Are you going? REBarCampSeattle and more…

logoThere are a ton of great Seattle real estate events in the near future with RCG contributors playing a huge part, so last week I asked RCG contributors to let me know which events they were going to be participating in and I thought I’d give a quick summary…

REBarCamp Seattle, 9/8 (tomorrow!):

  • A gathering of passionate real estate professionals. A casual, open, and fun way to learn about cutting edge real estate marketing ideas.
  • RCG Contributors attending include: Rhonda Porter, Ardell DellaLoggia, Galen Ward, and Cortney Cooper

SCKAR Event, 9/22:

  • How how to use Social Media panel discussion with Rhona Porter, David Gibbons and Matt Heinz.  Moderated by Claudia Wicks.

Lenders Connect (WAMP), 10/5:

  • 18th Annual wholesale lenders conference
  • Rhona Porter, Jillayne Schlicke (speaker)

REbarcamp Bellevue, 10/6:

  • Rhonda Porter (organizer!), Ardell DellaLoggia

Washington State Association of Realtors Convention, 10/12 & 10/13:

  • Jillayne Schlicke (speaker)

Also, if you check out the event conversation on FB, you’ll see that there’s also a variety of courses being taught by RCG contributors in the near future!

And If you’re gonna be at any of these events, let us know to look out for you!

Landlord 101 class offered February 26th by RHA

An excellent class that is offered through the Rental Housing Association is coming up soon. Tamara Simon of Koss Property Management has a been a long time owner of her own business and well respected colleague in the real estate industry and a professional that we’ve referred many a client to for help with their rental property management needs:

Landlord 101
by: Tamara Simon, owner of Koss Property Management and a licensed Real Estate Broker since 1983
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Location: RHA Conference Room, 529 Warren Ave N, Seattle, WA
Time 3:00pm – 6:00pm
Please RSVP before Wednesday, February 26, 2008

Being a landlord can be a scary experience. Come learn practical, useful information on how to manage your rental property. Knowledge is power, get the tools you need to become a more effective landlord. Simon’s “Ten Commandments of Property Management

Use Your Sent-Items Folder as Inspiration

It was so much fun to stop off in Seattle last week to give the seminar in downtown. Meeting up with Rhonda and Jillyane (and potentially a new contributor I’ll introduce soon!) was awesome!

One of the tidbits I share with the real estate professionals in the audience that seems to resonate well (at least based on the feedback I’m getting) is when I explain to them that even the non-bloggers in the audience are already writing blog posts, but they are not getting credit for it. Here’s my logic in a nutshell…

Assumption #1: Writing a blog post is just like sending a webmail (via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, etc), except that it is one step easier. With a webmail you need to (1) click on “write” or “compose” message, (2) fill in the email address of recipient, (3) fill in the title of email, (4) write your message, and (5) click “send”. Blogging is one step simpler because you do not need for step 2, i.e. fill in the email address of the recipient since a blog post is essentially an “email to the world.” Otherwise, all the steps are essentially the same with the final step being “publish” instead of “send”.

Assumption #2: The sent-items folder for most real estate professionals is already filled with good stuff that they are already experts on… For most real estate agents, the sent-items folder of their email program is likely to find information on neighborhoods, mortgage and closing process, local events, etc..

Because most agents are already sharing lots of their knowledge via email and because a blog post is nothing more than an email to the world, hopefully, you’ll start to see how I can say that most agents are already blogging… The idea that they are not getting credit for their knowledge stems from the fact that if a professional has a lot of stored up information in their “sent items” folder, then the search engines and other bloggers can’t give them credit for this knowledge. The last bit is critical to the seminar, but not necessarily to this blog post… 😉

Interestingly, both Steve Rubel (Turn Gmail Into Your Personal Nerve Center) and Greg Swann (Feed guarding: Protecting your weblog content from theft — or worse fates . . .) wrote articles today that either demonstrate the blurring of email and blogging (i.e. blogging via email) or take it for granted (i.e. RSS syndication).

By the way, I’ve been taking my own advice about unleashing the “knowledge” from my sent-items folder over on the seminar blog by publishing answers to many of the questions that I’ve been getting from seminar participants. I’ve been inundated with email questions lately which is great for providing me blog content, but not so good in terms of providing me time to answer everyone quickly! 🙂

Get out your boxing gloves! Attorneys vs. Agents

Hi Russ, thanks for taking me up on the request to put a blog together on this subject. Sorry I’ve been slammed with work to read it till now, but, I guess that’s a good thing. I’ll try to stick to the nature of what you started with in your original post as I see several folks have tried veering away from your target discussion. To your remark “Where I have to scratch my head is with the deals that are a bit out of the ordinary. Where the blank addendum becomes a significant part of the deal. My guess is that most of these deals also don’t get to the attorney. And yet I have seen many of these deals when the transaction blows up or after closing and everyone (many times including the agent) are in wonder why they tried to go it alone.” I’d have to say that you are likely right that the majority of these don’t see the light of an attorney’s office. My personal guess is that many people wrongly believe that the cost will be exorbinant. Others are afraid of becoming embroiled in a long and tedious lawsuit that will consume their lives and financial resources. Personal experience so far with numerous residential and commercial clients is that this isn’t the case typically. I truly believe that fear of the unknown is what kills off a lot of people from getting representation from an attorney.

So, that leaves a lot of people relying on their agent to put together these addendums that cover the items that aren’t covered in boilerplate NWMLS contract language. Most agents don’t get much training in how to write these types of addendums although there is a good class that is taught through SKCAR (or at least there was) by Larry Christensen. In it he covered the topic of what elements should be considered when writing on Form 34 or the blank section of Form 22D (section 10). How he put the material to the class was great because he got people thinking critically about what should be used in these situations if there was no way to get an attorney involved – that was the “if, then” concept and the reminder that any monies associated with the transaction must be address (ie. earnest money). Example: If Seller does not perform (x) by (insert date), then Buyer may cancel the Agreement and Earnest Money is returned to the Buyer. Because of some the initial questions Larry asked in the session you could tell many agents in the room had been writing some pretty poor addendums in the past and I truly hope that they all walked away with some new knowledge and that they listened to his advice of building a relationship with an attorney.

