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Category Archives: Broker Buzz with Kerry

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4 Steps to Staying Safe… Realtor Edition

You have heard the reports on the news or the stories in the industry but you haven’t used safety precautions yourself. Are you afraid to lose business by asking the questions or putting your safety first? Nothing is more important than you and your safety and some of these techniques could boost your business when customers know how seriously you take your job and your safety.

Getting to know your customer

Choose a public place to meet a new client for the first time. The best location is the office, that gives you a chance to photocopy their ID if you so desire. It also gives you the opportunity to review expectations from both sides, theirs of you and yours of them. IF a buyer insists on meeting you for the first time at a vacant house, you shouldn’t be meeting them at all.

Trust Your Gut 

If your gut tells you something is wrong, it probably is. If you arrive before the home buyer, and you don’t really know them yet, park in the street so you don’t get blocked in. Never meet someone in the dark unless you know them. Tag team with someone at your office and let each other know where you are meeting people if it someone you are working with for the first time. Conveniently be on the phone when the client arrives so they know someone is aware of where you are. Politely tell the person on the phone my customer for the house on —– just arrived I will speak to you when I am done.

Buddy System

Have a buddy with you during Open Houses. Open Houses can be very busy these days, having another agent there or an assistant can help you out in more ways than one.

Self Defense Moves

Take a self defense course. From NAR”s 2016 Member Safety Report 40 percent of REALTORS have taken a self defense course and 73% feel safer after taking one. Install a safety app on your smart phone to track your whereabouts and alert colleagues in case of an emergency.

 

For further information about ways to increase your on-the-job safety, check out Beverly Carter Foundation, www.beverlycarterfoundation.org and the NAR-sponsored Safety Matters course nar.realtor/topics/realtor-safety.

Check out our Realtor Safety Guide too!


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How can I get more Feedback on my listings?

 

One of the biggest frustrations these days is not getting feedback from agents that show your listings, especially when your seller is expecting it. Personally, I send an email, if I don’t get a response I also call and text, sometimes to no avail. Conversely, when you show a home are you providing feedback? If not why aren’t you? Do you expect it on your listings?

So, what can you as the list agent do differently to make it easier? Here are a few of the ways we’ve seen agents succeed:

Well, the first thing is make it as easy as possible for an agent to schedule a showing. Additionally explain this to your seller, the easier the home is to show the more likely an agent is to show it.
Remember, the agent most likely showed several homes and may have them confused, so make sure you include a picture of the home in the feedback request, the showing agent is more likely to remember the home if they see a photo.

Ask for the feedback right away, keep the form short and ask for answers that you will use, maybe the generic feedback form isn’t right for you or your listing.

Click here to download the Top 5 Steps to More Showings & Feedback from Showing Time!

Managing Broker / President of Operations

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Business Email Compromise (BEC)

Broker Buzz: What is (BEC)?

This may be a new phrase and acronym to some and many of you may have already heard it.  Business Email Compromise goes hand in hand with the Buzz Topic we have been hearing a lot about Cyber Fraud, Wire Fraud, Cyber Security.

This is when a Realtor, a Buyer , A seller or any party to a real estate transactions email has been hacked and then the buyer is given false wiring information.  If you missed the seminar hosted by Prestige Title on 09/27/2017 where the local FBI came to speak you missed a lot of great information.

Since January 2015 there has been a 2400% (yes I did just say 2400%) increase in the US.  $113,719 is the average amount of a loss.  To put into perspective, in 2016 REPORTED credit card fraud in the US amounted to $45k and REPORTED BEC fraud amounted to $400k+

There are two parts to this type of crime and therefore 2 parts are investigated.

1. is the Cyber or the Hacking and that is investigated by the FBI’s Cyber division.

2. What happens to the $.  That is the white collar part and is investigated by the FBI’s white collar crimes division.

The white collar crimes goal is to get the money back.  However, due to high volume of incidents they only investigate incidents of $50k or more.

What does the FBI want you to do if this happens to one of your customers?

