Marin Housing Element and Sewer Lateral Update

Good day MAR members!

Great weekend if you’re a Raiders fan or a Warriors fan! For our 49er friends out there…well…let’s just say the swirling drama is at least entertaining.

At long last I can officially say that Marin is well above average for rainfall. In case you missed it, we bid goodbye to the sun on Thanksgiving day, and it’s not been spotted since. As of last week, our local reservoirs were at 93.5% of “normal” storage as of November 30th. We’ve had about six inches of rain since then, so my sense is that we’re very close to being able to flush our toilets again. I like that.

Also, there is supposedly a “monster” storm headed our way later this week. Lots of rain and lots of wind. We used to get these types of storms with some regularity, but it’s definitely been a few years. We might want to remind our newer members of the community to be prepared as the prediction is for lots of trees and branches coming down.

Now, time for one of the final installments in two of our favorite topics at MAR, housing density and sewer laterals!

MARIN COUNTYWIDE HOUSING ELEMENT

Thank you to MAR member Ted Strodder for bringing an underreported bit of Marin IJ news to my attention last week. If you’re an IJ regular, you know they do cute, little, unscientific polls with some regularity. Topics include “What are you doing for the holiday weekend?”, “Who will win at Dancing With the Stars?”, and “Do you support the giant Turkey at Corte Madera Town Center?”. So take this all with a grain of salt when reviewing the results of last Monday’s poll:

“Does Marin need more high-density housing?”

The results:

Yes: 11%

Some: 6%

No: 83%

The draft Housing Element for Unincorporated Marin is before the Board of Supervisors, as it’s already been approved by the Planning Commission. The Board will be meeting tomorrow, December 9th at 1:30 to review and discuss this document.

Right after and right down the street from tomorrow’s sold-out MAR Installation.

The Marin Housing Wars of 2014 have proven to be much more polite than their 2013 version. There certainly has been an uptick recently, once it became clear that the planning commission is pushing for 419 units in the housing element…well above the Sacramento-mandated 185 units. There is also some question on what exactly a “housing unit” is; I’ve seen comments recently that a studio will count as half a unit, and a 1BR apartment will count as 2/3s of a unit, etc.

In the IJ, there have been daily, dueling op-ed columns from both sides of the argument. There are petitions circulating the county on both sides of the argument. Facebook sponsored ads. The IJ itself weighed in, politely reminding our local leaders in a recent editorial to pay attention to a public that is intent on retaining the vital “Marin-ness” of our county.

And 83% of the IJ poll respondents feel that we don’t need more high-density housing.

Marin does desperately need solutions for workforce and senior housing, but the community has loudly spoken that it wants such projects to be executed in keeping with the current flavor of our communities. MAR strongly supported Assemblyman Marc Levine in his successful effort to lower the mandatory density of affordable housing projects in Marin from 30 to 20 units per acre. MAR also passed a Housing Density Policy, which you can review HERE.

Now it’s up to the Board of Supervisors to execute the will of the people, and pass a housing element that reflects the desires of the broader community.

So keep paying attention through the holidays, MAR members! Check out tomorrow’s meeting. The MAR Board of Directors also voted to support a countywide Fair Housing conference in late January 2015…more on that later.

Many of our members have been involved in this housing density issue, well beyond MAR’s involvement, giving time and support to the conversation. Great work, MAR members!

ROSS VALLEY SEWER LATERAL UPDATE

As of now, and most likely, the Ross Valley Sanitary District will implement its sewer lateral point-of-sale ordinance on January 1st, 2015.

On Thursday, MAR received a draft version of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the ordinance that RVSD is working on. After reviewing that document, I had a longer list of still-unanswered questions, which we’ve forwarded back to RVSD.

The issue of shared laterals played a big part in my unanswered questions. According to current code, shared laterals are no longer allowed. In order to get a Certificate of Compliance, RVSD is of the opinion that any house on a shared lateral will now have to run a new, separate lateral to the sewer main. I quickly came up with about 4-5 questions on that requirement alone. Aside from the onerous cost, there is the issue of the private property rights of neighboring properties…particularly if there is no recorded easement: In order to sell my house, I’ve got to get my neighbor to agree to dig up his or her yard? Really?

So we’re continuing to advocate for our members and property owners on this issue. Make no mistake, RVSD is intent on this implementation. Those of you with January listings will unfortunately be the “beta testers” of this policy.

The good news is that RVSD is planning on holding an open house to meet with the REALTOR community and answer questions on this implementation plan. The bad news is that it is currently scheduled for Thursday evening on December 18th. The Thursday before Christmas is a pretty tough date for anyone, and an evening meeting on sewer laterals is going to be a tough date to put on anyone’s calendar. But that’s what we have for now; we are looking for an alternative venue to move the meeting to the daytime. Stay tuned.

That’s it for now. Be careful out there in the rain and wind, and be nice while doing your holiday shopping!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 President

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Realtor Ethics, MAR Installation Luncheon and Open House Hours

Good day MAR members!

It’s official: Happy Holidays! With a late Thanksgiving this year, it will be a mad dash in the coming weeks as we try to cram five weeks of the holiday season into a little over four weeks. I myself tried to get a little extra exercise this past weekend, but mother nature got in the way with this pesky weather. We certainly need the rain, so no complaints here. My lawn is green again, which probably makes my neighbors happy.

I texted one of my clients who bought a house this year that happens to be in a flood zone: make sure your sump pump is working! When he asked why, I told him it was supposed to rain Marin-style this week. While it’s been a slow and steady rain so far, the internets are telling me that big things might be in store for us mid-week. So clean those gutters, test the sump pumps and clear the drains.

We have this nice Maui-like rain flow…no cold. The last few years, it’s been downright frigid this time of year, with temps regularly getting down into the 20s every morning at my house. This year, there has only been one morning in the 30s, and at 39 degrees it’s a far cry from the dry, cold winters we’ve been having. Personally, I don’t care if it freezes once this winter, but a nice cold snap would get rid of the flies, which seem much more numerous this year. When breaking down and purchasing a fly swatter a couple of weeks back, the woman at Fairfax Hardware told my wife that there has been a crazy run on fly swatters this year…worst ever. She theorized it was because of everyone’s fashionable backyard chickens…

LAST CALL FOR MAR INSTALLATION LUNCHEON

There are still spots left for next Tuesday’s MAR Installation Luncheon. Come join in on the fun as we install MAR’s 2015 President Matt Hughes and the rest of his leadership team. You’re in for a treat with Imran Poladi as the installing officer and MAR member Kevin Patsel as our Master of Ceremonies. Imran is always inspiring, as a super successful REALTOR® and a young man who has battled cancer and come out on the winning end. MAR will also be presenting the 2014 awards, including the coveted REALTOR® of the Year, and the Marin Women’s Council of REALTORS® will be installing WCR 2015 President John Zeiter and his leadership team. You can click HERE to register.

