Archive for February, 2011

San Diego March Calendar

Monday, February 28th, 2011
Ahhh…Spring is almost here. There is a lot to do this month so get out there and enjoy!
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March 2-6, RC44 Championship Tour 2011
The biggest names in the sport of sailing will race against each other in identical 44-foot sailboats, the RC44. The San Diego event takes place over 6 days and racing will take place directly in front of the Broadway Pier.
Time: Refer to website
Location: San Diego Bay ‚ Broadway Pier
For more information call 858-922-3522 or visit www.rc44.com/en/

March 3-7, Circus Vargas ‚ El Cajon
Presenting the highest quality family entertainment, Circus Vargas unites amazingly skilled serious performers with the innocence and silliness of truly comedic circus clowns ‚ the kind that actually make you laugh! All the excitement of a circus with human and animal stars rendering artistic triumphs and thrilling exploits.
Time: Refer to website for showtimes
Location: El Cajon ‚ Westfield Parkway, Johnson Ave. Exit from I-8 fwy
For more information visit www.circusvargas.com

March 4-6, Spring Home/Garden Show
Hundreds of exhibits of home improvement products and remodeling ideas.
Time: Fri. 11:00 am ‚ 6:00 pm / Sat. 10:00 am ‚ 6:00 pm / Sun. 10:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
For more information visit www.sandiegohomegardenshows.com

March 4-6, Gem Faire
A world renowned marketplace for the finest in gemstones, beads, jewelry, minerals, fossils, meteorites, lapidary equipment, metaphysical items and much more at the lowest prices in today’s market. Workshops and classes are offered.
Time: Fri. 12:00 pm ‚ 7:00 pm / Sat. 10:00 am ‚ 6:00 pm / Sun. 10:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
For more information visit www.gemfaire.com

March 5, 19th Annual San Diego Brazil Carnaval 2011
San Diego Brazil Carnaval features Carnaval Bands, Capoeira, parades, and Mardi Gras Beads. The ‚ÄúBest‚Äù Carnaval venue on the West Coast. The Gala signals the start of San Diego’s Carnaval Mardi Gras Celebrations that culminates with the Gaslamp Mardi Gras Parade on Fat Tuesday March 8.
Time: 8:00 pm ‚ 2:00 pm
Location: Downtown San Diego, 4th & B Showcase Theater, 345 B St.
For more information visit www.brazilcarnival.com

March 5, 63rd Annual Ocean Beach Kite Festival & Parade
Enjoy a festival that offers a crafts fair, carnival rides, music, snacks, and a kite parade to the beach for kite flying. Create your free kite on-site, or bring your own for judging. Free event.
Time: Festival 9:00 am ‚ 4:00 pm / Kite making and parade 9:00 am ‚ 2:30 pm
Location: Ocean Beach Recreation Center, 4726 Santa Monica Blvd., Ocean Beach
For more information call 619-225-8705

March 5, SanTree Fest
An Earth Day tree planning event in Santee. Activities include tree planting (50-60 trees), river clean up, crafts for kids, food sampling, live entertainment, and environmental booths.
Time: 9:00 am ‚ 12:00 pm
Location: Town Center Community Park East, 550 Park Center Dr., Santee
For more information 619-258-4100

March 5, Little Italy Carnevale
Enjoy a night of music, food, and shopping as you mingle among people dressed in Venetian attire. Oh, and be sure to ask about the “Passaporto di Carnevale”.
Time: 5:00 pm ‚ 9:00 pm
Location: Little Italy, Date St. between India St. & Columbia St., Downtown San Diego
For more information visit www.littleitalysd.com

March 5, Fallbrook Woman’s Club Annual Attic-Rummage Sale
The Fallbrook Woman’s Club is holding their annual Attic-Rummage Sale. A bake sale is included and all proceeds go to local charities.
Time: 8:00 am ‚ 2:00 pm
Location: Fallbrook Woman’s Club Clubhouse, 238 West Mission Rd., Fallbrook
For more information visit www.fallbrookchamberofcommerce.org

