Realtors Contribute to State’s Unemployment

Well, it’s no surprise to me, but it’s now official- there are more than 21% fewer real estate licensees in the State of Hawaii as of the end of the 2008 renewal period.

According to the Bulletin, the official newsletter for the Hawaii Real Estate Commission, of the 21,984 licensees (brokers, brokerages, individual brokers, salespeople and branch offices), only 17,325 renewed their license this last go round.

The breakdown of those who decided to throw in the towel looks like this:

  • 3,976  Salespeople
  • 645     Brokers
  • 38       Branch offices

The upside is those that remain may be more dedicated to the task. A number of part-timers were undoubtly weeded out, and so when the market does come back there will be fewer licensed agents to divide the spoils.

The downside is a significant loss in revenue to the State in the way of license fees (at around $180 a pop = a lot of doe-ray-me!), not to mention fewer people taking those oh so interesting continuing education classes (10 classroom hours every 2 years costing between $35-$55 each). But it’s a cyclical thing and it is what it is!

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals

Michelle Kerr
(Principal Broker/Owner)

Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

New Property Tax Assesments Are Out

And yes, the assessed values are down. My principal residence is assessed at 89.2% of what it was last year. The county of Hawaii vowed not to raise rates (a popular shell game that often goes on; when the assessed value goes down, the rate goes up so likely as not, you end up paying the same), and they kept that promise!tax-stamp.jpg

One logical question though, is how much real value has my property lost? Somehow I got a hunch it may be more than the 10.8% decrease reflected in the lower assessment. But since I can’t do anything about the market, I’ll take the lower taxes.

If you are curious, here’s how the property taxes are calculated.

Net Taxable Value x Tax Rate / $1000 = Taxes Due

Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into understanding the property tax levied on a particular property so I have included a copy of the Real Property Tax General Information here. 2008-2009-real-prop-tax-rates-info.pdf

The basics to understand is that if you are a homeowner (defined as owning the home and occupying it more than 200 calendar days/year), your’re eligible for the lowest tax rate available (unless of course, you’re a Charlie Rangle, Tim Geithner or one of the special people). It doesn’t happen automatically though, you must notify the county of your declared owner occupancy status on or before December 31st or June 30th of the year it becomes your principal residence, or you’ll automatically pay the higher (“Investor” rate) non-owner occupant rate until you do notify them. That could be an expensive mistake if you miss the deadline as the higher rate is currently $8.10/$1000 of assessed value vs the Homeowner rate of $5.55/$1000 of assessed value.

Some other items taken into consideration to arrive at your particular ‘net taxable value’ are:  age, whether or not you have certain disabilities (sight or hearing impairment or Hansens’s Disease, for example) or if you are a totally disabled veteran. At any rate, nobody likes to throw money away (considering they spend it so wisely . . .  ;o) so it definitely pays to check it out. If you have any questions, call (808) 961-8282, the County of Hawaii’s Real Property Tax office.

That’s my Tip of the Day!
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Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals

Michelle Kerr
(Principal Broker/Owner)

Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Thars Gold in Dem Dar Hills!

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Mauna Kea, that is. According to a recent news article in West Hawaii Today (as in yesterday’s), Yale University plans to pay $12 Million for observatory time on KECK‘s telescopes atop the tallest mountain on earth.

That’s right Everest (29,035 ft), is often called the world’s tallest mountain but Mauna Kea (33,465 ft measured from its base), on the Big Island is actually taller by almost three quarters of a mile! Nearly 20,000 ft of Mauna Kea’s height sits below sea level. But why the hefty price tag, you might ask?

Well, you may not realize it but observing time is meted out very sparingly. Various Time Allocation Committees (TACs) review proposals semi-annually and time is awarded based on the scientific merit of each proposal. After all, there are numerous scientists, entities and organizations worldwide that would love the opportunity to view the heavens in arguably the clearest, cleanest sky anywhere in the world, but with only 365 nights a year, it’s competitive. And what if your night turns out to be cloud covered? Well, don’t quote me, but I think it’s tough luck baby. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Yale’s deal though is for 15 nights of observing over 10 years so while a cloudy night would be costly to the bottom line, they’d still get another shot at it and it’s a chance they’ll take just for the opportunity. Access to our mountain they feel, gives them a leg up on other top astronomy programs and Mauna Kea won out over the 3.5-meter WIYN telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona where Yale used to do their celestial explorations. Their loss, our gain!

