By Michael Carunchio
Outgoing 2017 NSDCAR Board President
It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your NSDCAR President in 2017. Thank you for giving me your confidence to serve in this leadership role. The year was filled with many memorable moments, both highs and lows, but overall, it was a fantastic year.
As my time as President comes to an end, I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to stay involved and step up become more involved with our Association in 2018. Your personal participation in NSDCAR makes a tremendous difference in our industry’s success. Without member engagement to help advance the mission and give back to our profession, our Association could fade into irrelevance. There is truth to the statement about “strength in numbers.”
The benefits of getting involved in NSDCAR are numerous. There are many rewarding ways. As I discovered first hand this past year with more “ah-ha” moments than I can count, you can receive much more than you give when you commit to volunteer.
If you want to get connected in your industry, then join in and make a contribution. If you want to grow your business, expand the industry, increase your community knowledge and meet others, then get involved in NSDCAR. Now is the best time to make new friends, share your story, lend your support and shine a light. Plus, it’s a whole lot of fun each and every day.
If you want to affect change, express your opinion about the importance of housing and communities, speak up about ethical issues or influence public policy and private property rights, then getting involved in NSDCAR is the best thing you can do. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Together we can make a difference.
No matter what stage of your career, if you want to raise the bar, learn new skills, gain new insights and experience meaningful ways to grow and learn, then take advantage of the many outstanding NSDCAR professional development educational opportunities, including classes and courses.
The services provided by NSDCAR also are numerous, ranging from technical training and support and transaction forms to political advocacy, networking and industry news and information, as well as market research and statistics. There is so much more to our Association than the MLS, lockboxes and an invoice.
A recent survey conducted by Inman Group revealed that many REALTORS® were unaware of the services offered by their Association because they were not involved. These same respondents who said they saw “no value” in their Association also sparsely attended Association events. You won’t maximize your membership experience unless you get involved. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Don’t be a “MINO,” member in name only.
In closing this farewell message, I want to say again that it has been a pleasure to have served. It was gratifying to serve with such outstanding board members. I am grateful for our incredible Association staff led by Rich D’Ascoli, our CEO (the staff are the ultimate multi-taskers). I am appreciative of the many members throughout the year who graciously volunteered their time and provided their insights, expertise and knowledge at our various events, classes and workshops that made our industry better than before. I look forward to staying involved and supporting the 2018 leadership team. Let’s resolve in the New Year to be even stronger than before. We all have busy lives, but thanks in advance for your future involvement and participation.
Here is the latest is a series of occasional articles by NSDCAR members on the topic:” How to Win a New Client.” By Kevin Williamson
I enjoy training agents about how to win new clients. It’s rewarding to watch agents apply proven ideas and achieve success. So, I’m glad to share some advice to NSDCAR REALTOR® members.
Hit the streets.If you have a buyer looking for a home in a specific neighborhood it’s like finding gold on the Alaska frontier. Don’t waste any time and start immediately knocking on doors in that neighborhood. Ignore the naysayers: Door knocking is still viable for generating new leads. While out on the road, it’s likely you’ll pick up a few new listings. Create an emotional connection with a heartwarming letter (that you help write) from your buyer with folksy lines about how they’ve always dreamed of living in that special neighborhood and how previous efforts have failed to come to fruition. Make sure your leave-behind letter is branded with your contact information. Whatever you do, don’t say you have a buyer when you really don’t have one, because if you can’t deliver a real buyer then your reputation with sellers will be tarnished.
Throw a party.Before escrow closes, let your buyers know you will host for them a housewarming party at their new house with their friends and new neighbors. Calm their concerns by telling them that you will take care of all the work and pay for the catered food and refreshments. Schedule it about one month after escrow closes in order to give them time to get moved in and unpacked. Follow up with your buyers every week or so since they will be busy moving and they might forget. Get their invite list of friends, family, co-workers and new neighbors (you have now expanded your sphere of influence). Do the legwork and send invitations along with an RSVP so people can contact you. On the big day of the party, arrive early with a stack of business cards in your pocket and get ready to network, mingle and have fun. Listen with delight as your clients toot your horn and introduce you to their friends as their realtor of choice who did a great job on their behalf.
Make friends with “key connectors.”Referrals from professionals, including probate and family law attorneys, financial planners, tax advisers, and CPAs, can pay huge dividends for your real estate business. I call these people “key connectors.” Offer a free market analysis to these key connectors on any property their clients might be involved in. In turn, eagerly refer your clients to them. One way to maintain top-of-mind awareness is a monthly donut drop-off. It may take some time to get past the office gatekeepers before the opportunity comes for a face-to-face meeting with a key connector to share your unique selling proposition and what makes you stand out from your competition.
