The CQ Advantage! Cultural Intelligence for REALTORS

Audu Real Estate is pleased to present a brand new CE Marketplace certified course:  The CQ Advantage!  Cultural Intelligence for REALTORS.  Please contact Lola Audu at lola@audurealestate.com for information about booking this course for your company or organization.  The course is certified for 2 Hours of Continuing Education Credit for Michigan real estate agents. (1 Hour Elective, 1 Hour Legal)

Instructor:  Lola Audu

Course Descriptive:  C000482  – available through the CE Marketplace

Certified for 2 Hours of Continuing Education Credit for real estate professionals in the State of Michigan

Click to view/download mini-PDF version of course: Cultural Intelligence Mini Preview

We live in a global village, a multi-contextual mixing bowl of cultures and counter-cultures.  Cultural Intelligence has emerged as a critical form of knowledge, insight and engagement necessary to be competitive across a broad spectrum of client interactions.  Perhaps few professions deal with differences in culture and perspective as frequently as members of the real estate community who are tasked with helping people of every race, tribe, creed and tongue find that unique spot to call home.

We’re pleased to present a unique class which explores the role that Cultural Intelligence can play in helping REALTORS understand how to serve the needs of their clients.  Culture is an entity that morphs and changes.  Simply learning a few ‘so called ‘rules of engagement’ is not adequate preparation for the numerous ways in which culture impacts response patterns, thinking and interactions.  A lack of cultural intelligence can create angst, irritation and loss of otherwise promising business opportunities.

The class draws from Lola Audu’s personal experience of growing up in a cross cultural context within the African continent that included an educational experience where students represented 60 different nationalities.  A term which is sometimes used to describe individuals who regularly navigate the world of multiple cultures is ‘third culture’ kids.  A simple question such as ‘Where is home?’ may be answered in surprisingly nuanced ways.  The Millennial generation is the most diverse generation in America’s history.  It is also the most diverse generation culturally in the entire world.  You may enjoy reading the this article and watching the video below.

While most Americans will not have this level of cultural dissonance or experience, the reality is that in today’s world, a REALTOR’s clients will increasingly have some elements which differ from the traditional norm of the dominant culture.  Are you prepared to serve effectively?

In addition, the course will cover issues of cultural ethnocentrism as well as discussing Fair Housing issues related to the impact of the institution of dominant cultural norms and discrimination in the United Sates.

For booking information:  Lola Audu  – 616-791-0511 or lola@audurealestate.com

To preview other courses visit: http://audurealestate.com/workshops-seminars/

Inforum 3You can fill in the blank with any one of a number of statements and even gripes.  In today’s fast paced, information doused climate, the reality is that for many would be home buyers, the REALTOR may NOT be the one who locates your home for sale online or even in real life.  And, if that was all that was required to purchase a home successfully, it would be a huge missing link.

But anyone who has bought a home within the past decade at least knows that finding the home is only the first step.  And with new regulations coming fast and furious through the pipeline for financing and other related industries, finding the home may be the first SMALL step.

The fact is this, locating a suitable home does not mean that you will be able or qualified to purchase it.  Nor does it guarantee that even if you qualify for the financing of the home, unexpected issues in the condition of the home or unreasonable demands/needs from the current home owners will not short circuit a successful closing.

There are also all sorts of ancillary side notes such as:  the home failing to appraise for the value proposed in the purchase agreement, survey issues, title issues, insurance challenges, government regulation which may cause delays or a host of other things which fall under the general category of ‘Murphy’s Law.’

Buying a home has been said to be the largest financial transaction that most Americans will ever undertake.  It is also one of the most complex.

Here are some other things your REALTOR is doing beyond simply finding you a home that you like on the Internet.

  1.  Your REALTOR is educating you about the real estate process.  What you don’t know can hurt you big time in the purchase of a home.  It’s not easy to recover from a financial ‘mistake’ of this magnitude.
  2. Your REALTOR is constantly helping everyone in the transaction to navigate some pretty complicated situations which are exacerbated by frayed nerves, confusion in the process and issues that can cost somebody big money.
  3. Your REALTOR is often the Translator who helps you make sense of the unfamiliar lingo used by Lenders and others so you are informed and aware of what you need to do to create a successful outcome.
  4. Your REALTOR examines all the paperwork to ensure that the transaction is legally binding and enforceable.  Failure to properly negotiate something as simple as a possession date can land you in the street if your landlord has already rented out your apartment.
  5. Your REALTOR helps you to find all sorts of people/companies who can be of assistance to you through this process.  They can help you find information about the neighborhood, provide you with lists of contractors for various services, assist with arranging necessary repairs, refer you to competent specialists…

This is a very, very short list of what REALTORS do beyond finding a home on the Internet.  Every deal has its own particular nuance of challenge and your transaction is probably not going to be an exception.  It’s wise to choose your next REALTOR based on a number of factors and determine if simply finding a home on the Internet is really or even the most important thing you want a REALTOR to do for you.

