REALTOR® Champion Profile: Michelle Dykstra

Michelle Dykstra, member of the Roanoke Valley Association of REALTORS®, is running as an independent candidate for Roanoke City Council in the May 3rd elections. A Roanoke native, Michelle and her husband spent time in New York and Chicago before moving back to Roanoke to start their small business. Michelle’s community activities demonstrate her commitment to improving Roanoke City. In addition to being a REALTOR®, she is a small business owner and the President of the Mountain View Neighborhood Association.

REALTOR® Michelle Dykstra - candidate for Roanoke City Council in the May 3rd Election.

REALTOR® Michelle Dykstra – candidate for Roanoke City Council in the May 3rd Election.

Michelle has been a REALTOR® for three years, working as a property manager for Hall Associates.  She managed the City Market Building during that time and under her leadership the civic space is now flourishing. Michelle’s REALTOR® roots go back even earlier, to her childhood, growing up in a home where her parents, Dick and Bitsy Davis, were both REALTORS®.

“Michelle Dykstra is a REALTOR® member and thoroughly understands our issues from economic development to transportation to regional cooperation,” said Donna Marie Harris, Roanoke Valley Association of REALTORS® President. “Her thoughtful responses to our questions are what we are looking for when supporting a candidate for Council. We are excited to support Michelle for Roanoke City Council.”

Michelle is running to be an innovative leader and fresh voice for Roanoke. Her platform focuses on encouraging economic development, supporting career and technical education, and making Roanoke’s neighborhoods even better. Michelle believes that city government should foster an environment that attracts new businesses while enabling existing businesses to grow and prosper. Michelle’s goal is to promote homeownership in safe and stable neighborhoods with affordable housing options for all residents of Roanoke.

You can find out more about Michelle’s campaign at her website

Michelle yard sign 18x24 one color

This REALTOR® Champion Profile is the first installment in a series highlighting REALTORS® who are running for elected office or who are engaged in other public service capacities. If you know a REALTOR® Champion who should be profiled, email your ideas to Anthony Reedy, VAR Director of Grassroots, at


Going DIY? Make Sure to “DIR”: Do it right

These days, it seems like everyone is looking for ways to save a few dollars while also making those much-needed home improvements. Thanks to YouTube instructional videos and HGTV’s ideas and inspiration, homeowners can now tackle a lot of home improvement projects themselves. And while those DIY projects are fantastic (not to mention impressive!), it’s important for homeowners to know their limits.

A new piece by the National Association of REALTORS®’ consumer website, HouseLogic, gives DIY-ers some solid advice for tackling those bigger projects, including the importance of thinking 10 steps ahead, steering clear from automatically choosing the cheapest options, and going DIY only when emergency help is available (NOT on holidays, when plumbers and electricians are often unreachable).

Best Money-Saving DIY Projects (and Tips for Doing Them Right)



New VAR Legal Hotline video: Fair housing

Legal Fairhousing Erin Barton 2016

Erin Barton, VAR Staff Counsel discusses updates on fair housing in this new legal video. Click here to watch the video.

April 2016 marks the 48th anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act. Each year REALTORS® recognize the significance of this event and reconfirm our commitment to upholding fair housing law as well as our commitment to offering equal professional service to all in their search for real property.

Erin is a lawyer and a former REALTOR®. She managed a successful team of REALTORS® and administrative staff while with Keller Williams Realty in Richmond.  She also most recently served as a contract attorney at McGuire Woods; Hancock, Daniel, Johnson & Nagle; and, Williams Mullen where she reviewed cases involving antitrust issues, SEC violations, Insurance and Fraud.

Free member webinar: Sign-up today!
Webinar: Advertising Your Business the Right Way
Tue, Apr 12, 2016 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM EDT



Experience the sounds of your potential neighborhood

The phrase REALTORS® hear from so many buyers, “I want a nice house in a quiet neighborhood.” But, do they ever ask for a house in a neighborhood with sounds that make them feel good?

