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The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on April 3, 2017 that an attorney may void a real estate contract on behalf of a client within the three day attorney review period by sending a "fax, e-mail, personal delivery, or overnight mail with proof of delivery." The ruling updates a 1983 rule which states contracts can only be voided by "certified mail, telegram or personal delivery." The Court's opinion was that the notice by telegram is obsolete and that what is most important is that the party receives notice, not the method of delivery.

Good to see that in 2017 we are finally getting around to allowing notifications with the new state-of-the-art technology known as the Facsimile Machine.

From the Court's ruling:

Therefore, notice of disapproval of a real estate contract
may be transmitted by fax, e-mail, personal delivery, or
overnight mail with proof of delivery. Notice by overnight mail
will be effective upon mailing. The attorney-review period
within which this notice must be sent remains three business
days. We also commend this matter to the Real Estate Commission
for consideration of amendments to N.J.A.C. 11:5-6.2(g)
consistent with our holding. Finally, we recognize that the
Court may need to modify the attorney-review clause again in the
future. Bar Ass’n, supra, 93 N.J. at 474.

For the full syllabus, see http://judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/supreme/a_65_15.pdf

The real estate industry has been relatively slow to embrace technology, and a few years ago, agents could more easily get away without a strong social media presence. Social media is no longer optional for real estate professionals.

Consumers expect any and all the businesses they work with to engage on social media. The Pew Research Center estimates 72 percent of all online U.S. adults visit Facebook at least once a month. Millennials, who are the most active Facebook users, also happen to be the largest group of homebuyers. The good news is that social media marketing isn't rocket science. Here are five easy steps any professional, even those who don't consider themselves tech-savvy, can take to ramp up their social media game.

1. Create a Game Plan
There are a lot of social media sites out there—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, and more. Simply having a page or account on each isn't enough. Agents need to be active and consistent about posting. The reality is that a Facebook page with three entries from 2015 could actually do more damage to your business than no page at all.

According to the IRS, about 20 percent of U.S. income tax filers—that's one out of five—wait until the week of April 15 to crunch out their returns. And approximately 61 percent of those returns are balance-due.

If you are a busy REALTOR®, and you know you are going to owe, it's not that unusual that you may be putting off the inevitable for a few more weeks. So when the time is right and you sit down in front of the computer, with your tax preparer, or even still hand filing on paper and sending returns in via U.S. Post, mission No. 1 is to minimize the likelihood of being flagged for an audit.

In the event you may have forgotten to organize a few receipts along the way, or maybe mixed up some of your work-side and home-side accounting, there are a few things you can still do to remain low and on the far edges of the audit radar screen.

If you are looking to broaden your business, investors are a lucrative client base. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2016 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, total investment home purchases increased 7 percent between 2014 and 2015, and median sales prices rose 15.3 percent over the same period. Not only does the investment market present the opportunity for an immediate boost to your business, but developing relationships with investor clients can also lead to long-term benefits for your career and financial future. Keep in mind that agents who typically work with primary homebuyers will find that working with investors requires a different approach to buyer representation.

Rather than searching for the perfect place to call home, investors are more concerned with whether a property will meet their particular investment goals. Agents who work with investors must have the ability to quickly determine a property's potential to generate income and appreciate in value. Investors expect their agents to have an advanced level of knowledge on topics like cash flow analysis, cap rates and special tax implications. It's also important for agents to create a network of professionals, such as tax advisors, property managers and contractors, to assist investors in all aspects of the transaction.

No matter how large your home may be, there’s always one room that’s just a little too small. Luckily, with some quick design tricks, any room can appear larger. Try a couple of these suggestions and watch your room magically expand.

Use lighter paint colors.

Paint or wallpaper the ceiling in order to make a room look taller.

Install wall-to-wall or floor-to-ceiling bookcases to make the ceilings look higher.

Pull furniture away from the walls to create a feeling of spaciousness.

Hang mirrors opposite windows to reflect light and make the room seem bigger.

Keep knickknacks, framed photos, books, etc., to a minimum to create a sense of spaciousness.

