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2018 C.A.R. Reports

Posted by Taylor Thompson in Blog, News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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C.A.R. Business Meeting Report

Monterey, January 2018 The California Association of REALTORS winter meeting was held in Monterey.  Sixteen NSDCAR members represented you in the CAR decision making process.  Raylene Brundage of Pacific Sothby's, serves as the Region 29 Chair heading your NSDCAR contingent, and David Cabot of Cabot & Cabot Consulting, LLC, serves as Assistant Chair.  The C.A.R. Directors are contributing their time on your behalf to attend the C.A.R. business meetings.  Their reports follow, along with the name of the committee member and his or her e-mail address.  Please feel free to contact any of these members for additional information, CEO Rich D’Ascoli (Rich@nsdcar.com), or Government Affairs Director Ernie Cowan (ernie@nsdcar.com) - or phone us at the Association’s Administrative Office (760) 734-3971.

Contents

CalDRE FORUM FEDERAL ISSUES FORUM ON FORMS GLOBAL REAL ESTATE FORUM HOUSING AFFORDABILITY HOUSING COMMITTEE – Home Ownership INVESTMENT HOUSING LAND USE & ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE LEGAL ACTION FUND LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE LOCAL GOVERNMENT RELATIONS MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE MLS POLICY PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS REALTOR® ACTION FUND RISK MANAGEMENT AND CONSUMER PROTECTION STRATEGIC PLANNING AND FINANCE COMMITTEE TAXATION & GOVERNMENT FINANCE TRANSACTION & REGULATORY OTHER INFORMATION OF INTEREST     Section 1 CalDRE FORUM Marie Jebavy, The Real Estate Consultants (760) 212-9193 marie@mariejebavy.com Where agents get caught! Rick Long, Enforcement for the DRE, presented the top problems: Negligence, Misrepresentation, Trust Fund (you can’t use a debit card), and Advertising, Did you know an unlicensed assistant cannot give out price or anything that requires a license? Using an unlicensed assistant improperly is another big problem area. Below is the link to the guidelines that you as the agent, or Broker are held too. These are the updated guidelines for 2018. Don’t take a chance and know what you are supposed to do. http://www.dre.ca.gov/files/pdf/adv/Guidelines%20for%20Unlicensed%20Assistants%20-%20Up dated%202018.pdf The link below is to slideshow with information regarding number of licensees, legal, changes to the name BRE now DRE as of July 1st, 2018 don’t worry that don’t care if you have BRE, CalBre, Cal# or license #, just as long as your license number is on everything that has your name on it. That includes, For Sale Signs, Open House Signs, business cards, text, emails any kind of advertising. http://www.calbre.ca.gov/files/ppt/BRE_Forum_January_2018_Monterey.pptx Top Section 2 FEDERAL ISSUES Chris Osteen, Cal West Management (760) 519-2609 Chris@CalWestrmgmt.com The Federal Committee met on Wednesday, January 17th from 4:00 PM to approximately 5:00 PM. Candidly we spent most of the meeting discussing Tax Reform, however Investment Housing did bring us a motion to establish an educational program to educate our membership on the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. There were concerns in Investment Housing  that many REALTORS® may not know what the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act actually does. The Act, which was passed in 1995, exempts new construction and single family dwellings from local rent control and prohibits vacancy control (AKA “strict rent control”). We were recently successful in defeating AB 1506 in committee. AB 1506 would have repealed the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Unfortunately the story doesn’t end there. A proposed statewide ballot initiative is attempting to gather signatures to qualify the issue for the November 6, 2018 ballot. TAX REFORM First a couple of important links: www.carorg/riskmanagement/tools Look for Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. www.nar/realtor/tax-reform/the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act In a nutshell here are some key provisions of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act.
  • Mortgage interest deductions (after 12-14-2017) are capped at $ 750,000.00.
  • Home Equity Loan interest is no longer deductible unless used to improve the property.
  • State & Local tax deductions are capped at $ 10,000.00.
  • Standardized deduction is increased to $ 24,000.00 per couple.
  • Capital Gains for housing exclusions were largely maintained if you lived in property two out of the last five years.
  • $ 4,150.00 deduction for dependents is gone.
  • Commercial Real Estate
Section 175 deductions are increased to $ 1,000,000.00 from $ 500,000 and the definition of qualified expenses was expanded. 2018 appears to be a very heavy legislative issues year. I also serve on Local Government Forum and the Investment Housing Committee and the number of challenges to the real estate industry is significant. Stay tuned and be involved. Top   Section 3 FORUM ON FORMS Chris Hasvold, Coldwell Banker Village Properties (760)728-8000 chris@cbvillage.com Members were reminded of the new and revised forms that were published on December 15, 2017. While all members should already be aware of these forms I have provided a list for your review. Details and explanations of each can be found on CAR’s website at – https://www.car.org/zipform/standard-forms/summary-forms-releases-chart/December-2017-Forms-Release. New Forms • AEA – Amendment of Existing Agreement Terms   • PIA –  Property Images Agreement   • TEAM – Team Agreement    Revised Forms • BRE – Buyer Representation Agreement – Exclusive • BRNE – Buyer Representation Agreement – Non-Exclusive • BUO – Back-Up Offer Addendum • COP – Contingency for Sale of Buyer’s Property • HOA2 - Charges for Required Documents  • MHPA – Manufactured Home Purchase Agreement and Joint Escrow Instructions • NBP – Notice to Buyer to Perform • PSD - Parking and Storage Disclosure • RFR – Receipt for Reports • SIP – Seller License to Remain in Possession Addendum • SPRP – Seller’s Purchase of Replacement Property • SWPI – Septic Inspection, Well Inspection, Property Monument and Allocation of Cost Addendum • WFA – Wire Fraud and Electronic Funds Transfer Advisory There was also mention of three new forms slated for the June 2018 release: POSA – Storage of personal property before COE SEIQ – Like the SPPQ but for common interest developments BHHA – Like the SBSA but only related to HOA’s Top   Section 4 GLOBAL REAL ESTATE FORUM Lisa Fore, Barbara McLain Properties (760) 434-6161 lfore@barbaramclain.com Would you be surprised to know that there was a total of $153 billion dollars in real estate sold to foreign buyers in 2017?  While that may or may not seem like a large number to you, it may be more surprising to know that number represents a 49% increase in real estate sold to foreign buyers from 2016 to 2017. One out of every 20 transactions is a foreign buyer. Nearly half are using it as a primary residence and 18% as an investment property.  They are contributing the increase of foreign buyers to the strong currency in our dollar.  Below are some statistics to help you understand the global real estate market within the US. So, which are the top states seeing the most foreign buyer?
  1. Florida, at about 22% of all foreign buyer purchases is by far the most popular
  2. Texas and California, both at about 12%
  3. New Jersey and Arizona, both at about 4%
  4. Illinois, Georgia, and North Carolina, all at about 3%
Where are most of the foreign buyers coming from?
  1. China (the number of Chinese buyers has doubled in the past 10 years)
  2. Canada
  3. UK
  4. Mexico
  5. India
Median Sale Price by Country of Residence:
  1. China (over twice the price of the typical American buyer)
  2. India
  3. UK
  4. Canada
  5. Mexico
You may or may not have had the opportunity to work with a foreign buyer, but given the fact we have seen a 49% increase in the last year of foreign buyer transactions means that it is only a matter of time before you do.  In an effort to help you bring value to your clients you should know that many of these foreign buyers can pay a premium of up to 10% in foreign exchange fees on top of what they are already paying for a property, and that the transfer of their funds can often times take a minimum of 5 days. We had a representative from a company called Money Corp stating that not only are they able to facilitate more expedited transfers, they only charge 1% or less in exchange fees saving your clients both time and money. Top   Section 5 HOUSING AFFORDABILITY Elyse Dittrich, Nancarrow Realty Group (760) 505-3740 elysedittrich@gmail.com Housing Affordability Fund Report Key Takeaways:
  • What do we do at the Housing Affordability Fund?
  • Find out about a grant funded in January to help the fire victims of the Cascade Fire.