Imagine, if instead of asking you for a quiet street, your home buyer asked for a home where they could hear sounds that give them joy; laughter, birds chirping and music drifting out of car windows. That’s the idea behind Chatty Maps, a new sound mapping project from a Yahoo research lab in Barcelona. Unlike other projects that map cities by sound, Chatty Maps isn’t measuring volume or ranking neighborhoods as noisy or quiet. Instead, it shows the city across a spectrum of different sounds—as well as the emotions we associate them with.

Here’s what that looks like on a map: each street is coded with a color, and each color is assigned to a sound category (transportation, nature, human, etc.)

city maps

If you’d like to search for bustling 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, you’ll see that it’s blue—meaning it’s comprised of mostly human sounds. When you click, the percentage amount of those sounds and the ratio of other sounds mixed in will appear. A circular key shows the emotions that are associated with these sounds; calculating an “emotional profile” based on the sound percentages. In this case, 5th Avenue gives off vibes of joy and trust but also anticipation. Impressively, the researchers mapped this out for not only every street in New York, as well as the cities of London, Barcelona, Madrid and Boston.

Chatty Maps offers an alternate—and entertaining—way to look at the city where you live, but it also has some practical applications. The researchers imagine new wayfinding tools that not only offer the shortest route but also the one that’s less of an auditory assault. Urban planners might use the information to go beyond mitigating noise—instead looking into ways to design a sonorous city that make us happier and less anxious. Ultimately, there are many ways the landscape of city can improve the well-being of its citizens—even through sound.

Read the full article here.


Virginia REALTORS® impact communities through volunteerism

Hundreds of volunteer hours and dozens of charities… Virginia REALTORS® are committed to serving their communities and their neighbors. From raising scholarship funds to assisting with home repairs and handing out needed supplies at the holidays, REALTORS® devote themselves to improving the lives of fellow Virginians.

During this year’s National Volunteer Week, April 10-16, join an effort to inspire, recognize, and encourage people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. In continuing commitment to honoring volunteer service, the Virginia Association of REALTORS® (VAR) is supporting the annual Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards that recognizes the efforts of Virginians to uplift their communities around the state. Awards are given to youth and seniors, as well as to small business and volunteer organizations that exemplify compassion for community needs. Held each April, this event is a celebration of community involvement that benefits all Virginians.

Whether helping out a Habitat for Humanity Build, mentoring at a Boys & Girls Club, or contributing to Virginia veterans through Homes for Our Troops, Virginia REALTORS® have tremendous impact through volunteer efforts.  Do you know a REALTOR® especially dedicated to community service? Nominate him or her for the National Association of REALTORS® Good Neighbor Awards. NAR recognizes REALTORS® who have made an extraordinary impact on their community through volunteer work, celebrating their service and awarding $10,000 to a charity designated by the honoree.

REALTORS® are community ambassadors, committed to identifying and following through on opportunities to impact and improve the lives of their neighbors. For more information on VAR’s efforts, or to share your involvement in the community, email Jenny Wortham, VAR Director of Community Outreach, at



NAR Get Realtor® Campaign: What you need to know

What is the #GetRealtor campaign?

The NAR Get Realtor® campaign aims to define Realtor® brand value among the hyper-connected consumer audience, and particularly among up-and-coming generations of home buyers, sellers, owners and investors. Through this consumer-facing advertising campaign, NAR wants today’s consumers to understand that Realtors®:

  • Are their competitive advantage
  • Understand and have insights into local markets
  • See what can’t be uncovered in a simple online search
  • Are consumer advocates; they will fight for consumers’ real estate dreams

How did it come to be?
This consumer-facing ad campaign came to life after NAR ended a nearly two-decade partnership with their former ad agency and hired Boston-based Arnold Worldwide to initiate their new creative, digital, brand activation and strategy for this campaign.

How will results be measured?
Changes in consumer sentiments and intention to use a Realtor® will be tracked every 6 months by NAR to measure campaign effectiveness.

