Why You Need to Brush Up on the NAR Code of Ethics

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As you may already know, when it comes to the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, Realtor Associations are:

…required to adopt the Manual or, if not adopted verbatim, establish local professional standards procedures that ensure due process, complies with applicable laws of the state, and complies substantively with the policies and procedures set forth in the NAR Manual.

In other words, it’s important that you know the NAR Code of Ethics and stay apprised of the updated versions. The Manual is created for training and education purposes, and covers a Realtor’s duties to the public, duties to clients and customers, and duties to other Realtors. The Manual is a living document, meaning it changes with the trends of the current real estate market, and covers not only residential but all forms of real estate. Every Realtor must complete a course on the Code of Ethics every four years.

Brush Up on NAR Code of Ethics Why You Need to Brush Up on the NAR Code of Ethics

The new mandated core standards of the National Association of Realtors require every local association to make access available to arbitration filing processes and professional standards. Furthermore, local chapters may now use citations and are to adopt expedited enforcement. Although these new mandates will most likely do away with long delays and the threat of intimidation or retaliation for filing, easier access to information and quick turnaround will probably lead to more filings in general.

Some local chapters are already taking these new mandates to heart. In fact, the California Association of Realtors announced that starting August 1st 2014, they will be publishing the “names and other information of members who are found in violation of the Code of Ethics.” If a member is found in violation of the Code and is to be disciplined with “anything other than a letter of warning or stand-alone education,” CAR plans to publish the name and photo of the member, his or her license number and/or office address if the member’s name is similar to another’s, a list of the articles that were violated, a brief synopsis of the violation, the discipline imposed, the effective date and duration of punishment, and the rationale for the punishment.

Although this information can only be found on the members-only section of CAR.org, local associations are free to republish the information in their local members-only publications. As CAR notes in the press release, most violations are related to advertising, but many members report having problems with other agents. They leave California Realtors with a warning: “Make sure you know the rules, so your name is not on the list!”

Some of the articles you should be aware of, in case you need a refresher course, include:

  • Protecting and promoting your client’s interest while being honest with all parties
  • Avoiding exaggeration, misrepresentation, and concealment of pertinent facts
  • Cooperation with other real estate professionals
  • Making your position in the buying or selling transaction known
  • Disclosing present or contemplated interest in any property
  • Avoiding side deals without client’s informed consent
  • Accepting compensation from only one party
  • Keeping the funds of clients and customers in escrow
  • Assuring that transactional details are in writing
  • Providing equal service to all clients and customers
  • Being knowledgeable and disclosing lack of experience
  • Presenting true, accurate pictures in advertisements
  • Not engaging in unauthorized practice of law
  • Being a willing participant in code enforcement procedures
  • Ensuring your comments about other real estate professionals are truthful
  • Respecting the exclusive representation agreements that other Realtors have with clients
  • Arbitrating and mediating contractual and non-contractual disputes with other Realtors and your clients

 

If you’re interested in delving into the entire 384 pages of this year’s Manual, you can check it out here.

The lesson learned? Stay up to date on NAR’s specifications, as a violation could land your mug in a publication and lead to other Realtors not wanting to do business with you.


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Tell Your Neighborhood Story [Infographic]

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You love your community! If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be in real estate helping others move to the area. But are you conveying what’s so great about your town effectively? Here are some things to keep in mind to best tell your neighborhood story.

Tell the Story of Your Community Tell Your Neighborhood Story [Infographic]

Why People Love Your Neighborhood

People - Who are your neighbors? Are they safety focused families or thriving young professionals?

Legacy - What is your area famous for even beyond the city’s borders?

Dining - Food brings people together. What places bring out the locals?

History - What got your community to where it is today?

Attractions - What makes your area worth visiting?

Share Your Community’s Story

Social Media - Highlight your favorite people and places online.

Events - Sponsor local gatherings.

Service - Do your part to make the community an even better place.

Listing Flyers - In marketing materials for individual listings, include nearby community info.

Trivia - Educate yourself on the area so that you always have something interesting to share.

Top Community Preferences

80% of people consider town walk-ability important when looking for a new home.

57% of people consider a growing community important when looking for a new home.

78% of people consider a strong job market important when looking for a new home.

66% of people consider cultural diversity important when looking for a new home.

Data from NAR Community Preference Survey

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How to Answer Escrow FAQs

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Escrow can be a confusing stage of the home-buying process for a lot of clients, and that’s where you — their trusted agent — come in. The process looks different with every transaction, so people are prone to have a lot of questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions, and the best ways to answer them to make sure the customer feels empowered and knowledgeable.

FAQ How to Answer Escrow FAQs

Who is in charge of the escrow process?

“As the home-buyer, we can work it into our negotiations that we choose an escrow office we want to work with. I have a couple great places that I’ve worked well with in the past. Let’s take a look at those.”