BROKERS’ OPEN HOUSE HOURS UPDATE

Last week, I wrote again about the hours throughout Marin on brokers’ open houses, and encouraged all of you to keep your houses open the first week for the full scheduled time of the tour. Just as last time, a bunch of you reached out to thank me for bringing up the issue, particularly that of the increasingly popular and ever-annoying 11-1 brokers’ tour during the first week of a listing.

Thank you also to MAR Board Member Sylvia Berry for bringing to my attention the revised hours of the Novato Tour. Apparently, our Novato members recently voted to change the hours of the Novato tour to 10 AM-1 PM, which moves the previous start and finish back 30 minutes.

Thanks again to everyone for your feedback on this issue!

REALTOR® ETHICS

Last year, MAR’s 2013 President Jack Wilkinson talked a lot about Realtor ethics. Jack is very proud of his Realtor pin, and takes the increased responsibility of being a Realtor very seriously. Without a Realtor designation, you’re simply a licensee…someone who has to obey the law but who can shrug off the added responsibility that the Realtor Code of Ethics brings.

2013 was the year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Realtor Code of Ethics. Be proud of your Code of Ethics. It differentiates us from the other licensees who have the freedom to run a “looser” business model. There is accountability, and consequences for bad behavior. MAR runs a Grievance Committee and a Professional Standards committee under the leadership of our Professional Standards Administrator Linda Bianchi. If you have a beef with someone, there is a forum and a process to get that issue heard and resolved within the constructs of the Realtor Code of Ethics. This includes members of the public: they too can have any grievance addressed.

By and large, the members of the Marin Association of Realtors are a pretty darned ethical group. When I go away to CAR, I hear stories of questionable behavior that I honestly don’t hear about here. Ethical lapses do occur, however. Earlier this year, I learned that an agent who had clients in backup position on one of my listings went into escrow on another property two days later with those same clients and remained in backup position on my listing for two more weeks. No harm was ultimately done, as the primary buyers purchased the house, but this was bad behavior to say the least.

It’s good every once in a while to review what we stand for. The Realtor Code of Ethics is also a long list, an 8-page pdf that deals with the added responsibility of being a Realtor. As we reflect on our year and plan for 2015, take a minute and review the Realtor Code of Ethics. You can read it here, and I’d describe it as a good use of your time.

That’s it for now. I hope to see you at next week’s MAR Installation!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine

Blaine Morris

2014 President

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Housing Element Update, Broker’s Open House Times & MAR Installation Luncheon

Good day MAR Members!

Rain, Rain, go away…

No, dear rain, it’s actually ok to stay for a while.

Personally, I like the rain. But in general, I tend to like the sun a little better. We’re climbing back towards the black on year-to-date rain totals. This morning at the rain gauge for MMWD, which is at Lake Lagunitas, as of today we’re at 6.01″ against a ‘normal’ amount of 8.02″. That’s about 75% of normal. Last year we were at 2.62″ at this point, 32% of normal, and it took us until early February to where we are right now. It sounds like clear sunny sailing through the Thanksgiving holiday, and then more rain on tap for next weekend.

Perhaps by the time I write again we will be near a ‘normal’ level for the year-to-date, which MMWD starts counting on July 1. The only time we’ve been anywhere near ‘normal’ over the past three years or so has been the first days of the year when the normal is ‘zero’. Zero was pretty normal.

It is nice to see the hills turning green right in time for Thanksgiving. Another ‘normal’ event that has been absent the past few years. There are even some creeks starting to flow. But while it rained over an inch at Lake Lagunitas on Friday night and Saturday morning, the ground barely even got wet up in Calistoga where we spent part of the weekend. They’re only at 42% of normal in Santa Rosa, which is another good example of the extraordinary water source that Mt. Tam provides. But Mt. Tam water only goes so far and we get much of our water from the Russian River in Sonoma. So until we get the green light, let’s keep conserving our water MAR Members, and encourage our friends, family and clients to do the same.

MMWD ROSS VALLEY ELECTION RESULTS

Speaking of our water supply, the ballot counting appears to have drawn to a close from the election earlier this month. One of the more interesting races in Marin was between MMWD appointed incumbent Lisa Crosse and Fairfax Vice Mayor Larry Bragman for the Ross Valley seat on the Marin Water Board. With virtually all the votes counted, Bragman extended his lead and appears to have won with 51.6% of the votes.

Part of the election hinged on the question of using herbicides on the Mt. Tam watershed to control invasive and hard-to-control weeds like Scotch broom. While Crosse was open to continuing to explore the notion of using herbicides, Bragman’s position was ‘never’.

The other issue in the water board race related to our local water supply. Crosse was open to exploring a pipeline across the Richmond Bridge to tap state water supplies. Bragman was against this as well, contending (1) that we need to live within our water means here in Marin, and (2) that in dry years the flow of water could quite possibly flow the other way…from Marin to the East Bay. Remember, in spite of our local drought, Marin is doing far better than most of the state, and pipelines flow both ways.

MARIN COUNTY HOUSING ELEMENT, LATE 2014 UPDATE

In the weeks leading up to the election, one of our prominent local newspaper columnists privately predicted Bragman’s victory over Crosse, noting that it might be partly affected by the housing debate at the Marin Board of Supervisors, for whom Ms. Crosse works as an aide to one of the Supervisors. I don’t know about that, but I sure did see a lot of Bragman signs when I was in Kent Woodlands showing property before the election. You don’t usually see signs for Fairfax council members in Kent Woodlands…

As the days to the election were winding down, the Marin County Planning Commission was putting the finishing touches on the newest version of its housing element. Last Monday, the Planning Commission voted to approve a housing element with up to 419 dwellings. That’s down from the original number of 502, but still well above the minimum of 185 units mandated by California state regulations.

The process has been largely transparent, with regular items in the local papers. I’ve heard about it from MAR members and members of the public, but the outcry has been much quieter than the Plan Bay Area wars of the summer of 2013.

The housing element now goes before the Board of Supervisors, who coincidentally will be hearing a report tomorrow (Tuesday) from local economist Robert Eyler of the Marin Economic Forum about the economic impact of the Marinwood Plaza project. That project, along with the WinCup development in Corte Madera, has been ground zero on the housing element debate. As has been the case throughout this debate, my understanding is that Eyler’s report will identify plusses and minuses of the project. Incoming Supervisor Damon Connolly has said that “the best answers to guide this development come from the community.”

Strike one more for Marin advocating for local control. This will continue to be interesting as it unfolds.

BROKER’S OPEN HOUSE TIMES

Earlier this year, I took the lead from several MAR members and reminded all of us about Wednesday and Thursday broker’s open times. There was a large and unanimous “thank you” from the members in my email inbox, and to me directly when I saw you. Several of you have asked and I think it bears mentioning again.

Years ago, there was a blue ribbon panel assembled at MAR to look at this very subject: conforming broker’s open times to increase the productivity of everyone. Many members of that task force thanked me for bringing up the subject again.

