Just Listed! 190 Butterfield, San Anselmo, $719,000

190 Butterfield San Anselmo

190 Butterfield San Anselmo

Your own private oasis awaits at this special property!  The sweet 2BR/1.5BA home offers so many possibilities!  Set way back behind outbuildings and across a bridge, you’re a world away at this well-maintained home.  Wood floors with a flat yard.  Great light and mature trees on a big lot, you will enjoy privacy and a wonderful lifestyle!  Outbuilding currently used as home office/studio with a storage room/wine cellar under…lots of room for gear, toys–perfect for people with stuff!  Sale includes approved plans for a 3BR/2BA single story expansion/remodel.  Close to trails, perfect for hikers, bikers and nature lovers.  Award-winning Ross Valley schools, you’re only a block away from Brookside school.  The perfect home base for your active Marin lifestyle, with a plan to grow as your needs change!

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San Rafael Resale Inspections, Point of Sale Sewer Lateral Inspections and SASM, Upcoming CAR Meetings. MAR Monday Memo 04/21/14

Good morning MAR members! Happy Easter, Happy Earth Day!

With tax day blessedly behind us…so many buyers, so few houses, where is the inventory? Likely many listings in the coming weeks, but way more buyers than houses right now! The practice of auction-like pricing seems reasonable for our sellers, but it’s making so much work for so many whose buyers don’t really have a shot. Ten offers means nine sets buyers, nine agents and probably 7-8 mortgage brokers who all come away empty-handed. At least we’re all staying busy…

Last week’s big news–that the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin is considering a model ordinance for the various agencies that fall under its advisory umbrella–generated a lot of discussion among our member community. MAR has been in touch with many relevant stakeholders, sharing our opinion that point-of-sale inspections are not the solution. Point of sale inspections will result in a 47-year resolution to an immediate problem, and the very real and substantial issue of shared laterals leaves many unanswered questions. SASM needs to come up with a real plan. The vote that was going to occur last Thursday did not occur, and SASM is seeking more of MAR’s input into the process. Stay tuned.

The other big continuing issue is the ongoing San Rafael resale inspection matter. Thank you to all of you who have contacted me with feedback. It’s edged every other matter aside as far as feedback is concerned. I literally get several calls a day. While every individual case is different, MAR is advocating on our collective behalf.

To that end, MAR CEO Andy Fegley and I met last Wednesday with San Rafael City Manager Linda Mackel, and two key members of her team: Paul Jensen, the Community Development Director, and Thomas Ahrens, head of the building department. I’ll describe it as a good meeting, but with a lot of loose ends that remain untied. But they did give us an hour, and listened intently to our feedback and they took a lot of notes and asked a lot of questions.

Again, thank you for all of your feedback as I had a ton of specific, timely, recent info to share. They were largely aware of every case we discussed. They also acknowledged that there has been a material uptick in the complaints with the enforcement process, though City Manager Nancy Mackel did not seem to be aware of the magnitude of homeowner and MAR member frustration.

My message remained simple: (1) It is because of San Rafael’s decision to have resale inspections that we find ourselves where we are; (2) there is no statewide regulation calling for resale inspections, and most municipalities don’t have the requirement; (3) because of San Rafael’s requirement for resale inspections, we all put a lot of weight in their content, and people inform what is often the largest financial decision they make based on the info in this report; (4) if San Rafael requires these inspections, and gets them wrong (in the past), and people make hundreds-of-thousands or million dollar decisions based on the contents, do not come back and penalize the new homeowner (and future seller) for mistakes or omissions that San Rafael made with its mandatory report in the past; (5) this new level of compliance enforcement for sometimes decades-old improvements are creating uncertainty, slowing escrows, and hindering commerce in the largest economic driver in the City of San Rafael.

The first Principle in MAR’s Fair Principles for Resale Inspections is “Consistency” and the second is “No Double Jeopardy”. We obviously have a current disconnect with these two principles right now. MAR is all for compliance, but if San Rafael is going to suddenly escalate the rigidness of its compliance requirement, it can’t suddenly change the way it does business and not expect substantial pushback.

San Rafael must create a smooth path to compliance, with allowances for situations, permit fees and penalties that exist today because of San Rafael’s mistakes and omissions in the past.

To his credit, Paul Jensen quickly followed up with us last Thursday to schedule a follow up meeting, and asked us for specific recommendations for improvements. I expect to be meeting with them again early next month.

Please keep sharing your stories. It’s hard to get resolution on every situation, or any one situation, but collectively they help me paint the clear picture of a broken process.

Finally, the California Association of REALTORS Spring Meetings and Legislative Day are next week. As I’ve said in the past, these are amazing meetings, particularly the Wednesday morning session when Governor Jerry Brown addresses the CAR Board of Directors, and later on Wednesday when the REALTOR Party makes its positions known and heard to our elected officials and their staffs. For more info on Leg Day, click here: http://www.car.org/governmentaffairs/getinvolved/legislativeday/. I hope to see many of you in Sacramento next week!

MAR’s members on the CAR Board of Directors include myself, President-Elect Matt Hughes, Katie Beacock (who is also Chair of CAR’s Region 4, of which MAR is part), Kay Moore and Mary Kay Yamamoto. If you have any concerns you’d like us to take to CAR on your behalf, please contact one of us. That’s it for now. I wish you a safe and prosperous week!

Blaine

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San Rafael Resale Inspections, Point of Sale Sewer Lateral Inspections and SASM, and Mike Di Giorgio. MAR Monday Memo 04/14/14

Good morning MAR members!

Let’s go Giants!!  It was great to get out to AT&T Park last week to see our San Francisco Giants back in action! 2014 is an even-numbered year, so let’s keep the tradition alive with another Championship parade down Market Street next fall!

So much to write about, so little space…another busy week at MAR.

MAR was saddened to learn last week of the passing of MAR member and Novato community icon Mike Di Giorgio.  I had the pleasure of serving on MAR’s Governmental Affairs Committee the last few years with Mike, who always had the unique perspective as an elected community leader.  Sometimes as the rants on a local issue would reach a fevered pitch, Mike would be there with levity reminding us that these elected leaders generally are doing the best they can to satisfy many disparate interests.  Mike was at all three Government Affairs meetings this year, and none of us had any idea about the extent of his illness.  A true pro, and serving to the very end, Mike was there for his community.  He will be sorely missed at MAR, Novato, and all of Marin.

