Please CAN the SPAM

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” is often attributed to P.T. Barnum although there’s no hard evidence he said it. There’s no doubt, however, that he was a self-promoter extraordinaire. An interesting discussion is available for those engaged in the practice of real estate brokerage–how much self-promotion of ourselves should we be doing versus promoting properties?

During one of those discussions with a student, he was quite adamant that whether we are promoting properties or ourselves, we should be using every available means at our disposal–it’s a fiduciary duty to our clients! His twist was “There’s no such thing as bad advertising.” My tongue was only slightly in my cheek when I told him that I hoped he was taping his business card on the wall of every public bathroom he used since business cards are cheap and a lot of people would see them.

Seth Godin, in a recent blog post, notes that marketing used to be done with care and caution, but now that getting attention (publicity) is easy and cheap, we are “like a troop of gorillas arguing over the last banana.” For those unfamiliar, the gorilla reference relates to a series of books by Jay Levinson on “GuerillaMarketing.” The premise behind the popular book series was that small businesses could compete by adopting unconventional methods of promotion. For an effective program, you didn’t need a huge budget, you just needed to have imagination, energy and time.

But you also needed to think because guerilla marketing works best when it’s targeted. Just because you can tape your business card on the walls of public bathrooms doesn’t mean you should.

Guerilla marketing is creative and fun, but it is still about building your image in a strategic manner–not just doing the quick and easy. Let me give you one example that is a personal annoyance.

Technology now makes it very easy to email information to diverse audiences and lots of people. All you need is a mailing list, right? And best of all, email is free! (That’s actually not true, but it’s a different discussion.) So a lot of folks started playing the numbers game. Some guy in Nigeria figured out that if he sent out enough emails suggesting he needed help getting his family fortune moved to the United States, some small number of people would perhaps be willing to help him.

So, yes, it does work. It works really well for the short term. But for every willing victim, there are thousands–perhaps hundreds of thousands–of people who are simply annoyed by his constant badgering and desire to take advantage of people. (Robo-calls fall into the same category when you think about it.)

For those who are using technology–email and social media–as a vehicle for promotion, it might be wise to consider the full impact of what you’re doing. I don’t maintain counts, but every week I receive at least a dozen or so “ads” from real estate licensees. These range from announcements of open houses to brochures that tie up my server because they are megabytes in size.  Some are for properties over 100 miles away. But that’s not what really bothers me.

What really bothers me is how many of these emails are in direct violation of federal law. You might find it mildly interesting that the term “CAN SPAM” is an acronym for “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing.” So sending unsolicited email is considered an assault–I can relate to the term while I delete them from my inbox.  What might be more interesting is that if your marketing and advertising program includes assaulting people with email, you’re risking a $16,000 fine by the FTC for each email you send that violates the act.

We can debate the effectiveness of the act, but it is law and many people are at least mildly aware of it. So consider that sending email that does not comply is also advertising your willingness to violate the law. It’s actually not a hard law to comply with, so do a little research:

  • National Association of REALTORS® offers a number of articles and resources
  • HubSpot offers a short list of do’s and don’ts along with some FAQs
  • FTC (Federal Trade Commission) offers a compliance guide for small businesses
  • Comm100 provides some detail and unintentional entertainment by using the word “complaint” repeatedly when they mean “compliant” — an interesting error for a company specializing in communication!

What are you telling your prospects unintentionally? This really isn’t just about the law. If you find receiving SPAM annoying, you might not want to send it! And if you don’t find it annoying, remember that a lot of people do! That’s one reason the law was passed. You might just distinguish yourself by doing it right.

 

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REALTOR SAFETY ALERT

Written by Walter Boomsma, instructor. See his blog.

caution

PLEASE TAKE NOTE! A female Bangor agent was contacted today by a buyer named “Doug”. The call sounded suspicious, as he refused to give his last name and said he could not receive emails because his server was down. He said he is a hairdresser and looking for a $400-$500K property in the Greater Bangor area because he has a grand opening for a salon next week. She Googled the number and found it was from Massachusetts, and there is a REALTOR Safety Alert regarding his activity, which is copied below.

