How to Share Posts From the Instagram Feed to Stories

What would you say? Have you used this yet? What do you think about Buffer postings?

Instagram has released a new way for users to easily share feed posts to stories.

More than 300 million users now use Instagram stories daily and this update will enable them to share any post from their Instagram feed directly to stories.

In the feature’s launch blog post Instagram explained:

When you come across something in feed that inspires you — like a post from a friend raising money for a cause or a photo of a new design from your favorite brand — you can now quickly share that post as a sticker to your story for your friends and followers to see.

How to share feed posts to Instagram Stories

To share feed posts to stories:

  1.  Tap the paper airplane button below the post (like you would to send a direct message)
  2. You’ll then see an option on the following menu to “Create a story with this post”
  3. Tap it to see the feed post as a sticker with a customized background ready to share to your story. You can move, resize or rotate the photo or video. You can also use drawing tools or add text and stickers.

Any post shared to a story will include a link back to the original post and include the original poster’s username.

Only posts from public Instagram accounts can be shared to stories. If you have a public account and would like to opt-out from letting people share your posts to stories, you can do so within Instagram’s settings.

In a recent episode of The Science of Social Media, hosts, Hailley and Brian discussed this update (around the 4:45 mark in the below audio):

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest social media news and views? Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play.

How brands can use this feature

Many brands and influencers already use stories as a way to drive attention to their latest feed and promote their latest posts. This update will be a welcome improvement to this process by allowing users to directly link to their latest feed posts, rather than taking a screenshot of a post and manually adding it to stories.

As Brian mentions in the podcast, this could enable brands to use stories as a way to cross-promote their feed posts to their audience on stories — people who may have potentially missed the post in the feed.

“One of the reasons we love stories so much is that it can be used as cross-promote content and now users will be able to go from stories directly to your feed,” he explained.

Hailley also drew comparisons between this feature and Twitter’s quote tweet functionality, where users can share content from the feed, but also add their own thoughts and context around it.

This is another exciting update from Instagram — following the share to stories and live video chat announcements at F8 — and it helps to better connect the feed to stories as well as providing a way for users to re-share some of their favorite Instagram content in a more public way than sharing with a couple of friends via a direct message.

What do you think to this release from Instagram? Will it change how you use Instagram stories for your business? Let us know in the comments 💬

Original article is here

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags for 2018

This is very informative information.

Did you know an Instagram post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than a post with no hashtags?

Hashtags are powerful. They can help your posts reach a target audience, attract followers in your niche, increase engagement, and develop a more positive and recognizable brand image.

Here’s the thing, though: with great power comes great responsibility (#spiderman).

Click here to learn how to use Instagram Stories, Carousels, Influencers, and more. 

Hashtags can skyrocket your business to new heights, but if used too frequently or without a clear strategy in mind, they become pointless and inefficient, e.g.: #happy #superhappy #ecstatic #jumpingforjoy #whatsanothersynonym.

We want your business’s Instagram posts to receive optimal engagement, so we’ve put together an ultimate guide for using Instagram hashtags in 2018. With this guide, you won’t just attract followers — you’ll attract the right followers.

Why Hashtags Are Important

Hashtags are essentially Instagram’s sorting process. With around 95 million photos posted on Instagram every day, it’s difficult for Instagram to efficiently deliver the right content to the right people. Hashtags help your post get discovered by viewers most interested in seeing it.

Krystal Gillespie, HubSpot’s Social Media Community Manager, explains the importance of hashtags this way: “Hashtags are like a funnel. For instance, #marketing is incredibly broad and attracts all types of posts. We’ve found #digitalmarketing or #marketingmotivation gives us a more specific, targeted reach. The audience searching for these hashtags are also trying to narrow their search to what we offer related to Marketing, so we’re actually reaching more of the right people.”

Essentially, hashtags are a better way to categorize your posts. They help you reach a target audience, and more importantly, they help your target audience find you. These users are more likely to engage with your post because your post is exactly what they wanted.