1.  Call the bank that the money was wired from

2.  Call the FBI, white collar crimes division, Our two local contacts are:  SSA Andrew Sekela 813-253-1001 asekela@fbi.gov and SSA James Rothe 321-757-6075 jrothe@fbi.gov

3. File a complaint with IC3 at www.IC3.gov

They want you to do all 3 of these steps even if it is under $50k so they can keep track of it.

Please see additional information tips from Prestige Title:

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What should a buyer expect during the buying process and at their Home Closing?

We live in Florida, Brevard County, The Space Coast (yes we all know this) which has people moving in from out of state all the time, snow birds, retirees and especially people relocating with all of the new jobs that are coming to town.

The buying and closing process is so different in many places and when we do this all day every day, sometimes we forget to explain to our buyers how it is done here On the Space Coast which is even different from Miami or Naples or the State that they are from.  For example, why do we prefer local lenders?  When a seller is requesting a local lender pre-qualification, take the time to explain to your buyer why that is, there is a list of reasons: face to face contact, a lender who cares and wants repeat business, a lender who understands that we actually write the contract unlike the North East where an Attorney writes the contract after the Realtor writes the offer or binder and delays and extensions are the norm, and on and on.

What happens at closing? 

Since the closing process varies by state, ask the person conducting your closing what to expect.

Things to ask: What do I need to bring to closing?

How much money do I need to bring to closing? How do I pay?

Review Your Closing Disclosure

By law, you must receive a five-page Closing Disclosure  at least three days prior to your closing. ​ Make sure the seller is aware of this also.

Bring these items with you:Picture ID (driver’s license, passport): The person handling the closing will need to make a copy of it.

Sometimes they need a second ID verify with the closer before the closing day.​

Appropriate payment for closing costs: Some companies require wired funds, while others accept a certified check. Make sure you know what form of payment is acceptable.

​ Make sure the buyer verifies with the title company that the wiring instructions actually came from the ​title company and that they are correct before wiring the funds.  Fraudulent Wires are on the rise again and for added protection there is a FAR form that you can have your buyers sign

https://pr.transactiondesk.com/FormBackground/FAR/1481215060/FARCWFPN00001

 

consider adding this to your email signature:

Any request for funds to be wired MUST be verbally confirmed with the title company.
NEVER wire finds unless you VERBALLY confirm with the title company

Finally, remember this may only be the first, second or third house your buyer is buying and for you it may be the 500th house, remember to be patient and explain everything to them so they know what to expect!

 

Happy Selling!

 

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Pathways to Professionalism

We call ourselves RE/MAX Elite. 

The definition of Elite is: the choice of anything considered collectively, as a group or class of persons. 

So as the choice or best, we hold ourselves to a higher standard, we are professionals, we are the best of our class, we are the Elite of our industry.  As Realtors we subscribe to the Code of Ethics.  While the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association establishes objective, enforceable ethical standards governing the professional conduct of REALTORS®, it does not address issues of courtesy or etiquette.
Based on input from many sources, the Professional Conduct Working Group of the Professional Standards Committee developed the following list of professional courtesies for use by REALTORS® on a voluntary basis. This list is not all-inclusive, and may be supplemented by local custom and practice and is a good reminder to us all.

I. Respect for the Public

  1. Follow the “Golden Rule”: Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.
  2. Respond promptly to inquiries and requests for information.
  3. Schedule appointments and showings as far in advance as possible.
  4. Call if you are delayed or must cancel an appointment or showing.
  5. If a prospective buyer decides not to view an occupied home, promptly explain the situation to the listing broker or the occupant.
  6. Communicate with all parties in a timely fashion.
  7. When entering a property ensure that unexpected situations, such as pets, are handled appropriately.
  8. Leave your business card if not prohibited by local rules.
  9. Never criticize property in the presence of the occupant.
  10. Inform occupants that you are leaving after showings.
  11. When showing an occupied home, always ring the doorbell or knock—and announce yourself loudly before entering. Knock and announce yourself loudly before entering any closed room.
  12. Present a professional appearance at all times; dress appropriately and drive a clean car.
  13. If occupants are home during showings, ask their permission before using the telephone or bathroom.
  14. Encourage the clients of other brokers to direct questions to their agent or representative.
  15. Communicate clearly; don’t use jargon or slang that may not be readily understood.
  16. Be aware of and respect cultural differences.
  17. Show courtesy and respect to everyone.
  18. Be aware of—and meet—all deadlines.
  19. Promise only what you can deliver—and keep your promises.
  20. Identify your REALTOR® and your professional status in contacts with the public.
  21. Do not tell people what you think—tell them what you know.