Use furniture that doubles for something else. For example, a lidded ottoman that’s also a seat that’s also a storage unit.

Keep window treatments to a minimum to expose as much of the window—and therefore, light—as possible. Think sheer, white curtains. Or better yet, nothing at all.

Stay away from bold prints and colors. Stick to smaller patterns and neutrals when it comes to rugs and upholstery.

Deploy stripes, either on your walls or floors, which will make the walls look taller and the floors longer.

With the many different projects reported annually in Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, not much has changed from last year...and that's not a bad thing. The 29 projects found on this year's report paid back an average of 64.3 cents on the dollar in resale value. Looking at the 24 most tracked projects (projects consistently tracked for the last six years), their payback for 2017 was also 64.3 cents—only three-quarters of a penny higher than 2016 projections.

Why the little change? Simply put: the differences in underlying numbers were minimal year-to-year. The average cost for those 24 projects rose a meager 3 percent, while the value that real estate professionals put on said projects only rose 4.2 percent. Minor gains, yes, but we’ll take what we can get.

Recent and long-time trends continued, reports Remodeling. Curb appeal projects like changes to doors, windows and siding garnered a higher ROI than work done inside the home. Replacement projects, like doors or windows, scored higher among real estate pros than did remodels.

On a national scale, the top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report's "midrange" cost category are:

Social media is no longer an offshoot of a real estate marketing strategy. It's a full-fledged, proven business-builder, carving paths to fresh crops of leads online with every share.

Finding time to make the effort? That's a whole 'nother story.

According to a new survey by RISMedia, the majority of real estate professionals (57 percent) say social media is a "time suck," compared to 43 percent who say it is "time well spent." Forty-five percent of respondents say they spend 0 hours-1 hour per week on social media for their business, while 32 percent spend 2-4 hours. Thirty-four percent say they post to social media 2-5 times per week, while 33 percent post 0-1 times per week and 17 percent post 6-10 times per week.

"I have a business to run," one survey respondent commented. "Time is important."

It's that time of the year—a time to take inventory, and reflect on what has worked in the past year, a time to look into new tools, solutions, and apps that will facilitate your business in the new year. What better way to start 2017 than with the best apps recommended by other successful agents and brokers? Apps make life easy: they help us connect with others to share projects and ideas; they can save time, effort, and resources to make our lives easier and more efficient. Here are some of the best apps available for real estate, as recommended by some of the top pros featured in the Secrets of Top Selling Agents webinar series.

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words
Real estate professionals rely on images to draw the attention of prospects, and being able to create pictures and images on-the-go is a must for 2017. Check out these apps that make it easy to create professional images and videos right from your phone, computer, or tablet.

First-time home buyers are shying away from their plans to purchase this spring, according to a recently released report by realtor.com®, due to the surge in mortgage rates in the last two months of 2016. Though rates have deflated since the end of the year, they remain hovering above 4 percent—high enough to scare off first-timers this spring, now down to 44 percent from 55 percent in October.

"The rise in rates is associated with an anticipation of stronger economic and wage growth, both of which favor buyers," says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com. "At the same time, higher rates make qualifying for a mortgage and finding affordable inventory more challenging. The decline in the share of first-time buyers since October suggests that the move-up in rates is discouraging new homebuyers already."

Novel, not novelty. Comfort and safety are the primary reasons more homeowners are adopting smart home technology, according to a recent study by Scripps Networks Interactive in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). "Keeping up" with the latest technology, the study shows, is less of a factor, with three-quarters of those surveyed saying they implement smart home technology "to keep their family safe and comfortable." Energy-efficiency, as well, is another motivator, with the intention to boost resale value and reduce energy costs.


Millennials are the most likely to adopt smart home technology, according to the study, "to make their home convenient for daily tasks;" those in Generation X, conversely, prefer smart home technology as a means "to make their home a healthy environment." Baby boomers, in addition, favor smart home technology "to add value to their home." Eighty-five percent of millennials are likely to add smart home technology to their home, compared to 73 percent of those in Generation X and 67 percent of baby boomers.