  • Why it benefits your clients and your business if you donate to HAF.
Have you ever heard of the Housing Affordability Fund (HAF)? Here is our mission statement: The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Housing Affordability Fund plays an active role in addressing the ongoing housing affordability crisis facing our state. H.A.F. will raise and distribute funds in partnership with local associations and other groups to promote housing and homeownership. You may have previously heard about the California statewide grant program, which assisted first time homebuyers with up to $2,500 towards their HOA dues. It was a huge success! Our HAF committee collaborates all year, and we work together to fundraise money, come up with grants, and approve grant applications from local associations that can be used to help the people of CA. In Monterey this we were excited to approve a grant for Yuba County, which was effected by the Cascade Fire in October of 2016. The beneficiaries of the program are those fire victims that owned their land and have lost their homes in the fire with little or no insurance. The grant will be awarded up to $3,000 per application, which would assist in permit fees and mandatory water tanks, which are now required before re-building a new home. We’re excited for the success stories! HAF needs your donations to keep these programs going. HAF programs are meant to help our clients make home ownership a possibility and/or ease the financial burden of buying a home. The more money HAF has/is donated, the more programs we can sustain, the more clients we can help, and the more business we’ll do! It’s a win/win all around. At NSDCAR we make it easy to donate! Every time you pay your dues there’s a line item (option) where you can contribute to the HAF. As a committee we also have two fundraiser events a year and CAR has been really supportive as well. We’re looking forward to our Casino-Karaoke event in Sacramento in a few months! Top Section 6 HOUSING COMMITTEE – Home Ownership Raylene Brundage, Pacific Sotheby’s 858-735-8787 – RayleneBrundage@gmail.com The overall message and emphasis of The Home Ownership Committee continues to be unaffordable housing and potential solutions.  C.A.R. is looking for every opportunity to have an impact on this problem.  There was one action item the committee passed by the general Director body:   That C.A.R. “SPONSOR” legislation to expand the Housing Accountability Act to include accessory dwelling units and that the Department of Housing and Community Development be reimbursed by local governments for the costs associated with enforcing state law. This proposal is intended to overcome the objections (not legally grounded) that have been utilized to deny accessory dwelling units such as granny flats, etc., which are a solution for some housing shortage situations. Click Here for more information from C.A.R. on the initiative. Top Section 7 INVESTMENT HOUSING Lisa Fore, Barbara McLain Properties (760) 434-6161 lfore@barbaramclain.com This winter’s meeting has opened eyes and brought forth a fear that rent control could soon be a reality across our entire state.  Currently there are only 15 cities in California with rent control; however, with a state that is fast approaching a tenant majority and heavily funded tenant advocacy groups you are likely to see more local municipalities adopting rent control ordinances. Rent control restrictions are created by local jurisdictions; however, the restrictions brought forth by city governments are limited by what’s called the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which was enacted in 1995.  There are two main provisions:
  1. It exempts single family dwellings, and new construction     
  2. It prohibits vacancy control, also known as “strict” rent control
Costa-Hawkins does not affect caps on annual rent increases; this is left to the local municipality. It was primarily enacted to rein in the rent control ordinances that were implemented in a handful of California’s major cities.  Those cities had what’s called vacancy control.  This is when the local municipality restricted the owner’s right to raise the rent to market rate on a unit once a tenant voluntarily moved out, or is vacant by just cause eviction. AB 1506, a proposed statewide ballot initiative that would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, was cleared for circulation by the Secretary of State’s office, and proponents have now begun the petition to qualify the initiative for the November 6, 2018 ballot. In 1980 San Diego voters rejected proposed rent control initiatives.  As California’s housing shortage becomes an increasing issue, and we are fast becoming a tenant majority state, legislators are finding it easier to look towards rent control as being a solution for our housing issues, as well as a way to appease the masses. While rent control in theory may seem like a solution it creates a stagnant market place where renters become less likely to move because they do not want to walk away from below market rent, property owners stop putting money into their properties, and investors don’t see the value in California’s real estate.  This ultimately puts an even higher premium on available housing.  For the small percentage of disadvantaged people rent control helps, there is a much larger percentage of people that are taking advantage of these laws. It would seem there may be a better solution in a tax credit, and/or more funding for housing assistance to disadvantaged families.  One example brought forth in our meeting was the niece of one of our committee members living in a beachfront apartment under rent control, paying about $500/month.  A person making $300,000 a year who could afford to buy a home, and/or pay much more in rent, has a hard time giving up their apartment because they are saving so much money each year. There are many reasons to be concerned if Costa-Hawkins is repealed.  This could worsen our statewide housing shortage and scare off developers who already face extensive time delays and heavy fees on already expensive land.  A developer in California can easily sit on a piece of land for 10 years before they can break ground while navigating their way through every requirement that a local municipality can place on their ability to build, as local legislator’s attempt to appeal to voters.  These same developers can go to states like Colorado and break ground in about 2 years.  Our state is only building about 100,000 homes each year, compared to 300,000 homes 10 years ago, and we are growing at twice the previous rate.  A 2016 report from the Legislative Analyst’s office found that expanding rent control “likely would discourage new construction” by limiting the profitability of new rental housing. C.A.R. is moving forward with a state education campaign that directs local Associations of REALTORS® to proactively inform and engage REALTORS® and their residents, constituents, and property owners on rent control and the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.  Please be on the lookout and help use C.A.R.’s campaign to educate those around you. Top Section 8 LAND USE & ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE Ron Romanowich, Heritage Realty & Financial (760) 644-2575 – ronroman007@earthlink.net The Committee reviewed a number of current and revisited Assembly and Senate Bills that have a significant impact on current and future Homeowners, Builders and Developers, but also how Californians Bundle of Rights are affected by the passage of these Proposed and Passed Bills. PROPOSITION PENDING: SB 5(Chapter 852, Statutes of 2017)- De Leon. California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018.   This ballot proposition was passed by the Legislature in fall of 2017 to qualify for the November 8, 2018 General Election Ballot. The measure authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds to fund a variety of items, including water projects, combating climate change, expansion of outdoor activities for disadvantaged communities, flood control and coastal protection projects in various areas of the state. It also redirects $100 million in previously authorized funds for unissued water quality, supply and infrastructure bonds related to Proposition 40 (2002), Proposition 84 (2006), and Proposition 1 (2014). The Committee had serious discussions about how in some cases Bond Funds have not been allocated to the projects or uses that they were intended to have been used for and the importance of the Public being aware of how the $4 Billion is going to be allocated if the of this Bill is passed in the November Election. AB 1156 (Tiny) Planning and zoning: housing element.  This bill expands the current requirement that local governments include in their housing element analysis, and its’ documentation of the household characteristics including documentation of the percentage of residents who pay more than 30% and 50% of their income towards the cost of housing.  