Should I Renovate…?

Written by Walter Boomsma, instructor. See his blog.

A question we often hear from potential sellers is whether or not they should renovate or otherwise improve the property before selling. While there’s no one correct answer (except “it depends”), most licensees will recommend some degree of “freshening” — cosmetic improvements that might fall under the headings of staging or curb appeal.

paintBut what about the “bigger” stuff? Should we remodel the bathroom?

Every year Remodeling Magazine reports the results of research designed to determine which projects have the greatest dollar return. The results of the most recent survey are reported on REALTOR.COM and might surprise you. While sexy renovations may help with the sale, it doesn’t necessarily mean a great increase in value. The top return was attic insulation–statistically it returns more than the cost.

We ought to bear in mind (and explain to prospective sellers) that the value of the improvement shouldn’t simply be measured in dollars, but having some data beats pulling our opinions out of the air. If you look at the chart, note also there are regional differences. Also, pay attention to what people are saying. I know when I talk with folks who are buying and selling two things that come up consistently are “energy efficiency” and “aging friendly.” It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that in Maine where we have an aging population and some mighty cold weather.

One of the funnier questions I had a few years ago came from a young couple who wondered, “Should we remodel and add a bedroom if we’re planning to sell in ten years–will we get back the money we spend?” That’s some strategic thinking! In this case, they ultimately decided ten years living in a home with the additional bedroom would be worth spending the money–even if the long-term payback wasn’t guaranteed. There are too many “it depends” to answer the dollar question with any degree of certainty.

Seth Godin recently wrote a piece (Economics Is Messy) about the difference between value and profit. When considering the “Should I renovate…?” question, it’s an important distinction. The average dollar “return” on improvements is about 64%, making most improvements a loss if we only measure in dollars. When we look at the value we include factors like how much more salable the property becomes and how much pleasure the current owner will reap from the improvement. Those factors add value and may well offset the lack of dollar profit.

Advertisements
Posted in Walter Boomsma. Tags: , , , , , . Comments Off on Should I Renovate…?

Could Facebook Ads Violate the Fair Housing Act?

Written by Walter Boomsma, instructor. See his blog.

Walter notes: I’ve occasionally observed that Facebook ads are a great place to find ads that do not meet the requirements of Maine License Law and Rules. Well, here’s another article (reposted courtesy of Tuesday Tactics) that raises a slightly different concern!


fair-housing-logoFacebook ads are a powerful way to generate leads, find prospective buyers and sellers, and optimize your marketing spend. There are lots of tips out there on how to maximize your ROI and craft ads.

But recently Pro Publica reported that Facebook’s ad targeting system may violate the Fair Housing Act of 1968. From the piece “Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users by Race“:

“The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.”

Facebook disagrees. According to an article in Engadget:

“Facebook defended the practice, telling USA Today that “multicultural marketing is a common practice in the ad industry and helps brands reach audiences with more relevant advertising.” However, it added that “we’ve heard from groups and policy makers who are concerned about some of the ways our targeting tools could be used by advertisers. We are listening and working to better understand these concerns.”

If you use (or are considering) Facebook’s sophisticated ad targeting, you may want to keep this issue front and center in your mind. Be prudent how you use the targeting, and be aware that there’s a debate going on right now about the legality of the platform’s features.


Tuesday Tactics was developed in the Fall of 2008 and began publishing in the Summer of 2009 by Scott Levitt, owner of Oakley Signs & Graphics, to help real estate agents survive and thrive in an increasingly challenging market. In addition to Oakley Signs & Graphics, Scott is also the founder of My Real Helper, a real estate marketing content service designed to help agents market themselves and build rapport with clients. His newest company is Oakley Canvas Prints, a one-stop source for turning your photos into art you can hang on your wall.
Posted in Walter Boomsma. Tags: , , , , , . Comments Off on Could Facebook Ads Violate the Fair Housing Act?

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.

103972539-gettyimages-504561753-530x298

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.

Posted in Industry News. Tags: , , , , , , , . Comments Off on ‘Massive’ Shortage in Appraisers Causing Home Sales Delays

Arthur Gary – REEA Spotlight Member!

Congratulations to Arthur Gary, today’s Spotlight Member on the REEA homepage!

Posted in AGSRE News. Tags: , , , , . Comments Off on Arthur Gary – REEA Spotlight Member!

“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.

Posted in Industry News, Walter Boomsma. Tags: , , , , . Comments Off on “New” Core Courses — but let’s not call ’em that

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!

Posted in Industry News. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Comments Off on EPA Inspections Ongoing in Maine!