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Piedmont Real Estate Blog

A Sorry Mess

Apr. 2, 2011
Categorized in: Business of Real Estate

You're going to have to forgive me.

I usually avoid a lot of inside the real estate industry talk. This blog is meant to be educational to people interested in buying or selling homes or even just owning them. It's not focused on talking to the real estate industry.

Today is different.

NAR (National Association of REALTORS) has decided to raise it's dues in order to spend more money on its lobbying efforts.

Every citizen ought to be upset about this and the underlying causes.

As a member I am outraged and frustrated.

I completely understand why they've decided to do this. The Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court last year means there is now a no-holds-barred arms race in terms of political contributions. (There ought to be a sign outside the Capitol reading "For Sale Here: Legislators") NAR is concerned that banks, long wanting to get into the real estate business themselves (and not just as owners of foreclosures) could use this opportunity to get laws changed in their favor. They're worried about possible assaults on the Mortgage Interest Deduction and with what will take the place of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Their solution is to have a pile of money with which to influence the outcomes.

I believe that the influence of money is destroying our democracy. Giving to the PAC (Political Action Committee) that REALTOR associations use to influence politics has always been voluntary and I have always declined, believing that it would be hypocritical to decry the influence of PAC money but become part of the problem when it seemed in my best interest.

Now it seems that my only options are likely to be let NAR use my money for purposes that I am ethically opposed to, or leave the National Association of REALTORs. The way the system works, that would make it much harder for me to work as a real estate broker.

This decision is not yet final and I'd urge anyone in the industry to plan on attending the NAR mid-year meeting in DC to protest this decision. The meeting on this is May 11th at 3:30.

For those of you not a part of the industry, I'd urge you to get involved in working to limit the influence of $$$s in politics. (Changing the Supreme Court make up would be a good start!)

I'm curious to know, if you're a real estate agent or broker what do you think? If you're a member of the public, are you concerned about the influence of money in politics?

The Certification Racket

Mar. 7, 2010
Categorized in: Business of Real Estate

The real estate business and market is constantly changing and it's almost a full time job just to keep up! Fortunately, I love learning so that part of my job is fun.

But part of the real estate education business is a racket, to say the least. I stumbled across Elizabeth Newlin's take on designations this week and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Most NAR (National Association of REALTORS) designations require you to pay to take a course. That seems perfectly reasonable. Then they charge you an annual fee to keep that designation. No additional coursework is required. It's not about making sure you have up to date information. It's just a way to gather $$$s from the real estate community as far as I can tell.

I'm not sure if all that learning is going to leak out of my brain if I don't pay.

Does this mean a real estate agent with additional certifications adds no benefit? Not at all. It's at least some evidence that you have that they care about continually learning and getting better at what they do.

Tough Love for Lenders

Jul. 14, 2009
Categorized in: Foreclosures/Short Sales
Tagged with: nar, new york times

The Obama administration has apparently figured out what those of us trying to work short sales could have told them a long time ago, banks are making it incredibly difficult to deal with them.

So, they're being ordered to appear in person for a trip to the woodshed later this month, according to an article in The New York Times.

I'm thrilled to hear it, and not to suggest piling on, but that's exactly what every homeowner and real estate agent should be doing. In the next few weeks (the meeting is on July 28th) we should all be calling these banks (Office of the President) and letting them know that the administration has it right and they need to shape up. And, as long as you're at it, call the White House and let them know you agree with them on this issue.

Let's face it, none of us has much leverage on our own. But if each of us acted in concert with the White House on this, and if industry groups like NAR got behind it, there's a possibility that the force of our demands could produce some change.

HUD Rethinks

May. 26, 2009
Categorized in: Buyers

The HUD announcement that it would allow the $8000 first time homebuyer tax credit to be used for a downpayment didn't last out the week. All mention of it was pulled from HUD's home page.

Apparently the program as orginally discussed looked too much like the down payment gift programs that were essentially eliminated last year because of the higher foreclosure rates associated with those programs.

NAR (National Association of REALTORS) says HUD is retooling the program and that there will still be a way to do this.

Stay tuned to this space for updates.

I Can't Keep Up

Jan. 26, 2009
Categorized in: Business of Real Estate

...with the stupidity of NAR (National Association of REALTORS).

