Feb 132018
 

Here’s the course many of you have asked for… a blended version of the Associate Broker Course with workshops scheduled on the weekend! I just completed a weekday version and the students loved it!

This Associate Broker Course quickly reviews what you learned in the Sales Agent Course then does a “deep dive” into topics of interest to real estate li

censees practicing here in Maine. There is no textbook, and there are no “state” or “national” exams after you complete the course. You will

  • Complete 34 hours of online self-study — videos, audio clips, animations, knowledge checks, case studies, scored quizzes — at your own pace. You need high-speed internet access and a computer or tablet.
  • Attend four workshops. Take the scheduled workshops after the prerequisite online content for each workshop including case studies and exercises that you will bring to each workshop.
  •   Take a 2-hour final exam at the end of your last workshop.

Due to the online portion, you need to register at least one week before the first scheduled workshop (Saturday, April 14, 2018). There is some pre-work you must complete before attending each workshop, including the first one. This course could fill up fast! For additional information and to register, visit The Real Estate Learning Group Website.

 

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Jan 242018
 

As most know, I’m now an adjunct instructor with The Real Estate Learning Group and that means many new things… new approaches, new courses, and new course locations. Here’s a quick update!

I’m currently finishing up an Associate Broker Course in Bangor–this is the “blended” course which means less traveling and less classroom time. And the classroom time is much more fun because it focuses on things like application, discussion, and case studies. For those who are currently sales agents, my next Associate Broker Course is scheduled in April–and the workshops will be on Saturdays–something many of you have asked about!

I’m now looking forward to facilitating a fast-track format Sales Agent Course which combines learning in the classroom with learning online. The classroom workshops will be held in Augusta starting on February 3, 2018. We’ll spend four Saturday mornings in the classroom together, and students will complete online content during each week. This format includes lots of reading and requires self-discipline and commitment but those who can commit will complete the course in less than a month! What a great way to jumpstart that career in real estate you’ve been considering. Note that because of this structure, you’ll need to be registered and get started very soon…

For additional information or to register for either course, visit www.trelg.com. I hope to see you at a course soon!

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Real Estate Course Updates…

 Posted by at 11:25 am
Dec 152017
 

For those sales agents who are planning to complete the Associate Broker Course I will be teaching in Bangor, you need to “get with the program!” Thanks to my affiliation with TRELG, I’m now teaching a “blended” course. That means you need to register at least one week before the first scheduled workshop (Friday, January 12, 2018). There is some pre-work you must complete before attending each workshop, including the first one. For additional information and to register, visit The Real Estate Learning Group Website.

Similarly, if you or someone you know is planning to complete the Sales Agent Course I will be teaching in Augusta, you can’t wait until the last minute. Plan on being registered at least a week before the first scheduled workshop (Saturday, February 3, 2018).  There is some pre-work you must complete before attending each workshop, including the first. For additional information and to register, visit The Real Estate Learning Group Website.

Of course, you can always contact me if you have questions… Some questions that came up following my announcement that I was joining TRELG can be answered here! (Thanks to those who emailed or called with your congratulations!)

  • Yes, we will be offering an Associate Broker Course with the workshop portion scheduled on a weekend day.
  • A Designated Broker Course is in development and may be available this spring.
  • Thanks to those who sent congratulations and well-wishes!
  • Yes, I will continue to teach CE. (We are always interested in talking with companies interesting in hosting CE classes.)
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Dec 092017
 

Note: The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119. Licensees should be familiar with the Consumer Protection Bureau as it pertains to real estate financing and closing, but may not be familiar with the many resources available and issues addressed.


As a consumer or business person, you may be more familiar with the work of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) than you think.  The FTC deals with issues that touch the economic life of every American.

The FTC is the only federal agency with both consumer protection and competition jurisdiction in broad sectors of the economy.  The FTC pursues vigorous and effective law enforcement; advances consumers’ interests by sharing its expertise with federal and state legislatures and U.S. and international government agencies; develops policy and research tools through hearings, workshops, and conferences; and creates practical and plain-language educational programs for consumers and businesses in a global marketplace with constantly changing technologies.  The FTC’s work is performed by the Bureaus of Consumer ProtectionCompetition, and Economics.  That work is aided by the Office of General Counsel and seven regional offices.

To access tips and advice for consumers, military consumers, or business, click here, here, and/or here respectively.

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Think Twice!

