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Monday, November 30, 2009

California GRI classes for the week of Nov. 30

GRI Schedule

Anaheim - Dec 1 (Tue) - GRI # 106 Money Making Stra...
San Jose - Dec 1 (Tue) - GRI #106 Money Making Stra...
Pasadena - Dec 2 (Wed) - GRI #114 Essential Concep...
Corona - Dec 4 (Fri) - GRI #110 Marketing, Finan...

More information: All GRI schedules | How to Register | (888) 785-4800

Does Your Website Serve Your Clients' Needs?

Michael Soon Lee by GRI Instructor Michael Soon Lee, MBA, CSP, CRS, GRI

Author: "111 Ways to Justify Your Commission" and "Black Belt Negotiating"

Most real estate websites are ineffective in attracting clients because they’re all about you and, frankly, buyers and sellers don't care. They don't care how long you’ve been in real estate or how many homes you've sold because they only care about one thing… that you can meet their needs.

To find out if your website is client-oriented simply print out your home page and highlight those statements that are a benefit to clients. In other words it must answer the question, "What do the features you've listed do for me?" For example, being in real estate for ten years learning how to solve clients’ housing needs is a benefit. Gaining valuable experience handling many different types of transactions is likewise a benefit.

Unfortunately, after doing this exercise most agents find very few yellow highlights. Looking at your website from the client's perspective will make it much more effective.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from GRI

Happy Thanksgiving
In celebration of the upcoming Holiday, PRI will be CLOSED on Thursday, November 26th and Friday, November 27th, 2009.

To view all current schedules, please visit www.eDesignations.com. Please do not leave telephone messages on the days the PRI office will be closed, as there will be no one available to return your call. Please use the new "REQUEST A CALL BACK" feature on the GRI home page if you would like a call back on Monday, November 30th, 2009.

Thank you for your understanding and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The GRI Bill Monthly Program

GRI Questions
Often when students call to enroll for a GRI class, we are asked if we have their credit card information from previous enrollments. For your protection, and ours, we do not keep credit card information on file unless you have signed up for the Bill Monthly program.

If you would prefer not to have to call in and provide your credit card information for each class, and you plan on attending your courses continuously at the same location, consider signing up for the Bill Monthly program. It will guarantee you a seat in every class and save you the trouble of having to keep track of your enrollment by automatically charging your credit card and enrolling you into your next class.

To sign up for this program or to get more information, please call PRI at (888) 785-4800.

Privacy Policy for Bloggers

Jerry Kidd by GRI Instructor Jerry Kidd, GRI, CRS, CRB
Teaches GRI Course 107 - Real Property, Tax and Exchanging
View future classes taught by Jerry Kidd

One of those things that seem to have been forgotten by many REALTORS® is that as operators of web sites and blogs we are governed by State law regarding privacy.

Specifically, the Online Privacy Protection Act. (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 22577(c).)

In part, this act states that The Online Privacy Protection Act (OPPA) applies to "operators," any person or entity that owns a commercial Web site or online service, and collects and maintains "personally identifiable information" as defined from a consumer residing in California.

You might ask if the law applies to REALTORS® (don't we always ask that one?) The answer is simple. Yes.

In fact CAR has gone to great lengths to educate you on this one through the use of a Legal Q&A entitled "Online Privacy Laws Affecting REALTORS®"

The Q&A goes to great lengths to explain what is required and how to do it. If you are operating your own blog and collect anything in the way of personally identifiable information, then you need to have a Privacy Policy that explains how you collect the information, what you do with it and who has access to it. (At a panel discussion at the recent NAR Conference in San Diego, one of the panelists, an attorney, stated that email addresses have been held by courts to be personally identifiable information.)

So, in simple terms, this means that your blog needs to have a Privacy Policy, AND you have to actually do the things that the policy lays out.

To take out some of the sting, CAR has generously provided a sample Privacy Policy that you are free to copy and use. They do recommend that you consult an attorney to make sure that the sample policy will provide you with the proper protection. But, it's a great starting place for you.

All you need to do is to create another page on your blog titled Privacy Policy and place the text of the policy on the page. Next, you have to actually implement what the policy lays out!

Here is a link to the Legal Q&A http://budurl.com/PrvcyPolicy. Read through the Q&A and you'll find the sample policy. You'll also find great info on other laws that affect your online business.

Stay safe out there!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Free conference calling for you!

Jerry Kidd by GRI Instructor Jerry Kidd, GRI, CRS, CRB
Teaches GRI Course 107 - Real Property, Tax and Exchanging
View future classes taught by Jerry Kidd

RondeeHave you ever had the need to set up a conference call? And have you ever been stymied by how to do it on the office phone or your cell phone? Do you know if your home phone can do conference calling? I may have the answer to these questions for you in today's post. It's called rondee, and yes, it's absolutely free!

With rondee you can set up scheduled conference calls or you can create on the spot conference calls. You can have up to 100 callers on the call and you can record the call. You can email invitations and you can track the invitations so that you know who has accepted (and who hasn't!).