II. Respect for Property

  1. Be responsible for everyone you allow to enter listed property.
  2. Never allow buyers to enter listed property unaccompanied.
  3. When showing property, keep all members of the group together.
  4. Never allow unaccompanied access to property without permission.
  5. Enter property only with permission even if you have a lockbox key or combination.
  6. When the occupant is absent, leave the property as you found it (lights, heating, cooling, drapes, etc.) If you think something is amiss (e.g. vandalism), contact the listing broker immediately.
  7. Be considerate of the seller’s property. Do not allow anyone to eat, drink, smoke, dispose of trash, use bathing or sleeping facilities, or bring pets. Leave the house as you found it unless instructed otherwise.
  8. Use sidewalks; if weather is bad, take off shoes and boots inside property.
  9. Respect sellers’ instructions about photographing or videographing their properties’ interiors or exteriors.

III. Respect for Peers

  1. Identify your REALTOR® and professional status in all contacts with other REALTORS®.
  2. Respond to other agents’ calls, faxes, and e-mails promptly and courteously.
  3. Be aware that large electronic files with attachments or lengthy faxes may be a burden on recipients.
  4. Notify the listing broker if there appears to be inaccurate information on the listing.
  5. Share important information about a property, including the presence of pets, security systems, and whether sellers will be present during the showing.
  6. Show courtesy, trust, and respect to other real estate professionals.
  7. Avoid the inappropriate use of endearments or other denigrating language.
  8. Do not prospect at other REALTORS®’ open houses or similar events.
  9. Return keys promptly.
  10. Carefully replace keys in the lockbox after showings.
  11. To be successful in the business, mutual respect is essential.
  12. Real estate is a reputation business. What you do today may affect your reputation—and business—for years to come.

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Is the seller obligated to respond to an offer?

Is the seller obligated to respond to an offer?

QUESTION: I have a listing that was only on the market a couple of days when three offers came in from three buyers. The seller accepted one of the offers. Now, the broker who represents the buyer whose offer arrived first claims my seller had an obligation to negotiate with his buyer because his offer was presented to the seller first. Is this true?
ANSWER:

No. There is no Florida law that would require the seller to respond to any offer. Additionally, there is no Florida law that requires the seller to negotiate with each buyer in the order in which the offers were received. Furthermore, there is no Florida Law that would require the seller to respond to the buyer in the time frame that is indicated on line 45 of the FAR/BAR AS IS Contract for Sale and Purchase.  That is a protection for the buyer.  If the seller responds after that deadline and accepts the contract as it is written, but the buyer has changed their mind the buyer doe not have to move forward with the offer.

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Resolving Escrow Disputes and Re-Listing The property for Sale

As a Realtor, you need to be careful not to provide legal advice if your clients are in an escrow dispute. Instead, encourage them to refer to their contract for instructions on resolving their dispute and to consult a Lawyer if necessary. Many times, one or both parties will express frustration. Your best practice is to stay in touch with the escrow agent and the other party in the failed contract and continue to update your buyer or seller.
When a real estate transaction fails and there is a dispute over who retains the escrow deposit, there are usually provisions in the purchase contract that provide direction on how to resolve the disagreement. Most importantly, when addressing how a dispute is resolved and who resolves it always starts with the answer to this question: Who is holding the funds?

