A law passed in Maine sometime ago regarding testing rental properties for radon is in effect as of March 1, 2014. To get “all the facts,” you’ll want to check out http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/rad/radon/hp-radon.htm.
For real estate licensees, this question arises at least several times. The application for a license is the same for sales agents, associate brokers, and brokers. Very close to the top you must decide:
CRIMINAL BACKGROUND DISCLOSURE
NOTE: Failure to disclose criminal convictions may result in denial, fines, suspension and/or revocation of a license.
1. Have you ever been convicted by any court of any crime?
And there are only two possible answers: “Yes” or “No.” There is no option “I’m not sure.” Given the warning that “Failure to disclose criminal convictions may result in denial, fines, suspension and/or revocation of a license,” you probably would like to get this right. (A similar question applies when renewing a license or applying for an agency license.)
The second time this arises is not a fixed event, but falls under Title 32 §13195 (that would be page 13 in the Maine Real Estate Law and Rule Handbook published by Abbot Village Press): “…criminal convictions… must be reported to the director no later than 10 days after…” In what will at first seem plain language, if you are convicted of (not arrested for) a crime, you have ten (10) days to so inform the Maine Real Estate Commission. As with most legal questions, the answer is not always as straight-forward as one might think.
There are some not so obvious cases that most people wouldn’t consider a crime. In a recent consent agreement a licensee agreed to a fine for failing to disclose a criminal conviction within ten days. His crime was “operating an unregistered motor vehicle.”
If you are surprised by this, raise your hand. I thought so. Since I was also I did a little research and found that there really isn’t a clear definition of which motor vehicle violations are considered criminal. The two answers I received that made some sense are:
- Consult an attorney.
- It should indicate whether or not it’s considered criminal on the actual ticket.
Bear in mind this also is not limited to traffic violations–there are fish and wildlife violations that may also be considered criminal offenses.
But there’s good news. We can make this complicated topic very easy. If you run afoul of any law and are found guilty (convicted), you don’t have to figure out whether or not it’s a criminal case, you can just report it. I suppose parking tickets might be an exception… but what I found in my research is that almost any violation can rise to the level of a criminal offense.
Understand I’m not providing legal advice, just being practical. Every so often I will cover Title 32 §13195 in a licensing class and see a deer in the headlights look accompanied by an “uh oh.” We have to remember that our licenses are privileges and that privilege is easily endangered when there is a “change in the conditions or qualifications set forth in the original application” that we fail to report. Remember, we’re not just talking about “bad” things–a change of address qualifies.
Some of the basic changes can be completed online at the Maine Real Estate Commission website. Some require the completion of a form and payment of a fee. Others (such as criminal convictions) can be accomplished by sending an email, letter or fax – if available, the notification should include the judgment and commitment document or decision/consent agreement for professional discipline. Be sure to keep a copy in your file–probably with your Continuing Education Credits!
Much like the wisdom we apply to property disclosures, “when in doubt, disclose.” Getting convicted for operating an unregistered motor vehicle doesn’t mean you’ll be disciplined by the Maine Real Estate Commission. Failing to tell them it happened could.
Every day is a new day; every day the world remakes itself in a myriad of ways–one of those truths that is both remarkable and at the same time stressful. Technology advances in leaps and bounds. Even how we view that new world changes. It seems the one thing you can be certain of is change. As a writer, I’ve always tried to stay very aware of how our language changes. An incident last week reminded me it’s tough to keep up.
A little background… as program director for Valley Grange, I get to work with third and fourth graders on an annual “Newspapers in Education” project. The short explanation is the kids design newspaper ads promoting Valley Grange. In an effort to make sure their ads contain the required information, we provide a “cheat sheet” that includes our official designation: Valley Grange #144. (The number indicates we were the one hundred forty fourth Grange to be chartered in Maine.)
The third graders had been designing and drawing intently with occasional requests for help when one called out, “Mr. Boomsma, do we have to include the hashtag?” I confess I suffered a moment or two of confusion regarding what she was talking about. (For those who don’t know, hashtags are words or phrases preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.) That symbol used to be the pound sign and somewhere along the way it became the number sign. But to this young lady it’s a hashtag.
I was in a meeting a while back during which a self-appointed expert took over the marketing discussion by assuring us all social media was the answer to every one of our marketing challenges. Those who disagreed were informed we “didn’t get it.” Contrast that with the person who proclaimed that there was no way she would ever have a computer in her home. I resisted the temptation to prove her wrong–she probably has several–a television and remote, maybe? I also haven’t told her she “doesn’t get it.”