 Posted by at 10:51 am
Dec 052017
 

The spammers and phishers are getting smarter and smarter… but they are still not the brightest bulb on the string! Here’s an email that could sound fairly enticing at first blush:

There are only a couple of problems with it:

  • I am not currently practicing and do not have any listings.
  • The grammar is horrible, another red flag.
  • The links I’m instructed to click on are “weird” sites that do not appear to have anything to do with real estate (I determined that by “hovering” over them.)
  • Etc.

Tempting, isn’t it though?

If you’re working fast slow down. Think twice.

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Nov 252017
 

In a recent Learning Opportunities E-News, I mentioned that a few changes have been made to Title 32, effective November 1, 2017. This obviously affects the “Law Book” published by Abbot Village Press, 2015 edition. I offered a handy-dandy insert summarizing those changes and a number of people have requested a copy.

We are in the process of updating the book and should have a 2017 edition available by early January 2018 at the very latest. In the meantime, I’m making the insert available right from this site. (Why didn’t I think of that in the first place!?)

Title 32 Changes 11-01-2017

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Safety Alert for Licensees!

 Posted by at 3:57 pm
Aug 222017
 

I’ve taken the liberty of reprinting this safety alert published by the Maine Association of REALTORS as it seemed worthy of receiving as much distribution as practical. You can’t be too careful!

Safety Alert!

Please be extra cautious of any inquiries you receive from a Ted Butler (tedbutler22@hotmail.com or 207.745.9939). MAR has received notification from numerous female REALTORS that this person is inquiring about properties in the Merrymeeting and MidCoast areas of Maine claiming to be a cash buyer and looking for waterfront properties, accessible only by boat. After an initial contact, sometimes accompanied by a woman, his communications become lewd and forceful. He has continued to contact the REALTORS via email and cell phone.

Yes – call the police. Please contact the Maine State Police, your county Sheriff’s department, or local law enforcement if you have had any interactions with this person/couple or any other suspicious interactions. Ted Butler may have already changed his name and contact information – and moved on to another area of Maine.

A best practice reminder for REALTOR safety: Always schedule first meetings with new clients/leads in the office, verify their identity by taking a photo of their driver’s license (state that it’s office policy), and introduce them to a colleague…”


Please share this with your colleagues!

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Jul 202017
 

Some years ago I suffered at the hand of an aggressive (abusive!) insurance salesperson. Part of his creative pitch was that he really wasn’t selling insurance. He ultimately became so obnoxious I called the state licensing department (this was not in Maine), described the situation and wondered if this individual might be violating the state licensing requirement. I was prepared for bureaucracy and a run-around so I’ll never forget the investigator’s response. “Well, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

The recent controversy regarding Zillow’s “instant offer” program reminded me of that experience. Among the issues being raised is “Does this instant offer program constitute brokerage and is it, therefore a licensable activity?” Of course, the debate doesn’t stop there. As more organizations and individuals have joined the fray, the questions now range from “Is this good for consumer?” to speculation that Zillow is trying to “disintermediate” (I had to look it up too) brokers and agents. Personally, I’m reminded of a high school debating class and learning that an often-used technique is “begging the issue.” Whether or not the “Instant Offer” program is good for the consumer doesn’t really determine whether or not it’s brokerage. What determines whether or not it’s brokerage requires looking at the law–not whether or not people (brokers, agents, or consumers) like it.

Somewhere between “if it looks like a duck” and an in-depth analysis of statutes and case law, we might find the answer. However, as I often say in class, “Sorry, I left my judge’s robe home so I’m not qualified to offer a ruling.” I do have a personal opinion. But here’s the thing: that personal opinion is based on the Maine Statute that defines brokerage. (Title 32, Chapter 114, §13001 2.)

But here’s the really interesting thing–in case you haven’t noticed. My opinion is based on a MAINE statute. Would it be the same if I were in any other state? As is often the case, there just might be more than one answer to this question–one reason I teach that there are always two correct answers to any question:

  1. “I don’t know.”
  2. “It depends.”

If you ask me whether or not Zillow’s program is brokerage I’ll give you both answers. “I don’t know. It depends.” I don’t know because I’m not that familiar with the program and it depends because the answer might be different depending on where I am when I answer the question.

And that leads us to something to think about.

While we can still say with some accuracy, “all real estate is local” another reality is that the business of real estate is becoming increasingly global. Anyone licensed in two different states will likely honestly admit it becomes important to remember the differences in laws and rules between those two states. Yes, there are many commonalities–but those differences can be significant. “The devil is in the details.”

