Connect with us


That’s Some Baaad Sausage!



How does this …

Making Sausage …  Become this???The "Finished" Product?

With the caveats that:

– Picking and choosing lines from an amendment is probably not fair,

– I have not read the entire bill nor amendment (nor have any of our elected “representatives”),

– Compromises and selling constituents’ best interests are accepted best practices and that,

– I’m no politician …

What in the world was Congress thinking?

Would you have your clients sign a contract that you never read? Or that you had been “advised of the changes” (as was my Representative) without ever actually reading this?

This is business as usual, but it’s not OK. Just because “that’s the way it is” doesn’t mean “that’s the way it should be.” We try to demand more of our Association – are we demanding more of our politicians?

Have a look at just a few of the snippets from H.R. 2998 (the former H.R. 2454)

Regarding retrofitting houses to make them more energy efficient:

such retrofits not shall not be used to justify any increase in rents charged to residents of such housing; and

But … what if said retrofits warrant increasing rents?

The scale of bureaucracy that may be created is nearly unfathomable (at least by someone who works for a living) :


(1) AUTHORIZED USES.- Amounts from grants awarded under subsection (a) may be used by the grant recipient to supplement existing State or local funding for administration of building code enforcement, or to supplement allowance value received pursuant to this Act for implementation and enforcement of energy efficiency building codes. Such amounts may be used to increase staffing, provide staff training, increase staff competence and professional qualifications, or support individual certification or departmental accreditation, or for capital expenditures specifically dedicated to the administration of the building code enforcement department.

(2) ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENT.-Each building code enforcement department receiving a grant under subsection (a) shall empanel a code administration and enforcement team consisting of at least 1 full-time building code enforcement officer, a city planner, and a health planner or similar officer.

This is fun –


(a) REGULATIONS.- Within 180 days after the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, shall issue regulations
(1) to prohibit any private covenant, contract provision, lease provision, homeowners’ association rule or bylaw, or similar restriction, that impairs the ability of the owner or lessee of any residential structure designed for occupancy by 1 family to install, construct, maintain, or use a solar energy system on such residential property; and

(2) to require that whenever any such covenant, provision, rule or bylaw, or restriction requires approval for the installation or use of a solar energy system, the application for approval shall be processed and approved by the appropriate approving entity in the same manner as an application for approval of an architectural modification to the property, and shall not be willfully avoided or delayed.

Frankly, I’m not sure I want the Federal government determining what green building means – building codes by necessity vary regionally. (page 96)

(4) GREEN BUILDING STANDARDS.- The green building standards under this paragraph are as follows:

(A) The national Green Communities Criteria checklist for residential construction that provides criteria for the design, development, and operation of affordable housing, as such checklist or successor checklist is in effect for purposes of this section pursuant to paragraph (7).
(B) The gold certification level for the LEED for New Construction rating system, the LEED for Homes rating system, the LEED for Core and Shell rating system, as applicable, as such systems or successor systems are in effect for purposes of this section pursuant to paragraph (7).

Lastly, lest I copy and paste all day – from page 296 of H.R. 2454 (bolding mine) … read this entire section at least – it will impact Realtors’ businesses.

(1) IN GENERAL.— Except as provided in paragraph (2) or (3), the national building code energy efficiency target for the national average percentage improvement of a building’s energy performance when built to a code meeting the target shall be —

As an aside, I heard at least two Representatives say during the debate that the National Association of Realtors supports this bill! (exclamation point theirs, not mine) One wonders … why?

Photos courtesy of:

Gluehwein Effects

Dad, Husband, Charlottesville Realtor, real estate Blogger, occasional speaker - Inman Connects, NAR Conferences - based in Charlottesville, Virginia. A native Virginian, I graduated from VMI in 1998, am a third generation Realtor (since 2001) and have been "publishing" as a real estate blogger since January 2005. I've chosen to get involved in Realtor Associations on the local, state & national levels, having served on the NAR's RPR & MLS groups. Find me in Charlottesville, Crozet and Twitter.

Continue Reading


  1. Chris Griffith

    June 30, 2009 at 6:52 am


    Representatives would have had all of nine hours to study the text, assuming they went without sleep. The manager’s amendment made even that impossible, because you had roughly 1,200 pages of text — containing, at last count, 397 new government regulations and 1,090 new economic mandates — followed by over 300 pages of text with no index that amended the previous legislation on paragraph by paragraph basis.

