Posts Tagged ‘Rachel LaMar’

5 Top Ethics Errors Made by Real Estate Agents

Friday, February 12th, 2016

If you are a regular reader you know that I have a thing for ethics and those who violate the boundaries of professionalism in any field. We’ve all known of someone who crosses or has crossed the line. The real estate industry is no exception. Here are the most common ethics breaches made by real estate agents:

1. Going after other agents’ clients. Amazing, but yes there are slimy people out there. This actually just happened to me – another agent took advantage of my client in a very sneaky way. When an agent knows that someone is a client of another agent, to go after that person in order to get them to work with you is not just unethical, but it’s nasty. Karma will get all those people one day, but they really should not be in the business if they cannot be professional and respectful. That agent’s reputation will suffer, especially among area agents.

2. Not disclosing relevant information. This happens all too often. Some agents actually advise their sellers to NOT disclose information that could affect a sale – such as problems that have occurred in the home (broken pipes, electrical problems, roof leaks, etc.). Again, not only is this an ethical violation but it is illegal. Many lawsuits are initiated because buyers were not made aware of past problems – it is one of the main reasons for real estate lawsuits. I tell all my sellers that it is better to over-disclose than leave anything out. If you lay it out on the table it is up to the buyer to check out any issues and make informed decisions.

3. Telling home inspectors not to notify of problems or directing what should/should not be in a report. It is hard to believe but there are agents who do this. One home inspector told me that a successful area agent once told him not to notify him (the agent) of any problems concerning the roof, and to leave them out of the report! I couldn’t believe that. That is far more than an ethical violation – it is illegal. Things like this apparently go on all the time. Thus the reason you need an excellent home inspector that you trust, and also whom your client can trust. Mine is also a civil engineer and a licensed contractor – a little piece of mind goes a long way in preventing problems and legal action down the road.

4. Taking referral fees from lenders or others specified by law or statute as not allowable. This is a big no-no: unethical and also illegal.

5. Giving a client advice that is not in their best interests in order to secure a sale. Clients need to make their own decisions on whether or not to buy or sell a property. The role of the agent is to make sure the client receives all the pertinent information in order to make an informed decision. I never make decisions for my clients – rather, I offer my expertise in answering their questions and concerns. If there are problems with the property that are inherent and could cause issues down the road, I always point that out and suggest expert advice when needed. The ultimate decision belongs to the client – our role is to facilitate providing information. Encouraging a client to buy or sell when it may not be in their best interests is unethical.

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There are many other glaring examples of ethical breaches in the real estate industry, and there is always the agent who invents a new one. But the above 5 examples are perhaps the most dangerous because they are crossing over into breaking laws and could have legal consequences. This is why all agents need strong training programs and continuing education to keep them abreast of new rules and laws.

The real estate industry needs to crack down on agent training and make cross-the-board mandatory programs, as well as stricter licensing requirements. Brokers also need to take responsibility with stricter oversight of their agents (if I was paid $1 for every time I had to call another broker to report something their agent did that jeopardized a contract, I would have a lot of dollars). Until such changes are set in motion we will unfortunately see more ethical/legal violations in the industry.

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Will Freedom Brokerages Put Traditional RE Brokerages Out of Business?

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Big brokerages thrive on hiring as many sales people as they can to increase profits. Some will hire anyone and others are more picky, but some of the bigger corporate brokerages offer lots of training and support to new or unseasoned agents, which is a big lure when searching for a place to hang a real estate license. The support and mentoring provided by these firms tend to draw many to their doors. But could there be a new threat on the horizon for big brokerages?

The latest brokerage to hit the real estate market is called the “Freedom Brokerage” – virtual brokerages without brick and mortar offices, which allow agents to save lots of money in most cases. Keep in mind that brick and mortar companies have to pay for their building space, utilities and supplies, as well as online programs, printed materials, websites and insurance, to name a few. They have to shell out money to keep their agents learning and motivated so that they will make money for the brokerage, but most of that money that goes out is passed along to the agents in some way (office fees, seminar fees, supply fees, etc. – there are many names).

Freedom Brokerages allow agents to hang a license with a company that lacks the brick and mortar hub (which seems very passe in today’s real estate market anyway – why pay for an office when you can do everything from a home office or other space?) This keeps the costs down. The idea appeals to many agents, who want to avoid all of the big brokerage costs. But it also is probably not the best idea for new or unseasoned agents, unless they are self-starters and do not need any hand-holding.