Personally, I do have a love/hate relationship with social media and the talking heads assure me that I’m not an exception. There’s some data suggesting that people are becoming increasingly frustrated with Facebook. I do, however, accept the reality that it’s part of the new world order. I also believe that whether we love it or hate it, we really should be using it mindfully. To that point, I’d like to offer you some examples of “mindfulness” as applies to social media.
Do you know what (according to one survey) the biggest Facebook dislike is? Find out here! But don’t just read the biggest one, read the list. Even more importantly, ask yourself what you’re doing on Facebook? If you think you are using to build your business, are you also doing things people dislike?
At the other end of the spectrum, you’re eyes may glaze over at the detail included in this article about the seven biggest social media mistakes you may be making. There’s even lots of information about hashtags.
Mindfulness and curiosity go hand-in-hand. After you read those two articles, why not google (a word that is a relatively recent addition to our vocabulary) “Common Social Media Mistakes.” And to be truly mindful, remember the age old wisdom not to put all your eggs in one basket. If you spend all day on Facebook, you won’t reach the woman who thinks she doesn’t have a computer in her home. The problem with marketing is it’s easy to forget markets don’t hire real estate agents and markets don’t buy things.
I’ve recently added to events to my calendar…
Tuesday, February 25th I’ll be at Jeff’s Catering to teach “Transaction Troubleshooting” sponsored by the Greater Bangor Association of Realtors. This course is also approved by the MREC for 3 hours of continuing education. If you’re a member of GBAR and attend the lunch meeting in addition to the course, the fee is $23.00. If you don’t attend the meeting, the course fee is $25.00. Non-members and members of another board will pay $35.00. The class is from 1:30 – 4:30. Please preregister for lunch and/or class online at https://www.mainelistings.com/ExternalSites/CTE/Login. Please note you must register for this class by Wednesday, February 19, 2014.
Monday, March 3rd I’ll be participating in the ERA Dawson Mixer for folks who are curious about or considering a career in Real Estate. This is primarily a networking opportunity (with really good food–I love being invited to these!), but also includes brief presentations by folks working in the industry. I’ll of course be talking about the educational requirements. The mixer will begin at 5 PM in the ERA Conference Room, 417 Main Street in Bangor. For more information contact Julie Williams
at email@example.com or at (207) 947-6788. (Registration is not required, but helps with planning.)
And don’t forget–the spring Associate Broker Class starts on Wednesday, February 26 and the Sales Agent Class starts on Wednesday evening, March 5.
“What do I do in this situation?” is a continuing ed class I’ll be teaching on Thursday, February 13th at the Ramada Inn in Bangor. This is a case study based class with lots of discussion and some situations that just might make your eyes cross! There’s still time to sign up by visiting the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate website or calling the office at 856-1712. Additional classes will be available that day, taught by colleague Dale Midgely. Dale will be covering “What every real estate agent should know about financing” and “The A-Z’s of Rural Development Housing Loans.” Both include all the latest financing information… change is a constant!
Just a note–these classes will be held, we are not cancelling due to the storm.
For those who don’t know, the 200 letter was for years a standard practice assigned to newly licensed agents. Many agencies would help promote the new licensee with a press release to the local newspaper and require the licensee to develop a mailing list of 200 people, then send those people a letter announcing his or her new role as a sales agent with ABC Realty.
There was nothing particularly sacred about 2oo–although there has been some research done indicating that most people do, in fact, know at least 200 people beyond a nod and a smile. You’re supposed to include everyone you can think of… your doctor, auto mechanic, pet sitter, etc.
This does not exactly qualify as “targeted marketing” until you realize that we are in a relationship business. Fortunately (or unfortunately, in some cases) for many people considering a real estate transaction, they will first think “Who do I know?” and if they can’t come up with a name, they’ll start to ask their friends. (You’d think the question would be “Who’s the best in this business?” but it isn’t.) For the 200 letter this suggests we include two business cards–”one for you and one for a friend” along with the hope of reaching upwards of 400 people.
Personally, I think it’s still a valid approach to getting started. It’s admittedly gotten expensive–mailing 200 letters is going to cost close to $100 just in postage. But that’s still a small investment in your future business. Some of the factors that “make it work” are not “cheaping out” when printing the letter and cards, writing a letter that makes a strong impression, and some degree of repetition or reinforcement. It’s not just about getting started if it’s done correctly.
An alumnus of a sales agent class once contacted me because she was having trouble with her 200 letter. It seems she couldn’t come up with 200 names of people she knew and she wondered if she might contact her 600 Facebook friends and request their mailing address. I replied that I doubted many would send her their address and suggested she put more energy into thinking about people she knew outside of social media. If you have a name and town, you can often dig out the address with some Internet research.