This blog post was inspired by an interesting conversation I had with a local lender, Jonathan Izenbart about his perspective on the value of a REALTOR to the real estate transaction and how this was important in light of the myriad of regulatory changes impacting the real estate transaction. It is also included in our poopular FAQ Series

think outside the box in vintage wood type

When it comes to selling a home, many have difficulty letting go of the emotional attachment. As a result, this may overshadow our ability to make critical decisions regarding what needs to be done to sell a home successfully.

A home, like a well-loved, but worn out T-shirt can become an item which is so familiar that we fail to see what is readily apparent to an average onlooker.

Avoiding some of the most costly mistakes can ease the pain of moving by:

  1. Saving you time and hassle
  2. Bringing in more offers with a higher quality of Buyer
  3. Putting more money into your pocket so you can purchase your next perfect home!

7 Mistakes to avoid include:

Neglecting Curb Appeal.  Today curb appeal is not limited to how your home looks when a potential buyer drives by.  The average home is pre-viewed online before people jump into cars.  So, if your home listing photos are unprofessional and your home appears cluttered and dated, people won’t click into or drive by your home which means you may lose a potential sale.

Over-pricing your home.  Today’s market in West Michigan is hot!  If your home has been on the market for 30 days without any serious interest, you are over-priced.  Listen!  The market speaks.  Over-pricing a home is the single most common way that homeowners lose money when trying to sell their home.  The average over-pricing penalty in the West Michigan area ranges from 20 – 25%.  So for a $100,000 home that sits on the market, this can mean a retail price of $75,000 – $80,000 nine months later.  Whereas, if it had been priced at $89,900 from the beginning, the likelihood of a sale within 30 days would have been excellent!  Invest in a well prepared Comparative Market Analysis or appraisal.

Not tidying up.  This is huge.  Sight and smell are how buyers buy homes and definitely impacts how much they are willing to pay.  For top dollar, go beyond moving your dirt around.  De-clutter: throw stuff out, spiff it up, sparkle, trim, clean, buff, scrub…

Not Sharing things you need to share.  Selling a home in West Michigan requires you to disclose what you know about the home.  No, you can’t just surprise people by covering up over issues you’ve been managing for years like a leaking roof, broken pipes or an oven that doesn’t work.  In fact, REALTORS require our clients to sign a Seller’s Disclosure which is a very detailed accounting of what you know about YOUR home.  This doesn’t absolve the buyer of the responsibility of getting their own home inspection, but it does protect you from being accused of lying about a known problem.

Dragging your feet.  Selling a home is not for the faint of heart.  It requires preparation, persistence and patience.  Selling a home is hard work.  Not just for you, but for the entire team of professionals (some estimates indicate that up to 50 individuals will have touched your file prior to closing).  Don’t do this until you’re ready and willing to do what will be required.  A great way to lose money is to discourage those who are trying to help you.  Remember, this is their livelihood and the higher their motivation, the more likely they are to do a better job.

Being unwilling to reward Success.  This is a surprisingly common mistake, yet is it one which can be remedied with relatively little downside for the homeowner.  Bargain hunting is a great pastime, but it may not be the most intelligent way to go about getting the most money for your home.

Consider going against the grain.  Offer a Bonus to the Agent who successfully sells your home.  It can be as little as 1-2% of your Sales Price.  This will increase interest in your home listing and will influence the exposure and potential offers your are likely to receive.  Think of it as leveraging your asset base.  Depending on your sales price, where else can a $1,000 investment potentially garner you a $5,000 – $10,000 increase in the amount of your rate of return within less than 6 months? To maximize the effectiveness of this technique, you may want to put a time limit on this…ex. home must be sold within 30 days to qualify for the bonus.

Choosing the wrong REALTOR.  Just because a friend or relative is in the real estate business does not mean that this individual is the best choice for the sale of your home.  Read this blog post to learn more about how to select the agent that’s right for you.