There are no downloads, there is nothing to install. You log on to rondee and set up a free account. Thereafter, you login to setup the date and time for your call. You are then prompted to add the details of the call and to enter the email addresses of the people that you want to invite. (Or you are given a pin number to distribute to your invitees via text messages or even by calling them yourself and giving them the log in info). They simply dial in at the appointed time, enter the pin number and they are connected to the call.

To get started, just go to rondee.com and create an account. You don't have to do it this way, but if you do create an account, you get to register your phones. A benefit of registering your phones is that ever time you use the phone to call rondee, it recognizes your phone so that you don't have to use a pin number to get to the call. Another benefit of registering is that you can create an address book of frequently used email addresses. This will save you time when setting up a rondee. Once you have done that, you go the web site and follow the steps as illustrated here. Pick a date, pick a time, invite attendees, choose a topic and you are done. You can even download the details into your Outlook or iCal calendars!

Given that you can record the calls, you could create a tele-seminar with just you and your other presenters. Do a seminar, record it, download it and convert it to MP3 and then put it on your blog or web site. The possibilities to use this to promote yourself are almost endless.

Remember, it's free. All you need to enter into a call is a telephone. Cell phones work just fine, too. Please don't whine about the fact that you have to call a San Diego number. If that is a huge problem for you, you can pay rondee for the use of an 800 number!

Tell me how you would use this tool to enhance your business by leaving a comment so that we all can benefit!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

California GRI calsses for the week of Nov. 16

GRI Schedule

Vista - Nov 19 (Thu) - GRI #100 Agency Relations...
Vista - Nov 19 (Thu) - GRI #101 Ethics, Professi...
Thousand Oaks - Nov 19 (Thu) - GRI #100 Agency Relations...
Thousand Oaks - Nov 19 (Thu) - GRI #101 Ethics, Professi...
Fresno - Nov 19 (Thu) - GRI #110 Marketing, Finan...
Antioch - Nov 20 (Fri) - GRI #111 Investment Prope...
San Gabriel - Nov 20 (Fri) - GRI #106 Money Making Str...
Pleasanton - Nov 20 (Fri) - GRI #110 Marketing, Finan...
San Diego - Nov 20 (Fri) - GRI #107 Technology Appli...

More information: All GRI schedules | How to Register | (888) 785-4800

Thursday, November 12, 2009

GRI scheduling for 2010

GRI scheduling for 2010 is underway. Along with the many locations that already hold the GRI series, there will be several locations returning to the GRI mix. Some of these returning locations will include:

  • Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles Association of REALTORS®, Beverly Hills, CA
  • Greater Antelope Valley Association of REALTORS®, Palmdale, CA
  • North Bay Association of REALTORS®, Santa Rosa, CA
  • South Bay Association of REALTORS®, Torrance, CA

We plan to add several more locations and extend some series offerings, as well.

We are happy to announce that 2010 will also include the addition of instructors to the list of elite GRI Faculty members. Our newest faculty members will include:

California GRI takes great pride in ending 2009 knowing the excellence in education that is offered by the GRI program to REALTORS® throughout the state. We look forward to 2010 being another year we can be proud of!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why Consumers Hate Real Estate Commissions

Michael Soon Lee by GRI Instructor Michael Soon Lee, MBA, CSP, CRS, GRI

Author: "111 Ways to Justify Your Commission" and "Black Belt Negotiating"

In my last posting I explained that brokers hate commission-based compensation because it subjects them to tremendous risks. They must spend money on listings that may not sell and their agents’ precious time on buyers who may never buy which, in this economy, could easily drive them out of business.

Consumers hate real estate commissions for two major reasons. First, they don't believe that we earn them. For some reason most home sellers believe that all we do to sell a house is put a sign on the lawn and a notice in the multiple listing service and the property magically sells and it also closes itself. On the other side of the transaction most homebuyers believe that all we do to earn our money is to drive them around, show a few houses and collect a check.

This is why I developed a list of over 100 things that I do to earn my money when working with home sellers and another list of over 100 activities I engage in to earn my money when working with home buyers. I went to this effort because our clients just don't realize how much work is involved behind the scenes in a real estate transaction.

The second reason consumers hate commissions is because they think we make too much money. Most have the impression that every agent gets six percent of every transaction they’re involved in. This is why I give every client a chart showing where every dollar of the commission goes and how high our expenses are.

As a result of my lists and charts my clients know that I earn every dollar I get and that I don't get as much as they used to think. I know it's not fair and no other profession has to justify their value to our clients but it's a fact of life that REALTORS® do. So I hope you'll take the time to explain to every one of your clients how you earn your money and why you don't make as much as they think.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What happens once I complete all of my classes?

GRI Questions
The big question: "What happens once I complete all of my classes?"
Answer: Students are eligible to receive the GRI designation once they have successfully completed all 14 courses, including each corresponding exam. They must be active REALTORS® and complete the entire series within 5 years from the 1st completed class.

Soon after completion, a friendly PRI representative will call and verify that all information is complete and accurate. At this point, the student is free to start using the GRI designation.

