October 6, 2015

Speaking of Real Estate

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Updated: 1 hour 45 min ago

With Drones, Safety and Privacy are Goals That Real Estate Strives to Meet

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 08:59

“Real estate professionals understand, perhaps more than most, the importance to a homeowner of having privacy in his or her home and backyard, or to be able to guard against trespassers on private property.”—NAR President Chris Polychron in Sept. 10, 2015, testimony to the House Judiciary Commiteee subcommittee on the courts and intellectual property

NAR President Chris Polychron testified before Congress about the real estate industry’s readiness to use unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, in a safe and responsible way once the federal government clears the way with final rules.

NAR President Chris Polychron prior to Sept. 10 House Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing on drones. Photo: Nathan Moncrieff

To get ready, NAR has joined the Federal Aviation Administration’s Know Before You Fly campaign, provided its analyses of safety and privacy issues to the FAA as it writes its rules, and continues to educate its members about the importance of safe drone operations.

NAR’s efforts in this regard put it out front of what will surely be an increasingly important matter as drones become a familiar part of our airspace.

Among the real estate-related questions that are likely to be asked by lawmakers and others as the technology moves forward are these:

  • If you’re working with a drone operator and have the permission of the owner to take aerial photos and video of the owner’s property, what must the drone operator do to ensure the data that’s collected is kept secure?
  • What if a neighbor or someone else is unintentionally photographed or videotaped by the drone?
  • What if the drone causes a safety issue?

For real estate, one of the main uses of drone technology will be aerial photos and videos. But as Polychron made clear in his remarks, the range of possible uses goes far beyond that. The devices can become a safe and cost-effective way to assess property condition and gauge property damage after a storm, among other things.

In short, drones hold a lot of promise for the industry, and in his testimony, Polychron stressed that REALTORS® will make every effort to tap this useful technology while keeping the focus on its safe and responsible use.

Polychron’s testimony is one of the featured segments in The Voice for Real Estate for the week of September 21. Other segments look at two tax victories REALTORS® in Washington state achieved thanks to their efforts at building a state-wide coalition of businesses and building an information campaign for property owners. NAR also helped with pin-point polling and provided grant funds.

Also in the video, Polychron gives a warm tribute to real estate icon Ebby Halliday, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, talks about the recent dip in home sales, NAR researchers share findings from a new technology report, and NAR helps Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau get the word out on the federal government’s most recent efforts to help real estate professionals get up to speed on the closing process changes that take effect October 3.

Sponsor Webinar: Improving Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Mon, 09/28/2015 - 10:51

As a real estate professional, you know the importance of digital marketing, but do you know as much as you’d like to do it successfully?

Barbara Savona, CEO of Sprout Marketing, and Rebecca Ross, Sprout Marketing’s branding director, share their ideas for what goes into a digital strategy in a  60-minute webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 11 a.m., Pacific Time, 2 p.m., Eastern Time.

Improving Your Digital Marketing Strategy will share a range of ideas. Among them:

• The 3 Digital Marketing Strategies: Push, Pull and Convert
• How to make an impact and measure it
• How to gain more real estate in the search engine
• How to get someone to convert as quickly as possible
• How to prioritize your efforts

The webinar is sponsored by AppFolio, providers of web-based property management software, and Sprout Marketing, a marketing and consulting company.

REALTOR® Magazine believes the marketing tips will be useful to its readers and is passing along information about the webinar, but its promotional efforts do not constitute an endorsement of the content.


VIDEO: Drones Are for Animals

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 14:09


The push for legal and governmental sanction of the commercial use of drones is reaching a fever pitch — but is all the barking worth the bite?

The debate around unmanned aerial vehicles in the real estate industry has centered on how to protect home owners’ privacy and whether the flying apparatus pose safety concerns in neighborhoods. But here’s another thing to take into consideration: It could end up being your dog’s favorite chew toy.

Below, Internet news aggregator Digg compiled a series of drone videos capturing attacks by dogs, cats, birds, monkeys, cheetahs, et. al., while the drones are flying through the air. As the site points out, “there is something about animals and drones that just doesn’t mix.”

