is because of the perfection syndrome.

Perfection can get in the way of doing. To be the best at any profession takes time, commitment and action. Make lots of mistakes, learn from them and keep moving forward.

  • Be who you are. If you are a new real estate agent, that is ok. Many people love to give newbies an opportunity.
  • Be willing to be uncomfortable. Remember, success happens in steps.
  • Don’t get offended if you get fired from working with a buyer or seller. It happens.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror every day, smile, and show gratitude for all that is good in your life.

Check out: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

5. Embrace Change

Life is moving at such a fast pace. What was once considered a technological breakthrough can be obsolete in a short time. Remember, the “old days” is an adage. To be successful and constantly growing here are some suggestions:

  • Let Go of The Old – Change can be good! Remember the VCR and the first cell phones? We have come a long way. To be forward and live powerfully, look towards the future on a daily basis.
  • Anticipate Change Before It Happens When You Can- Learn your market so you can begin to see the signs of a rising or falling real estate market and adjust your business accordingly.

6. Don’t Let Anything Stop You

Anything and everything can stop you when you have your own business. On a daily basis, you may receive calls from family, friends or clients that move you off track.   Or perhaps you experienced the last market bubble. It was a tough time for many. Learn from it all and keep moving forward.

Can you shrug off negativity or does it stop you?

  • Keep your eyes on your vision
  • Believe in yourself
  • Surround yourself with positive people

Some offices have set up networking and mastermind groups to keep each other focused and positive.

Check out: The Miracle Morning for Real Estate Agents by Hal Elrod

The biggest thing I can say to you today is, Think Big AND Believe in Yourself No Matter What! Our past is what brings us here today. Learn and create from anew every day when you awaken.  How we think is our choice.Now go and sell some Real Estate!

Written for Form Simplicity by Janice Zaltman, a Realtor, LEED AP, Marketing Coach and Writer with more than 20 years of experience in the sales, marketing and media fields.

Posted in Success/Learning