The progress in meeting regional housing needs, the number of housing units at each income level remaining to be accommodated within the planning period, and an update to the inventory of land suitable for residential development. C.A.R. Supports this Bill. Sea Level Rise Guidance Document - Currently, the Coastal Commission's Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance Document is being updated specifically to address housing. The Draft Residential Adaptation Policy Guidance document was open for comments from July 28 through September 15, 2017. C.A.R. submitted comments regarding new definitions, mapping and zoning, real estate marketing and disclosures, assumption of risk and liability, remodels and repairs, shoreline protective devices, and numerous onerous new requirements to redesign and/or remove homes along the coastline. The document will be before the Coastal Commission for adoption in early 2018. C.A.R. Is Opposed to this Bill Unless it is Amended. National Flood Insurance Update -The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires Congressional authorization. The House recently passed "The 21st Century Flood Reform Act to reauthorize and reform the National Flood Insurance Program," which reauthorizes the NFIP for 5 years and makes several changes to the existing program. C.A.R  Is in Support, however the House has passed its Flood Reform Bill, but the Senate has yet to take action AB 1117 (Fong) California Environmental Quality Act.   This bill is a comprehensive CEQA reform proposal that is aimed at minimizing litigation abuse by increasing transparency and  closing loopholes that allow document dumping, extending relief mechanisms that are provided to sports stadiums, and to all other projects, and requiring courts to consider whether a lead agency made a good faith effort to comply with CEQA and otherwise substantially complied with the law. C.A.R  Supports this Bill SB 697 (Stone) regarding  Land Use Development Fees, this Bill would Forfeit the legal right of a local government to collect development and impact fees if the local government fails to comply with annual reporting requirements for more than two consecutive years. This Bill would ensure that failure of local government compliance would not result in a Building Moratorium. Both of these Bills would help alleviate the roadblocks that anyone attempting to Build, Remodel or Reconstruct are encountering. AB 1383 (Fong) California  Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Regulations - Greenhouse gas (GhG) reduction targets can pose significant burdens on critical industries, families, small businesses and local economies in this state. This bill will ensure that the California Air Resources Board work with the regulated community to identify and address  technical, market, regulatory and other challenges and barriers in implementing regulations to reduce GH Gases. Top Section 9 LEGAL ACTION FUND Carolyn  D’Agosta, Carolyn D’Agosta & Associates (760) 839-0480 cdagosta1@aol.com These are the most recent Legal Action Fund Trustees approved filing amicus briefs since the May 2017 meetings. The First Case: Laymon vs.J. Rockcliff, Inc.. A California Court of Appeal compelled arbitration against a seller who sought disgorgement of commission paid to a broker. The case involved the interpreted arbitration clauses in a prior C.A.R. Residential Listing Agreement and RPA agreements of, 2007and 2010. C.A.R. requested the publication of this case since it favored enforceability of arbitration clauses and reinforced the public policy supporting such broad interpretations. The Court granted the petition to publish the case. Second Case:  Jacques Jacobs et al. vs. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Co. A potential buyer was viewing a property that had multiple warnings posted about an empty swimming pool. The plaintiff fell into the empty swimming pool after standing on a defective diving board to look over the fence. The injured plaintiff sued the listing agent. After review of the matter the Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the listing agent, who had posted multiple warnings about the potentially dangerous condition. The Court reasoned the action of the plaintiff and risks were not foreseeable. C.A.R. requested publication of the case, which was granted. Third Case:  Citizens for Enforcement of Parkland Covenants vs. City of Palos Verdes Estates. The City held property in a uniquely structured homeowner association. Its' Board of Directors decided to sell land to a private party contrary to the CC&Rs. C.A.R. filed an amicus brief supporting the enforcement of the CC & R's, which required processes and voting before selling the land. Fourth Case:  Carol Gilbert, Inc. vs. City of San Francisco Ellis-0'Farrell Parking. This case involved the enforceability of a commission when a final agreement was not entered into but where a tenant that was ready, willing; and able to complete the lease. The court held the commission agreement was enforceable and, if published, this case could have provided guidance after the 2012 RealPro case, which held that the sales price specified in the listing agreement was merely an invitation to submit offers, and a broker who brought the seller a full price offer, was not entitled to commission. C.A.R. wrote a letter brief requesting publication, but the Court declined to publish this case. Fifth Case: Surfrider Foundation vs. Martins Beach.  C.A.R. had previously joined an amicus brief submitted by Pacific Legal Foundation in a case in which the California Coastal Commission determined that putting a gate on a beach access path requires a development permit.  The public had been using the path for beach access.  The Appellate Court ruled that locking a gate and removing signs about the hours a private road is open, requires a permit as a "develoment", under the Coastal Commission Act.  The Trustees authorized joining the Pacific Legal Foundation's Brief or filing their own letter of support of the Martin's Beach's petition to obtain a hearing before the California Supreme Court. Top Section 10 LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE Bob Pahlke, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services (760) 846-2400 Bob@BobPahlke.com This committee heard from several lead committees on pending bills and initiatives for California. One of the biggest issues was the impending initiative to repeal Costa Hawkins, the law preventing extreme rent control rules from municipalities. The repeal failed in committee so the legislature has started an initiative to be placed on the November ballot this year. CAR feels that they will get the required signatures and it will be on the ballot. If this initiative qualifies for the ballot CAR will fight it vigorously. There is also an initiative being proposed to bring split roll to November’s ballot. Creating a split roll property tax system would put costly burdens on commercial properties by reassessing commercial sales at a much higher rate. This in turn would cost Californians and visitors dearly with everything they purchase as commercial rents would increase greatly. Business owners would have to pass costs along to the consumer or possibly fail and close. This will be a challenge if it qualifies and CAR will fight this hard as well. Top Section 11 LOCAL GOVERNMENT RELATIONS Bob Pahlke, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services (760) 846-2400 Bob@BobPahlke.com The CAR sponsored Tax Portability initiative to expand Prop 60 has gathered over 260,000 signatures so far. If passed it would give property owners over 55 the ability to transfer their property tax basis to any county in California. It would also permit an owner to buy a higher priced property and use the exemption as many times as needed. This is a win/win for 55 and older homeowners and cities and would create approximately 41,000 more real estate transactions statewide. Even though cities would make more revenue from increased re-sales and prices, the objections will still come from the public service sector so CAR will try to educate as much as possible. Some of the additional challenges CAR faces include rent control ballot measures in Long Beach, Pasadena and Santa Barbara. In Monterey an active citizens group, CAVE, which we think stands for Citizens Against Virtually Everything, have managed to convince the city to put a moratorium on water meters thus halting all construction. Santa Barbara and Pasadena face point of sale county property inspections to make sure sellers have the correct permits in order to transfer the property. The local real estate associations have filed lawsuits against the cities for violating the 4th amendment- unlawful search and seizure. Stay tuned!! And in the tiny community of Pacifica, the city and coastal commission have proposed that beachfront homeowners should pay for sand replenishment of the beaches after erosion occurs. BTW- all coastal commission members live inland!! You can’t make this stuff up folks!! Top Section 12 MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE Nancy Layne, Windermere Homes and Estates (858) 361-8713  nancylayne59@gmail.com How can the membership committee change to help you better? The Membership committee sunsets this year but may come back with a new name and mission: how to better serve our members and get information to them. Did you know there are 182 Member Benefits – what are they? Beyond just free education and lots of discounts and widgets, C.A.R. is focused on helping its members stay top of mind and prove their value. For example: Learning how to deal with Zillow, Redfin and others. Facebook just changed their algorithm, which will change the way we interact on that site – How C.A.R. can help with RPR, training, all sorts of benefits which can improve our business. Check out member benefits at C.A.R. to see for yourself! Go to www.car.org and see the drop-down arrow at "Your CAR", click on "Member Benefits" and explore away!   