IF YOU GET A CALL FROM HIM, PLEASE CALL THE POLICE. DO NOT AGREE TO MEET OR SHOW THIS MAN ANY PROPERTIES.


REALTOR SAFETY ALERT: SUSPICIOUS CALLS IN MEDFIELD MASSACHUSETTS:

September, 2014: In February of 2013, we learned that a suspicious individual, identifying himself as “Doug” and calling from phone number 508-816-1064, had been contacting female agents indicating an interest in looking at vacant properties for a hair salon, calling it both “House of Doug” and “Hair by Doug”. Last week, he contacted several female agents of an office in Medfield, with the same story and phone number, interested in properties on the Natick/Framingham line. When asked for an e-mail address by agents he says it is still being set up, which was what he also said in February 2013. The police have been contacted and have reached out to him, and we urge all members, male and female, to exercise vigilance if contacted by anyone who may appear to fit the description above, and always take extreme precautions in performing your duties as a REALTOR®. Please contact your local police if you receive a call so that there is a record.

‘Massive’ Shortage in Appraisers Causing Home Sales Delays

CNBC reports on the nation-wide shortage of appraisers and some reasons behind it in this interesting article.

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SLRadcliffe | Getty Images

 

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/27/massive-shortage-in-appraisers-causing-home-sales-delays.html

 

For those thinking about a career in the appraisal business, the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate offers live and online courses to cover the education you need to start as a trainee.

Please call the office at 207-856-1712 for more information.

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“New” Core Courses — but let’s not call ’em that

Written by Walter Boomsma, instructor. See his blog.

When my oldest daughter was a toddler we were at the beach. In a parental desire to show her things and develop her understanding and vocabulary, I pointed out sea gulls. (She liked animals and birds–still does.) In short order, she began pointing and saying, “Daddy! Birds!” Somewhat absent-mindedly I would reply, “Those are seagulls, Bethanie.”

After several of those exchanges, she said pointedly, “Daddy, you can call them seagulls. I’m going to call them birds.” I have always admired her independence. On this occasion, I opted to accept her refusal to adopt my vocabulary.

But names can be important. So after announcing that “new core courses” are being released, we will not be referring to them as “new” and “old.” We need some fairly precise language here, so I will refer to them by their proper names. Effective October 1, 2016, there be a Core Course for Designated Brokers 2 and a Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 2. These courses effectively replace the Core Course for Designated Brokers 1 and the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 1. When I say “replace,” understand that the courses numbered 2 are different than the courses numbered 1–both in content and application.

So what should you take (or have taken) before you renew your license?

What hasn’t changed:

Designated Brokers must take the “Core Course for Designated Brokers.” Brokers and Associate Brokers must take the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers. That’s actually pretty straight-forward.

Where it potentially gets confusing:

Whenever there’s a change in core courses, the question always raised is “which core course do I need to have completed when I renew my license?” The answer is, “It depends!” While figuring out the answer initially sounds a bit daunting, this too is fairly straight forward. It depends on the expiration of the license you are renewing. It might help if you have that information before reading further.

Brokers and Associate Brokers with a license expiration date prior to April 1, 2017 (and who renew before that date) may fulfill the core course requirement with either the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 1 OR the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 2.

Designated Brokers with a license expiration date prior to April 1, 2017 (and who renew before that date) may fulfill the core course requirement with either the Core Course for Designated Brokers 1 OR the Core Course for Designated Brokers 2.

Brokers and Associate Brokers with a license expiration date on or after April 1, 2017 (and who renew after that date) must fulfill the core course requirement with the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 2.

Designated Brokers with a license expiration date prior to April 1, 2017 (and who renew before after date) must fulfill the core course requirement with  the Core Course for Designated Brokers 2.

The same explanation would apply to activating a currently inactive license. If you activate before April 1, 2016, either course is acceptable. On or after April 1, 2017, you must have the appropriate Course 2.

If you are at all confused, don’t guess! If you call or email me, the first question I’m going to ask you is “When does your license expire and when to you plan to renew it?” That one bit of information will allow us to determine the correct answer 99% of the time. You can, of course, also ask your DB or call the Maine Real Estate Commission if you need some help determining the answer.