Though the National Association of REALTORS® has offered its support for drone usage in real estate, it has advised its members not to use them until the Federal Aviation Authority has released regulations around their commercial use. NAR has cited the need to carefully consider safety protocols related to drones in real estate. Perhaps staying out of the doghouse should be chief among them.

Sponsor Webinar: E&O Loophole Nightmares

Wed, 09/16/2015 - 08:28

You can learn how errors and omission (E&O) insurance works, the top reasons claims are denied, and how to assess your coverage to help ensure you’re covered in a lawsuit in an Oct. 1 webinar.

Real estate attorneys Robert Sunderland and Steven Sargenti, CEO and President of CRES Insurance Services, will explain the benefits of individual E&O Insurance and how to conduct one’s own risk management exercise to see if you have all the coverage you need.

The Oct. 1 webinar is one hour and is at 2 p.m., Eastern Time, and is sponsored by CRES Insurance Services. Registrants receive 25 free Permit History Reports, which CRES says has a $99 value.

REALTOR® Magazine, which is promoting the webinar, believes the information will be useful to real estate professionals but its participation does not constitute an endorsement of the content.

More about the webinar.


10 Years On, Hurricane Katrina Has Taught Towns How to Be Resilient

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 07:00


Does the area you live in have a clear evacuation plan and resources in place in case of a catastrophic event? No one can prevent a disaster, but planning and a strong understanding of what it means to be resilient can make all the difference.

On Aug. 29, the country marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina leveled 500,000 homes in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, creating $41 billion in property damage and displacing more than 1 million people.

Since the Category 5 hurricane struck the Big Easy, the city has installed a $14.5 billion system of levees, flood walls, and pumps. Redevelopment in New Orleans’ nine main residential communities has cost $1 billion, and the population is back to 90 percent of what it was before the storm.

These efforts among local, state, and federal governments; public and private organizations; and individuals are all part of what experts call a “resilience effort.” And it appears that such movements aren’t limited to Louisiana. They’ve gained traction across the country.

During a recent webinar, representatives from the Urban Land Institute defined resilience as “the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events.” Resilience includes both recovery and improvement: what can and should happen before, during, and after hazardous events such as flooding, wildfires, winter storms, and tornadoes.

In order to build resilience in areas prone to disasters, ULI’s Byron Stigge listed six steps to help towns and cities assess risk. The idea of risk is based on the concept of the probability of an event (percentage) multiplied by the damage from the event ($), although damages such as health issues and the reputation of a city can’t always be determined monetarily.

  1. Define types of relevant hazards: The events that typically happen in the Midwest are different from those on the West Coast, for example.
  2. Define event scenarios: Are the hazards very likely to happen (10 percent annual probability), moderately likely (1 percent annual probability), or highly unlikely (0.2 percent annual probability)?
  3. Identify affected assets: These assets can include response facilities such as police stations and hospitals, infrastructure, and operating facilities, including government buildings and schools.
  4. Assess the damage to each asset: Direct impacts can include property damage, inventory losses, and loss of life. Indirect impacts can include reduced home values, higher insurance rates, and job losses.
  5. Calculate annual risk exposure: How much money would have to be spent on each asset after each type of hazardous event?
  6. Calculate cumulative risk exposure: Analyze what the damage will be 10, 20, and 50 years from now.

These steps are meant to reduce the risk of catastrophe as much as possible. However, Jim Heid of UrbanGreen, a San Francisco-based sustainability consultancy, noted that “much like sustainability, resilience is … really something that’s never achieved, but it’s something we continually work toward over time.”

Heid stressed the importance of examining actions needed for different types of rural or urban landscapes. He said often it’s smaller communities that need the most resources, but they rarely have the ability to handle them. Strategies that are applicable for a wide range of communities include avoiding new development in high-risk areas, anticipating events by having resources available, and accepting that some challenges are unavoidable.

Though these steps toward resilience seem intended for local government officials, it’s important to be aware of the planning that may be happening in your community. For real estate professionals and home owners, these plans can be an important factor when looking to buy, sell, or show a home. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the city had weak, out-of-date levees and an insufficient evacuation plan. Now, with a resilience movement long underway, the city has collected data to determine which areas need evacuation first in the event of another disaster. It has an evacuation plan, which was tested in the wake of Hurricane Gustav in 2008, to move every resident out in 36 hours and bring them to shelters with food.