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Californians To Vote On Rent Control Initiative

Californians To Vote On Rent Control Initiative

Come November, Californians will vote on whether or not to adopt the Affordable Housing Act. It is not too early to begin discussing the details and the effects of this ballot initiative.

The initiative, as summarized by its proponents in the signature-gathering phase, does this:

Repeals state law that currently restricts the scope of rent-control policies that cities and other local jurisdictions may impose. Allows policies that would limit the rental rates that residential-property owners may charge for new tenants, new construction, and single-family homes. In accordance with California law, provides that rent-control policies may not violate landlords' right to a fair financial return on their rental property.

The act, then, is not one that would set detailed rent control policies. Rather, its major significance is that it would repeal the state's current over-arching rent control legislation. That legislation is embodied in what is widely referred to as the Costa-Hawkins Act. The Act, so-named because it was sponsored by Senator Jim Costa (D) and Assemblyman Phil Hawkins (R), was adopted by the Legislature in 1995. It is embodied in California Civil Code §1954.5 -- 1954.535.

The Costa-Hawkins Act did not prohibit rent control in California, but it did severely limit the rent control provisions that could be adopted by a local municipality. Probably the most notable provisions of the Costa-Hawkins act are these:

1. It prohibits "vacancy control". Vacancy control would require that a vacated unit must remain at the same rental rates that applied to the previous occupant.

2. It prohibits rent control from applying to units whose certificate of occupancy was issued after Feb. 1, 1995.

3. It prohibits rent control from applying to single-family homes or condominiums.

If the proposed initiative passes, it will repeal the restrictions that are currently imposed by Costa-Hawkins. It is important to note that the Affordable Housing Act does not impose any new rental housing restrictions. Instead, it leaves to local jurisdictions to adopt, essentially, whatever rules they want, as long as they do not "violate landlords' right to a fair financial return on their rental property."

Currently, fifteen California cities have some kind of rent control ordinance. Prominent among them are Berkley, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and West Hollywood. They all operate within the limits of Costa-Hawkins, If Costa-Hawkins is repealed, those ordinances would still remain in place. However, they could then be changed in a variety of ways.

The immediate effects of passing the initiative sponsored by the Housing Affordability Coalition (and who can oppose that?) would be negligible. Effects would not be evident until local jurisdictions came up with their own formulations if they should choose to do so. But those effects could be enormous. Simply put, passage of this initiative could have the result of reducing the number of rental units to be built and available in the California market. That is the belief of the opposition group, Californians for Responsible Housing (and who can be against that?). They argue that, in the long run, passing this initiative could be a very bad thing for tenants.

We're going to be hearing a lot from both sides. Be thoughtful. Ask questions. And vote.

How Do Clients Rate Your Service?

How Do Clients Rate Your Service?

When was the last time you took a close look at your service from the client point of view?

Much is made of "I'm Number 1" sales awards which celebrate the number of deals closed, but is the same level of attention paid to professionalism in service delivery?

Length of time on the job, slick marketing, and the number of properties sold each year do not automatically indicate high standards of professionalism.

My definition of "professional" is "an attitude and an aptitude linked to the joy of a job well done and why that matters to others." "Professionalism," by my definition, "is measured by the reactions of those who are served and by the way they are made to feel — important, significant, respected, valued…." What are your working definitions of these foundation concepts which govern service quality?

Real estate offers specific service challenges: long periods of intense client interaction are required before, during, and often after each purchase or sale. Clients may spend weeks, months, or occasionally a year or more working with their real estate professional to progress to the offer stage. Sustaining high-quality customer service can be demanding, especially as it must be customized to each client or couple's needs and decision-making criteria.

Service excellence lies in the details that are relevant to each client. That's also where professionalism is most evident to clients.

Do your clients see your service level as "extreme excellence" or just OK? Rate your services according to the Top Five Criteria for Client-Centric Service Excellence:

#1. Client interests come first.

The real estate professional's time, convenience, and commission should not be the priority. Sending out listings to prospects and showing properties are only part of the job. Applying expertise to strategize for a successful offer presentation and to master related negotiations represents the key professional value. Replacing the offer negotiation process with chatting up the listing agent to discover whether the client's offer would be accepted, without doing the work of preparing and presenting an offer, is not fulfilment of professional obligations as a real estate strategist and negotiator.