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals

Michelle Kerr
(Principal Broker/Owner)

Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

I Never Thought I’d See This Day!

The Waikoloa Village Board of Directors finally approved a vendor for the old Clubhouse Restaurant which has been defunct for the past 2+ years or so following a major “whizzing match” (not what I wanted to call it!) between the Board and the previous vendor which resulted in a lawsuit, counter lawsuit and beau-coup wasted dollars. But alas, the lease has been signed, there’s light at the end of the tunnel and after the 90-day build out and completion of all liquor license requirements, hopefully cold beer will be flowing again to quench your thirst after a round of golf!hawaiian-beer-waitress.jpg

Oh yes, AND THE WINNER IS . . . . TRES HOMBRES, dba:  SPIKES. Apparently they have some new partners, and a new chef and are closing down their Kawaihae restaurant after many, many years and moving mauka! Don’t despair, they’ll be serving Mexican and American food so there should be plenny-kine variety.

I actually served on the restaurant committee, though our first choice, (Cronies) after interviews and the normal screening process ultimately backed out fearing a new venture in these economic times (okay maybe they also feared a heavy-handed board breathing down their neck a teensie-weensie bit too). Anyway, stay tuned here for a review of SPIKES after they’ve opened and worked out a few kinks.

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals

Michelle Kerr
(Principal Broker/Owner)

Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Asia Travel Log #3: Food

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Take a trip with me for a moment back a few years (okay, quite a few if you were in my play group) and recall if you will, your favorite snack or meal. For many it was probably A GOOD OLD PB & J SANDWICH, right?  Mine too. Chunky peanut butter and Welch’s Grape Jelly. Now contrast that against a place where there are not even any supermarkets (or those annoying plastic car-carts American moms squire their little darlings around in).

The Vietnamese eat fresh! As I said there are no supermarkets. REFRIGERATION IS A LUXURY OFTEN CONSISTING OF A RAPIDLY MELTING ICE BLOCK, the water from which somebody will constantly splash over their fish catch in hopes of conserving it until they can sell it. Several people are fully employed in the planting, harvesting and getting to market or the end user, a wide variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. This selection includes many things we have never even seen and most would certainly never eat.

A market we visited in Hoi An, south of Da Nang must have had ten different type of eggs. Some white, some brown, others speckled, and both big and small. There is delicacy consisting of an egg in the embryo form and I am told the most delicious is in the stage just before the feathers are formed. Yikes! Okay, so imagine a young child brought up in Asia turning up their nose at a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I don’t know, somehow it doesn’t wash but I guess that’s just my cultural bias at work. 

What we really did love was going to the night market where in addition to hundreds and hundreds of merchants selling anything and everything, food vendors set up from scratch beginning every afternoon, complete kitchens, prep areas, tables for seating and even bars serving beer, wine or liquor to compliment whatever you are eating. Everything is brought in fresh (in one particuluar instance live frogs strung one on top of another chuckin’ and jivin’ oblivious to their fate), fish in tanks to be cooked to order on outside grills and a ton of different noodle dishes and salads. This market we favored and went to several times in Saigon made a point in print to assure us that all fruit and vegetables were washed with purified water. Same for ice in the beverages. We also had a virtual floor show of activity going on in the street that fronted our table often providing our evening’s entertainment.

Bottom line, you can get almost any kine food in Vietnam or Cambodia -at least in the cities, from the aforementioned street fare (some good some not), right on up to fine dining. It just takes a little adventurism with a dash of common sense to have a great eating experience in Asia and we did!

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals

Michelle Kerr
(Principal Broker/Owner)

Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Waikoloa BOD Lowers The Boom on Walkers

If you’re a golfer and you’re a homeowner in Waikoloa Village on the Big Island, and you’re a walker as opposed to riding the cart, you’re gonna spend more money to play golf at the Waikoloa Village Golf Course starting YESTERDAY! Yep, it’s a fact. And some people are not happy about it! 3-stooges.jpg

Effective February 1, 2009 golf rates for walkers at the Waikoloa Village Golf Course increased by 33%. Several of us attended the board meeting January 27th and tried to reason with them, but we did not prevail. Now instead of paying $15 + tax for 18 holes, walkers now paying $20 + tax = $20.80. I know,

“Cry me a River”

but hey, since the homeowners already pay fees ($584/year) to the Waikoloa Village Association (WVA) I think they ought to get some break as compared to non homeowners when it comes to the golf rates.