To summarize, what the panel came up with is as follows:

Novato: Wednesday morning, 9:30 AM-12:30 PM.

Southern Marin: Wednesday 10:30 AM-2:00 PM

Central Marin: Thursday 10:30 AM-2:00 PM

This arrangement seems to have largely worked for many years. Having said that, I continue to see the abbreviated broker tour. The most common deviation from the schedule above seems to be quitting at 1:00. The 11-1 broker’s open is a very popular option.

To which I say: it’s not all about you, Mr./Ms. Broker’s Open host.   Broker’s open attendees have schedules and lives too. Sometimes there are inspections and they can’t get out until noon…or whatever.

Members often have to make hard decisions at 12:30 about which open house to cross off the list to make it to the important one that ends at 1:00. Or having to drive across the county to make one before it closes. It’s not as tough now that we’re in the quiet season of the Holidays, but I assure you that once the Super Bowl is over and we’re heading into the busy season it will become troublesome again.

So, please, try to stay open until 2:00 the first week. And a special thank you to those of you who have been staying open until 2:30 for your outlying and hilltop broker’s open houses.

As we gather with friends and family over the Thanksgiving holiday, let’s remember how blessed we are here living and working in beautiful Marin. If you’re traveling, be safe! And thank you MAR, for the opportunity to serve as your President this year.

MAR INSTALLATION LUNCHEON

Another reminder before we enter the busy Holiday Season about MAR’s annual Installation Luncheon onTuesday, December 9th. We will be installing Matt Hughes as our 2015 MAR President, along with the rest of his leadership team. CAR rising star Imran Polodi will be officiating the installation, and he is always a super interesting speaker as the Chairman of CAR’s Young Professionals Network forum. Plus we will have MAR Member Kevin Patsel as the Master of Ceremonies. Marin’s Women’s Council of Realtors will also be joining with us and installing MAR Member John Zeiter as its 2015 Marin WCR President.

Click HERE to register, and please help us spread the word about this terrific event.

Sign up HERE for December 9th Holiday Party.

 

That’s it for now!  Happy Turkey Day.  Gobble Gobble!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine

Blaine Morris

2014 President

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Ross Valley Sewer Lateral Update, Upcoming MAR Installation Luncheon and San Rafael Coffee and Codes Meeting

Good day MAR Members!

One of my goals for this week’s memo was to not talk about the weather or what I did this weekend. Well, my bad:

What a great weekend! I can’t believe that after nearly 21 years in Marin I just discovered the Big Rock Ridge trail above Lucas Valley. It’s newer-ish, having opened in 2003 after a donation by George Lucas, and as such it was not in several trail guidebooks that I use. Reached by parking at Big Rock, it’s a gentle yet constant climb on the south-facing slope of Big Rock Ridge, and it’s open for both hikers and bikers. Unlike our bustling trails in Ross Valley and Southern Marin, this trail was nearly deserted despite a nearly 70-degree Saturday mid-day. Views to forever, and a very cool glimpse right down over Mr. Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch. Gracie and I had a great walk, before we had to leave her behind to head down to Palo Alto for the big game between Stanford and Utah. OK, it wasn’t THE Big Game, but big nonetheless for me and some friends from school. I won’t gloat, as it was a pretty snoozy game right up until the thrilling double-overtime finish…another win for UTAH.

Thank you, again, for indulging me. Now, a few housekeeping items before the latest Ross Valley Sewer Lateral update.

MAR INSTALLATION LUNCHEON

Another reminder before we enter the busy Holiday Season about MAR’s annual Installation Luncheon on Tuesday, December 9th. We will be installing Matt Hughes as our 2015 MAR President, along with the rest of his leadership team. CAR rising star Imran Polodi will be officiating the installation, and he is always a super interesting speaker as the Chairman of CAR’s Young Professionals Network forum. Plus we will have MAR Member Kevin Patsel as the Master of Ceremonies. Marin’s Women’s Council of Realtors will also be joining with us and installing MAR Member John Zeiter as its 2015 Marin WCR President. Click HERE to register, and please help us spread the word about this terrific event.

WCR ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR CELEBRATION

Speaking of Women’s Council, please join me in congratulating MAR member Katie Beacock for winning this year’s award for WCR Entrepreneur of the Year. An Evening Soiree in her honor will be held this Wednesday evening at McInnis Park from 5:30-7:30 PM. Katie is Past President of MAR, and she is 2014’s Region 4 Chairwoman for the California Association of REALTORS®. A true Marinite, she has served our community tirelessly for many years, and this award is richly deserved! Katie is also one of my go-to spiritual advisors on all things MAR and CAR-related. Her advice is always spot-on, and I encourage all of you to take advantage of her experience and leadership when trying to solve a challenge or seize an opportunity. There is still time to secure your spot by clickingHERE, and I believe walk-ups will be welcomed as well. It should be a great night!

BAREIS CLASS A DIRECTOR NOMINATIONS DUE TODAY!

One final reminder to BAREIS Class A Members that nominations for 2015 Class A Directors are due TODAY by 5:00 PM. If you’re a BAREIS Class A Member, a letter was mailed to you on October 10 outlining the nominating process. Again, neither I nor MAR have any authority at BAREIS, but the Class A Members do have the ability to participate in the nominating process for Marin’s two Class A Directors. MAR encourages you to take advantage of this opportunity to participate in the leadership nominating process at BAREIS.

ROSS VALLEY SEWER LATERAL POINT OF SALE UPDATE

Thank you again to the quarter of our membership who participated in the Call to Action to inform the Board of Directors of Ross Valley Sanitary District earlier this month. The agency has heard MAR’s message, and on Friday RVSD General Manager Greg Norby alerted MAR CEO Andy Fegley that the infamous, mandatory, expensive and frivolous pressure test requirement has been modified substantially. All of us couldn’t understand why this test…which RVSD openly expects 85-90% of the houses to fail…was being mandated by the agency before any other inspection or test was to occur.

In a modest victory for MAR, the pressure test has been moved to the end of the process instead. As I understand it, now RVSD will require a video inspection consistent with other agencies. If that inspection concludes that the lateral needs replacement, a process will be in place to oversee the replacement of that line. A pressure test will now be the LAST step. If the video inspection determines that the line looks good, a pressure test WILL be required to confirm that the line is in good shape. In addition, a pressure test will be required to confirm that work to replace any sewer lateral was correctly performed.

This all needs to be voted into policy by the RVSD board, by the way, at its December meeting.

So there still will be a pressure test requirement at the end. But for the estimated 85-90% of the lines that will fail such a test, we’ve eliminated the frivolous pressure test at the beginning of the process. Thus, we will save the homeowners of Ross Valley $500k per year in frivolous tests.

I still don’t like it, and I still expect this process to be cumbersome, expensive and time consuming. In the absence of hard data, however, MAR is going to work with RVSD to streamline the process and educate our membership on this ordinance’s implementation…however flawed it still may be.

