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Category Archive: ‘Realtor Training’

Shop Talk

I took in a good portion of the big realtor conference this morning via livestream.  They had some big hitters on stage too.

Rupert Murdoch delivered a 7-minute speech, and did some Q&A. He comes off as a proper gentleman, and he’s a good speaker for a guy who is 83 years old. But he didn’t deliver any bombshells, or make any big promises about taking on Zillow/Trulia:

Mauricio Umansky, the #1 agent in Southern California, also made an appearance.

He was asked about his experience with Zillow, and he said they did spend some advertising money, but found little benefit.

The average sales price in his Beverly Hills office is $2,800,000.  At that price point, he surmised that buyers and sellers would get referred to a top agent, rather than selecting a realtor who advertised on Zillow.

His office does all marketing in-house (he has 20 people in his marketing division), and agents in his office can pay an extra 5% from their split to have the company produce the marketing for their listings.


Tom and Mike Ferry were both there too, on stage together for the first time in eleven years.  Tom is Mike’s son, and the two of them worked together for 16 years in building Mike’s realtor training company.

Tom recalled the time he came to Mike with a multiple-choice proposal; to either a) sell the company to Tom (for a good price), b) create a partnership together, or c) Tom to leave the company to go start his own.  Mike chose c), and they have been competitors ever since – and you can sense that it’s still a little chippy between them.

If you are new in the business, check out both trainings – they’re good.


Zillow and Trulia were brought into many of the discussions, but no new insights really. will be working hard to put out a better product, and a group of major brokers back east are secretly creating their own portal.

I think the consumers use the portals to get free information about homes, not to hire a realtor.

It’s why Zillow will likely create their own set of ‘preferred agents’ and heavily advertise the benefits of hiring them.  The realtors will gladly pay to receive those warmer leads – throw in some special ‘listing enhancement’ kits and Zillow will have the complete package to sell to agents.

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Jim's Take on the Market, Realtor, Realtor Training, Realtors Talking Shop, Revolution, Speaker Panel, The Future | 0 comments

New Purchase Contract


The C.A.R does make some minor changes every year to our purchase contract, but according to Gov Hutchinson, the lead attorney for C.A.R., they haven’t made any wholesale changes in 12 years.  Gov was in town yesterday to review the latest version.

Here are my notes:

1.  The form is written by C.A.R. attorneys and is meant to protect realtors.  There are 10x as many lawsuits filed today as there were thirty years ago, yet the State of California’s population hasn’t even doubled in the same time.  Home buyers file more than 90% of the lawsuits against realtors.

2.  Buyers used to have 17 days to release all contingencies, but now the new boilerplate gives 21 days to release the loan contingency.  Most lenders can hit the 17-day mark, but it’s usually tight; so the 21 days is probably more realistic. But it does add a second contingency-release date, and more paperwork.  We surmised that in the real world, all contingencies might drag to the 21st day.

3.  The separate termite form was deleted, and its contents added to the ‘Request for Repair’ form.  Previously it was customary to include the termite costs in the original offer (and assigned to the seller), but now they will be a negotiable item after the inspection, as is the custom in Northern California.

4.  You regularly see these remarks, “Seller is exempt from TDS”, which applies if the actual seller is a bank, or a successor trustee who has in effect inherited the house.  But they are only exempt from having to use our specific TDS form, they aren’t exempt from disclosing everything they know about the property.

5.  There are times when the sellers will occupy the home for days or weeks after closing (a subject to which I will devote a whole post), but it is now stated in paragraph 9F that keys and passwords be delivered to buyer on the day escrow closes, regardless of possession.

6.  The big-screen TVs have been excluded for a while, yet their brackets remain with the property.  But this version added a second choice, if the box is checked – “[bracket] will be removed and holes or other damage shall be repaired, but not painted.”  This is on the purchase offer that the buyer is submitting, so they will be guessing on whether the sellers intend to leave the bracket, or remove it and repair the holes or other damage.

7.  If the buyer adds a phrase about intending to occupy the property for 12 months, it will negate the 60-day notice required to give a month-to-month tenant who has been living there more than a year. Instead, only a 30-day notice is required.

8.  There are two stigmas that are required to be disclosed – death and meth.

9.  Sellers have to disclose any insurance claims over the last five years – whether they owned it or not.

10.  This is a first – they added verbiage about what happens when a party won’t sign off to cancel a sale.  If either party fails to execute mutual instructions to cancel, the other party can demand that escrow release the deposit.  Escrow shall promptly deliver notice of the demand to the other party, and give them 10 days to object.  If they don’t object, escrow can unilaterally release the deposit to the other party.  The form authors couldn’t resist adding a final paragraph that escrow companies can still require mutual cancellation instructions at their discretion, which we’re guessing that most will do.

11.  This rarely comes up, but if a buyer cancels after releasing all contingencies, and the seller gets their deposit – he has to split the deposit with the listing agent.