To that extent, MAR member Denise Athas asked me to share info about the memorial service celebrating Mike’s life.  It will be held at the Novato City Hall on May 5th from 11AM-1PM. Denise has been asked to speak at the service about Mike’s business career, especially real estate.  She is seeking anecdotes and personal stories that MAR members might have about Mike.  For those of you who might have a good story to share, Denise has asked that you contact her via email at DAthas@aol.com.

On to the business of MAR.

First of all, I hear you.  We hear you.

Several weeks ago I mentioned an unnamed municipality whose resale inspection process had seemingly run amuck.  It’s our good friends and neighbors at the City of San Rafael.  I hear you, MAR.  Honestly, I think I’m hearing from just about everyone getting a resale inspection in San Rafael this spring.  The story I hear goes something like this:  the seller of a house bought the house 4/6/8 years ago, and a resale inspection was conducted, with no problems noted.  Now they are selling their house, and San Rafael is coming out and finding loads of inadequately permitted work from before the seller purchased the home, and is demanding as-built permits, penalties, remediation, fines…it goes on and on.  I hear you.  It’s a big mess, and something has changed in the compliance requirements of San Rafael.  Or at least the enforcement of those requirements.

MAR CEO Andy Fegley has met individually with both City Manager Nancy Mackel and Mayor Gary Phillips in the past couple of weeks, and has shared MAR’s frustration.  Both Andy and I are meeting this week with Nancy Mackel and her team in the building department to give examples and share our members’ frustration with San Rafael.

Over the past couple of years MAR has crafted a policy called Fair Principles of Resale Inspections (you can read it here  ).  I encourage you to print out and read this, and also to print out a copy for your frustrated clients.  It’s a number of common sense principles, and most any reasonable person will think they sound pretty reasonable.  If our clients start quoting from this document as they work with San Rafael, it will lend more credence to our position.  We pushed back very hard at another town last year with this Fair Principles document, and issues in that town have quieted down to almost nothing.

I will report back on this next week.

Now, the Big News of the Week.

On the Friday before last, MAR CEO Andy Fegley was summoned to meet with the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin (SASM).  This is an advisory group with no direct authority but which seeks to steer the agenda of each of the smaller sewer boards in the general Mill Valley Area.  SASM is considering a model ordinance that among other things will mandate point-of-sale sewer lateral inspections…just like our friends in Sausalito have.

MAR, CAR and NAR are strongly opposed to additional point-of-sale requirements.  If you think the occasional water heater strapping requirement is a nuisance, imagine having to replace a sewer lateral before you can close an escrow.

Furthermore, it’s not a effective solution.  Did you know that it takes 47 years to turn over the housing stock in Mill Valley?  What SASM is suggesting is a 47-year-long solution to a current problem.

MAR supports coming up with a solution to this problem.  Point-of-sale just isn’t the way to do it.  Standard of care for our members has most of us doing sewer lateral inspections right now anyway.

To that end, MAR has provided SASM with a 10-year plan to resolve this problem.  A real plan.  They know where we stand.  There is a SASM board meeting this Thursday night, where they were planning to vote on this model ordinance.  Late last week, after learning of our strong opposition and what we plan to do to promote that opposition, MAR was told that the vote “might not come up at the next meeting.”

Stay tuned, MAR!  We may need your help to get our position heard loudly and clearly.  MAR has been successful in pushing back on sewer lateral point-of-sale inspections in the past, and we will do so again.

MAR’s Lunch and Learn Series

With the help of our valued affiliates, MAR is launching a lunch and learn series to aid our members with timely and useful info that you can use in your business today.  First up is Peter Posert of Sun First Solar.  On Monday, April 21st Peter will be presenting “Pathways to Solar Power, All You Need to Know about Solar Power for your Clients”.  Click here to sign up for this event , and look for more Lunch and Learn sessions throughout the coming year.

Finally, I also want to make good on a promise I made to MAR member Andy Falk a couple of weeks ago about a cause he is passionate about.  Andy has been working with the homeless and precariously housed people in San Rafael.  Right now, he is working with the Downtown Streets Team whose members could really use some bikes (and locks).  Mobility is a big issue for indigent people, as taking the bus can be expensive for minimum wage people.  He has asked for us Realtors to be on the lookout for unwanted bikes at our listings.  You can contact Andy directly at 415-250-8025 or andyfalk2112@yahoo.com and he will arrange for pickup and dropoff.  Every bike will help, and it might just be another step in de-cluttering our listings!

That’s it for now!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine

 

 

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HR-4208 FHA Loan Limits and Finding the Right Buyer – MAR Monday Memo 04/07/14

Good morning MAR members!

It sure is crazy out there, full-on springtime anxiety season for our buyers…a mad rush to get to every new listing and get those offers in.  The good news is lots of new listings!  I’m running from one end of the county to the other on a daily basis, like everyone…hurry hurry hurry…offer offer offer!  We’re all busy, which is great!

Early last month, I relayed to you that Kay Moore, Katie Beacock and I went to visit Congressman Jared Huffman in late February.  Among other things in that meeting, we shared with Representative Huffman the importance of passing flood insurance reform, and also the importance of retaining the higher loan limits on FHA loans.  He was aware of the flood bill, but he said he was not fully briefed on it yet.  He did agree that these loan limits are essential for buyers here in high-cost Marin.

It feels good to see results from these meetings.  After our meeting with Representative Huffman, on March 4th, the house passed the flood insurance relief bill, and on March 21st, President Obama signed that bill into law.

As for the loan limits, earlier this week Representative Huffman’s office alerted Kay Moore that the congressman was co-sponsoring HR-4208, the “Stabilizing FHA Loan Limit Calculations Act of 2014″.  This bill is still in its infancy, but it’s great that our leaders hear us and respond to the needs of our industry.

MAR’s new CEO Andy Fegley has been super busy during his first five weeks on the job.  He has been in morning-to-night meetings around the county, introducing himself to local elected and appointed leaders.  He has been in regular contact with Assemblyman Mark Levine’s office, reminding them of MAR’s strong support for Assemblyman Levine’s housing density bill, AB  1537, which reduces the state mandated housing density in Marin from 30 units per acre to 20 units per acre.  Last week, I signed a letter of support for the bill and Andy delivered it to Assemblyman Levine’s office in time for that letter to be included in the legislative package for upcoming committee hearings.

It’s another way that our voices are being heard by our leaders here in Marin and also in Sacramento.  Please let us know other things we should be taking to the CAR Sacramento Business Meetings later this month.

