Best Motivational Speeches

J.K. Rowling: “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination” (2008)  

David Foster Wallace: “This Is Water” (2005)

Simon Sinek: Live2Lead 2016

Fearless Motivation: “It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It” (2018)

Jim Carrey: Commencement Speech at Maharishi University of Management (2014)

Brené Brown: “The Power of Vulnerability” (2013)

Steve Jobs: “How to Live Before You Die” (2005)

Ellen DeGeneres: Tulane University Commencement Speech (2009)

Sheryl Sandberg: Harvard Business School Class Day Speech (2012)

Dan Pink: “The Puzzle of Motivation” (2009)

Denzel Washington: “Fall Forward” (2011)

Elizabeth Gilbert: “Your Elusive Creative Genius” (2009)

Charlie Day: Merrimack College Commencement Speech (2014)

Orlando Scampington: “The Pillars of C.L.A.M.” (2015)

Vera Jones: “But the Blind Can Lead the Blind…” (2016)

Jim Valvano: ESPY Speech (1993)

Kal Penn: DePauw University Commencement Speech (2014)

Charles Dutton: Speech from Rudy (1993)

William Wallace: Speech From the Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297)

Al Pacino: “Inch by Inch” (1999)

Sylvester Stallone: Speech from Rocky Balboa (2006)

Frank Oz/Yoda: Speech from The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Will Smith: Speech from The Pursuit of Happiness (2006)

Kurt Russell: “This is Your Time” (2004)


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2019 Real Estate Trends for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials

The 2019 real estate market looks substantially different than it did a decade ago. The housing market has evolved each year, as the new generation became first-time home buyers and the senior generation began to downsize. Each generation has different buying behaviors, preferences and goals that are influenced by external factors such as the economy, social norms, technology and government regulation. For example, Baby Boomers are waiting longer in life to downsize than their older Silent Generation counterparts in their senior years. So how does this affect the younger generations? 

In this article, we will examine the Baby Boomer, Generation X (Gen X) and Millennial generation demographics to predict their 2019 housing preferences, buying/selling behaviors and the hottest markets for each generation. 

1. Baby Boomers

Born between 1944 and 1964, Baby Boomers are currently between the ages of 55 and 75 with approximately 76 million individuals in the U.S.

A.   Downsizing later in life: According to a post by Trulia, “Baby boomers are delaying downsizing until later in life.” Why? They are living and working longer than previous generations. When they purchased their home 30 years ago, they made sure it was “perfect” for all their needs. They feel the same way in 2019, which is why they don’t have a reason to move.

·         Based on a study by, “85% of Baby Boomers indicated they were not planning to sell their home” in 2018. This trend will continue, inventory will become even lower in 2019 as Baby Boomers postpone downsizing; making it more difficult for younger generations such as Millennial first-time home buyers and Gen Xers looking to upsize to a bigger home.

B.   Downsizing preferences: When Boomers finally decide to move in 2019, they will differ from the older “isolated retirement home” trend of the Silent Generation. Instead, they will look for an engaging local community populated by a variety of generations. They want an active and walkable neighborhood that provides social clubs, community/activity centers, pools, walking trails, fitness centers, health care and more. “Their primary goal will be to stay busy and be social while remaining independent”, as stated in an article by

·         Renters: In the past decade, we’ve seen, “…the number of renters over 55 years old increase by 28%, compared to a 3% increase in renters 34 years or younger” as claimed by In 2019, the real estate market should see Boomer renter numbers steadily increase throughout the year.

C.   Hottest markets for Boomers: Phoenix, AZ; North Port, FL; Miami, FL; The Villages, FL; Punta Gorda, FL

2. Generation X

Born between 1965 and 1979, Generation Xers are currently between the ages of 40 and 54 with approximately 82 million individuals in the U.S.

A.   Tech-savvy upsizing: Gen Xers are ready to upsize and they are using the internet to research and communicate with others to do so. Though not as tech-savvy as their Millennial counterparts, they spend about 2 hours per day on social media looking for the latest news and keeping in touch with friends. Plus, they are more likely to use mobile than a PC/laptop when searching for a product to buy online (59% mobile vs 54% PC/laptop)

·         According to an article from, “Email is the primary means of messaging but they also like direct mail still…They like Facebook and YouTube, accounting for more than 1.5 billion YouTube views per day.”