  • From the start, do you clarify exactly what the client wants to achieve and how well they understand the real estate process, so they can make informed decisions?
  • As a professional, do you explain to clients precisely to what degree you are accountable for results?
  • Are client rights protected throughout the entire real estate process and transaction, so they will not face disappointments, unexpected expenses, or problems after the transaction closes?

#2. Service concentrates on client needs.

Professionalism involves tailoring information-analysis and decision-making  to the needs of each client, not expecting clients to adjust their approach to the standard offerings of a brokerage. Problem-solving to establish the best match of property, finances, and functionality for each client is professionalism at its best. Labeling and pigeon-holing clients is not.

  • Do you have a range of up-to-date knowledge and skills in your "tool box," so you can offer the best resources and approaches to clients throughout the real estate process?
  • Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses, so clients do not lose out on a potentially-ideal property because you are overworked or distracted?
  • Do you respect client time and needs, so that the real estate process happens as smoothly and quickly as possible, with the minimum of hassles and stress for clients?

#3. Clients all receive top level service.

In your mind, are all target prospects and clients equally important or are there deliberate inconsistencies in what individual clients receive from you in service and attention? Try considering each client as if they are the parent of the head of your firm or the regulatory body that issues your license. Act as if any deficiency on your part could be tomorrow's viral post in order to keep focused on service excellence and taking responsibility for results and outcomes.

  • Do you provide better or more comprehensive service to personal friends or useful acquaintances?
  • Do you rely on liking a client to build rapport or can you empathize with the full range of target clients you serve?

#4. Technology provides customized convenience for clients.

Is your service-delivery design flexible enough to seamlessly incorporate ever-changing technology and social media that appeals to your target market?

  • Is your privacy policy all that your target prospects and clients expect it to be?
  • Is online transparency — a social media essential — an awkward fit for you and your brokerage?

#5. Strategic problem solving always favors clients' goals.

Your value to clients grows out of self-awareness, self-actualization, and self-discipline in acting for yourself and on behalf of others. You are paid to think exceptionally well for clients, so you must be exceptional at thinking for yourself.

How strong are your powers of observation and communication?

  • When you cannot overcome a restriction or limitation, do you give up and consider it unsolvable?
  • Do you believe that when things go badly for you, you should be excused — but still paid — for providing less than your best effort for clients?

The most significant differences between you and your competition — within your brokerage and beyond it — may lie in prospects' and clients' perception of the quality of the experience of dealing with you.

From the client side of your services, is professionalism clearly and consistently evident?

Source: PJ's What's Your Point blog and World Business & Executive Coaching Summit

The 7 Worst Mistakes You Can Make While Renovating And How To Avoid Them

The 7 Worst Mistakes You Can Make While Renovating And How To Avoid Them

Everyone wants to renovate. And now more than ever, they want to do it themselves. According to Remodeling magazine, "Big-ticket remodeling activity, already enjoying record economic conditions, is growing at its fastest pace in four years and should rise 5.1% this year alone." Those numbers are based on Metrostudy's latest Residential Remodeling Index (RRI).

In addition, "The RRI as of the first quarter of 2018 stood as 112.9, its highest reading ever. That number means the economic conditions known to influence remodeling activity are 12.9% better than the old peak in early 2007, just before the Great Recession. The RRI has shown year-over-year gains for 24 consecutive quarters, and as of 1Q18 it was 5.2% above the year-earlier level—the highest such annual growth since the first quarter of 2014--and was 1.4% better than it was just three months prior."

While all that remodeling is great for the economy and also, presumably, for individuals' home equity, problems can arise when homeowners take on tasks themselves without the proper training or preparation. Keeping renovations on track is simple - if you know what to look out for so you can avoid big mistakes.

Overestimating your skill

Tiling looks easy, right? Why not do the entire bathroom, floors and walls. And who needs to take a class or even watch a couple of YouTube tutorials. You've seen it done on TV, and, hey, you pick stuff up quickly, right? That's a recipe for disaster, and, chances are, you'll either be calling a professional to come finish what you started, or to rip it out and start over.

