Point of view – Rebecca Straley, Fathom Realty


Michael & Rebecca Straley

Instructor Training Institute (March 2-5, 2015)

After much anticipation the day had arrived, and I was in my seat at 8:30 a.m. at the Virginia Association of REALTORS®. Lili Paulk had books and assignments ready for each student and Dale Carlton, CRS National President was our class instructor. There were ten students and we sat in a u-shape formation, with chairs and tables for note taking, assembling, writing and reading projects.

It was exciting to see who we knew, and assess the situation as Dale stood back, leaning on the podium, observing I assume. At 8:30 – 8:35 am, he pulls up a chair sitting in the center of the room in a rather quiet voice starts asking questions.

There were many things I learned and recommend you learn, if you are seriously considering being an instructor or speaker. Speaking and teaching is not about you! People do not come to hear you speak, they come to learn and each individual has a different learning style. Dale says, “Education occurs when you don’t open your mouth.”

We interacted in a multitude of formats, thinking we were being educated in getting to know each other, use of props, soft sell, delivery methods, etc. but after each discussion the format changed and Dale would ask, “What just Happened?” The first half of the day, we actually didn’t know what happened. This class is like being backstage, behind the scenes. Finally, be the end of the day, “the class, the combined mental focus of many, is smarter than the instructor.”

The class intends for you to consider the student’s engagement, participation and interaction. We also reflect on student driven vs. instructor driven activities and when and how much this should occur. Pairs and groups, assessments, verifications and demonstrations are simply methods, but when applied with intention and timing these simple methods become critical skills and determine the learning outcome.

The crescendo is the development of a ten minute speech, which is evaluated and taped for your future use and your assessment of ways to improve.  I am more than motivated. I am intrigued.   It has been a week and I am still churning with the desire to learn and implement these critical skills into my unique style. To understand and practice the methods provides confidence in the implementation and creative initiative I can take forward into my future leadership platforms. You not only learn what to do but how to do it. You explore why you wish to do it, and dream forward to the opportunities that await for you, if you learn these techniques instinctively.

Without reservation, I recommend you set aside the time and the monies now to attend this class. It does not matter, if you are a professional or a “wanna-be”, you will incorporate critical skills based on your ability. When the student is ready the teacher appears. You will each learn what you need to learn.

Instructors taking education seriously will attend and then return again. I know the ten students in the 2015 class were “blown away” with the depth of thought and our increased ability to structure objectives and deliver the message.

by Rebecca Straley, Fathom Realty, Stafford, VA


Martin Briley – President and CEO of VEDP: Growing business in Virginia is a team effort


Join Commercial REALTORS®, developers, architects, engineers, and builders for the 2015 Virginia Association of REALTORS® Commercial Day. The event will include networking opportunities, great speakers and a commercial property showcase.

Featured speaker Martin Briley President and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) will discuss how Virginia continues to rank first among the states in the regulatory category because of its business-friendly government policies and strong incentive offerings.

VAR has expanded our annual event to include affiliated industry business leaders and public officials who work with commercial REALTORS® on a regular basis. Tickets are $20-VAR members, $30-non-members (table of eight is-$200)

For more information or to register now, please visit: www.varealtor.com/2015Commercial.

Date & Location:
March 24, 2015
10:30 am2:00 pm
University of Richmond – Jepson Center
101 College Road
Richmond, VA 23229


Three local associations complete their core standards

The standards were approved by NAR’s Board of Directors in May 2014 and replace a previous set of organizational standards. The purpose of the new standards: to raise the bar for REALTOR® associations and ensure high-quality service for REALTORS®.

