Gamesmanship…Closed Primary

As a broker, I deal with pieces of information, but I always try to understand the motivations and strategy.  Politics is so close to selling, I’m a little fascinated by the strategies and advertising used to package a candidate.  Taking the time for “due dilligence” is something I wish every voter took more seriously.   Look past the distraction of negative news, neighbor’s opinions and the media.  How would you hire a candidate for a job?  Which property has the right location?  It all begins with foundation in a home and it all begins with the party affilliation in a candidate, or does it?  Gamesmanship is just another word for strategy.  In sales or when working with a client, I’m looking for a way to gain an advantage.  I work within the law and adhere to professional standards, but I’m always working for my client.

Recognizing both the long and short strategies makes a difference.   Eleven states have closed primary elections.  Voters must register and affilliate with a party and only voters affilliated with that party are able to vote for trhe party’s nominee.  What does this mean as we move toward elections?  What kinds of gamesmanship Is possible with a closed primary system?  I am very aware of the way a party can enable or eliminate your chance to win an election.  Understanding the “GAMES” or “STRATEGY” used by candidates, can make a difference in your choice at the polls.  In a closed primary, candidates are always free to change registration and choose to run as a nominee for their party of choice.  Sometimes the words “party of choice” have a different meaning.  As of July 31, 2016, according to the Florida Division of Elections, Nassau County had 34,578 Republican voters, compared to 13,403 Democrat voters registered.   What does this mean for elections?  The Republican nominee, at least in Nassau County, becomes the overwhelming likely winner in November.

Eleven states — Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming — have closed primaries. Semi-closed. As in closed primaries, registered party members can vote only in their own party’s primary. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_election Wikipedia

Someone with political aspirations and willing to wear any convenient party, might understand this fact and become affilliated with a party to run for the party’s nomination, while bringing a very different view to the office.  These, “RINO” or “DINO” candidates game the system in an odd way.   Looking at support and donors might be the only way to choose candidates, so we begin seeking the least offensive donor list.   In some cases, voters organize to actually change party affilliation in advance of a primary, simply for the purpose of choosing a candidate for the other party.  Does this seem extreme?   Manipulative?  Should one party support a candidate with a very obvious support from the other party in a primary?   I’ll leave that to your conscience and, I hope, uncommon sense.

In a closed primary, only voters registered with a given party can vote in that party’s primary. States with closed primaries include party affiliation in voter registration so that the state has an official record of what party each voter is registered as.Closed primaries preserve a party’s freedom of association by better ensuring that only bona fide members of the party influence who that party nominates……..      A handful of states even allow voters registered with one party to switch their registration at the polls to vote in another party’s primary. In these rare instances, a closed primary can more closely resemble open or semi-closed primaries than the closed primaries of other states. Such states are still considered “closed,”……..

Source: Primaries – FairVote

The gamesmanship continues, but most voters see a minor candidate running in a primary as a manipulation to exclude some voters.  It can also be seen as an effort to preserve the real party nominee, when someone runs “wearing” the affilliation for election purposes only.   The games are never as simple and straightforward as just adding a weak candidate and the weak candidate ploy, even if it happened, might just be the only counter left in a game, sometimes lasting many years.

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Friday Night Football

One of the best things about living on the island…going to a game with your family and seeing a community have a great time at a family event.    ​

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Content and Engagement

 

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imageI’m looking back at impression numbers for a part of my online effort.  Being able to see engagement or impressions, makes a huge difference in how a marketing campaign works.  Content and using social media to reach clients, takes time and engagement, so I’m far less concerned with being duplicated by a competitor.  Original content, knowledge of the subject and connection are the keys. 

There are definite peak periods associated with the time I take to write and times when I’m on vacation, the weather is good or something in the real world distracts the audience.

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River Frontage and Huge Changes in Value

MapI can remember thinking $300,000 was a high for deep water, 30 years ago.  The same deep water property, could be in the $1.2 to $1.5 million range today.  The map to the left shows the current MLS list, as of today, and residential property with “River Frontage” and an existing home.   River frontage can vary a great deal in price and locations can sell at a premium or be surprisingly affordable.  One home, on the far west side of the county, has over 300 feet on water and 18+ acres.  Think about location, configuration, elevation, distance to the ocean and even bridge height.  

  • Total # of Listings: 31
  • Lowest Price: $209,900
  • Highest Price: $4,950,000
  • Average Price: $1,268,855
  • Average Days on Market: 276

Days on market and price per foot isn’t particularly valuable, when you compare a broad range.  Personally, I would consider the kind of frontage you want, when choosing water.  Is water and depth important and, if it is important, what kind of boating do you plan.  Sail, motor, fishing, recreation?   How far is upland from navigable water?  Do you plan to build and is the structure built at the required flood elevation.