But the fact of the matter is there probably is not one single golf course on the island (or most places for that matter) where the golf course actually makes money from their golf operations. They generally make it on real estate. Waikoloa is a little different because it’s truly a neighborhood owned course and there are no developments on the golf course that would in any way net a financial benefit to the Association or it’s member, other than the perceived notion that property values are higher because the community has a golf course. This is great for resale value, but it’s an intangible figure and many refuse to consider it. The rub seems to be that according to WVA board only 12% of the property owners play golf so the Association subsidizes the rest.

Being a Realtor, I know it’s true. A lot of people who buy property here love the fact that there’s a golf course right here, and a good one too. Though it’s a public course, THE RATES ARE GREAT COMPARED TO THE RESORT COURSES! It’s also a boon for the time share condos. Those buyers become deeded property owners and thereby qualify for the best rates. Bottom line though, is the debate will continue and I think we’re going to see a further chipping away at our cheap rates as these economic times drag on.

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals

Michelle Kerr
(Principal Broker/Owner)

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Well, Well, Well, What Do You Know?

Hawaii ALWAYS lags mainland economic trends. After the Gulf War the mainland came back a full two years before Hawaii did, so it’s no wonder now to see Hawaii’s foreclosure rate suddenly though surprisingly to some, catch up with national trends.

Get this, in Hawaii there were approximately 1,300 foreclosures filed in all of 2007. In September 2008 alone, there were 594! This is according to RealtyTrac, the research firm that tracks foreclosures nationwide.

All you have to do is take a drive through condo-town at the Waikoloa Resort and this is just one example. Check out all the empty buildings just sitting there. Oh sure, they’ll get a bump in a few weeks with the high season, winter, the holidays and all, but overall there’s a lot of underutilized inventory just a sittin’.

Some of them are developer units that never sold, some are legit second homes that folks never intended to live in full time and a very few are owner occupied. But probably the most worrisome of the group are those bought on spec (pity the fools), the owners expecting to flip them after a year or two of the high life. This is the group that is gonna keep adding to those foreclosure figures.

And who can blame them? Say you bought at the top of the market, got the NINJA loan (no income, no job or assets) like so many did, and now you can’t rent the place to even offset your mortgage. You can’t afford to get your butt here to use it yourself, and oh yes, the maintenace fees have skyrocketed because of rising electricity, etc., etc. Many of those borrowers had very little skin in the game, so they’ll be walking sooner or later and you will see Hawaii’s foreclosure figures start to catch up with other places.

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals & Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Crybaby Citigroup Cries Foul

I have been nauseated recently by those begging for the bailout as if it’s the only answer to opening credit lines and getting houses selling again. Don’t be so self-serving. THE WHOLE SYSTEM NEEDS AN OVERHAUL! money4.jpg

This would be funny were it not so true! But it’s a done deal now. Our gutless leaders (ha- that’s a misnomer if ever there was one) have sold us and future generations down the river. Why when seemingly most of “Main Street” was against this did they do it anyway? Why someone please tell me, why did $100,000,000 in earmarks added to it after the first failed vote make it more palatable?

Houses are not selling because they are priced too high-period. Let’s face it, somebody -a lot of somebodies as it turns out, just got caught without a chair when the music stopped. Everybody; buyers, sellers, lenders-yes Realtors were rushing around those chairs hoping and praying the music wouldn’t catch them with no place to park their butt.

And it’s not like there weren’t warnings. Sellers were insisting on (many still are) ridiculous prices, many of whom could have gotten out whole. Buyers were taking loans they knew would snowball in the future. Lenders knew they were building a house of cards too.

Okay for all you free market bashers- you know, the “we’d rather have government bailouts” crowd, HERE’S AN EXAMPLE ALREADY OF WHY THE BAILOUT WAS NOT A GOOD IDEA.

Just this morning, Citigroup who had tendered an offer of 2.2 $Billion to acquire Wachovia’s banking arm is now crying foul as Wells Fargo has stepped up willing to pay 15.1 $Billion for it!