March 8, Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp
This Gaslamp Quarter wide outdoor celebration on Fat Tuesday includes two spectacular parades on Fifth Avenue and a fabulous block party featuring many great stages with fun musical acts. Enjoy tasty treats, cold beverages and beads!
Time: Parades at 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm
Location: Gaslamp Quarter, 5th Avenue: K thru E Streets, Downtown San Diego
For more information visit www.gaslamp.org

March 8, Hillcrest Mardi Gras Street Party 2011
Mardi Gras Street Party for adults 21+ celebrating “Fat Tuesday”. This is a benefit party near the center of Hillcrest in Uptown San Diego, to support youth scholarships and community improvements. Food, beer, entertainment. Mardi Gras masks and costumes encouraged. Ticketed event.
Time: 6:00 pm ‚ 11:00 pm
Location: 4th & University, Hillcrest
For more information visit www.hillcrestmardigras.com

March 10-20, 18th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival
Short and feature length films by Latinos and/or about the Latino experience will be shown. Films are from Latin America and the US.
Time: Refer to website for showtimes
Location: UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas, 7510 Hazard Center Dr.
For more information visit www.sdlatinofilm.com

March 12, 31st Annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival
Wear something green when you come to enjoy the festivities in a Celtic Village filled with Irish culture, music, dancing, food and beer; plus a children’s play area with rides. This event is in conjunction with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. A free event.
Time: 9:00 am ‚ 6:30 pm
Location: Balboa Park, West side of park along 6th Ave. between Laurel & Quince
For more information visit www.stpatsparade.org

March 12, St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Come watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade with marching bands, floats, police and fire department units, the Emerald Societies, Scout Troops, clowns, equestrian entries, bagpipe contingents, antique cars and much more!
Time: 10:30 am
Location: Balboa Park, Fifth Ave. & Juniper St.
For more information visit www.stpatsparade.org

March 12 & 13, Tall Ship Cannon Battles
Experience and participate in the thrill of tall ship maneuvers and tactical combat at sea aboard one of two tall ships where you’ll battle the other tall ship with black powder cannons. The best free viewing areas are from the Broadway Pier, Embarcadero Park, Cabrillo National Monument and
Coronado Landing.
Time: 12:30 pm‚ 4:00 pm
Location: Embarcadero, 1492 North Harbor Dr.
For more information visit www.sdmaritime.org

March 19, Colon Cancer Alliance Undy 5000 5K Run/Walk
This is a timed 5K run/walk where participants are encouraged to wear undies over their running attire. Dress appropriately and be as creative as you want.
Time: 7:00 am ‚ 9:30 am
Location: East Mission Bay ‚ De Anza Cove
For more information visit www.undy5000.org

March 27, La Mesa Village Antique Street Faire
Once a year, La Mesa Boulevard is closed and Antique dealers from far and wide set out their wares. The event generally features more than 125 booths with genuine antiques and collectibles, plus appraisal and restoration booths. Reminiscent of an old fashioned Midwest flea market, there’s live music and entertainment.
Time: 9:00 am ‚ 4:00 pm
Location: La Mesa Village, 8200-8300 block La Mesa Blvd.
For more information visit www.Lmvma.com
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Cooperation Stomps Competition in Real Estate

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Real estate, like any sales business, thrives on competition. But it is the nature of the competition that can give the industry a bad name. There is a time for competition, which can be healthy, and a time for colleagues to cooperate–and actually they can exist simultaneously. So whether you are “the top producer” in an area, someone who sells just a few homes a year, or somewhere in between–listen up.

Realtors are a different breed of business people. True, our business involves sales, but realistically we provide much more: we are guidance counselors, teachers and personal trainers. We don’t just hand someone an apple from the bunch and take a quarter, so to speak. Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial decisions a person makes in his or her lifetime. It is not something that typically happens quickly, and there is a lot of work involved. The Realtor who only cares about a paycheck will not last long, especially with technology driving change in our industry. We have to be smarter, more connected, better equipped to assist our clientele and each other.