A feasibility period is important, but even more important for property with environmental or unusual restrictions. Knowing about existing wetland areas, whether construction meets current standards and whether all improvements are permitted, should all be considered.  I’m currently selling a point of land with over 1/2 a mile on the water, dock, frontage on two creeks (McGirts and Lanceford), a caretaker’s cottage and nearly a straight shot to Amelia Island and the Fernandina Beach Marina at $2.9 million.  Check for availability, but Nassau County is changing.   Click here for a video tour…

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The Burden of Prescriptive Easements…

 

IMG_9757I’m thinking about  the impact of easements by prescription, usually without any original permission from the property owner.   Other than a boundary based on past use, how can an owner, burdened by an easement, manage negative impact?   This waterway was probably a mosquito control district easement, placed without any formal agreement,  and now has an improved graded drive beside the ditch, culverts crossing the ditch and ties to nearby retention ponds.  In this case, the last to develop is sometimes burdened by roads, surrounding properties and even changes to grade, all interrupting natural water flow, possibly made without adequate consideration for the rights of the impacted owner.

My Concern, when I see an old unrecorded easement, is the burden placed on a property owner as flow through a ditch increases over time and as a poorly defined historic boundary has potential to grow..  An easement by prescription is defined below.

Easements by prescription, also called prescriptive easements, are implied easements granted after the dominant estate has used the property in a hostile, continuous and open manner for a statutorily prescribed number of years. Prescriptive easements differ from adverse possession by not requiring exclusivity.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easement
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Facebook, Social Media and Sunshine Law

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Good practice to notice any event with more than one commissioner potentially in attendance….

The following post relates loosely to real estate practice, but it may prove to be helpful in considering the use of social media by boards or elected officials subject to Sunshine Law.   Zoning changes or requests for approval of development plans often mean appearing in front of local government.  Understanding how and where you can discuss a proposal will make life easier and avoid trampling on the public record laws.  In Florida, public record laws mean notice of meeting is required and discussion of a topic outside a meeting, may require particular care to avoid broadcasting that discussion to other board members.  The First Amendment Foundation or your attorney would be a good resource, if you have questions about how to communicate with board members and which communication might create a requirement for record retention.

I held office as a City Commissioner for Fernandina Beach over one term and served as Mayor for two terms, ending in 2015.  Serving as Mayor does not convey any particular power outside a meeting, but in Fernandina, a mayor does serve as the moderator during meetings and needs to take particular care when communicating publicly.   Anyway, when I was in office, Sunshine Law and record retention took a fair bit of energy.   Social media services, in my view, amounted to holding a public meeting.  Operating under this assumption, discussions like this would create a need for record retention and notice.    Personally, I always chose to treat social media like a public meeting.   I avoided talking with other commissioners directly or indirectly and I always avoided discussing agenda items in a public setting without notice.   A public setting would be a Facebook personal page, Facebook group, Facebook political page or even a message.  I behaved as though any potential broadcast of a discussion could be construed as an attempt to sway the opinion of other board members or could be considered an un-noticed public meeting.

It is better to go into each meeting with a willingness to be open to discussion and remain impartial.  Avoiding outside discussion complies with the Sunshine Law, makes record retention easier and makes it more likely government will operate as intended. This is opinion and I’m not an attorney, but I think understanding the idea of open government is almost a “Golden Rule” kind of common sense.

The opinion below is an excerpt from an AG opinion.  Whenever in doubt, I would often search for the subject in a database of AG opinions.   While we had access to an attorney, there is no good substitute for taking the time to learn.

In Attorney General Opinion 08-07, this office concluded that the use of a website blog or message board to solicit comment from other members of the board or commission by their response on matters that would come before the board would trigger the requirements of the Sunshine Law. As stated therein:

“While there is no statutory prohibition against a city council member posting comments on a privately maintained electronic bulletin board or blog, . . . members of the board or commission must not engage in an exchange or discussion of matters that foreseeably will come before the board or commission for official action. The use of such an electronic means of posting one’s comments and the inherent availability of other participants or contributors to act as liaisons would create an environment that could easily become a forum for members of a board or commission to discuss official issues which should most appropriately be conducted at a public meeting in compliance with the Government in the Sunshine Law. It would be incumbent upon the commission members to avoid any action that could be construed as an attempt to evade the requirements of the law.”