I applaud the new ideas that are popping up to keep real estate exciting. Personally I do not think we need brick and mortar offices. There are many options available for those who need a true office space and do not want to meet clients at a home office or at Starbucks. There are hub offices, where space is shared with other members for a monthly fee, and there are executive suites – where you have your own office or might share it with one or several others, with a live human who answers your phone possibly included. These ideas allow an agent to have an office address and space for meeting when needed.

So if you are considering leaving a brick and mortar corporate brokerage, look into the options. If you are a seasoned agent and a self starter, or even a confident new agent with someone who can help mentor you (although personally I think new agents need extensive training, and may get it best from established brokerages), it is a great idea which will save much money. Why pay all your fees to a big brokerage if you don’t have to?

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Everything You Need to Know About California Property Taxes

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

With the deadline for payment of the second installment of property taxes already here, here is some helpful information for all property tax payers: taxman

Annual property tax bills are sent out once a year, on October 1, and are payable in two installments. The first installment is due November 1 and is delinquent if not received by 5:00 PM on or postmarked by December 10. The second installment is due February 1 and is delinquent if not receive by 5:00 on or postmarked by April 10. A 10% penalty fee is assessed for delinquency on the first payment, plus a $10 fee is assessed for a delinquent payment on the second payment.

Home buyers: If you close escrow on a house after the tax bills have been issued to the seller in the Fall, you will not receive an additional copy or second reminder before the second installment is due, but you are still liable. Futhermore, the bill(s) you may have from the previous owners may not have your name on them, but you are still liable. If you do not have the bills or have any questions, please see below to contact your county tax assessor.

PAYMENT DEADLINE SUMMARY

Installment          Due Date          Delinquency Date       Penalty (if delinquent)

1st: November     December 1      December 10               10% of amount due

2nd: February      April 1               April 10                        10% of amount due + $10

TAX PERIOD COVERED BY EACH INSTALLMENT

1st installment: Covers taxes from  July 1- December 31

2nd installment: Covers taxes from January 1- June 30

Changes: Keep in mind that most counties have a cutoff time in which to make changes, which is around March in the year the bills are sent. If you have any questions please contact your local tax assessor’s office.

Tax Assessor Offices from Los Angeles to San Diego Counties:

San Diego County Tax Assessor

Los Angeles County Tax Assessor

Orange County Tax Assessor

San Bernardino County Tax Assessor

Riverside County Tax Assessor

Supplemental Tax Bills: You may receive a supplemental tax bill during your first year of ownership of a home. The supplemental bill covers additional taxes owed based on the purchase price of the home (as property taxes are calculated on sales price in California). Please note that supplemental tax bills are not paid out of the lender impound account, and it is the responsibility of the new owner to pay them upon request.

Thank you to Chandra Self of Eaton Escrow for contributing the above information!

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Why is Home Inventory Scarce (even in San Diego County)?

Monday, February 1st, 2016

If you are a buyer you have likely noticed that inventory is scarce right now, in San Diego county as well as many other areas. As we head into the Spring/Summer “busy” home selling season, many wonder whether the inventory will pick up, and that has some buyers and sellers worried. For sale

Here are some of the likely reasons why inventory levels remain low right now:

1. Rate increases. In December of 2015 the feds slightly raised interest rates, with the hint that more increases would follow. Many buyers got off the fence and are not out looking for houses before any further increases might price them out of the buyer market. This could be good news for sellers, but it seems they are not jumping to list their properties – likely because they are concerned with finding replacement property themselves.

2. Buyer inability to qualify for a loan. Many buyers may not be able to qualify for loans. Price increases in 2015 and mortgage interest rate increases could cut out the ability of some buyers to qualify.

3. Sellers don’t want to give up prop 13 tax basis. Some sellers may not want to list their properties because they could lose their Proposition 13 tax benefits if they sell – especially if they purchased their homes when prices were lower, the assumption being that a new home purchased will  be priced higher and thus have a higher tax base.

4. Sellers worry they won’t find replacement property. This was mentioned above, and it is a Catch-22 situation: sellers may have plenty of interested buyers and great offers, but they are afraid because of the lack of inventory available for finding replacement property; thus many sellers stay put.

5. U.S. and foreign economic issues. Although this may not play into selling and purchasing decisions as much as some of the other reasons, it could be a deal breaker for some buyers/sellers, who may perceive threats in the economic system and decide it is best to stay put until things feel safer.