Adding one of the most popular Instagram hashtags to your post doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see more interaction. Since the hashtags above are so popular, they are being used by millions of people, so your post will most likely be obscured by the competition. Narrowing your hashtag topic is important, but we’ll get to that next.

How to Use Hashtags for Your Business

1. Keep Your Hashtags Organized

To create an efficient hashtag system, you can use Excel or an Instagram analytics tool. If you choose an excel sheet, you’ll need to manually keep track of which hashtags you use, how often, and which ones correlate to your most popular posts. Over time, you’ll see relationships between certain hashtags and your most popular posts, and this can help you decide which hashtags work best for your brand.

If you have a more advanced social media team, you might want to consider a tool like Iconosquare, which automatically stores top hashtags and provides reports on which hashtags reach the most people.

For smaller businesses with limited budgets, Krystal Gillespie says that, “an excel sheet is the best way to start. Once you get more advanced I would highly recommend using a tool to track the data. A manual system can get overwhelming when you’re posting three times a day and using about 20 hashtags per post.”

2. Figure Out Your Magic Number

Most top brands — 91% of them, to be exact — use seven or fewer hashtags per post, so it’s easy to assume that’s the magic number for everyone … right? Krystal explains that this isn’t always the case: She told me HubSpot has been more successful with hashtags ranging in the low 20s.

The point is, you can’t know how many hashtags work best for you until you test it. For HubSpot, it took the team several months to find a number that worked best, and during our trial period, we ranged from seven to 30. Give yourself the same flexibility for trial and error.

3. Narrow Your Hashtags

There are two big reasons more specific, smaller-volume hashtags are better for your brand: first, you can compete in a smaller pool. HubSpot, for example, doesn’t typically use the hashtag #marketing because it’s too broad. If you search #marketing, you’ll find pictures of restaurants, inspirational quotes, before-and-after hair style pictures, and memes.

The randomness of #marketing leads me to the second reason specific hashtags are a good idea: as a user, I’m more likely to find what I need if I search for something specific, and when your business comes up for my specific search request, I’m more likely to be happy with what I found.

Krystal explains: “Keeping a hashtag close to the interests of your brand really helps. We try to use hashtags tailored for a specific topic and then narrow it down further — for instance, we’d use #SEOTips if our marketing post was mostly about SEO.”

Think of it this way: #dogs is more popular, but it has a wide demographic. If I search #goldenretrieverpuppies and I find your post, I’m more likely to engage with it because it’s exactly what I wanted.

4. Research What Other People are Hashtagging

An easy way to generate hashtag ideas is to make a list of your followers or competitors and research what they’re hashtagging on their own photos. It can also be particularly helpful to research what influencers in your industry are hashtagging — by definition, influencers are people with a large social media following, so they must be doing something right.

5. Test Out Related Hashtags

When you type a hashtag into Instagram’s search bar, Instagram shows you related hashtags in the scroll-down menu. Instagram also delivers related hashtags on the next page after you click on a hashtag. This is a simple way to create a longer list of hashtags to try out.

6. Follow Your Own Hashtag

Another way to use Instagram hashtags for your marketing purposes is to follow your own hashtag. Krystal explains, “On Instagram I actually follow the hashtag #hubspot so I can find anyone who talks about us and connect with them. As long as your account isn’t private, people will be able to find you via the hashtag.”

Following your own hashtag is an effective way to engage with other people talking about your brand and develop better relationships with them.

7. Create a Brand Campaign Hashtag

This is the trickiest item on the list, but if done successfully, it can pay off big time. Some businesses have successfully attracted followers by creating their own campaign hashtag. A campaign hashtag needs to be funny, clever, or at least memorable in order to work.

