Natural Hazard Disclosure in Washington State – What do you think?

I had the pleasure of attending my first Biznik Marketing Masterminds group the other day. Wow, was it refreshing to have other business owners say it like it is – or at least how they think it is! I am very appreciative of the group, and found the responses to my question, especially the critical ones, to be very helpful.

I asked the group for help with how to introduce a new disclosure product to the real estate market here in the Northwest. I have created an incredible (in my opinion) natural and environmental hazard disclosure report, primarily targeted to participants in a real estate transaction. It was designed to quickly show buyers any natural and environmental hazards surrounding a property they were purchasing. It also gives tips on how to mitigate any hazards that were found, so they can protect their family and their investment. For sellers, it is intended to help them with completing the Form 17 and protecting them from future lawsuits, frivolous or not. Agents that use the reports can be seen as providing an added benefit for their client, while also providing a little “CYA” for themselves.

The comment from a participant of the Mastermind’s meeting that stands out most in my mind is “it sounds like my product is a solution, looking for a problem.” That was immediately followed up with “And I don’t have a problem”. Another attendee retorted “You don’t think you have a problem”.

This exchange, along with others in that session, made clear to me that I have a perception problem. Or better yet, a presentation problem. First of all, they didn’t get what my offering was. So, I need to work on my elevator pitch. Second, real estate deals in Washington have happened for eons without my product, so why should they bother with it now? Agents, my primary target market, don’t see the value in what my company offers. So how do I get that message across to them? How do I bring a concept that’s new to Washington, but definitely not new to real estate, here to the Northwest? That’s the question I am seeking the answer to.

Thankfully, the group asked me to clarify what exactly I provided. (I’m so thankful for the rare opportunity to pitch again. Usually you get one try and if you blow it, opportunity lost!) So I explained in a little more detail what Northwest Disclosures actually provides. Someone piped up “So, it’s kind of like a Carfax for houses?” Well, yeah, sort of. We share known facts affecting the house in order to help with the buying decision. I guess that’s what Carfax does too, except for cars obviously. With that simple association, I had nods of understanding from the group.

Then my main objector mentioned above, said she bought a house many years ago when a home inspection was unheard of. It cost her dearly the very next year! She suffered major water damage that could have been caught with an inspection, but instead she was a victim of “buyers beware” and was out of luck – and a ton of money. Her point was that things change, they evolve. What once was uncommon practice is now run of the mill stuff. People almost never buy a house without an inspection anymore. She agreed that perhaps my offering could fall into the same category. The market just doesn’t understand the benefit of a hazard disclosure, yet.

One more thing they asked while obviously bracing for some outrageous amount was “how much does it cost?” I replied “$149” and I immediately felt the room relax. The nugget I gleaned from this is because the price is not on my marketing piece, people feared that it was too expensive. It was an automatic assumption and it’s costing me opportunities! It seemed everyone in the room agreed that the peace of mind my report provides is EASILY worth $149, and I should be telling people the price upfront. Duly noted! I’m working on fixing that pronto.

So, what’s the point of this story? Well, a couple of things really.
1) I would love to know your perception of my product. What’s your honest reaction, whether you’re an agent of not.
2) With a free membership to Biznik, I got to attend a Marketing Mastermind meeting that might have saved my business. There really are some amazing, and free, resources out there.
3) We’re offering our custom reports free for 90 days, just so people will give it a try. Would you be willing to do a no-obligation tryout? If not, why not?

Your replies would really help this small business out.
Thanks!

To view a sample report or to sign up for the trial offer, visit our website and register for a free, NO obligation account.

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No risk trial offer for agents in Pierce, King and Snohomish Counties

There is a tremendous offer on the table for agents in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties and I urge you to take advantage of it now!

Northwest Disclosures is offering a free trial of our reports for use in your transactions! Whether you represent the seller or the buyer, we believe you’ll find true value in what we offer.