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The bottom line is that we do not know how the inventory will be affected as we head into 2016. Buyers who are qualified should probably focus on finding properties sooner rather than later, if they want to avoid interest rate hikes. Sellers who have replacement property, are moving out of the area, or must sell for other reasons will likely find themselves in a great position to sell. Make sure to talk to a knowledgeable and experienced local area agent and mortgage professional to understand what it going on in your hyper-local market, so you know when is the best time for you to buy or sell real estate.

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North San Diego’s Best Coffee Houses

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Many people use big chains to grab their favorite brew each day, but I have always been a fan of small, local coffee houses – and it makes me feel good too to support local businesses. Here in North San Diego we are lucky to have some fantastic places to grab your tea or coffee, sit and do some work, have a business meeting or visit with a friend or spouse. Here are my favorites from Carlsbad to La Jolla:

LCCRLa Costa Coffee Roasting: This place has been a staple in the Aviara community of Southwest Carlsbad for as long as I can remember (at least over 20 years). The coffees and teas are great, they feature daily specials, and there are a variety of pastries. They sell coffee in bulk, which is roasted on the premises, and whole leaf teas as well (no boxed tea bags here!). On Friday nights there is live music, and once a month they host open mic nights. The outdoor seating area is wonderful, with comfortable sofas and big umbrellas. 6965 El Camino Real, Ste 208 Carlsbad, CA 92009 (off El Camino between Aviara Pkwy and Dove Lane). 760-438-8160.

Vinaka Cafe, Carlsbad Village: This quaint coffee house serves wonderful coffee and tea drinks, and sits in the heart of the IMG_4939Village. There are many local regulars and the food is fresh and delicious and not overpriced. There is a very relaxed feel here and you will always be welcomed. 300 Carlsbad Village Dr, Ste 211, Carlsbad, CA 92008. 760-720-7890.

 

oBetter Buzz, Encinitas: The newest coffee house in the ‘hood of downtown Encinitas is creating a buzz. The atmosphere is wonderful, with high ceilings and a funky, hip vibe. Coffee and tea drinks are tasty, and they also offer yummy smoothies and a selection of eats, including the famed avocado toast and fresh acai bowls. Located in the heart of downtown Encinitas, this is a new favorite hang out, whether relaxing or on the way to and from shopping, dining or a trip to Whole Foods. 578 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024. 760-487-5562.

 

Pannikin, Encinitas: Pannikin is a landmark on Coast Highway in Encinitas, and the big yellow Victorian house has been a thfavorite among locals and visitors since 1968. The atmosphere and coffee/tea drinks are fantastic (serving whole leaf teas, with loose tea for sale), and the food can’t be beat. Enjoy a full breakfast and lunch menu, from healthy breakfasts to scrumptious sandwiches and soups, and a delicious selection of baked goods. If you’ve never visited you are missing out on a iconic Encinitas spot that is great for people watching. Sit inside or out. 510 N. Highway 101, Encinitas CA 92024. 760-436-5824.

 

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Swell Cafe, Del Mar: Located in the redesigned Flower Hill Promenade, this former Pannikin is a great place to relax, meet or work/study. The coffee and food is good, and the outdoor seating is plentiful – plus it a great shopping center and there is a Whole Foods downstairs. 2670 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014.

 

The Living Room, La Jolla Village: I love stopping in here when I am in the Village, and have been visiting for many years. It is a comfy and eclectic coffee house with a vibe that truly lives up to its name, complete with antique furniture and a velvet cushioned love seat. Sit in the back and enjoy ocean peeks. Great coffee drinks and smoothies, delicious desserts and and a full lunch and breakfast menu. A great place to stop when out walking the beach, shopping the Village or after visiting the seals/sea lions at the Children’s Pool. 1010 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037. 858-459-1187.th

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Next time you are in the mood for coffee or tea, support local small businesses and try one of our local coffee houses – you’ll be happy you did. If you have a North County favorite coffee/tea spot that I did not mention, or make a new discovery, please comment with name and location…I love trying new places!