It’s gearing up for election season, and candidates for office will be visiting with MAR’s Local Candidate Recommendation Committee in the coming weeks.  The big races are for two county supervisor seats and also for seats on the Ross Valley Sanitary District.  Please let us know if you have specific concerns or questions that you would like us to be asking these candidates.

I just visited an old friend this past Friday, by beloved 1986 BMW 635csi.  It was always our 3rd car, used for fun and weekend driving.  I purchased it used in 1997 with low mileage and perfect condition, and kept it until it was time to move on in the fall of 2010.  It was a sad departure, but as the years wore on I wasn’t driving it much, sometimes for months at a time.  My wife convinced me that it needed to go to someone who would drive it and give it the love that it deserved.

I was very diligent about who I would sell it to.  Ultimately, a military security officer from Lawrence Livermore Labs contacted me and told me that he had been looking for this type of care his whole driving life…literally since he was 16.  Now that he had somewhere to put it, he’d been looking for one for 3 years.  It was love at first sight, he had brought cash, we did the deal and away they went.  I took pictures and with a heavy heart waved goodbye.

He has stayed in touch, and was going to be in Marin and wanted to bring the car by to show me what he’s done.  I told my wife that morning that I was going to see the 635.  Sherman had sent me pix over the years, he’s fixed some things and generally showered the car with love.  My wife told me on Friday morning, “you sold the car to the right guy.”  Needless to say, when Sherman brought the car by my office it was immaculate, we took it for a spin, I took a couple of pictures and that was that.  I really do feel like I sold it to the right guy.  He is still so happy to this day!

I tell you all of this because it’s often the same thing in our business.  It feels good to sell a house to the “right buyer”.  We often talk about having the “right buyer”, looking for the “right buyer”.  When that comes together, it brings us great satisfaction.

One of the best scenarios for me is when I find a house for a couple expecting their first child.  You find them a house, they settle in, the baby comes, and it’s everything they wanted.  I had the good fortune to have one of these buyer scenarios late last year:  pregnant couple, got them into a short sale, got the deal approved and closed about six weeks before the baby came.  I live in the neighborhood, but haven’t seen them since the baby.  I ran into the wife and baby finally about ten days ago, she was SO happy.  Loves the house, loves the neighborhood, loves the neighbors.  I came away thinking about what I’m writing now, so nice to see the young family in their happy house.

The next day, coincidentally, I ran into the husband while walking my dog.  He too was so happy.  Loves the outdoor life, loves the trails, loves the lifestyle.  He was beaming.  He thanked me for everything.  He earnestly told me that “my life is perfect right now.”  I had just had a difficult day…ok a bad day…and that little moment turned it all around.  He made my day.  And that’s what it’s all about.

We truly are blessed to be in this business in Marin.  Thank you for indulging my story.

That’s it for now.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!

Blaine

 

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Housing Density AB-1537, Matt Hughes voted as President-Elect of MAR, MAR Monday Memo 03/31/14

Good morning MAR members!

As I write this on Friday afternoon, it seems that we’re in for a soggy weekend.  Sunday appears to be mostly dry, so hopefully your open houses weren’t a washout…but the long awaited “Miracle March” for our water supply may well be coming together these last few days of the month.

It was a busy week at MAR!  Last week, MAR President-Elect Nate Sumner alerted me that due to some unexpected circumstances he will be unable to fulfill his responsibilities as MAR President next year.  MAR Bylaws call for a simple majority of the Board of Directors to replace any Board or Executive Committee position.  Luckily for MAR, we’ve built a deep “bench” over the past few years, and I’m pleased to announce that the Board of Directors voted unanimously on Friday to appoint MAR Secretary and Executive Committee member Matt Hughes as 2014 President-Elect.  Matt will serve as your 2015 MAR President.  Matt is the right man for the job, and we are all lucky that MAR was able to fill this important position at a very important time with such a well-qualified candidate.  Please join me in congratulating Matt Hughes!

Last Friday, MAR CEO Andy Fegley, MAR Treasurer Arun Burrell and myself all paid a visit to Assemblyman Mark Levine’s office in San Rafael.  It was important to make the introduction of CEO Fegley, and we also wanted to express MAR’s strong support for Assemblyman Levine’s bill, AB 1537, which lowers the potential density of future Marin housing developments from 30 units per acre to 20 units per acre.

This potential density is at the core of many of the spirited discussions we’ve had here in Marin over the past year…and discussions we continue to have.  In addition to expressing our support for his bill, MAR also asked Assemblyman Levine what we can do to help.  Assemblyman Levine was delighted to learn of our support, and these conversations are ongoing.

Housing density has been one of the key debates in our community over the past year, and I expect it will be for the foreseeable future.

The debate on housing reached a fever pitch last summer with the debate over Plan Bay Area.  These spirited discussions continue to this day.  MAR’s Board of Directors voted last May to oppose Plan Bay Area, on the basis that it circumvented local control.  MAR was one of the earliest organizations in the county to oppose the measure, and we voiced our opposition to the Board of Supervisors, and publicly in an op-ed in the Marin IJ.

The housing density that was and continues to be dictated to us from outside the county was an easy issue to oppose.  Local leaders should have the final say on local planning decisions.  Much more complicated, however, have been the individual Housing Element plans that each municipality and the county overall have been crafting.  These are complex plans, with an enormous amount of detail that each town has invested a great deal of time to complete.  There was really no way for MAR to become experts on each housing element given the voluminous nature of each plan.

In addition, MAR has not had a policy regarding housing in the context of the current debate.  Until now.

MAR’s Government Affairs Committee is where these issues have been explored.  We’ve been talking about housing for the better part of a year now, and it comes up at nearly every meeting.  MAR has shared our position on the 30-units-per-acre density with every elected official who has come before us.  Many of you have come before this committee to share your position on the subject.

Honestly, we could spend every monthly Government Affairs committee meeting solely on housing during this critical time.  Earlier this year, MAR’s Board of Directors created the Housing Density Subcommittee under the Government Affairs Committee to focus on these issues and free up the main committee to be able to review other issues in addition to housing.  Missy Crowe was named to Chair this subcommittee.

The first order of business was to craft a Housing Policy for MAR to utilize to inform its decision making process going forward.  I’m pleased to announce that the Housing Density Subcommittee crafted and approved this policy statement.  The Policy Statement then worked its way through the Government Affairs Committee and finally the Board of Directors voted to approve the statement last week after several modifications.  You can read the MAR Policy Statement on Housing Density here.

