Social Media and the Code of Ethics

Guest Article: Brenda Kolsen, ACAR 2015 President

This time of year is especially busy, which means we’re interacting with more and more of our fellow REALTORS®. Every one of us has a different way of working and communicating with our clients and other agents. Because of that, there may be times when we encounter an agent that we just aren’t in sync with. Maybe due to a miscommunication, difference of opinion, or straight up mistake.

However, I’ve noticed more and more agents taking to social media to vent about others, even going so far as to post snippets of texts or emails they’ve received, share confidential information, or unfortunately, post outright insults.

Not to get into the weeds, but here’s a recent example… a Facebook post from a listing agent accusing a buyer’s agent of not properly educating their client about how to write offers, after receiving one for their listing. The agent went as far as identifying the property and the difference between the offer and list prices.

There are a lot of issues with this, but from a standard of practice point-of-view, a buyer’s agent is required to submit all offers made by their clients, and listing agents must present all offers they receive to their clients, unless they have been instructed, in writing, not to.

While I don’t know the specifics behind this situation, we’ve all been on the other end of an offer we think isn’t quite right; or as a buyer’s agent, have had a client insist a specific price or term that we know won’t go over well. Whatever side we’re on, we never know the motivation of the other party, and should be respectful in our dealings with any offer.

Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of these situations over the years, and know the stress they can create. But we cannot publically vent or call out other agents. Furthermore, if we see it happening, we need to speak up.

In fact, this particular issue has been addressed by the Code of Ethics from the National Association of REALTORS®, by which we’ve all agreed to abide. Take note of Article 15 from the Code of Ethics, which states:

“REALTORS® shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices. [This] includes the duty to not knowingly or recklessly publish, repeat, retransmit, or republish false or misleading statements made by others… in person, in writing, by technological means (e.g., the Internet), or by any other means. [Additionally, this] includes the duty to publish a clarification about or to remove statements made by others on electronic media the REALTOR® controls once the REALTOR® knows the statement is false or misleading.” (Source: www.realtor.org/governance/governing-documents/the-code-of-ethics#DutiestoRealtors)

Basically, don’t put down your colleagues, for any reason through any medium. Not on Twitter, Facebook, to another agent, in your blog, to a client, etc. Not only is it a violation of the Code of Ethics, as noted, it’s just bad business.

Remember, in the real estate world, you are your brand. Your presence online and IRL is extremely important to your business. So if a consumer sees an agent being a bully to others, they don’t think, “Hey, that person must really know what they’re talking about.” Many times it’s a huge turn off. And those online comments—or any responses made to a comment—can stick with an agent’s personal brand forever.

So what can we do about it?

Should you run across online venting by agents, or should you become the target of it, you have options.

First, notify your broker of the situation, and ask them to reach out to agent or agent’s broker to get the content removed immediately—especially if you’re not comfortable confronting the other agent directly. Then, reach out to the staff at ACAR or Idaho REALTORS® to discuss filing an ethics complaint, citing Article 15. For some it can be scary to go that route, but it’s much worse to have an agent making negative comments unchecked, potentially harming peoples’ businesses and reputations.

That said, I know that 99% of us don’t engage in this kind of behavior, and I thank you for that. But if you see it happening anywhere online, and especially on social media, please speak up. Doing so will help raise the level of professionalism throughout our industry, both in person and online.

Thank you!
Brenda Kolsen
2015 President
Ada County Association of REALTORS®

Stop Patent Trolls – Avoid Future Lawsuits

REALTORS® across the country receive threatening demand letters and lawsuits alleging patent infringement based on the use of common business tools such as drop down menus or search alert functions on websites and the scanner function on a copier. These patent trolls buy vague patents and use them to turn everyday business practices into potential lawsuits. TAKE ACTION NOW

How does it work? Patent trolls -– or, to call them by a less disparaging name, “patent assertion entity” –- is a person or group who tries to enforce patent rights against infringers in an attempt to collect fees, but who doesn’t actually produce any product or technology related to that patent. A patent troll might buy a patent from a bankrupt company, then sue another company, claiming that one of its products infringes on the patent.

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When there is a Call for Action, you will receive a standard push notification alerting you. The mobile action alert allows you to take action immediately. The new mobile action alert format will make your participation a snap!