 

 

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Keeping the “Real” in Real Estate

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

The real estate business has definitely evolved over the last few decades, with the growth of technology being the main contributor. But when it comes down to it, working with a real estate agent is not just about finding a savvy salesperson, but rather it is about finding someone who truly has your best interests at heart and is willing to work hard to find the right property or sell your home, at the right price, with the best terms. It is not so much a sales relationship as it is a trusted adviser relationship. An agent plays many roles throughout the buying and selling process – researcher, chauffeur, adviser, negotiator, paperwork coordinator, and therapist – to name a few. For sale

As they always will, many people try to come up with ways to find and convert “leads” to clients, from advertising to cold calling to handing out cards to people all day long and asking for referrals from past clients, friends and family members. In the last year I have seen some interesting attempts to woo potential buyers and sellers, and although I am impressed with those who are trying hard, I must say I have been surprised at some of these methods:

1.  Recorded Calls: I received my first recorded sales call from a real estate agent last year. I was surprised because the agent, who had a lot of enthusiasm, sounded like he was trying to sell me a used car. He went on and on about how he could help me buy or sell a home, and about his strengths as an agent. Now, I must say that selling real estate is not difficult – anyone can do it. BUT not everyone can do a great job at taking care of the PEOPLE, the clients. I have always said that this business is not about houses, it is about people.

2.  Print Marketing: Marketing via mail and email has always and will continue to be a very strong way for the real estate agent to get business – s/he creates a lovely flyer or brochure and lists skills and past sales and testimonials to make her/him look amazing. S/he even uses words like “Number 1 agent” and “Top agent,” “sold more homes than anyone else.” The trick is that many agents can say these things by putting a spin on the information, and these statements can be true.

justice-scalesMany of these advertisements actually constitute ethical violations in my opinion (and I have been trying to get the rules changed to prevent this, but that is another story). For example, if you are a broker who oversees say 30 buying agents, and among those agents your brokerage or team sold 100 homes last year, how is it ethical for you yourself to claim you sold over 100 homes last year – you did not do that personally, your agents contributed many of those sales. But to the average homeowner who receives your marketing piece, you look like you have done more business than anyone else. Glossy marketing pieces with claims to being “the top producer” do sway the average Jane and Joe many times. Like the political arena, I think that if agents are going to make claims like this they need to explain the truth behind the claims.

3. TV Commercials and movie theater advertising: These types of marketing can also be valuable, but again the time is limited and the agent has only a few moments to convince you of how incredible they are at their job. There is no fine print – but if it gets you to remember their name and call them then the piece has achieved the goal set by the agent. Again, anyone can make a great marketing piece that makes them look like the best agent ever – and of course that is what all salespeople try to do.

4. Broker Calls to Agents About Homes “Coming Soon” to the Market: This newest method is interesting, and is aimed at local area agents. A broker has an agent make calls to other agents’ voicemails, reading from a script about a home that is not yet listed on the open MLS but soon will be – they tell the agents (it seems agents are chosen based on who sells the most in a given area – not all agents receive these calls) that they are giving them a chance to show the property to their buyers before it hits the MLS. Now, if you happen to be an agent working with a buyer and get a call describing the perfect home, this could be a win-win for your client. But if you are an agent and do not get that call, or if you are a buyer looking online and waiting for the perfect home to pop up, you are truly at a disadvantage in such a situation. So this can be a good or poor method of advertising, depending on how you look at it.

5. “Coming Soon” Listings Posted on Third Party Sites: There are some third party sites (such as Zillow and Trulia) that allow agents to post “coming soon” listings. Not all agents can do this – they must pay to become an elite member of these sites, and then they have the “privilege” of posting such properties. It’s great for the agents – they likely get at least some calls from potential buyers – but for those buyers who are not looking on those sites they get the short end of the stick if the home sells before hitting the MLS. Similarly, agents can send out e-flyers or emails about listings that are coming to the market soon, and if this is done fairly (sent to ALL agents in a county), then that is a great advertising tool. It is not fair to the potential buyer who is not working with an agent and who waits for properties to list on the MLS, but of course this is just one of the many benefits of working with an agent (we tend to hear about up and coming listings from many industry sources – agents, appraisers, lenders, sellers, etc.).

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From my perspective I believe that all agents should be able to advertise and “sell” their services and skills. But I think there are 2 rules that need to always be adhered to by real estate agents and brokers: 1. Keep it classy. 2. Be honest and ethical. If the local real estate associations who govern agents and make rules set out to make the rules stricter, I think it would be beyond valuable to potential buyers and sellers.

If you are looking for a real estate agent, remember to get the full picture – what can s/he do for you that is different from other agents? Make sure you will not be just a number – some agents have teams of people working for them and they represent many clients – if you like this than great, if not you may want to look for an experienced agent who treats you like you are the only client. Everyone has different needs, so make sure you get all your questions answered and find the person who is best able to help you; shiny materials and boasts about being a “top producer” should play into your decision minimally (although you do want someone who can sell your home with strong marketing and advertising abilities), but you need to feel comfortable with the person and what s/he can offer you.