Who is the audience?
Consumers. As a consumer-facing campaign, all advertisements are directed to the consumer on behalf of Realtors® across the country. While NAR members cannot create and customize ads to use for their businesses, all members can join in on the fun by reposting and engaging with these share-worthy messages on social media. All digital and print marketing materials for the campaign are also available for download ‘as-is’ for NAR members to utilize.

What are the components of the campaign?
Consumers will be exposed to the campaign through five main advertising channels:

1. Social Media

Social Media is a large component of the Get Realtor® campaign, as NAR is focusing on the hyper-connected consumer. NAR has created separate consumer-facing social media accounts for shareable Get Realtor® content. Through the ads, consumers will be driven to these newly created consumer-facing social media sites:

-       Facebook Page: ‘REALTORS’

-       Twitter Account: ‘REALTORS’

-       Instagram Account: ‘REALTORS’

The content shared through these channels demonstrates the countless reasons why home buyers, sellers and investors should Get Realtor®.
fb 1

Facebook: Interactive Facebook postings allow users to “tap for sound” and “tap to reveal” a big truth about that beautiful home in the listing photo. It’s a great way to highlight the advantage a Realtor® brings to the table—knowing the property and its surroundings. These funny and shareable messages are memorable and capture consumers’ attention.

Instagram: The social media platform relies heavily on the visual aspects of a message. The Get Realtor campaign capitalizes on this by visually presenting words used in real estate that people who aren’t in the industry have never heard of. On this Instagram account, consumers see playful definitions of what the words sound like they could mean, and lead people to the real truth; they need to Get Realtor® if they want to succeed.

instainsta 2
Twitter: Twitter postings help maximize Realtor® visibility in social media and generate a meaningful presence in a key millennial channel. Postings engage consumers with information that they might not already know about home buying or selling, and demonstrate that a Realtor® can help them beat the challenges and obstacles along the way, especially when it comes information about a home you can’t see right from the listing.

2. Digital Ads

Digital advertising is essential in reaching the hyper-connected consumer. To make sure our target audiences are exposed to Get Realtor® campaign messages, web banners and digital videos are all tailored to catch the attention of consumers who rely heavily on their smartphones, laptops and tablets. These are available for download for all NAR members to use.

Web Banners

web banners

Online Videos

HouseOff! Bidding War and HouseOff! Home Inspection

3. Radio

These multiple radio spots (in English and Spanish) show consumers why working with a Realtor® is the best path to success.
:30 spot—Self Representation:

4. Print

Get Realtor® print materials showcase all the obvious and not-so-obvious ways a Realtor® adds value in both residential and commercial real estate transactions and how a Realtor® can help consumers succeed. NAR members can print these for publication or to distribute at events.

 Blueprint ads: Reinforce the value of using a REALTOR®


REALTOR® Value ads: Only REALTORS® complete ongoing mandatory ethics training, an important reason to work with a REALTOR® when buying or selling a home.

commerical ad

Commercial ads: Reach members and consumers involved in the Commercial Real Estate industry.

realtor value

**As established by the user guidelines, individual members CANNOT customize consumer advertising campaign materials but can use these materials as-is in their own outreach. However, members may utilize the materials as-is by downloading all materials available on these Consumer Advertising Campaign pages (like the print advertisements below).

5. Media Partnerships

Media partnerships help us create unique real estate-related content to engage consumers and encourage them to Get Realtor®. A few of these initial partnerships are detailed below; more to come throughout the year:

For more details on the campaign, visit the NAR webpage.

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Boland appointed to Fannie Mae’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council

According to an announcement from the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS®, Brad Boland has been selected to serve on Fannie Mae’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council, which advises Fannie Mae on how it can best support and promote affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families.

Boland, who currently serves as the Chairman of the National Association of REALTORS® Conventional Financing and Policy Committee, is a past President of the Virginia Association of REALTORS® and past Chairman of the Dulles Area and Blue Ridge Associations of REALTORS®.

