I might be crazy…
- you decide!

 Posted by at 7:49 am
Aug 222016
 

comic-1583655_1280Every so often I find myself in a position where I ask myself, “Why did I do that, am I crazy?” While you may not be interested in my mental health, if you’re on the site looking for something, you might find things a bit out of whack. Let me explain. (The good news is, I can explain–so I’m not irrational. At least at the moment.

My two primary sites are currently undergoing significant changes. My Brain Leaks and Musings site is in the process of being migrated to a different server. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that migration means lots of updating and changes are required. Some of those changes are impacting my real estate site (this one) and, in general, I’m discovering lots of opportunities (not using the word “problems”) for change. Some are to improve the visitor’s experience, some will make my job easier. So, in short, if you can’t find something on the site or find something broken, please let me know.

The reason I might be crazy is that I selected absolutely the worst month of the year to undertake this. This is the month when fall courses must be scheduled and planned. It’s also historically the month I do much of my course development and improvement work. Taking on an additional project of this magnitude might be crazy, right?

In an interesting way, the decision to do this at such a “crazy” time is linked to mental health. As most will know, I teach a number of subjects in addition to real estate and, in my spare time work with kids. Several years ago I became a NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) certified mental health specialist for youth and adults. Since I am also gatekeeper trained, I began offering a suicide awareness and prevention course. Suicide is a serious public health concern. Maine is not an exception. Our state averages 196 deaths by suicide each year; in 2009 alone, 2,800 high school students and 4,000 adults attempted suicide while 6,700 high school students and 27,000 adults considered suicide.

In part because of this, a law was passed several years ago that request anyone receiving a paycheck from a Maine Public School system to complete this research-based course. Since I also teach a substitute teacher’s course, it made sense for me to offer the required Suicide Awareness Course through several adult education programs where I teach the Substitute Teacher’s Course.

This year one of those adult education programs opted not to offer the program and I needed to find a different venue. In that I have succeeded– and I’m really excited about the possibilities it will create. However, since the courses I’ll be offering at that venue will be sponsored by my company, Abbot Village Press. That means I will be handling the course administration responsibilities usually handled by the course “provider.”

So I need to develop an “online” system that will allow students to register for those courses. (Real Estate Courses will still be sponsored by the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate.) I’m working on it. But in the interim things might look a little messy and confusing. One of my many goals is to avoid creating confusion. So bear with me… and if you have any questions or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

2016 Fall Suicide Awareness Classes — A complete listing of available classes on this important subject.

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Aug 052016
 
Let's think about this.

Let’s think about this.

Since I’m not actively engaged in brokerage on a daily basis, I take some extra steps to make certain I’m keeping current with “what’s going on in the business.” I know all too well the hazards created when class content and delivery aren’t in tune with the current environment.

One of those steps is to scan the media regularly and consistently. Recently there have been some headlines regarding action taken by the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) that are at best misleading. One I saw this morning claimed “CFPB makes clear lenders’ ability to share closing disclosure.” Actually, the CFPB has proposed some changes to TRID (TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule). Until those changes are adopted, nothing has changed. The original rules remain in place.

In layman’s terms, the current rules adopted last fall created a reluctance on the part of lenders to share Closing Disclosures (a detailed statement of the buyer/borrower’s costs) with third parties–including real estate licensees. I suspect this stemmed in part from a desire to protect borrowers’ privacy. That would seem to be noble goal. But it was a change that did not sit well with some licensees who had become accustomed to the lender sending the previous disclosure (called ” the HUD”) to the licensees involved in the transaction.

Under the new rule, lenders were given strong confidentiality guidelines that actually go far beyond the issue of who gets the closing disclosure. Those guidelines increased the borrowers’ confidence that information about them and their transaction would remain confidential. Nothing, however, took away the borrower’s right to share that information with others.

Personally, I never understood why this created a problem for licensees. Under the new rule, the lender would send the closing disclosure to the borrower. The borrower would, if he or she wished, contact his real estate licensee and provide a copy for review and discussion. I informally polled some of my students and, while many admitted it felt like an extra step, no one reported a serious problem with the process. In exchange for what might be seen as an extra step, the buyer/borrower received additional protections and maintained responsibility for the the process. So the campaign to change this rule feels a bit like a solution in search of a problem.

Perhaps someone can help me understand why this change is necessary. The lines of communication between a real estate licensee and his or her client should be open and frequent. We say it often, “The agent (licensee) advises, the client decides.” Why would that not apply here? The information contained in a closing disclosure belongs to the client, not the licensee. This change might actually be seen as a power grab, taking away a borrower’s right.