As a reminder, continuing education is only required to renew a license. Sales Agents, for example, are not required to have continuing education hours–a Sales Agent License is not renewable. A Sales Agent’s “continuing education” is the Associate Broker Course. Associate Brokers who plan to take the required course and apply for a Broker License would also not need “continuing education.” Personally, I still think continuing education is a great idea in both of those scenarios even though it’s not required. I remember one sales agent who came to the Associate Broker Course with a lot of “under contracts” during a very depressed market. His classmates were in awe and wonder. He explained, “I’ve taken over 40 hours of continuing education. There might be a correlation!”

I will be teaching both the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 2 and the Core Course for Designated Brokers 2 on Friday, October 7, 2016 at the Ramada Inn in Bangor. For more information and to register, you can call the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate at 856-1712 or visit the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate Website.

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EPA Inspections Ongoing in Maine!

EPA Begins Effort to Reduce Children’s Exposure to Lead Paint in Lewiston/Auburn, Maine Area

BOSTON – EPA is beginning an effort to improve compliance with laws that protect children from lead paint poisoning by sending certified letters this month to about 400 home renovation and painting contractors, property management companies and landlords in and around Lewiston/Auburn, Maine.

epalawUnder the initiative, EPA will provide educational materials on lead paint rules to affected companies. EPA will also outline steps the Agency is taking to increase compliance on the part of these entities with the federal lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act. EPA’s RRP Rule became effective in April 2010.

“Children’s exposure to lead continues to be a significant health concern here in New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This is especially true for kids who live in underprivileged areas and other places where there is a large amount of older housing stock that hasn’t been renovated and lead paint has not been removed. Our initiative in Lewiston/Auburn is designed such that EPA will work closely with our local, state and federal partners to address a serious public health problem affecting children.”

EPA continues to prioritize resources at both the national and regional level to educate companies and inform the public about federal lead paint rules. EPA’s RRP Rule is designed to prevent children’s exposure to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards resulting from renovation, repair and painting projects in pre-1978 residences, schools and other buildings where children are present. If lead painted surfaces are to be disturbed at a job site, the Rule requires individual renovators to complete an initial 8-hour accredited training course and the company or firm that they work for to be certified by EPA. These baseline requirements are critical to ensuring that companies take responsibility for their employees following proper lead safe work practices by containing and managing lead dust and chips created during such projects. Further, the Rule requires that specific records be created and maintained in order to document compliance with the law.

Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause lifelong impacts including developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems. Because New England has a lot of older housing stock, lead paint is still frequently present in buildings that were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned. According to the most recent data available from the Maine Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Lewiston/Auburn has the highest number of incidences in the state of children under the age of six with elevated blood lead levels.

morefinesFollowing outreach efforts in May, over the course of several weeks in June, EPA will conduct inspections of renovation, painting and property management companies in the area to assess compliance with the RRP Rule. EPA may also assess compliance with the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule, which requires landlords, property management companies, real estate agencies, and sellers to inform potential lessees and purchasers of the presence of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 housing. This rule ensures that potential tenants and home buyers are receiving the information necessary to protect themselves and their families from lead-based paint hazards prior to being obligated to rent or purchase pre-1978 housing. The inspections may be followed up with enforcement which may include the issuance of fines.

Enforcing lead paint notification and worksite standards helps to level the playing field for companies complying with the law, as well as helps to provide a safer and healthier environment for children. EPA is coordinating with many state and local agencies, including several municipal departments in both cities, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and several non-governmental organizations such as Healthy Androscoggin.

EPA engaged in similar efforts in the New Haven, Conn. area in 2014 and in the Nashua, N.H. area in 2015. As a result of these efforts, EPA has educated thousands of individuals either engaged in this type of work or impacted by it, settled numerous formal and informal enforcement actions, and levied fines against the most serious violators. Importantly, because of the compliance assistance provided, many renovation firms have stepped forward to become newly certified and have sent their workers to be trained.

For more information:

Although lead paint has been identified as the primary source of childhood lead poisoning, drinking water, soil, air, and consumer products are other potential sources of lead. Please visit this EPA website to help protect your family from exposures to lead: https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-exposures-lead

Need to renew your RRP certification?

The EPA is focused in Maine right now! Check out our website for a schedule of upcoming classes!