You can read the entire announcement here.

Brad Boland appointed to Fannie Mae’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council.

Brad Boland appointed to Fannie Mae’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council.

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GSEs standardize condominium project questionnaires to increase consistency, improve process

Working together under the Uniform Mortgage Data Program®, an initiative undertaken at the direction of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (the GSEs) have developed standardized Condominium Project Questionnaire forms. The new forms provide greater consistency and clarity for lenders as they work to collect information to determine eligibility for mortgages secured by units in condominium projects.FHFA

Until now, condominium homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and condominium management firms were asked to fill out and update many different versions of lenders’ condominium project eligibility questionnaire forms, making it a time-consuming process.

For each mortgage secured by a unit in a condominium project, the GSEs require lenders to determine the eligibility of the condominium project. Project eligibility requirements include items such as financial viability, the residential nature of the project (for example, does the project also include commercial space, hotel operation, business income, etc.), and the ownership structure.

The following forms provide lenders with a convenient way to collect information from the HOAs about the condominium project in a consistent and easy-to-understand format:

  • Condominium Project Questionnaire – Full Form [PDF] (Fannie Mae Form 1076/ Freddie Mac Form 476), which provides a list of eligibility questions to support a full condominium project approval process for new and established condominium projects, and
  • Condominium Project Questionnaire – Short Form [PDF] (Fannie Mae Form 1077/Freddie Mac Form 477), which provides a shorter list of questions to facilitate a limited or streamlined review of condominium projects.With the new forms, lenders, HOAs and management firms will benefit from:
  • A streamlined process: The forms require information in a consistent format, regardless of the lender. HOAs and management firms will be able to complete either the full or short form once, and then easily update the forms as information changes, saving them time and effort.
  • Greater consistency: With clear and consistent terminology, lenders, HOAs and management firms will have a common understanding of the data needed for the condominium project evaluation process.
  • Faster, easier: Lenders are likely to receive the required information more quickly as HOAs and management firms become familiar with the standardized forms and can update the data more easily. The result is likely a faster turnaround as lenders gather the information they need for their project eligibility review.

Read the full article here.
FreddieMac-Logo FannieMae-Logo


New VAR Legal Hotline video: Rebates and Referrals

Legal video rebates & referrals (blake)

VAR’s Blake Hegeman covers “Rebates and Referrals” in this new video including:

  • May a buyer agent offer to rebate a portion of his commission to a client to get the buyer’s business?
  • May we pay a nonlicensed company for real estate leads?
  • The landlord wants to pay a “finder’s fee” to tenants who bring in other renters.  Can the landlord directly compensate his tenants in this fashion … even though a real estate firm is managing the property?

Click here to watch the video.

As deputy general counsel for the Virginia Association of REALTORS®, Blake counsels association staff and volunteers on legal best practices. Additionally, he teaches more than 60 educational sessions each year, writes the “Legal Lines” section for Commonwealth Magazine and answers the VAR Legal Hotline.


Sign-up for VAR’s free webinar on Advertising Your Business the Right Way


Webinar: Advertising Your Business the Right Way

Date: April 12, 2016 | Time: 10:00 -11:00 am


Are you confused about how to properly disclose your REALTOR® status in advertisements? Is that post on Facebook even considered an advertisement? What about your text messages? In this webinar the VAR legal team will review your advertising disclosure obligations under the law and the Code of Ethics. See examples of proper advertising disclosures in different types of media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Text messages, Business cards and more.

All participants will receive a PDF document outlining what disclosures are required in each type of advertisement.

You will learn:

  • What you need to include in your disclosures to comply with Virginia laws and the Code of Ethics
  • When you need to use advertising disclosures
  • Where your advertising disclosures need to be located
  • How to make the proper disclosures on Social Media sites

Click here to register for this webinar!

Presented by the Virginia Association of REALTORS®