St Lucia Real Estate Tips: 5 Ways for Green Living on the Caribbean Island

St Lucia’s rich biodiversity and natural beauty play a significant role in the island’s culture and economy. The island’s 2 major industries, tourism and agriculture, both depend on sustainable environmental practices. In 2004 the Pitons were inducted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to their outstanding beauty and unique ecology. Environmental awareness is therefore a crucial part of life in St Lucia. Every human interaction with nature leaves behind an indelible fingerprint. When building a home in St Lucia you should be vigilant to minimize the impact on the environment. Here are 5 easy ways in which you can do so.

Do not clear land indiscriminately. Before starting construction, consider how your home will impact the tree cover in the area. St Lucia is a heavily vegetated country. The prevalence and variety of trees is one of the things which makes the island unique. Save as many mature trees as possible. Incorporate existing foliage into the design and layout of your house. This ensures that the island remains green. Mature trees also add majesty and beauty, while keeping a property cool.

Use renewable energy. Sunlight and wind are two of St Lucia’s most abundant natural resources. It is now possible to have one’s home completely powered by solar panels and wind turbines. Whether you use wind, solar or a combination of the two depends on the location of your home. For instance, home sites on the island’s east coast have a constant Atlantic breeze, and are well placed to utilize wind power. While solar or wind power will increase your construction costs, it will eliminate utility bills in the future. In St Lucia, electricity is the most costly utility and the savings will add up in the long run. Renewable energy also reduces the burning of fossil fuel and helps to keep the air clean while reducing the island’s carbon footprint.

Harvest rain water. St Lucia has approximately 2000 mm of annual rainfall. Using drainage systems, it is easy to collect rainwater, which is stored in tanks or underground cisterns. This helps conserve the island’s public water supply. It also ensures that you have a backup if there are shortages after a hurricane.

Maximize natural ventilation to minimize cooling costs. In St Lucia, air conditioning units are major culprits when it comes to high energy usage. Keeping your house naturally cool will significantly reduce your consumption of electricity. High ceilings, large windows, insulated roofs and cross ventilation are just a few ways in which your house can be designed to remain cool. Many homes in St Lucia are located on elevated hillsides where there is a constant breeze. A well ventilated house can eliminate (or at least greatly reduce) the need for air conditioning. (Besides the practical benefits, high ceilings and large windows are great for admiring those amazing St Lucian vistas!)

Grow a kitchen garden. Gardens flourish in St Lucia’s rich, volcanic soil and tropical weather. It is common for backyards to be laden with tropical foods such as mangoes, guavas, dasheen or breadfruit. Eat your own organic, delicious fruit, vegetables and herbs grown right in your back yard! Once you’ve gotten your garden started it’s easy to maintain. The prevalence of backyard gardening helps ensure the island’s food security and preserves the indigenous foliage. The rewards are delicious and good for both you and the environment!

These are just a handful of ways to live a nature friendly lifestyle if you have decided to buy St Lucia real estate. The island is loved for its lush, green beauty. Everyone in the country must play their part to maintain this. Cautious real estate development can enhance rather than diminish the island’s natural environment. Energy efficiency is also a great investment as it will make your home more appealing to buyers should you ever decide to sell.

Real Estate Commission – A Corrupting Influence

Real estate commission is the way in which real estate agents are paid for the services they provide. They receive a percentage of the price received for the property. Effectively, the real estate agent requires the seller of a property (the vendor) to sign over to the real estate agent a part of the property being sold.

Another way of looking at it is to say that the real estate agent, through the wording of the listing contract, effectively has his name added to the title deed of the vendor’s property, so that the real estate agent becomes a part-owner of the property. When the property sells, the real estate agent receives a payment that represents his share in the vendor’s property.

Most readers will be aware of the arguments in favour of real estate sale commissions, so I won’t discuss those here. My focus is on the ways in which the sale process can be skewed against all parties involved, when the motivation to win a commission takes precedence over more important considerations.