Go fishing with non-owner occupied lists.Ask your title rep or do some searching online yourself for lists of homeowners in a particular zip code who have a primary residence in another area or state. Typically, the list will include two property addresses, one physical mailing address to reach the homeowner and a site address for houses located in your target neighborhoods. In some cases, the list may include phone numbers and cell phone numbers. Many of these properties are rental properties. Then, reach out with a hand-written note to these absentee owners asking if they would be interested in selling. Provide them with a market update and the reasons why it would be advantageous to sell now. You will find that some of these individuals are tired of landlord duties and they’re thinking about selling but they could use a local contact for encouragement and motivation.
Your face on Facebook.Facebook offers some of the most cost-effective and precise demographic and behavioral targeting of any advertising median. Readers can be targeted according to a variety of segmentation variables, including interests, behaviors, and income. Facebook even has a behavioral category for people who are “likely to move” (how good is that). Facebook also has a demographic category called “first-time homebuyer.” The beauty of a Facebook ad is that you can continue to layer the targeting becoming even more precise and focused. Then, became a star by recording a short, 1-minute video featuring you and post it to your Facebook ad. Talk about yourself, current market conditions and how you’re available to answer any real estate question. This type of lead generation doesn’t cost very much, typically less than a couple of hundred dollars per month to reach tens of thousands of Facebook users.
Become a handwriting expert.In a world blurred by e-mails, texts and voicemails, a handwritten note asking for referrals is guaranteed to generate new clients and more business. Send a much-loved and appreciated handwritten note to everyone and anyone you know, including friends, business colleagues, parents of your kids’ friends and church members. Ask about their family. Perhaps enclose a $5 Starbucks gift card and ask for a face-to-face meeting. I promise that your note will be read, not discarded like junk mail. A personal note deepens a relationship every time. Ask yourself whether you feel special when someone takes the time to handwrite you a note. The gift to someone is your time, which is your most precious commodity.
Become a walking billboard with name badge.Wherever you go in public, wear your name badge. Let everybody know that you’re in real estate. Don’t believe the critics who say wearing name badges is too old school and too much “retail.” Whether it’s the grocery store, car wash or your kid’s youth sports practices, consumers seem to perceive people with name badges as more approachable. Watch for someone to ask you whether you work in real estate and take it from there (they’re asking you to engage in a conversation); then, have your elevator speech ready about how you love to help people find their dream home. The person who strikes up a conversation is likely to be considering buying or selling a home.
In October, the Board of Directors of the California Association of REALTORS® voted to move forward with a ballot initiative to allow those aged 55 and over to sell their home and buy another, and retain some or all their Proposition 13 property tax savings. To fund the initiative, a required additional $100 for the Issues Fund will be collected with members’ dues for 2018.
Why is this Needed?Under Proposition 13, homeowners are protected from rapidly increasing property taxes. However, seniors, who are often on a fixed income, fear they will not be able to afford a big property tax increase if they sell their existing home and buy another one, discouraging them from ever moving. As a result of this “moving penalty,” almost three-quarters of homeowners 55 and older haven’t moved since 2000. The initiative will allow them to sell their home while keeping some property tax protections, and therefore create homeownership opportunities for young families.
How do property tax assessments work now?The amount any homeowner pays in property taxes is based on the assessed value of their home at the time of purchase. Generally, Proposition 13 limits property taxes to 1 percent of the assessed value at the time of purchase even if the value of the property subsequently increases. Unfortunately, homeowners lose their Proposition 13 property tax savings when they move to another home. Under another law, Proposition 60, senior homeowners – defined as 55 years of age or older – are allowed to transfer their property tax base to another home in the same county so long as the purchase price of the replacement home is equal to, or less than, the sale price of the original residence. Under Proposition 60, a senior homeowner is limited to making only one such transfer over the course of his or her lifetime. And, if the spouse of a senior homeowner has already transferred a property tax base, that senior homeowner is disqualified from making another transfer of the tax base. Proposition 90 is an extension of the original Proposition 60 program. Proposition 90 allows senior homeowners to transfer their property tax base to a home in a different county so long as that county accepts such transfers. (At last count, only 11 counties are accepting transfers from other counties.) Propositions 60 and 90 are relatively limited. That’s where C.A.R.’s property tax base portability initiative comes in.
How will the initiative work?C.A.R.’s Portability Initiative would allow homeowners 55 years of age or older to transfer some of their Proposition 13 property tax base to a home of any price, located anywhere in the state, any number of times.
What’s next?C.A.R. is in the process of hiring a campaign firm to qualify the initiative for the November 2018 general election ballot. In the meantime, C.A.R. will be asking members to help collect signatures on petitions to qualify the initiative. You will receive more information about this effort in the coming week.
Who do I contact with additional questions?Please contact C.A.R. at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (916) 492-5200.