What does that tell you? It tells me if the government would get out of the way, investors, entrepreneurs and the many, many sound companies remaining in the world would see opportunities all over the place in these failing banks and Wall St. firms. And they would pay a much better price and tender better offers to those companies and, this is the key thing – they would also get far more back for their shareholders than Uncle Wall Street will ever recoup for us taxpayers.

If we’re looking at Mavericks like JMcC or change agents like Barry-O to do what’s right for us we’re in a heap of doggie-do.

That’s my Tip of the Day!
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Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals & Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Tax Relief -You Are Kidding, Right?

I was surprised that I had not heard this, but a friend told me about it, I checked it out and sure enough, it’s true. They actually did pass a law (part of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007) that helps a very deserving group of taxpayers – widows and widowers.

Starting with sales in 2008, widows and widowers now have 2 years to sell after the death of a spouse and still be eligible for the $500,000 exclusion in capital gains. This of course, assumes there is a capital gain to be had with all the depreciated values, and it may be a leap of faith, but I think there are plenty of older Americans who bought years ago, and did not go continually to the “Bank of Refinance” and squeeze every last bit of equity out of their homes.

I know my mother could not have held up to the emotional turmoil involved in having to sell the home she and my father shared for the previous thirty-one years when he died in 2003 -so when she finally sold in 2005, under the old law she only got the $250,000 of capital gains exclusion. I know it’s the same for most people. It’s just too much to handle. Well, now they don’t have to.

I’m not a tax advisor (and if I learned anything over 20 years in real estate trying to stay out of trouble, it’s don’t give tax advise or practice law!) so be sure to check with your attorney or tax advisor, but my understanding is beginning in 2008, a widow or widower now has 2 years from the date of death to sell and qualify for the full $500,000 of capital gains exclusion. . . . . but cha better hurry up and die. At the rate we’re going with the Wall Street and Big-boy bailouts capital gains exclusion may be an endangered species!! 

That’s my Tip of the Day!
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Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals & Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Pets And Parking

The biggest, most contentious issues among owners in condominium associations are PETS & PARKING. And after living in a condo myself for the first time in my life I can tell you it is absolutely true!

board-meeting2.JPGMore time, energy and money is spent by homeowner’s assocations, boards of directors and management companies on these two issues than you can imagine. Just give it a moment’s thought. How many times have you heard,

“Well they don’t have kids, those dogs, are their children.”

As if any behavior, sound or odor eminating from the blessed little creatures is somehow forgiven.

Our condo doesn’t allow pets -at least according to some of the documents. The bylaws say one thing but the house rules have somewhat different wording allowing for that little difference of interpretation. After determining by a vote at the very first annual AOAO meeting, that the majority really did not want pets, one owner in order to rent his unit in an otherwise flooded rental market slipped a pet in because the newly clarifed rules had not yet been recorded, therefore technically the old rules ambiguous as they were, still applied. How to make friends and influence people, huh? I swear to you, it’s true! I couldn’t make this stuff up.

And parking -OMG! no-parking.jpgAnother owner swears he paid more for his unit just so he could get two parking spaces (actually all of us, as evidenced by our recorded apartment deeds, get two parking spaces). So he went about painting out parking stall lines and numbers hoping to enforce his point! He did pay more for his unit and his monthly maintenace fees are higher, but only based on his square footage and percentage of common ownership. It has nothing to do with parking!

Are we having fun yet? So my advise to you? – of course read all the condo documents before you buy and if there are ambiguities, well good luck! It takes more than an act of congress to get the documents changed and as you can see by my couple of examples it goes with the territory. Having said that, I still love my condo. The views are great. I love being able to lock the door and go travel. I like having the pool, the spa and the work-out room. But it is a trade off. We weighed the issues and decided this was the way to go. But pets and parking are going to be issues of contention so just understand that going into it. 

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals & Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

What It Is

FACTOID: 

A REVERSE MORTGAGE is a loan that enables older homeowners (62 or older) to convert a part of the equity in their homes into a tax-free (don’t miss that one, I said tax-free!) income without having to sell their home, give up title, or take on a new monthly mortgage payment.