I know many of you are seeking specifics on the choreography of this process. Specifics are still lacking, but my expectation is that in the coming weeks the specific implementation policy will be defined by RVSD. Thank you for your patience.

MAR and RVSD will be hosting a session in December to educate the membership and community on RVSD’s plan for implementation. Details and registration info will be forthcoming. Sorry in advance for the meeting over the Holidays.

CITY OF SAN RAFAEL COFFEE AND CODES MEETING IN JANUARY

Earlier this year, MAR was successful in working with the City of San Rafael on a new policy regarding its resale inspection guidelines. While this reform has been mostly successful, I’ve spoken at length with many of you who still are experiencing substantial challenges working with the City, mostly securing compliance on past unpermitted work.

To San Rafael’s credit, Paul Jensen, the Director of Community Development, has reached out to both myself and MAR CEO Fegley to see how things are going. We are planning for a follow up meeting before the Holidays, with an Association-wide meeting to be scheduled in January to put the City together with MAR’s membership to hear feedback and clarify its policy.

For those of you who have not reviewed the San Rafael Resale Inspection reform policy, you can review the document HERE.

MAR has just embarked on a similar effort with the City of Novato, and we are working to schedule our first meeting.

That’s it for now!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 President

Posted in Marin Association of Realtors, Marin Community News, Marin Real Estate News, Regulations, Ross Valley Sanitary | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Upcoming “Call for Action” on RSVD Sewer Lateral Point of Sale Pressure Test

Good day MAR Members!

I hope you all had a fun Halloween. Congratulations to our 2014 World Champion San Francisco Giants! What a series, what a week! MadBum fever all around. Now that the season and the parade is over, we can get back to the business of Marin Real Estate. I’m personally wondering what to do with all the “found time” I now won’t be scheduling my life around Giants viewing plans.

RVSD SEWER LATERAL POINT-OF-SALE UPDATE AND CALL TO ACTION

We continue to work to help the Ross Valley Sanitary District (RVSD) understand some of the issues that the REALTOR community has with its soon-to-be-rolled-out sewer lateral ordinance. It is currently scheduled to go into effect on January 1, which is less than two months away. In practice, the ordinance will have many similarities to the already-existing ordinances in Sausalito and Belvedere.

One big difference, and one that MAR has been opposing since the very first day we saw the ordinance, is the requirement for a “pressure test” on every sewer line, even before a camera goes down. Ross Valley Sanitary’s own engineers estimate that between 85-90% of the laterals will fail this pressure test. Several plumbers I’ve spoken with said every inspection would fail. If you fail the pressure test, the next step is a camera inspection…like we do now.

Why can’t we just have everyone do the camera inspection first? The reason the pressure test is so cumbersome is because the whole line needs to be “plugged”, including cleanouts…and buried cleanouts. How many times do you learn of a buried cleanout in the yard somewhere? Well, now, those will have to be “unburied” and plugged.

I’m also not sure why, in the middle of a drought, we will be wasting thousands and thousands of gallons of water on these tests.

The net is that this will go from a 30-minute meeting for the camera inspection to a 2-3 hour meeting for the pressure test. The best guess of cost I’m getting for these pressure tests is $600-1000. At 600+ sales per year in Ross Valley, this will cost the community $500,000 +/- to do these pressure tests…every year…

Money that could be spent fixing pipes. Think about it, after 4 years, ratepayers and citizens of the Ross Valley will have spent $2 million dollars on a frivolous test. How many thousands of feet of sewer line could that $2 million go towards? It’s a horrible waste of the public’s money.

I went and shared this rationale and math last month at the RVSD Board meeting. I got 3 minutes of “public time” to get through this. I suggested to them that we wanted to have some time at the next meeting on the agenda so we could all discuss this.

They did not put us on the agenda for the next meeting.

Remember, when the Board of Directors of Ross Valley Sanitary District originally passed this ordinance, they did not seek MAR’s input, nor the public’s input. They quietly put it on the agenda for the next meeting on a Friday, and voted on the ordinance the following Wednesday with zero input from stakeholders and the public.

We’ve been working with them ever since, to improve the ordinance. To its credit, RVSD has made some modifications to its ordinance based upon MAR’s recommendations. But they’ve steadfastly held on to this pressure test, and it’s pretty clear that they want to keep it. At least the staff does; I’m pretty sure the Board doesn’t really know what this whole pressure test business is all about.

So MAR is going to ask you, our members, to join the fight against this frivolous pressure test. MAR supports fixing our aging sewer infrastructure in a responsible manner. RVSD needs to do the same by being a good steward of the public’s money and remove the pressure test.

Tomorrow, MAR will be sending you a “call for action” to kick this off. It will be a simple “click here” type of email campaign to all the RVSD Board members.

I will keep you informed of the status of this effort. Thank you in advance for your participation in this very important campaign.

2014 GENERAL ELECTION

One of the most important responsibilities you have as a citizen and as a REALTOR is to go vote tomorrow, if you haven’t already. MAR and CAR have endorsed the following candidates and positions on Statewide and Countywide measures:

  • US Congress
    • Jared Huffman
  • State Assembly
    • Marc Levine
  • State Senate
    • Mike McGuire
  • Marin Hospital Board
    • Dr. Larry Bedard
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October CAR Conference AND Expo Wrap-Up

Good day MAR Members!

Let’s Go Giants! Let’s Go Giants!

It’s hard to believe that this will all be over soon…hopefully with a big parade on Market Street. The Giants’ amazing run continues, and as far as I can tell many of you MAR Members have been at the World Series games…at least that’s what Facebook is telling me. MAR Member Robert Bradley was even mis-identified as the “Marlin Guy” on TV…nice suit, Rob!

Also this weekend, I’ve got to give another shout out to the Utah Utes football team, with a rousing come-from-behind win over USC with 6 seconds remaining. My USC Trojan wife Heather was not as amused, but the four member MAR/Utah cheering section is very pleased this week. All four of us.

OCTOBER CAR CONFERENCE AND EXPO WRAP-UP

This week it’s a short recap on the last of the CAR stuff. First of all, after all of my reporting the past couple of weeks about the Millennials and their delayed home buying patterns, CAR issued a press release and published a Webinar about this generation and their attitudes about homeownership. The highlight seems to be that this generation still believes in homeownership, with 54% rating homeownership as an “8” or higher on a 1-10 scale about the importance of homeownership.

But enough with the Millennials, already!

As always, one of the highlights of the conference is CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young’s forecast for the coming year. I shared a couple of the most important highlights a couple of weeks ago, which is that CAR expects total home sales to increase by 5.8% in 2015, and also that the median price is projected to increase by 5.2 % in 2015.

The whole presentation is finally available online here, and it’s worth a quick review…well, as quick as you can review a 128 slide PowerPoint presentation. All of your economic questions should be answered here!

