Friday, June 24, 2011

For Safety's Sake #2: Does anyone know where you're going?

So you just got a call to show that property out on Old County Road: the empty one with the nearest neighbor ¾ mile distant. Practically salivating at the thought of finally unloading it, you grab a showing folder, jump in the car and start to head out there, hoping to make it before dark. Fellow said he had to see it today, didn’t he? Well, let’s get cracking!

Un-uh. No. Get out of the car. I’m telling you not to do it.

First of all, how many safety rules are you violating here? Before you’ve even left the office?

Think about it.
• Did you ask him to come into the office before you met him at the property? No.
• Did you tell anyone in the office where you were going and/or fill out an agent itinerary sheet? No.
• Did you ask anyone to go along with you? No.
• Did you suggest another day when there was more daylight left might be a better idea for viewing the property? No.
• Has greed gotten the better of your judgment? Yes.

Alright, should you ever meet someone at an empty property? Someone who just called your office? No. Have we all done it? Of course.

My point is obvious, but possibly life-saving. Try not to do that. Really try.

Make sure you sign out with details of where you’re going, who you’re meeting, what time you’re meeting them, etc. Leave this information with someone dependable at your office.

At the very least, tell someone where you're going and give them all the information you can about the person you're meeting. Ask them to call you in 45 minutes and agree on a signal word or phrase to let them know if you're in need of help. It would be great if your office had a code word which you could use when calling for help. Our office has a code which, provided the agent has access to a phone, tells whoever answers, regardless if it's the DB or the FedEx man, that there is a REALTOR in need of help.

Better still, take someone from the office with you. Grab someone who’s not too busy to ride along. There will always be someone who’ll be glad to do it for you, because you will return the favor someday.

Take cues from the caller. Why does he have to see it today? Why did he call so late in the day?

You have the advantage while you're still in the office and calling the shots. You don't have to go out there. Say you'll be happy to show it to him in the morning. Be sure to cover all your bases as far as your safety goes. Suggest, strongly, that he come to your office first. Tell him it's your policy. Your office policy, company policy, something to make it sound firm and official. Line someone up to accompany you. Pay attention to your gut feelings too. If more red flags than normal pop up, don't do it.

Granted, in Maine, most of the dangers to REALTORS come from environmental issues and equipment failures, but problems with people who do not wish you well are on the increase, and no commission is worth it.

Take care.

Mary Kuykendall is a REALTOR with Coldwell Banker Heritage Real Estate in Bangor; and the 2011 Greater Bangor Association REALTOR of the Year

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Maine Real Estate: It's about Quality of Life Value

A Member Perspective:

In the crazy days of the real estate bubble it became all about the retail value of real estate: quick turn arounds - grab it while you can - it's got no place to go but up - and less about the individuals. No doubt, real estate has a retail value but it is not the best value, I believe.

The real value of real estate is the Quality of Life value.

Where do you want to live; where do you want your children to grow up; are you happy when you drive up to the house after a long day's work? Those values should be the ones we should never forget, and yet it happens every time there is a Seller's Market. Buyers get in a frenzy and purchase just about anything and they expect prices to go up.

People forget that we had another bubble that burst in the early 90's. By mid 90's many believed owners lost about 20% of their value if they purchased in the late 80's - only if they sold. By the late 90's they were either breaking even or actually making money on their home investment. All the while, they were enjoying the quality of life generated by their homes - retail value aside.

I doubt that concentrating on Quality of Life issues would have stopped the latest bubble. However, it would have set the right expectations that the year to year change in retail value is less important than living in and enjoying their homes.

So, let's learn for the last time - single family housing should be about Quality of Life and not necessarily the retail value at any given time.

Submitted by Earl Black (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Town & Country, Bangor. Earl is also a past president of the Maine Association of REALTORS.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

For Safety's Sake: Clean Out Your Car

This is the first in a series of safety blog posts ...

Well, summer is upon us. At least, that’s what the calendar says, and that means changing over those safety items you carry in your car to the warm weather collection.

If you’re like me, you haven’t had to use much from your tool and emergency supply box the last six months or so apart from the screwdriver, hand sanitizer, jumper cables, and extra gloves, so it’s time to drag that thing out, dust the road salt off of it and check to see what’s inside.

First of all, empty it out. Throw out the crumbled, half-eaten granola bar and the highlighters that dried up last July. Take out, launder, and replace the collection of rags and towels you use to clean off headlights and boots, and dispose of the wrappers from the chocolate bars that you'd like to forget you ate anyway.

Then the rusty “S” hooks from that sign on the land that never sold, the parking ticket, the (well, maybe don’t throw out the parking ticket, better pay that with a note of apology), the orphan keys, etc. -- put all these aside for later action.

Now clean it out. Really, I mean it. Clean it. Soap and water. Dry it. Now, let’s start over.

Put your tools back in. Check to see that they’re all clean and in working order. I know, what’s to check about a screwdriver? See that they aren't nicked or bent or that the Phillips isn't all smooshed from the time(s) you were determined to make it fit into the wrong size or type of screw. Make sure you have several sizes, Phillips and slotted. Spray all of these tools with a rust preventative and let them dry before returning them to the toolbox.

We’ll talk later about what else you should carry, year-round, in your vehicle, but are now concentrating on the warm weather things.

Top Five: Sunscreen, bug repellent, AfterBite or its equivalent, water, charged cell phone.

Always carry extra car keys ON YOUR PERSON. It doesn't do any good to have extra keys if they're locked inside the car.

Remember, being prepared for emergencies for yourself as well as in consideration of your customer/clients is not only good safety sense, it's good business.

Other than laundering the towels, this activity should take you no more than a half hour. Not a bad investment For Safety's Sake.

More in a few days.

Written by REALTOR Mary Kuykendall, Coldwell Banker American Heritage Real Estate in Bangor; who is also the 2011 Greater Bangor Association REALTOR of the Year.