We can, of course, debate whether or not she should have a “600 Facebook Post.” But before we jump on Facebook (the good news is the bad news–it’s easy) let’s get a good solid list of people we know. Maybe you can’t come up with 200–there’s a message for you in that. As part of your business plan, you’re going to want to start thinking about how you will network and make contacts. Remember, this is a relationship business. The more people you know, the more prospects you have.
Just don’t be obnoxious about making those friends, please. Years ago I knew an agent (not from this area) who would clip newspaper obituaries. She would at least wait until the body was cold before sending a letter “Sorry for your loss… if your personal situation suggests it might be time for a change, I’d love to talk with you about listing your home for sale…” No, I am not making this up. Yes, there are better ways of meeting people.
(If you’ve taken a class with me, you’ve probably heard me describe “undertaker agents” — those who drive buyers around until they either buy a house or die. The above example represents the other side of the transaction. The seller undertaker agent waits until someone dies to start a relationship.)
One of the failings of the 200 letter is in its name–it’s one letter to 200 people. Why not have a plan that increases those numbers? “I’ll send a 200 letter announcing my new career. Six months from now I’ll have met another (pick the number–50?) people so I’ll send a 250 letter with some market updates and a reminder that my business is growing…” To be really sophisticated, collect the email addresses of these people and consider how email might support the program. The 200 letter is really about starting (or altering) a relationship on a professional level. The wise licensee recognizes the need to nurture that relationship on an ongoing basis.
I hear a lot of complaints from licensees about the lack of loyalty in our business–usually after they’ve driven by a friend’s home and seen a competing for sale sign on the lawn. One of the reasons it happens is we’re not reminding them we’re in the business and we’re not giving them reasons to turn to us when the need arises. What’s your plan for doing that?
“A real estate broker or associate broker may not knowingly provide or offer an appraisal or opinion of market value, as set forth in section 14004, on real estate in a transaction where the broker or associate broker, or any other licensee licensed with the agency, is to receive a fee on that transaction.”
On first glance it would appear this prevents a licensee from completing an opinion of market value for listing clients since the licensee clearly expects to receive a fee (commission) when the property is sold.
In order to fully understand §13251, one must look at the body of the law including §14004 as applies to appraisers and be clear on client relationships. The intent of this law is prevent a licensee from completing an opinion of value for compensation on a property that is under contract within the company—the important words here are “on that transaction.” The best example of when this would apply is a short sale. Let’s assume that the listing agent works for our company and a buyer’s agent presents an offer that would make the transaction a short sale. In this example, the lender might well hire another licensee to complete a BPO to help them decide whether or not to agree to the short sale price. §13251 would prevent a licensee within our company from completing that BPO (Broker’s Price Opinion).
You can perhaps see how this could/would become a conflict of interest since our company will receive a fee if and when the transaction closes. The licensee performing that BPO would be working for the lender–the lender is neither the buyer or the seller and wants an objective opinion of value absent any influence from either the buyer or the seller or their agents.
Abbot, ME – The recently formed company Abbot Village Press has released a handbook of Maine Real Estate Law and Rules designed as a reference and study aid for students taking licensing courses and practicing licensees. The handbook reprints most applicable statues and rules with the added feature of an extensive table of contents that facilitates locating information.
Walter Boomsma, an instructor for the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate, edited and produced the book with the goal of making it “student friendly.” He explains, “The book includes a detailed table of contents that will allow students to locate information quickly. We are also using the capabilities of print-on-demand publishing to produce an actual paperback book. This means no more photocopying and stapling to make a copy that quickly falls apart and gets shabby. This is a book that is easily carried and readily referenced.”
The exact text of all statues and rules has been included with the intent of creating an educational tool more than a legal reference book. Included are MRS Title 32, Chapter 114—the Real Estate Brokerage License Act and the rules adopted by the Maine Real Estate Commission. Additionally, MRS Title 5, Chapter 341 and MRS Title 10, Chapter 901 are included as reference to laws pertaining to all professional licensing in Maine.
The handbook has application to all three licensing courses currently offered in Maine: Sales Agent, Associate Broker, and Designated Broker as well as many continuing education programs. In addition, real estate licensees and companies will find the handbook a handy guide to their daily practice of real estate brokerage in Maine.
Boomsma has been teaching real estate courses for over a decade and is a member of the Real Estate Educators’ Association. He is a licensed broker with Mallett Real Estate in Dover Foxcroft. He writes a blog of “brain leaks and musings” and last year wrote and published “Small People – Big Brains: Stories About Simplicity, Exploration and Wonder.”