One of the keys to this Statement, and to the process we are all witnessing, is transparency.  The public needs to know what’s going on, and to have the ability to participate and provide input.  This is increasingly what is occurring, and the voters of Marin County will ultimately have the opportunity to hold their elected officials accountable on this subject.

MAR applauds the ongoing participation of the public on this debate.  Many of MAR’s members have taken outspoken positions, which is fantastic.  Participate in the public process in Marin County, MAR members!  Make sure your voices continue to be heard, regardless of your position.

In other news, the California Association of REALTORS Spring Business Meetings are coming up at the end of April.  I encourage all of you to participate in Leg Day in Sacramento on Wednesday April 30th.  If you make it to the morning session, you will have the opportunity to hear Governor Jerry Brown, who will be addressing CAR.  It’s a truly exciting event, and going to Sacramento to participate in the Business of the People is an experience that is difficult to explain short of doing it.  The REALTOR Party making our voices heard!  If you’ve never been, consider making the investment of one day to see your statewide association in action.

MAR’s representatives on the CAR Board of Directors need your feedback, as always.  In addition to myself, MAR’s CAR Directors include President-Elect Matt Hughes, Kay Moore, Mary Kay Yamamoto, and Katie Beacock.  Katie is also the Chairperson of CAR Region 4, of which MAR is a part.  If you have anything on your mind that you think our leaders at CAR need to hear…or that you think our elected leaders need to her…please seek out one of us via phone or email.  That’s the most important thing we do at CAR:  make sure the voices of our MAR members…YOUR voices…are heard at the statewide level.

That’s it for this week.  Again, please join me in congratulating MAR’s 2014 President Elect, Matt Hughes.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!

Blaine

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Salmon, Resale Inspections and the Ongoing Flood Insurance Conversation. MAR Monday Memo 03/24/14

Good morning MAR members!

Spring is here, even though it’s felt like spring all winter.  I saw in the paper the other day that we just had the warmest winter on record for California…it really didn’t feel that way in December and January, when it was in the mid 20s every night at my house for about six weeks straight…no rain and frigid night temps killed much of my landscaping.  The citrus trees hated it.  That’s well behind us now, and the weather has been phenomenal for much of our winter.

Multiple offers all around.  Two offers, five offers, ten offers, more?  Every property of interest to my buyers is a brutal competition.  We seem to have more listings, and the data bears that out, but whether it’s in the flats or in the hills, it seems like every house on the market has plenty of buyers as long as it’s priced correctly.  Let’s get our sellers off the fence!

One final reminder for the Celebration of Catherine Munson’s life.  It will be held at the Marin Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, this Thursday, March 27.  Doors will open at 1:00 pm, the service will begin at 2:00 pm, with music, food and joy to continue afterwards.  In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to Project Amigo, 14 Commercial Blvd., Suite 199, Novato, CA  94949.

This has been a truly amazing time to be the leader of MAR and to be able to witness firsthand the profound impact that Catherine has had on so many of our members and the community.  She touched so many in so many ways.  In meeting after meeting, people have shared heartfelt anecdotes about Catherine, and she will be missed very much.

On to what’s happening this week:

Salmon, resale inspections and the ongoing flood insurance conversation.

At my request, over the past couple of weeks, Donna Lahey of MAR staff performed a lot of due diligence with the county about where we sit right now in regards to the Marin County Streamside Conservation Ordinance.  As you may know, this is an ordinance that MAR opposed last year due to its vagueness, arbitrary rules, and compromise of private property rights throughout unincorporated Marin.

With all of that said, it was passed by the Board of Supervisors last year, and the Marin County Streamside Conservation Ordinance was the law of the land.  There have been several appeals, however, and two weeks ago the ordinance was sent back to the Board of Supervisors by the California Court of Appeal on the grounds that the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was not thorough enough; the courts ruled that the impacts of long-term development on the salmon populations was not taken into enough consideration.  So the courts sent it back to redo the EIR.  The Court of Appeals also ruled that the prior building moratorium in the San Geronimo Valley was not valid either, and so no more building moratorium.  That is great news, and it looks like the building moratorium won’t come back around.

The upshot of this is that the 2007 Marin County General Plan, of which the Streamside Conservation Ordinance is a part, has been blown up as it relates to the San Geronimo Valley.  Rather than the 2007 General Plan, now the 1994 General Plan is the law of the land in the San Geronimo Valley.

Stay with me here.

As best as we can verify at the County, the building guidelines of the 1994 General Plan are in effect in the San Geronimo Valley.  Curiously, the guidelines of the 2007 General Plan are in effect for the rest of unincorporated Marin County.  The Streamside Conservation Ordinance has been declared invalid.  And the San Geronimo Valley building moratorium was declared invalid and thus no more building moratorium.

What I’ve been trying to get at is, “How in the world do we advise our clients and property owners?”  I had a camo this week in the San Geronimo Valley, and a couple of the top agents in the Valley told me that “No one knows what’s going on.”  You think?

The question that I had…which is still not answered by the county:  Let’s say I have a house in the Valley.  Let’s say I want to do something (repair my deck, add some space, rebuild my driveway, etc).  What rules am I operating under?  According to the County’s press release (click here to read:  http://www.marincounty.org/main/newsroom/press-releases/2014/eir-ruling), it’s the 1994 planning guidelines.

So let’s say I start a permitting process in the Valley under the 1994 guidelines, and before I’m done, this all gets resolved…do I get to finish my project under the 1994 guidelines?  Or will it be the 2007 guidelines?  Or will there be new guidelines?  I still cannot answer that question.  MAR’s Donna Lahey was interacting with Brent Ainsworth, the County’s Public Information Officer.  His response to this question was: “We’re still working on an answer to that other question. The court ruling is so fresh, the answer is being hashed out among our attorneys and community planners. We’ll try to get back to you soon.”

Again, as I understand it, other unincorporated areas like Sleepy Hollow, Marinwood, Kentfield, Tam Valley, etc, are still under the 2007 General Plan…minus the Streamside Conservation Ordinance.

Confused?  So am I.  Sorry for the incomplete info, but I think we need to be talking and thinking about all of this.  I think it’s best to advise our clients that there are a lot of moving pieces that will hopefully become clearer in the coming weeks and months.

More on resale inspections

Lots of feedback from members on my comments a couple of weeks ago about one of our large municipalities that is busy “cleaning up past mistakes” and engaging in “double jeopardy.”  The staff in this town seems to be admitting as much:  “we made mistakes in the past, now we’re trying to correct those mistakes.”  Thank you to Matt MacPhee for coming to MAR’s Government Affairs Committee meeting last week during “open forum” time to detail the challenges he is having with this building department.

