Criminal background checks for Real Estate Agents in Georgia?

Are criminal background checks being performed for real estate agents in Georgia?

Yes and No – d-“pending” on how you look at it…

As far as I know, a criminal background check is made for any real estate applicant for new or renewed license by the Georgia Real Estate Commission to verify that any charges are pending for certain crimes but not a “complete” history of “charged” criminal background checks are researched or considered, only those “convictions” that are less than 5 years ago and only 2 years for a single conviction.

Georgia Code – 43-40-15-(1.2) A person who has a conviction in a court of competent jurisdiction of this state or any other state shall be eligible to become an applicant for a licensure or an approval authorized by this chapter only if:

(A) Such person has satisfied all terms and conditions of any conviction such person may have had before making application for licensure or approval, provided that if such individual has multiple convictions, at least five years shall have passed since the individual satisfied all terms and conditions of any sentence imposed for the last conviction before making application for licensure or approval; and provided, further, that if such individual has been convicted of a single felony or of a single crime of moral turpitude, at least two years shall have passed since the individual satisfied all terms and conditions of any sentence imposed for the last conviction before making application for licensure or approval;

Per Georgia Code 43-40-15: Grant of licenses; grounds for suspension or revocation of license; other sanctions; surrender or lapse; conviction, there are certain circumstances which would prohibit issuance or revocation of licenses covered in Georgia Law – Georgia Code:. These circumstances only apply if “charges are pending” against an applicant for new or renewed license. Georgia Code 43-40-15 (1.2) (B) says “No criminal charges for forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, theft, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, a felony, a sexual offense, a probation violation, or a crime involving moral turpitude are pending against the person;”

Bottom line: As long as you only commit certain crimes every 2+ years and even if you are accused and charged but “NOT” convicted of the crime – you too can be a REAL-A-TOR in Georgia!

Hope you feel safer now – Merry Christmas!

Source of inspiration for post: Measure was proposed in South Carolina legislature after kidnapping and murder charges were filed against a currently licensed real estate agent. The proposed legislation would require background checks to renew real estate licenses.

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Who owns the interior and exterior photos of your home?

Are Google’s satellite photos of your home an invasion of privacy or does everyone not care because they now see into their neighbor’s back yards?

Take it one step further, when you are marketing your home to the public, do you also have interior photos of the home to show features of your home to prospective home buyers? Do you care to share your personal furnishings with the general public, some of whom are either nosy neighbors (i.e., self-proclaimed decorating critics) or maybe local criminals? And what does it matter if you do show photos, you are moving, right? So why care? Even the nosy neighbors are going to come over to see inside and get ideas for their home.

Well, how about the new Home Buyer caring not to show the interior views of a home to total strangers and where all possible access points, alarm panels, or otherwise revealing the interior of your new home. It’s one thing to see the photos of home interiors to compare features of various possible homes, but once you move in and even though you change furniture placement, paint, or flooring…do you feel uncomfortable that basically your home is viewable from anyone in the entire world?

Can you remove previous photos of your new home’s interior or exterior from the internet? Probably not entirely. Or perhaps the realtors can use your home’s exterior photo to advertise previous properties that have been sold. Also, Realtor Multiple Listing Services (MLS) normally delete those photos after a specified length of time (i.e., probably about 90 days after to use as sales listing or appraisal comparables). I’m sure if you pressed the issue with them, you can request them to do so and they should comply. Please consult with your real estate agent to address concerns, or contact the local MLS to remove photos.

In these days of smartphones and the number of cameras out there, even the potential Buyers visiting the home will snap photos of interior to help remember the homes they visit…are you ok with that?

Bottom line: In this day and age, if you are really paranoid of who sees the interior of your home, you have concern and not sure how you can stop it in the short run…maybe an enterprising unemployed attorney will file a class action lawsuit, but not sure of the extent of “damages”???

Source of ide for blog Post: Some buyers don’t want to show off the photos of their new home.

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Violent Crimes Against Real Estate Agents

This blog post is dedicated to those in the real estate industry who, while performing their real estate duties, were either killed or severely injured by worthless human beings. May they rest in peace and their families be comforted with their memories.

Real estate is sometimes a dangerous occupation…especially if you are alone in a model home in a new subdivision or showing properties to unknown prospects.

