Don’t Miss the 2017 Green Real Estate Symposium

Join us for the 2017 Green Real Estate Symposium

Appraising, Selling, and Financing Buildings with Energy Efficient and Renewable Energy Features

The Green Real Estate Symposium is a one day event designed to bring together Realtors®, appraisers, mortgage lenders, & home builders from Vermont and New Hampshire to educate all parties involved in the process of the green home movement.

Featuring powerhouse speakers and leading instructors in the real estate industry.

October 25, 2017
Lake Morey Resort
Fairlee, Vermont

Registration: $125
Includes lunch


Continuing Education Credits
Appraising Energy Efficient Homes (for Appraisers) – 8 hours VT and NH CE
Green Symposium – 7 hours VT and NH CE
Selling Energy Efficient Residential Properties – 8 hours VT and NE CE
Special Note: Upon completion of this course, attendees will be placed on the Energy Efficient Qualifications Registry (

Symposium Overview

8am – Registration

8:30am-5pm – Classes

Appraising Energy Efficient Homes (for Appraisers)

This class provides practitioners with a step-by-step, bulletproof methodology for appraising energy efficient homes. It includes proprietary forms and terminology that can be integrated into appraisal reports. We share valuable phrases that will help clearly identify the limitations of the appraiser’s observations; reduce liability for all parties, while providing the tools to accurately value energy-efficient homes.

This seminar is designed to provide those that successfully complete the course with the ability to complete appraisals that will be acceptable to the secondary mortgage market, even when comps do not exist.

Green Symposium

Energy efficiency is a growing concern among homeowners. This symposium will address a myriad of topics that are relevant in today’s marketplace with the emphasis on what is particularly relevant to Vermonters. The symposium will cover: Consumer demand for green and sustainable homes; trends and regulations; codes, certificates, labels and the MLS; solar energy and what you need to know; and much more!

Selling Energy Efficient Residential Properties

This course is designed to build an agents competency in the energy efficient homes market. For real estate sales professionals this includes; understanding the appraiser’s role described herein; and preparing the property for sale by compiling the appropriate documentation demonstrating the intrinsic value of the energy-efficient home.

1pm – Lunch

Classes resume following lunch

How the Equifax Breach Could Hurt Home Sales

The recent Equifax data breach, which exposed the personal information of about 143 million Americans—one of the largest hacks on record—could put home sales at risk. For consumers trying to get a mortgage, the data breach, which compromised people’s Social Security numbers, addresses, and credit card information, could stall their loan approval or put them at risk for having their information stolen and used in unlawful real estate transactions.

Scammers could also use stolen Social Security numbers to open up new credit cards and rack up debt under a person’s name, which could ruin the victim’s credit score. “If you have your identity stolen, it causes a lot of problems,” Don Frommeyer, a mortgage loan officer at Marine Bank in Indianapolis, told®. “You have to prove it wasn’t you.”

Rob Douglas, an identity theft expert, predicts there will be an increase in fraudulent mortgage and refinance applications due to the Equifax breach. Loan officers may have to put additional vetting procedures in place, which, in turn, could slow down the loan approval process and burden borrowers with extra costs.

What Consumers Should Do

For your clients to better protect themselves, security experts recommend taking the following steps:

  • Check your exposure. To see whether the Equifax breach affected you, go to
  • Freeze your accounts. If you have been affected, contact each of the big credit-reporting companies immediately to freeze your credit, security experts recommend. You can either do this online or by calling them. Equifax: 800-349-9960; Experian: 888‑397‑3742; TransUnion: 888-909-8872. You will still be able to use your credit cards, even with freezes in place, but no one will be able to check credit scores and personal information without your permission. You can also undo the freezes at any time, though that does often require a small fee.
  • Continue to monitor your credit. “It might be worth signing up for a credit monitoring service,” says Pete Mills, senior vice president of residential policy at the Mortgage Bankers Association. “It’s certainly easier to undo a fraudulent account within a few days” than to wait a few months to address it.

Source: “Why the Equifax Breach Might Make It Harder to Buy a Home – and What You Can Do,”® (Sept. 15, 2017)

Consumers Say It’s a Good Time to Buy

The Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) report was created to monitor consumer sentiment about the housing market. It covers core topics that will be tracked on a monthly basis such as views on housing as a good financial investment, whether homeownership is part of the American Dream, if now is a good time to buy or sell a home and perception of home price changes.