Related Content:  How Many REALTOR Interviews Should I have BEFORE Selecting an Agent?

Question:  How Many REALTORS should I interview BEFORE I make a Selection?

Answer:  Well, we’d like to suggest that might be the wrong approach to the Question.  A better question might be:  What should I be asking, considering or thinking about when selecting the right REALTOR for me?

Selecting the right REALTOR is more nuanced than simply selecting the Agent who does the most advertising or someone who is related to you.  The process of successfully selling a home requires several key elements be in place to guarantee success.  These are:

  1.  The right price
  2. The best presentation of your home (Staging & Marketing)
  3. The right Exposure
  4. The right REALTOR

Missing any one of the above items can successfully derail the process.  The best REALTOR will not be able to correct an over-pricing error if you insist on ignoring sound pricing counsel.  Nor will the best staging presentation be able to overcome a home that is poorly photographed and underexposed in the places where people go to look for homes online.

Selecting the right REALTOR requires someone who you

  1.  Trust
  2. Know is a proven hard worker and will keep you informed of developments (Good Communication)
  3. Has a proven history of successfully closed transactions
  4. Know has a system and plan to successfully execute the marketing, negotiation and closing of your home
  5. Understands the marketplace and is informed and knowledgeable about your market and the trends in real estate

There are many exceptional agents.  But, not every agent is necessarily the right one for you.  If you are something of a worrier or perfectionist, an agent who delivers scant communication or whom you cannot get a hold of quickly or easily may not be the best choice for you.  Even if they claim to have the most sales in a particular demographic.  On the other hand, if you perfer a more aggressive approach, finding an agent who has a highly energized and more combative approach to selling may be just what the doctor ordered!

Related Content:  27 Questions to Ask Your Home Builder

About the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions Series)

This series is designed to answer questions that we hear clients asking over and over again.  Perhaps, you’ve wondered about some of these questions yourself.  While this is not intended to be an exhaustive explanation on the subject being discussed, it is our hope that these short blogs will provide helpful insights and may encourage you to explore further.  Please feel free to contact us by phone or e-mail with any questions.

More FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) here

Question:  Do I really need to spend money on a home inspection?

Answer:  In short the answer is Yes.  Even for a home that looks perfect and is beautifully presented.  And, Yes – even for a home that is brand spanking new.

Why?  Well, because a house should be through of as a unique set of systems and parts.  It’s more than the ‘personality’ you fell in love with.  It’s more like a spouse, you’re committing to live with. As with matters of the heart, the first blush will fade over time.  When the inevitable reveal occurs (worts and all), housing matters can be extremely expensive to correct.

Home Inspectors are trained to inspect major systems such as heating and air conditioning as well as the condition of the structure, roof, plumbing and electrical system.  If you have a chimney, they will peer into it and inspect it or advise you to contract with a specialist.  They’re also trained to look for evidence of infestation of all sorts of creepy crawlers, ants and mice.  Some types of mortgages will require a pest inspection for termites, which by the way are surprisingly common in West Michigan.

Then there’s the gas thing – Radon testing has become increasingly common in West Michigan.  Radon is an odorless gas that can kill – yes, Kill YOU if it is undetected.  So can carbon monoxide coming from an improperly functioning furnace.

Mold is another issue which can be dangerous if it is of a certain variety, and it’s always important to determine the source of the water penetration and correct that!

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.  I highly recommend investing in the services of a qualified home inspector.  Preferably someone who is impartial and not related to you – parents and friends may mean well, but they rarely have the experience necessary to provide an unbiased opinion on an investment which is likely to be the biggest one you’ll make at any one time in this lifetime.

More FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) here

About the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions Series)

This series is designed to answer questions that we hear clients asking over and over again.  Perhaps, you’ve wondered about some of these questions yourself.  While this is not intended to be an exhaustive explanation on the subject being discussed, it is our hope that these short blogs will provide helpful insights and may encourage you to explore further.  Please feel free to contact us by phone or e-mail with any questions.

25114792_lFor many baby boomers, a key rite of passage was the acquisition of a set of wheels – car wheels that is.  The love affair with the freedom to travel and explore extends to the housing marketplace where suburban communities require access to private transportation to get to most public conveniences such as shopping, schools and parks.