Given the wrong circumstances at the wrong time, it can be downright deadly. About 10 years ago, I recall a couple of agents in a new home subdivision in Acworth, Georgia who were at the model home and a man murdered both of them. He was convicted of the murders but I believe he still is alive today – lucky him but he didn’t give his victims a chance to live.

My hope and prayer is that this senseless killing stops. I also wish that builders install security cameras throughout the model homes so if something happens, they can get a better image for police to track those animals who perform these violent acts of crime. And agents need to be on the alert when single men stumble into the model home with nobody else around.

Inman News reported that in 2012 (the latest year for which figures are available), there were 50 workplace fatalities in the real estate industry subcategory. Source: http://www.inman.com/2014/04/28/real-estate-workplace-deaths-again-on-the-rise/

These cases are but a few and I could list more, but I plan to update this blog post when I encounter another case.

NEWS: Even though a Florida statute has been proposed to increase penalties for crimes against real estate professionals, is this the right thing to do to favor one group of people over another, or equal treatment under the law? I believe it is a knee jerk reaction to real estate professionals complaints. If anything at all, review the penalties for all crimes to see if they are commensurate of the crime.

12-14-2016: Real estate agent shot inside partially renovated home. Residents who live near the home say it has been left partially renovated for about a year. They worry the agent stumbled upon an armed drifter, but police have not released what happened.

10-8-2016: Killer of Dallas-area real estate agent gets execution date.

10-7-2016: Real estate agent stabbed while showing North Las Vegas home.

10-3-2016: Man who beat, bit, stabbed McKinney real-estate agent to death loses appeal to Supreme Court The agent had been beaten, bitten and stabbed and the medical examiner testified at trial that 10 of her 33 stab wounds were fatal.

6-21-2016: Man found guilty of raping real estate agent. Well, it wasn’t a murder, but it was a major crime against a real estate agent.

6-14-2016: Police ask for help solving 36-year-old (1979) murder of real-estate agent.

5-17-2016: 2 men arrested in October shooting that killed real estate agent in San Jose.

3-22-2016: Real estate agent shot dead near home in Lapu in the Philippines. And yes, agents are murdered in other countries too.

Read more: http://cebudailynews.inquirer.net/89955/real-estate-agent-shot-dead-near-home-in-lapu#ixzz43dCDXHw5
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Update 11-4-2015: The Ashley Oakland murder in Des Moines, Iowa on April 8, 2011 “still” remains unsolved.

7-18-2015: Realtors taking huge steps to protect real estate agents

7-7-2015: Woman sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping charges in the death of 50-year-old Beverly Carter.

6-3-2015: St. Petersburg police searching for man who held two real estate agents at gunpoint . This didn’t result in a murder, but it’s a crime using a gun against a real estate agent – almost as bad!

2-28-2015: The killing of Vern Holbrook, owner of Aspen Real Estate, was premeditated by a man who started plotting to kill Holbrook after his plans to purchase Aspen Real Estate fell through.

2-8-2015: Just a warning to real estate agents… Safety Alert: More Agents Report Strange Calls

12-26-2014: Many Realtor organizations continue to develop training and precautionary warnings for realtor safety. Florida Realtors group released a new 75-minute safety video on Oct. 29 that covers self-protection and tips on avoiding harm. Source: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/12/26/3560201/after-killing-real-estate-agents.html

11-23-2014: Roswell, New Mexico police are investigating the death of a prominent real estate agent – David Duer.

10-5-2014: Just to show you how long this trend of murdering real estate agents has been going on is disclosed by the recent news of the murderer of real estate agent Dorothy Greene in Nevada back in 1989 has just died.

9-30-2014: Arkansas real estate agent found in shallow grave after meeting with fake cash buyer alone at a vacant foreclosure.

8-5-2014: Man Pleads Guilty to Murder of Ohio Real Estate Agent The suspect pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated robbery, aggravated arson, and kidnapping in connection with Martin’s death on Sept. 20, 2010. The real crime here is that it took almost 4 years to nail this scumbag!

—Update 10-2-2014: One of the two killers sentenced to life without parole

—Update 10-1-2014: Should sentencing matter if the convicted murderer of Ohio agent was abused as a child and served in the Military?