Commission is a “winner-takes-all, loser gets nothing” situation. This increases the pressure on the real estate agent to secure a sale. Time is also a problem. If the real estate agent cannot secure a sale within a time acceptable to the vendor, the vendor may take the property off the market, or away from the real estate agent’s agency. This will result in a total loss for the real estate agent.

Finally, the vendor becomes an obstacle between the real estate agent and his commission goal. In order to receive payment for his share of the vendor’s property, the real estate agent must receive an offer to purchase within the available time, but the offer must be accepted by the vendor. If the vendor decides that the offer is not acceptable, then the real estate agent loses.

In order to win the gambling game that is real estate sales, the real estate agent may decide to tip the odds in his favour – and there are numerous ways in which this can be done.

At the listing stage the real estate agent may use improper means to win the listing contract. These include over-quoting on valuation, and offering dodgy sales figures.

During the sale process the real estate agent may be tempted to tell potential purchasers things that are untrue. I have seen many sale contracts with clauses designed to protect real estate agents against the consequences of false statements. Known as “porkies clauses”, they invariably state that the purchaser acknowledges that any information provided to the purchaser by the real estate agent is provided on the understanding that the purchaser will not be relying on it for any purpose.

When a purchaser has submitted an offer, and the purchaser cannot be convinced to increase her offer, the real estate agent may be tempted to pressure the vendor into accepting what would otherwise be unacceptable. Observations, such as “the market has softened” or “the market has spoken to us” are used by real estate agents to convince vendors that the real estate agent’s high estimation of value can no longer be relied upon, and that the vendor should now accept what the vendor believes is an unacceptably low offer.

For some years now, I have been arguing that real estate services should be provided on a fee-for-service basis.

I will explore the replacement of real estate sale commissions with a fee-for-service structure further in future articles.

Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn’t Want You To Know-Part 1

MONEY MATTERS

Are you planning on buying or selling a home? Maybe refinancing? Perhaps you’d just like to pick up a few tips on home buying, selling and mortgage borrowing-if so you may want keep track of Money Matters in the months ahead as I will be giving out all kinds of tips and insights as we approach the home buying-selling season. I will be discussing a wide variety of real estate and mortgage financing issues you should know (Things real estate agents don’t want you to know). Well, good agents won’t have a problem with you knowing this information but the part-timers and less ethical operators would certainly prefer you not know what I am going to share with you!

You see, buying or selling a home is the largest investment of a lifetime for most people and it is a BIG business deal…a transaction composed people, emotions, contracts and cash…all the ingredients for legal and financial pain if you don’t know what you are doing. Real estate agents earn a commission when a home is sold whether they are the listing agent, the selling agent or both. Real estate agents typically (and legally) represent sellers in a real estate transaction and not buyers. Yet, every day, homebuyers refer to the real estate agent as “my real estate agent”…they are not your real estate agent…they are the home seller’s agent and agents have a legal duty to get the best selling price for the seller. Further, anything you tell them can and probably will be used against you to extract a higher selling price out of the deal. Sellers on the other hand are often manipulated into signing long term listing contracts for up to a year by an agent who will simply throw the listing into the multiple listing service (MLS) and hope another agent sells the property for them.

For agents, the name of the game is to get listing contracts…a common slogan amongst real estate agents is: “if you don’t list, you don’t last”. Once an agent gets a listing contract from a home seller, they will get the bulk of the commission when the house is sold whether they sell it or another agent sells the home. Not many sellers know this fact and many are swooned into long term listing agreements with hopeful promise of selling their homes at the highest possible price only to find out they don’t. Agents will say and do most anything to get a listing contract shy of breaking the law. And the big question for home sellers is are you working with a part time or full time agent? What is their background in marketing and sales? Do you really want to sign a long term listing agreement with a part timer that has one toe in the tub and no business background? Were talking about a business deal right?