Top Section 13 MLS POLICY Chris Hasvold, Coldwell Banker Village Properties (760)728-8000 chris@cbvillage.com IDX Rules re: sold data That, upon final approval by NAR, the C.A.R. Model MLS Rules be revised to adopt NAR’s mandate to expand brokers’ entitlement to the amount of sold information they can get from IDX (from current 3 years to all sold data from 2012 to present). This motion was approved. Remote Orientation The motion requires that any mandatory MLS orientation class must be offered remotely (webinar, recorded or live) rather than exclusively live classes. This motion was also approved. Non-Action Item While this next topic was not an action item, and may not be for some time given the complexity of the topic, there was ample, intelligent discussion on the pros and cons of allowing submission of comp-only listings. These are listings that were not originally submitted to the MLS (FSBO, pocket, etc.) but would be submitted as closed sales for comp purposes only. Below is an abbreviated list of the pros and cons that were mentioned: Pros: The more robust the data in the MLS the more it empowers participants and subscribers. If our goal is to truly offer the most complete data set in the industry we should want to include these sales. Cons: There is a risk that allowing such an opening for reporting non- MLS transactions my dilute the value of MLS submission. Example - participant-subscriber sells a FSBO Point 1- if you allow this type of entry do we need to make sure we get enough data to make it a real comp, otherwise it’s just an agent bragging about his/her numbers. Just entering 3 bed 2 bath sold for $800,000 does not help without including pictures and a description of the property to ascertain the condition of the property. And in doing so, how much information would be required? Point 2- if agent sells an off-market property, does that agent need to get permission from the new owner to put in the MLS since there was no listing agreement authorizing the agent to input that information. A CAR attorney thinks we need to get written permission from the new owner. What if the new owner won’t allow all the information we would require? Point 3- some participant agents are currently removing most of the pertinent information but one picture when their listing sells so there would need to be changes made to rules now to prevent that to be consistent with point 1. Top Section 14 PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS Rick Snyder, R.A. Snyder Properties 619-793-4002 Rick@rasnyder.com There was considerable discussion and concern expressed regarding digitally altered photographs of listings in the MLS, not accurately representing the property.   There was one action item the committee passed by the general Director body:
    1. That C.A.R. make a formal request to N.A.R. to revise the Code of Ethics so that REALTORS® acting as listing brokers, upon the request of a cooperating broker, will be required to submit written verification to the cooperating broker that an offer has been presented to the seller or written verification that the seller has waived the obligation to have offers presented
Top Section 15 REALTOR® ACTION FUND Nancy Layne, Windermere Homes and Estates (858) 361-8713  nancylayne59@gmail.com The Realtor Action Fund should really wear a superhero cape. This little-understood giant has been a force for good for generations, and it’s time it gets recognition. Whenever someone says “We ought to do something…” the Realtor Action Fund is who they’re talking about. All of those fights over sign regulations, rent control, and other issues which affect the Realtor community rely on the Realtor Action Fund to help our voices, and those of our clients, be heard - and heeded.  As an example, we’re already over 30% of the signatures needed to get the Tax Portability issue on the ballot, and if it passes, that will be a help to many property owners throughout the state.  Your donations to this amazing fund help protect our business and property rights, and we’re even putting the FUN in fundraising!  This year’s contest deadline is Sept 7th. There is a Realtor Action Fund team at each local Association of REALTORS® and we want to be the best! We are aiming for 20% Voluntary REALTOR® Action Fund participation -  The current contests are Battle of the Associations, Highest participation and Highest per contributor while reaching an additional 2% REALTOR®  Action Fund contribution over 2017. Why is this important? Because 30% of the money raised by REALTOR®  Action Funds stay local at each association and can be utilized for local concerns and political action. Let’s grow this!  Top Section 16 RISK MANAGEMENT AND CONSUMER PROTECTION David Cabot, Cabot & Cabot Consulting, LLC (858) 245-2929 dmcabot@icloud.com We had an excellent and detailed presentation by Shannon B. Jones, a noted real estate attorney in Southern California. Disclosure Issues
  1. Granny Flats: This new legislation signed by Governor Brown is designed to encourage the construction of “mother in law” units on existing properties in the hopes of increasing affordable housing options in California.  However, some cities are charging enormous fees and thus discouraging homeowners from taking advantage of the law.  The disclosure issue for the units is primarily concerned with having adequate permits and inspections of the units.
  1. Creeks: Be aware that there are often restrictions on any updates or changes to properties that have a creek on or near it.  In addition there are always the concerns of flooding risks.  
  1. Water Intrusion and Drainage Issues: This is always a disclosure issue and home inspectors often call it out.  Be sure your clients (buyers) read the “Buyers Advisory” concerning this.
  1. Roots: Older properties tend to have an issue with roots impacting the sewer systems.  In particular this can be an issue for Septic Systems.  Always advise you client in writing to have a septic inspection.
  1. Flipping:  Investors often do cosmetic work on a property they have purchased for a quick resale.  The issues usually revolve around the lack of permits and much of the work being done by a handyman in excess of $500, which is a violation of state law.  
  1. Buyer Material Issues:  This is a standard CAR form that you should always use to insure that everything that is important to your client (buyer) is provided to them prior to the close of escrow.  
Agent Trouble Area
  1. Buyers Purchasing a Property Sight Unseen:  Clearly this can be a significant problem and lead to litigation.   It is not a good practice even though we are seeing more and more of this.  
  2. Deposit Disputes: This should be between the buyer and the seller.  Agents should not get involved in these.
  1. Verifying Buyer’s Ability to Purchase: Tools to do this are in the RPA and should always be used.
  1. Parties Signing for Each Other:  Occasionally you may have clients in which one client will sign for their partner or spouse who may be unavailable at that moment.  This should never occur.  Be sure that your clients, when there is more than one, have separate email accounts so that each of them will get the documents that need to be signed, independent of one another.
  1. Transmitting Key Document by DocuSign:  This is a convenient way to get your clients initials and signatures on documents when you are not physically present with them.  The concern and danger is that they will not read what they are initially or signing.  A good practice would be to send them the entire document for their review prior to sending it for initially or signing.
  1. Handling of Emails and Texts: Anything that relates to a transaction should be retained and in the Broker File.
  1. Burglaries During a Showing: This is becoming more and more common so the best practice is to have a second agent with you whenever you are showing a property.