It would be a keen grasp of the obvious to observe that the world is changing. Twenty years ago the technology didn’t exist for a nation-wide company to offer an “Instant Offer” program. A localized version might have been feasible, but the concern would have been (for example) “Can I legally do this in Maine?” It’s not that simple anymore.

Without creating a political discussion, I think issues like the Zillow question can make us wonder if we will come to see more federal regulation that will facilitate one answer to questions. We can, of course, debate whether or not this would be a good thing… and wonder what the motivation might be for increased federal oversight of real estate brokerage, but that somewhat begs the questions of “Where are we headed?” and “Are we sure we want to go there?”

Oh, by the way. Within 24 hours of talking to the investigator at the insurance division, I stopped hearing from the duck who was “not selling insurance.” His statement actually became true. He was not selling insurance. In fact, he was barred from selling anything resembling it in that state.  Sometimes things are pretty simple and a duck is just a duck.


A recent article posted at RIS Media raises even more questions and reports some opinions on this question.

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Jun 142017
 

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” is often attributed to P.T. Barnum although there’s no hard evidence he said it. There’s no doubt, however, that he was a self-promoter extraordinaire. An interesting discussion is available for those engaged in the practice of real estate brokerage–how much self-promotion of ourselves should we be doing versus promoting properties?

During one of those discussions with a student, he was quite adamant that whether we are promoting properties or ourselves, we should be using every available means at our disposal–it’s a fiduciary duty to our clients! His twist was “There’s no such thing as bad advertising.” My tongue was only slightly in my cheek when I told him that I hoped he was taping his business card on the wall of every public bathroom he used since business cards are cheap and a lot of people would see them.

Seth Godin, in a recent blog post, notes that marketing used to be done with care and caution, but now that getting attention (publicity) is easy and cheap, we are “like a troop of gorillas arguing over the last banana.” For those unfamiliar, the gorilla reference relates to a series of books by Jay Levinson on “Guerilla Marketing.” The premise behind the popular book series was that small businesses could compete by adopting unconventional methods of promotion. For an effective program, you didn’t need a huge budget, you just needed to have imagination, energy and time.

But you also needed to think because guerilla marketing works best when it’s targeted. Just because you can tape your business card on the walls of public bathrooms doesn’t mean you should.

Guerilla marketing is creative and fun, but it is still about building your image in a strategic manner–not just doing the quick and easy. Let me give you one example that is a personal annoyance.

Technology now makes it very easy to email information to diverse audiences and lots of people. All you need is a mailing list, right? And best of all, email is free! (That’s actually not true, but it’s a different discussion.) So a lot of folks started playing the numbers game. Some guy in Nigeria figured out that if he sent out enough emails suggesting he needed help getting his family fortune moved to the United States, some small number of people would perhaps be willing to help him.

So, yes, it does work. It works really well for the short term. But for every willing victim, there are thousands–perhaps hundreds of thousands–of people who are simply annoyed by his constant badgering and desire to take advantage of people. (Robo-calls fall into the same category when you think about it.)

For those who are using technology–email and social media–as a vehicle for promotion, it might be wise to consider the full impact of what you’re doing. I don’t maintain counts, but every week I receive at least a dozen or so “ads” from real estate licensees. These range from announcements of open houses to brochures that tie up my server because they are megabytes in size.  Some are for properties over 100 miles away. But that’s not what really bothers me.

What really bothers me is how many of these emails are in direct violation of federal law. You might find it mildly interesting that the term”CAN SPAM” is an acronym for “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing.” So sending unsolicited email is considered an assault–I can relate to the term while I delete them from my inbox.  What might be more interesting is that if your marketing and advertising program includes assaulting people with email, you’re risking a $16,000 fine by the FTC for each email you send that violates the act.

We can debate the effectiveness of the act, but it is law and many people are at least mildly aware of it. So consider that sending email that does not comply is also advertising your willingness to violate the law. It’s actually not a hard law to comply with, so do a little research:

  • National Association of REALTORS® offers a number of articles and resources
  • HubSpot offers a short list of do’s and don’ts along with some FAQs
  • FTC (Federal Trade Commission) offers a compliance guide for small businesses
  • Comm100 provides some detail and unintentional entertainment by using the word “complaint” repeatedly when they mean “compliant” — an interesting error for a company specializing in communication!

What are you telling your prospects unintentionally? This really isn’t just about the law. If you find receiving SPAM annoying, you might not want to send it! And if you don’t find it annoying, remember that a lot of people do! That’s one reason the law was passed. You might just distinguish yourself by doing it right.

 

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