The Virginia Association of REALTORS® wishes to congratulate the first three local associations who have completed and submitted their core standards:

  • Dulles Area Association of REALTORS®
  • Greater Piedmont Area Association of REALTORS®
  • Southwest Virginia Association of REALTORS®

NAR President Steve Brown has called the standards essential to the organization’s long-term ability to thrive as a trade association and advocate for its members and the industry. The standards are meant to ensure that REALTORS® get a solid value proposition for their dues dollar. Under the new rules, every association needs to maintain standards in the following areas:

  • Code of Ethics. Local associations are expected to have a viable, easy-to-navigate professional standards process for enforcing disputes.
  • Advocacy. Local associations are expected to strive for RPAC “fair share” contributions through dues billing or other means and to participate in state Calls for Action.
  • Consumer Outreach. Associations wil be asked to demonstrate their role as the Voice for Real Estate® in their communities through plans to share market data with the public, issue press releases, or sponsor community-building activities.
  • Unification and Support of the REALTOR® Organization.  Associations need to adopt a business or strategic plan with an advocacy component; maintain corporate documents, policies, and procedures; and enforce dues billing.
  • Technology.  Every association needs the ability to communicate using contemporary electronic resources, including a website with links to the other levels of the REALTOR® organization.
  • Financial Solvency.  An annual review or audit by a certified public accountant is expected to ensure each association’s financial health.

“We want to ensure unity within—and the long-term viability of—the 100-year-old REALTOR® organization,” Bushnell said in a presentation to state presidents in April. “All three levels of the organization must thrive together as a true and strong association, rather than acting as group of independent but federated organizations.”


It’s all about teams, ratings, and systems

What’s trending in the real estate industry

In our quest to keep our finger on the pulse of real estate and brokerage business, we regularly reach out to brokers, real estate professionals, coaches and tech companies about their challenges and successes, as well as observations about the industry. Here are some of the recent trends we uncovered. Some aren’t new but may be picking up steam; others are morphing into a new trend. Here’s the list:

  • Increased share for top producers. While obviously not new to real estate, research indicates that top-producing agents and teams are picking up more share of the business, more so than ever before. On the listing side of transactions, examination of MLS data shows that indeed the top 20 percent of agents have or are nearing an 80 percent market share. While this is not true on the buy side yet, the trend is clear that the most productive agents are garnering larger shares year after year.

• Consumers use ratings and reviews. Research also shows that all age groups of buyers and sellers are using rating and review sites to check agent performance data, even when agents have been referred to them. While Millennials use ratings more than any other age group, all age groups are using such resources and are being influenced by what they find. Anecdotal research from agent interviews confirms that consumers enjoy having access to ratings on agents and are influenced by those who have the most robust information from past customers and clients.

• Data mining helps recruiting. Several national and large regional firms are adding new agents to their ranks through comprehensive data mining and outreach programs. For example, while NAR reported that their membership grew approximately 4 to 5 percent in 2014, two of the national networks grew by more than 20,000 agents last year. Like top agents, they are getting smarter about using online tools, data analytics and focused efforts to grow their shares of the business in the United States.

• Brokers still aren’t using systems. Historically, only a fraction of agents, teams, brokerage firms and national networks use a systematic approach to the core functions of attracting and retaining new clients, customers and/or sales agents. Most of these activities are informal and did not rely on data analytics or systematic approaches. For the most part, when the market grew, then the business of agents and brokerage firms grew. For example, we know that most of the brokerage firms ranked on the REAL Trends 500 and Up-and-Comers grew only slightly above the national growth rates.

• Gain more market share through technology systems. Much has been written and said about consumer facing technology and transaction processing in the industry. Much less has been said about the advent of data analytics and emerging evidence that those agents, teams, brokerage firms and national networks that apply rigorous systems in recruiting customers and/or agents will gain more share, consistently, than those that don’t.

This is not to imply that personal relationships and culture don’t top the list of the attributes of the most successful realty firms and sales professionals. It is that those who develop both strong systematic approaches to growth and a strong culture are likely to have a brighter future than those who lack one or the other.

Written by Steve Murray, publisher. This article originally appears in the March 2015 issue of the REAL Trends Newsletter and is reprinted with permission of REAL Trends Inc. Copyright 2015


State legislators share insights, updates during HRRA panel discussion

State legislators Del. Barry Knight (R.-81st) and Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D.-6th) offered insights and updates from this year’s General Assembly session during a panel discussion held at Hampton Roads REALTORS® Association headquarters March 5. Virginia Association of REALTORS® President Deborah Baisden of Virginia Beach moderated the event, which was presented by HRRA’s Government Affairs Committee. VAR Chief of Policy and Advocacy Martin Johnson also attended and offered comment.