—Update: 9-19-2014: Second suspect guilty of killing Youngstown real estate agent

Washington state – Earlier in 2014, 4 people were accused of fatally injuring a 78-year-old Yakima real estate agent while he was showing a home alone. Source: http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/jan/31/murder-charged-in-yakima-real-estate-agents-death/

Update: 10-31-2014: 3 sentenced for ambushing Yakima real estate agent

Iowa Real Estate Agent was murdered in a model home of a new home subdivision. Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/iowa-real-estate-agent-murdered-in-model-home/

Texas Murder of real estate agent in a model home in a new subdivision http://activerain.trulia.com/blogsview/2365016/the-murder-of-real-estate-agent-sarah-walker”

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Property Trespass – Do Drones commit trespass on your property in your Airspace?

Do you have any rights to the airspace above your home?

Yes you do….or maybe you don’t.

New rules on small drones kick in today: What you need to know.

Real estate law and guidelines have alway stated you own from the center of earth through the sky on below and above your property.

However, government allows developers, utility companies, and themselves to install pipes, wires, lines, etc. throughout your property to deliver home based services people need or demand. Normally, these are called “utility easements” and are declared in existence whenever you purchase our home and can be discovered through a property survey. Also, commercial and military planes and other aircraft have been allowed to pass over your “property” in to permit passing in the interests of commerce and other reasons including free movement of goods, services, people, and military training exercises.

Does the use of a drone aircraft invade not only your privacy, but does it also commit property trespass?

Who knows what data is collected and how far into your home with a good quality camera can peer (through windows), or of your real or personal property can to examine details of your private property? Who controls the data collected and how fast do you think it could spread given our whet appetites for instantaneous social media broadcasts?

Will local governments now use drones to capture detail about your property like dimensions, exterior or interior improvements, or verify if your home improvements have satisfied zoning or permitting requirements?

Example #1: Did you pull a permit for that new deck, pool, or other addition to your home? They county may be watching.

Example #2: Can the county use a drone to fly over your driveway or backyard to examine the condition of property (based on a neighbor complaint of potential code violation) either too many cars parked in the driveway or backyard hidden from view by a fence or some other obstruction that the homeowner uses to prevent access by county employees?

Congress delegated to the FAA the ability to define “navigable airspace” and the authority to regulate “navigable airspace” of aircraft by regulation or order. 49 U.S.C. § 40103(b)(1).

So where do private or commercial drones fit in to that freedom or air restriction above your home and create a “property trespass” situation?

Definition of airspace trespass: An entry into another’s airspace is a trespass even if the trespasser doesn’t touch the surface of the earth. Airplanes may trespass by flying low over a person’s property, for example. An airplane trespasses by flying low enough over the surface to interfere with the owner’s reasonable use and enjoyment of her surface.

Not to mention the fact your privacy is threatened even if the drone doesn’t pass into your “airspace” but alongside your property viewing you inside or outside your home. Does that matter to you?

Bottom line: Expect a number of violations of your privacy and trespass for years to come while the FAA decides on just how far a drone can travel into YOUR airspace until YOU stand up and express your concern to your local, State, and Federal officials!

FAA can be contacted via email at UAShelp@faa.gov or call 844-FLY-MY-UA.

Source: THE PROPERTY RIGHTS OF AIRSPACE.

Source: Navigable Airspace: Where Private Property Rights End and Navigable Airspace Begins.

Source: 49 U.S. Code § 40103 – Sovereignty and use of airspace.

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Who pays for tree cleanup on your property?

You…

Is that your final answer?

In general, whereever the tree falls, it’s your problem.

Yep – regardless if that big, ugly tree in your neighbor’s yard falls on your property, it’s on your nickel…

However, it is suggested that you contact your insurance agent to verify that fact.

And be careful trimming a fallen tree yourself. Wear appropriate personal injury protection…branches trapped against a fixed object often spring back and can send you flying…

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, 8-21-2016, A7.

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Realtor and Internet Real Estate Websites – Garbage In – Garbage Out?

If you look at any one of the hundreds of “real estate agent controlled” multiple listing services (as well as the major search engines most people rely on like Zillow, Trulia, RedaFin, realtor.com, etc,.), they are a plethora of detailed information from detailed written descriptions, scientific wild ass guess value estimates, and hundreds of data fields where features can be chosen (or omitted) so that consumers/clients can pick and choose from several desired features to find their “dream home”.