  1. Social Media:  Use your discretion when posting or commenting on anything in social media.  It lives forever and reflects on you and your company even when you think it is private.
  1. Security Cameras: These are more and more popular and since many of them have audio as well, you should caution the client(s) who are viewing the property to express their thoughts about the property after they are no longer inside.  Additionally, it is illegal to record someone (audio) without their permission so if you seller wants to have audio and visual recording of everyone that sees the property they must display several signs in the property notifying anyone who enters that they are being recorded.
    1. Fire Coverage:  At the outset of any transaction, have your buyer confirm that they able to get adequate fire insurance for the property.  Do not wait under escrow is ready to close to confirm this.
Top Section 17 STRATEGIC PLANNING AND FINANCE COMMITTEE Kim Murphy, Murphy & Murphy SoCal Realty (760) 415-9292 kim@murphy-realty.com How much privacy are people willing to give up in the name of health, safety and security? How much and in what areas of people's lives are they willing to give up personal service and attention in the name of efficiency? These are just two of the questions that we need to consider as we look at the future of California real estate. The mission statement of Strategic Planning and Finance is defined below: The committee coordinates the planning and budgeting activities of the Association.   It is responsible for setting the long term direction for the association by identifying critical issues of importance to REALTORS® based on an analysis of member needs and driving forces affecting the evolution of the real estate market and brokerage industry. The committee also works to ensure the financial viability of the Association. It reviews financial statements, recommends policy changes and reviews and approves proposed expenditures recommended by other committees that are not part of the current budget. It is responsible for developing the annual program objectives and budget which is then presented to the Board of Directors for their approval. \ With this in mind, we read a lot of books and materials, that inspire us to contemplate, especially technology, and how it will impact our business. We read two books prior to our meeting in Monterey: “The Truth About Your Future,” by Ric Edelman and “How To Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World,” by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. The books address how exponentially technology is changing, beyond and faster than we can imagine. So there are two BIG questions that stand out: How much privacy are people willing to give up in the name of health, safety and security? How much and in what areas of people's lives are they willing to give up personal service and attention in the name of efficiency? As Smart Home Technology becomes state of the art and Google Home becomes commonplace, does anyone contemplate how vulnerable they become in the hands of a predator? How about clothing or accessories that read your body's temperature, heart rate and stress level? Your Fitbit sends you messages, but who has access to all that personal data of yours? How long until Block Chain technology replaces escrow and title and ultimately lets the Seller transact the sale of their home directly with the Buyer? So, ask yourself, is your business model strong enough to stand in the face of all the technology that wants to eliminate you? If you think you are going to retain your position by using better technology than the "big guns" out there, think again. What is the one thing you have that they cannot duplicate.... you, uniquely, personal you. Find your greatest value and make it greater. If you're just surviving, then give it up. You need to be the best you, you can be and then you will thrive. Top Section 18 TAXATION & GOVERNMENT FINANCE Sandi Adelson, Homeland Properties Real Estate 760-591-3090 x104 thegotoagent@gmail.com Is a split roll like sharing a bagel? Not if you’re talking property taxes. A discussion has been going on for years about whether commercial property owners are using a loophole in Proposition 13 and putting an undue burden on residential property owners. Rather than transfer ownership of a property by selling it, corporations are putting the ownership of the property into a corporation and “selling” the corporation or substituting the existing Board of Director members of that corporation with new directors. The Taxation Committee took a position that if 90% or more of the entity’s ownership transferred by any means, a reassessment would be triggered on any property held by that entity, excluded would be the heirs to an estate. C.A.R. leadership wanted to know of that was still our position. A poll of the committee showed it was. Could your clients use a little extra money or a place for family to stay without sleeping on the sofa? Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), better known as granny flats or mother-in-law units, could be the answer. Setting aside the issues of dealing with the cities’ and/or counties’ permit processes, financing them is a major hurdle. Unless the property is refinanced, a home improvement loan is obtained or a line of credit is gotten and the funds used to build the unit, what can you do. Last meeting we discussed “SPONSORING” a bill to have a Revolving Bond be put on the ballot for voter approval. The process would work much like Cal-Vet loans (anybody remember those). A briefing paper was provided to us but the committee felt that we really needed to have more depth into the workings of the proposal. Staff will create a more detailed report for our meeting in May. Are you a nerd? Crazy about details and numbers? Go to C.A.R.’s website, sign in and enter https://www.car.org/meetings/carmeetings/committee-materials-archive/2018winter/Taxation-and-Government-Finance-Committee for information on all of the issues discussed in Monterey.   Top Section 19 TRANSACTION & REGULATORY Marie Jebavy, The Real Estate Consultants (760) 212-9193 marie@mariejebavy.com Why did my client pay $75 plus for documents being recorded during escrow? New real estate recording fees will rise from $75 to $225 as of Jan. 1, under a new state law. The total is expected to generate as much as $300 million statewide to aid homeless, produce more affordable housing and support local planning changes. The bill, SB2 by state Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, applies to a long list of real estate-related documents but exempts those involving transfer taxes on sales of commercial and residential real estate. Also exempt are real estate transfers of owner-occupied homes, such as from a deceased relative. Examples of documents that will be subject to the fee include mechanics’ liens involving property construction projects, quitclaim deeds and affidavits of death related to real estate. The base increase is $75 per document on top of the regular recording fee of $12 to $18. If more than three documents are being recorded at the same time, there is a $225 cap on the increase. County Assessor-Recorder-Clerk Ernest Dronenburg Jr. estimated about 40 percent of his 900,000 recordings a year will be subject to the fee. At $75 per item, that would work out to $27 million generated locally, before factoring in the multiple recordings that might occur on one property. The state allows the county to deduct administrative costs for processing the new fees. Dronenburg currently estimates those costs at about 10 percent. When the state Assembly passed the bill in September, Atkins said the new fee was needed to address what she termed a “crisis” in housing. FHA Refuses PACE loans On December 7, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued Mortgage Letter 2017-18 which states properties with PACE loans in senior position will no longer be eligible for FHA-insured mortgages. Mortgages that want to refinance into FHA loans must also pay-off any outstanding PACE loan. This is a reverse of HUD’s policy from a year ago that allowed the FHA to finance mortgages on the homes with outstanding PACE liens. Top Section 20 OTHER INFORMATION OF INTEREST Richard D’Ascoli, CEO (760) 734-3971 ext 222 Rich@nsdcar.com A C.A.R Director from your area will be making live reports on key topics following each of the state C.A.R. meetings. Watch for an announcement from your Coordinating Committee or local Marketing Session regarding date, location and time.  Plan to attend to hear the latest developments affecting real estate. Please take a moment to thank the NSDCAR Realtors who devote huge amounts of time to serving as your delegates to the California Association of Realtors. They are part of the leadership that monitors and identifies critical issues to the industry, participate in the discussion process at C.A.R., and bring back valuable information to you.  