Source: Advisory Legal Opinion – Records, municipal facebook page

 

Resources Related to First Amendment, Meetings or Public Records

 

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Virginia Creeper or Poison Ivy?

My youngest son thought this might be Poison Ivy.  I rarely see poison ivy and don’t believe it has an effect on me, but the mistake is common.   Creeper sap is irritating and the plant including berries is not edible.   Some sites list as poisonous or as an irritant.     

Virginia Creeper

Another Virginia Creeper in a Sunnier Location

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Social Marketing Needed

In reading a recent marketing director’s job description,  the wish list of skills drew my attention.  Social media ranked higher than I remember in years past.  When everyone wasn’t looking, social media and connectivity became an essential skill.   Social media is really just enhanced communcation.  Learning to use a medium to communicate is logical, when your job is reaching new clients or other agents.

In 2008, I can remember the presidential elections and sudden shift to influence by social media.  At the time, I maintained more than one website and had been considering moving to a blog or forum format.  Soon after, I began to try and use various social media platforms.  The world was changing and I needed to think about my own connectivity.

Twitter was one of the first social media platforms for me….beginning in late 2008.    I can’t remember my first tweets, but I used it to see pictures and stories, far before the media released information.  My personal profile is https://twitter.com/EdBoner or @EdBoner on twitter.  The use of the site is misunderstood, but curating the content you use and consume, makes the site work well or seem useless.   Lists and saves searches are my favorite tools.  While I do follow about 100 users, I’m primarily interested in specific stories or subjects.  Twitter is considered a micro-blog and now offers sponsored stories and targeted advertising.   I see this as a news site and even a technical support site, if I have questions and need answers.   The daily stories called “Moments”, adds tremendous value to the site.   I find myself using this more and more in 2016.

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Old-School Networking Business cards are still used…..is this the last generation with wallets and personal business cards?

Facebook, used by more than 75% of internet users, according to various sources, has the biggest population.  I began using this around the same time and started a local networking group soon after joining.  I also served as an admin of an unofficial alumni group for Stetson University with several thousand members.   Pages and changes to groups over the years, changed the way I used the service.   Regardless, I am unusually familiar with using the biggest social media platform for my company page, for political candidate pages and as an admin.    The platform is growing and I’m pleased with the majority of changes.   My company page is located at www.facebook.com/realtysource .    Again, this is a kind of blog/forum platform and, by far, this is the most useful social media platform.  Population alone, makes the site work.   I make a point of replying to clients and writing posts personally.  Social media is never effective without a real person creating the connections.  Connection is relationship marketing.

Linkedin is where I go to look for professional information, but I use it for specific kinds of information.  Whether I post blogs for feedback or just want to keep up with a friend’s current professional status, it does have a value, but I use the site for specific kinds of information.  I don’t see the site as useful daily, but there is a time and place.   I disagree with seeing Linkedin as a professional site, but Facebook as a social/less professional site.   Both can be used for any purpose, depending on the way you curate or select content.

My blog, you’re reading, and various social media sites, are mostly collected on a tool I use called “Flipboard”.  This collects social media, news and posts, into a blog/magazine format.   You’ll either be a fan or not, but using this with a list of social media profiles, improves my interaction and the manageability of the information.   My reading list is on one magazine, but I also manage a local collection I send to newcomers and a Florida collection for statewide news.   The tool is highly under-rated and one of my favorite apps on a mobile device.

Where you choose to engage online is important and can magnify your marketing.  I’ve used Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Plaxo, Linkedin, WordPress and Instagram.   While I’ve used a number of platforms not listed, it makes a lot of sense to consider where your clients choose to be and how they choose to communicate.  Adapt to clients…..give the customer what he/she wants.

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Tips for Using an Escalator/Escalation Clause in Purchase Contracts

What is an escalation clause?  Essentially, an escalator or escalation clause predetermines a change to a contract if certain conditions are met.   In other words, your offer starts at one number, but a clause in the contract says, you’ll also offer to increase your bid over a competing buyer’s offer by a certain amount and up to a set price.   IMG_5487

In a good market, there are some times when an escalation clause makes the difference in a potential multiple offer sale.   There are a few considerations, but knowing another buyer may be interested and will likely compete for the same property, means you may do well to consider whether raising your offer now or later makes sense.  Is the property priced below market, in your opinion?  Would you still buy at a price beyond the list price?  

Considerations:

  1. Initial Offer…where do you start?
  2. Highest Offer…how far will you go?
  3. Escalation Amount….how much will you bid over a competing offer?
  4. Timing…when will you disclose a clause?
  5. How, when and whether to present an escalation clause.
  6. Ask to see, but don’t expect to necessarily be shown proof of the competing offer.  A number of “blogs” or discussions of clauses insist on seeing proof.  Personally, I would be more interested in being the last counter the seller considers or last counter the seller makes….less than actually seeing the counter.