Your buyers will just be eager to get to the next step of the transaction; they may feel like escrow is just an obstacle along the way. Doing things like helping pick an office to work with will give them ownership of the process and help them be patient along the way.

How long will escrow take?

“That’s something we get to choose together. Obtaining a home loan will take at about 11 days regardless, so you can pick any time frame longer than that that you feel comfortable with. 20 days is a good goal that shouldn’t cause us to feel too rushed.”

You can show them the order the paperwork is needed, but always make it clear there could be unexpected delays. Without a home loan, you could close on escrow in less than ten days.

What exactly does escrow need to look at?

“The escrow office is a third party, so they will look at all of the paperwork on the house, buyer finances, and so on. The process can get very tedious, but it’s in order to ensure both parties are safe in such a big transaction. I’d be happy to walk you through everything they’ve analyzed so far!”

Be sure to build up the escrow office as the good guys. If your client understands that this long process is to cover their assets, they’ll be more patient. If the buyer actually seems interested or concern, walk them through everything the office will look at, from pre-approval letters to verification of disclosures.

Why is it taking longer than expected?

“There are a lot of parties involved in making sure that everything is good to go. Just to make sure though, I’ll contact the escrow office within the next business day to make sure everything is moving along as quickly as possible.”

When you get this question, don’t place the blame on any individual party. Don’t blame the seller or other agent or escrow office. Just assure the buyer that he process is moving forward. Escrow is not purgatory! Also assure the buyer that any contingencies not being met on the other party’s behalf could save them money, so sometimes the delays can be a good thing!

The keys to making your clients feel comfortable in the escrow process is give them education and power. The more they understand about the process, they more patient they will be during the waiting period. Similarly, the more control they feel they have, the less likely they are to nag you along the way! What escrow FAQs do YOU run into the most?

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10 Contacts Agents Should Have in Their Back Pocket [Infographic]

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Your business is always about networking, and in real estate there are certain contacts agents should have access to at any time! Here’s our list of who to befriend, and of course, why it will help your business.

People to Have in Back Pocket 10 Contacts Agents Should Have in Their Back Pocket [Infographic]

 

Lender

The mortgage process will go smoother if you can direct clients to someone who has worked well in the past.

Home Inspector

The buyer will not likely know any inspectors they feel they can trust.

Plumber

Because the toilet will inevitably clog fifteen minutes before a showing.

Staging Company

Find someone who shares your vision and can stage homes to sell!

Handyman

…for all those last minute repairs.

Housekeeper

People rarely deep clean everything when they’re trying to focus on a move.

Contractor/ Architect

If your buyers are looking to remodel, have someone who knows the laws and zoning codes of the area.

Landscaper/ Gardener

Don’t forget the benefits of landscaping for curb appeal and resale value.

Caterer

Feed the masses at broker previews. At the very least, befriend a pizza delivery guy!

Florist

Doesn’t have to be a florist, necessarily. But have a contact for good closing gifts.

 


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Flickr for Real Estate Professionals

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We’ve talked on this blog about how visuals are becoming the driving force behind social media. So if you want to use social media as a part of your real estate marketing strategy, you’re going to have to get out there and take some pictures!

Luckily there is one social media platform that stands out among the crowd for sharing original photos to boost business.

This platform is perfect for highlighting your beloved community and driving traffic to your business site or blog.

photographer boy Flickr for Real Estate Professionals

Flickr is a social network originally designed specifically for photographers.  It is used to share and embed original photos, and also used by photo researchers, bloggers, etc.  for stock image embeds. These photos tend to be more professional, are already “filtered” or edited prior to uploading, and intended for community use as opposed to personal cataloging.

Unlike other platforms, you can’t upload silly memes or celebrities you like – the material has to be original.  You can upload group selfies of you and your friends, but that’s not really what this platform is for.

So how should you use Flickr for real estate business? The best way is to highlight your community. Take your own photos of kids having fun at the fair, the sun setting over the ocean, the local strawberry stand, or whatever you want!

You’re welcome to also post pictures of specific listings, but you’ll find more users want to know about the neighborhood around it.

This tactic can serve as a great way to introduce out-of-town clients, to the area. People are looking for a good place to fit in or raise their kids just as much as their looking for specifics in the actual home.

The basic functions of Flickr are your Photostream, Albums, and Favorites. The Photostream is a constant reel of all the photos you’ve uploaded. It’s like your profile page. If you actually want to organize all those photos, you can do that with the Albums feature upon uploading your content. You can easily access other peoples’ Photostreams or Albums and Favorite the ones you like to keep a central spot.

Simple enough, right?

Here at HouseHunt, we were shocked how much traffic or original photo album drove to our website! Much like Google+, Flickr has a very specialized niche market. Since it’s a smaller, more supportive online community, users are more likely to click links and investigate the origin behind the photo they like so much.

We hope you’ll leverage this online community to highlight your real-life neighborhood and draw new customers to your real estate business.

See the HouseHunt Flickr page here! 


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