In the past decade, many urban communities are witnessing a revival of alternative modes of transportation especially with regards to the use of bikes and ones own two feet.  Walkability scores, defined as giving a value of 0-100 for the proximity of a neighborhood to destinations of interest, shopping, parks, schools, restaurants etc are becoming one way in which potential home owners are judging the suitability and attractiveness of particular homes and communities.

Do you know your neighborhood walkability score?  Do you live in a community which has carved out space on roadways to accommodate a bike lane?  Just recently, Grand Rapids Michigan  city commissioners passed a provision to increase the ‘safe passing’ distance to 5 feet for vehicles passing around bikes, prompting one commissioner to predict that there would be traffic backups for cars waiting to pass bikes while trying to avoid oncoming traffic.

Studies have shown that urban communities with higher walkability scores are faring better in home equity price gains than their counterpart neighborhoods which require vehicular transportation to access most public amenities.  According to Zillow Talk, a 15 percent increase in walkability scores in a neighborhood have been found to correlate with an average 12 percent increase in home prices.  (actual values between 4-24 percent)

What’s of most noteworthy for home owners in our opinion is the fact that the study indicated that higher walkability scores correlated favorably with increased resilience to equity losses even during the housing market downturn.

Additional information:  Walk the Walk.  How Walkability Raises Home Values in US Cities by Joe Cortright, Impressa Inc.

Additional Information:  Walkability Scores for Neighborhoods and Apartment hunting


Social media has become a common way to advertise and market homes for sale.  And when the sale is about to close or finally clears the rites of passage necessary to clear escrow, new home owners and former ones do the ‘Happy Dance’ and often social media is the instinctive first stop in the celebration.

It’s so easy, with one click, to let the world know the address, price and the individuals involved in the home sale.  And while all these pieces of information eventually become a part of the public record, the issue at hand is WHEN this happens.  By the time the Registrar of Deeds records the information pertinent to a sale for county records, it is often weeks after the home has sold and closed.  The new homeowners have moved in and usually changed the locks.

The fact that information about home sales on social media is usually shared DURING the transaction process presents some unique challenges and to some extent risks for parties involved in the transaction.  Over the past year, there has been more than one instance in West Michigan in which funds secured for a closing were requested to be transferred fraudulently.

The scam involved an ‘official looking’ e-mail with data pertaining to the date of the closing, the names of the parties involved in the transaction and the sale price of the home.  The instructions requested a change in the wire transfer to a new account as a follow-up to a previous transmission.  In at least one instance, funds were inadvertently transferred to the wrong party.

How can social media be dangerous?  Well, when we share a status update on Facebook or other forms of social media, it is difficult to determine with absolute certainty the individuals who are reading a post and their intended purpose in potentially using the information for nefarious purposes.  Giving a crook your name, address, when you will be moving/closing and the price for which you sold your home is like giving them a key to your front door!

There have been numerous instances in West Michigan where Craigslist posts have scammed individuals hoping to rent a home by posting false advertisements for rentals which utilized listing data.  Unsuspecting home owners were sometimes surprised to find potential house renters peering into their windows or walking the property which they though was listed for rent – even with a real estate sign outside.

Every REALTOR knows that when we hold an Open House, we must take precautions to secure the property and ensure that we do our utmost to protect the owners most valuable asset, their home.  This is even more important when dealing with online media where in essence the home is left ‘OPEN’ online for much longer periods of time.  While, there is no 100 % guarantee against exposure to risk, there are some things which we can do to protect homes and secure funds during the process of the home sale transaction.  These are:

  •  Limit the sharing!  While sharing with friends and family is understandable, it may be prudent to wait until the home has closed and you have moved to share the details of the transaction with the world.  And…does everyone really need to know that the home secured a full price offer and what that exact amount was?
  • Know where your data is going!  There are many portals online for disseminating real estate information.  They are not all equal.  Some portals are not diligent about updating information accurately or in a timely way.  Keeping tabs on data sharing is a conversation which should occur at the beginning and during the transaction process.
  • Listen to your gut!  If something does not feel right, investigate further.  A recent incident was thwarted when a suspicious e-mail caused an alert escrow officer and agent to do some further research.  Report suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.
  • Consider encryption!  When sending sensitive financial data, lending institutions encrypt the communication to ensure security.  Today, we must become more aware and sensitive to these types of concerns especially as more data is transmitted through online portals including cloud computing.

While this list is not exhaustive, it provides a few tips which can help you prevent your happy moment from becoming an invitation for thieves.


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