The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.), one of the largest real estate trade organizations in the U.S. with more than 190,000 members, recently undertook a high-visibility campaign against proposed tax reform under consideration by members of Congress. All Association members are encouraged to participate in C.A.R.’s Call to Action. For information, visit www.car.org. C.A.R.’s anti-tax reform campaign gained traction this past week with the purchase of full-page newspaper ads in several of California’s major daily newspapers and national publications, including the San Diego Union-Tribune, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, Bakersfield Californian, Sacramento Bee, Modest Bee and Fresno Bee, as well as The Wall Street Journal’s D.C. edition and Politico’s print edition. The newspaper ads, dated Nov. 14, were formatted as an open letter to President Trump and California’s Congressional Delegation and signed by C.A.R. President Steve White. The full-page newspaper ad stated: “Congress is considering legislation that would punish homeowners, eliminate the financial benefits for homebuyers and leave hundreds of thousands of people across California much worse off than they are today. If the goal of tax reform is to help middle-class Americans keep more of their hard-earned money, this proposal fails miserably. Tax reform shouldn’t hurt Californians, but the House of Representatives proposal does, in a big way. It eliminates important incentives that help first-time homebuyers by capping the Mortgage Interest Deduction, limiting property tax deductibility and changing capital gains exemptions. From theOregon border south to San Diego, working Californians take a beating.” The ad featured a question followed by a response: “How could any member of the California Delegation think this plan is good for the Golden State? The average California house costs two-and-a-half times the national average and housing supply projections show the state will be nearly 3 million houses short by 2020. Only 32 percent of California families are able to purchase a median-priced home. With homeownership already a stretch, or out of reach altogether for so many Californians, now is NOT the time to make owning a home more difficult.” The ad can be viewed by clicking this link, http://www.car.org/aboutus/mediacenter/newsreleases/2017releases/taxreformopenletterad. The ad did not include details from a C.A.R. press release about provisions in the House bill, such as: lowering the mortgage interest deduction cap from $1 million to $500,000; eliminating the mortgage interest deduction on second homes; eliminating moving expenses; eliminating state and local income tax deductions; capping property tax deductions at $10,000; and, extending the capital gains exclusion qualification period from two years to five years. Other features of the House bill included doubling of the standard deduction for couples from $12,700 to $24,000 per family, increasing the child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600 per child and lowing inheritance taxes on large estates. Popular 401(k) retirement savings plans used by many Americans would be unchanged. . According a C.A.R. press release, the Senate bill retains the $1 million mortgage interest deduction but completely eliminates the ability to deduct state and local income taxes, including eliminating property tax deductions. It also contains many of the real estate provisions in the House bill. Also this past week, C.A.R. was joined by members of California’s homebuilding and housing community, including the California Building Industry Association and the California Housing Consortium, in calling attention to the proposed tax reform’s numerous disincentives to homeownership. In a related development, the Orange County Register newspaper this past week published an opinion column by Diane Harkey, chair of the California State Board of Equalization and California’s highest ranking Republican. Harkey wrote in her op/ed: “Unfortunately, the Republican plan in D.C. is mimicking the California model by penalizing professionals, businesses and home ownership for those of us in states with an already high cost of living. It encourages retooling of industries and skewing tax refunds toward less-populated, smaller states with a lower cost of living. The plan reduces tax rates by eliminating worthy incentives to home ownership, which is for most Americans their largest investment and pathway to financial security. “Reductions in corporate tax rates and repatriation of offshore dollars are worthy goals that will stimulate job growth, but our politicians in D.C. seem to be getting lost in ideological warfare to prove that they are not robbing the poor. Transferring benefits to beleaguered states attempting to rekindle manufacturing jobs and allowing ‘refunds’ for taxes that many did not pay is not tax reform. “Elimination of the State and Local Tax deduction will harm the people of California who have worked hard to save and build equity in their homes and communities. Estimates are that property values will drop precipitously, affecting all as the market readjusts. While our state income tax is the highest in the nation, we do thanks to Proposition 13 have the benefit of relatively low property taxes. If property values and assessments drop, communities will be impacted, prodding our legislature to fill the gap by demanding higher property taxes, or local debt to fill the voids. I can envision a spiral effect and blame that will be laid on the doorstep of Republicans in D.C. and those who support them.” Here is a link to Harkey’s op/ed: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/14/california-republicans-in-congress-should-remember-the-no-new-tax-pledge/ On Thursday, Nov. 16, the House of Representatives passed its version of the tax reform bill. The bill, called the Tax Cuts and Job Act, passed 227-205, with every Democrat and 13 Republican members voting no. The House version would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and reduce the number of tax brackets from even to four. It would also recalibrate the tax code to work in similar ways as an international system already used by foreign nations across the globe. House passage is just one step, however. The Senate Finance Committee is working on a separate measure that could be brought to a vote within two weeks. Here is C.A.R.’s statement in response to the House tax bill that passed: “We are disappointed with today’s passage of H.R. 1, the so-called Tax Cut and Jobs Act,” said C.A.R. President Steve White. “This bill is simply a direct attack on California housing and homeownership. Eliminating the incentive for people to buy homes and raising taxes on hundreds of thousands of California homeowners only puts the American dream further out of reach. We support fiscally responsible tax reform but lowering corporate taxes on the backs of middle-class families would be catastrophic. C.A.R. thanks the many courageous California Congressional members who believed their constituents deserved better and voted to do the right thing by opposing the bill.”