B.   Upsizing preferences: Gen Xers are looking to sell their first home and upsize to accommodate their growing family. Their main focus in 2019 will be to find affordable housing in a family neighborhood where there are high paying job opportunities so they can grow their families, have education opportunities for their children and save money for the future.

C.   Hottest Markets for Gen Xers: Houston, TX; Miami, FL; Dallas, TX; Washington, DC; Riverside, CA

3. Millennials

Born between 1980 and 1994, Millennials are currently between the ages of 25 and 39 with approximately 95 million individuals in the U.S.

A.   Knowledgeable first-time home buyers: Millennials are more informed when it comes to renovations, repairs and real estate process than other generations. Since they grew up during the development of the internet, they are very tech and research savvy. They’re able to find ways to access important information such as listings, neighborhood reports, HGTV home renovation videos and other types of real estate information on their own. In 2019, they will rely on real estate agents to share information that they can’t find online such as neighborhood developments, local market forecasts, local housing regulations and more.

·         In 2019, your online presence will have a huge impact on whether a Millennial will hire you as their agent. Having quality testimonials, attractive social media profiles and online tools/resources are important factors that shape their decision-making in hiring an agent.

B.   Buying preferences: According to a article, “In 2018, 30% of Millennials purchased home for $300,000 and higher…That means Millennials and Boomers are competing for the same home.” Some similarities between the groups include a walkable and engaging neighborhood as well as a smaller home with upgraded amenities.

·         In 2019, they will account for most of the first-time home buyer market as they gain more purchasing power, acquire higher paying jobs and get married. 

C.   Hottest markets for Millennials: San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Houston, TX; Dallas, TX; Washington, DC

Generational housing preferences have changed over the past decade, causing a ripple effect in the housing marketing for 2019. Boomers waiting until later in life to downsize means less housing inventory, driving up prices for younger, first-time buyer generations (or those trying to upsize). This insight into generational trends and key differences can be leveraged to your advantage – approach and communicate with these different generations with a personalized touch, and watch your prospects turn into leads.

Article originally posted by Z57 Internet Solutions

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Employee or independent contractors: Should California brokerages be making contingency plans?

Brokers and agents in California need to start adjusting their roles as the law defining contractors v employees is upended.


With more than 1,000 Inman posts, Bernice Ross is a long-time contributor whose weekly column on real estate trends, luxury, marketing and other best practices publishes every Monday.

Brokerages and their independent contractor agents in California should prepare to redefine their relationships with each other in the near future as a result of several significant legal developments in employment law earlier this month.

A federal appellate court in early May clarified that a controversial 2018 California state Supreme Court opinion on employment status can be applied retroactively. The state Supreme Court opinion established a new three-pronged legal standard to determine whether someone is an independent contractor or employee.

The decision, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, significantly changed California’s established legal standards upon which businesses had relied to decide whether workers are independent contractors or employees.

After the 9th Circuit’s decision, the California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued its own opinion on how the California state Supreme Court’s new employment classification standard impacts the state’s Labor Code.

A lawyer for the California Labor Commissioner said in a letter to a question from an attorney at Bet Tzedek, a public interest law firm in Los Angeles, that the “ABC” test set out in the 2018 California Supreme Court opinion can be used in certain contexts as applied to the state’s rules on wage orders, which, as California State Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye explained in her opinion on behalf of the court “impose obligations relating to the minimum wages, maximum hours, and a limited number of very basic working conditions (such as minimally required meal and rest breaks) of California employees.”

The “ABC” test

The “ABC” test is already used by other state authorities such as Massachusetts to determine whether state wage orders apply to workers. It stipulates that workers can only be classified as independent contractors if the hiring entity can demonstrate that they’re:

1.       Not directing or controlling how a worker performs or accomplishes the work desired (either in a contract, or an actuality)

2.       That the work performed is outside of the hiring entity’s main business — for example, a plumber comes to fix your brokerage’s plumbing system

3.       That “the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade occupation, or business”

“When a worker has not independently decided to engage in an independently established business but instead is simply designated an independent contractor by the unilateral action of a hiring entity, there is a substantial risk that the hiring business is attempting to evade the demands of an applicable wage order through misclassification,” wrote Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye.

Having watched these and other developments unfold over the past few years, I worry that these developments may force California brokerages to treat agents as employees rather than independent contractors.

The biggest issue for real estate is the second test, which essentially says that if you’re a real estate agent who works for a broker whose primary business is selling real estate, you must be an employee.