Since we are at the end of a 2-year legislative cycle, the most recent round of advocacy for our members has concluded in Sacramento. Much of what we worked on were a list of priorities for 2015 and beyond. Here are some of the highlights:

-The CAR Board of Directors voted to adopt a “FOR” position on California Proposition 1 on the November ballot, which is the Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2014. All other state ballot initiatives were deemed “Not Real Estate Related”.

-The “Split Roll” Task force released its report and recommendations. “Split Roll” refers to Proposition 13, and the question of whether residential and commercial property tax rules be “split” and taxed with different policies. The Task Force recommended the following:

1. That CAR continue to oppose measures that would impose a split roll property tax system. To that end, a “tool box” should be established on CAR’s website with information with which to combat attempts at the local level to establish a statewide split roll.

2. That CAR support measures that provide that when there is a substantial change in ownership interests if (a) real property or (b) a company owning real property that the property be reassessed.

The CAR Board of Directors voted to adopt these two policies.

-The Taxation and Government Finance Committee had the following action item:

That CAR “SPONSOR” legislation requiring that all property owners be notified when a proposed parcel tax is going to be voted on.

The genesis of this position is based upon the fact that if you’re an out-of-town owner and thus don’t vote in a particular area, currently you often do not know if a parcel tax is on the ballot. You deserve to know. The CAR Board of Directors voted to adopt this position.

We voted on lots of other things like starting working groups about various issues, plus a number of broker compliance items, but I’ll categorize those as “inside baseball” with real action items to come in the future.

Other odds and ends from CAR:

-In an economic session I attended, Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics was asked if the current real estate “run” was over? His answer, notwithstanding that sales were down in 2014, was that he sees a “whole new wave” of buyers and sales. Mortgage financing is expected to be made more available and accessible to potential buyers in the coming years, and those people will buy homes. The iron fist of mortgage lending is expected to loosen up.

-In this same session, both Thornberg and Richard Green, Professor and Director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, agreed that our much-loved Proposition 13 both keeps home prices higher and also makes it harder to move. People with a low property tax base are reluctant to move and give that up. I can relate to that, having bought my house in 1996…moving to a house that is the same price today would result in a 150% increase in my property taxes. I’m hardly alone, and people like me who don’t want to move constrain the supply of homes on the market. When you combine this with the fact that most everyone has refinanced into a super-low-rate 30-year mortgage, it’s understandable why we have constrained supply.

-Baby boomers are also delaying retirement, partially because their interest rates are so low why would they sell and downsize into something with a higher rate?

-Everyone throughout the week expected the current low interest rates to be around for a while to come. They may go up a bit, but no quantum leaps are expected.

-Thornberg also expects more and more banks to hold mortgages rather than sell to Fannie and Freddie: “Where there is a profit there is a way.”

-No one sees a return to sub-prime lending practices like we saw in the middle of the last decade. Green had previously been in favor of those policies to increase accessibility of loans, but everyone got bitten last time and thus there is no will for that type of financing…regardless of how much money there might be.

-Finally, in a breath of fresh air that hopefully our legislators in Sacramento will adopt (not likely): The CAR Affordable Housing Task Force determined that any policy on this subject is “not a project that can be implemented at a state level.” Affordable housing challenges and policies are different throughout the state, and need to be addressed at a local level. So chalk one up for CAR supporting local control. Hopefully we can get that message across in Sacramento that one-size-fits-all housing policy is simply not practical in California.

I think that’s enough for this week, and with that I’ll close the book on the 2014 Fall C.A.R. Business meetings. Next week, back to local stuff!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 President

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Get to Know the Millennial Buyers and the CAR Panel Discussion on the Portal Wars

Good day MAR members!

Let’s Go Giants! Let’s Go Giants! Giants fever is so all-encompassing that when Heather and I attended a concert in the City on Friday night, midway through the concert during some banter by the band the whole Masonic Auditorium joined in a “Let’s Go Giants!” chat for about 30 seconds. It’s another amazing time to be a Giants fan!

Between biking, hiking, kids’ games and the ever-present backdrop of “Let’s Go Giants!”, we’re all enjoying another beautiful Indian Summer here in Marin. Looking at people bundled up in other parts of the country, I’m reminded how blessed we are to live and work here in Marin. Keep your Orange and Black Giants gear handy, and let’s settle into another terrific week of beautiful warm days and evenings of World Series baseball. Come to think of it, I’ll try to get some Kansas City BBQ on the grill this week too.

MORE FROM C.A.R. AND THE MILLENNIALS

Thank you for all your positive comments on last week’s Monday Memo. Lots of you were very happy to hear how much your Millennial children love their parents! I’ll touch on a few more random items on our new first-time-homebuyer generation:

-This is the first generation that you will have to “adapt” to. Otherwise you’ll be out of business down the road.

-We probably all know this, but they make decisions based upon recommendations from friends, and nothing remains “cutting edge” for long.

-From East Bay Gen-Y Sothebys broker Andrew Greenwell, who is a Millennial himself, 5 Rules for Communicating with Gen-Y:

Tell them to read the whole email…otherwise they just read the subject line

“The Pointier the Bullet the Better”…meaning, net out your bullet points for an easily distracted generation.

NEVER put critical instructions at the end of the email…Millennials won’t read it.

Group communication is important…why have a meeting or phone call when you can solve the world’s problems with a group email or text?

MOST IMPORTANT: Millennials don’t like phone calls. He seriously said that people of his generation find a phone call to be an invasion of privacy. Seriously.

Andrew also said that Millennials don’t have a “personal life” and a “work life”…just “one life”. He encouraged us to be transparent, because Millennials can sniff through a lack of transparency, it’s in their DNA. Also, because they love their parents so much, it’s very important to engage and appeal to “Mom and Dad” with a Millennial client…Mom and Dad will be involved every day.

Finally…Andrew suggested that we “Focus on their future, not your past…make me understand why this is important to me right now.” And: “Millennials wonder where YOU will fit into their life story.”

I couldn’t get over the feeling of a self-indulgent generation, but we need to get over that as they are the most important generation for our industry right now. C.A.R. is correctly dead-set on understanding and accommodating this important group of young buyers.

THE PORTAL WARS

At C.A.R., we collectively spent a LOT of time talking about Zillow/Trulia “Zulia” and Move/Realtor.com. The Strategic Planning Forum on Friday was a packed panel discussion with Zillow, Trulia, Move/Realtor.com…and one old-school broker for levity sake.

Prior to the panel discussion, at Wednesday’s Member/Director Forum, C.A.R. CEO Joel Singer had some comments about Zillow in general as a primer for Friday’s panel discussion:

-Zillow is now the market “opinion leader”

-Zillow claims 80 million unique users, if you can believe that.

-Zillow’s market cap is $4.3B. While staggering, this number is way down from the $7B they had right after the Trulia acquisition, and their market cap has been steadily dropping since the acquisition.

-Zillow needs to “get some profits” to justify this huge market cap.