Campaign hashtags are particularly useful for promoting a new product or upcoming event, or even just inspiring people. Red Bull, for example, encouraged followers to post Red Bull pictures with a #putacanonit hashtag (see what I mean about clever?). LuLuLemon, rather than running a more traditional ad campaign, developed a positive connotation for their brand by asking followers to post real, active pictures of themselves with a #sweatlife hashtag.

How to Use Instagram Search Within the App

Now that we’ve covered the importance of using Instagram hashtags for your business, you might be wondering how to search for Instagram hashtags within the app, or how to use the search function to find related ideas. If you’re unsure of the technical process for hashtag searching, here’s how:

Original full article is here

Study: Lenders Need to Capitalize on Potential Home Equity Boom

Article by: Mike Sorohan msorohan@mba.org

April 06, 2018

With the number of American consumers expected to take out a home equity line of credit projected to double to 10 million over the next five years, lenders need to improve digital offerings if they want to capitalize on the trend, said J.D. Power, Costa Mesa, Calif.

The company’s 2018 U.S. Home Equity Line of Credit Satisfaction Study said the digital experience is becoming increasingly critical to customer satisfaction. The study evaluated customer perceptions of the HELOC process and explored key variables that influence customer choice, satisfaction and loyalty based on six factors: offerings and terms; application/approval process; closing; interaction with the lender; billing and payment; and post-closing and usage.

The study ranked SunTrust Banks as highest in HELOC customer satisfaction, with a score of 869 on a 1,000-point scale, followed by BB&T (860) and Huntington National Bank (851). The industry average score was 837.

“Lenders need to recognize that the HELOC customer experience is a journey that begins with initial consideration and evaluation and extends through to usage, with each part of the journey affecting overall perceptions,” said Craig Martin, Senior Director of Financial Services with J.D. Power. “Increasingly, many steps in that process are occurring in digital and mobile channels, which are areas that the industry has been slow to leverage and refine. As Millennial homeownership rates increase and home values continue to rise, lenders need to be able to meet these customers where they want to be, not try to force them into the lender’s entrenched methods.”

Key findings of the study:

–Digital channels become critical for younger borrowers: Established relationships with lenders still play a key role in the HELOC customer journey, with 66% of all borrowers gathering information about a HELOC in person. However, digital is becoming a bigger factor among younger borrowers, with 59% of Millennials gathering information online via desktop computers and 50% of Millennials gathering information online via smartphones or tablets.

–Few HELOC borrowers say they are actively solicited: The majority (88%) of HELOC borrowers say they began the HELOC search without prompting from a lender, demonstrating that marketing efforts are not having much effect on customers. The group in the study least likely to hear from lenders are Millennials, 94% of whom initiated a HELOC product search themselves.

–Comparison shopping is the norm: More than half (55%) of customers indicate they considered at least one other lender during their shopping process. The comparison-shopping phenomenon is most pronounced amongst Millennials, of which 80% of HELOC borrowers considered at least one other lender.

–Concern is the rule, not the exception: Nearly two-thirds (64%) of all borrowers express some type of concern about obtaining a HELOC product, with Millennial customers showing the highest levels of concern. Only 13% say they had no concerns. Key concerns include the variable nature of the loan and overextending themselves.

The study is based on responses from more than 4,008 HELOC borrowers. (http://www.jdpower.com/resource/us-home-equity-line-credit-study.)

Original article here

Voice of Appraisal E200 PARATRICE LOST?!?!

One Real Appraisal and Six Ways to Support One Adjustment

Full original article can be found hereAppraisers and real estate agents often ask what adjustments I use and/or how I support my adjustments.  The answer is that most properties require a different adjustment that is specific to its market (e.g. size, location, condition, etc.) and there are many different ways to support any individual adjustment.  No one method for supporting adjustments is perfect.  Appraisers should select the method or methods that will produce credible results for the given assignment and available data.