12.  It is in the boilerplate that every dispute goes to mediation.  If both parties initial the arbitration agreement, then the dispute goes there instead of going to court.  Arbitration is cheaper, quicker, and private, but it is binding – there is no appeals of an arbitration decision.  If you don’t like that, then don’t agree to arbitrate.  Small-claims court is excluded, so disputes under $10,000 can go there for resolution.

Once a seller has a signed agreement, there are no back doors – if the buyers can perform, then they are buying the house.  Once the buyers release all contingencies, they are committed too – and will lose their deposit if they cancel later.  There is always joking at these seminars that nobody reads the contract – including the agents.  Get Good Help!

Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Realtor Training, Realtors Talking Shop, Thinking of Buying?, Thinking of Selling?, Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent, Why You Should List With Jim | 5 comments

Handling An Off-Market Sale

off-market saleOff-market sales have a nasty reputation, and deservedly so because the sellers usually get screwed by their listing agent who spoons the sale to their own buyer.

A buyer for an off-market sale is typically found from pre-marketing done by the listing agent prior to inputting the property onto our MLS.  The trouble starts when the sellers, in their excitement about having an offer, don’t verify that the listing has been exposed to the open market.  If the listing agent doesn’t present that as an option, and instead enriches him/herself unjustly, then they should be held liable for the resulting damages.

Here’s how I inadvertenly found myself in this situation, and how I handled it:

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 in About the author, Bubbleinfo TV, Listing Agent Practices, Realtor, Realtor Training, Why You Should List With Jim | 7 comments

Pocket Listings & Open Sales Data

pocket listingOnce lawsuits start flying over pocket listings (which limit exposure, and thus selling price), the practice should end quickly.  Agents don’t think there is anything wrong with them because they see so many other realtors doing it – heck, there are websites devoted to pocket listings! 

An excerpt from INews:

Their views on pocket listings were refreshing and unequivocal. Osher was particularly frank. The main takeaway: There is no place for “premarketing” or “coming soon” in an MLS-accessible market. If a home is being marketed in any way, it’s for sale. Limiting its exposure puts an agent’s personal financial gain at odds with a client’s financial return.

Possibly more striking was the conversation with Neil Garfinkel, a partner with the law firm AGMB in New York. In his personal opinion, those who engage in pocket listings are opening themselves up to potential litigation. A former client who felt they were led into a practice that didn’t maximize their financial return, and didn’t fulfill the agent’s standards of duty, will at some point be the bellwether for pocket listing litigation in the industry. Real estate licensee duties can be fiduciary or statutory depending on the state, but almost always call for a high standard of care for a client’s well-being.

While the liability discussion on that day centered on a single former client suing their personal agent, there are a number of much larger issues that seem to collide at this one point.

As real estate brokers and agents battle over opening large sets of agent production data to the public, the executives of most of the largest real estate companies seem to be signing on to the idea (Realogy’s and Re/Max’s CEOs concurred at Connect).

It’s becoming clear that the dissemination of agent sales data is becoming a question of “how” as opposed to “whether.”This new look into the practices of real estate agents and their brokerages will allow consumers to see everything their professional service providers do in a new light. Individual sales and practices will be boiled down into averages, probability and patterns.

Read full story here:

Posted by on Jan 25, 2014 in Listing Agent Practices, Realtor, Realtor Training, Realtors Talking Shop | 3 comments

Disrupting the Real Estate Industry

In the youtube video below, Galen lays out what it obvious to most – that disruption among big and small brokerages is underway.

disruptionFor years now, agents have set up their own office within an office, by calling themselves the (insert name) Team, or (insert name) Group. This creates their own brand, usurping the brokerage’s biggest benefit to agents – brand loyalty.  Brokerages and big franchises have countered by hiring every licensee they can find, corraling them in mega-offices, and hoping enough of them stick that they all survive another year.

These agent groups present themselves with the usual sexy imagery, and the consumers buy it.

But the changing brands and mobile talk only amounts to moving around the deck chairs.  There won’t be any real disruption until the consumer quits buying the slick imagery, and instead, demands top-notch quality service.

There are virtually no real estate video tours, no educational blogs, no insistence on truth-telling, and no commitment by anyone to lead the industry.  Once you see that stuff happening, then you can say the status quo has been disrupted.

Posted by on Jan 18, 2014 in Jim's Take on the Market, Realtor, Realtor Training | 0 comments

Real Estate Negotiating

negotiatingIt was noted earlier that after a couple years, most people don’t remember their exact sales price – buying or selling.

But, boy, is it critical in the moment!

The ego interjects itself on both sides too.  Buyers don’t want to overpay, and sellers think they are giving it away!

It is the agents’ job to manage the situation, and it’s a topic that doesn’t get discussed in license school.  What can participants do to make a delicate situation any better?