April Market Report: Disappearing Inventory

Market Snapshot_AprilThere were 803 single-family home sold in Ada County in April 2015, up 21% from this same time last year. The Median Home Price in April was at $216,200, which was also an increase over last year, by 3.2%. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the low inventory of available homes, compared to the rising demand, is one of the key reasons that many markets are seeing these price increases — including Ada County.

The Months Supply of Inventory was at 3.1 months, which was a year-over-year decrease of 31% (down from 4.5 months in April 2014). A market is typically considered “balanced” between supply and demand when there is 4-6 months of inventory. The low supply has also driven down the Days on Market that sellers can expect. On average, homes sold within 50 days of being listed, which was a full week faster than last year at this time; a decrease of 12%.

Three other factors that have been driving demand, include — increased length of ownership, improved job growth, and increasing rental rates. This is according to a May 2015 Economic and Housing Market Outlook from the National Association of REALTORS® and Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun. More on these statistics:

  • Current homeowners are staying in their homes longer than in previous years – up to 10 years in 2014 vs. 6 years in 2008, nationwide.
  • Job growth is up and unemployment is down, meaning consumers are becoming more confident about their ability to buy and keep a home. Idaho was noted as being one of the best states for job growth over the past 12 months.
  • As rental vacancies drop and rental rates rise (now at a 7-year high, nationally), homeownership could become more desirable and possibly cheaper for some people, depending on mortgage rates and lending standards.

For more information on this national market outlook, download the entire presentation here: http://www.realtor.org/presentations/economic-and-housing-market-outlook. And check back in with ACAR next month for updated local numbers.

Drones Taking Real Estate Marketing to New Heights

Real estate agents across the country have been waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to release guidelines permitting the use of drones for commercial purposes, such as marketing real estate. Last month, the FAA released its proposed rules, which would allow realty professionals to use drones to aid their clients in marketing and selling properties.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, are aircrafts without a human pilot aboard. The applications for this new technology are varied and numerous. Property managers are interested in drones’ property inspection applications while real estate agents hope to use drones to capture videos and pictures that help visualize and market clients’ residential and commercial properties.

“New drone technologies can help real estate agents market homes and properties in ways that were cost-prohibitive in the past,” said Brenda Kolsen, Ada County Association of REALTORS (ACAR) President. “Aerial photography and video could someday be an added value that Realtors® provide for all of their clients, creating eye-catching listings that stand out to potential buyers.”

The new rules provide guidance on the various permits and registrations operators will need to obtain, when and where the drones can be used and the requirements for reporting accidents or injuries. It will likely take two years for the rules to be finalized and go into effect.

Some of the requirements included in the proposed rule are:

  • Commercial drones’ flights would be restricted to 500 feet in altitude, 100 miles per hour of speed and daylight hours.
  • All flights would need to be within visual line of sight of the person operating the drone.
  • Operators of commercial drones would be required to pass an aeronautical knowledge test be issued a permit to fly, which must be renewed every two years. This would be different from receiving a pilot’s license.

While drones are exciting new technology, until the rules are finalized Ada County Association of REALTORS® reminds sellers that real estate professionals cannot use drones to aid in the selling and marketing of properties.

“Currently, using drones to market and sell either residential or commercial property can result in heavy fines for agents,” said Kolsen. “But when the rules are finalized, drones will hopefully become an exciting, new tool to help sellers make their property even more attractive to buyers.”

For more information and updates, as they become available, please visit www.realtor.org/drones.

March Market Report- Starts off Strong

Market Snapshot_MarchMarch 2015 is the strongest March we’ve had since 2007. Single-family home sales in March 2015 were 694 in Ada County. YTD total sales are up 14% compared to this time last year; 1,630 homes sold compared to $1,425.

Days on Market for March were 65. That’s slightly down from February and we see it continue to hover around the same number the past few months.

New homes sold in March totaled 134; Existing home sales were 560.

March median home price was $222,000. Our YTD Median Price is $222,700.

New Homes Median Price for March was $282,402. Existing Home Median Price for March was $210,000.

Pending sales at the end of March were 1,208.

In Ada County we now have 3.6 months of inventory on hand, a very slight increase from February, but we can use it as we go into the Spring selling season.

March was strong in both sales and median home price, this should continue into the summer.

On the National level Existing-Home Sales spike in March. NAR Study: Boomerang Buyers Expected to Boost Housing Demand

Looks like we are gearing up for an interesting summer.