In such an atmosphere there is one mantra that needs to be followed: we all need to cooperate. No kidding, you say, right? But honestly, there are many agents out there who still think it is all about themselves. Of course, we do compete with each other, but we also need to increase the trust in our industry, and that cannot be done unless we all respect each other and perform our duties in the most professional manner.

Every industry has it’s complainers, it’s sour pusses, it’s bad eggs. Look at lawyers–the general opinion seems to be that they are disliked, but if you are arrested or sued you would be calling one faster than a speeding bullet. There are many amazing lawyers out there, but the bad eggs spoil the perceptions of the industry. The same is true of real estate.

So, get out there and respect your competition. Join industry chats, follow other agents on Twitter and Facebook, read Realtor blogs, share your knowledge with other agents. Return agent phone calls and emails. It doesn’t mater how many houses you sell or how much money someone spends on marketing. If you do the best you can do with what you have and you are happy, you can only get better by cooperating with others and paying it forward.

If you want to take it one step further, keep in mind that cooperation is important but you also need to watch what you say–both to colleagues, clients and online. To read more about this click here: http://realestateandwomen.net/2011/02/23/the-importance-of-watching-what-you-say/

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Federal Foreclosure Mitigation Programs to be Axed

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Four federal programs that were created to help troubled homeowners escape the foreclosure ax are on the endangered list this week. Included are HAMP, the FHA’s short refinance program, HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Emergency Homeowner Relief Fund.

While created with good intentions of helping millions of borrowers, these programs in reality have all failed to make a dent in the plight of the distressed borrower on a grand scale. Reports show that many borrowers no longer even contact counseling services set up to assist with help under these programs. One member of the House Financial Services Committee, which has called a hearing for March 2 to review these programs, opined that the programs have actually done more harm than good.

The main argument against the above programs is their cost, which is translated to the tax payers. The cost of helping just one homeowner can be so astronomical that it just doesn’t make sense. Often things created in haste that are not well thought-out can have this result, and unfortunately in this case the backlash is that the housing market cannot recover in such circumstances.

In lieu of federal programs to help underwater and troubled borrowers, the slack will be left to individual lenders and states to come up with programs that will realistically aid borrowers. California has jumped into the proverbial boat first with Keep Your Home California, a program that packs a lot of punch and sounds promising. Pennsylvania has a successful program that provides assistance to unemployed homeowners. The proof will be in the pudding, and lenders will need to cooperate in order to help with recovery efforts. Inevitably other states will need to formulate programs as well, so eyes will be on the California guinea pig.

The bottom line is that the market cannot recover unless there is cooperation from the lenders. Short sales need to be streamlined and loan modifications need to be considered for those who qualify, and with time restraints. It does justice for no one–the borrower, the lender, the housing market, the neighbors of the homes in question–to draw out these processes. We need to help those who need it, and provide them with alternatives. We don’t just need band aids folks, we need hard labor to build back our markets.

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You’d Better Watch What You Say

Friday, February 25th, 2011

With the world online it has become harder to uphold reputations and maintain your desired degree of professionalism…you actually have to work at keeping them in check. Clients and colleagues can check up on you in an instant, so what you say online and in person needs to be well-thought out. Realtors are no exception; in fact, they probably have to be more careful than the average person, for fear of violating a myriad of laws or regulations. For some tips on how to keep your reputation untarnished read more at http://realestateandwomen.net/2011/02/23/the-importance-of-watching-what-you-say/

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Government Pushes Again to Help Struggling Homeowners

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

The Obama administration has announced a new plan to get loan servicers to pay for loan principal reductions worth billions of dollars. If mortgage providers commit to this new plan it could prevent a staggering number of future foreclosures. No new government program will be created; instead, participating lenders will be able to utilize existing programs or their own programs to accomplish the goals set forth in the plan.

In order for the housing market to recover we need to get all the foreclosure inventory out there…lenders sitting on foreclosed homes does nothing to help our economy. While this desperate plan is a great idea in theory, it still requires the cooperation from some of the nation’s larges providers, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase. This has always been the most difficult thing for the government when trying to institute a new plan to help homeowners. The plan would require the banks to pay more than $20 billion in civil fines OR fund a comparable amount of loan modifications.