Article 1 and its Standards of Practice provide guidance on multiple offers. Article 1 has two primary obligations. First is the requirement that REALTORS® “protect and promote the interests of their client.” Second is the “obligation to treat all parties honestly.”

Standard of Practice 1-15 addresses REALTORS®’ obligation in multiple-offer situations: “REALTORS®, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers shall, with the sellers’ approval, disclose the existence of offers on the property.” This Standard of Practice clearly requires disclosure of the existence of multiple offers, with the seller’s permission, if a buyer or cooperating broker asks about the existence of multiple offers. Standard of Practice 1-13 is directed to the issue of disclosure of terms of offers. “When entering into buyer/tenant agreements, REALTORS® must advise potential clients of: . . . 5) the possibility that sellers or sellers’ representatives may not treat the existence, terms, or conditions of offers as confidential unless confidentiality is required by law, regulation, or by any confidentiality agreement between the parties.”

In other words, terms of offers can be disclosed to competing buyers or their agents by sellers or seller’s representatives unless there are laws or confidentiality agreements that specifically prohibit that disclosure. Confidentiality agreements between buyers and sellers are more common in commercial transactions than in residential transactions. Where state license laws prohibit the disclosure of terms of competing offers by real estate licensees, parties specify what permissions their agents have to disclose either the existence or terms of offers.  http://realtormag.realtor.org/law-and-ethics/ethics/article/2012/01/what-disclose-amid-multiple-offers 

I’ve only needed or felt an escalation clause benefited a buyer occasionally.  Using an escalation clause can have a negative or unforeseen effect, if you aren’t careful.  I would prefer to see an offer with a clause noting an escalation agreement held by the buyer’s agent.   Upon notification of an offer, either initially or during the negotiation process and upon notice by the seller of a competing offer with a specific set of terms, assuming prequalified with proof of funds and cash will be seen as roughly equal, standards of practice would demand most agents advice their seller of a potentially higher offer from another buyer. 

The real result of an escalation clause is a final chance to reply to a series of offers.  As they say, “I don’t need to swim faster than the alligator, I just need to swim faster than you.”  If reasonably certain of a competing offer or two and an escalation clause seems to be a prudent option, I would note the agreement to offer a higher number than another competing contract.  My goal is to be the last counter-offer.  

Obviously, or I should say “IN MY OPINION”, NEVER voluntarily disclose the top number or the entire form, showing the highest possible bid to the seller or seller’s agent.  In my opinion, the form should authorize your agent to increase bids on your behalf or result in a “last chance” to win by being the last buyer standing.   Simply add a note specifying existence of an addendum or authorization to bid on the buyer’s behalf and the presence of an escalation clause.  Defining the idea of an escalation clause and the purpose is also good way to educate an agent or seller, unfamiliar with the idea.  Escalator clauses can cover a variety of changes, based on another change.  Changes in contract price, based on material or labor costs are a kind of escalation. 

  1. http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/what-is-an-escalation-clause-how-does-it-work-and-when-should-you-use-one/
  2. http://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/escalation-clause.aspx
  3. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/escalatorclause.asp
  4. http://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2014/05/more_homeowners_using_real_est.html

As always, consult an attorney to consider wording of or meaning of an escalation clause you may consider.   As a broker, I’m always looking for a new twist to improve presentation of an offer or a way to fairly win as a buyer when competing against other buyers.    Escalation clauses are just one way to negotiate, but using this strategy is limited and can have negative results….including potentially higher than intended sales price or loss of a purchase.  I would carefully consider whether this strategy might work and also remember every seller and circumstance is different.  Results are never guaranteed.   

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Signs, Sling Blades and Invisiblity

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Visible!

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After…Much Better!

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Before….

Signs are an important part of real estate, but vacant land can change in summer months.  Every so often, I make a trip to any unsold listings to be certain my signs are still visible and clear the view.  The first sign is on acreage and wasn’t terrible, but it looks much better now.  The middle shot of woods, with a

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Under 60 Days!

little white patch, isn’t my listing, but is an example of an old “for sale” sign, so overgrown it can’t be seen at all.  If you can’t see the sign at all, it isn’t doing much good.  In Florida, weeds can cover a sign in a few months, so don’t blame the agent, just ask if they carry a sling blade in their trunk.

Invisibility is not effective marketing.

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Invisible in a matter of months…not mine, just an example.

 

 

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