Archive for January, 2009

FACTS: What would you tell buyers/sellers about today’s market?

What do YOU know? No, really, tell me. Comment and let me know what 5 things YOU would tell prospective buyers and sellers about today’s real estate market.

I can tell you what the research says, but research doesn’t do business…

So give it to me straight, what 5 things should buyers/sellers know?

Free eBooks for REALTORS®

For those who haven’t dug through….you should. It’s a great collection of tools and resources. Among those are the eBooks that you can obtain. Here is a quick video on how to get those resources click HERE.

Your First Year of Licensing – Post Licensing Changes

I’ve received a few questions lately from newly licensed agents about how the 12 month PL requirement works with a 2 year re-license cycle.  Below is the explaination from the Education Director at the Real Estate Board.


Dear Virginia Real Estate Board Education Providers:

 Please be aware and inform your post license education students of the following two important points:

 1. New Real Estate Salespersons initially licensed by the Virginia Real Estate Board (the Board) on or after July 1, 2008, must complete the 30-hour Post License Education Curriculum within one year of obtaining this Salesperson license.  If a New Salesperson fails to complete this 30-hour post license education requirement within one year of initial licensure, then the Board will automatically place his/her license on “Inactive” status.  A licensee cannot practice real estate in Virginia with an Inactive license.  A New Salesperson licensee can activate an Inactive license only by: 1) Completing the 30-hour post license education requirement; and 2) Filling out and submitting an “Activate/Transfer Application” form with a $60 fee to the Board.  

 2.  The Virginia Salesperson License is valid for two years, this includes New Salespersons.  Although New Salespersons licensed on or after July 1, 2008, must complete their post license education within one year of initial licensure, they will not receive any credit from the Board for any Continuing Education courses they complete before their first two-year licensure term ends.  Some New Salesperson licensees may be inclined to think that since they completed their 30-hour post license education requirement, they can then immediately get started on completing the 16-hour continuing education hours that will be required of them during their second two-year licensure term.  This is not so.  New Salespersons must wait until their first two-year licensure term ends, then they can begin to take Continuing Education courses.  This is addressed by 18 VAC 135-20-101 of the Real Estate Board’s Regulations (Qualifications for Renewal; Continuing Education Requirements), which states:  “All active salespersons… shall be required to complete a total of 16 instruction hours DURING EACH LICENSING TERM.”   The licensee must complete the Continuing Education hours DURING the LICENSING TERM, not BEFORE the LICENSING TERM begins.


Hampton Roads merger discussion thread

(Thought I’d try this: Some of the blogs I read will occasionally have “discussion threads” — news-related posts that are bound to get people talking, and where the writer doesn’t say much. So here’s this.)

From the press release, “Three Longstanding Hampton Roads Real Estate Firms Merge to Form Prudential Towne Realty”:

GSH Realty, Prudential Decker Realty, and Prudential McCardle Realty have merged to create a pretty big real estate company in Hampton Roads — about $1 billion in combined closed sales volume in 2008.

The new company will operate as an affiliate of TowneBank, “with 12 offices, four satellite offices, 500 sales professionals and a complete range of real estate services.” Its reach will be from southeastern Virginia,  the Peninsula, and North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Barbara Wolcott will be chairman and CEO. Kimber Smith and Carol “Randy” Smith will be president and senior vice president of the company’s Peninsula operations.

Here’s a link to the full press release. And here’s one to the MSNBC article.

So… discuss!

Hot links in Commonwealth Online for January

You can all breathe a deep sigh of relief — not just because Obama’s finally in office, but because the latest stats from Commonwealth Online are in. What are people reading? What do Folks Like You care about?

Turns out the answer will make folks here very happy. Topping the list was our reminder to register for (and, obviously, attend) our Legislative & Education Conference here in Richmond on February 10 – 13.

You loved watching John Powell!But coming in as a close second (otherwise known, as my six year old will tell you, as losing) was the Virginia  Homeowners Alliance site — specifically, the link to the flash video conference/seminar we hosted.

What’s particularly cool is that some of us (read: me) have been worried that we’ve been pushing these things too hard — that people are inundated with reminders and have hit the saturation point. Looks like I’m wrong.

That in mind:

Don’t miss our Legislative & Education Conference, February 10-12 in Richmond!

Check out the Virginia Homeowners Alliance. Sign people up! (Win prizes for doing that!)

The blog of diminishing returns

As Sarah reminded us earlier this week, blogging ain’t for all Realtors®. This quote in a post on Inman’s blog from superstar real estate blogger Teresa Boardman hit me like a two-by-four between the eyes:

“If it took me two or three hours to write each post I am not sure I would even consider having a blog.”

And for the record, it took me three minutes and twelve seconds to write this post, and that’s only because I was having problems with the blockquote.

Perhaps of particular interest to VARbuzz readers: Part of VAR’s 2009 legislative agenda (PDF download) is support for a bill to require all new real estate licensees to undergo a mandatory background check. This week, Del. Chris Amundson (D-Mount Vernon) introduced HB2541, which would require the Virginia Real Estate Board to complete a background check on anyone applying for a real estate license using the Virginia State Police’s Comprehensive Criminal Records Exchange.

You’re Not Doing It Wrong, I’m Just Doing It Different

I’ve stopped counting the number of times I’ve been told that social media is a waste of my time, or the number of times someone has referred to it as a “young person’s tool”, or the number of times someone has rolled their eyes when I’ve mentioned that I Tweet.  But, sometimes I do feel like I need to explain myself.        