  1. Paired Sales – Paired sales are a cornerstone of textbook appraisals, but textbook cases of paired sales rarely occur in practice. In a common textbook scenario, paired sales are two sales that are the same in every way except the one factor for which the appraiser is trying to estimate an adjustment. For this reason, it is easy for appraisers to forget that a paired sale can have other differences (although it is important that the differences are minimal and that adjustments for the differences can be supported). In this assignment, my grid included four sales that had very little difference from one another except for GLA. After adjusting for a couple of minor factors, the paired sales all suggested an adjustment of $51 and $60 per square foot for GLA.
  2. Simple Linear Regression – I’ve blogged in the past about supporting adjustments, particularly GLA, using simple linear regression. Linear regression is basically analyzing trends in data.  For this assignment, simple linear regression suggests $53 per square foot when comparing sales price to GLA. Significant variation exists among the data of this sample, but the datum points are spread evenly along the entire regression line suggesting that the indicator is not being skewed by a small subset of outliers. It is okay if the properties in the sample have differences, however it is important to make sure to filter out differences that would skew toward one end of the range or the other. For example, if a larger site size also tends to include a larger home, then it would be important to make sure that the homes in the sample all have similar site sizes or the adjustment could be falsely overstated. Also, it is helpful to the outcome of the regression analysis that the subject property is in similar condition to the majority of the sales in the sample. The following chart shows the linear regression outcome in this appraisal.Simple Linear Regression Support Adjustment
  3. Grouped Data Analysis – This method is closely related to simple linear regression and is essentially many paired sales representing a fast way to estimate an adjustment simply by sorting comparable sales. This can be done using quick searches on the local multiple listing service or using data exported to a spreadsheet. But remember that the same factors that can skew linear regression will also skew grouped data analysis. For best results, it is important to sort out all of the features that might distort the results without sorting to the point where the sample sizes are small and wildly varied. For this assignment, I filtered out all ranch sales in the past two years with a lot size of 7,000 to 9,999 square feet, that feature two baths and three bedrooms, and that were built within ten years of the subject. Sales of homes meeting these criteria between 1,000 and 1,199 square feet have an average of 1,128 square feet and an average sale price of $212,637. Sales of homes meeting these criteria between 1,200 square feet and 1,299 square feet have an average of 1,253 square feet and an average sale price of $220,055. The difference between the average of these two sets is $7,418 and 125 square feet or $59 per square foot. The median could also be compared as well to provide another indicator that is less likely to be skewed by outliers.
  4. Depreciated Cost – The cost approach value in this assignment is consistent with values suggested by recent comparable sales. This suggests that the cost approach is likely valid and could be used as a way to test reasonableness or support adjustments. The subject’s original cost is estimated at $108 per square foot and the depreciated cost is estimated at $81 per square foot. A simple depreciated cost adjustment might not be a good adjustment to apply to comparable sales. This is because the depreciated cost is a straight-line measure from zero square feet all the way to the total area including the kitchen, bath, mechanical, and everything else in the house. For this adjustment, we are just looking for the value difference from a similar-sized comparable to the subject. To obtain this adjustment using the cost approach, I ran a cost estimate for the smallest comparable sale and another cost estimate for the largest comparable sale with no physical changes for anything other than living area (e.g. room count, garage, quality, and all other factors kept equal). The original cost difference between the low and the high came out to $79.53 per square foot. If this number is depreciated based on the cost approach in the appraisal, a reasonable adjustment of $60 per square foot of GLA is estimated.
  5. Income Approach – The income approach was not performed for this appraisal assignment, but if it had been, the income approach could have been used to support another indicator for the GLA adjustment. One way the income approach could be used to support a GLA adjustment is by taking the estimated loss or gain in rent from an additional square foot of living area (can be estimated using any of the above approaches except for cost) and apply a Gross Rent Multiplier (GRM). Critical to this approach is that the multiplier and rent estimates are market derived and that rent might be a consideration for the typical buyer.
  6. Sensitivity Analysis – This method is closely related to paired sales and I think it works best for secondary or tertiary support for an adjustment or helping to reconcile what adjustment is most effective. However, this method is not very useful if adjustments for other comparable sale differences are not accurate. Once all of the comparable sales have been placed side-by-side in a comparison grid and adjusted for all other factors using market derived adjustments, the appraiser can test different GLA adjustments to see what adjustment produces the tightest range of adjusted value indicators. If the appraiser is unsure by simply looking at the data, the Coefficient of Variation (CV) can be applied to each set of adjusted indicators to mathematically test what adjustment is producing the tightest range. The lower the CV, the better the adjustment is working within this sample of sales. Here is a link to a free CV calculator. Just enter your adjusted indicators separated by commas and press calculate. Then test another adjustment and repeat with the calculator. An appraiser could also set up a formula using the Worksheet function in a la mode Total to instantly provide the Coefficient of Variation. For this appraisal, sensitivity analysis helped me reconcile that the simple linear regression adjustment is most well-supported adjustment because it has the lowest CV as seen in the following table.