-News Corp just acquired Move.com/Realtor.com. Joel compared Zillow’s $4.3B market cap with News Corp’s $73B market cap, and rhetorically asked which one has the bigger war chest going forward.

-The consumer has better info than we do. He showed some slides of Zillow/RedFin/Truila listing pages, and compared that data with what we see in our MLS. It was pretty comical.

But the Friday panel was the most illuminating. Zillow sent Curt Beardsley, their VP of Industry Development. Trulia sent Alon Chaver, its VP of Insustry Services. Realtor.com sent Russ Cofano, SVP of Industry Relations. And the old-school broker I mentioned was Tom Kuntz, VP of North America of brokerage Engel and Volkers.

I had heard the three portal guys several times earlier this year at various panel discussions at CAR, NAR and the Inman conference. My main takeaway was the same as it was earlier: they don’t want to share much. Yet, we keep packing these forums, looking for magic nuggets of info to glean.

Beardsley of Zillow said that Zillow’s focus has always been and will be on the consumer. He said they are an advertising-based media company. And he said that 50% of the interaction with Zillow is now via mobile.

Cofano of Realtor.com described its philosophy and mission as being “aligned with Realtors”. He identified that “there are a lot more online leads than buyers.” So true. Realtor.com does not believe in putting up valuations, and they also don’t believe in putting FSBO listings right next to your listings.

Chaver described Trulia as “being similar to Realtor.com”. No valuations (at least not anymore…probably thanks to Zillow buying them); No FSBOs. He claimed a Realtor-friendly approach, and proclaimed “we’ve transformed the customer experience and expectations over the past 8 years.”

Kuntz the broker was resigned to the changing environment of customer access to data. He correctly talked of the disconnect that “our industry has not yet delved into Big Data” like the Big 3 portals have. They know an awful lot about our customers. He also worries that “Realtor value is being replaced by Big Data.”

Then the banter began.

Beardsley said that Zillow is “central to the consumer” by adding in Big Data. Consumers typically search online for 12 weeks before they reach out to a real estate professional. We as an industry are not engaged yet at that time and the Big 3 are. People want a “general idea of values” during those 12 weeks, they don’t want to talk to a Realtor yet, and Zillow is addressing those needs with listings and Zestimates.

Cofano of Realtor.com then produced the zinger of the forum: Over the past 5-6 years, the number of licensed agents nationwide has stayed relatively static at 1M agents. Nationwide sales have stayed relatively static at 5M sales. But the number of online leads has zoomed up like a hockey stick. Monumental growth of online leads. Why so many more leads if the sales are remaining the same? What is the definition of an “online lead?” He said all that those leads are doing is creating more work for everyone.

And on it went, with everyone’s opinion about the general state of “online leads”. Joel Singer of CAR, who was moderating, asked the panel “Are leads becoming more valuable?” Beardsley of Zillow acknowledged the “huge growth of online leads”, but stuck with his contention that Zillow is a media company: “We don’t sell leads, we sell opportunities for you to be in front of your customers.”

Cofano of Realtor.com came back again with “leads are becoming less valuable”, and “leads cost the same whether they’re really good or crap”. He directly asked Beardsly of Zillow whether “online leads are becoming less valuable?” Beardsly stammered for a minute or two and didn’t answer the question. Cofano asked him again, and Beardsly finally relented that “yes, online leads are becoming less valuable” and that they need to fix that problem.

At that point, MAR President-Elect Matt Hughes, who was sitting across the room, summed it up best for me via a text he sent: “They are not creating leads. They are creating contact info of window shoppers.”

Amen to that.

The wise sage of the meeting, broker Tom Kuntz, told us that someone with way more money than Zillow is going to come in and change the playing field again in a way that we don’t know about yet. He talked about Napster and online music being a cute little unprofitable business until Apple and iTunes stepped in and effectively monetized it. Someone big, who we haven’t even thought of yet, will come in and make Zillow obsolete.

I’m not sure about that yet, but this sure is a fascinating conversation.

That’s it for now, next week I’ll share some of the action items we voted on at the CAR Board of Directors meetings.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 President

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CAR Update: Economic Forecast and the Impact of the Millennials

Good day MAR members!

It’s great to be back in Marin after a week across the street from the Happiest Place on Earth.  We could see Disneyland from our C.A.R. hotel and the Anaheim Convention Center, but things were so busy that looking from a distance was all we could do.  Perhaps that’s not so bad, after seeing all the bleary-eyed parents looking like the walking wounded returning from the park with their kids.

And:  LET’S GO GIANTS!!  Pretty huge cheers went up whenever one of the speakers said that at the meetings…which is surprising because there are way more people in SoCal…and our SoCal friends were licking their wounds after the Dodgers and Angels were dispatched from the playoffs last week.  There sure was a lot of Angels gear for sale in the gift shop of our hotel, but after observing for five days I didn’t see a single item leave the store.

SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY

By now, many of you probably saw the “Alert – Marin Agent Safety” we sent out last Saturday.  If you didn’t see it, you can check it out HERE.  The net is that there is allegedly a person posing as a REALTOR® going around to open houses looking for prescription drugs.  Police have advised members that unless he is actually caught stealing something there is nothing they can do.

One thing you can do is get a “Pill Pod” from the MAR store.  The Pill Pod is essentially a $20 plastic “safe” to store medication.  It’s not an indestructible device, but it is big enough that medication can’t be put in a pocket and walked out with.  It’s an inexpensive, effective deterrent.  For more info, you can just drop by the MAR store and check it out.

In the wake of the Beverly Carter murder in Arkansas, we need to keep a very watchful eye out for “copycat” assaults on agents.  This past Saturday, a 55-year-old female agent in Orange County was punched in the face at one of her listings: ARTICLE

This Wednesday morning at the Novato Tour Meeting, Officers Conrad and Doyle from the Novato Police Department will be attending to discuss agent safety and how the police can be of help.  They would also like feedback from the agent community.  The safety meeting starts at 9:00 and is held at the Novato Youth Center at 680 Wilson in Novato.

Be careful out there!

CAR FALL BUSINESS MEETINGS

As I mentioned, MAR’s CAR Director delegation spent last week in Anaheim at the Expo and Fall Business Meetings.  I’ll do my best to distill the most important info out of my 23 pages of notes I took…it will likely take me a couple of weeks to get through all of it.

Let me first get to the two numbers you need to know for your clients and prospects:  at the 2015 Economic Forecast by CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young, she reported that CAR expects that California unit sales will go up by 5.8% in 2015, and that the median price will increase by 5.2%.  Keep those two numbers in mind, and you will be armed with the freshest data next time someone asks you about the market outlook.

Ahhh, but digging into those numbers is what will make you sound even smarter.  The most startling overall sentiment in Anaheim is how there is a perception of a market slowdown throughout California.  CAR was way off on its 2014 market projections.  Earlier this year, I reported that CAR was expecting total unit sales to INCREASE by 6%.  CAR now expects unit sales to DECREASE by 8.2% in 2014.  That’s quite a miss.  Also, they expected the median price to also go up by 6%, and they now expect that number to increase by 11.8%.