The GRI completion packet will be sent out within 60 days of completing the program. The packet will include an official GRI Certificate ready for framing, a GRI lapel pin, a transcript, press releases, examples of self-promotional brochures and other pertinent information.

Students are encouraged to contact the PRI office at (888) 785-4800 if they have completed the program and have not heard from a representative within 14 days of completion.

Friday, November 6, 2009

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended Into 2010! Plus...A New Tax Credit for Certain Existing Home Owners!

Dean C. Piller by GRI Instructor Dean C. Piller
Teaches GRI Course 109 - Residential Real Estate Finance, West Los Angeles College Instructor, Mortgage Broker
View future classes taught by Dean C. Piller

It's official. President Obama has signed a bill that extends the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs) into the first half of 2010. This program had been scheduled to expire on November 30, 2009.

In addition to extending the tax credit of up to $8,000 through June 30, 2010, the extension measure also opens up opportunities for others who are not buying a home for the first time.

So Who Gets What?
The program that has existed for FTHBs remains intact with the one exception that more people are now eligible based on an increase in the amount of income someone may now earn.

Additionally, the program now gives those who already own a residence some additional reasons to move to a new home. This incentive comes in the form of a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years.

In order to qualify for the credit, all contracts need to be in effect no later than April 30, 2010 and close no later than June 30, 2010.

Higher Income Caps in Effect
The amount of income someone can earn and qualify for the full amount of the credit has been increased.

Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, single filers who earn $145,000 and above are ineligible.

Joint filers who earn up to $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, joint filers who earn $245,000 and above are ineligible.

Maximum Purchase Price
Qualifying buyers may purchase a property with a maximum sales price of $800,000.

First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit – Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the tax credit.

What is a tax credit?
A tax credit is a direct reduction in tax liability owed by an individual to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In the event no taxes are owed, the IRS will issue a check for the amount of the tax credit an individual is owed. Unlike the tax credit that existed in 2008, this credit does not require repayment unless the home, at any time in the first 36 months of ownership, is no longer an individual's primary residence.

What is the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs)?
An eligible homebuyer may request from the IRS a tax credit of up to $8,000 or 10% of the purchase price for a home. If the amount of the home purchased is $75,000, the maximum amount the credit can be is $7,500. If the amount of the home purchased is $100,000, the amount of the credit may not exceed $8,000.

Who is eligible for the FTHB tax credit?
Anyone who has not owned a primary residence in the previous 36 months, prior to closing and the transfer of title, is eligible. This applies both to single taxpayers and married couples. In the case where there is a married couple, if either spouse has owned a primary residence in the last 36 months, neither would qualify. In the case where an individual has owned property that has not been a primary residence, such as a second home or investment property, that individual would be eligible.

As mentioned above, the tax credit has been expanded so that existing homeowners who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years are now eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500.

How do I claim the credit?
For those taking advantage of the tax credit in 2009, you may choose to either apply for the credit with your 2009 tax return or you may apply for the credit sooner by filing an amended 2008 tax return with Form 5405 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5405.pdf).

Can you claim the tax credit in advance of purchasing a property?
No. The IRS has recently begun prosecuting people who have claimed credits where a purchase had not taken place.

California GRI classes for the week of Nov. 9

GRI Schedule

Laguna Hills - Nov 10 (Tue) - GRI #111 Investment Prope...
San Luis Obispo - Nov 11 (Wed) - GRI #102 Trust Fund Manag...
San Luis Obispo - Nov 11 (Wed) - GRI #104 Fair Housing...
San Mateo - Nov 12 (Thu) - GRI #107 Technology Appli...
Sacramento - Nov 12 (Thu) - GRI #112 Environmental Co...
Bakersfield - Nov 13 (Fri) - GRI #111 Investment Prope...

More information: All GRI schedules | How to Register | (888) 785-4800

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

If You are Not Using a Twitter App – You are Missing Out!

More than 25 million tweets are posted every day. As more of their clients are joining Twitter, REALTORS® are doing the same. The more active Twitter users become the more difficult it becomes to effectively participate.
TweetDeck Twitter Application
Posting and replying to tweets on Twitter’s website becomes very difficult once you are following many users. The Twitter website does let you know when people send you direct messages but you have to click down to find it. However, re-tweeting, a common task when using Twitter is not possible. Also, knowing when someone mentions you is also not possible using Twitter’s website.

Twitter apps come to the rescue! These programs enhance Twitter so you can have the best experience while using the micro blogging service. Most of them offer an indispensible feature: alerting you when someone following you posts a new tweet.
TweetDeck Twitter Application
There are many Twitter apps, but TweetDeck is the most known. At GRI, we have been using TweetDeck for 3 months with great success. The free program is available for both Mac and PC. It gives you a bird’s eye view of everything that is going on in Twitter. You get to see new tweets, who mentioned you in their tweets and direct messages. Replying and re-tweeting are a snap.

Also, the new version not only alerts you with new tweets, it also shows you the tweet in a pop-up window so you can run TweetDeck in the background, and still keep track of everything that's going on.
TweetDeck Twitter Application

If you are a frequent Twitter user, give TweetDeck a try, your positive tweeting experience will go through the roof.