Paired Sales

Simple Linear Regression

Grouped Data

Depreciated Cost

Indicated GLA Adjustment

$51 or $60

$53

$59

$60

CV

0.00648 or 0.0082

0.00538

0.00734

\0.0082

None of the above methods for supporting an adjustment are without limitations and there are many more ways an appraiser could support an adjustment.  Although this is an example where data sets are particularly plentiful, the example shows that information does exist outside of textbooks for supporting adjustments; and when multiple approaches are combined and reconciled, a strong case for the appraiser’s conclusion can be made.  An appraiser won’t always need to go this far to support one adjustment, but if that one adjustment is crucial to the outcome of the appraisal or the appraiser believes they will be challenged on this adjustment, then the appraiser should expand and explore multiple methods for support.

By Gary F. Kristensen, SRA, IFA, AGA

Full original article can be found here

Tenant’s responsibilities/Landlord’s rights

Note: These lists are not ALL of the rights and responsibilities of landlord and tenant.

What are some rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant?

Tenant’s responsibilities/Landlord’s rights:

    • Pay the rent on time.

Must be paid by midnight on the ninth day after the day it is due, or the landlord may start legal proceedings to evict the tenant.

  • Keep the apartment and the surrounding area clean and in good condition.
  • Keep noise to a level that will not disturb your neighbors.
  • Repair any damage occurring to the apartment through the fault of the tenant, family members or guests. Notify landlord at once of major damage.
  • Give the landlord permission to enter the apartment at reasonable times and with advance notice to inspect it or to make any necessary repairs.
  • Notify the landlord of any anticipated prolonged absence from the apartment so he or she can keep an eye on things.
  • When moving out, give landlord proper advance notice. Be sure that the apartment is in the same condition as when the tenant moved in and return the key to the landlord promptly.
  • Notify the landlord immediately if the apartment needs repair through no fault of the tenant.
  • For further information view the publication Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants, JDP-HM-31 or (en español JDP-HM-31S)

Landlord’s responsibilities/Tenant’s rights:

  • A clean apartment when the tenant moves in;
  • Clean common areas (hallways, stairs, yards, entryways);
  • Well lit hallways and entryways; and,
  • Properly working plumbing and heating (both hot and cold running water).

Original Source

A Typical Work Day For An Appraiser

complete real estate answers, CREA, completeREAAppraisers are normally experts at analyzing real estate markets and property value, but appraisers who work from a home-based office or run their own small business may not be familiar with what it takes to manage an office.

It can often be time consuming and confusing, requiring a large chunk of time taken out of a work day (assuming one is working a normal 10-hour day), just trying to handle the small tedious tasks, such as organizing orders, calendar management, and keeping track of submitted orders to AMC companies, and making sure you are being compensated in time, if at all!