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Fabulous Carlsbad Home Open Today 1-4:00

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

1415 Coral Way, Carlsbad CA 92011 44_8074916_68779_EA-68779-101

Offered at $749,000

Ocean breeze Carlsbad cul-de-sac home, 2 miles from beach and world-class shopping/dining! Fantastic floor plan lives like a single story with a downstairs master suite, 2 bedrooms and large loft upstairs. Living/dining room combo with beautiful hardwood flooring and high ceilings, spacious family room with built-in surround sound system, fireplace and media nook, open kitchen with center island and breakfast area. Gated community with pool, spas, parks and RV lot, low maintenance yard, AC, alarm, low HOAs, no mello roos, Carlsbad schools…and priced to sell. Stop by – open today from 1:00-4:00.

For more photos, virtual tour and information click here, or call Rachel LaMar at 760-310-9466

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7 Ways to Be the Best Leader You Can Be

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Recently a was faced with a situation involving one of my children and a person in a position of leadership. My child was engaged in an activity where there were many unhappy participants. The leader was informed and “reacted,” but unfortunately attitudes did not change and the group continued to become more unhappy. images

In reviewing the situation I considered what I might have done differently had I been in that situation. Having been in leadership positions many times, I have learned that in order to be a true leader, such that you can create and maintain both cohesion and happiness with your team, you must practice the following:

1.  Be proactive, not reactive. Proactive means that you need to think ahead. If you wait until a problem arises it often can be too late to get back to where you started. However, if you keep lines of communication open and follow the other steps below, you should be able to avoid big problems. Being reactive just upsets the troops and creates more of a divide, often making you the “bad guy.” Instead, you have to view each situation as a challenge and not a problem, and then find creative ways to resolve it.

2.  Listen. We are all told at an early age that it is important to listen. But as technology has exploded and people have learned to get what they need quickly, many of us do not take the time to really listen. If you are a leader and do not listen to those you lead, then you are ineffective. Your group looks up to you and needs to know that you are on their side – they want to share concerns and they want you to help fix them…you are the LEADER so this is only logical! If you hear that people are unsatisfied, then you need to speak to them to find out why, and you need to listen and not judge. You may be part of the problem.

3.  Be fair and consistent. To be an effective leader you must be fair – both in your decision-making process and in the way you treat group members. If you demote one member for something that is unbecoming of a group member, then you have to do the same with other members who do things that fall into that category. You need to make sure that all members KNOW what those no-nos are; of course I always suggest putting rules into writing at the start so members know what they must do as group members, and also what they should not do. Once you start being unfair, or reacting in different ways to members in similar situations, you lose respect. All great leaders have respect.

4.  Reward often and always be a greeter. Every successful business owner I know rewards her/his employees for jobs well done. This does not have to be a monetary reward and can vary in different situations. If you are a coach of a sports team and your team won, or didn’t win, you need to tell them how proud you are of the hard work they did – if they lost you also need to also encourage them and provide plans of action so everyone can move forward with cohesion and excitement. When you arrive at practice each day you should say hello to them and ALWAYS start with a positive greeting. People need to feel recognized for hard work, and they respect you for doing so. Don’t take anyone for granted.

5.  Provide encouragement – always. If you are a leader you must encourage your members. Period. No one will want to work with you if you don’t make them feel good about the hard work they are doing under your lead.

6.  Assume responsibility for lack of cohesion and admit mistakes. If you group or team is not working together in a positive way, of if there is resentment or unhappiness from even one member, you as a leader must take responsibility. You can never assume that you are not the problem, even if you are not. As a leader you need to get to the bottom of the issue and provide solutions. If the mistake is yours, then admit it and provide solutions so it doesn’t happen again. Ignorance = disrespect.

7.  Be positive. A positive leader encourages his team to be the same, which in turn leads to more productive and happy team members. Even in the face of problems you have to maintain and project a positive attitude.

Most of us are leaders and may not even realize it. Teachers, doctors, coaches and parents – to name a few – are all leaders, every day. The teachers, doctors and coaches who do not have respect are ineffective and should either make changes or find other careers. Parents need to have the respect of their children too – if they do not then they need to seek advice from professionals. Look at your leadership role as a chance to really make a difference in the lives of others…that is pretty powerful.

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San Diego Calendar of Events for January 2016

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

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Happy Holidays to All!

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

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Happy holidays to all -may you find relaxation and time well-spent with your loved ones. Happy New Year as well…I wish for each one of you a year full of love, happiness, laughter, good health, and most of all: PEACE.

Enjoy.

peace

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