How to avoid mistakes:

Take on something small, first. Test your skills, and your patience, before embarking on the tough stuff.

Underestimating your budget

It's a universal truth that no one ever puts aside enough money for their renovation. And it seems that the tighter your budget, the more likelihood there is that issues will arise to bust it! The last thing you want is a problem that changes your entire plan last minute or makes you stop mid-renovation to make alternate plans or find more money.

How to avoid it:

Experts recommend setting your budget amount and then adding 20 percent, but, the more novice you are, the more you may want to add to that cushion.

Minimizing the timeline

Homeowners looking to do their own renovations can wildly underestimate the amount of time needed to make the changes. This is mostly due to inexperience but is also shaped by individual needs. Just because you only have two weekends to completely tear down and renovate your kitchen before your in-laws arrive doesn't mean it's going to happen within that timeframe. It's more likely that they'll arrive to a mess and no functional place to prepare a meal, let alone the pretty finishes you wanted to show off.

How to avoid it:

Do some research. Listen to what the professionals say. Read some blogs from homeowners who have already done the DIY reno kitchen thing and absorb what they have to say. Really hear it instead of dismissing them as amateurs. Let the mistakes and experiences of others shape how you go about your renovation so your open eyes and open mind can guide you toward success.

Swinging the hammer without a plan

Demo sure looks fun on TV, and it can be fun. But it can also be seriously damaging to your property if you swing away without knowing what you're swinging away at, and you don't have a plan for what to do next, or what to do if you encounter something unexpected.

"Work on older buildings can yield a lot of unforeseen events," said Architectural Digest. "Who knows what's behind that wall you're opening up? New construction is more controlled, but that doesn't always mean smooth sailing. Be prepared for the unexpected. We all hope and pray everything goes according to plan. Trust us: Nothing will."

How to avoid it:

Hire a structural engineer who can tell you exactly what's going on in the wall you want to take down there and ensure you don't do something crazy, like compromise the entire structure of your home.

Not asking for help

Congrats on that whole, "I'm so independent" thing, but when it comes to renovating, the more the merrier. You want someone there to to help with the heavy lifting, to bounce ideas off of, and to confirm suspicions, when necessary.

How to avoid it:

Call your friends, call your fam, call your coworker who's the self-proclaimed Queen of Reno. If nothing else, having another human in the room will make the reno go quicker and will give you someone to talk to, other than yourself.

Thinking you can just do it on weekends

Sure, there are weekend warriors who can power through their Saturday and Sunday renos and go back to work on Monday, but, let's be real. Is that you? The last thing you want is to have to live in a mess for months while you figure out how to finish what you started.

How to avoid it:

One of the most important tips to consider before you embark on any renovation is to just get real honest with yourself about your natural tendencies. Some of us like spending 18 straight hours hammering and sawing and caulking, and some of us are tired and over it after the first 20 minutes.

Not considering the impact on your marriage

There's a reason home renovation is one of the leading causes of divorce: The stress it causes. "It's not necessarily that the renovation process causes problems; it's more that the process exacerbates whatever issues already exist in the relationship," said Business Insider. In some cases, it can even catalyze the dissolution of a relationship, bringing to the surface issues you might have swept under the rug." 

According to the publication, up to 17 percent of couples consider splitting up while fixing up.

How to avoid it:

Keep the communication going. And go into it knowing it will be stressful so you're prepared when things get testy. "Perhaps the best antidote to home renovation-related strife is simply to prepare for it in advance," they said. "Know that the process may contribute to conflict between you and your partner, and think about potential ways to mitigate the stress."

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Caroline York Mortell, Broker

Real Estate Concierge Services, LLC
100 Beach Drive NE, Suite 401
St Petersburg, FL 33701


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Caroline York, was so helpful and very patient with me in my look for a new home. She took so much time and was always there when I needed her. When I finally picked my new home, Caroline was so instrumental in getting it closed. I would be happy to refer her to anyone and everyone seeking a great experience looking for a home. 01/18/2016 - JoanneMarley
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Caroline Mortell | Real Estate Concierge Services, LLC. | 727-510-1811york@carolineyork.com
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