This kind of feedback is essential to MAR, and best delivered in person during “open forum”, which we have at 9:00 AM before both the monthly Government Affairs Committee meeting and also before the monthly Board of Directors meeting.  This is YOUR association, and we welcome and encourage you to come in and tell us what’s going on.  About anything.  PLEASE take advantage of this, emails are great, but there is no substitute for the color and detail that our members can provide during this open time, and it allows for valuable Q&A.

MAR is focused on ensuring that the building officials and elected officials in our Marin municipalities know the value of our Fair Principles of Resale Inspections.  We are working on getting the leadership of this municipality in question to come in and tell us what they are doing and why they think it’s ok.

Flood Insurance Update

Good news!  According to NAR, last Friday, President Obama signed the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act” into law.  This law repeals FEMA’s authority to increase premium rates at time of sale or new flood map, and refunds the excessive premium to those who bought a property before FEMA warned them of the rate increase.  The bill limits premium increases to 18 percent annually on newer properties and 25 percent for some older ones.  Additionally, the bill adds a small assessment on policies until everyone is paying full cost for flood insurance.

That’s it for now.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!

Blaine

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General Membership Meeting Highlights, Flood Insurance Update – MAR Monday Memo 03/17/14

Good morning MAR members!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  Please enjoy your green beverages and snacks in moderation!

Spring is here, believe it or not!  The official first day of spring is Thursday, but it’s felt like spring real estate for a couple of weeks here in Marin.  Just as agents were lamenting an “inventory crisis”, here comes the inventory.  At our MAR General Membership meeting last Tuesday, Steve Dickason shared that we have 2.5 months of inventory in Marin right now, and that’s the most in 15 months.  I personally was scrambling to see all the places on tour this week, and I expect most of you feel the same way.  Let’s keep those listings coming MAR!

Speaking of last week’s General Membership Meeting, we had another sellout!   Thank you for all of your positive comments about the program and our efforts at MAR to provide you with timely and relevant information to use in your business and share with your clients.

Some highlights of the meeting:

  • Per Steve Dickason, with a year to year comparison, in Marin pendings are down 13%, listings are up 13%, and closings are down 10%.  That sounds to me like short inventory earlier in the year with things starting to turn around.
  • Also per Steve, average days-on-market for closed sales this year are 64 DOM; last year it was 92 DOM.
  • Another anecdote that I found interesting:  30 years ago in California, there were 5 Realtors for every lawyer.  Now there are two lawyers for every Realtor.  So be careful out there, and keep a tight file.
  • Guv Hutchison from the CAR legal department was our keynote speaker, and he had an enormous amount of useful info.  An interesting new law that started this year on January 1 is a change in the 140+ year-old law involving fences: in the past, if you and a neighbor shared a fence, and one property owner wanted to replace the fence, that property owner could ask the other property owner to split the cost…and the person receiving the request could basically ignore that request, “…the fence looks fine to me!”

    Now, the requesting property owner can give a written request, and the recipient of that fence request has 30 days to dispute that claim.  If the recipient homeowner ignores that request, after 30 days the requesting homeowner can demand that the cost be shared, and the recipient homeowner must share in the cost.  The only remedy for the ignoring homeowner is to litigate that request.  Another reason, I suppose, why we need two attorneys for every Realtor.

  • Another item that Guv shared is the routine situation in Common Interested Developments (condos, townhomes, PUDs) where the CC&Rs say one thing, the Articles of Incorporation say another thing, the bylaws say something else, and the “rules” say something different.  A common issue relates to pets:  number of pets, kinds of pets, size of pets, what breed of dog, etc.  Well, there seems to be a hierarchy of these documents:  the “rules” are lowest on the totem pole; rules are superseded by the Bylaws.  The Bylaws are superseded by the Articles of Incorporation.  And the Articles of Incorporation are superseded by the CC&Rs.  Ultimately, the CC&Rs are the controlling document, they supersede all.  I see this being the foundation of some lively neighbor conversations if the word gets out!
  • Another interesting issue relates to medical marijuana.  If a landlord has a “no smoking” policy, can that landlord also prohibit medical marijuana?  According to Guv, yes, that landlord can also prohibit smoking medical marijuana.
  • Another new law relates to tenants in homes that are for sale.  In the past, we’ve all used the “24-hour notice” guideline.  Well, the new law says that tenants are entitled to a 10-day notice for an open house.  So we’re going to need to be a bit more organized as Realtors.  Yikes…
  • Finally (and this is not an exhaustive list), relating to SB-407, the water conserving fixture retrofit law that I spent a lot of time educating the membership on earlier this year.  Several brokers and at least one attorney have told me that the current disclosure language we have in the RETDS about SB-407 is insufficient, there needs to be more.  Well, I asked Gov that question, and he said that he feels that the disclosure language in the RETDS is in fact sufficient.  He seemed pretty confident in his position.

Flood Insurance Update

The flood insurance saga continues, but relief is in sight.  Several mortgage and insurance brokers confirmed to me this week that yes, the Natural Catastrophe Insurance Program (NCIP) which is underwritten by Lloyds of London is a viable and economically reasonable flood insurance solution if FEMA has crazy rates or needs an elevation certificate.

Even bigger news is that the US Senate overwhelmingly passed the House’s Flood Insurance Reform legislation.  This is great news.  The following is what I received last Thursday from Chris Gosselin, NAR’s Senior Political Representative for our area:

“The US Senate overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan flood insurance reform legislation  that the House approved earlier this month by a 72-22 margin. The President is expected to sign the legislation in the next few days.

The legislation that passed today:

  • REPEALS (the original Senate bill only delayed) the property-sales provision in the Biggert Waters law (sec. 205) that has triggered the most excessive and inaccurate premium increases over the past year.
  • REFUNDS (the original Senate bill would not refund) excessive premiums to those who have already seen an increase but were not warned by FEMA prior to purchasing the property.  (This would apply to ALL purchases of property including purchases of a second home or commercial property).
  • RESTORES (the original Senate bill only delayed) the grandfathering of lower rates when new flood maps are issued by repealing Section 207 of the law before any increases can be implemented.”

So I guess they heard us!  Thanks to everyone who shared important flood insurance feedback, which we at MAR were able to share with Congressman Huffman and also up the chain at CAR and NAR.

