I took part in the North SD County Association of Realtors meeting this morning, entitled:

“How Your Brokerage Can Survive in Today’s Economy”

It was at Jake’s Del Mar and included a free breakfast, so I thought I’d participate for once, to see if there was any hope.  I have submitted my ideas to the association’s staff and board officers previously, to no avail. 

Because they made a point to ask what we think, I’m going to memorialize it here for reference.

Whenever you get agents together, you’re going to get plenty of whining, and few ideas.  After a long round of complaining about short sales, the current chairman knew he could call on me to change the subject.  He asked me to comment on technology, and off I went.

These were topics I covered:

1. Videos– Every agent should include a video tour of their listings – it’s free and easy with a digital camera and youtube.  Agents will say that they don’t know how to do it, but that doesn’t stop them from taking lousy photos.  Video tours are the future, yet they are currently banned from being in the MLS remarks, due to concerns about self-promotion.

2.  HomeDex– CSUSM’s Dr. Robert Brown was there to recite the most recent HomeDex data, his contribution to the real estate industry. But I noted how we don’t provide any interpretive direction or help – just spew data and let the consumer figure it out.  The realtors don’t know how to explain it, and if they just go around telling their clients that prices have been going up for four months, they’ll likely lose a client.

Just reporting data with no explanation or interpretation is not professional sales.

3.  Short Sale Procedures – I implored the local association to develop and inflict a uniform short-sale process.  It’s no wonder nobody likes them, each listing agent does them different, and you never know what to expect. 

If there was a set of procedures that every agent followed when negotiating a short-sale offer, at least we’d have some confidence there.  With no rules or regs today, the listing agents pull all kinds of shenanigans, causing many clients and agents to despise them, and short sales in general. 

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Shortly thereafter the meeting was adjourned, and I had a word with the chairman, Kurt Kinsey, who is a like-able guy and a 22-year veteran realtor.  We discussed the vaunted Shadow Inventory, and I mentioned the recent foreclosureradar stats to back up my thought that banks are not sitting on REOs.  The real shadow inventory are those who have received their notices of default, but haven’t been foreclosed yet.

Here are today’s numbers for SD County:

NODs = 11,700

NOTs = 8,595

REOs = 4,161, including 71 properties foreclosed today.

We know that a bulk of the 20,295 defaulted properties are in the loan-mod process, but I told Kurt that I think at least half of those could get foreclosed on during the next six months, and that demand is so strong that there should be a buyer for every one.

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Dianne McMillan, the CEO of NSDCAR, was next, and the first topic was enforcement – can’t we self-police ourselves and throw out the bad agents? She said that all they can do is fine up to $5,000, and make recommendations to the CA Department of Real Estate, whose complaint caseload is backed up 18 months.

I had to bring up you-know-who, the broker involved with at least ten cases of raising sales prices to enable six-figure kickbacks from the sellers.  Those actions have cost lenders around $4,000,000, and not only is she walking around free, she got elected to be a director of the association of realtors!

How she got elected was slick – her district has 300 agents in it, but only eleven cast a vote in the election.  Besides her own vote, she only needed to convince five people to vote for her!

I pressed Dianne on how this could happen, and she finally said that the people who vetted the candidates didn’t pick up on the previous problems. 

NOTE to all vetting people and companies – GOOGLE THEIR NAME!

Dianne did admit to reading my blog about the incidents, and her demeanor was less than positive.  She said I should get involved, but I told her I wouldn’t waste my time, primarily because the board coddles the new agents, to which she agreed.

There are other things – how about a feedback website?  They could sponsor a website where consumers could comment on their agent’s performance, just like on ebay, and if a comment was negative, the agent would have a chance to rebut.  But NSDCAR won’t do it because they need the dues, and as I was told the first time I brought it up a few years ago, “we’d just get sued”.

Or how about a thorough public MLS website, like in Houston: http://www.har.com/cs_body2.cfm 

Or how about a simple blog to interact with consumers and agents?

There were cards in the middle of each table that went babbling on about how the NSDCAR “is about to become the single most important source of professional support ever”.  We’ll see, it’ll take huge changes in the status quo to achieve it.

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Jim the Realtor
Jim is a long-time local realtor who comments daily here on his blog, bubbleinfo.com which began in September, 2005. Stick around!

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