Even dealing with some of the AMC companies, is such a tedious task. Between keeping tabs on payment, receiving new orders, updating current orders, and submitting completed orders, often has me scrambling everywhere. Heaven forbid I should have to make an actual phone call to these AMC’s, will have me in a rage between being placed on hold from anywhere between 10-15 minutes, or even trying to communicate the purpose of my phone call (many of these AMC places outsource their staff to foreign countries, and the cultural gap in communication is significant!).

Ah, and I would be remised not to point out the ever so eloquent, Engagement Letters! Reading through one of these letters, often reminds me of those Snickers commercial they played during the Super Bowl a few years back…”Not going anywhere for a while?”.

If I have spent 1-2 hours trying to get through one of these letters would be a generous summation, but often times, that is not the case. Not only must you be careful to comply with USPAP requirements (this is always a given), but you must also be very careful to comply, understand and follow all the various AMC requirements/guidelines as well, and when you are dealing with multiple AMC’s, this can often times get very tortuous.

Every morning I wake up and ponder on how I can make my job/career more attractive, while maintaining a higher quality level, but spend less time on the menial tasks and ultimately make my life more rewarding and less stress full.

My colleague appraisers! Do you have any resolutions for me?

Thus far, what I have come up with is this:

compete real estate answers, CREA, CompteREAPreparation – be ready to handle the work load for the day. Ensuring that all technical infrastructures are in place and adequate (computers, software, phone, internet connections, etc..), which I have come to learn in my years in this business that you have to spend a good portion of your earnings on the technological portion in order to make the business work for you! I have to now think about office space that will allow me the ability to handle the increase in volume that I have been experiencing in just the past few months. Working from home has become a bit of a challenge, due to lack of space and infrastructure needs.

CopleteREA, CREA, Compete real estate ansersOrganization – Staying on top of time management; a) make sure to do your due diligence before going out on the field for inspections (navigate what your day is going to look like when driving between properties, keeping in mind time of day and any traffic concerns), b) Organize your orders mindfully, which often times will require a call to the MC explaining the situation, and you will be quite surprised to hear that they are often times willing to accommodate you.

compete real esate asnwers, CREA, CompeteREAAdministrative Support – A good assistant can make your life so much easier. They help you get more of the important work done, such as, help with calendar management, communicating with the various AMC’s, helping to maintain your high work standards, and also helping to alleviate some of the stress involved in this business.

So to recap; Preparation, Organization, Administrative Support and Marketing, are all crucial elements for a small business to thrive.

I have not yet delved into the marketing aspects on my blog site…..stay tuned for more to come…

Call or email Nana Smith with any questions:

NanaGsmith@gmail.com

203-858-6727

C.R.E.A. – comment and/or share your own experiance using this form;

Appraisal Firms and “Hybrid” AMCs: Beware of the Dynamex Decision and Its Impact on Classifying Appraisers as Independent Contractors in California

Classifying “staff appraisers” as independent contractors, rather than as employees, is a very common business practice among real estate appraisal firms. It also has become fairly common for appraisal management companies (AMCs) not only to manage the delivery of appraisals that are performed by independent contractor appraiser panel members but also to now employ staff appraisers, as employees, who perform some of the appraisals managed by the AMC — these AMCs are what I would call “hybrid” AMCs because they are functioning both as AMCs and appraisal firms.

Today, on April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court. The decision could have a big legal impact on both true appraisal firms with “1099” staff appraisers and on hybrid AMCs. In its opinion, the Court held that for purposes of California’s Industrial Wage Orders, which specify overtime requirements among other things, a firm classifying a worker as an independent contractor bears the burden of establishing that such a classification is proper under the so-called “A-B-C test” used in a few other states. To meet this burden, the firm must establish all three of the following factors to justify treating workers as independent contractors:

(A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring firm in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and
(B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the firm’s business; and
(C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

This is a significantly different and tougher test than has been applied under prior California precedent.