Act Indifferent – If you or your agent gets too excited, the other side will sense it and take advantage.  There is a reason why the seller or listing agent is present during home tours.  It’s primarily so they can learn as much about the buyers as possible – and use later.

Expect Them to Counter-Offer – Either side will want to improve on the last volley, so expect a counter – and if they don’t, then oh happy day!

Be Long-Headed – Plan ahead, and strategize what they will do with your counter-offer.  Be creative with the other terms to counteract your price.

Limit to Two Counters Each – If you can find agreement using fewer than four counters, then great.  But after each party issues two counter-offers, impatience starts setting in, and the frustrated will give up.

Agents Do Stupid Things – Agents want to be heroes and counter-offer over every little detail. Stop your agent from submarining your deal.

Two-Negotiation Process – If you can find agreement on price and terms, you are halfway home.  Next is the 17-day contingency period, and the second negotiation over repairs.  Leave some gas in the tank.  Sellers – getting a pre-sale home inspection and doing repairs in advance can allevate problems here.

Do you best to create a win-win, while keeping your eye on the prize!

Posted by on Jan 14, 2014 in Jim's Take on the Market, Realtor, Realtor Training | 0 comments

USC Ross Program in SD

USC Ross Minority Program in Real Estate is coming to San Diego!

The USC Ross Program is an executive training program bringing individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives together to solve complex real estate challenges.

Whether your interest is in commercial or residential real estate, in community redevelopment or urban planning, the Ross Minority Program will give you the skills for success in a vital and rewarding industry. The San Diego session will be offered over a two-week intensive period from October 7 to 18, 2013.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: September 26, 2013

The link to the website is:

For information contact Mary Peralta at

Posted by on Jul 19, 2013 in Realtor Training | 0 comments

Realtor Rating System

 Consumers love to rate the products they’ve bought, the movies they’ve watched, the restaurants they’ve eaten in, even the doctors they’ve visited.

realtor logoThe National Association of Realtors is testing a program that allows homebuyers and sellers to review the real estate agents they’ve worked with. Those reviews would be used internally by companies and could be available to the public as well.

The trade group is piloting a new agent rating initiative called the Realtor Excellence Program, and is hoping individual companies will adopt the program as a way to increase professionalism in the industry while lessening problems that can lead to litigation.

“I’m general counsel,” said Laurie Janik, who is heading up the initiative for the national group. “I’m looking at reducing liability. I want happy sellers and happy buyers.

“Right now we measure agent performance based on how many deals they did,” she added. “But was (the transaction) a train wreck?”

Online reviews aren’t anything new, and consumers have come to read them with more than a grain of salt.

Some online review sites, particularly those with negative opining on service providers like hotels and restaurants, have come under fire because readers are never sure whether a truly dissatisfied customer or just a jealous competitor is penning them.

The Realtors’ organization and Quality Service Certification Inc., the third-party technology company handling the surveys, thinks it has found a way to prevent any “gaming” of the system.

If a realty firm, or an individual agent, decides to participate, QSC will receive all information on closed sales, including contact information of the buyers and sellers.

QSC will then email or mail those customers a survey to fill out that includes 34 data points on topics like the agent’s negotiation skills, how long it took to sell a property and follow-up communication.

A realty company’s executives can then go into a password-protected online system to view returned surveys and see how the company, individual offices and individual agents are performing.

“That’s been a really flawed metric for excellence — how much business do you do,” said Larry Romito, QSC’s chairman and CEO, who recommends that realty firms require all agents to participate.  “We really need a balance of how much business do you do and how do you do it.”

Realty agents, Romito said, will improve the service they offer to customers because they know they’re being reviewed on so many metrics.

In addition to the internal system, agents can opt in to have their personal ratings performance put online for the public at QSC’s consumer website, While agents can decide what types of information they want displayed, it’s then all or nothing.

In other words, if agents choose to have customer comments displayed, all of them will be displayed, both good and bad.

Janik thinks the timing of this kind of review process is overdue but she understands the hesitancy of agents to have their reviews made public.

“For many agents, public ratings are like the third rail,” Janik said. “I think agents are scared to death of being rated.”

Posted by on Mar 24, 2013 in Realtor Training, Realtors Talking Shop | 2 comments

Third-Party Advertising

This long-time local broker is fed up with the 3rd-party real estate websites using our listings to make money.  It must be big money too, because there are now over 900 websites that advertise properties.

These websites (Zillow, Trulia,, etc.) are selling the advertising space surrounding each listing to other agents, making them look like the listing agent.

But does anyone frequent them?  Maybe Zillow or

This doesn’t affect Redfin or Zip, they are brokers who actually sell real estate.  He is willing to cooperate in our IDX system which allows each agent to distribute the properties on the MLS.

But it’s another sign of how chippy it is getting – our low-inventory environment is ripe for changes on how real estate is sold:

Posted by on Jan 26, 2012 in Listing Agent Practices, Realtor Training, Realtors Talking Shop | 31 comments