I entered the real estate business in 2004.  I was trained at a very well-respected company by well-respected agents.  I was told to learn from their experiences.  My first month on the job consisted of reading real estate books, waiting on my license to come in.  I read about keeping in contact with my clients via newsletters and postcards.  I read about the power of numbers.  I read about print advertising and attracting buyers and sellers through print media.  I read until I figured out that even blind squirrels stumble across a nut or two.  I had a desk in the “bull-pen” and the advantage of watching some of the company’s top producers in action.  I never observed people coming in to the office to work with the elite agents because they had received an insightful newsletter.  I never heard their clients mention the fantastic recipe they had received from their agent either.  What I did see was the need for the client to be guided by this agent.  Their clients needed to have access to their knowledge and their professional sphere.  They worked with these top producers because they believed they did a good job.  I also noticed that the top producing REALTORS had taken time to cultivate their audience.  They didn’t start out in the business as the elite.  They worked their way up systematically and developed a following.  As a young agent, age-wise and experience level, this was a very important phenomenon to behold.


But, ever diligent, I remembered my early training and the advice that so many had bestowed on me and plugged away at the newsletters, postcards, and stagnant website.  I followed the lead my company was offering and questioned very little.  However, nothing ever felt right.  I applied for and received the production awards.  I touted my production from the roof tops.  I looked the part, dressed in my REALTOR-wear – slacks, button-up shirt, and heels, but I didn’t believe in the part.  I didn’t feel comfortable in the skin I was told to live and work in.  I was truly acting my way through real estate. 


I was bored and it was only my third year in the business.  My numbers were good, but there was no joy in my career.  So, I began exploring the blogging world.  And everything finally made sense.  I realized I didn’t want to talk at my clients; I want to talk with my clients.  I want my clients to take advantage of my knowledge.  I want them to have the ability to respond to what I tell them and question what I tell them.  I wanted my clients to be able to interact with me.  I want to engage those in my community and in my profession.  I want to build a following, not because of an end product, but because of the possibility of continued growth.  I want to BLOG. 


Social media has been a natural progression for me.  I am always amazed at how many people I touch every day and how many people touch me.  I am also always amazed at the feedback I get via comments or personal emails about my blog posts.  Social media has allowed me to grow in ways I didn’t think possible.  It’s not about the number of hits a blog site gets, or the number of readers.  Social media isn’t a numbers game.  Having the most “friends” or “followers” doesn’t mean much if what you are promoting lacks substance.  Social media is about the relationships that develop and the trust that follows.  Social media is about the big picture.         


I’m not saying that blogging is for everyone.  And, I’m not saying that if you’re not blogging you’re doing it wrong.  What I am saying is that blogging feels right for me.  Blogging feels right for my clients and it feels right for my business.  You’re not doing it wrong; I’m just doing it different. 

No One is Safe

The General Assembly is in session. If you’re not paying attention, you really should be. The best tool I’ve found to keep up is Richmond Sunlight. Educate yourself (start at the blog).

Richmond Sunlight *

*as of Sunday, 18 January at 10am

There are 14 bills tagged with “real estate” and 349 with “real estate” in the titles, summaries or texts.

Think this bill might affect you and your business? – Notice for setting local real property tax rate. (SB1131)

Notice for setting local real property tax rate. Reduces from 30 days to 10 days the public notice required by localities under certain circumstances for increasing the local real property tax rate above the rate that would generate 101 percent of the prior year’s real property tax revenues.

Or this one? -Real Estate Board; compensation to referring attorneys prohibited, exception. (HB2040)

Real Estate Board; compensation to referring attorneys prohibited; exception. Provides that an attorney-at-law referring a client to a licensee shall not receive any compensation from a listing firm or offered in the common source information company to cooperating brokers, unless the attorney is also licensed as a real estate broker or salesperson. The bill contains technical amendments.

198 bills have the word “assessment” in the title or description.

Surely, they wouldn’t pass this bill – Use value assessment; roll-back taxes. (SB1043) :

Use value assessment; roll-back taxes. Allows counties, cities, and towns to assess and collect roll-back taxes for up to 15 years under a use value assessment program if all roll-back taxes, interest, and penalty are promptly deposited into a special fund and used to fund the locality’s purchase of development rights program.

What??? Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation; Virginia Real Estate Board; waiver of broker (SB1210)

Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation; Virginia Real Estate Board; waiver of broker education requirements. Requires the Virginia Real Estate Board to waive the broker education requirement for any applicant for a brokers license who has owned a real estate brokerage firm for more than 15 years and during that time and maintained an active license as a real estate salesperson.

Think they’ll ban smoking in restaurants?

Here’s my question – or challenge – what are your “favorite” bills?

Del. Peace praises VAR’s support for Help Housing Now package

Wednesday’s Capitol Connections newsletter explained VAR’s involvement in a package of housing recovery and opportunity bills introduced by various General Assembly members from across the state. Del. Chris Peace posted to the Virginia Tomorrow blog praising VAR’s efforts to support the Help Housing Now package.

“In this time of economic challenge elected leaders must come together to put Virginia First in bipartisan ways, working together for solutions and in this case to Help Housing Now. In that spirit, I am so encouraged to have working with me other fellow legislators, both D’s and R’s and House and Senate, and representatives of the housing industry- both for-profits and non-profits. Organizational members of the coalition include the Home Builders Association of Virginia, Inc., the Richmond Association of REALTORS, and the Virginia Association of REALTORS.”

In addition to the Help Housing Now package, VAR is supporting a wide range of bills to support Realtors during this challenging season. You can check out VAR’s full legislative agenda at (PDF download).