What’s also startling about this is that the 2014 unit and price projections were calculated with an expectation that interest rates would have materially risen with the end of QE, and they expected the rates to be well over 5% by now.  As we know the interest rates have been pretty flat for most of the year.

THE MILLENNIALS, OUR SLOWLY-EMERGING FIRST-TIME-BUYER GENERATION

This disconnect came up at a number of meetings I attended.  The finger kept getting pointed to our new first-time-buyers…the “Millennials”…or “Generation Y”.  More commonly known as “your kids”, and also identified as the largest generation in American history.  With the oldest of them in their early 30s, they’re not buying houses as quickly as previous generations.

Over the past year, starting at last October’s CAR meetings in Long Beach, much of the collective efforts  of CAR can be described as a psychology and sociology study of this generation.  Here are some interesting tidbits, in no particular order.

-Millennials are delaying getting married.  Marriage rates are plummeting.  Less marriages = less homes purchased.

-They’re still living at home.  And I kept hearing that they like their parents much more than we did.  That’s slowing these young adults from “growing up”.  I kept hearing that “90% of Gen Ys have a good relationship with their parents.”  And sit down for this one:  2/3 of adult children living with their parents are “satisfied with the arrangement.”  And you thought it was just you…  They didn’t share whether the parents felt the same way about this arrangement.

-People are simply moving less.  Why?  Kids like their parents better.

-Regarding the plummeting marriage rate, one interesting anecdote was shared by Richard Thornberg, one of CAR’s top economists:  In previous generations, more men went to college, and more men had degrees than women.  Today it’s just the opposite:  More women are going to college than men, and more women have degrees than men.  So what?  Mr. Thornberg offered the following demographic comment:  Better educated men are ok being in a relationship with less educated women, but better educated women are NOT ok being in a relationship with less educated men.  This is a demographic conundrum that won’t go away soon.

-Or, more simply put, Mr. Thornburg asked for the single women in the audience to raise their hands if they’re ok going on a date with an adult man living with his parents.  Not many hands went up.

-Our population in California is becoming more Latino and more Asian.  Latinos and Asians historically live with their parents longer.

-Given our recent housing debate in Marin, how about this:  78% of Millennials would prefer to not own a car and rather would like to walk to everything.

-Millennials want walkability.  Millennials actually ARE buying in downtown LA and downtown Oakland.  Walkability, nightlife and activity in general were cited as the reasons for this.  They don’t care about quality of schools, because none of them are having kids yet.

-As for the decrease in units, investors are not in the market as heavily, and “investors need to be replaced by first-time-buyers” and it’s not happening.

THE PUBLIC POLICY DEBATE ON HOUSING

On several occasions, CAR CEO Joel Singer described housing as “the Achilles Heel of California.”  We’re just not building enough new housing, as he said.  California has 13% of the population in the US, and only generates 8% of the building permits.  The population is still growing, but nothing is being built for them.  The need for reform of CEQA came up over and over again.  CEQA is the California Environment Quality Act, and it makes building difficult.

Plus, it seems that everywhere other than Marin, density is preferred and increasing.  That’s where the Millennials want to live.  So Sacramento is focusing on affordable rentals, not affordable housing for purchase.  Joel Singer said that in a recent conversation with the Speaker of the California Assembly Toni Atkins (who hails from Coastal San Diego County), when asked about housing affordability, she started talking about rental affordability.  She told Joel, “just wait until we’re a 50% renter society.”

So that’s where the public policy debate in Sacramento is focused:  rental affordability.

As for the affordability of housing for purchase, it’s become increasingly unaffordable in California.  At the height of the recession, Joel Singer described it as a “once in a generation buying opportunity”.  Those days are long gone.  The ability to purchase a median-priced home in California has fallen to 36% this year, compared to 60% for the US.  Joel called this “self-inflicted pain” because we’re not building.

I’ll leave it there for now.  There is so much more to report, I’ll pick it up next week.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 MAR President

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Realtor Safety and Housing Density AB-1537 Signed Into Law

Good morning MAR members!

Now that’s more like it! I’ve got to say, I love the heat. But I don’t love the humidity. This has been a voodoo freaky summer here in Marin…sticky, sweaty, muggy. Finally, we’ve had some of that beautiful, humidity-free fall weather. In years past, I might be taking it for granted, but not this year. I’ve been enjoying every toasty moment. Keep it coming!

And let me get this out of the way right out front: LET’S GO GIANTS!! What a sports weekend, Giants, 49ers. Big win for Cal, sad loss for Stanford. Oh, and let’s not forget Utah’s stirring win over #8 UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night. Sorry Kate Hamilton and all the rest of you Bruin fans (my sister included…).

REALTOR® SAFETY

With those light-hearted thoughts out of the way, time to get serious. We just finished up NAR’s REALTOR® Safety Month. So much has been said about the tragic death of REALTOR® colleague Beverly Carter. Horrible, horrible, horrible. This could have been any of us.

The news has hit all of us like a ton of bricks. Last week, it was the talk of our industry. Out on tour, in office meetings, in conversations with loved ones, friends and clients.

On Wednesday, I was previewing a listing of MAR member Beth Brody’s in Mill Valley. She was telling a story from years ago of an incident in Muir Beach where something just didn’t seem right with a supposed buyer. She reported the incident to the police, and a week later got a call from the FBI about REALTOR® murder in Sacramento with a description matching the guy she had reported. We think we’re all very safe here in beautiful Marin, but it happens here too.

As our sales meeting last week, the topic was REALTOR® safety. I reminded everyone that we have a local Marin emergency number that is quicker and better than 911…it’s 415-472-0911. You should definitely put that in your cell phone.

And as an industry, we need to SLOW THINGS DOWN sometimes. Showing homes to people we’ve not met, at empty houses, is simply a bad business practice. There is a tremendous amount of pressure being created by the so-called “on demand” society. At the Inman conference in SF earlier this summer, the founder of a large internet-based broker (one with a color in its name) was smugly boasting about how his business model is simply accommodating a need and expectation by the buyer community for “on demand” showing of real estate. Telling us that if we don’t do it, someone else will. There were a number of his agents at various breakout sessions throughout the day, each telling stories of “out-on-demanding” traditional REALTORS®.

I don’t see this changing anytime soon. There is tremendous competitive pressure to convert leads, often from buyers who want to look at a house right now/in an hour/sometime this morning. Particularly if you’re a new agent or an experienced agent trying to jumpstart your business…the expectation has been created, and if you don’t do it someone else will.

My advice: meet them at your office. These stories of incidents involving REALTORS® are not new, this one with Ms. Carter simply turned around so quickly and tragically it’s got all of our attention. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste…make a commitment to be careful! Here is the link to NAR’s REALTOR® Safety page HERE. Let’s take the attention of this tragedy with a new commitment to being safe.

