Meeting Recap 10-13-16

The room felt full today with 5 guests!!!!

• BRING A GUEST in October! We are asking every member to bring a guest to MRN in both October and November. Yes, we’re talkin’ to YOU! Find someone in your sphere who could benefit from our group and extend an invite.
• For Guests, PLEASE MAKE SURE their work does not conflict with current members! When in doubt, ask the MRN member to have a 121 with your candidate.
• If you arrive late… you are now allowed to say JUST your name and job title during the 30 second intro round. It feels awkward when we to do the “I’m late so everyone ignore me” routine. Saying your abbreviated intro sends a better message to our guests.
• Eyerusalem will be collecting your website profile info if you are not already live on our site. Having a profile is critical to the group; guests often check us out online to see who we are.

Thanks to our presenters:
Dave “The Quiz” Deppen – for Remodeling, Additions, New Homes, Business Renovations. Dave works with property owners who want a safe environment, who prefer an inviting outdoor space, and who might want a beautiful work space or outdoor bench just to name a few types of improvements. From laying out the work program, to design, drawings, permits and finally to construction, Dave can find a creative solution to get the job done.  Click here for more.

Clare Michael – a woman who loves the unexpected when the walls come down and is not fazed by surprise developments. Clare creates beautiful rooms because she loves beauty and wants to design spaces that exude a pleasant comfortable space. And she meshes the home’s age with her clients’ desires. Mail her postcard to anyone you know who might dream of a new kitchen or bath.  Click here for more.

Thank you to Hannah for the delightful treats! Such a thoughtful gift to the group.

Thank you to Dee for bringing John. Thank you Gil for bringing Gary. Thank you Beth for sub Sylvia. Thank you Eyerusalem for bringing Homa. Thank you Laura for bringing Geff. And thanks to for Niko!

Stay dry and have a great week.

Power Partners – What Are They and Why Should I Care?

By Mike Hecker | MH Consulting & Bookkeeping | 415-320-2164

A Power Partner in networking is somebody in another profession who shares the same client base as you but does not compete with you, and as such is a great resource – both for giving and receiving referrals. Examples of power partners are electricians and plumbers, architects & engineers, CPAs and bookkeepers, mortgage brokers and real estate agents, and more. The list is endless.

Because power partners are in similar fields, the referrals are much easier to make as both parties tend to understand the other’s jargon, requirements, preferences and limitations. In networking, the more you know about the person you are referring to, the better that referral is in the eyes of the receiver. When you can speak confidently about what your power partner does, why and how, you impress the person being referred that you actually have a working relationship with your partner. Of course, if you have ever used your power partner’s services or worked together collaboratively, even better because you can now provide a testimonial and example of how they’ve helped.

Lastly, take time to get to know your power partner beyond the scope of what they do for work. You may find shared interests which can also help to make a referral to that person when talking with a client or person who may be in need of their services.

Power Partners – We Both Win!

In the end, good networking is about relationships. The deeper the relationship, the more one cares. When we care enough to understand our power partners, spend time with them and understand their business, we become one of their leading assets. So come on, help a brother or sister out!


Mike Hecker - MH Consulting & Bookkeeping - Marin CAMike Hecker

MH Consulting & Bookkeeping | | 415-320-2164

Quickbooks Experts, Problem Solvers, Business Solutions

Common Interest Developments

Jonathan Smith, Bradley Real Estate

Common Interest Development (“CID”) sales in Marin are strong and prices are soaring (see, August 8th Marin IJ article). What exactly are CIDs? What are some of the benefits of CID ownership? What are some special considerations to keep in mind when considering the purchase of a CID?  This article tackles these questions and more.

What is a Common Interest Development?

The simplest definition is: a housing complex where owners share in the ownership of common areas.

Essential characteristics of a common interest development

The essential characteristics are:

  • Common ownership of private residential property;
  • Mandatory membership of all owners in an association that manages the use of the common property;
  • Governing documentsthat outline the procedures for governing the association as well as the rules which the owners must follow; and
  • Owner assessments to finance the operation of the association and maintenance of the association common areas.

Types of common interest developments

  1. Condominiums
  2. Planned Developments or PUDs
  3. Stock cooperative
  4. Community apartment project

The two most common forms of common interest developments in California are:

1) Condominiums

With a Condominium, the owner of a condominium unit generally owns 100% of the unit and a fractional interest in all common areas of the condominium project.

2) PUDs

With a PUD, the PUD owner will own the lot along with the added structure and improvements. Also, PUD owners receive rights and easements to use in common areas owned by their homeowner’s association.

Fun Fact:

Don’t judge a book by its cover! Generally speaking, you cannot determine what type of CID a dwelling may be simply by looking at the physical characteristics of the building. So, a townhouse might legally be a condominium, a unit or lot in a PUD, or a single-family residence.