There is much work and clarification to be done…we need to see how and when this is all going to get implemented, but the good news is that help is on the way!

Opportunity to meet Joel Singer, CEO of the California Association of Realtors

Thank you to Jean Ludwick, a Broker Associate at Alain Pinel.  She asked me to get the word out that the Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (“CRB”) is hosting a luncheon on Monday April 21st at the Acqua Hotel in Mill Valley from noon-1:45PM.  Joel Singer, the CEO of CAR, will be the keynote speaker, and Joel will provide an overview of the current housing market conditions for the state of California and the Bay Area, and will share his outlook and forecast of the market for the rest of 2014.  A light lunch will be served, and it’s FREE.  Jean is the President of the Northern California CRB, and she wanted me to invite everyone, not just brokers.  So agents, feel free to sign up!  If you’ve never heard Joel speak, this is a great opportunity to hear one of the leading minds in our industry.  I for one plan to attend.  Please rsvp by email to jbanuat@coldwellbanker.com.

That’s it for now.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!

Blaine

 

 

 

 

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Resale Inspections, Flood Insurance Alternative and Loss of One of Our Most Respected Realtors – MAR Monday Memo 03/10/14

Good morning MAR members!

Inventory is slowly starting to come online.  My brokerage had its monthly buy/sell meeting last Monday, and I was pleased to fill up two pages in my notebook of upcoming listings relevant to my clients…so they are on their way!  Several of you mentioned to me this week that you are flush with buyers and nothing to sell them.  This situation obviously creates anxiety for our buyers, and the resulting byproduct is anxiety for us as REALTORS.  In Patty Oxman’s presentation at our Marin Young Professionals Network meeting last week, Patty pointed out that there is 40% less inventory countywide than there was two years ago at the same time (mid-February).  And probably twice as many buyers, or more.  Hang in there MAR, spring is coming!

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at the MAR General Membership meeting tomorrow for our Annual Meeting.  I will be introducing Andy Fegley, MAR’s new CEO.  Our Marin Market Update from Steve Dickason is always informative, timely and useful, and our keynote speaker Guv Hutcheson of CAR will update us on all that’s new and the best practices of selling California real estate.  Registration for the event is closed, but there still might be a few seats left, please call MAR to see if there is any room if you’d like to attend.

I’d like to take a moment and reflect on MAR’s loss of our dear friend Catherine Munson.  Talking about Catherine allows me to talk about service.  While unfortunately I cannot say that I was friends with Catherine, I can say I was friendly with Catherine.  I first heard of Catherine’s illness early last Monday morning when the emails and phone calls started to come in.  Call after call, email after email inquiring about what was known about her condition.  When I got the very unfortunate news that Catherine had passed, the calls and emails kept coming.  Stories about Catherine and how much she meant to people.

And stories about service.  Service to her community and service to her colleagues.  So many of you  looked to Catherine as a friend, mentor, and someone to look up to.  Kathy Schlegel summed it up best:  ”if you didn’t know her… you have missed much!! Probably the most respected REALTOR in Marin for the last 50 years.”  Indeed, Catherine gave of herself throughout her life, blazing many paths, and always coming back to service to her community.  Practicing her business of real estate right until the end.  I last saw Catherine at a brokers’ open house several months ago, and she was so full of energy, holding court with the neighbors, telling stories, and accompanying me out the front door to make sure all of my questions were answered.

MAR and Marin lost a true original last week.  Thank you Catherine Munson for all you gave to your community and your colleagues.

Thank you for all of your emails and conversations about last week’s topic, flood insurance.  Last week, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly and with bipartisan support to pass its version of flood insurance relief.  While not as broad nor as generous as the Senate bill, it now heads to conference committee to determine what the final bill will look like.  The bipartisan nature of the vote makes me hopeful that they will hammer out something out soon.  The House’s bill falls short of the Senate bill in that it does not place a moratorium on increases like the Senate bill.  The House bill is more about  controlling the rate of everyone’s increase, and after some of the crazy increases I’ve heard of this will be good news as well.  Stay tuned.

Thank you to Chris Caproni, one of MAR’s mortgage broker affiliates.  We love our affiliate members! Chris shared some info with me about an alternative to FEMA, the Natural Catastrophe Insurance Program (NCIP) which is underwritten by Lloyds of London.  Unlike FEMA, this program looks to have the ability to provide more affordable flood insurance WITHOUT an elevation certificate.  I encourage all of you to confirm this with your lenders, but through all of this flood insurance mess perhaps this new market might launch a bit of flood insurance competition.  I’ve been hesitant in the past to utilize Lloyds of London, as it’s often a last resort with very high rates.  I saw some rates last week that seemed very reasonable to me by comparison.  Please keep talking with your lenders, and let’s all look into this rumored new competitive product to FEMA.

Finally this week, resale inspections.  It’s like the big nasty bear that goes into hibernation, only to wake up in the spring hungry and ornery.  When we get into resale inspection aggravation season, the calls and emails flow like water.  When the season is over, the calls and emails cease like someone turned off the faucet.  The trouble is, the season seems to happen at a different time every year.  But trust me, we are in season and the faucet is on.

One of our large municipalities seems to have gotten back into the double jeopardy business, big time.  Claiming the moral high ground, cleaning up “past mistakes.”  It’s the same story:  old resale inspections that said things were ok (or not mentioning problems), and problems arising when it’s time to sell, even though no work had been done on the house since the current owner purchased the property.  This municipality has been telling our colleagues that it’s time to “clean things up.”

Two years ago, MAR’s Government Affairs Committee, under the leadership of then-chairman Gene Laico, came up with MAR’s “Fair Principles for Resale Inspections”.  An amazingly lucid and reasonable set of principles that are hard to argue with:  (1) Consistency–building standards should not be applied retroactively;  (2) no “double jeopardy”–no problem items on new reports that were not identified on prior reports; (3) Transparency–cities and towns should communicate resale inspection requirements in advance; (4) Timely inspection process; (5) No excess inspection fees; (6) Distressed home sales–in the difficult environment from which we are just now emerging, cities and towns should be sensitive that there is often no money for corrective repairs by the sellers.

We have witnessed politician after politician come through MAR, under various contexts, some reporting on their towns, some asking for MAR’s support at election time, and all in general agreeing with the reasonableness of these Fair Principles.  I’ve read these Fair Principles at town council meetings with affirmative nods all around.

We need to remind our partners in the building departments that the leaders of their towns agree with our Fair Principles for Resale Inspections.