REALTOR® SAFETY, PART II

Speaking of safety, MAR member Abby Tanem last week reported that she recognized a fake REALTOR® from several years ago who claims to be from Pacific Union’s Mill Valley office…but has no card. Abby remembered him, and called PU to confirm that no one by that name worked there. We all thought this guy was busted for theft a few years back, but he seems to have resurfaced. Please tell your clients to lock up valuables and medication…especially the kinds that lend themselves to abuse.

With that in mind, earlier this year I was approached by a local vendor who has a very affordable solution to medication theft…it’s something of a plastic “safe” with a combination lock. The safe isn’t really bullet-proof, but the form factor…about the size of a cookie jar…simply does not lend itself to popping into a pocket and walking out of the house like a small bottle of medication can. We’ve ordered a case of these for the MAR store, and should be in stock soon. They’re only $20, and will result in piece of mind for us and our clients.

HOUSING DENSITY, AB 1537

Yes! Last week, Governor Brown signed AB1537 into law, providing a huge victory for common sense and Marin’s Assemblyman Marc Levine. AB1537 lowers Marin’s default density for affordable housing projects from 30 to 20 units per acre, and correctly reclassifies Marin as Suburban rather than Metropolitan.

MAR worked quite a bit in advocacy of this bill. We were among the earliest groups to endorse the measure, and both MAR CEO Andy Fegley and myself testified before Assembly and Senate committees in Sacramento in favor of the bill.

It is the right bill, for the right time in Marin’s housing future. It is effective on January 1, 2015, and will run for eight years through a full housing planning cycle.

Congratulations to Assemblyman Levine and his team, along with Supervisor Kate Sears who also worked tirelessly on this bill’s passage.

Finally, thank you to over 100 REALTORS® who attended the Flood Summit at the Marin Country Club last Tuesday. It was a big hit, and lots of very detailed info was shared. The info didn’t really make me feel better, but it did make me feel much better informed. Thank you to sponsors Steve Strickland of JCP-LGS Disclosures, and Kristy Militello of First American Home Warranty, and also thank you to MAR Education Chair Mary Kay Yamamoto for their collective work on this useful event.

That’s it for now, I’m off to the fall CAR Business Meetings and EXPO in Orange County in the morning on a 6:30 AM flight. I and the MAR CAR Director team return on Saturday and we will likely have a couple of week’s worth of reports for you.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week. Be careful out there.

Blaine Morris
2014 MAR President

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Flood Summit, SRES Certification and BAREIS SEL Form Update/Correction

Good day MAR members!

Tough weekend for Marin sports fans…Giants getting swept, 49ers and Raiders losing, Cal losing on a last second Hail Mary. At least the A’s took two out of three from the Phillies. It wasn’t a total loss for me, however, since my University of Utah Utes went into the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan and came away with a nice win to go to 3-0. But I won’t dwell on that, since no one cares about Utah football other than MAR CEO Andy Fegley, Cyd Gardner and myself.

Busy, busy, busy. Slowly but surely, they seem to be finishing all the road projects out there. The West End of San Rafael has been a bit of a war zone lately, with the main gas line replacement across Second and Third streets wreaking havoc, along with H Street on the edge of Forbes and Sun Valley. What a mess, detour central, and extra time needed for all. Though I don’t relish the arrival of the rainy season, at least the pending arrival of rain should cause all these streets to get closed up. Let’s hope so, anyway!

FLOOD SUMMIT AND SRES CERTIFICATION TRAINING

It’s close to last call for these events, folks. The Flood Summit, with FEMA and others coming to give us an update on the flood zone and flood insurance world, is scheduled for next Tuesday at the Marin Country Club. There are still some seats left for this great event. The cost is $15, and will include a continental breakfast. You can click here to register. Many thanks to Steven Strickland of JCP-LGS Disclosures and Kristy Militello of First American Home Protection for sponsoring, and also to MAR Education Chair Mary Kay Yamamoto for their efforts to put this together.

Also, there are still some seats left for next months’ Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) certification training. All of us should have this certification, since such a large portion of our clients are facing aging-related housing decisions. I got the certification nearly three years ago, and the two days of the course were extremely productive in raising my awareness of these important issues, and also were helpful in making me more well-versed on the conversation itself. The certification training will be held at the MAR offices on October 6th and 7th, and registration closes this Thursday. The cost for the training and certification is $245, and you can click here to register.

BAREIS SEL FORM UPDATE/CORRECTION

As excited as I was earlier this month when informing you about BAREIS’ recent changes to the SEL form policy, I must admit that I passed along some incomplete information about the revised process. Over a period of several months and several reports to the MAR Board of Directors, BAREIS Class B Director and MAR Member Dave Egan had been sharing with us that a “streamlining” of the process was in the works.

It culminated at the MAR Board meeting last month, when the message that I heard…and reported to you in the “Tuesday Memo” after Labor Day…was that BAREIS had made a major and welcome revision to the process. It was my understanding that the much-loved SEL “exclusion” form still needed to be completed, but that your broker was responsible for ensuring compliance, along with all the other legal and procedural items your broker is responsible for. Dave shared that “hundreds” of SEL form compliance emails and phone calls will be “eliminated” or a “thing of the past” or something like that.

That was incorrect. Or at least I reported it incorrectly.

In BAREIS’ announcement of the change in SEL exclusion form policy sent to all of us via email on 8/28, the new process is defined. Yes, you do have to still get the form. Yes, you STILL need to send the form to BAREIS within three business days of taking the listing. You can avoid this step, however, if you SUBMIT the listing to BAREIS on the MLS with a FUTURE “ON MARKET” DATE. Which means you’ll need to totally complete the listing on the MLS, with all fields completed, within those three days.

Yup, that’s it…the “streamlining” of the process: either do what you’ve been doing (or should have been doing, unless you don’t mind paying fines) and send the SEL form to BAREIS within three business days, OR go through the entire process of uploading your listing, and submitting it with a “future” on-market date. This is beyond “incomplete” listing…it’s the whole enchilada.

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. Once again, it’s important for me to remind the membership that neither I nor the MAR Board of Directors have any authority to effect change at BAREIS. That’s up to BAREIS’ Board and its executive leadership. We simply get feedback and share feedback through our Class B Board Member.

From my perspective, this so-called “revision” is just that…a revision, not an improvement nor a streamliningof the process. It’s certainly easier to go fax in the form, just like we always have, than it is to spend 45-60 minutes inputting the whole listing and submitting it as “complete”. Within three days.

I received a few calls this week from agents who misunderstood the “improved” process, and were enlightened by BAREIS. I’ll share this feedback with BAREIS Director Egan tomorrow, who I continue to believe does an outstanding job representing Marin at BAREIS. In the meantime, you can share your feedback yourself with BAREIS by clicking here.

That’s it for now, lots of new listings out there for our clients for this beautiful Indian Summer season, good selling!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine

Blaine Morris

2014 MAR President

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