Click Here for a list of our upcoming training dates!

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OSHA Fines Painting Contractor

Read OSHA’s Regional News Release Herecertified

OSHA proposes a penalty of $121,880 for a Michigan company’s unsafe practices in exposing their workers to lead at a site in Danville, PA. The EPA is not the only organization who can fine your business if you are not lead certified.

Is your company updated on their lead certification? Are you looking for a local re-certification course? Let us know!

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Confused About the Core Course?

Written by Walter Boomsma, instructor. See his blog.

door_decision_pc_400_clr_2583-300x218The Maine Real Estate Commission recently introduced a new core course. Well, more accurately, TWO new core courses. This means a lot more options for licensees but it also means a lot more potential confusion.

Let’s start with the basics. Most know that 21 hours of continuing education are required to renew a real estate license and those 21 hours must include a core course.  The confusion often comes about when there is more than one core course being offered. This newest release means that for a few months, there will actually be three core courses available. Which one do you take?

The answer lies in knowing when your license expires and what type of license you will be renewing. If your license expires on or after April 1, 2015:

  • If you are renewing an Associate Broker or Broker License, you’ll need to take the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers – I.”
  • If you are renewing a Designated Broker License, you’ll need to take the “Core Course for Designated Brokers – I.”

It’s really that simple–on or after April 1. Just understand, the course required is based on the license you hold. Designated Brokers must take the Designated Broker Course. If you are a Designated Broker, taking the course for Brokers and Associate Brokers will not satisfy renewal requirements. Likewise, Brokers and Associate Brokers must take the Broker and Associated Broker Course. Taking the course for Designated Brokers will not satisfy renewal requirements.

It may well be that the best approach is to take both courses! You’ll still get three hours of credit for the course that isn’t required. For example, a Designated Broker must take the “Core Course for Designated Brokers – I” and would earn three credit hours.  That Designated Broker could then take the “Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers – I” and earn three credit hours for a total of six towards the requirement of 21.

What if your license expires before April 1, 2015? In an attempt to keep it simple, all that happens is you have one more option and this third option is the same for all licenses.

The two courses already mentioned work the same–you would take one of those two courses based on what license you are renewing. All licenses have a third option of taking theWorking With Buyers – What Have We Agreed To? Core Course”

In other words, if your current license expires before April 1, 2015, here’s how you could meet the core course requirement:

If you are an Associate Broker or Broker:

  • Take either the Working With Buyers – What Have We Agreed To? Core Course” or Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers – I”

If you are a Designated Broker:

  • Take either  Working With Buyers – What Have We Agreed To? Core Course”  or Core Course for Designated Brokers – I”

On or after April 1, 2015 the “Working with Buyers” course will NOT satisfy the core course renewal requirement.

This really sounds harder than it is, but you do need to be certain you “get it right.”

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Washington Update – 1031 Under Attack

Written by instructor Patty Flowers. Patty Flowers is AVP for Investment Property Exchange Services (IPX1031®) and a Certified Exchange Specialist®. See her website

 

Patty Flowers

Patty Flowers

1031 Exchanges have been an integral part of real estate’s recovery. Now the government is proposing to eliminate all 1031 Exchange activity.

For decades, real estate investors, business owners and Fortune 500 companies have used 1031 Exchanges to defer the payment of capital gains tax and depreciation recapture tax associated with the sale of their investment properties. 1031 Exchanges also allow taxpayers to maintain or diversify their portfolios and increase their purchasing power. Any investment property or property held for productive use in a trade or business, ranging from vacant land to shopping centers, can be exchanged. The taxpayer must simply purchase new qualifying real estate and follow some basic rules to complete a tax deferred 1031 Exchange.

Even though 1031 Exchanges have long been recognized as a major factor in encouraging real estate sales, as part of tax reform in separate Discussion Drafts, the House of Representatives, Senate and the President’s Budget Office have all proposed eliminating or sharply curtailing the benefits of Section 1031:

  1. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp released a Discussion Draft of his Comprehensive Tax Reform Proposal on February 25, 2014. The Camp Proposal would repeal Code Section 1031 for like-kind exchanges occurring after 2014.
  2. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus’ tax reform Discussion Draft includes a proposal to repeal Section 1031 in its entirety. The proposed repeal would apply to exchanges made in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2014.
  3. President Obama’s 2015 Budget proposal also contains significant changes to IRS Code 1031. The President’s proposal does not eliminate 1031 Exchanges, but limits the amount that can be deferred to $1 million per taxpayer per year.