Legal Affairs

Sandi Adelson, Homeland Properties Real Estate 760-591-3090 x104 

thegotoagent@gmail.com

Property Managers…you just moved a tenant in with 3 kids and now you find they have 2 huge dogs, a python and an iguana they didn’t tell you about. Sound familiar?

OK so maybe there was no python, but you tell them the animals have to go, the lease says no pets. Tenant says, “Sorry, these are companion/therapy animals for me and my kids…we have a letter from Yourestuck Therapy and Treatment Center in Whoknowswhere, Idaho. Can you tell them that because they withheld the information the animals have to go? According to the Fair Housing attorney who made a presentation on Fair Housing for Property Management, no. A landlord cannot take any action to prevent the tenant from having the animals.

Do I have to honour the certification that the tenant probably got on a website, maybe a phone call and a credit card?

This attorney says yes. But, he says, try calling the provider of the certification and ask if they are prepared to testify as to this person’s disability.” The attorney says his experience is that the certification is canceled within a short amount of time. (You should always consult with your office managers, brokers, legal counsel and any other sources of information/advice.)

Can tenants possibly find any other ways to work the system and fight unlawful detainers?

If you haven’t experience it yet, get ready. Using habitability and fair housing violations, tenants are becoming more creative. Also, there are attorneys who now search the court records for filings of unlawful detainers and then contact the tenants to offer their services...perfect!

Do tattoos fall under protected classification in California?

Maybe. There is an actual case where a person with a large number of tattoos did not get a rental and it was deemed that there was discrimination under the “Arbitrary Characteristics” classification.

Sarah just moved into a lovely one bedroom apartment you had for rent. Now she’s advertising her new daycare services, can she do that? Notwithstanding local governmental restrictions for licensing, a landlord cannot limit her ability to have that daycare in her cute little apartment. There are mandates to be followed, but if she provides all the necessary proof and information, she’s in business.

I have permission from the author to share the copies of the slides used in his presentation and would be happy to if you simply send me an email with “LA -FAIR HOUSING FOR PROP MAN” in the subject line to

theinfoplace@yahoo.com

I will be happy to share it with you

Top  

How to Win a New Client: Make Yourself Memorable

Posted by Taylor Thompson in Blog, News | 0 comments

By Paul Benec

 Real estate will always be a people business. There’s nothing like the power of human connection. The relationship between a client and an agent form the lifeblood of the real estate industry. The most successful real estate agents I know enjoy meeting new people. In our business, every day presents a new opportunity to meet someone new. So, how do you convert a lead and win a new client? Here are a few ideas.

Make yourself memorable.

 How are you going to differentiate yourself from someone else? The goal is to make yourself memorable. This takes more than a slogan. You begin by developing rapport with people, establishing integrity by sharing yourself and being vulnerable and then follow-up with sharing market knowledge based on the person’s goals and dreams. Often I hear them admit that I’m talking to them about real estate in a way they’ve never heard before.

 Remember, the real estate business sits at the intersection of the emotion and the transaction. The left brain does the math, the dollar-per-square-foot calculations, mortgage amount and title insurances. Meanwhile, the right brain influences the place where you want to rest your home at night. It’s the side that feels that a certain home is right to raise their kids.

 So, peak their interest and find out what they want to know about real estate. Maybe they like numbers, maybe they want a view. Engage their intellect about the subject of real estate.

Learn their “DISC.”

Perhaps you have heard of this popular behavior style assessment tool that helps to identify behavioral tendencies. I’ve used it for years. DISC is a powerful and profoundly simple tool to help you understand people. “DISC” stands for “Dominance,” “Influence,” “Steadiness” and “Conscientiousness.” Here’s the link to find out your own “DISC,” www.123test.com/disc-personality-test/.