The difference in this new plan is that it is not solely focused on reducing monthly payments, but instead aims at actual principal reduction. For example, under past and current programs an underwater homeowner who owes $200,000 in principal more on his home than it is worth (say he purchased it for $500,000 and it is now worth $300,000) gets his monthly payments reduced in a loan modification, but the additional amount is usually tacked onto the end of the mortgage. Over time he is still responsible for paying the entire amount even though his monthly burden has been reduced.

Under the new plan, the same homeowner would have his principal balance reduced, thus in fact giving him a new mortgage on his house worth $300,000, and wiping out the $200,000 debt. The problem is that the lender has to agree to eat the difference.

The plan also calls for lenders to reduce second lien mortgages when they modify the first liens. There is still a lot to be worked out and banks will have to agree to follow the plan. If this does not happen there could be a rise in lawsuits against the lenders from attorneys general. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

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What Song are YOU Singing?

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

I was listening to a Journey song recently and one phrase in particular struck me and got me thinking: “some were born to sing the blues.” Have you ever thought about this? We all have songs that we sing, songs that can describe us. They may not have a title and may not even have words, and they may change often, but these songs guide us through much of life, and sometimes making changes is as easy as changing the tune.

I had a friend who was always singing the blues. She had a difficult life and has been through a lot, and things were continuously not going her way. When I spoke with her it was always about the latest problem. I tried and tried to steer her to thinking in a different way, telling her that if she stopped focusing on all the negative things her life could turn around. I reminded her of the wonderful things in her life–her husband, children, health. But after years of trying I just felt exhausted. She literally sucked the energy from me and I had to end the friendship. It was a tough decision, because I really love her and value her friendship. But I had to save myself from delving into the blues and negativity every time we spoke.

My beloved friend/sister in law, who passed away over four years ago from cancer at a young age, was one of the most positive people I knew. She was always singing a happy song, and you could feel it. Even when she was dying in the hospital and her two children were watching, she managed to keep her chin up and sing songs that made you want to dance and appreciate life. Another loved one was just diagnosed with an incurable disease and boy is she singing upbeat tunes to keep up the attitude.

Have you ever watched young children playing? If you are a parent like me than you know what I am describing, but if not you should do an experiment. Go to a park and sit and watch children play for a bit. You will notice they are singing! Either literally, or just with their body language. They are engaged in their play completely, and their joy is infectious. True they have no worries yet, but we need to capture this joy and infuse it into our lives every day. I am not saying that we should be happy 100% of the time, but we can definitely make time to think positive thoughts and share them with others. Like small children we need to truly enjoy just being present.

Attitude is everything, and to those who do not believe that it is a shame. The song you sing, the vibe you give off, effects all those with whom you come into contact. Life is full of challenges and none of us are immune. So if you are not singing those songs already please try it for a week. Appreciate everything you have, see the beauty in things, feel your body’s strength and health, look at those you love and realize how important they are to you. We are only here for a short time and no one knows when their time will be up. Take what is important and sing about it–not literally, although you can if you choose–let others hear your songs and see what a difference it will make.

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California Helps Struggling Homeowners

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

The federal plans to assist homeowners who are facing foreclosure or are underwater with their mortgages, specifically the Home Affordability Modification Program (HAMP) have not lived up to promises. States are now realizing that it is up to them to deal with these issues, and California is one of the first states to create four new statewide mortgage aid programs that actually look promising.

Keep Your Home California plans to offer $2 billion in aid, and aims to assist 100,000 households to avoid foreclosure…the goal is to keep people in their homes. Each program requires the participation of the mortgage servicer. One of the biggest obstacles with the federal programs were lack of participation, however, some of the biggest mortgage service providers have already signed on and agreed to assist with the program. Others are involved in some of the programs, but housing agency officials expect the number to grow in time. Funding comes from the U.S. Treasury.