We sometimes hear licensees “complain” that buyers and sellers do not accept enough responsibility for what happens in a transaction and are quick to blame the licensee when things go wrong. If that’s true, does it really make sense to take this step?

I haven’t looked at the specific language of the proposed rule changes, but a summary indicates the change will include (among other things) “guidance on sharing the disclosures with various parties involved in the mortgage origination process.” It seems to me that we already have that and we might think about what we’re doing and saying if we change that guidance.

 

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May 052016
 

067There are two real estate continuing education courses coming up next week… and one is for the first time ever!


May 12, Thursday, 9:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.
Market Analysis—More Than a Price**

What does it mean to complete a market analysis? In this course, we’ll look at the types of analysis that deal with more than a price. You’ll discover some untapped resources and ideas for developing more than a boilerplate marketing plan. This course is approved for 3 clock hours of continuing education by the Maine Real Estate Commission.


May 12, Thursday, 1:00 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Transaction Troubleshooting*

Every transaction has issues that crop up at some point. How do effective licensees handle these issues? What are the Licensee’s duties and opportunities in helping solve problems that arise? Can some of these issues be avoided in the first place? These and many more questions will be answered during this lively course. Topics will include clauses in a purchase and sale agreement, stigmatized property, handling of offers and counter offers, due diligence, earnest money deposits, and much more. This is an intermediate level course featuring lots of class discussion and input. This course is approved for 3 clock hours of continuing education by the Maine Real Estate Commission.


Register for either or both courses by visiting the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate website or calling the school at 207 856-1712. Both courses will be held at the Ramada Inn on Odlin Road in Bangor.

The instructor instilled a level of confidence in his teaching due to experience with the subject matter. I felt extremely comfortable asking questions in relation to the material presented. I have experience teaching/instructing and receiving such in six years of college. I have no issue stating that this instructor is among the top three I have had.

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Mar 262016
 

It has come to my attention that the article referenced in “Over the River and Through the Woods” is now only available to subscribers. A little “googling” has turned up another article that actually looks at the issue from a slightly different perspective:

Private Road Plowing Debated

This is not a simple, one-dimensional issue. For real estate licensees, the question may be more important than the answer because the answer will be different in different municipalities and situations. I’ve raised the issue because I suspect there are some concerns a licensee representing a buyer considering property located on a private road might need to discuss with his or her client.

For an excellent summary of some facts regarding the forming of road associations, read this article on Maine.gov.

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Feb 172016
 

The following notice came today via the Real Estate Commission Listserve:

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Beginning on March 1, 2016, Real Estate Commission licenses will be delivered via email.

Active licenses will be delivered to affiliated licensees’ designated broker at the agency email address on file with the Commission.

Agency licenses will also be emailed to the agency email address.

Inactive licenses will be delivered to licensees’ email address on file with the Commission.

The email sender is displayed as “noreply@maine.gov” and the subject as “YOUR OFFICIAL (license type) LICENSE IS ATTACHED”. Paper licenses will NOT be mailed for licensees with an email address on file.

Individual and agency contact information, including email address, may be updated here.


If it is not apparent, this does not mean everyone’s license will be emailed on March 1, 2016–this refers to new and renewal licenses. In the past, paper copies of licenses were delivered to the designated broker via U.S.P.S. This change means only that electronic copies will be now be emailed to the designated broker. (Designated Brokers would be wise to make certain their agency contact information is correctly listed with the Commission.)

The exception is inactive licenses. Since inactive licenses do not have an agency affiliation, those are sent directly to the licensee. The default method is email.

As a reminder, note that “The license of each broker, associate broker, and sales agent must be delivered or mailed to the designated broker and be kept in the custody and control of the designated broker.” (MRS 32 §13181)

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Feb 102016
 
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

A recent accident in Harrison, Maine involving a fire truck raises more questions regarding private roads, a complex topic that has always affected those dealing in real estate. In spite of recent efforts to clear up issues surrounding abandoned and discontinued roads, the legal and practical aspects of going over the river and through the woods can be daunting.

As reported in The Sun Journal, a Harrison Fire Department truck slid down a hill while responding to a carbon monoxide alarm, suffering major front end damage. Fortunately, the driver escaped with only a few scratches.

As a former volunteer firefighter, I can recall some heartbreaking calls when we found ourselves unable to reach a home on a private road that was poorly maintained–or not maintained at all. Those were simpler times and a call to the road superintendent would bring a plow, sander, or in some cases the town grader, even if the road wasn’t officially maintained by the town. But precious minutes were lost. Difficult judgments had to be made quickly–is this road passable? Am I going to risk people and equipment if I proceed?

