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General Membership Meeting Highlights, Flood Insurance Update – MAR Monday Memo 03/17/14

Good morning MAR members!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  Please enjoy your green beverages and snacks in moderation!

Spring is here, believe it or not!  The official first day of spring is Thursday, but it’s felt like spring real estate for a couple of weeks here in Marin.  Just as agents were lamenting an “inventory crisis”, here comes the inventory.  At our MAR General Membership meeting last Tuesday, Steve Dickason shared that we have 2.5 months of inventory in Marin right now, and that’s the most in 15 months.  I personally was scrambling to see all the places on tour this week, and I expect most of you feel the same way.  Let’s keep those listings coming MAR!

Speaking of last week’s General Membership Meeting, we had another sellout!   Thank you for all of your positive comments about the program and our efforts at MAR to provide you with timely and relevant information to use in your business and share with your clients.

Some highlights of the meeting:

  • Per Steve Dickason, with a year to year comparison, in Marin pendings are down 13%, listings are up 13%, and closings are down 10%.  That sounds to me like short inventory earlier in the year with things starting to turn around.
  • Also per Steve, average days-on-market for closed sales this year are 64 DOM; last year it was 92 DOM.
  • Another anecdote that I found interesting:  30 years ago in California, there were 5 Realtors for every lawyer.  Now there are two lawyers for every Realtor.  So be careful out there, and keep a tight file.
  • Guv Hutchison from the CAR legal department was our keynote speaker, and he had an enormous amount of useful info.  An interesting new law that started this year on January 1 is a change in the 140+ year-old law involving fences: in the past, if you and a neighbor shared a fence, and one property owner wanted to replace the fence, that property owner could ask the other property owner to split the cost…and the person receiving the request could basically ignore that request, “…the fence looks fine to me!”

    Now, the requesting property owner can give a written request, and the recipient of that fence request has 30 days to dispute that claim.  If the recipient homeowner ignores that request, after 30 days the requesting homeowner can demand that the cost be shared, and the recipient homeowner must share in the cost.  The only remedy for the ignoring homeowner is to litigate that request.  Another reason, I suppose, why we need two attorneys for every Realtor.

  • Another item that Guv shared is the routine situation in Common Interested Developments (condos, townhomes, PUDs) where the CC&Rs say one thing, the Articles of Incorporation say another thing, the bylaws say something else, and the “rules” say something different.  A common issue relates to pets:  number of pets, kinds of pets, size of pets, what breed of dog, etc.  Well, there seems to be a hierarchy of these documents:  the “rules” are lowest on the totem pole; rules are superseded by the Bylaws.  The Bylaws are superseded by the Articles of Incorporation.  And the Articles of Incorporation are superseded by the CC&Rs.  Ultimately, the CC&Rs are the controlling document, they supersede all.  I see this being the foundation of some lively neighbor conversations if the word gets out!
  • Another interesting issue relates to medical marijuana.  If a landlord has a “no smoking” policy, can that landlord also prohibit medical marijuana?  According to Guv, yes, that landlord can also prohibit smoking medical marijuana.
  • Another new law relates to tenants in homes that are for sale.  In the past, we’ve all used the “24-hour notice” guideline.  Well, the new law says that tenants are entitled to a 10-day notice for an open house.  So we’re going to need to be a bit more organized as Realtors.  Yikes…
  • Finally (and this is not an exhaustive list), relating to SB-407, the water conserving fixture retrofit law that I spent a lot of time educating the membership on earlier this year.  Several brokers and at least one attorney have told me that the current disclosure language we have in the RETDS about SB-407 is insufficient, there needs to be more.  Well, I asked Gov that question, and he said that he feels that the disclosure language in the RETDS is in fact sufficient.  He seemed pretty confident in his position.

Flood Insurance Update

The flood insurance saga continues, but relief is in sight.  Several mortgage and insurance brokers confirmed to me this week that yes, the Natural Catastrophe Insurance Program (NCIP) which is underwritten by Lloyds of London is a viable and economically reasonable flood insurance solution if FEMA has crazy rates or needs an elevation certificate.

Even bigger news is that the US Senate overwhelmingly passed the House’s Flood Insurance Reform legislation.  This is great news.  The following is what I received last Thursday from Chris Gosselin, NAR’s Senior Political Representative for our area:

“The US Senate overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan flood insurance reform legislation  that the House approved earlier this month by a 72-22 margin. The President is expected to sign the legislation in the next few days.

The legislation that passed today:

  • REPEALS (the original Senate bill only delayed) the property-sales provision in the Biggert Waters law (sec. 205) that has triggered the most excessive and inaccurate premium increases over the past year.
  • REFUNDS (the original Senate bill would not refund) excessive premiums to those who have already seen an increase but were not warned by FEMA prior to purchasing the property.  (This would apply to ALL purchases of property including purchases of a second home or commercial property).
  • RESTORES (the original Senate bill only delayed) the grandfathering of lower rates when new flood maps are issued by repealing Section 207 of the law before any increases can be implemented.”

So I guess they heard us!  Thanks to everyone who shared important flood insurance feedback, which we at MAR were able to share with Congressman Huffman and also up the chain at CAR and NAR.

There is much work and clarification to be done…we need to see how and when this is all going to get implemented, but the good news is that help is on the way!

Opportunity to meet Joel Singer, CEO of the California Association of Realtors

Thank you to Jean Ludwick, a Broker Associate at Alain Pinel.  She asked me to get the word out that the Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (“CRB”) is hosting a luncheon on Monday April 21st at the Acqua Hotel in Mill Valley from noon-1:45PM.  Joel Singer, the CEO of CAR, will be the keynote speaker, and Joel will provide an overview of the current housing market conditions for the state of California and the Bay Area, and will share his outlook and forecast of the market for the rest of 2014.  A light lunch will be served, and it’s FREE.  Jean is the President of the Northern California CRB, and she wanted me to invite everyone, not just brokers.  So agents, feel free to sign up!  If you’ve never heard Joel speak, this is a great opportunity to hear one of the leading minds in our industry.  I for one plan to attend.  Please rsvp by email to

That’s it for now.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!