The Maine Real Estate Law and Rule Handbook will be distributed through Abbot Village Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. For more information, please visit http://abbotvillagepress.com or contact Boomsma at 207 343-1842.
The long-awaited “Maine Real Estate Law and Rules Handbook” is in the final proofing stages and should be available before the month is over! The official description:
Maine Real Estate Law and Rules Handbook is designed as a reference and study aid for students taking licensing courses and practicing licensees. The handbook reprints most applicable statues and rules with the added feature of an extensive table of contents that facilitates locating information. The exact text of all statues and rules has been included with the intent of creating an educational tool more than a legal reference book. As such, some extraneous references and repealed sections have been eliminated, making the book efficient and “user friendly.”
This Handbook has application to all three licensing courses currently offered in Maine: Sales Agent, Associate Broker, and Designated Broker as well as many continuing education programs. In addition, licensees will find the handbook a handy guide to their daily practice of real estate brokerage in Maine.
Included are MRS Title 32, Chapter 114—the Real Estate Brokerage License Act and the rules adopted by the Maine Real Estate Commission. Additionally, MRS Title 5, Chapter 341 and MRS Title 10, Chapter 901 are included as reference to laws pertaining to all professional licensing in Maine.
My goal is to have it available for purchase from Amazon by the end of January… let’s see if I make it!
The holidays are a great time to say “thank you!” I’ve enjoyed your confidence and friendship this past year and it is satisfying to know that a lot of people—buyers, sellers, colleagues, affiliates and students—have achieved success as a result of our work together. As we near the start of a new year, this is also a great time to look back and ahead.
You’ll recall last year I announced my intention to increase the emphasis on the training and education aspects of my work. I also announced that I would be substitute teaching kindergarten through grade six at Piscataquis Community Elementary School.
A few weeks ago a fourth grader came to “my” classroom to visit after a day of subbing. In the course of chatting he informed me that “pre-k and kindergarten” were the best years of his life. When I asked why he replied “Because there wasn’t really that much I had to do…” I managed not to chuckle.
I suppose it could be considered cool that at nine or ten years old (going on forty) he’s figured out what’s important to him, but I really want to tell him “the best is yet to come.” At least that’s been true for me—while my life has been good, I can’t recall a period of time that was more fun and more satisfying than these years I am living.
A big achievement this past year was the release of my book, Small People—Big Brains: stories about simplicity, exploration and wonder. In the obligatory about the author section, I noted, “I’ve effectively started a new career as a substitute elementary school teacher. The kids haven’t run out of things to teach me. They may be small people, but they really do have big brains.”
In support of the book and my future direction, this year I created “Abbot Village Press,” with the idea that we’ll be “Maine’s number one publisher in Maine’s number one town” by publishing books and blogs with purpose. Several publishing projects come to mind and I suspect there will be a volume two of Small People—Big Brains. Perhaps I should issue a warning: “I’m a writer. Anything you do or say may be used in a future article or book.”
I have, of course, continued to offer real estate courses in association with the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate. Class enrollments continue to climb. This may well reflect a growing confidence in the future of real estate. While it’s not a focus, I also continue my affiliation with Mallett Real Estate and work with select clients on a somewhat limited basis. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are going to be involved in a real estate transaction as a buyer or seller.
This fall, the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative invited me to develop and teach one day classes for others who want to substitute teach! The class was offered in Milo and Guilford and we will be repeating it in January in Dover Foxcroft and Dexter. RSU 19 Adult Education (Nokomis) has asked me to offer several courses. I’m also having a lot of fun helping out with the Piscataquis Secondary School Pirate Specials Program designed to connect middle and high school kids with community resources and individuals who will help them explore career options.
One of the stories that didn’t make it into the book happened a few years ago when a second grader became exasperated with me and told me, “Mr. Boomsma, you need to focus.” It helps if you picture her with hands on the sides of her face mimicking the blinders horses wear. At the time, I thought I was very busy. She rightly recognized I wasn’t busy. I just wasn’t doing such a good job of handling multiple priorities. (You can read the entire story on my brain leaks and musings site.)
Unfortunately, I’ve lost a cartoon I had that showed a fish climbing out of a lake and saying to an animal standing on the shore, “Outta my way, pal. I’m evolving.” I’d like to think that while these are some very good years, the best is yet to come. I’m evolving!
Thanks for your confidence and support. Do let me hear from you… and have a meaningful holiday and a new year filled with health, happiness, and prosperity — make these the best years of your life! Evolve!
(aka “Mr. Boomsma”)