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Business Success
Buying Green/Users/adamp/Desktop/Stuff for FAR/Magazine Assets/NOV08/images/Upfront

Green homes—those built with efficient use of resources in mind—are becoming a popular commodity.

Within the last three years more than 330,000 market-rate homes with green features have been built in the United States, says a survey released by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and McGraw-Hill Construction.

“Our buyers, especially those in their 30s who tend to be more environmentally conscious, are asking about energy efficiency, upgrades in insulation, windows and solar [power],” says Dr. Cynthia Tant, a broker-associate with Paradise Coastal Realty in Pensacola Beach.

Tant says, “Green components, like increased insulation and better windows  will decrease energy consumption. Non-toxic paints make for a healthier house, so you have fewer doctor bills.”

The government is offering tax credits and rebate incentives that will make green housing more affordable in the long run. “It may cost 2 percent more to build a green home,” says Tant, “but you’ll get it back in efficiency and rebates.”

Marketing
Four Ideas for Promo Videos

Having good quality video that represents your business is a valuable animated brochure, according to Tim O’Keefe of houseblogger.com. Here are O’Keefe’s four video ideas:
1. Testimonials. Nothing is more powerful than a testimonial on video on your blog, Web site or marketing CD.
 
2. Digital Door Knocking. Simply go to all of your happy clients and interview them  on camera. What do they love about the neighborhood? What businesses do they recommend?

3. Digital Neighborhood Tours. Be the ambassador to your farm areas and post online videos that tour the neighborhoods in which you have listings.
 
4. Meet the Affiliates. Interview mortgage brokers, title representatives and others involved in the transaction. Have them describe their services in layman’s terms which will arm buyers and sellers with knowledge.

Faster access
Forms Online Gold Simplified 

It just got easier to access forms on floridarealtors.org with a simplified login process for Forms Online Gold, TransactionDesk and MLS Advantage. Specific upgrades include:

Forms Online Gold  A direct login to the list of forms for Forms Online Gold in TransactionDesk.
 
TransactionDesk Clicking this option takes you directly to the homepage in TransactionDesk. From there, you can still access forms or transaction files.

MLS Advantage This option will continue to take you to the main search page in MLS Advantage, but now requires fewer clicks to get there.

If you have any questions, call the Tech Helpline at (407) 587-1450. The Tech Helpline is open Monday to Saturday,
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Tech Helpline, MLS Advantage and TransactionDesk are all provided by Real Estate Industry Solutions (REIS), a wholly owned subsidiary of FAR.

Escrow Rule
Penalty in the Works
The Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) is in the process of finalizing disciplinary guidelines for violations of recent changes to rule 61J2-14.008.

The rule changes, which went into effect in December 2007, and which apply when an escrow deposit is to be placed with a title company or attorney require: 1) the licensee who prepares or presents the sales contract to indicate on the contract the name, address and telephone number of the title company or attorney who is designated as the escrow agent; the licensee’s broker to, within three business days after each deposit is due, make written request to the title company or attorney to provide written verification of receipt of the deposit; and within 10 business days of such request, that the licensee’s broker provide the seller’s broker (or the seller directly if the seller is not represented by a broker) with either a copy of that written verification, or if no verification has been received, written notice that the verification of the deposit was not received from the title company or attorney.

It appears that an initial offense of the rule changes discussed above will result in the issuance of a notice of non-compliance and that any subsequent violations will result in the issuance of a citation (i.e., a monetary fine.) Questions? Call FAR’s Legal Hotline at (407) 438-1409.

Hometown Hero
Selfless Giver

There are those who give back to their community. And then there’s Cindi Robbins, who not only gives to several charities through her time, talents and resources but even cut off her own hair and donated it to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children who have lost their hair due to a medical condition. 

The organization currently closest to her heart is Infants & Young Children (IYC) of West Central Florida, a nonprofit program of the Florida Department of Health, Children’s Medical Services affiliated with the University of South Florida (USF) Early Steps Program. She’s served on the board of directors for nearly five years. “We’re the financial arm of Early Steps,” says Robbins, a sales associate with RE/MAX ACR Elite Group in Tampa, explaining that they pay bills (that aren’t covered by insurance or Medicaid) for special needs children in Hillsborough and Polk counties—from birth to five years of age—who require surgery or an evaluation and treatment for developmental or medical conditions. 

“Last year about 4,000 children came through [the program],” Robbins says. “There are no income barriers, and every child is
eligible.”

If Robbins encounters someone in her real estate work who has a special needs child, she will suggest that they check out the program.

“We make arrangements for the [medical] providers to help the children if they need therapy. Our goal is to incorporate therapy into their everyday life because we’ve found that if a child goes into a center for therapy once a week it isn’t as effective as if a provider comes into the house every day.”