Benefits to owning a common interest development

Benefits of owning a CID include:

– often more affordable than a single family residence

– lower maintenance time and expense for owner

– access to attractive amenities, such as: pools, exercise facility, game rooms, rooftop decks

– heightened security and safety due to close proximity to neighbors

– governing documents help with keeping neighbors accountable to an agreed upon set of rules

Special considerations in purchasing a common interest development

  1. Governing Documents Review: All documents MUST be closely reviewed by a person with expertise and familiarity with association related documents, including: Articles of Incorporation; By-Laws; Conditions, Covenants & Restrictions (“CC&Rs”); Reserve studies; Operating budgets; and Meeting minutes
  1. Community Inspection: In addition to inspecting the specific unit or lot for purchase, it is very important to inspect the community as a whole for issues such as: A) Condition of the community buildings; B) Attractive amenities in disrepair; and C) obvious nuisances (e.g., cars blocking driveways)
  1. HOA Board and Management Company: Pay close attention to all communications with the association and management company. Are they: responsive, courteous, and helpful OR do they seem: difficult, evasive, or inconvenienced? Also, if available, it is a good idea to check for public information available on the management company (e.g., Internet, owners)
  1. Association Financial Management: Are monthly assessments either above or below the average monthly assessments for the area and CIDs with similar amenities/responsibilities? Pay attention to monthly assessments as they can sometimes be a red flag to financial mismanagement; also, pay close attention to reserve account funding percentage – if low, a heightened possibility for a special assessment exists (e.g., $25,000 per unit assessment)
  1. Insurance and Financing Concerns:

Special insurance for CIDs: Check with Governing Documents to determine insurance responsibility and work with an experienced insurance professional to make sure you are covered

Financing for CIDs: Lenders evaluate both you and the association, so actual rates may vary drastically from the advertised rates. Accordingly, working with someone who understands the financing of CIDs is another good idea.

Jonathan Smith | Real Estate Broker Marin CA | Bradley Real EstateJonathan G. Smith

Bradley Real Estate | | 415-944-0632

Broker Associate for Bradley Luxury Division and Trusted Real Estate Counsel


How to Promote Your Business Online

Jean Christofferson,

If you Build it, they will NOT come

After all the hard work you put into building your website it can be disappointing not to be flooded with business that your new website has generated.  SEO and social media marketing  is critical.  By doing your homework and promoting your website you can make sure your website is working for you.

You need to make sure that the foundation of your website has been well built with proper Search Engine Optimization.  You also need to make sure that the search engines such as Google and Bing know about your website and can properly index it.

Then you will be ready to start promoting your website to get people to come to your website.  When they arrive at your website you need to make sure you have a clear call to action so that the website visits eventually result in new business.

Search Engine Optimization Checklist

  • Search Term Usage
    • Title, meta description different for each page with good use of desired search terms
    • Good use of search terms on page especially in titles
    • Make sure to also use alt image tags with good search terms
  • Check to be sure you have a sitemap

Google Search Console

Google is now rebranding Webmaster Tools as the Google Search Console.  Go to:

Test and submit your sitemap.xml file so Google will know what pages exist on your website.  Most content manage systems such as WordPress will automatically generate and update this file for you as you update your website.  You should periodically revisit the Google Search Console to make sure there are no issues.  There are also some high level statistics about search visits to your website.

Google Local: Get on the Map

For many businesses Google will have created a Google Local or Google Business entry for you.  If they have you need to claim it and get your physical address and email address verified.  This is a great way to promote your business with pictures, hours of operation, and a clear description of the services that you offer.  People can also review your business on Google Local and those reviews can help generate new business.

Google Local SEO by Jean Christofferson, Relevant Tools, Marin CA

Google local puts your business on the map


Promote your business with Google Local


Mobile Friendly Pays

Google will display your website before a similar competitor if your website is mobile friendly and your competitor is not.  To make sure your website is mobile friendly so a search on your phone and check to be sure the Mobile friendly designation comes up next to your website.

Being mobile friendly is also important so that visitors to your website have a good experience visiting when they are using their phones.  Mobile access is increasing (check your analytics reports to see) and you want to be sure that someone using their phone to learn about your business is getting the information they want quickly and easily.

mobile website optimization

Make sure your website is designated Mobile-friendly and works well on phones and tablets.

Promote your Business with SEO and Social Media Marketing

Pick one social media channel and become a master.  Find your social media competitor, learn from them, and surpass them.