The elimination of 1031 Exchanges will result in a sharp decrease in real estate transactions. Due to its severe impact on all areas of the real estate community and how this could potentially affect you, IPX1031® will keep you up to date on these proposals. Simply send an email to info@ipx1031.com to be added to the “Washington Update” list.

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Beware Of Zombie Property Titles

Article from Your Realty Insider.

 

HHouseWith the economic downturn, anyone dealing in real estate quickly became familiar with previously little-known terms such as foreclosure and short sale. Now that the housing market is picking back up and people are moving on, a new term is coming to light – zombie titles.

The Zombie Title
This is when a home has been vacated because the owners defaulted on their loan and their bank started the foreclosure process. However, for some reason or another the bank never completed the foreclosure and sold the home. So, when the city starts fining someone for the overgrown grass and dilapidated structure, the homeowner who thought they were finished with the property gets the bill.

A Home That Keeps Haunting
Homeowners think they don’t own the property any longer and therefore try to move on by rebuilding their credit score and finding a new place to live. It can be a rude awakening to find out that not only do they still own a home they could have been living in, but also its long vacancy has caused it to fall into disrepair.

It’s Spooking The Neighborhood
These vacant homes can decrease the value of a neighborhood. If the bank or the unsuspecting homeowner are neither one taking care of the property, then it can become overgrown and an eyesore on the block. It becomes a problem with no solution because the owner won’t want to invest any money in fixing up the property when the bank could come back with the foreclosure at any time.

Nail Shut The Foreclosure Coffin
Homeowners who have foreclosed on a home should double check that their bank actually followed through to closing on a sale. They could contact their lender or check public property records just to make sure. Otherwise, they could be haunted by their housing nightmare all over again. Don’t let the zombie title of a past property haunt your future! Check with your bank to make sure you’re free and clear of your foreclosure. If you’d like more information on zombie titles or have other questions about local real estate, please contact your trusted real estate professional.

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Salem, Mass. Contractor Faces Penalty for Violating Lead Renovation Rule at Kittery, Maine Site

From the EPA Newsroom:

James J. Welch & Co., Inc., based in Salem, Mass., faces a penalty of $28,125 for allegedly violating a requirement designed to protect children from exposure to lead-based paint during painting and other renovation activities.

The alleged violations occurred during a renovation project at the former Frisbee School in Kittery, Maine, at which JJ Welch was the primary contractor. The Kittery site was, at the time of the renovation, a child-occupied facility subject to EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule.

The violation was brought to EPA’s attention via an anonymous tip, after which EPA and Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection performed an inspection of the site in Feb. 2012. Based on the inspection, EPA determined that JJ Welch did not ensure that a company hired as a subcontractor to replace windows at the school complied with the required work practice requirements of the RRP Rule, including failure to assign a certified renovator to the work site; failure to cover ground with plastic sheeting; and failure to contain waste from the renovation activity.

EPA’s RRP Rule is designed to prevent exposure to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards. The rule requires individuals performing renovations for compensation at most pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities to be properly trained. There are certification and training requirements for individual renovators and firms performing renovations to ensure that safe work practices are followed during renovations. The rule became effective on April 22, 2010 and allows for the assessment of penalties that may reach up to a maximum of $37,500 per violation per day.

Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause developmental impairment, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.

More information:

– Lead paint RRP Rule (http://www.epa.gov/lead/rrp/index.html)

– Why lead is a health hazard (http://www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead.html)

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Are you EPA Lead Certified? If not, Arthur Gary School of Real Estate offers two EPA Lead Renovation Certification courses this September!

-September 17, 2013 – 8:00am to 5:00pm – Ramada Inn, Bangor, ME

-September 30, 2013 – 8:00am to 5:00pm – Arthur Gary School of RE, Westbrook, ME

-Program fee: $195.00

For more information, please click here to see our website