Read the blog and weep.

Seriously, if there is not a single REALTOR out there who believes home prices will either not appreciate or (gasp!) decline this year the public should definitely not believe a word we say!

Some days I beat my head against the wall. Credibility is hard to gain and can be lost in a second. I'm not saying NAR ever had any credibility. But I'd appreciate it if they wouldn't try and ruin any I've managed to build!

Disclaimers and Blogs

May. 22, 2008
Categorized in: Business of Real Estate

I had a chance to catch up on some reading this last week and was reading the March issue of REALTOR magazine published by NAR (National Association of REALTORS).

There was an article on blogging called "Is Your Blog Legal?" Before I bash one piece, let me say there was some good stuff. It was written by an attorney and their inclination is to be cautious and I get that.

But this advice rubbed me the wrong way: "Include a disclaimer that you assume no responsibility for the accuracy of any information."

It's a lawsuit happy world out there and I understand why someone might want to include such a disclaimer. But the truth is, I am responsible for what's on MY blog. Who else, exactly, would you hold responsible for the words I write?

I am a fallible human being and I surely make mistakes. One of the beauties of blogging is that readers will jump in and tell me when that happens!

But the buck does stop here. I hope you'll all continue to point out when I get it wrong. That pushes me to continue to work better at what I do!

Zillow is Coming!

May. 20, 2008
Categorized in: Sellers

Zillow made a big splash when they first showed up a few years back. Mostly it grabbed people because it was so much fun to enter your neighbors' addresses and see what Zillow said their homes were worth. Mind you these days that exercise is mostly depressing! And, those "zestimates" were never very accurate.

I told sellers then, and still believe, that you need to know what Zillow says about your house. Because there's a pretty good chance that potential buyers will know.

And, an article in today's Realty Times emphasizes why Zillow is continuing to gain in importance. REALTOR.com has been the big boy on the block forever. But from a technological perspective it's been a long time since they had anything approaching a technological edge. And, while, theoretically, REALTOR.com exists to serve me as a member of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), for most of us it feels like it exists to gouge us!

While Zillow (and other sites) will allow me to upload unlimited photos, virtual tours and other good stuff, all for free. REALTOR.com charges me for everything, including having my name on my own listings! For example, to link a virtual tour (using VisualTour.com) REALTOR.com charges me $19.95. But linking that same tour to Zillow is free!

Consumers still prefer REALTOR.com, but only because not enough agents are taking advantage of the free stuff at Zillow. Trust me, that's going to change!

So, if you're a consumer and haven't yet checked out Zillow, you should. And, if you're an agent and haven't checked it out, what are you waiting for?

How We Got Here

Apr. 10, 2008
Categorized in: Local Market Conditions

John Tuccillo was once the chief economist for NAR, a position currently held by Lawrence Yun. I continue to find John's insights some of the most accurate and enlightening out there.

This post on his web site goes through how we got into this mess and what John sees as the prospects going forward. I think it's one of the best analyses I've seen.

One of the most interesting pieces of this is the third point about how large national home builders began to replace family businesses and how they're driven by different economic realities. It's a piece of this puzzle I hadn't heard before and I think it's right on.

I'll be interested in hearing what you think; what John's gotten right and where your opinion differs.

What's Happening With Home Prices?

Feb. 19, 2008
Categorized in: Local Market Conditions
Tagged with: lawrence yun, nar

I've been pretty dismissive of much that comes from NAR's chief economist's office. While Lawrence Yun is certainly been much more realistic than his predecessor, he's still too often been a cheerleader rather than an unbiased source for information. It's understandable given who signs his paychecks!

But his latest analysis of what's going on nationwide with home prices is very educational and, I think, gets it mostly right.

Locally, prices continue to decline. But given the sudden increase of activity in the last couple of weeks, I suspect there's some chance we may be getting close to a floor in some areas. (Probably not Culpeper!)


Piedmont Real Estate Blog

Blog by Julie Emery
Amissville, Virginia

An ongoing dialog on real estate news, opinion and trends in Northern Virginia and the greater Piedmont area. Julie is an Associate Broker at Frankly Real Estate Inc, 6304 Crossroads Circle, Ste 102, Falls Church, VA 22044


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