Real Estate – Current Industry News
sources:National Association of Realtors, Inman, Forbes, Realtor.com, Realtytimes.com

Inman Real Estate News for Realtors and Brokers

  • Here’s how many Thanksgiving dinners it takes to pay rent
    by Marian McPherson on November 22, 2017 at 7:00 am

    In an effort to encourage saving for homeowership, millennials are sometimes advised to give up certain luxuries. (All those pumpkin spice lattes add up after a while!) But would anyone be willing to give up Thanksgiving dinner ... […]

  • Customize your technology by leveraging your partners
    by Inman on November 22, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Chicago-based independent brokerage @properties is a success story by multiple measures, not least by its 2,300 agents and $8 billion in sales volume last year. But that doesn’t mean that its co-founder, Thaddeus Wong, believes the firm has to do everything for itself ... […]

  • Why Pittsburgh is the best place to retire
    by Marian McPherson on November 22, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Most workers dream of retiring to places replete with warm weather, nearby beaches and lush landscapes. But according to Bankrate's latest study, people may want to trade in those sun-soaked dreams for a place known for bone-chilling winters, rowdy NFL fans and world-famous sandwiches stuffed to the brim with french fries, coleslaw and shaved steak -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ... […]

  • Growing an agent/lender team? Avoid the #1 tech pitfall
    by Devon Broderick on November 22, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Are you still managing people, transactions and data using separate (and disconnected) CRM and TMS platforms? It’s likely you’re losing 30-35% of your pipeline leads and spending more time chasing paperwork than taking care of clients ... […]

  • Connect/Reflect: Double exhilarating!
    by Matthew Shadbolt on November 22, 2017 at 12:36 am

    Only after Connect you will be able to decide: do I want to change my perspective and give fresh boost to my business, or not ... […]

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  • CondoGate: Is there a Scandal in your Community Association?
    by rtstaff@realtytimes.com (Benny L. Kass) on November 21, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Question. I own a unit in a condominium association. It is managed by a property management company. The wife of the President of the Board of Directors has been employed by that management company. The President has monopolized the other Board members and keeps increasing our condominium fee every year since he became President. The management fees have also increased. Management is working for the President and not for the entire Board and our members. What the President says, management does. I would not even be surprised if there was some sort of "kick-back" between management and the President. What can I do as a unit owner? Answer. Scandals and swindles make good newspaper headlines; they also make or break politicians. But you must be prepared to document your case before making any formal allegations, or you could be sued for libel. Most Board members and property managers are honest, hard working and dedicated. Service on a Board of Directors of a community association is a thankless -- "payless" -- task. But it is an obligation that someone has to perform. And once in a while, we do learn of such scandals, which I would call "condogate". My first answer to all these issues is that you should try to get elected to the Board of Directors. However, this is not always easy, especially if incumbent Board members have access to mailing lists and hold a large number of proxies. You must treat an election to your Board as if you were running for a state or national elective office. Arrange a campaign committee, a fund-raising committee and start knocking on your neighbor's doors to advise them you are running for the Board of Directors. You should also obtain the current mailing list of unit owners from your management company, and send every owner an announcement, advising them of your candidacy and your platform -- what you stand for. Generally, the mailing list contains private information and unless unit owners give their permission, management should not release that list. However, if you submit your information, management must circulate it to all owners on the list. You also should obtain the most current accounting statements. Most state laws requires that an audit of the Association books and records be conducted at least once a year, if at least five percent of the unit owners make such a request. If no audit has been performed, get a petition signed by the required number of owners, and formally demand that the audit be done. In some states, Boards of Directors have a "fiduciary duty" to the owners who elected them to serve on the Board. In other states, such as in Maryland (and now in the District of Columbia), the standard by which a Board of Director is held is the "business judgment rule." Under this rule, the courts will not involve themselves in the internal affairs of the association. However, as was stated in a 1992 Court case handed down by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, "the business judgment rule.... precludes judicial review of a legitimate business decision of an organization, absent fraud or bad faith." (emphasis added). But under either standard, it is clear from the case law throughout the country that members of a Board of Directors cannot operate in bad faith. What is bad faith? Clearly, when a Director personally receives financial gain from his or her service on a Board of Directors -- especially if there is no disclosure of these gains to the membership -- this cannot be considered "operating in good faith." And, in my opinion, even if the Board member fully discloses the potential gain he or she may derive, the potential conflict of interest is still great. This standard would also apply to a situation where the wife of the President receives financial benefits by virtue of her husband's position. It must be noted, however, that even under the fiduciary duty concept, this does not preclude a Director (or the Board itself) from making an honest mistake. Service on a Community Association Board of Directors is a voluntary job. No one would serve on the Board if they can be held personally accountable for every decision made by that Board. But there is a clear difference between serving in good faith and serving for personal, selfish reasons. You asked what you can do if these practices are objectionable. In addition to trying to get elected, another solution is to mount a recall campaign and "throw the rascals" out. Read your condominium documents carefully, and you will find provisions spelling out the procedure to remove Board members. Circulate a newsletter to all owners, and call a special meeting solely for the purpose of voting on the removal petition. You must, in fairness, give the challenged member an opportunity to defend his or her position. It is also advisable to discuss your concerns first -- directly and privately -- with that Board member, if you are not uncomfortable in approaching him. Finally, since you live in Montgomery County, you have one additional remedy that is not available to homeowners outside of that jurisdiction. Several years ago, the County Council created the Commission on Common Ownership Communities. The purpose of this Commission is to attempt to resolve disputes between homeowners and their associations. This is a form of "alternate dispute resolution" and you can get more information about this process by contacting the Commission (301 217 3636). In the final analysis, you should send a loud and clear message to Board members: if you want to serve on the Board of Directors, do so because you are concerned with the operation of the Association and not for personal gain. You must avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. […]