This class got me to modify a little bit how I draft addendum language although the majority of the difficult cases go to our real estate and business attorney, Berrie Martinis of Garvey Schubert Barer for drafting. I frequently pay for this service for my clients as an added value to them but if it’s going to get sticky in a particular transaction I do refer them directly. I’ve done this as well with an estate planning attorney at the same firm, Tim Burkart, when the right situations call for it (such as dealing with an estate). We usually discuss it in advance and determine what will work – often with discussion including Berrie or Tim on this decision. To go back to another posting on this subject someone said they frequently write addendums that state a seller may be taking an object with them upon closing. Well, my first thought was are you only writing “Dining room chandelier to go with Seller”? If you’re writing only these words a lot of unstated concerns come up – such as: 1) is the seller responsible for replacing the chandelier with another light fixture?, 2) is that fixture to be of the same quality and price point as the current chandelier?, 3) If seller is replacing the fixture, does Buyer, who will take possession, get to determine the style of the new light fixture? and so on… I think you get my drift.  If I were the seller’s agent in this situation and the seller had said that they would be taking the chandelier but they’d compensate for it, I would draft something more along the lines of “Dining room light fixture to remain as personal property of the Seller after Closing, allowing through to Possession for removal of the item. Costs to remove the light fixture will be borne by Seller. Additionally, Seller to credit Buyer ($ sum) for the cost of a like-kind replacement light fixture. Any costs for labor or other associated installment costs for replacing light fixture to be borne by the Buyer. If Seller fails to remove light fixture by the Possession date, then this addendum will automatically default and the light fixture will become the property of the Buyer. No compensation will be due from the Buyer to the Seller if the Seller does not meet the terms and timelines of this addendum for removal of the light fixture.”


Does this look like too much to cover the issue?  Some people would say “yes” but I personally like the comprehensiveness of the language because it covers a lot of the possible questions and problems that could arise if these steps aren’t taken up front. It would be interesting to get your opinion on my example here, Russ. I’ve seen enough situations where a seller has taken something as simple as a light fixture and the buyer assumed a replacement would be put in and then they were surprised when one wasn’t there and a fight ensues leaving both parties with a “bad taste” at the end. On top of all the costs of purchasing a place, to find out you need to pay another $300-2000 for a new light fixture (chandeliers can be pricey) can be frustrating for a buyer and it makes the agents look bad because they should have considered these questions. It’s this kind of thing that helps bring value to the transaction and the clients. I’ve often called myself “an optimistic pessimist” because I always hope for the best, but I plan for the worst. That kind of thinking gets me asking questions that wouldn’t even come to mind for a lot of people when they’re buying a property. And, when I bring up questions that helps my clients to think critically about what they’re doing in a transaction and they feel more involved in their contract rather than feeling like they’re just being shoved through and they don’t really know what happened when it’s all done. This helps in making sure that when we have to go off the standard forms that we’re all focused on a good outcome and for our client’s interests to be protected.

I’ve had a few agents ask me if the simple addendums I write have been completed by an attorney because of their comprehensiveness. However, I would never hold myself out as an attorney or being as educated in case law. I just got done telling a client today that I have to be very careful in even discussing the meaning and interpretation of contract language and that I suggest he use his attorney to review some upcoming language in a Public Offering Statement that we’ll be reviewing. When it comes to being considered a “peer” with attorneys or any of the other professionals we engage with on a daily basis, I consider that to be in the sense that I should be able to engage in an educated, experience based and professional discussion of terms, consequences, and concern for the best interests of the mutual client. Each professional brings something useful to the table and it’s being able to merge all of these skillsets into a successful situation for the client that should be the goal.  And sometimes that situation may mean killing a deal to save a client from a precarious purchase – not all deals should go through – but that doesn’t mean another property won’t come up that will result in a successful purchase.

This brings me to a subject I want to blog about in the near future – raising the level of professionalism of the real estate industry in general. That, and getting agents to stop those old sayings of things like “buyers are liars and sellers are worse.”  When I got in the industry 4 years ago I couldn’t believe people in the industry said stuff like this around me all the time. It seems like an “us vs. them” mentality. How messed up is that!?!? If you’re a professional you don’t walk into a meeting with a prospective client with this kind of mindset and I’m glad that I don’t.

An '07 Resolution: Convey quality

The opposing messages are crystal clear

Everyday I drive to work I see the sign on the right competing with the sign on the left.

The original traditional real estate post and sign on the right was knocked down nearly every week due to our blustery weather. Finally, probably in frustration or embarrassment or both, the owner or agent drove two treated 4×4’s into the ground, nailed a piece of plywood up and nailed or stapled the “For sale sign” on top along with the special features cascading below. To boot, if you look closely at the grainy picture, you can see the actual for sale sign down on the ground again.

Both of these homes are high end properties. Both are listed well over a million. Perhaps Robbie’s prior post regarding Realtor/Broker budgeting on technology and marketing is quite true.


Does It Really Matter….?

Ardell’s recent post on FSBOs was courageous as you won’t see many agents talk about how one might sell a property without listing it. While it may be a bit counter intuitive to some agents, one reading the post should come away feeling that Ardell (and others like her) are not in the business of providing self-serving advice.

In her post, Ardell said, “[T]here are several companies that offer this service, and while it is true that some agents may boycott you and not show your house, if you have one of those houses that will “sell itself