Whether you are buying a home or selling a home you should be clearly aware that you will enter into legally binding contracts and relying on mortgage lenders to provide financing for the project. The question then becomes; how much do you know about contract law and mortgage financing? What are the most important elements of a contract and how does that impact you as a buyer or seller? This series of articles is generally drawn from my E-Report (101 Real Estate Tips for homebuyers, sellers and money borrowers). The report is designed as a crash course to provide you the information you need to know to protect your legal and financial interests whether you are a homebuyer or seller. This series of articles will touch upon the information you should know to keep from making blatantly stupid mistakes that could hurt you legally and financially and we’ll try to have some fun in the process…

Which reminds me! If you would like to receive a FREE copy of my E-Report: 101 Tips For Homebuyers, Sellers And Money Borrowers, go to smart Books website, send us an email and requesting a copy and we’ll send it to your email address within 24 hours-absolutely free-Another Ezine Articles Exclusive! Don’t forget to say you saw it at Ezine! Stay tuned!

Copyright © 2006

James W. Hart, IV

All Rights reserved

7 Magic Marketing Tips For Commercial Real Estate Success

I never cease to be amazed. The other day I sent a survey to my clients asking what topics they’d like to learn more about and the response was unanimous – MARKETING. It’s funny because when we were all busy getting our degrees, certifications and real estate licenses we forgot to take a course on how to market our services. We never learned this stuff! The point of marketing is to generate a never-ending flow of prospects who call you! Who wouldn’t want that? I have come up with 7 Magic Marketing Tips (or Strategies) for Commercial Real Estate success:

Marketing Tip #1 – Brand Yourself as an Expert

Most individuals and companies prefer dealing with an expert. List ten ways you can be known as an expert in your niche and than start checking each one off as you accomplish it. Before you know it, you will be the “expert.” One of the best ways to be seen as an expert is to be published. Write articles, write newsletters, write a book, write a special report – just write.

Marketing Tip #2 – Don’t be Afraid to Think Outside the Box

Brainstorm ideas with yourself and/or others. Most commercial real estate professionals think alike. Every action step is the same. I have noticed that even though my clients want to try something different, when push comes to shove, no one ever will. Remember, if you want to get a different result, you have to take different action steps. This requires thinking outside the box. Be willing to take risks.

 

Marketing Tip #3 – Have a Marketing Calendar

Each November map out the next calendar year by putting in all the marketing steps you intend to take, the date (s) they will be taken, and the desired results. This can be written on a calendar (best method), entered in a spreadsheet or any other method you choose. The point is, plan ahead in writing and follow through.

Marketing Tip #4 – Have an Assistant Help Implement the Plan

You cannot possibly do everything yourself. When I work with clients and their marketing calendars we strategize to have as many things as possible be included that the broker does not have to do personally. For example, implement a postcard campaign where your assistant designs and sends a postcard on the second Tuesday of each month. Or, draft a newsletter but have it edited, improved upon, and sent out by somebody else. Perhaps have your assistant invite three people to join you for lunch each Tuesday (including making reservations and confirming each guest). You get the idea, don’t you?

Marketing Tip # 5 – Follow Up Regularly

This is a fact: 90% of commercial real estate brokers have poor follow-up. A lack of consistent contact causes valuable relationships to suffer, or even dwindle to the point where somebody else who’s stayed in contact snatches the business.

Marketing Tip #6 – Don’t Confuse Marketing with Sales

Before you can sell your service, you must have a prospect. Before you have a prospect, you must have a lead. Trying to jump from stranger to client isn’t a fruitful strategy. Instead, implement an effective lead- generating system (Learn how to do this by joining my Commercial Real Estate Success Inner Circle – watch for the re-launch later next month!). Focus your efforts entirely on generating qualified leads and keep your pipeline full!

Marketing Tip #7 – Don’t Give Up Marketing

Give your new marketing campaign a chance to work. Remember it takes five to nine times receiving a message before it kicks in. And, you must continue to stay in contact. If you don’t – your competitor will!