The underlying case in Dynamex involved a delivery driver named Charles Lee, who claimed that he and his fellow workers were misclassified as independent contractors. The California Supreme Court determined that the appropriate legal test to be used in California courts is the straightforward, simplistic A-B-C test, rather than more complicated tests considering and weighing a long list of factors. As such, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s certification of a class action against the defendant company. A copy of the opinion is available here (on my website).

While the full effect of the decision may take some time to settle in, and while the decision also doesn’t resolve employee/contractor determination for every purpose (such as reimbursement of expenses), I expect that we will soon see something of a wave of litigation against appraisal firms that treat staff appraisers as independent contractors in California. Firms should carefully look at their current practices and risk. Meeting any of the three parts of the test may be a challenge for many firms, but among the three factors, the hardest one that firms will have to grapple with may be part (B) relating to whether a staff appraiser’s work falls outside the regular course of business of the firm. When an appraisal firm’s business is providing appraisals under its own name, rather than acting as a true AMC that solely manages appraisals performed by third party vendor appraisers, it will be difficult for the firm to argue that the work of the appraiser wasn’t the regular business of the firm. Making it even harder, the Court clarified that unlike in some other states, part (B) of the A-B-C test can’t be satisfied by showing that the worker performs his or her work outside the firm’s regular place of business — that won’t fly in California.

The monetary risk, however, may be much bigger for “hybrid” AMCs. Some of them may be targets for potential class actions. Such firms need to look closely at their litigation risk when they are delivering appraisals that are performed both by independent contractor panelists and staff appraisers. These firms tend to be larger and most often actually do treat their true “staff appraisers” as employees, but they still have potential risk. Since they are now combining staff employee appraisal services with offering appraisals managed from third party vendor appraisers, their risk is that the independent contractors on their panels could be reclassified as employees — since those independent contractors are now performing work that is within the regular course of the hybrid AMC’s business.

The risk to hybrid AMCs is not far fetched. In a case that went to trial in California last summer, a “field services” vendor management firm (which happened to be affiliated with an AMC under ownership of Assurant) was found liable to field service workers it had classified as independent contractors. The case is Bowerman v. Field Asset Services. The federal district court found that Field Asset Services should have treated these workers as employees and that it was now liable to them for unpaid overtime and unpaid business expenses. The decision is available here.

I recapped the Bowerman case in a longer article entitled “Independent Minded” in the 4th Quarter edition of the Appraisal Institute’s Valuation magazine, covering the appraiser/contractor issue on the broader national level. The following summary paraphrases that recap:

To prove the key point that the company’s vendor panelists should be classified as employees, rather than contractors, plaintiff’s counsel offered evidence that the company “tells vendors where to go, when to go, what to do, when to get it done and how much and when they will be paid for their efforts.” The evidence included:

  • As part of being approved for Field Asset Service’ panel, vendors signed an agreement which, although referring to vendors as independent contractors, set forth detailed requirements for accepting assignments, scheduling property access, timely performance, photo requirements, status updating and quality control.
  • Panelists were not given a meaningful opportunity to negotiate the agreement.
  • Panelists authorized Field Asset Services to perform background checks.
  • Field Asset Services offered assignments to panelists through its proprietary software platform and panelists were required to use this platform to upload their status reports, photos and invoices.
  • Panelists were required to respond to assignment requests within 24 hours and complete assignments within a stated time period, sometimes just three days.
  • Declining too many assignments or cherry picking the best could result in fewer assignments being offered.
  • Field Asset Services “score carded” panelists on their acceptance/declination of assignments, status communications, timeliness of completion and quality. A low rating could result in a warning, reduction of work or ineligibility.
  • Field Asset Services tracked its panelists’ performance and recorded warnings, counseling and eligibility suspensions in “vendor profiles.”
  • At trial, Field Asset Services’ panelists testified that they worked long hours, often 10 hours per day six days a week. And, of course, since the panelists were classified as independent contractors, they did not receive overtime. Nor did Field Asset Services reimburse them for expenses such as mileage, insurance, equipment, cell phones, internet use or computers.