  • Dealing With Difficult People In Your Homeowner's Association
    by rtstaff@realtytimes.com (Richard Thompson) on November 21, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Living in a homeowner association, there is likelihood of running into someone that is, how should we say it, less than happy. We all have to deal with difficult people at some point. Some focus on what they don't like about a person (loudmouth, condescending tone, etc) and then hope they will change. Not surprisingly, this rarely creates the change we desire. For many, personal experience with conflict creates a recurring cycle. This cycle can be positive or negative depending on the beliefs about conflict that we developed at an early age. What someone says or does can spark an automatic response based on those beliefs. This, in turn, triggers a consequence that usually reinforces our behavior pattern. The key to dealing with a difficult person is to change your relationship with that person by: Taking the responsibility to examine your own thoughts and feelings about the difficult person. Understanding what kind of relationship you would like to have with the difficult person. Taking notice of the behavior rather than making assumptions about what that behavior means, and Examining your approach to communicating with that person. The next time you are confronted by a difficult person, what do you see them doing that causes you to react negatively? Consider the following: Facial expressions Eye contact or lack of eye contact Gestures Tone of their voice Screaming or whining Words and/or the meaning of the words Pay close attention to their behavior patterns. What is working and what is not? Have you made assumptions about what these actions mean? Next, pay attention to your behavior. What is working and what is not? What do others do that works better? If you don't set aside your assumptions, you may never realize what are you are responding to. Now, take the time to consider how your actions may affect the other person. Consider the message you may be sending them. Finally, decide what you would like the relationship to be and make a plan that will move you toward that goal. What do you want them to understand? How will you present yourself? What will you say? Treat every interaction with a difficult person as an opportunity to improve your relationship. Allow yourself to see the larger patterns of behavior, both theirs and yours. Imagine yourself to be a third party observing your interactions with the difficult person. If your approach to conflict isn't working, exchange it for one that will move you toward a better relationship. For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see www.Regenesis.net. […]

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