The Florida Realtors/Florida Bar As-Is Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase is the most common form purchase contract used, according to Form Simplicity statistics. Let’s use it to illustrate how this situation might play out.

The As-Is contract has a section in Paragraph 2 to illustrate who the parties agree will serve as escrow agent — the party that will hold the funds. This will either be the real estate brokerage or an escrow agent, such as a title company or a lawyer. (There is no preclusion who is allowed to hold escrow, so in some rare cases it may be another person or entity.)

Many brokers misunderstand the role of the entity holding escrow money. Escrow holders are neutral. They simply agree to hold funds and may only release the money if they feel legally allowed and will not be exposed to risk.

When a broker is the escrow agent

If the escrow agent is a licensed Florida broker, Florida law comes into play.  Since we don’t hold escrow and this generally is not the norm here I will not cover it here.

Escrow holder is not a licensed broker.

If the escrow agent is a title company, lawyer or someone other than a real estate broker, the dispute is handled as a civil matter initially. The dispute resolution section of the As-Is contract specifies 10 days for the buyer and seller to attempt to resolve the dispute on their own. If that is unsuccessful, the parties are required by contract to submit the dispute to mediation. The contract goes on to explain how the mediation must be handled. Many of these disputes go through a mediation process as part of the small claims process if the deposit in dispute is less than $5,000. If the two parties cannot agree how to divide or handle the escrow deposit, it becomes a legal matter.

The buyer has indicated they are cancelling but there is an escrow dispute can I reactivate the listing?

Yes. An escrow dispute, in itself, does not prevent the seller from advertising or selling the property. So you do not need the release and cancellation signed by both parties to activate the listing, you just need clear intent that the buyer is cancelling the contract.

Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on specific facts or circumstances nor a solicitation of legal business. You are urged to consult an experienced lawyer concerning your particular actual situation and any specific legal questions you may have. 

Thanks, Kerry

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What Is An Escalation Clause In Real Estate?

Broker Buzz with Kerry!

An escalation clause in real estate, has actually existed for quite some time but is not commonly used in Brevard County.  It is an additional  clause that can be included in a purchase offer that informs a seller that a buyer is willing to beat out competing offers.

Here are some tips if you are the buyer/buyers agent:

  • You should only use one when you are in a multiple offer situation.

  • It is up to the seller if they want to accept and/or consider it.

  • How much is enough, is $1,000 more than the highest offer enough or is $3000 better.

  • How will it effect your buyers loan?  Don’t escalate outside the pre-approval zone.

  • How high is the buyer willing to go and will the property appraise and will this put your offer at a disadvantage?

  • How will the list agent or seller view it and might this put your buyer at a disadvantage.

  • Make sure you ask for proof of the highest offer

 

What does a well written escalation clause look like?:

In the event of multiple competing offers, the buyers will offer $_____ over the highest offer’s net up to a purchase price of $________.  In the event of an escalation, seller is to provide the buyer with proof of competing offer (contract), along with proof of funds/ pre-approval with personal information blacked out.  Seller represents and warrants that competing offers are true and valid offers.

(If the buyer is willing to go up to any price because they are paying cash, then you could leave out the part about up to a purchase price of $_____)

 

If you have any questions regarding this OR any other real estate questions, please contact me!

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Showing Property

In case you missed the email from Leah, here is an important reminder:

It has come to our attention that there have been recent incidences of REALTORS® showing homes and failing to secure the properties when they left.
It is extremely important that you make sure you secure the premises when you leave a property. In many cases, the sellers feel violated and fearful when they return home to find their properties have not been properly secured.
Remember, it’s a privilege to be allowed in a person’s home when he or she is not there. Additionally, failing to properly secure a property after a showing could be a violation of the REALTOR Code of Ethics.
As a REALTOR®, you have an obligation not to interfere with the contractual agreement between the listing REALTOR® and the sellers. Leaving a home open for burglars, vandals and/or assailants could jeopardize that listing agreement.

 

Sincerely,
Leah Selig
CEO, Space Coast Association of REALTORS

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