  2. Lani Rosales

    June 30, 2009 at 9:49 am

    @jimduncan GRRRRR- regardless of my leanings, this looks like (surprise) MORE governmental control. Like you said, this is typically regional for a variety of reasons, why would blanket rules be placed that limit what is actually green and not just Uncle Sam’s definition of green?

    And lastly, if I own a unit and I dump 50k into it to make it a completely green unit, hell yeah I’ll charge more, how dare my investment be limited?

    Am I wrong here? Way to pee in my cereal this morning, Jim!

  3. Todd Carpenter

    June 30, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Jim Said>> “As an aside, I heard at least two Representatives say during the debate that the National Association of Realtors supports this bill! (exclamation point theirs, not mine) One wonders … why?”

    NAR is working on this bill. It now goes to the Senate. Then if it passes, goes to a committee to be reconciled. The details of the bill could change significantly.

    We have a weekly government affairs report that covers the association’s work.

  4. Jim Duncan

    June 30, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Thanks, Todd. I find it astounding that NAR could support this in any form. How could this possibly benefit Realtors?

  5. Todd Carpenter

    June 30, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Jim, I think if you look at the link I posted, you will see that NAR is trying to make changes to a bill with a lot of momentum. Changes that better serve REALTORs.

    I’m not the most qualified person to answer exactly what NAR’s strategy is here. However, here’s a slightly dated summary of what the association is trying to do.

  6. Joe Loomer

    June 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Frankly, I’m amazed you didn’t see this coming, Jim. It has been the stated purpose of this administration to increase the size of government since day-one. If they cannot create jobs in the private sector – what’s the fastest way to reduce the jobless rolls?

    The close-within-a-month days are fast coming to an end. It’ll take ten codes inspectors, three termite inspectors, a solar energy inspector, a building codes inspector, a solar water heater inspector, a chinaman, and an abacus to get something new construction closed here shortly. Hey, I got an idea ! The middle-Realtor! Get a government grant to mediate in between the mediators – we’ll call it the “M.I.M. Agent.” They’ll be government sanctioned, paid from federally-mandated closing costs, be the go-between for the List Agent and Selling Agent, and answer only to nearest Congressman’s office. The MIM – also known as Monkey in the Middle – is the perfect answer for the future of Realtors – GOVERNMENT MONEY!!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  7. MIssy Caulk

    July 1, 2009 at 9:51 am

    This bill is NOTHING more than an increase in Gov’t intervention into our lives. NOTHING.

    Why was the EPA Research Scientist hushed up when he said we are not global warming but global cooling.

    I just finished Atlas Shrugged, the longest book I have ever read except for the Bible. It took me a month, and I normally read 3 books a week. Yea I know…lame but I love to read.

    This bill was larger than that.

    In the name of “change” is this what folks wanted. Al Gore will be a billionaire, so will the electric companies.

    They will set a standard for my house, IF I go over that and I do when my kids are home and leave T.V.s on every night I will pay triple from my normal cap.

    Someday the people will wake up and realize they have been duped but to what expense.

    All I can say is IF NAR is supporting this……..god help us.

  8. Brian Brady

    July 2, 2009 at 12:07 am

    “such retrofits not shall not be used to justify any increase in rents charged to residents of such housing; and”

    Beautiful! Tacit rent control provisions combined with mandatory capital investment. Show me a company on the NYSE with the inability to raise prices and a government regulation to retool its plants so can short it.

  9. Jay Thompson

    July 2, 2009 at 10:03 am


    One step closer to Socialism for the country, one step closer to Libertarianism for me.

  10. Henderson NV Homes

    March 2, 2010 at 4:32 am

    That’s a very good point. Why would NAR support this. Sounds like there’s some under the table negations taking place behind closed doors. It never surprises me how one day a senator will be against something, then without any provisions to the original bill, all of a sudden they’re on-board. Man, it sickens me when I think about how we let these bureaucrats play with the future of our economy. Nice comment Jay, libertarianism all the way.