Those decisions are no less simple today. If anything, they have become more difficult as entities and individuals must consider liability and legality. Some towns are adopting ordinances and policies to deal with these issues.

Property purchasers need to be aware of the potential issues and problems if access to the property is anything other than a public road. Since this is truly a local issue, research and diligence are required. Happily, buyers do not need to make split second decisions, but they do need to be aware that purchasing property on private roads always means assuming risks.

Reading the entire article will heighten awareness, certainly. And if you read all the way to the end, you’ll discover an interesting story of how some homeowners “solved” a problem with access to their properties.

 

 

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Dec 282015
 

 

board-928390_1280Here’s a summary of the real estate continuing education classes I plan to teach this spring. Note that most of the classes are part of a day or more of classes being offered by the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate and check their website for a complete selection.

January 21, Thursday, 5:00—8:00 p.m.
Getting Licensees and Appraisers in the Same Boat*

Are you assisting sellers and buyers in pricing residential property only to have the appraisal come in low? If so, this is the course for you. This course goes over the restrictions placed on appraisers and the methods the appraiser uses in determining value. The closer the real estate licensee is to using the appraiser methodology, the more the likelihood the property will appraise after it is under contract. The class will discuss amounts to use for adjustments, which properties to use for comparables, presenting the CMA to your buyer and seller client, and much more.


April  5, Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. —12:00 p.m.
Widen Your Horizon When You List  Real Estate*

Red flags are an important part of the real estate business. Real estate licensees are expected to disclose those things that they know, or should have known. Topics covered in this course include, property condition red flags as well as red flags when dealing with deeds, property restrictions, insurance, financing, building uses, purchase and sales agreements, etc.


April 5, Tuesday, 1:00 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Core Course for Designated Brokers*

As of April 1, 2015, Designated Brokers are required to take this course in order to renew their license. This would also be an excellent course for Associate Brokers and Brokers to take for three elective clock hours toward license renewal. Come to this course so that you will know what the Designated Broker is required to do so that you will be able to practice in a manner that assists the Designated Broker in doing the job properly.


May 12, Thursday, 9:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.
Market Analysis—More Than a Price**

This course is in development and pending approval by the Maine Real Estate Commission. What does it mean to complete a market analysis? In this course, we’ll look at the types of analysis that arrive at more than a price. You’ll discover some untapped resources and ideas for developing more than a boilerplate marketing plan. Further information should be available by early spring!


May 12, Thursday, 1:00 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Transaction Troubleshooting*

Every transaction has issues that crop up at some point. How do effective licensees handle these issues? What are the Licensee’s duties and opportunities in helping solve problems that arise? Can some of these issues be avoided in the first place? These and many more questions will be answered during this lively course. Topics will include clauses in a purchase and sale agreement, stigmatized property, handling of offers and counter offers, due diligence, earnest money deposits, and much more. This is an intermediate level course featuring lots of class discussion and input.


Thursday, July 14, 5:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.
What Should I do in this Situation?*

Case studies and discussion points are used to determine how selected situations should be handled by real estate licensees. The case studies and discussion points are discussed including with how they apply to Maine License Law and Rules as well as various other laws that real estate licensees are required to follow. Come and enter into the discussion and voice you opinions in this highly interactive program.


* Course is approved by the Maine Real Estate Commission for three clock hours of continuing education.

** Course is pending approval by the Maine Real Estate Commission  for three clock hours of continuing education.

All classes will be held at the Ramada Inn, 357 Odlin Road, Bangor

 

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Dec 252015
 

Holiday Greeting

My best days are still the ones when the phone rings early in the morning and I’m needed at school. The kids haven’t run out of things to teach me. They may be small people, but they really do have big brains and it’s fun to look ahead and imagine a world run by these future leaders.

I’ll never forget the day “Johnny”—a fourth grader with a fifty-year-old outlook—stopped by my classroom after most of the kids had left. It seems he wanted to have a “mature” conversation on a wide variety of topics. At one point he informed me, “Pre-k and kindergarten were the best years of my life.” When I asked for further explanation, he added, “Because I really didn’t have to do much.” I decided not to suggest that the best years of his life might be yet to come but they probably wouldn’t be about “not doing much.”

Have a meaningful holiday and a new year filled with health, happiness, and prosperity. It’s a busy time of the year and you probably have a lot to do, but you can still make these the best years of your life!

All the best,

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