  • You want to establish yourself as an expert in your field on this social media channel
  • Look at the number of followers/comments/influence your competitor has and watch what they do
  • Be dedicated and consistent
    • Daily activity is wonderful
    • But best to pick something you can do – try twice a week
    • Follow people that are complimentary to you
      • same industry, different geographic area
      • complementary industry, same area
      • If they don’t follow you back, drop them
  • Give to the community – be a leader
promote your business with SEO and social media marketing | Relevant Tools, San Rafael CA

Choose one social media platform and become a master. Learn from others as to how to best promote your business while being social and giving back to the community.

Create a Landing Page and Promote on Social Media


Create a offer with specific information that will entice people to visit your landing page. Your goal is to collect their email address and other contact information in exchange for giving alway something of value.

Jean Christofferson | Relevant Tools | SEO specialist for small business

Promote your website with specifics combined with humor

Landing Page to Engage Website visitors | small business SEO by Relevant Tools

Create a landing page with a specific call to action. Give away something of value in exchange for their email address or other contact information.

Measure and Make Adjustments

Make sure that your social media promotions and landing pages are working toward accomplishing your business goals.  Results are not instantaneous so make sure to give it enough time but don’t hesitate to make adjustments if it isn’t working effectively.

What to Expect When Buying a Home

What to Expect When Buying a HomeStacie Strassberg Residential Mortgage Advisor

The home buying and mortgage process can be overwhelming even for seasoned home owners. Knowing what to expect and how to navigate ‘the maze’ will help.

Paperwork, Paperwork and more paperwork… ~

There are really two transactions when buying a home. One involves the property and the other involves the mortgage. And with both comes paperwork.

Below are some documents you’ll receive and sign at the escrow/title company ~

• HUD 1 – this is probably one of the most important documents to review carefully, as it will contain all the actual settlement costs and who is responsible for which cost, buyer or seller. The closing agent will go over this document thoroughly with all parties.
• Deed of Trust – this is a document wherein legal title in real property is transferred to a trustee, which holds it as security for a loan (debt) between a borrower and lender.

Below are some documents you can expect to receive and sign regarding the mortgage loan ~

• Monthly Payment Letter: this document reveals the breakdown of your monthly payment into principal and interest, as well as property tax and/or home insurance, if applicable.
• Truth In Lending Statement: this important piece of paper will disclose the interest rate, annual percentage rate, amount financed and total cost of the loan over its life. These are very important numbers to check and double check before signing. This isn’t a time for surprises.
• Itemization Of Amount Financed: this document is like an addendum to the Truth in Lending, summarizing finance costs and points.
• The Note: this paper puts a lien against the house as security for the loan — allowing the bank to foreclose if you default on the note mentioned above.

Some other documents you will receive and sign during the process ~

• Name Affidavit – this document certifies that you are, in fact, who you say you are.
• Search or Abstract of Title – this document gives a history of every document that’s been recorded about this particular piece of property.

Show me the money ~

The buyer and sometimes even the seller are expected to have money ready to hand over. You should be informed of the amount you need to provide before you sign the loan documents. If you aren’t informed, do call and ask. You’ll want to bring a certified check for the correct amount.

Here are a few things a buyer will be paying for at the closing ~

• Closing costs – these include loan fees, title/escrow and appraisal. These can vary from state to state and county to county.
• Payment for the house – this includes the down payment minus any earlier deposit(s). It’s given to the closing agent (title/escrow), along with the lender’s check for the balance of the purchase price.
• Escrows/Impounds – this is when the property taxes and home insurance are paid with the mortgage payment to the lender. An account will be established prior to closing. The amount due depends on closing date

Timing is essential, so here are a few things to keep in mind ~

If you’re renting, you’ll want to schedule the closing around your lease expiration date.

If you plan to fix up the new home before moving in, schedule the move in date a couple of months before you have to move from your rental.

If you’re selling your current home, you’ll be juggling between two closing dates. Most people require the cash from the sale of the current home to pay for the new home, so be sure to calendar the closings accordingly. But take heed! Two closings in one day will make for a stressful experience, but if timed correctly, it will go off without a hitch.
• Make sure the closing date is set before your interest rate lock expires.
• If you’re closing on the new home purchase at the end of the year, keep taxes in mind. Any points and interest paid before the New Year can become deductions for this year’s taxes. Check with an accountant for the timing of any other deductions.

Keys Please…The End, or is it ~

A closing may be the end of the buying process, but it’s the opening act of your new life as a homeowner.
I’m here to help in any way I can. Please feel free to contact me.


Stacie Strassberg | Senior Mortgage Advisor | Banc Home Loans Stacie Strassberg

Banc Home Loans | | 415-308-1604
Your ‘Go To’ Mortgage Advisor for Residential Home Purchases and Refinances

Yes, You DO Need A Power of Attorney!