  11. Patrick Flynn

    March 2, 2010 at 10:00 am

    WOW Jim-This is some great research! I’d have to agree with Lani…except for the cereal part…about how this looks and feels like more G’ment control.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The problem with a self-policing industry: you have to be a narc

Ethics violations in the real estate industry can make or break a Realtor’s career, depending on the severity, so it would stand to reason that all would be mindful of the rules, but there are always individuals in the field that act as if the Code of Ethics is irrelevant.



An animated discussion on ethics training

“Does anyone else find it ironic that NAR – the trade association for Realtors – has to mandate that members take an ethics class every four years?” An agent who attended one of my company’s broker opens yesterday posed that question to the wine and cheese grazing attendees. Of course, that opened up an animated discussion on the value of etchics training and the lack of enforcement when the rules are violated.

One agent volunteered that the guy sitting next to her in her last ethics class played games on his cell phone and then cheated during the test at the end of the class. Seriously, dude? You cannot even pay attention long enough to pass what should be the easiest test you’ll ever have to take in your career? Perhaps he was just seeing how far he could push it by cheating during an ethics test, to see if anyone else around him caught the extreme irony there. None of the other agents around him – including the agent he cheated off – turned him in and the instructor didn’t notice.

This same agent later called one of my sellers and tried to convince him to break a listing contract with me, because he had a “guaranteed buyer” in the wings. The seller was an attorney, and this bozo tried to get me cut out of the deal, offering the seller a reduced fee to dump me. The seller held firm and directed the agent to call me, then the seller called to let me know about the conversation.

“But you know if you file something the other agent will know.”

It gets better. After the deal closed, I requested paperwork from our local Board of Realtors to file an ethics complaint. The person in charge said, “But you know if you file something the other agent will know.” Gee. Really? I asked her to send the paperwork over anyway.

I called the seller/attorney and asked him to repeat the conversation to me, because I was documenting it to file a complaint. He turned wishy washy on me at that point and his story changed from “The other agent tried to get me to dump you as the listing agent to cut you out” to “Well he really only asked a few questions and I told him to call you. He probably didn’t mean any harm by it.” So there goes my star witness, who doesn’t want to rock the boat.

I didn’t file the complaint. I resorted to the “turn the blind eye but never trust the sleazeball again” path. And that is what happens to almost all ethics issues I hear about / see in person.

That’s what happens when you have a self-policing group of “professionals” who would rather not “narc” on a fellow agent. After all you’re probably going to end up on the other side of a deal from this guy some day, right? The guy in my example has sold two of my houses since that run-in. Why tick him off by filing a complaint and going through all that hassle? If he stops bringing buyers to my properties then my sellers ultimately lose, right?

Boiling down the CoE

The NAR Code of Ethics takes up pages and pages of tiny print, and it runs each year in their trade magazine (I think it’s the January issue). Does anybody read that? Probably not many. I’d argue none of us ever should have to read it again. Simply follow this advice instead. The thousands of words in the Code boil down to one thing: Do unto other agents, and consumers, and clients, what you would have them do unto you. It’s the Golden Rule. Simple. Well, obviously not, for many agents and brokers.

The sad part is the agent in my example had no clue how close I was to filing that compaint, and if he did know he’d probably scratch his head and wonder why his actions were “wrong.” Making us take a one-day class every few years won’t “make” the unethical agents suddenly operate ethically. Most of them just don’t get it.

Continue Reading


Ethics hearings in private a disservice to consumers?



Fight Club and real estate

For those of you that saw the movie ‘Fight Club’ you’ll remember that Rule #1 is “You do not talk about fight club,” followed closely by Rule #2, “You DO NOT talk about fight club.” Which, believe it or not, brings me to today’s topic: The Real Estate Code of Ethics and Arbitration. Article 17 obligates Realtors to resolve fights disputes with another Realtor through arbitration (not litigation). Arbitration is conducted at the local board level, and I am not aware of a local board that doesn’t require arbitration to be confidential.

I respect that public internecine warfare amongst Realtors isn’t in the interest of our industry, and doesn’t belong in the public spotlight. I’m not here to advocate the collective airing of our dirty laundry. That said, I wonder if our collective agreement to keep our concerns confidential can inadvertently harm the consumer and ultimately makes all of us look a little shoddier?

To find the first arbitration guidelines created by NAR and distributed as a set of suggested rules for boards to follow, we have to travel all the way back in time to 1929. NAR’s first Code of Ethics & Arbitration Manual wasn’t created until 1973, and it credited a 1965 California Association of Realtors version as its model.