The program goal is to help low- and moderate-income families stay in their homes where there has been financial hardship. death, illness/disability, or recent increase in monthly mortgage payments creating a risk of default. Here is what the programs intend to provide:

1. Offer up to $3000 a month for homeowners who are unemployed, for up to 6 months.

2. Offer up to $15,000 per household to assist those who have fallen behind in payments due to temporary changes in housing circumstances

3. Offer relocation assistance to homeowners who have already completed short sales or deed in lieu of foreclosures

4. Offer monetary compensation to cut mortgage balances owed on homes that are worth significantly less than the amount owed by the borrower

To view a list of participating servicers or receive further information, visit http://www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org/ or call 888-954-KEEP(5337). If you live outside of California you should contact your state offices to see if there are any similar programs planned for your state.

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How Affordable is the San Diego Housing Market?

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

In case you were wondering, or if you have been sitting on the sidelines waiting to purchase a home in San Diego county, here is some fantastic news: housing affordability in San Diego reached a record high last quarter. Combined with other factors, it is an ideal time for buyers right now in San Diego, especially first-time buyers.

According to data published in the San Diego Union Tribune, 62% of first time homebuyers can afford to purchase a home in the county, the highest percentage going back to 2000. Affordability has tripled since 2006, when it was at an all-time low. Other factors come into play making the timing ripe for buying.

Interest rates, while estimated to climb slightly this year, still are at an all-time low. Even if rates climb a point this year they will still be at historically low levels.

Inventory will likely rise heading into the Spring selling season, although we are still at low levels comparatively speaking. Homes that are already on the market will have more competition with inventory increases, making it a great time to negotiate with those sellers. I have seen a rise in inventory in the last month alone along the north county coast, and overall most sellers are listing their properties comparably.

Short sales and REOs (lender-owned inventory) make for great negotiation possibilities, as long as a buyer is willing to wait a while when considering a short sale. I also see lenders making a return to the market, which is a good sign for housing, but could be competition for buyers as more well-priced inventory makes it’s way to the market.

Loan Products give first-time buyers choices and can make a big difference in the down payment and affordability factor. FHA loans, for example, only require a small down payment, and is a fantastic product for those who qualify otherwise but do not have 20% of the purchase price laying around in a bank account. This reason alone is one of the strongest in the affordability equation for first-time buyers. As long as the buyer has a job and is not self-employed an FHA loan could be a good choice.

Rent increases. Rents have risen across the country and in San Diego county lately, and renting and buying are getting closer from a cost-perspective. This Fall rent increases ranged from 1% to just under 4.5% in the county, leading to more vacancies as well (many people are moving to the outskirts of the county in search of cheaper rents). For many first-time home buyers who do the math it can be enlightening– so if you are still not sure about a home purchase look at the numbers and see if it makes sense for you.

Realtors have been saying for some time that now is a great time to buy, mostly because of the theory that buying when in a down or slow market is a strong financial tactic. But the above points show that there are many factors in play that make this a great time to buy. If you need further information on the local North San Diego market please do not hesitate to contact me.

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What You Need to Know When Buying Property at Auction

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Trustee auctions have become popular in many areas due to the large number of foreclosure properties. It used to be that no one but the lender who holds the note showed up at the auction, but nowadays many investors and buyers are doing so. It can be a great way to get a good deal on a home, but there are some caveats of which you need to be aware before doing so.

Know the neighborhood and comparable sold properties therein. You need to do your homework on the value of the home. Make sure the property is not in a neighborhood where there are numerous foreclosures, as that is an indication that values may still be falling.

Get title reports and any other reports. It is imperative that you get a title report. Unlike a traditional sale where the buyer cannot close escrow without a title company guarantee of clear title, it is up to you to make sure the property is free of liens and encumbrances. Contact a title company well in advance of auction.

Inspect if possible. In many instances you are not able to access the property, nor have a home inspection. This is perhaps one of the biggest problems with purchasing at auction. Many skilled investors, who have teams of people with whom they work to rehabilitate homes, can assess from a drive by and peek through the windows what type of work will need to be completed, since they do this often. If you are a first time home buyer or new to auctions it is advisable to proceed with extreme caution if you are unable to enter a home and have an inspection.