By Terrie Gillett  |  Notary San Rafael  |  (415) 686-6613

As a mobile notary, I routinely visit hospitals and rehab hospitals helping people complete their Power of Attorney and other estate documents because they have become sick. Or perhaps I should say, they have become very sick. Sadly, it’s common for people to avoid signing these documents until an unfortunate event forces the family to deal with a looming catastrophe. The realization that the family is powerless to handle their mother’s/father’s/significant other’s affairs without proper authorization is frightening, and the last thing anyone wants to have to deal with when their  loved one is already very ill.

What Is A Power Of Attorney?

Power of Attorney | Terrie Gillett | Notary San Rafael | Mobile Notary Service Marin

A power of attorney (or “POA”) is written authorization in which you designate someone to act on your behalf in private affairs, in banking, in business and in legal matters should you become incapacitated. The person doing the authorizing is the principal or grantor. The one authorized to act is “the agent” or the attorney-in-fact.

A POA allows your agent to access your assets (banking, property, etc) in order to pay bills,  rent/mortgage, make a car payment, handle your medical bills and/or pay your care giver. Your agent can buy groceries or pay the utilities and the like. If you own your own company, your agent can handle business matters like making payroll and paying invoices.

Many assume that a spouse can write checks or has the ability to cash out a stock account to fund an expense. However, spouses cannot access any account if she/he is not on title. Since spouses cannot be on title for any retirement accounts like IRA’s and 401k’s, spouses have no access to these funds unless there is a signed POA.

“What’s the rush?  I’m too young!  I’ll wait!”

It’s critical to get your affairs in order now, while you are of sound mind, before the unforeseen happens. As with car insurance, your policy must be in place before you get in an accident; the same is true with a POA.

More importantly, if you or your loved one become “mentally incapable” due to illness, pain medication or coma , you cannot legally be notarized. In order for you to execute a valid POA, you must be coherent and you must understand what you are signing. Without capacity, the only way for another party to act on your behalf is to have a court impose a conservatorship.

Some medical situations come on quickly. I helped a robust young attorney who felt fine one morning, had a vicious headache by the end of the day and was hospitalized that night with blood leaking on his brain. The next morning, he was partially paralyzed.  As a notary, I can adamantly state that NO ONE wants to sign these docs when they are sick or in a hospital bed.

A woman with 3 young children had a sudden onset of a blood disorder. On top of her worry about her condition along with her profound concern for the care of her children, she had the added duress of estate planning while very ill. Under these conditions, we don’t usually have clarity to make the best decisions.

Anyone facing surgery should complete a POA beforehand. A client went in for surgery, and from complications, had to be put in an artificial coma for 5 weeks. With his POA completed, his spouse was able to manage all financial decisions during this stressful time.

Typically, your POA should be kept in a safe or safe deposit box, and a copy should be given to your agent and to your attorney.

As a mobile notary serving families in crisis mode at the hospital, I urge everyone, no matter your age, to complete a POA now.

NOTE:  I am not an attorney licensed to practice law, and I am not offering legal advice or legal service in this article. Please check with your attorney, with a paralegal or legal document assistant to get the help you need and to get your affairs in order.

Terrie GTerrie Gillett, Notary San Rafael, Marin Notary Serviceillett

Notary San Rafael | | (415) 686-6613

Complete Mobile Notary Service for Businesses & Individuals


THE DROUGHT:  What does it mean for your landscape?

The grass is always greener on the other side…

Other side of what? Other side of the country, mostly.

Your tradition white picket fence, green lawn, Partridge family style home was not meant for California, Traditional sod lawns are more appropriate in areas that receive summer rainfall, i.e. the east coast.

Don’t let this winter’s rain fool you, and do heed the Governor’s warnings:  We are having a Drought, with a capital D.  So how can we save our landscape, something we have invested way too much time, love, energy, and hard earned dollars into, to allow to turn to dust?

You can have a wonderful, vibrant and artistic landscape that will wow your friends, and have you saying drought, what drought?

The first premise is that you really should sacrifice some, if not all, of your lawn.  Picture your lawn three feet deep in water.  That’s how much it takes to keep it alive from the end of the rainy season to the beginning of the next.  Here are some alternatives


The Before  – nothing but lawn and some ugly  vines

No more lawn.  This example shows three alternatives to lawn.  Pebbles, artificial turf, and mulch.

Let’s take a closer look at each:


The pebbles and boulder highlight the sculptural quality of the cactus;


The artificial turf provides a soft counterpoint to the sculptural, spiky desert plants, while providing an inviting walking surface;


The mulched planting bed is alive with interesting, drought tolerant plants that draw humming birds to them like a magnet.

These are just a few ideas to show that, at least in the garden, there is life beyond water.