February Market Report- Has Spring Sprung?

Market Snapshot_FebruarySingle-family home sales in February 2015 were 507 in Ada County, an increase of 10.41% compared to February 2014.

Days on Market were 67, that is slightly down from 70 days last month.

New homes sold in February totaled 109; up 8.12% from last year.

Existing home sales were 398; up 11.11% from 2014.

February median home price was $224,900 with a 9.86% increase over 2014.

With continued increase over last year, Existing home price was $196,750 with 11.25% change.New home median price was $305,000 with a slight decrease of -1.45% from last year.

We had a very slight increase with months of inventory available 3.8 months of inventory. As we head toward spring and summer, we could use an increase in inventory.

February is typically our weakest month for median home price. February 2015 was pretty strong.  This should continue into the Summer.

Bottom line…it’s going to be a complicated first quarter for real estate.

January Market Report-Say Hello to 2015

Market Snapshot_JanuarySingle-family sales in January 2015 were 425 in Ada County, an increase of 1.67% compared to January 2014.

Dollar volume for January was up 9% to $107 million.

If you feel a slight deja vu that’s because Days on Market are at 70, same as January 2014. In December we were at 66.

New Homes Sold in January totaled 104; up 3% from last year. Existing Home Sales were 321; up from 1% from last year.

Pending sales at the end of January 867; up from January 2014.

January median home price was $223,900 up 8% from January 2014.

New Homes median home price for January was $313,773; up 13% from January 2014.

For Existing homes the increase is 4% to $198,000.

In Ada County we now have 3.7 months of inventory on hand. Up just a little from the end of December.

A look at National shows despite low inventory conditions, existing-home sales bounced back in December and climbed above an annual pace of 5 million sales for the sixth time in seven months.

November Market Report- Hoping for a Nice Christmas Present!

Market Snapshot_November2Single family home sales in November 2014 were 528 in Ada County, an decrease of 5% compared to November 2013.  YTD total sales are down 3% compared to this time last year; 7,155 homes sold compared to 7,387. Reluctantly, I’m going to have to recognize that total homes sold in 2014 will not exceed the number of homes sold in 2013.

On the other hand, total dollar volume for November was $139M (up 4% over November 2013). Year-to-date dollar volume is $1.75B compared to $1.72B in 2013.

Consistent with the rest of 2014, sales of homes in November priced above $160,000 showed increases in nearly every price category.

Average Days on Market in November were 57; two fewer days than last month. In November 2013, Days on Market was 52.

New homes sold in November totaled 103; down 3% from last year.

Existing home sales were 425; down 6% from November 2013.

Historically November sales decrease from October levels by an average of 9%.   This year there was an decrease of 19%; which is more consistent with the last three years.

Pending sales at the end of November were 827; even to November 2013. Pending sales are our best “forward looking” indicator. The last three months have shown a stronger “Pending Sales” picture.

November median home price was $215,319; up 5% from November 2013. Our YTD median price is $209,990; up 6% over last year.

New Homes median price for September was $295,095; up 7% from November 2013. For Existing homes the increase is 7% to $197,000.

The number of houses available for sale at the end of November decreased 13% from October 2014 to 2,591. This is even to last year.

As is typical this time of year, inventory contracted in all price categories for November.

Consistent what we’ve been observing regarding inventory, homes in the $120,000 – $160,000 shrank more than any other price point.

In Ada County we now have 3.8 months of inventory on hand, essentially unchanged from the end of July.

The price categories in shortest supply are $100,000 to $119,000 which has 1.4 months; and $120,000 – $159,000 which has 1.9 months.

From $200,000 to $400,000 we have 2 – 4 months available.

Of sales in November, the price point that held on to it’s summer pace was $300,000 – $400,000..downs 11%.

As it looks now, in Boise and the nation, sales in 2014 will not exceed 2013 in number of homes sold. Because of the solid median price appreciation, dollar volume will be well ahead of last year.

You will start to hear the media asking: “Is the recovery over?”

The answer to that is a resounding “No.”

Maybe you were at the Real Estate Summit yesterday to hear Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR give his reason for why 2015 will be another very solid year for real estate in Ada County.

One reason for his optimism was released in a report yesterday: “NAR Identifies Top Metro areas Poised for Uptick in Baby Boomer Sales”.

There we are…#2!