Knight lauded REALTORS® for their support of HB1804, which stopped a proposed underground petroleum tank clean-up deductible increase. Had the budget item passed, homeowners requiring removal or repair of a leaking underground petroleum tank on their property would have had to pay a $2,500 deductible, a 500 percent increase over the existing $500 deductible. Knight was the bill’s patron.

Lewis shared information on SB1317, seeking establishment of a Virginia Shoreline Resiliency Fund, a low-interest loan program to aid residents and businesses subject to recurrent flooding. The bill passed the Senate and was assigned to the Appropriations Committee in the House. However, it failed to pass out of Committee. Lewis received applause from the HRRA attendees for this proposed legislation to help those in flood-prone areas like coastal Virginia. Lewis said he would revisit the issue again.

Among other topics explored during the panel discussion, the men spoke in support of HB1493, which brings stiffer penalties to criminals who intentionally lure an individual to a vacant property with the intent to do harm. (The bill originally specified harm to real-estate professionals but was eventually broadened in scope.) The bill unanimously passed both the Senate and House of Delegates.

Knight and Lewis lauded the advocacy efforts of HRRA and VAR to protect private-property rights, and noted the need for cooperation and coordination in recurrent-flooding planning and support for Old Dominion University as the centralized flooding planner and model for the rest of the nation.

The men cited the importance of the increased bipartisan cooperation in legislature during this session and stressed the significance of constituents’ input and feedback to legislators through visits, phone calls, email and rallies. The panel discussion followed February’s REALTOR® Day on the Hill, during which VAR members from across Virginia – including 54 from HRRA – traveled to Richmond in support of the state association’s legislative package and to meet with legislators during the 2015 General Assembly session.

The Hampton Roads REALTORS® Association (HRRA) :
Ron Lovell | 757-473-9700 | rlovell@hrra.com

The Hampton Roads REALTORS® Association recently welcomed state legislators Del. Barry Knight (R.-81st) and Sen. Lynnwood Lewis (D.-6th) for a panel discussion exploring the General Assembly’s 2015 session. Virginia Association of REALTORS® President Deborah Baisden of Virginia Beach moderated. Pictured, from left, are: Knight; Terry Gearhart, HRRA Government Affairs chairman; Lewis; Baisden; and Rusty Hulett, HRRA chairman of the board

The Hampton Roads REALTORS® Association recently welcomed state legislators Del. Barry Knight (R.-81st) and Sen. Lynnwood Lewis (D.-6th) for a panel discussion exploring the General Assembly’s 2015 session. Virginia Association of REALTORS® President Deborah Baisden of Virginia Beach moderated. Pictured, from left, are: Knight; Terry Gearhart, HRRA Government Affairs chairman; Lewis; Baisden; and Rusty Hulett, HRRA chairman of the board

VAR President Deborah Baisden moderates the panel discussion

VAR President Deborah Baisden moderates the panel discussion


Gordon Dixon | 804-661-3445 | gdixon@hrra.com


Legislation proposed by Virginia Association of REALTORS® passes both House and Senate

All VAR legislative proposals put forth during the 2015 session of the Virginia General Assembly passed with overwhelming support.

“With the close of Session on Friday, February 27th we are immensely satisfied to see that all the legislation we initiated to help Virginia’s REALTORS® – and protect the rights of private property owners in the Commonwealth, will become laws,” said Deborah Baisden, president of the Virginia Association of REALTORS®.

“The members of the Virginia Association of REALTORS® sincerely thank our delegates and senators who listened to our requests, evaluated the merits of our proposed legislation and took action. We especially want to acknowledge the efforts of our sponsors who shepherded our bills through committees and on to the floor. We are proud of the fact that we worked with members of the General Assembly on issues that are of importance to all Virginians, not just to members of our organization,” added Baisden.

VAR Legislation Summary and Sponsor(s):

Making Sure Predators Get What They Deserve
1493- Delegate Jackson Miller & SB 1100- Senator Mark Obenshain
There have been several high-profile cases in the past year where REALTORS® have been lured into vacant houses and assaulted, raped, abducted – or worse. In each of these instances, the victim was lured to the property through contact from a potential “client” who wanted to see the property. This legislation ensures authorities have additional tools in place to prosecute individuals who knowingly lure or trap REALTORS® into these circumstances with intent to do harm.