There is no catch! What we know about human nature is that people are often afraid to try new things. Well, natural and environmental hazard reports are new to the Northwest – BUT they are NOT new to real estate!

California, Nevada and Arizona all offer a variation of this type of report, with California being the only state to actually require it. Now this custom disclosure report is available for use in Washington transactions. It’s about time, we think!

So, to make this a no-risk venture for you, we’re offering a 30 day trial, good for up to four unique, customized reports. You can use them for you buyers who are shopping for their dream home, for listings to help with the Form 17 requirements, or both. You will be helping your clients with their due diligence requirements while also setting yourself apart as an agent who goes the extra mile.

Visit our website at www.NorthwestDisclosures.com and register as a new user. Then send us an email requesting your free trial. No charge. No obligation. No kidding.

But act fast, we won’t be running this promo for very long!

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Hey! Get Ready for National Preparedness Month!

I know, I know. You’re not jumping out of your chair and running for the closest Home Depot to get new batteries for your flashlights and smoke detectors. It’s not a very sexy topic and most people don’t bother to think about it until it’s a matter of necessity.

So, let’s play a game for a minute…

Imagine, right this very minute, the ground starts to shake violently. It’s shaking for 3 seconds, 4 seconds, 5 seconds, 8 seconds, uh oh. The panic sets in and your adrenaline starts pumping. Things are falling off the walls and you hear people screaming. The power goes out as you hear a transformer explode in the distance.

What do you do next?

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Consumer Action Group recommends Natural Hazards Reports as a Must Have for Home Buyers

Consumer-Action.org printed a great publication about the value of different inspections a home buyer can obtain during a real estate purchase. It’s plainly written and gives good advice regarding what to look for. I strongly suggest buyers check it out and insist on getting these reports during the transaction. It could save lots of grief, as well as tons of money.

This type of disclosure has been mandated in Calfornia for three decades. Why it’s not in Washington yet is beyond me. It’s something I’m working to change by launching Northwest Disclosures. Staying in the dark about hazards concerning the health and safety of my family is not an option. It’s my hope that others will agree with that position and insist on obtaining a hazard disclosure report when it’s time to buy. Sellers, you can benefit too. Look at the lawsuits that come about because of lack of disclosure during a deal. This report can help you protect against post-closing lawsuits. In fact, in Calfornia, it’s the seller that customarily provides this report to the buyer!

I hope you’ll take a minute to learn more about our company and how it can save you money, time and grief. You’ll be glad you did!

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For Home buyers of Bank Owned or REO property – A Must Have Disclosure Report!

What we offer is a highly effective Real Estate tool that offers MAXIMUM protection for buyers, sellers (and agents) in every real estate transaction. A MUST HAVE. (for Increased PEACE OF MIND.)

Northwest Disclosures provides Natural and Environmental Hazards reports for all properties in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. While every transaction could benefit from the use of our report, it is HIGHLY recommended that you purchase a disclosure report for bank owned property. When a bank owns a house, they often never lay eyes on it, and are therefore exempt from many of the desired disclosures. A buyer (and their agent) can quickly shed light on many unanswered questions through the use of our Natural Hazards Disclosure Report. Make use of this valuable tool! Visit our website now to see a sample report or place your order.

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What is a natural hazard disclosure report anyway?

What is a natural hazard disclosure? I’m glad you asked!

A natural hazard is a condition that is capable of causing severe property damage or loss of life. It may include earthquakes, avalanches, tsunamis, floods and volcanic eruptions. Our reports give clear findings as to whether or not a property is or may be affected by one of these hazards. That’s vital information for anyone to know, wouldn’t you agree? Natural hazards exist all across our great Country, obviously. But knowing which ones exist near your current residence or potential residence isn’t always so obvious.