Idaho Real Estate Summit 2015

The second Idaho Real Estate Summit hosted by the Ada County Association of REALTORS® was held yesterday, December 10th at  the Idaho Capitol. Topics included current housing trends and a look at our economy. Professionals from all segments of the housing industry will benefit from attending the Housing Summit.

Our Keynote speaker was Lawrence Yun the Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He will deliver insight into the National Housing Economy and a forecast for 2015. If you weren’t able to join us download the presentation here http://www.slideshare.net/AdaRealtors/idaho-real-estate-summit

Speakers covered topics including:

  • Local Residential Housing – Marc Lebowitz
  • Commercial Market – LeAnn Hume
  • IHFA Lending in Ada County – Gerald Hunter

“Lawrence Yun is Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.  He oversees and is responsible for a wide range of research activity for the association including NAR’s Existing Home Sales statistics, Affordability Index, and Home Buyers and Sellers Profile Report.  He regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1 million REALTOR® members.Lawrence Yun is Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.  He oversees and is responsible for a wide range of research activity for the association including NAR’s Existing Home Sales statistics, Affordability Index, and Home Buyers and Sellers Profile Report.  He regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1 million REALTOR® members.Dr. Yun creates NAR’s forecasts and participates in many economic forecasting panels, among them Blue Chip and the Harvard University Industrial Economist Council. He appears regularly on financial news outlets, is a frequent speaker at real estate conferences throughout the United States, and has testified before Congress. USA Today in 2008 listed him among the top 10 economic forecasters in the country and he has been named among the Most Influential Real Estate Leaders by INMAN News over the past several years.Dr. Yun received his undergraduate degree from Purdue University and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland at College Park.”

October Market Report – We Told You This Would Happen

Single family home sales in October 2014 were 665 in Ada County, an increase of 6% compared to October 2013.  This is the first month for which we’ve had a year-over-year increase since March 2014!  YTD total sales are down 3% compared to this time last year (an improvement from the 5% we were down YTD through September); 6,616 homes sold compared to 6,829.

In October, sales of homes priced above $160,000 showed increases in nearly every price category. A bright spot in October is the surge in sales for homes priced between $160,000 and $200,000; up 2%. This price point had been flat for several months.

Average Days on Market in October were 59; five more days than last month. In October 2013, Days on Market was 51.

New homes sold in October totaled 134; down 3% from last year; up 6% from September.

Existing home sales were 531; up 9% from October 2013.

Historically October sales decrease from September levels by an average of 3%.   This year there was an increase of 2%.

Pending sales at the end of October were 885; down just 3% from October 2013. This is the smallest “decrease” in Pending sales all year (April was down 18%). This bodes well for the 4thquarter sales “rebound” we are forecasting.

October median home price was $208,698; down 1% from October 2013. Our YTD median price is $209,900; up 7% over last year.

New Homes median price for September was $302,257; up 10% from October 2013. For Existing homes the increase is 1% to $190,500.

The number of houses available for sale at the end of October decreased 10% from September 2014 to 2,591. This is 3% more than last year at this time.

As is typical this time of year, inventory contracted in all price categories for October.

A positive trend in new homes inventory: for homes priced between $160,000 and $200,000 there has been a steady increase since June.

In Ada County we now have 3.9 months of inventory on hand, essentially unchanged from the end of July.

The price categories in shortest supply are $100,000 to $119,000 which has 1.4 months; and $120,000 – $159,000 which has 2.1 months.

From $200,000 to $400,000 we have 4 months available.

Of sales in October, the two price points that held on to their summer pace were $120,000 – $160,000 and $250,000 to $300,000..

The fourth quarter “rebound” that we’ve been anticipating arrived in October. The very modest “cooling” of median price is a reasonable tradeoff for the increase in sales.

There was also a dip in interest rates in October.

The Federal Reserve announced an end to “quantitative easing” that will most like cause rates to rise going into 2015.

The 2014 NAR Annual Conference concluded yesterday in New Orleans.

One of the highlights was that your association, through your efforts, was recognized as the #1 Local Association in the nation for our support of RPAC (in the large Board category).

Congratulations to our RPAC Fundraising Committee, Chaired by Kit Fitzgerald and to Miguel Legarreta, our Government Affairs Director for a record setting year!

Its through our continued support of REALTOR® party initiatives and candidates that support REALTOR® initiatives that will keep our real estate recovery on track.