Buyers Need to Determine if a Property Will Need Flood Insurance
HB 1642- Delegate Chris Stolle & SB 775 Senator Mamie Locke
Buyers, particularly in coastal regions of Virginia, should evaluate and determine whether the property they intend to buy will need additional flood insurance because they are located in a FEMA-determined special flood hazard zone. Currently, a flood certification is performed by the mortgage lender on every property regardless of where it is located in Virginia. This is part of the underwriting of the loan and to ensure appropriate insurance coverage is applied as required by federal law.

These bills amend the Virginia Code to add language to the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act that provides a “red flag” to a purchaser to exercise due diligence in investigating whether the property resides within a special flood hazard zone, including obtaining a flood certification.

Further Clarification to the POA and COA
HB 2100- Delegate Chris Peace
Each year, issues arise in the relationships of REALTORS®, homeowners, and POA’s and COA’s.  HB 2100 clarifies these rights and obligations and again limits what fees may be charged by an association or community manager.

Giving Homeowners and Property Owners a Fighting Chance with BZA’s
HB 1849- Delegate Danny Marshall
This bill will ease the process for a property owner to obtain a variance from a Board of Zoning Appeals, known commonly as a BZA.  This comprehensive measure includes provisions to allow property owners equal time at BZA hearings to present their case, to eliminate vague and uncertain criteria from the requirements, and to establish a statewide standard for hearing of a variance request from a private property owner.

Landlords and Property Owners Should Not Bear the Burden
HB 1424- Delegate Danny Marshall & SB 868- Senator Ben Chafin
These bills close a loophole allowing water authorities in two Virginia localities to place a lien on a landlord or property owner to pay delinquent water bills from past tenants before services could be restored.  With this technical fix, a landlord or property owner does not have to pay the past due bill of a previous tenant before a new tenant can have services activated.

Helping Our Consumers Recover Funds They Are Owed
HB 1965- Delegate Tom Rust
This bill fixes a loophole in state law that was hindering some judges from awarding money owed to consumers as a result of a ruling from the Virginia Real Estate Board.  With this fix, courts are now enabled to award general judgments, which are already allowed under the Board of Contractors.  According to the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations, the average judgment awarded in Virginia is more than $11,000 per ruling.

Making the VRLTA Even Better for Landlords
HB 1451- Delegate Jackson Miller
Among a laundry list of items, this legislation conforms the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act to the common practice of landlords accepting pre-paid rent from tenants who may not otherwise qualify. HB 1451 also allows landlords to maintain electronic records on “the cloud” without incurring liability.

Stopping the Underground Petroleum Tank Clean Up Deductible Increase
Budget Item
There was a proposal at the start of the General Assembly Session that would increase the deductible homeowners pay to have underground petroleum tanks repaired or removed, if they are found to be leaking. Currently the deductible is $500.  The Proposal would have increased it to $2,500, a 500% increase.

“The advocacy process works. Through our due diligence, ongoing education for our members about the issues, and making our positions known to our legislators, we can affect change and create laws that work on behalf of Virginia’s REALTORS® and property owners.” Baisden added.

Learn more about VAR’s legislative efforts on www.VirginiaRealtorsChoose.com


VAR members participate in grassroots advocacy for Speaker Bill Howell

On Saturday, members and family of the Virginia Association of REALTORS® (VAR) joined dozens of volunteers campaigning for Speaker Bill Howell’s 2015 re-election effort.

VAR volunteers went door-to-door handing out campaign literature, putting up yard signs, and collecting ballot access signatures for the Speaker to secure a spot in the June 9 Republican primary election for the 28th House of Delegate district.

VAR has recognized Speaker Howell as a “REALTORS® Champion” for his staunch support of home ownership and property rights in Virginia.

In 2015, VAR is rolling out an aggressive grassroots advocacy program to help elect candidates to office who are strong supporters of the real estate industry.  To learn more about the grassroots advocacy program or to get involved, please contact Anthony Reedy, VAR Director of Grassroots, at anthony@varealtor.com or 804-249-5719.