A Northwest Disclosure report should be used as a supplement to the Form 17, or the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement. It highlights known natural hazards, as well as many man-made hazards. There are questions on the Form 17 that a seller may not have answers for, so purchasing a disclosure report from us can take the “I don’t know” factor out of the transaction. That’s great news for buyers, sellers and real estate agents! Eliminate the “I don’t know” factor. For real estate agents, eliminate those dreaded post-closing phone calls with questions like “why didn’t you tell us this?” Create trust with your clients and put everyone’s mind at ease by doing a great job at finding out and disclosing all you can about a property under consideration. The rewards are peace of mind, smooth transactions and satisfied buyers and sellers.

Visit our website at www.NorthwestDisclosures.com now for more detailed information or to order a report.

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The who, what and why of Northwest Disclosures

“The era of caveat emptor (buyer beware) in real estate is rapidly disappearing. Parallel to increased consumer protection in other industries, the purchasers of real estate, especially homes, are increasingly demanding and receiving full information BEFORE they make a final decision regarding purchase of a specific piece of real estate.
Since 1995, sellers of residential real estate have been required to provide the purchasers with a form which details any known defects with the property, unless the purchaser has expressly waived the right to receive the disclosure statement (some other exemptions may apply under RCW 64.06). The law applies to both for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) and real estate licensee-assisted transactions. Several revisions to the disclosure law were enacted by the legislature in 2003-2004. This brochure discusses who needs to disclose, what the disclosures cover, how the disclosures are to be made, and when disclosure is required. The property disclosure statement evolved in Washington State as a risk management tool to protect sellers and the Real Property Transfer Disclosure Statement (Chapter 64.06 RCW)
Disclosure of known material property defects is the responsibility of the seller. While no agency has specific enforcement authority for this law, real estate licensees have independent obligations of disclosure. In Washington, the Department of Licensing regulates the activities of real estate licensees. The information contained in this brochure is an interpretation by the Washington Center of Real Estate Research and is not to be considered as legal advice. These guidelines are for information purposes only. Questions regarding specific use of the form or the residential property disclosure law should be addressed to a qualified real estate attorney.” excerpt from Washington Center for Real Estate Research publication, dated 4/2004. To see the publication in full, click here.

The WHY of Northwest Disclosures is simple – to give interested parties quick and reliable access to vital information that could potentially affect their health, their investment or their liability for disclosure. I got the idea to do this because I wanted to know if I was supposed to evacuate if I heard the lahar (volcano) warning, or stay put. After hours of internet research, I still didn’t have my answer. Not only did I not have my answer, I came up with a bunch more questions! This ignited the fire in my belly. I thought “someone should do this”, which was quickly followed by “why not me?” I’m not the only parent who wants to know what’s around me, before I commit my family to live there!

The WHO – well, it’s me and my partner at present. We hired some brilliant resources to help with the various aspects of creating the software and other business essentials (more plugs to come for them later). I come with 15 years of experience in various aspects of the real estate industry, and my partner has over 20 years experience owning and running a business. We make a great team!

The WHAT – Our report provides a snapshot of a piece of real estate and it’s surroundings, highlighting specific health and safety hazards that may exist nearby. We include search results for sex offenders, flood zones, landslide risk areas, contaminated meth labs, lahar risk zones, leaking underground storage tanks, landfill locations and many others. I wanted this report to be both information and educational, so we’ve also included an explanation of the risk, as well as how to mitigate the risk. A really cool feature of our online report is the active hyperlinks. I’m really jazzed about these, because it gives a curious consumer (such as myself), easy access to more information on the web.

The WHEN – well, I don’t think I said anything about when, but let me say so now… NOW! Yes, now! Our reports are great for existing homeowners who want to know more about their surroundings. It’s perfect for a seller marketing their property and wanting to give themselves an added layer of protection. A homebuyer can benefit in so many obvious ways, it almost goes without saying. But I’ll say it anyway… don’t buy a house without getting one of these reports first! There, I said it. You’ll be glad you listened to me, I’m sure of it.

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