  • In the third quarter of 2017, 77 percent of people believe that now is a good time to buy a home.
  • Forty-eight percent believe that strongly, a increase from 43 percent in Q2 2017, and an increase from 43 percent in Q3 2016.
  • Seventy-eight percent of people believe that now is a good time to sell a home, up from 71 percent in Q2 2017 and a steady increase from 63 percent in Q3 2016.
  • Fifty-one percent believe that strongly, up from 42 percent in Q2 2017.
  • Forty-four percent will move to a cheaper rental property, find a roommate to reduce costs, or move in with family if rent prices increase. Fifteen percent will consider buying a home.

This HOME survey is released on a quarterly basis.

Read the Survey

Why Doubling the Standard Deduction Won’t Help Most Homeowners

One of the most talked-about provisions in the tax reform framework that the Trump Administration and Republican congressional leadership released a few weeks ago is the doubling of the standard deduction. Of all the changes the framework would make, this one is presented as something that will help middle-income households. And that is true, but the households that it mainly helps are renter households. Home-owning households will likely see their taxes go up even if they were to take that increased standard deduction. There are two reasons for this.

TaxFirst, although the standard deduction would increase from $12,600 for a family to $24,000, the plan would do away with the personal exemption and the exemption for dependents.

Right now, those exemptions are $4,050 per person, So, for a family of four, the family would see their standard deduction rise from $12,600 to $24,000 but they would also no longer get to take their exemptions, which, under the current code, would total $16,200. So, they would gain almost $12,000 but lose more than $16,000. Households with larger families would lose even more.

Second, for homeowners who are used to itemizing their deductions, all of these deductions except for two—the deductions for charitable giving and mortgage interest—would go away. For many middle-income households (those earning between $50,000 and $200,000), the two remaining itemized deductions won’t be enough to make it advantageous for them to continue itemizing. That’s mainly because they would lose the deduction for state and local taxes, which, for many households, is the single largest itemized deduction they take, even larger than the deduction for mortgage interest. As a result, they would almost certainly stop itemizing and instead take the standard deduction. While that might give some of them a better tax picture than if they continued to itemize, it would nevertheless be less than what they receive in tax benefits under the current code.

Just as importantly, the change would wipe out the distinction between owning and renting in the tax code. That’s a distinction that’s been part of the tax code for more than 100 years and losing it would result in an across-the-board drop in home values by 10 percent or more, NAR estimates.

Of course, everyone’s tax picture is unique. How one person or one family comes out under the proposed changes will differ based on many factors–household income, household expenses, the number of dependents, the size of the mortgage, the state a household lives in, and so on. But in general, based on analyses NAR and other organizations have either done themselves or commissioned others to do, the result won’t be a net gain for most middle-income households but rather a net loss. That’s why NAR and many other organizations are opposing the changes the framework is proposing.

NAR’s concerns are detailed in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video. Watch now.

Your Voice Matters – Congress Extends NFIP

Thank you to the ACBOR members who responded to NAR’s recent Call for Action, urging Congress to extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

On Thursday, September 7, the Senate voted to pass a three-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The House of Representatives passed the legislation on Friday, September 8, 2017, and the President signed the bill into law later that day.

This legislation ensures that the NFIP will not lapse on September 30, 2017, and will be extended until December 8, 2017.

You can read more about the NFIP extension here.

Safety: Do This Now – A FREE Safety Webinar

Free Safety Webinar
September 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm CDT
Instructor: Andrea “Andy” Tolbert

Register Here

Andy TolbertHow do REALTORS® walk the line of prospecting and self-preservation? Register for this free safety webinar from the National Association of REALTORS® to learn from Andy Tolbert, Founder, SaferAgent, as she shares simple steps you can implement right away to minimize risk in your day-to-day business interactions.

Andrea “Andy” Tolbert has been in the real estate and mortgage industry since 1995, a REALTOR® since 1998, and a partner in a real estate brokerage that focused on sales and property management. As the Founder of SaferAgent, she and her husband, Tim, train real estate agents across Florida on how to protect themselves and their clients in a way that they’ll immediately “get” and be able to implement the very same day.