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It, LLC
REALTOR REFERRALS & MORTGAGE FREEDOM

Waikoloa, Hawaii 96738
Phone: 808-896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com

The 69 Percent Phenomenon

The most common type and the reason for the highest dollar losses in E & O claims (Errors and Omissions) for Realtors NATIONWIDE is for exaggeration, misrepresentation or concealment of facts. 

That’s right, nationwide FAILURE TO DISCLOSE generates the most complaints (as in 69% of all complaints) from the public in dealing with Realtors.

Curtis V. Hall, nationally acclaimed real estate educator harped to our class,

“Disclose, disclose, disclose, and if you do get into trouble for whatever reason -kill the monster early”.

In other words, once you know there’s a problem, take care of if as soon as possible. These things have a way of escalating (as soon as an attorney’s in the picture you’re already toast)! Don’t let it get that far, and of course as always, prevention is the best cure of all! Sellers need to fully disclose all they know about their property and they need to work closely with their Realtor to make sure ALL material facts are brought to the attention of the Buyers.

That’s my Tip of the Day!
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Aloha, “Mikie”
Mikie Likes It, LLC
REALTOR REFERRALS & MORTGAGE FREEDOM

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: 808-896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com

A Scary Thought

Did you know that there is NO federal regulation whatsoever for Qualified Intermediaries? Yep that’s right no rules and regs, no insurance, no license (except in the State of Nevada) and no continuing education requirements! Zip, zero, nada.

Okay let’s back up. WHAT IS A QUALIFIED INTERMEDIARY?

You may have also heard them referred to as Accommodators. According to the Federation of Exchange Accommodators, A Qualified Intermediary (QI) is the professional provider of the mandatory mechanics of an exchange. The use of a QI, as an independent party to facilitate a tax-deferred exchange, is a safe harbor established by the Treasury Regulations. Sometimes QI’s are referred to as “accommodators” or “exchange facilitators.”

Realtors are heavily regulated and we are required to attend 10 hours of continuing education every license renewal period. Not wanting to do the midnight special (cram all required credits into a marathon session a week before the end of our license period (oh yeah, those classes are filled to the max every time!), Heidi and I just took advantage of a class this week offered by Old Republic Title Exchange Company (OREXCO) and taught by Julie Tumbaga, Vice President and Regional Account Manager of OREXCO in Honolulu.

It was a great class and very infomative. For anyone who’s ever been involved in a 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange (or plans to be), Julie’s repeated phrase throughout the session cannot be over emphasized:

“Everyone has a story, but the rules are the same. In the end, the IRS wants their money.”

If the Internal Revenue Code rules for a Tax Deferred Exchange (and there are many) are not followed to the letter, the exchange is invalid and all proceeds are exposed to taxation.

One last note gleaned from the seminar: if a action by QI (Qualified Intermediary) is invalidated by the IRS, EVERY OTHER EXCHANGE HANDLED BY THAT IQ IS INVALIDATED AS WELL! So please don’t fool around when considering a 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange. Be sure to get advise from your Realtor about who to best use, and make sure they are a professional Exchange Company like OREXCO!

That’s my Tip of the Day and I’m sticking to it!
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Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com

Equity Factoids

FACTOID, I love that word! It sounds sort of like an alien being from outer space, but the root of the word, fact gives it some presence or clout if you will. Okay, here I go again off track, like my favorite 5th grade teacher. She was supposed to teach us geography, but you could interest her in most anything if you were crafty enough, and then you could go sometimes a good 45 minutes off on a tangent until the bell rang!

But I just read an amazing article, by Steven Marshall of Strategic Equity LLC sent over from Laura Merrifield, Business Development Director at Old Republic Title full of these great little tidbits. The title of the article by the way, is

“HOW THE AFFLUENT MANAGE HOME EQUITY”

Now I know a lot of you think there’s no such thing as EQUITY any more, but it caught my attention because it’s times like these where there’s opportunity. Note these interesting factoids:

  1. According to the Federal National Mortgage Association (Auntie Fannie Mae), the average American mortgage lasts 4.2 years.
  2. You pay a premium for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage yet most don’t keep a mortgage even 5 years.
  3. Making a huge down payment and or extra principal payments may not be the best thing to do when you could DIVERSIFY THAT HOME EQUITY INTO OTHER INVESTMENTS!
  4. Every dollar you give the bank to pay down your mortgage is a dollar you did not invest-and, here’s the killer, you earn NO interst on it, and if you need it back you’ll pay high fees to get it, and you have to convince the bank you can qualify for it -YOUR OWN EQUITY!
  5. With the market gone to hell in many areas all over the country when foreclosed on, the guy who took every dime of equity out and invested it elsewhere, loses a lot less than the guy who went in with a huge down payment and kept making principal payments with the hope of owning it free and clear some day.
  6. If a bank holds 100 delinquent loans, which ones are they going to foreclose on first? Those with the most equity because the last thing they want to do is take back a house they will lose money reselling.
  7. Bottom line is this: Home equity has NO rate of return. It sits idle.

So, if you are not one of the masses upside down and trying to sell before you get foreclosed on, watch interest rates which are likely to come down and consider separating the equity from your house. Put it into an investment that will pay interest or some other return -AND take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction while you’re at it.

Home equity is SERIOUS MONEY. Don’t gamble it. You want to CONSERVE it, not to CONSUME it. It should not be invested aggressively! You want to look at safe, conservative investment vehicles that will grow and compound over time.

That’s my Tip of the Day and I’m sticking to it!
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Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com

The Alphabet Soup of Realtor Designations

Every profession has them, you know that irritating string of letters behind someone’s name. Most people don’t really know what they mean unless they are in the same profession, and then it’s just a game of one upmanship – “Ha! I got more than you!”

But really, what the heck does “ESQ” behind an attorney’s name mean? Okay, I had an idea, but wasn’t really sure, so I went to the giant dictionary in the sky (aka, the internet) and learned that in English law it is a title of dignity somewhat above a gentleman and below knight. It is also a title of office given to sheriffs, sergeants, and barristers at law, justices of the peace, and others. Somewhere along the way in the United States it became a title commonly appended after the names of attorneys.

Gleaned from the “Esquire v. Attorney v. Lawyer” string on SOLOsez (the email discussion list of solo and small firm attorneys), one contributor opined that:

“It generally means the person is a pompous ass who insists on using any and every title they can grab in the hope of sounding important.”

Be that as it may, my goal today is to enlighten you specifically as to the more common designations you may find attached to a Realtor’s name and what they mean. But before I do, I plead guilty to using several myself! It’s not that I am ashamed of them, after all, they don’t come easy. They are only bestowed upon the recipients after arduous courses of study in particular fields of expertise. It’s actually good information as it tells you this person may be more qualified than that person. But like anything else, book learning goes only so far and then there’s nothing like experience!

These are by no means all of the professional designations associated with Real Estate, but some of those you are most likely to encounter. In no particular order:

  • Realtor® (abbreviated R) is always capitalized when referring to a member of the National Association of Realtors. REALTOR is a registered TRADE NAME. In fact, we are one of the largest trade groups in the nation. Anyone who is licensed to sell real estate can call themselves a broker, but to be a REALTOR you must also complete training in and commit to a strict Code of Ethics.
  • Realtor Associate (abbreviated RA) refers to a salesperson as opposed to a broker, but still subscribing to that same Code of Ethics. A Realtor Associate by law must work under the direction of a licensed Realtor. This can also be shown as Realtor (S) and means the same thing, a salesperson.
  • CCIM (Certified Investment Institute Member) these are the guys or gals you might want to have if you were buying commercial buildings, for example
  • IREM (Institute of Real Estate Management) would be someone who could manage that commercial building once you acquired it
  • ARB (Accredited Buyer Representative) members receive this coveted designation from the Real Estate BUYER’S AGENT Council (REBAC)
  • CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) whose advanced training in listing, selling, pricing, technology and marketing to name a few, makes them more effective to their clients
  • GRI (graduate of the Realtor’s Institute) where you learn the real nuts and bolts of the profession -you know all the stuff they didn’t teach you in Real Estate licensing classes
  • e-PRO (electronic Professional) this certification course, sponsored by the National Association of Realtors is interactive and was the first totally online course taught. It prepares its members to thrive in the competitive world of online real estate.

Hopefully you are now better informed when choosing a real estate professional to work with!

*Note* this post was written by Mike and previously printed in West Hawaii Today.

Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
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Mike@MikeSells.com