What’s particularly notable is that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that “applying Dynamex retroactively is consistent with the state’s ‘legal tradition’ to apply judicial decisions retroactively,” as Justine M. Phillips, an attorney at the law firm of Sheppard Mullin writes in the National Law Review.

She added: “While the Court acknowledged that there is an exception to apply judicial decisions retroactively, it held that the exception is not applicable to the Dynamex decision.

“Rather, the Court reasoned that there is a strong presumption in favor of retroactivity, Dynamex only clarifies existing law, and that California state courts provide no indication of an intention to limit Dynamex to new cases.”

You should read Phillips’ full piece regarding potential liabilities and other actions you should be thinking about in light of these facts. (But before you panic and dissolve your brokerage overnight, just note that these developments aren’t the end of the story.)

Multiple companies and organizations are duking it out to preserve the status of the independent contractor both in California and in states around the rest of the country.

Having said that, the smart move for California real estate professionals is to create a transition plan now in case they have to make a rapid transition into an employee model.

What Steps Can You Take to Protect Your Business? 

If you’re a broker or an agent in California, start making a contingency plans that address how you will cope if you suddenly are faced with the prospect of converting all your independent contractors to full-time employees.

For agents:

1. Agents who meet the minimum wage threshold 

If you’re making at least $45,000 per year, the disruption to your business will be minimal.

You will have to negotiate a new compensation schedule as an employee. For example, this could be a basic salary (minimum wage) with some sort of bonuses or draw against commissions.

As an employee, your broker will be able to set guidelines about the systems and tools you use as well as sales quotas and performance standards. You will also be entitled to full-time employee benefits.

2. Obtain your broker’s license

If you meet the requirements to become a broker, begin studying for your broker’s license now.

This allows you to have the flexibility to operate as a solo brokerage. You could also affiliate with a consortium of other brokers who each have their own individual businesses, but share office resources, marketing, and administration.

In either scenario, you will need to set up an LLC or S-Corp with a taxpayer ID (EIN) for your business.

3. If you don’t meet minimum wage criteria

If you earn under $45,000 a year, you could be hired on an hourly rate basis to hold open houses, handle transaction paperwork, meet inspectors and appraisers, etc.

You could also cover for full-time agents who are on vacation, have conflicting appointments, or would like to take off evenings or weekends.

Your employer must provide you with breaks, withholding, workers’ compensation, and other hourly-rate employee benefits.

4. Referral programs

As more agents retire or exit the business, referral agent programs have grown exponentially.

These programs could now be used to help less productive agents transition into the employee model.

The agent’s leads stay in-house and are given to productive agents who will be most likely to close them.

For brokers

Brokerage models that would be least impacted by a shift to an employee model include:

·         Companies who already operate using an employee model.

·         Solo practitioners.

·         Agent team leads who have no independent contractor agents and are supported by full or part-time employee assistants and/or virtual assistants.

For those brokers who do not fall into one of these categories:

1. Have all agents sign an individual arbitration clause

Every California broker who supervises agents needs an individual arbitration clause in their Independent Contractor Agreements (ICA) to limit their exposure to class action litigation.

2. Cut overhead now!

Reduce the amount of square footage you have devoted to office space and look for ways to cut overhead in as many areas as possible.

If your brokerage has been surviving on fees from non-productive agents, those will be going away. The time to slash expenses is now.

3. Who stays, who goes, who becomes full-time vs. part-time? 

If you have to move to an employee model, identify which agents would stay on (it will probably be the top 10-15 percent who earn at least $45,000 per year.)

Next, identify the second tier of agents who could possibly work on a part-time basis, and then the bottom tier that you will need to terminate.

4. See your employment attorney ASAP

Visit with your employment attorney to determine what an employee model would look like for your brokerage and to help you create a transition plan that you can implement quickly if need be.

Elements of this plan could be designed to fit with any of the agent models outlined above.

5. Consider making a move to a subscription plus a transaction fee 

Given how tight brokerage margins are these days, moving to a flat rate subscription model with a transaction fee may be more profitable than operating in today’s current commission model.

Agents could contract with your brokerage for compliance, transaction coordination, marketing, technology tools, etc.

Alternatively, you could unbundle these services and provide them on an as needed basis, especially to solo practitioners.

California has always been a bellwether for other states. The real question will be to what extent large brokerage models can weather this storm, and if not, how that plays out across their businesses elsewhere in the country.

Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War, once said: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”

It looks as if there could be an abundance of opportunity in the not too distant future.

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at and her new agent sales training at

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Enhancing Social Dynamics and Communication Skills In The Workplace

The behavior of the group resulting from the interactions of individual group members is called Social Dynamics. The management of social dynamics and their enhancement is critical to the success of teams at the workplace and therefore their importance cannot be discounted.

Along similar lines, Communication, which is the process of conveying the ideas, information, thoughts, feelings and concepts from one entity to another with the help of mutually understood signs, language and rules, is of immense importance in organizations. Effective communication facilitates clarity of roles and expectations, which are vital to organizational efficiency.

The following measures can be adopted by organizations for the enhancement of social dynamics and communication at the workplace:

  • Developing Familiarity and Comfort

Managers or Team Leaders should periodically organize team-building and bonding activities. Activities like team-versus-team contests, informal gatherings, or just simple outings like picnics or going to watch a baseball match together helps the team members in knowing each other better and develops a degree of comfort. They build solid informal relationships which, in turn, ameliorate their relationships at the workplace, thus providing a fillip to productivity and efficiency.

  • When in Doubt- Over communicate

Every member in a team works with a set of expectations or assumptions about their roles, their job and the social dynamics involved. However, when there is an inconsistency between the expectations of the individual and the expectations of the superiors or the team, there is a possibility of conflict, which can be highly unhealthy for the team.

Such friction can be minimized by clearing expectations via communication. Another noteworthy point here would be that over communication is always better than giving a brief, vague gist of the matter at hand, as the ultimate goal is complete clarity in the mind of the receiver of the message. Thus, the manager and team-members should actively focus on clarifying roles, tasks and expectations in order to prevent inconsistencies and to ensure the smooth functioning of the team.

  • Simplify the Complex.

Employees are constantly bombarded with information at the workplace, as are customers. Therefore, condensing complex thoughts, ideas and concepts into simple, memorable and easily comprehensible terms would work wonders for facilitating clear understanding of the matter being communicated. This may involve breaking down jargon into simple words and communicating the essence of the subject in terms which the team and customers and understand and act upon easily.

  • Be an Active Listener

Whether you are a manager, a team leader or a member of the team, active listening will solve a major part of your problems. Active Listening involves listening to others, paraphrasing their problem into your own words, and providing feedback indicating that you have correctly understood the message. Active Listening as a manager helps to resolve intra-team conflicts as well as tackle challenges on the job. Besides, employees feel more at ease when they know that their concerns are being heard and acknowledged, that they are actually being listened to. This helps build trust and cordial relations between the leader and the team members, as well as among the members.

Thus, a few simple techniques can greatly enhance social dynamics and communication at the workplace. Small efforts to ameliorate team relations and little steps towards better communication go a long way in enhancing both, managerial and team efficiency, which are the very basis of organizational success. 

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Is a deal worth going to prison?

As lending standards loosen, the environment for fraud — and cautionary tales — returns 


Whether you’re a rookie agent, a rising team leader or an established veteran broker, we can all benefit from sharpening our skills. Follow our “Back to Basics” series to learn fundamental strategies, tactics, philosophies and more from real estate pros across the industry.

When former Keller Williams and RE/MAX real estate agent Holly Pasut shared her experience of going to prison for a 2013 mortgage fraud case, my heart raced. Had it not been for good legal advice, this could have just as easily been me.

I remember clearly the day that I came to my office and noticed a dark Suburban parked at my office’s front door. Upon entering, I saw my receptionist with a shocked look on her face. Next to her were two serious looking men in suits, sporting FBI shields.

The crazy days of ‘liar loans’

For several years before the real estate crash in 2008, I was living was a Realtor’s dream. I had my own brokerage firm, with 12 agents, and life was good. Not only did homes sell quickly at record prices, but also the buyers often threw a fresh coat of paint on them and relisted them with you at an even more ridiculous price.

Even more astonishing was the fact that nobody seemed to get turned down for a mortgage, and the homes always appraised.

Even the fellow who cut my grass was able to qualify for a $400,000 mortgage with no money down. This was because he could declare any income that he wanted and didn’t have to provide any documentation.

Then comes the creative deal

In 2006, I got a call from the owner of a new small real estate company. He asked me about one of my ocean access canal homes. I met him at the home, and an hour later he gave me a full-price offer of $700,000. I was amazed because the home was overpriced by at least $70,000.