 For example, a “dominant” person places an emphasis on accomplishing bottom-line results. They see the big picture with confidence. They can be blunt and get straight to the point. Secondly, the person who places an emphasis on “influencing” or persuading others shows enthusiasm for relationships, is open and optimistic, likes to collaborate and dislikes being ignored. Thirdly, the “steady” person places an emphasis on cooperation, sincerity and dependability. They don’t like to be rushed and prefer a calm manner and approach. Lastly, the conscientious person places emphasis on quality, accuracy, expertise and competency. They enjoy objective reasoning and independence. They want the details and fear of being wrong.

 You can win a new client by determining a prospect’s main “DISC” factor. Ask questions, listen carefully, determine their “DISC,” and then you will know how to adapt and sell to that person. Are they analytical and looking for volumes of details on the neighborhood? Or, are they more relational and attracted to the idea of new friendships at their kids’ school? Or, if they’re steady, then they’ll never swing at the first pitch and will want to see all 75 or so homes in their price range before making a decision. An engineer is likely to want an in-depth market analysis, while a first-time homebuyer might care more about the location of the nearest public park. If you learn a prospect’s behavioral style, then you will win more new clients.

Remember the basics.

Sometimes, agents will over-think their approach to new business. They’re looking for a magic-bullet marketing plan or secret social media strategy. Instead, I’ve found it’s best to remember the basics, including door knocking, open houses, geographic mailings, follow-up phone calls, coffees or lunch with key referral sources. Participating in or organizing community events is a great way to network and increase name recognition. For example, attend a charity’s fundraiser walk, host a community garage sale, or sponsor a youth sports team or school event.

Good luck.

How I Saved the Deal: Look for other options

Posted by Taylor Thompson in Blog, News | 0 comments

By: Bill Richard

 Have you ever had one of those eureka, aha moments when you said “wow?” Well, in real estate sales, moments come up that can define who you are as a person. Sometimes, being a REALTOR® is a combination between a social worker, psychologist, pastor or priest. You are constantly thinking on your feet. And, every appointment is an opportunity. So, here are a couple of recent ways on how I saved the deal:

 An older couple thought they were going to lose their home. They were sad and discouraged. However, after some really serious counseling, they decided to do a reverse mortgage loan and they were saved from losing their home. To this day, that couple still sends me referrals. With a reverse mortgage, a client is leveraging the home equity they’ve built up. The client can use their money to pay medical expenses, finance home improvements or subsidize their monthly income. Reserve mortgage can work well with senior homeowners who want to remain living in their homes while aging in place.

 Another time, a young couple asked me about the value of their property because they were planning to get divorced. Divorce can be one of the most difficult times in somebody’s life. It can cause someone not to think clearly. Divorces can run the gamut from amicable to ugly. Often, the uglier the divorce, the more difficult it is to sell the couple’s home. But, to be successful in real estate, you have to really listen. Establishing trust is paramount. Fortunately, what this young couple really needed was someone who would listen to both of them and help them begin repairing their marriage instead of selling their home. To this day, that couple is still happily married and they send me a card every year on their anniversary.

 Another time, a couple from back east wanted to buy a property west of Interstate 5 and install a pool because it was their dream. However, since they were living in another state, they didn’t understand how often the coastal fog rolls in from the Pacific Ocean and how the fog could affect their dream. So, before they bought the property, I brought them to two of my current clients who owned homes with pools located west of Interstate 5. The couple from back east interviewed my two current clients. Their eyes were opened and they said two things: First, they thanked me for educating them and keeping them from making a mistake; Second, they thanked me for bringing new friends into their lives. The couple from back east did not buy a home west of Interstate 5. Instead, they bought a home with a pool about two miles inland.

 To me, saving the deal is all about doing the right thing at the right time. It means being open to thinking that this business is not always about the bottom line. Rather, it is about people who are trusting someone with their greatest asset. The moment they open their door to me I open my heart to them. Saving the deal is a calling not to be taken lightly.

Housing Forecast for 2018: No Housing Bubble

Posted by Taylor Thompson in Blog, News | 0 comments

Happy New Year!

As 2018 begins, what can you expect for the local and statewide real estate industry? Predictions vary from housing industry experts, but here’s what some of them are saying:

It’s all about inventory, even as demand remains strong.

 While the economy and stock markets are doing remarkably well, housing availability remains a challenge, but that’s nothing new. Shrinking inventory is likely to be a major factor shaping the 2018 housing market. Yet, Realtor.com expects more houses could be for sale toward the end of the year, giving homebuyers a greater selection to choose from. “It looks like we could get to a point where we’re seeing growth in inventory sometime in the fall of 2018,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com.

 Meanwhile, demand for housing will remain a constant, resulting in rising prices. Watch for demand from a variety of clients, ranging from millennials, babyboomers and immigrants to foreign investors and even gen Xers who want a bigger house. Also, don’t forget about bankruptcy survivors who have waited out their seven-year year exile. Even with some people moving out of California for more affordable areas, demand will not wane.

 Clients will still be eager to buy real estate because: home prices are appreciating and it’s a safe investment over the long haul; millennials need a home to raise their families; flips of older properties continue to provide returns; the economy is steadily improving under the Trump administration; foreigners are still eager to own U.S. property.

 With the shortage in listings, homes may sell even faster in 2018. In 2017, 25 percent of homes in the U.S. sold in two weeks or less and one in five homes in less than one week. The California Association of REALTORS® recently reported that homes in San Diego County remained on the market for 17 days in November 2017, 19 days in October 2017 and 20 days in November 2016.

Mortgage rates will remain affordable.

 Redfin expects the 30-year mortgage rate to inch up to between 4.3 and 4.5 percent for a standard, 30-year loan in 2018, which is still affordable for many buyers. Meanwhile, CoreLogic’s estimate is that the 30-year fixed will average 4.7 percent in December 2018. Mortgage rates are expected to slowly increase as a result of a portfolio reduction by the Federal Reserve. Back in October 2017, the Federal Reserve began reducing the size of its $4.5 trillion asset portfolio that includes $1.7 trillion in mortgage securities.

 However, the combination of higher home prices and higher interest rates means mortgage payments will be higher in 2018 for the same home, which means a decline in affordability. For example, if mortgage rates rise to 4.7 percent toward the end of 2018, and the median price of existing homes rises by 4.1 percent, then monthly mortgage payments for a typical house would be higher. According to CoreLogic, monthly payments of principal and interest rose 13 percent in 2017, compared to 2016.

 On the other hand, expect more options for buyers with credit issues. A growing number of lenders will offer interest-only mortgages, and even loans with limited income documentation. Some of these mortgages are dubbed “non-QM” because they don’t meet Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s plain-vanilla “qualified mortgage” rules.