Appalling conduct

I can think of two instances in the past year where I was so appalled by the conduct of a fellow Realtor that I went to the trouble to inquire about how to lodge a Code of Ethics complaint with my local board. After weighing the time required to make a competent complaint and comparing it with the best case outcome (a closed-to-the-public hearing in which they were found to have violated the code of ethics), I decided not to pursue a complaint in both cases. My association’s bylaws (and probably yours) give it the power to discipline any member based on the results of a Code of Ethics hearing, “provided that the discipline imposed is consistent with the discipline authorized by the Professional Standards Committee of the National Association of REALTORS® as set forth in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual of the National Association.”

“Sanctioning Guidelines” – (Appendix VII of Part 4 of the 2011 manual for the very curious), guides member boards to impose disciplinary consequences that are progressive and fair, taking all considerations into account. Sample first-time disciplinary actions include suggestions of a letter of warning, a fine (amounts range from $200 to $5,000 depending on the severity of the violation), and attendance at relevant education sessions. Not to sound defeatist, but a confidential letter of warning and a fine of around $200 doesn’t seem like an outcome worth investing much of my time in.

Practicing in the internet era

Given that we live and work in the internet era, and review sites like Yelp abound, it seems a bit odd to me that a local board might know of an agent with problem behavior that is documented yet choose to make that information unavailable to consumers. My understanding is that the results of a code of ethics hearing are confidential with disclosure authorized in a few situations, none of which deal with informing the public.

Many of my fellow colleagues feel that the best response to a bad agent is to be patient and give them enough time to work themselves out of business. I can respect and understand their hands-off approach. But what about the damage that individual does to our industry as a whole? While we whisper, warn in confidence and know amongst ourselves how awful they are, the public doesn’t get the benefit of our perspective. Deprived of it, they turn to consumer review sites like Yelp.

How do you think we, as an industry, can help consumers in their quest to find a trustworthy agent?

Continue Reading


Realtors, we really need to get over ourselves already



A letter from the child of a Realtor.

Real estate now vs. 1987

In Real Estate, some things are always changing, like financing, education, laws, rules and technology. The two that will always remain constant, as long as they are within the law, are following our clients’ directions, and working with their best interests in mind.  I’m not sure we always follow through with this, though.

Some of us knowingly take over priced listings.  Some of us take listings that are out of our area of expertise.  Some of us won’t show short sales or REOs.  Some of us won’t show homes with low co-op splits.  Some of us don’t have Supra/e-Keys, and miss out on those listings entirely.

Putting our interests first

When these things occur we are putting our own interests first, not our clients’.  We may think that by having as many listings as possible is a good thing, that’s what we’re taught after all, isn’t it?  It may not matter that some are overpriced, eventually, whether one month or four months down the line, the price will be reduced.  It’s just a matter of time and money, for our clients, after all.  The same can be said when we take listings outside our area of expertise, just to add on to our inventory.  If we don’t know what we’re doing, on a short sale listing, for example, it will only cost our clients a lot of time and money.  A lot.

By eliminating certain houses our clients see, that may already fit their criteria, we’re taking away their choices.  Distressed sales account for close to 40% of the market.  This is probably higher in some local markets.  There is no legitimate way to ignore roughly 1/3 of the homes being sold.  Co-op fees are often a touchy subject, especially when they are, not “enough.”  If everyone utilized a Buyer Broker Agreement that stipulated what their fee was, the issue would take care of itself.  Not being able to access listings with the use of Supra/e-Keys is a choice.   Choosing not purchase one will mean agents will not be able to access Fannie Mae (and eventually, probably additional Gov REO homes) along with the listings that are already using them.

Our priorities versus theirs

We totally need to get over ourselves already.  We are not bigger than our clients.  Our priorities are not more important than theirs when it comes to the actual listing and selling of homes.

Recently, my awesome parents dug through a few boxes and rounded up one of my first art projects. About 25 years ago I did the poster featured above about my Mom, and her Real Estate career.  It was for an Open House (no pun, honest!!!) for the elementary school where I attended first grade.  It was just, what she did according to me way back then.  Things are way more complicated now, than when I was six.  There’s a heck of a lot more paperwork for one.  But the same basic principle still applies.

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!