Don’t Let Sellers Get Overconfident

A severe inventory shortage may be allowing your clients to believe selling their homes will be quick and easy. That can lead to sellers who believe that they can do less to prep their homes for the market and that buyers will still be willing to pay top dollar. But buyers are still fairly picky, and they will be quick to pass over an unsightly or outdated home.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®, says that many buyers are getting frustrated at the poor selection of properties that don’t fit their budget or their wish list. Eric Tyson, co-author of House Selling for Dummies, agrees: “No matter the market, people aren’t going to overpay for an ugly house.”

In many cases it falls to listing agents to help sellers understand the need to be realistic on the pricing of their homes. Most homeowners view their property value higher than appraisers’ opinions, according to the latest Quicken Loans’ National Home Price Perception Index. Homeowners, on average, believe their home is worth 1.55 percent more than appraisers do.

Sharon L. Ellsworth, a real estate broker and owner of a RE/MAX Realty office, says the front door can be important in boosting the appeal on a home that otherwise lacks it. “The front door is the focal point of the house,” Ellsworth says. “If it’s attractive, people will focus on this.” Repainting the front door or adding new polished brass hardware can also make a big difference, she says. Also, freshly pruned shrubs and new greenery can help add curb appeal.

Also for sellers who aren’t seeing enough interest, a “broker’s open house” may be a way to generate more lookers. Tyson says limiting access to real estate agents from the surrounding area can be an effective sales tool. “These kinds of open houses are incredibly important,” Tyson says. “That’s because the vast, vast majority of buyers still work with agents. And if agents come through the house and like it, they’re more likely to show it to their clients.”

Source: “6 Tips for Selling a Home That Isn’t Easy on the Eyes,” Kansas City Star/

What Are You Worth Per Hour?

You know the old saying: “Time is money.” That’s especially true when it comes to determining how to value your time as a real estate professional on a per-hour basis. At a “normal” job, you trade your time for a paycheck based on a set hourly rate. Though you’re now paid on commission, it is possible to determine your hourly rate by dividing your total income by the number of hours worked.

It’s no secret that you’ll make more money selling more expensive homes, but even some daily business tasks are worth more per hour than others. Getting a sense for which tasks can be tied directly to additional sales allows you to allocate your time better and focus on money-generating activities such as prospecting, following up, and meeting with clients. By knowing you’re worth on an hourly basis now, you can make goals for what you’d like your time to be worth in the future. Then you can make your current income (or more) while working less. Here are some worthwhile lessons to take to heart as you assess your per-hour value.

First, Do the Math

To make a true apples-to-apples comparison, you’ll want to take your annual income (minus business expenses) and divide by the number of hours you’ve worked. Be honest with yourself: Time spent in the office browsing the internet or gossiping with co-workers does not count. If you’ve kept track of your time in your calendar, you can quickly determine the average number of hours you’ve worked each week and multiply that by the number of weeks you’ve worked this year. For example:

$100,000 (annual income) – $15,000 (business expenses) = $85,000
40 hours per week x 50 weeks worked = 2,000 hours

$85,000 / 2,000 hours = $42.50 per hour

Be sure to pay attention to the number of hours spent on each transaction. The average number of hours spent on listing and selling a home is around 16, whereas the average for representing buyers is 32.

Use Your Hourly Rate to Become More Efficient

Once you have a better understanding of your hourly rate, you can begin making business decisions and delegating responsibilities based on what’s most important. Some potential clients may be looking at cheaper homes or ones that are far away from your office. Consider referring those clients out; remember, you can still collect a referral fee. Determine which of your day-to-day duties are the most lucrative and work towards generating income. For instance, you may want to devote your hours to prospecting and meeting with clients, and task an assistant with drafting flyers and doing paperwork.