Please keep sharing your stories of troublesome resale inspections.  This is something that MAR works on every year, advocating for our members.  We are on it.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!

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Flood Insurance Increases and Legislation – Blaine Morris’ 2014 President of Marin Association of Realtors 03/03/14 Monday Memo

Good morning MAR members,

Happy March, happy almost-spring!  In addition to our needed rain, as I had hoped, lots of new listings this past week.  One of our colleagues was quoted in the Marin IJ this past week characterizing Southern Marin as being in an “inventory crises”.  Let’s hope our sellers see this and get off the fence.

I’m hoping to see all of you at our MAR General Membership meeting next Tuesday.  It is at 11:30 at Embassy Suites in San Rafael.  It’s our MAR Annual Meeting, and our featured speaker is Gov Hutchinson, who is the Assistant General Counsel at the California Association of REALTORS.  Gov is on the front lines of the newest and timely risk management issues of selling real estate in California, and it’s always a popular meeting because he gives us this info with real world stories that we can apply to our business today.  Also presenting will be our colleague Steve Dickenson for his always-useful Marin Market Update.  Click here to register:

Thank you for all of your comments this past week about last week’s agent safety message.  Everywhere I went last week, people were sharing stories about unseemly experiences at open houses.  Many of us just stow these away, I’m glad we’re talking about it.  Be safe out there!

Last Thursday evening, I had the pleasure of attending meetings with two important REALTOR groups here in Marin, both of which are open to all.  The first was the Marin REALTORS Young Professionals Network.  This group is just getting off the ground, and they had their second monthly meeting at Wellington’s Wine Bar in Sausalito.  Our colleague CJ Nakagawa is the 2014 Chairman of the Marin REALTORS YPN group, and he and his advisory committee are doing a tremendous job launching this needed group that fosters the professional development of our newest members.  Plus, they have a lot of fun and network for the benefit of their individual businesses.

Patty Oxman was kind enough to share a presentation at YPN on how to create a repeat and referral business.  Patty is one of our busiest and most respected colleagues, and it always amazes me how giving she is to share her best practices with other agents.  I last heard this presentation nearly eleven years ago when I was just getting into the business, and the same fundamentals that Patty teaches apply today.  Service to our fellow agents is one of the most important things we have to share in our business, and I’m so thankful for top producers like Patty giving their valuable time to help others in the business get better.  Thank you Patty!

The second meeting on Thursday was with our colleagues at Womens Council of REALTORS.  This was a well-attended mixer and everyone had a great time!  WCR is hosting their monthly meeting this next Tuesday, March 4th, for a breakfast meeting.  The featured speaker will be Janice Niederhofer, who will be presenting “Top Secret Strategies of Business Success.”  Ms. Niederhofer is a “top secret” woman herself, who has taught interrogation techniques to the CIA, FBI and many other top agencies.  This sounds like super interesting material, and info that you can use in your business today since we all need to get creative on how we gather information.  Click here to register:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wcr-marin-presents-top-secret-strategies-turn-your-fear-into-an-advantage-tickets-9058158195?ref=enivtefor001&invite=NTI1MDMyOS9ibW9ycmlzQGZoYWxsZW4uY29tLzA%3D&utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=inviteformalv2&utm_term=attend&ref=enivtefor001

Now, on to this week’s topic:  flood insurance.  I must admit, most of my listings are not in a flood zone, and I’ve paid attention to this topic only when in escrow.  We all have some brushing up to do, things are changing and we should all work to learn more about this subject.

Several weeks ago, I visited with Congressman Jared Huffman along with our MAR colleagues Kay Moore and Katie Beacock.  Kay is NAR’s “key contact” with Representative Huffman, and Katie is Chair of CAR’s Region 4, of which all of Marin is part.  Leading up to the meeting, I was asking agents if there was anything that should be brought to Rep Huffman’s attention.  We have to focus on things that have national oversight:  mortgage interest deduction, flood insurance, etc.  Boy, did I get an earful from everyone about flood insurance.  What a messy, in-between stage we find ourselves at right now!

I shared some real world stories with the congressman.  One local firefighter whose flood insurance on his recently purchased home just jumped from $1800 to $6000 per year.  Another escrow that fell apart in San Rafael because the flood insurance was going to increase from under $2k to over $14k.  These stories are everywhere, and Congressman Huffman listened with great interest.

Flood insurance is being legislated at the highest level of our government right now.  On January 30th, the US Senate passed a bill that will delay many of these sharp increases for up to four years.  The bill is now in the House, and I expressed to Congressman Huffman that these gigantic increases are proving very troublesome for many of his constituents.  Forget about someone trying to buy a new home, how about people on fixed incomes who are seeing these rates triple, or quadruple or more.

We’re hoping that the House is poised to pass this bill.  And President Obama will need to sign this bill as well.

A key new component in the listing and selling of flood-zone properties is the regularly-needed “elevation certificate”.  In the past, elevation certificates came up often if homeowners wanted to try to get a reduction or removal of flood insurance.  Now it seems that it’s become standard practice to require this report as part of getting flood insurance, unless you are willing to pay the very highest rate.

Because many rates have gone up so much, the elevation certificate could possibly help to get the cost of insurance back to a manageable level.  This may well become a new negotiable closing cost.  And an elevation certificate isn’t cheap, it can cost more than $1000, sometimes up to $2000.  Nor do you get one quickly.  And sometimes the insurance company will require modifications to the house itself, such as venting, before they will issue a policy…and they want it done before close of escrow.  Plan accordingly in your escrows.

MAR is going to continue to seek clarity on this matter to get you the timely info to conduct business, stay tuned.  I’m sure your brokers can help too.  Again, I’m not an expert, and I’m working to get educated.

Finally, again, lots of feedback on the emerging auction business for real estate in Marin.  Many of you have asked about BAREIS MLS’s policy on compensation in the MLS.  They are under the same requirements as MAR, we don’t get involved in compensation issues.  I invite all of you to review item 11.1 of the BAREIS MLS Rules and Regulations, it’s linked on this page on the BAREIS website:  http://bareis.com/rules.  It’s pretty clear.  Please keep your auction stories coming!

I wish you all a safe and prosperous week!

Blaine

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Agent Safety, SB-407 & Short Sale Auctions – Blaine Morris’ 2014 President of Marin Association of Realtors 02/24/14 Monday Memo

Good morning MAR members!

Auctions and Faucets and Prowlers, Oh My!

