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April 2013

Up in the Air?

Goodwin Drone
There has been discussion lately (and some enthusiasm) about the use of drones to photograph and video real estate properties for sale. According to Wikipedia, a drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) without a human pilot on board. Its flight is controlled either autonomously by computers in the vehicle, or under the remote control of a pilot on the ground or in another vehicle. As recently as January of 2012, drones were said to violate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and were banned from U.S. public airspace. However, the FAA was instructed by Congress late last year to open the nation's airspace to routine commercial drone use and the FAA is in charge of issuing permits for drones that operate at 400 feet or higher.

The FAA says drones that operate below 400 feet are subject to the same rules that govern model aircraft. Those rules essentially say the drones cannot be flown near populated areas, must stay within eyesight of the user, and cannot be used for commercial purposes; at least until the rules are finalized, which is not expected until 2015. With real estate agents and journalists using drones, it appears those rules are being put to the test. An FAA spokesman said the agency "has investigated operations that appear to be commercial in nature,” and at least one drone photography business has been shut down.

Outside the U.S., some photographers are legally making a living by utilizing drones for real-estate photography. Accredited Australian drone photographer Saul Goodwin is considered a pioneer in real estate drone photography. He uses an I-Phone app to setup interval shots on his drone.

Saul Goodwin2
While aerial photography can be quite pricey, drone photography is considerably less expensive. The drones themselves are extremely versatile, and can go out in almost any weather. Though high-flying drone photography may set Realtors’ marketing apart from their competition, it remains to be seen what guidelines for their use will be authorized by the FAA and if this practice will “upset” affluent consumers and communities, who feel that drones create privacy issues.

Saul Goodwin
The FAA is still currently debating drone regulations and privacy concerns. How do you think drones may impact the real estate market if allowed for commercial use?

Advisory Board Selected for Leaders in Luxury 2013

VIP event scheduled for Seattle, October 28-30 


Seven Institute members will serve on the Advisory Board of this year’s Leaders in Luxury (LIL), our annual, invitation-only educational and networking event for Institute members who have earned the Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) designation and work in the million and multi-million dollar home and estate market in the U.S. and Canada.

Serving this year on the Leaders in Luxury Advisory Board:

-   Dawna Borg, RE/MAX Premier, Vaughan/Toronto (ON)

-   Debbie Murray, Allie Beth Allman& Associates, Dallas (TX)

-   Keiko Okubo, RE/MAX Accord, San Francisco (CA)

-   Roman Pavlik, Keller Williams Eagle Realty, Miami (FL)

-   Nancy Rondeau, Sotheby’s International Realty-Canada, Vancouver (BC)

-   Friley Saucier, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Naples (FL)

-   Joyce Tawes, Realty One Group, Scottsdale (AZ)

“We are pleased to have such a great group for this year’s board,” said Institute President Waco Moore. “This year’s meeting is our ninth annual luxury event and we are pulling out all the stops to make it our best. We’ll begin with a luxury property tour, a networking cocktail party and a gala marketing awards dinner on the first day.  In addition, we’ve planned two days packed with informative presentations and panels and a special event at Nordstrom.  Our goal is for this meeting to set the benchmark for luxury retreats.  This advisory board will provide the guidance we need for an outstanding event!”

The LIL Advisory Board is made up of a diverse group of professionals who are leaders in their residential markets.  Each one is a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist and has earned Million Dollar Guild recognition.  Each has strong expertise in the luxury home niche and a commitment to providing outstanding service to affluent buyers and sellers.

For more information, visit or call us 214-485-3000.

Do You Smell a Sale?


What if you found out that your staple of a freshly baked cookie smell at an open-house may actually be hindering your chances of making a sale? According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, there is new research which suggests that chocolate-chip cookies and other baked goods are among the worst aromas to help you obtain an offer on a property.

Dr. Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University, conducted a study in which he and his associates evaluated how certain scents affected peoples’ spending in home-décor stores. On average, they found that shoppers spent more when a store had one simple scent, like orange, than when complex scents were introduced. The research behind this study suggests that complex scents distract people, and instead of determining at an open-house or showing whether or not this is the place they want to live, they are subconsciously trying to figure out what exact aroma they smell.

Along with keeping open-house scents simple, Spangenberg also suggests that they be congruent with the home that is being shown. A cedar smell may work in a cabin or mountain home, while lemon or green tea may work for a beach home. So in keeping with the WSJ’s article, in order to make a fast sale for top dollar, put down the cookie dough and pick up the basil!

As reported by The Wall Street Journal:

Worst Scents: potpourri, gourmet foods, chocolate-chip cookies, and other baked goods

Best Scents: lemon, green tea, cedar, pine, basil, vanilla

Putin tells Russian officials, “Close foreign accounts, justify foreign real estate purchases”

Vladimir Putin
The Associated Press reports that President Vladimir Putin has given Russian officials a three-month deadline to close their foreign bank accounts or face dismissal. In addition, those who have real estate abroad will be required to explain how they could make the purchase, and those who fail will face being ousted.

Putin's decree -- released by the Kremlin on April 2nd -- obliges officials to file their income declarations by July 1. Putin's chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, said they will have to close their bank accounts by that time. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized there will be "no untouchables."

Putin first announced the measure in his state-of-the nation address in December as part of efforts to fight corruption, but the corresponding bills got bogged down in the Kremlin-controlled lower house, so Putin ended up ordering the move by decree.

Editor’s Note: It will be interesting to see what impact this decree has on Russian purchases of U.S. real estate and sales of currently owned homes. 

Q&A with Laurie

Q.  You have so many tools.  Can you please talk about one you think is really useful and how to use it effectively?

A.  First, thanks for asking this question.  I am perplexed when members don’t check out, much less use, the tools we are providing for them.  They are leaving money on the table and that’s a shame.  So, let’s start with a valuable Institute tool which is underutilized.

I recently spoke with a member who was using our National Luxury Market Report to motivate a buyer prospect to make a buying decision before the market shifts to a seller’s market.  Using that week’s National Luxury Market Report, which she found on our website, she could show her buyer that prices are rising, inventory is low, and the market is moving away from a buyers’ market.  That data reinforced the idea that now is the time to act.  A great way to create a sense of urgency.  National Luxury Market Report

The ILHM National Luxury Market Report is an up-to-the-minute look at trends in the luxury market around the country based on active listings from more than 30 representative markets.  You’ll find the report on our website.  It is updated every week.  While the executive summary of the national market is available on our blog and website, the full report and city reports are only available to our members.  Using this report is one more way to differentiate yourself with good information.

For example, if you look at it this week, you’ll see that the list price of luxury homes is trending up, asking price per square foot is rising, inventory levels have been falling, average days on market for current listings is holding at about six months, and we are moving out of a buyers’ market toward a balanced market.  If you have a buyer who is on the fence, you might want to share this info as an incentive to make a buying decision before it becomes a seller’s market.  Use this info with a seller to talk about the advantages of selling while inventory levels are low.  One of our members used this report to give a presentation on the luxury market to her local Rotary Club.

This information also is available for about 30 individual markets.  You’ll find these local charts in the members’ only section of the website.

Many agents post the PDF of the executive summary of the national report or their local metro area market report on their website.  This is a smart way to set yourself apart as a professional who knows the luxury market.  Just be sure you’re clear on what the charts indicate, so you can handle questions.