It was not uncommon, with annual appreciation rates of 30 percent, that sellers would price their home high and wait four months for values to rise. But this offer was unusual. Although the purchase price was $700,000, the buyer would get a 3 percent cash credit, and the seller would pay a 7 percent commission to that real estate company, and I would also pay a $30,000 referral fee.

To top it off, the buyer was doing 100 percent financing.

When I questioned the broker, he explained that the credits and commissions would be used to fix up the properties, rent them out and then resell them for a profit in about a year. Given the real estate market at the time, it seemed like a reasonable business plan.

Run to the attorney

I was fortunate enough to have an attorney who used to be a prosecutor for Florida’s Division of Real Estate. I blocked out the buyer’s name and purchase price, and then I emailed him the sales contract. I also advised my seller to contact his attorney.

My attorney responded that as long as all of the credits and commissions were included in the closing documents, there should be no problem. He doubted, however, that the buyer would ever get financing for such a deal. The seller’s attorney also agreed.

Not only did the buyer get financing, but this same buyer — plus two others — got 100 percent financing on another 12 homes. Seven of those homes were my listings.

How this scam worked

Although it appeared that this real estate company was simply making a killing in commissions, this group — the real estate company and the three buyers — were in reality sharing the roughly $100,000 in credits, commissions and referral fees.

The 12 homes purchased and financed at 100 percent resulted in about a $1.2 million windfall. Whether they ever intended to fix up and resell the properties is unknown, as the real estate market began to crash. However, with most of the purchases, the buyers only made a few payments, if any at all. The result was that all of these homes went into foreclosure.

Here comes the FBI

Although foreclosures were rampant at the time, 12 foreclosures involving the same real estate company and same buyers caught the attention of the FBI. A number of other local real estate brokerage firms and agents were suddenly getting surprise visitors — and they weren’t looking to buy or sell a home.

Their investigation lasted about a year. During that time, the listing agents involved were getting to know the FBI agents way too well and wondering if their phones were tapped.

In the end, the real estate broker, the three buyers and a mortgage broker all went to prison.

Tread carefully, and get legal advice

Like real estate agent Holly Pasut, many agents will encounter unusual or creative real estate situations in their careers. This doesn’t mean that they are scams, but you need to keep yourself protected by fully understanding the deal.

The return of so-called “liar loans,” where buyers simply state their income and may not have to provide much in the way of proof of income, creates an ideal environment for fraud. The last thing you want is to be connected in any way.

If you find yourself questioning a particular deal, talk to your broker. Let them run it by their firm’s attorney. You might also want to talk to a real estate attorney you know.

Jim Weix is a Broker Associate with The Keyes Company, Florida. He is best known as being the catalyst that brought about “MLS of Choice” nationally.

21 Contract Terms Every Agent Should Be Able To Explain With Ease

A cheat sheet for those who aren’t fluent in “Realtor speak”


Whether you’re a rookie agent, a rising team leader or an established veteran broker, we can all benefit from sharpening our skills. Follow our “Back to Basics” series to learn fundamental strategies, tactics, philosophies and more from real estate pros across the industry.

Nicole Solari is a top-producing broker-owner in Northern California whose regular bimonthly column, which covers real estate marketing, selling strategies and working with clients, publishes on Tuesdays. 

As we go about our business, we sometimes forget that clients might not be familiar with common terms agents throw around without thinking (aka Realtor speak).

We think any Realtor worth their salt should be able to explain every word of a purchase agreement (aka contact). However, some terms are more crucial to setting the stage for a smooth transaction than others. Here are the 21 terms we consider most crucial for agents to explain to buyers and sellers without benefit of crib notes.

1. Agency

This is the first disclosure that pops up in the offer package in California. Agency and dual agency are explained in detail, but sellers and buyers alike think the person they’re looking at is their agent. The state considers their broker their legal representative. Once they get that, they understand dual agency a good deal better.

2. Closing escrow

Sellers seem to be more confused about this term than buyers, maybe because buyers are facing a due date to fork over a large amount of cash. However, both buyers and sellers often think they have to actually do something on the date escrow closes.

You have to explain that everything — including the signing of any loan and transfer documents — has to be done  a couple of days before the scheduled date a sale is recorded. So, if they’re planning a big trip around that time, they need to tell you now! Otherwise, you too could be trying to arrange a signing at the American Embassy in Mexico during Easter week!