With ski week behind us, I anticipate a big week ahead.  From the looks of my email inbox, everyone is desperate and looking for properties to sell buyers.  I’m hopeful that this week is the week that sellers start to cooperate!

As for SB-407, well, we got it on the front page of the Marin IJ this week:

www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_25173774/marin-homeowners-compelled-combine-water-conservation-renovation

So I’ll call my efforts to get the word out a success.  Notwithstanding the IJ’s error in calling it “SB-470″, the article was largely accurate.  Janis Mara of the IJ called me a few weeks back, after having a realtor tell her about the new law.  Janis was looking for answers, and I had to break it to her that so was I…

Anyway, the local building officials group DID have its monthly meeting last week, and my understanding was that pretty much the entire meeting was devoted to this subject.  They have formed a committee to address this, and the goal is to come back with a template either next month or the month after.  The spirit of the CALBO direction seems to be the direction our local officials are headed:  http://www.calbo.org/uploads/NoCal%20Policy%20Memo%20SB%20407%20%28Dec%202013%29.pdf

Net-net, most permitted repairs shouldn’t trigger a retrofit.

Interestingly, the building official I spoke with said that “typically, the legislature legislates intent, and leaves it up to the building officials to provide the details of the code.  This time, the legislature legislated a very vague code with all sorts of grey area, and the building officials are left picking up the pieces.”  I could not agree more.  For example, please define a low-flow bathtub faucet…

AUCTIONS

Moving on, everyone was commenting to me on the subject of auctions that I raised last week, but no one was offering specifics on how they were harmed or held liable as the result of an auction process…anyone?  CAR has asked for our help.  Most of the comments centered on the one aspect of this auction world that I can’t comment on, compensation.  MAR, CAR and NAR cannot get involved in that area, sorry.

AGENT SAFETY:  RECENT MARIN AGENT STORIES AND CRIME

Now, on to my Big Subject of the week:  agent safety.  I want to thank our friends at Alain Pinel for bringing some unsettling stories to my attention from this past week relating to brokers’ open and open house security.  Super-important stuff, and these real-world stories offer a useful safety refresher for all of us.

First of all, I was reminded about how we live in a different world…or that the world is getting smaller and some problems we’ve not typically worried about here in Marin are starting to come to our doorstep.  Home invasions, anyone?  I read this article in the IJ last month, and was reminded about it by a couple of agents this past week:   http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_24987169/greenbrae-robbers-lock-resident-closet-ransack-home?source=pkg

In that one, robbers pushed their way into a Greenbrae home, last month, bound him and locked him in a closet and ransacked the home.

Earlier this month, the IJ discussed this growing trend of burglaries and robberies where our residents come face-to-face with these criminals:  http://www.marinij.com/crimebeat/ci_25087123/lately-marin-residents-and-burglars-find-themselves-meeting?source=pkg

I don’t know if we’re in the midst of a new trend here in Marin, but I’m certainly hearing about this sort of thing much more lately.

Which brings me back to agent safety.  Many of these stories seem to be coming out of Novato, where several years ago we had a very brazen prescription drug bandit.  This past week, one agent had prescription drugs stolen at the house during the Sunday open.  She has filed a police report, and the cops were ADAMENT that we need to report these things, it’s an increasing problem.

Another agent’s story was relayed from last week:  “one of our agents last week had just opened up an open house when a fairly large man entered the home.  Agent felt that he was a bit nervous.  The first thing he asked her was where the master bedroom was; she answered that it was upstairs.  He then asked her to please show it to him.  She said that she was busy opening up the home, etc, but he could go ahead up; he did so, and then called down to her to please come up and show it to her.  She just kept telling him that she was still setting up the home, etc.  When she asked him questions about what he was looking for and where he currently lived, he fumbled his answers and appeared to be making answers up on the spot.  It was a very uncomfortable situation; while he was there, agent made sure that she stood by the front door of the home in case she needed to get out quickly or get help.”

And another from last Wednesday’s broker’s tour in Novato:  “A man came in.  Not an agent. Claimed no one sent him there to see the condo.  He went upstairs.  She clearly heard him opening drawers.  She was alone so she didn’t say a word and stayed near the front door. He came down a bit later.  When she quizzed him again on what he was looking for and/or where he currently lived he was very aloof.  She got a strange feeling from him.  She informed the homeowner. ”

Are these all related?  Who knows, these sorts of stories come up every year.  PLEASE pass them along to your broker and to MAR.

Another safety item we should all take to heart and was shared this week by Carol Munson:  There is a local Marin emergency dispatch number,  415-472-0911.  Who knew?  You save critical and valuable time rather than being routed through some regional 911 call center.  Minutes count, please put this number in your cell phone!

I’m up front with sellers when I take a listing, and emphasize again when we are going on the market:   secure your valuables, particularly jewelry and things that can get up and walk away.  AND secure your prescription medication…particularly any sort of pain or anxiety medication.

Several years ago, in my extended family one of my family members developed a very bad problem with prescription medication that led to all sorts of bad things, bad behavior and ultimately very bad outcomes.  It’s everywhere.  I read last week that heroin overdoses have more than doubled in the last five years.  Doubled!  Heroin?  Really?  Why?  Because it’s easier and cheaper to get than increasingly regulated prescription meds.  So if you’re someone with a problem, perhaps it’s a little easier to go tour pretty homes on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday to support your habit than it is to resort to pursuing the even harder stuff…

As a man, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about my own safety beyond common sense and keeping an eye out.  But I’m also sensitive to the fact that our women colleagues view the issue of personal safety through a different lens.  I drove to a broker event last Thursday night in a big Suburban with seven of my women colleagues.  This issue was fresh in my mind, and I asked the women how many of them had felt uncomfortable in the past with someone in an open house.  All seven hands went up.  Then I asked how many had been fearful of her own safety to the point where she took active measures to secure her own safety.  Four of the seven hands went up.  “It’s a scary feeling and difficult to describe to a man” one of them said.

So let’s all be safe out there!  I’m not an expert on safety by any means, but don’t let unfamiliar visitors get between you and the front door or other safe exit.

NAR has a great agent safety website here:  http://www.realtor.org/topics/realtor-safety.  I’m also looking into an agent safety class at MAR.  Several years ago we had one of our members, who is a black belt, teach a well-attended safety class at MAR.  We’re going to look into something similar.  Another agent told me that they had the San Anselmo chief of police come in and give a safety and self-defense class at her gym that was well-attended.

MAR takes this matter very seriously.

I wish you all a safe and prosperous week ahead!

Blaine

 

 

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