But wait —- there’s more!

Yes, much more…more information available to select every single feature you want in a house – or can you?

For example, if you have a client in need of a ranch style home and prefers to have a basement but NO stairs from the garage to the house, there’s a way to do that. Many multiple listing services have a field for “Parking” and in that fields, there is usually a selection called “Drive Under” which denotes you park under the house and walk up a flight of stairs to the main home level. If the data is correctly entered on each listing, then the possibilities can be reduced down to the ones that fit those exact criteria and the prospective home Buyer more easily finds a more suitable home.

In theory, you can select a search for homes with those you desire. But what happens if that selection is not entered with accurate information by the real estate agent, their assistant, or an office clerk who usually enters that information? Your client oriented search portal selection of homes will populate with houses that have undesirable criteria which will result in client frustration over seeing home choices that don’t fit what they want. Is that best serving our clients’ needs?

It all depends…on the client to which you are referring and whether or not they buy the house.

Will real estate professionals organizations ever correct the incorrect data (i.e., garbage) problem?

NO, they WILL NEVER CORRECT inaccurate data…

Wanna know why?

Because the real estate listing agent has one, and only one, responsibility to their Sellers: to get an acceptable offer. So if they market the home to the widest possible market without being accurate and get enough traffic to the home, then by sheer numbers they should get an offer and let the Seller determine if the offer is good enough to sell the home in the free, open real estate market!

So, do we just tell our clients “hey, live with it-sometimes information is wrong”?

It seems we have chosen not to solve the age old issue when computer databases were first born, generated, and maintained…

GARBAGE IN – GARBAGE OUT!

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How far away from high tension power lines is it “safe”?

I don’t know…I’m not a health expert.

I’ve heard many things…back of yard is ok….further than 100 yards…never…doesn’t matter…etc, etc,.

Concerns about high tension power lines and their effect on your medical condition were raised in 1979 and more recent studies draw parallel to childhood leukemia and power lines, yet still don’t “conclusively” draw a direct causal relationship through any Electronic Magnetic Field (EMF).

A Federal program was authorized by the US Congress in 1992 to study the issue. It was called EMF – RAPID (Electronic and Magnetic Fields Research and Public Information Dissemination). A major objective of the program was to determine if exposure to electric and magnetic fields affects human health.

In 1995, the American Physical Society (APS) issued a policy statement that there was NO direct causal relationship with developing cancer from exposure to EMFs. Recently published research suggests that electric fields can influence the growth of brain tumors.

In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council (NRC) published a review that said it’s less likely that MFs (Magnetic Fields) in residential and business environments have important effects on health.

But the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) said EMF exposure has some evidence of exposure and its correlation to leukemia.

…Bottom line answer: It all depends on what research you believe and if you trust the source of information in order to make the decision whether it’s important to you. Just remember, Agent Orange never affected Vietnam vets and DNA testing has never found any convicts in jail that were not-guilty!

References to articles, sources, products, or services are not a specific endorsement and not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the information provided is valid, or the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others. Be careful – if it sounds too good, it probably is!

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Impact fees and their “negative” impact on starter homes

Question: When will Government learn?

Answer: After everyone else has seen the terrible effects of its actions…and then it will be a little bit longer.

State and local governing authorities institute laws or ordinances allowing the local municipality to charge an impact fee. This fee helps to finance part of the infrastructure such as streets, schools, transportation, fire, police, environmental litigation, utilities, and other governing expenses. Of course much of the support of infrastructure is financed by property taxes, but sometimes it is not enough and the newer roads and development related costs of new houses/buildings creates a large expense that must be paid back over several years. To hedge the excessive debt, a fee is charged to each lot developed. This average U.S. impact fee is about $21,000 (About $2,500 in Houston up to $72,000 in San Francisco.

Since starter homes are lower priced for lower income residents, the impact fee is harder to pass onto homeowners (alot less difficult with higher margin homes) and therefore is mostly absorbed by builders and becomes more of a burden on builder profit margins. And builders don’t like to take risks just to make next to nothing at all on homes.

References to articles, sources, products, or services are not a specific endorsement and not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the information provided is valid, or the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others.