No housing bubble in sight.

 Home prices are expected to climb modestly, but not as fast. Home-price appreciation is expected to cool down in 2018 after a torrid couple of years, which is good news for first-time buyers.

 No bubble is predicted even in impossibly hot markets such as the Bay Area. That’s because buyers are still making large down payments or paying all cash and sellers are getting their asking price -- and then some. Overall, today’s average buyer has less debt relative to the value of their home than they did in 2006, before that infamous bubble burst.

 Also, construction of single-family houses is expected to rise sharply in 2018. Take, for example, the city of Santee. Permits for 3,500 new homes are under review by the city. Currently, about 500 homes are under construction, which are part of 13 separate housing projects. In 2017, just 72 apartments, condos and homes were built in the city.

Tax reform not expected to deter most homebuyers and sellers.

 Under the new tax reform law, buyers can deduct interest on mortgages up to $750,000 for home bought after Dec. 15, which is down from the previous $1-million limit. (Homes purchased on that date or before aren’t affected.)  That means a homebuyer with a 20 percent down payment can purchase a $930,000 home and still deduct all the interest. Even for a borrower who took out a $1-million loan at 4 percent interest, $30,024 of interest payments are deductible in the first year, leaving $9,656 that are not.

In most cases, if a buyer borrows a million bucks to get a home, the write-off is typically not their primary concern.  For sellers, single homeowners can still exclude $250,000 of sale proceeds from capital gains taxes as long as they’ve lived in the home for two out of the previous five years. Couples can continue to exclude up to $500,000.

Growth in the economy.

 Brad Inman is predicting the economy will grow like crazy. He cites that job creation is at record levels, unemployment is at a 17-year low, wages are feeling upward pressure and companies are investing at a fast and furious pace. He writes, “A backdrop of political uncertainty will not slow down the global economic thoroughbred that is galloping at a full run.”

CalBRE has issued new guidelines for unlicensed assistants

Posted by Taylor Thompson in Blog, News | 0 comments

The Calbre issued needed Guidelines for Unlicensed Assistants. Read more to find out about how they can or cannot be involved in:

-Cold calling -Open Houses -CMA's -Communicating with the public -Arranging appointments -Accessing property -Advertising, preparation, and delivery of documents -Trust funds -Communicating with Principles -Reviewing Documents

 Click here for the full guidelines

Home staging tips that barely cost

Posted by Taylor Thompson in Blog, News | 0 comments

As real estate professionals representing home sellers who are expecting top dollar for their property, you have the opportunity to recommend home staging ideas that can improve the attractiveness and draw a premium price. But, the real fun is to heighten a home’s curb appeal with tweaks that cost very little money.

Although some believe that staging is optional, it really shouldn’t be. Com’on, why settle for a lower sales price if you don’t have to? Plus, a staged home sells faster. So, here are a few ideas on staging a home on the cheap without breaking the bank.

Declutter bedrooms for the photos or video that will be posted online. Remember, the benefits of staging go beyond appealing to warm bodies at an open house. That’s because most buyers first go online to first check-out a home for sale. Your goal is to give shoppers a visual picture of themselves as residents of that home. Consider maximizing space by removing some furniture and furnishings from certain rooms for the photo session, especially those rooms designated by the residents for storage. As everyone knows, it’s not easy for buyers to see past clutter. Plus, open space can make a home look bigger.

Make decluttering fun by hosting a 30-or-60-day packing party for your sellers as they prepare for their move to their future home. Order a pizza and request the sellers to pack-up any unnecessary or personal items, room by room, not needed for the next one-to-two months. Have a plan to store the packed items perhaps in a self-storage facility or in the garage until the home sells. Put away knickknacks. Keep in mind that buyers will be interested in your closet space, so tossing everything inside the closet to hide it away could make a home look like it lacks closet space. Often, people are amazed at how much space they have after their home is decluttered.

Sanitize and get the house sparkling clean. No one wants to see splattered spaghetti sauce, grimy grease or piles of crumbs in their potential new home. Every surface should sparkle, from shining floors and gleaming windows to clean counters and scrubbed grout. The extra effort will be worth the trouble. Wood cabinets can be refreshed to make them look new. And, don’t forget the baseboards, trim and floor corners. Give all floors a thorough cleaning and steam-clean the carpets if necessary to get rid of pet odors. Hide the extra-loved pet toys and doggie bones when tours are scheduled. If wood floors are in poor shape, then the strategic placement of area floor rugs can go a long way.

Rearrange furniture in rooms with a single purpose in mind. Suggest to sellers that the best way to visually showcase their home may be to reposition some furniture, artwork and accessories in order to improve traffic flow or highlight a home’s distinctiveness and true potential. For example, some dining rooms can look larger without a desk in the corner and some bedrooms can look more inviting with a comfortable armchair recliner in a sitting area. Also, bathrooms can look prim and polished with rolled-up towels, decorative baskets, candles and new shower curtains. Be sure to replace any broken toilet seats and paper holders. New pillows that match the couch can be an effective thematic element. The goal is to highlight rooms for their intended purposes as places of relaxation and comfort.

Spend extra time arranging the kitchen, which some might consider as the most important room in a home. You might want to display a cookbook on a stand on a kitchen counter and have it open to a fun recipe. Also, a basket of fresh farmer's market produce on the kitchen counter can be the right touch. A blank dining room table might be perceived as boring. Instead, set it for a dinner party to create a wow factor when potential buyers see your beautifully arranged table.

Take advantage of your home's natural light. Open all curtains and blinds for open houses and add supplemental lighting where necessary. Lighten-up dark areas with floor lamps equipped with high-wattage bulbs. Outdated or broken light fixtures can be cheaply and easily replaced. Great lighting can make a home look warm and inviting.

Spruce up the landscaping. Get the law mowed and trees and bushes trimmed. Display a welcome mat and add potted flower pots to a walkway or porch. Maybe replace worn-out house numbers. Perhaps hang a hammock or add a bench swing in the backyard. A couple of folding chairs can help potential buyers envision themselves relaxing. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and the goal is to record high favorability ratings from the greatest possible pool of prospective buyers. While we’re talking about yardwork, feel free to raid the yard for fresh cut flowers, branches, clippings of fern fronds that can be displayed inside vases or as a centerpiece.

 Smells count. Take care of bad odors with a spray to deodorize the home. Present inviting aromas by baking cinnamon-coated apples or slice-and-bake cookies in the oven, or by burning vanilla-scented candles. Another idea is to grind a lemon in the garbage disposal to remove sink odors.

 These tips will not only give your listing a facelift, but your sellers are likely to see a bigger return on investment.

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