3. Contingencies

These come in three varieties:

Inspection contingency: The contract provides a default number of days to complete inspections and request repairs or compensation for major flaws uncovered by inspectors. If we have clients in a competitive bidding, we often shorten inspection periods to 10 days. If we’re getting well inspections or a geologic survey, we ask for more time because those inspections are never fast.

Loan and appraisal contingency: As listing agents, we provide supporting materials for the prices of properties and a list of all unseen improvements. If we believe there’s any chance a property won’t appraise for the offer price, we prepare our sellers ahead of time. They don’t have to come up with a response until that actually happens. But the more they know ahead of time, the less freaked out sellers and buyers get when something like a low appraisal occurs.

Contingency for sale of another property: Many sellers sat on the sidelines until prices for their property recovered from the housing downturn. So we’re seeing more contingent sales since that recovery took place. A contingent sale almost always requires a separate form that spells out seller and buyer responsibilities during the period one sale remains contingent on another sale.

4. Contractual timeline

The contract specifies deadlines for inspection and other contingency to be released, appraisals to finished, loan approvals granted and so forth. Our transaction coordinators extract this timeline and provide it to all involved parties. Having an electronic copy and a hard copy helps clients who bother to keep their timeline visible.

For seller and buyer peace of mind, we also send “here’s what to expect this week” notices to our clients.

5. Counter offer

Clients understands the concept of an offer; they’re less clear on counter offers. When we’re dealing with sellers who receive an offer that’s not quite up to their expectations, we let them know that any counter offer they make, by definition, is a rejection of the offer in hand. If they counter it, their buyer could find a property they like better, get cold feet or simply decide to walk away from a seller who refuses their original offer.

Buyers, by contrast, need to be aware that a counter offer leaves the seller in a position to accept other offers if they do not respond favorably to the counter fairly immediately.

6. Cancellation of contract

While all parties have ways to walk away from a deal, the most frequent cause of cancellations is buyers getting inspection reports that reveal major flaws the seller is unwilling to address. However, during the inspection contingency, buyers can back out without fear of losing any part of their deposit (provided all inspectors are paid).

Sellers have less flexibility to back out of a sale. But it can certainly happen if their buyer fails to meet deadlines on the contractual timeline. You’d be amazed how often we have to hound buyers to make their earnest money deposits!

7. Disclosures

Disclosures come in two categories:

Standard disclosures: Preprinted forms that address general, local and statewide conditions, and known local hazards (like earthquakes, fire danger, the presence of radon, etc.).

Property specific disclosures: In California, that’s the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) and Seller Property Questionnaire (SPQ). If sellers wonder whether they should disclose a specific condition, we generally answer “yes.”

The exception is the disclosure requirement for a death on the property in California. If it occurred more than three years ago, such passings do not have to be disclosed.

8. Earnest money deposit (EMD)

The EMD is commonly a percentage of the sales price held in escrow until buyers complete or cancel a purchase. In California, the liquidated damages clause in the purchase agreement protects deposits up to 3 percent of the purchase price provided buyers back out before all contingencies are released.

Disputes arise over monies held in escrow when buyers back out after releasing all contingencies. It’s essential that buyers clearly understand up front what the penalty can be for backing out of a deal at the last minute. It never ends well.

9. Exclusions and inclusions

These are items the contract doesn’t compel the seller to leave at the property. Appliances and other items included or excluded from the sale may be written into the listing agreement and/or purchase agreement.

The important thing is to label included and excluded items clearly to avoid post-sale disputes over something like a towel bar or mirror.

10. Escrow holder, title officer and escrow attorney

California buyers’ and sellers’ transactions are handled through title companies. Escrow attorneys handle transactions in other states. In any case, it’s important that sellers and buyers understand that there are intermediaries who ensure that the exchange of funds and recording of a new deed are performed in a neutral and timely manner.

In California, Realtors might recommend a specific escrow company and officer, but the choice is entirely the buyer’s. Your state might be different.

11. Legal name(s)

Over the course of many deals, we’ve learned that it’s prudent to request the clients’ legal names very early for use on all documents. If names and spelling aren’t checked up front, they can hold up a deal at the worst possible moment.

12. Mediation/arbitration

California buyers and sellers are compelled by law to submit any disputes to mediation. It is buyer’s or seller’s choice whether to select arbitration as the default next step should mediation fail. Most sellers let buyers decide whether to pre-select this step.