What happened? After four years of litigation, the court ruled on summary judgment that any vendor who derived more than 70% of his or her income from Field Asset Services should be classified as an employee and was thus entitled to overtime and payment of expenses. The essential reasoning was that Field Asset Services had the right to so closely control the work of its contractors (and also exercised that right) and the contractors were so dependent on Field Asset Services that the contractors were employees under California law.

With liability established, the issue was then how much did Field Asset Services owe its reclassified contractors? Last summer, the damages claimed by the named plaintiff and 10 class members went to trial. The jury awarded a total of $2,060,237 to those 11 individuals for unpaid overtime, unpaid expenses, penalties and interest. The award to the named plaintiff was a striking example: the jury determined that he worked 4,845 hours of overtime from 2010 through 2016 for which he should recover $98,615 in overtime payments (on top of the payments he actually received for doing the work) and that he should be awarded $168,746 for his unpaid expenses ($95,247 for mileage alone). It’s estimated that there are 100+ remaining class members potentially entitled to the same types of damages.

Because of the high stakes, the potential risk for hybrid AMCs needs to be considered very carefully by such companies.

Written by Peter Christensen

 

ProxyPics

Chicago, IL —ProxyPics, Inc—A new mobile app has been launched that allows anyone to request on-demand photos of anywhere, quickly and affordably.

In the real estate industry, there has always been a huge demand for timely photos of properties. Deals can be held up by the simple need for an up-to-date photo of a home. With ProxyPics new app anyone with a mobile phone can take a picture of anything you need immediately.

ProxyPics is a life changer for those requesting and taking pictures. ProxyPics is part of the gig economy revolution, allowing everyone to make money on their own schedule. Once you have the app, you will also be notified of available jobs in your area. You can earn extra money while walking to the coffee shop.

ProxyPics is a platform designed to make region-specific photography available to all. ProxyPics leverages GPS and digital payment technologies to match photo requests to the photo takers on a global scale. It is also set to disrupt entire industries, by making time-sensitive, affordable photos available on a grand scale. Real Estate, insurance, merchandising audits, and news media outlets are all areas that can greatly benefit from immediate photos of specific locations and subjects.

ProxyPics is available for both iOS and Android devices. Download it today and start making money with a click of a button. Visit www.proxypics.com/download to get started.

About ProxyPics
ProxyPics is the first-of-its-kind on-demand system for getting the location-specific media you need from wherever you are. Our simple-to-use platform creates an online marketplace, matching users needing geographic-based content with users near to the location ready to take your photo. Never before has it been quicker, cheaper, or simpler to get timely images and video from anywhere around the world.

Contact
Name: Luke Tomaszewski
Phone: 773.524.8468
Email: Luke@proxypics.com

Reposted from Appraisal Buzz; original post here

The Appraisal Subcommittee Denies Bank’s Request for Appraisal Waiver

The Appraisal Subcommittee unanimously rejected a temporary waiver request from TriStar Bank of Dickson, Tennessee, during a special meeting April 23 in Washington. The Appraisal Institute led industry efforts opposing the bank’s request for a waiver of certification requirements, which would have allowed appraisals to be completed by non-certified appraisers.

The ASC board heard a summary of comments received during a 30-day public comment request published in the Federal Register and gave representatives from TriStar Bank the opportunity to address the board.

During deliberations, several ASC board members questioned the supporting documentation provided by the bank, including information on purported increases in turnaround times. The board did not see the nominal increased turnaround time as representing a scarcity of appraisers, especially considering comments submitted by local appraisers who had worked for the bank.

The ASC board offered to provide TriStar Bank with the names of local appraisers who expressed interest in working with the bank during the open comment period as the bank attempts to resolve ongoing operational issues.

Learn more about the bank’s request.

Original article