Learn to Delegate Busy Work

Delegating tasks can add meaningful time to your schedule, freeing up hours to do the things that generate income. Leave the busy work to an assistant or contract worker who you can outsource. Remember that understanding your hourly value helps you figure out where your time is best spent. Photography, website maintenance, and marketing design can easily be farmed out to people who are likely much better at it than you. Paying an outsourced or entry-level assistant a small portion of your hourly rate to manage time-consuming paperwork ultimately frees you up to do more of what really makes your business boom. You should be devoting the majority of your time on the expert-level activities that earn you the big bucks. An hourly rate assessment can quantify the duties that are worth taking on yourself or delegating to others.

Serious professionals never forget that time equals money, so don’t just guesstimate how much your waking hours are worth. Know for sure, and you’ll have the confidence and proven data to make savvier business decisions in the future.

Is Housing Affordability Actually Improving?

Growing incomes and low mortgage rates are helping to prop up housing affordability and offset rising home prices, according to the newly released National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index. A quarter-point drop in interest rates in the second quarter helped to make homes more affordable to more consumers. Between the beginning of April and the end of June, 59 percent of new and existing homes were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $68,000.

Read more: NAR’s Affordable Housing Index

The national median home price increased to $256,000 in the second quarter from $245,000 in the first quarter, according to the index. Average mortgage rates fell 25 basis points to 4.08 percent in the second quarter from 4.33 percent in the first quarter. “The job market continues to gain steam, and this is boosting housing demand,” says NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz. “Home prices will continue to rise as inventory remains tight. The NAHB expects the housing market will continue to make gradual gains in 2017.”

The most affordable major housing market in the country in the second quarter was Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., which has kept its title as most affordable for the third consecutive quarter. There, 93.3 percent of all new and existing homes are affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $54,600. Rounding out the top five most affordable major markets are Syracuse, N.Y.; Dayton, Ohio; Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; and Scranton-Wilkes Barre-Hazelton, Pa.

The nation’s most affordable smaller market is Kokomo, Ind., where 96.9 percent of homes in the second quarter were affordable to families earning the median income of $62,500. Other smaller markets that topped the list were Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill.; Glen Falls, N.Y.; Watertown-Fort Drum, N.Y.; and Monroe, Mich.

On the other hand, the nation’s least affordable major housing market, for the 19th consecutive quarter, was San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, Calif. Just 7.6 percent of homes in the second quarter were considered affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $113,100. All five of the least affordable small housing markets were in California. In Salinas, Calif., which topped the list, 12.4 percent of all new and existing homes were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $63,100.

Source: National Association of Home Builders

2 Major Reasons Why Inventory is So Low

Inventory of available homes on the market is the lowest it’s been in two decades, but the reasons may surprise you. Two of the likely culprits are baby boomers and homeowners who are simply satisfied with their home, according to®’s Housing Shortage Study.

Baby boomers are showing a desire to age in place in their current homes, and their refusal to sell is creating a clog in the market, according to the study. Eighty-five percent of baby boomers surveyed say they are not planning to sell their home in the next year. That means 33 million properties—many of which are urban condos or suburban single-family homes—will stay off the market. Many of those properties would be popular choices for millennials, a generation still largely waiting in the wings to break into homeownership.

“Boomers, indeed, hold the key to those homes the market desperately needs, both in the urban condo and the detached suburban home segment,” says® chief economist Danielle Hale. “But with a strong economy and rising home prices, there’s really no reason for established homeowners to sell in the short term. Although downsizing might be on the minds of boomers, they face the same inventory shortages and price increases plaguing millennials.”

Furthermore, 63 percent of respondents to the survey indicate that their current home meets the needs of their family. They cite low interest rates (16 percent), recently purchasing their home (15 percent), and needing to make home improvements and low property taxes (each at 13 percent) as reasons not to sell. “Life events drive real estate transactions,” Hale says. “When the majority of homeowners feel their family’s needs are being met by their current home, there is nothing compelling to them to put their home on the market.”

There may be hope that more starter homes will hit the market soon. Possibly offsetting the low supply of starter homes, which is down 17 percent year over year, 60 percent of respondents to®’s survey who did say they plan to sell in the next year are millennials who want to move to a larger home or one with nicer features.

“The housing shortage forced many first-time home buyers to consider smaller homes and condos as a way to literally get their foot in the door,” says Hale. “Our survey data reveals that we may see more of these homes hitting the market in the next year, but whether these owners actually list will depend on whether they can find another home.”