Learn about auction procedure and local/state law. Try to learn as much as you can about procedure before attending an auction–this includes state laws on foreclosures and the bidding process (which can vary). There are some resources online and you can also speak with investors who are familiar with the process. Many lenders have websites detailing the process. State laws on foreclosures are a good place to start. The best advice is to attend an auction as an observer beforehand to see how the process goes.

Bring multiple checks and necessary documentation. In a trustee auction you need to have the entire purchase amount with you. Often you may need to increase your bid, so you will need to have multiple checks. Keep in mind the checks have to be bank checks, not personal checks, so you have to come prepared. Check the auctioning lender’s website to find out specifically what else you will need to bring with you on auction day–do your homework and come prepared.

Be prepared for scheduling conflicts. Many properties are assigned an auction date but then rescheduled. I know of people who had all their checks and documentation ready, only to learn at the last minute that the auction was canceled. Make sure to check with the lender for daily updates on the status of the property.

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The Unloyal Client

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

I love being a Realtor, and I especially love using my experience and background to make a difference in helping others. Like many businesses involving sales, the hope is that when you serve people well they will remain loyal to you, but many Realtors find at least once in their careers that loyalty can fly out the window in a heartbeat. So, how do we keep clients loyal?

First of all, you have to understand that it is human nature to always look for the next best thing. Granted, many people respect loyalty–if I find a good service provider I stick with them. But there are people in every industry who are out there preying on consumers, trying to win them over. Unfortunately that is true in our industry as well. And while your clients are free to work with whomever they choose it still hurts when they choose to work with another agent or worse, when they don’t come back to you, especially if you have stayed in touch and provided great service. Here are some tools you can (and should) use to connect with your clients, keep the relationship strong, and remind them of your stellar service:

1. The good, old-fashioned phone call and visit. Despite all the online hype this is the tried and true method for keeping in touch with clients. Call your clients periodically, stop by for a visit, meet them for coffee. Stay in touch on a personal level.

2. Email. Send your clients emails of any interesting articles or blogs/summaries you may read that may pertain to their neighborhood. You can include new listings, events, or anything you like. Make sure you do this once or twice a month at least.

3. Connect with your clients via Social Media. This is another way to stay in touch. Encourage them to “like” your Facebook page so they can get all your great content sent to their Facebook news feed. If your clients are tech-savvy encourage them to follow you on Twitter and connect with them on LinkedIn. Tell them to sign up for an RSS feed of your blog.

4. Anniversary. On the anniversary of their home purchase (if you sold them a home) send them a handwritten note. I love to drop off a little basket of sweets on the first anniversary, in honor of a sweet first year of home ownership.

5. Buyer-Broker agreements. Although controversial, there is always debate over whether to use these with buyers. Some brokerages require them, so if you are in that group obviously you don’t have a choice. The fact of the matter is that a client is free to work with whomever he or she chooses, so a signature on paper won’t really save you. But there are definitely many agents who will not work with a buyer until these agreements are signed.

6. Revamp your marketing goals and campaign several times a year. Take a look at your marketing and see where you can improve. If you are trying to get listings obviously you need to have a listing presentation that stands up to the competition. If you send out marketing pieces to your past clients make sure they are hitting the mark and are consistent. If you work with buyers are you providing them with enough information from the outset? There are always new ways to spruce up your marketing arsenal, so continue to seek them.

If you have done all of those things and your client still doesn’t value you then you have to take it with a grain of salt. It is easy to beat ourselves up in these situations, but if you know you provided great service then you have to chalk it up to human nature. Stay in touch with your clients even if they seek another Realtor’s assistance. I had a client years ago who used another agent to purchase a house while she was in escrow with me on another home (by fluke she had called on the home and the agent convinced her to write an offer–yes, call it slimy tactics on behalf of the agent but the client chose to do so). She called me after the purchase and said she wished she’d worked with me instead–the other agent did not compare to me, according to her. Well, at least she realized that I provided great service. It made me feel a little better.

If you are like me the lack of loyalty will be hard to swallow, but the more you remain true to yourself and continue to provide great service to your clients, the more people will appreciate you. Work with those who truly do, and you will be a much happier person.

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