13. Mortgage/mortgage lender

Your buyers might select a lender and receive a pre-qualification letter from that lender before you ever connect with them. If not, getting them pre-qualified is the first step in the buying process. We might provide an introduction to a lender to get that all-important pre-qualification letter done. And we also ask those lenders to attest that the buyer has funds sufficient to close in their pre-qualification letter as this information is a requirement of the contract.

14. Notice to perform

This is the remedy when one of the parties to the contract fails to meet a contractual deadline.

15. Pricing properties

Contrary to critics who accuse Realtors of driving up prices, sellers set the offering price of their property, and buyers offer the price they’re willing to pay. Supply and demand work in every market. So, if everyone is realistic, those numbers will be close together. If one party or the other is unrealistic, there will not be the all-important “meeting of the minds” that must occur to strike a deal.

16. Prelim

The preliminary title report provides an early warning of any trouble spots in the chain of title. Agents — along with escrow holders — should go through the prelim carefully to ensure no title issues exist.

Finding an unpaid lien or other “cloud” on the title at closing is an ugly surprise. Avoid it!

17. Property taxes and other pro-rated items

Your escrow officer will explain pro-rated items in detail when they draw up closing documents for review. But there’s so much information to process and so many foreign concepts to become aware of that clients can easily be overwhelmed. You can head off some of that overwhelm by discussing these things up front.

18. Title policy and closing costs

As early in the process as possible, ask the lender and escrow holder to give your clients a general idea of how much closing costs will amount to. For buyers who take out a mortgage, loan fees add significantly to their closing costs. So they need to be aware of that early on.

19. Title

Defer to the escrow officer and do not try to “help” your clients decide how to hold title. The only thing you ought to do to “help” is determine early on if they’re purchasing the property on behalf of a trust. If so, they need to talk with the escrow officer about which trust documents will be required from them.

20. Walkthrough

The final walkthrough is a crucial step to ensure that any repairs promised by the seller have been made and that the property is essentially in the same condition (with the exception of those repairs) it was when buyers made their offer.

This is not the time to try to extract additional concessions. You can note, on the Verification of Condition form, if promised repairs remain unfinished. But advise your client not to hold up closing if work is in progress but not yet complete. If they refuse to close until repairs are complete, they should be prepared for an extended stay in a hotel room accommodating themselves, their kids, his mother-in-law and their dog.

21. Warranty

Regardless of how glowing inspections are, something always goes wrong with an appliance or system in the first year after a purchase. Having a warranty to cover such unforeseeable events benefits buyers and sellers — and their agents — alike.

In addition to their obvious benefits, home warranties can immunize sellers from accusations that they “must have known” about some defect the new buyer faces soon after close. The old adage “forewarned is forearmed” has never been more relevant than when a property is sold.

Just as home warranties are an ideal way to deter drama, getting clients familiar with all these terms as their deal progresses is the best way to avoid seller or buyer meltdowns.

And who doesn’t want that?

Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.

Resi Brokerages Sued Over Text Message Spam

Two South Florida brokerages face lawsuits alleging that their agents abused an automated texting service to market properties.

Steven Grossberg filed suit last month in West Palm Beach District Court against Coldwell Banker, alleging that he received a flood of unwanted text messages advertising the company’s listings.

The same day, Christian Larosa filed suit against Naples-based Marzucco Real Estate over similar claims.

The suits are seeking class action status.

Grossberg and Larosa are represented by the same lawyer, Michael Eisenband, who did not respond to requests for comment. Coldwell Banker also did not respond to requests for comment and Marzucco Real Estate declined to comment.

The plaintiffs in both suits claim that they were the victims of a platform called an “automated telephone dialing system” that sent “thousands” of text messages to them and others, channeled through a changing list of numbers that seem local.

Read the full article here.

OTV covers Cal Home Co Make a Wish Foundation Fundraiser

Cal Home Co. hosts a Pizza and Beer Fundraising Night Benefiting the Make A Wish Foundation.

This event was put on by Henish Pulickal and Jamal Helewa of Cal Home Co and EXP.

The goal was to raise money for Make a Wish Foundation to help kids with terminal illness have one last dream come true!

All-Inclusive Escrow – No More Hidden Fees!

Oakwood Escrow has ONE Rate that is an all-inclusive escrow fee.

We will never entice you with a low base escrow rate and then add a bunch of miscellaneous fees.

We will not surprise you at the end with wire fees, junk fees, archive fees, email fees, NO HIDDEN FEES!!!