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US H-1B Visas – US Protectionism or Excuse for Companies to Fire US Paid Workers?

My question: Why do we keep laying off skilled and capable US citizens for lower paying unskilled (but US trained) foreign workers?

Is the US that void of talent? Has Congress been manipulated into thinking we don’t have smart enough people in the US to learn any job? Is Congress just paying back political contributions from companies?

Now, I don’t mind companies seeking the best talent wherever they can and smart people exist all over the world, but I wish they would search only “after” their current capable employees are given the opportunity. So many times I’ve seen “very” capable individuals (willing to take a cut in pay to stay) released from companies and replaced with less skilled and cheaper employees who have to be trained by the overworked exiting employees. Why? It doesn’t improve bottom line as much as a company thinks it does.

For 2016, the US Government has received more than 236,000 (233,000 in 2015 and 172,500 in 2014) applications (for 85,000 available visas) from US companies for skilled worker (H1-B) visa. About 20,000 of the 85,000 applications are for foreign workers with advanced degrees from US universities. Source: WSJ,4-13-2016,A2.

The more we try to weave a web around the immigration and US citizen employment issues (including the lucrative almost $100 Billion outsourcing market), the more we stab ourselves in the back.

According to a 8-29-2013 article on Page B8 of the Wall Street Journal, the (noble) current legislative attempts by US Congress will prohibit H1B visas from companies employing lots (>75% of US based employees) of foreign computer science workers (i.e., India,China, South Korea,etc,.). Furthermore, the companies with >15% of US based employees on H1B visas can’t perform hardware or software services, and will further restrict use of H1B visas..unless…more US workers are employed (by telling Sally or Billy NO, you’re not going to be a liberal arts major) or….by US companies laying off US citizens and hiring H1B visa employees who fall far below the 75% threshold….or…

Several companies split up and spinoff and operate under different (i.e., non-Indian,non-Chinese, non-south Korean, etc,.) companies and game the system….which is what most companies do – find the loopholes around it.

Interesting side note: about 120,000 new computer science jobs will need to be filled in 2013 and roughly 52,000 (less than half) will be produced from US colleges. So there will be a shortage to be made up by whom – Martians?

References to products and services are not a specific endorsement, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others.

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EB-5 Visas – Real Estate development in exchange for Green Cards in the US

Update 4-15-2016: A complaint filed in federal court Tuesday alleges that the owner and chief executive of a proposed Vermont ski resort “systematically looted” more than $50 million raised from dozens of foreign investors in what the agency called a Ponzi-like scheme. My question: So, are they going to pull the investor green cards?

Update 4-15-2016: It is estimated that over 18,000 EB-5 Visas will be requested…It seems that the bulk of the projects completed are in more affluent areas, even thought the program was designed to renovate blighted areas…but the dirty little secret – municipalities are connecting poor areas to affluent areas to qualify the affluent area to be enhanced first…and some developers are getting low interest loans which save them millions of dollars. Source: WSJ, 4-13-2016,C8.

Update 12-10-2014: Approximatey 11,000 foreign investors are taking advantage of this law – getting their green cards the old fashioned Chicago way – payoffs!

Well, if you thought it didn’t get silly enough, let’s screw the Americans struggling to build or start a business and the owners and give visas to those outside the US to start a business and employ people here…regardless if they are citizens who are employed.

Hey, if starting a business in the US an be offered to foreigners, why aren’t US citizens breaking the door down to start a business? Answer: Besides the program having fraud and mismanagement (which is no reason to change things under this administration), because the US Government is making it harder to start a business by a US citizen.

And the EB-5 program gives foreign business owners a foothold in the US based on two factors:

(1) Investing at least $500,000 (not sure if their money or may include a US commercial loan). Heck: that’s one decent fast food franchise owned by a foreigner not a US citizen; and

(2) The business must employ at least 10 people in the first two years of operation (that’s a long time and I don’t know if it means all 10+ must be US citizens).

If both criteria above are met, then the temporary EB-5 visa can be converted to a permanent Visa/Green Card.

But who are we kidding – are these visas really that necessary since

It appears that about 3,700 of the 6,4000 (about 57%) applicants were approved for EB-5 visas

Source: WSJ, 1-21-2014, A3

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