Heidi and family for Speaker's campaign 3.7.15

Speker Howell Group vols with Terrie 3.7.15

VAR Team at Speaker's walk 3.7.15


2015 Road Show: Lynchburg Association of REALTORS®

The Lynchburg Association of REALTORS® hosted the 2015 Professional Standards Road Show on Monday, March 2, 2015. Every year, VAR sponsors local training for Boards of Directors; Professional Standards and Grievance Committee Members; Certified Ethics Trainers; Executive Officers and staff; and Mediators to learn the concepts and management of professional standards.

For more information on attending a 2015 Professional Standards Road Show, use the following link: http://www.varealtor.com/2015ProfStnd.

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2015-03-02 011 Laura Farley


Fast Track 2015: Martinsville, Henry & Patrick Counties Association of REALTORS®

The Martinsville, Henry & Patrick Counties Association of REALTORS® participated this week in an annual festival that spotlights the region’s businesses and resources and promotes networking among professionals and residents. Fast Track is organized by the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and attracts over 100 participant businesses and organizations and nearly 5,000 attendees over its two-day run. MHPCAR sponsored a booth at the event and offered information on home buying and the value of using a REALTOR®. The association was awarded a grant from the VAR Community Engagement Grant Program to support the effort.

For information on the Community Engagement Grant or to share outreach stories, contact VAR Director of Community Outreach Jenny Wortham at jenny@varealtor.com or (804) 262-3755.

MHPCAR Fast Track Volunteers


Criminals targeting agents in homes will face stiffer penalties in this state

Editor’s note: VAR is leading the way to protect REALTORS® with legislation that adds stiffer penalties to criminals who intentionally lure an individual to a vacant property with the intent to do harm. The bill passed the Virginia General Assembly’s House and Senate last week. National real estate trade publication, Inman Select, featured a story about this ground-breaking legislation.

Virginia lawmakers get behind Realtor-backed legislation

by Teke Wiggin, Mar 4 — Inman Select

Virginia lawmakers have passed a Realtor-backed bill that can add up to five years to the prison sentences of people who commit crimes including murder, robbery and rape after luring their victims into vacant homes. The legislation represents one of the most muscular responses from the industry to heightened concerns over the safety of real estate agents. The Virginia Association of Realtors, which represents about 30,000 Realtors, proposed the bill in early January to help protect licensed real estate agents, citing “several high-profile cases” where Realtors “have been lured into vacant houses and assaulted, abducted … or worse.” “This legislation ensures authorities have additional tools in place to prosecute individuals who knowingly lure or trap Realtors into these circumstances with intent to do harm,” VAR said in summarizing the legislation. In its original form, the bill would have made enticing a real estate licensee into a home with the intent to commit certain crimes — including murder, malicious wounding, robbery and rape — a distinct and separate felony that would carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 20 years for a first conviction and a mandatory sentence of 40 years for a second conviction. The bill ultimately passed by lawmakers was amended to broaden the range of crimes covered, and to protect all individuals, not just real estate agents. The penalty for violating the law was also reduced, making an offense a separate and distinct Class 6 felony. Class 6 felonies in Virginia carry a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison and a maximum sentence of five years, “or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.” The bill — which passed the House and Senate unanimously, and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe — represents one of the strongest reactions to date to the dangers that real state agents face on the job. The issue of agent safety has remained a hot topic since the death of Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter, who prosecutors say was kidnapped and murdered in September after showing a home to a stranger. Reports of other incidents where real estate agents were threatened by strangers while showing homes, or received unnerving phone calls (including a number made to VAR members), have fueled the debate over how to reduce the risks agents face on the job. Some industry leaders have called for real estate associations, multiple listing services or real estate brokerages to adopt uniform, mandatory safety procedures. Requiring real estate agents to vet potential clients before meeting them for the first time, for example, could reduce incidents where agents are set up by criminals. If safety procedures are voluntary, proponents say, some agents will ignore them or take risks to gain a competitive advantage. Less than half of agents say that their brokerage has safety procedures in place, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors. NAR is developing a written policy for agent safety that will not be mandatory.