Selling Your Home As FSBO – What You Need to Know

There is no rule dictating that you can’t sell your own by yourself. In fact, there are other home owners like you who have done FSBO (for sale by owner). However, there are several things needing consideration for the process to be successful and beneficial on your part.

Home Value: You can’t just put an FSBO sign in front of your house without knowing how much your house is valued in the market. Of course, determining the figures will need you to avail the services of a professional appraiser. His expertise on the matter will be crucial to price your house enough. Not too low to be below than your buying price and not too high for it not to be purchased at all.

Marketing: As the sole person in charge of selling your home, you need to explore all advertising channels available. Because you’re on FSBO, you can’t put your house in MLS. It’s available to real estate agents only. You probably have to rely on the power of social media to make a buzz about your house being sold. Free ad posting services are also available like Craigslist. You can make flyers and brochures if you want and leave them in high-traffic spots like cafes, bars, restaurants, and parks. But you also need to cooperate with the owners and managers before you can distribute ads in their places, but it’s worth trying!

Contract: You should have the contract ready because a buyer can agree to purchase your house any time, and at times when you won’t expect it. Contracts are hard to prepare because there are legal matters associated to it. For hassle-free preparation, a real estate attorney helps well.

Security Deposit: You’re putting your house on FSBO because you need funds. When negotiating with a buyer, tell him that when he agrees to purchase the house and signs the contract, he should make a security deposit for his intention to buy the house. There should be clear agreement as to when the security deposit will be returned to the buyer and to when it will be forfeited in your favor.

Property Taxes: Avoid being caught in a dilemma after you have sold the house. Property taxes are associated costs that come after. Talk to a real estate accountant to determine the due taxes after successfully selling the house.

These are just four of the many things you need to know about FSBO. Inspections, buyer qualifications, and title should be discussed as a separate entry.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Are You Committed to Selling For Sale by Owner?

In today’s real estate market, a home-grown website, ad in the local paper and yard sign with directional signs on the corner, are just not enough. For most for sale by owners (FSBO), little incentive exists to invest the time and effort in building a meaningful web presence and the long-term upfront costs of running local newspaper ads to promote your property is impractical.

Unless you get lucky, illogical strategies like „I’ll try it on my own for a month or two and then turn it over to a realtor“, are doomed to failure. Such strategies illustrate a lack of confidence as well as a coherent plan for effectively marketing your property. It takes both to be successful and unfortunately, far too many for sale by owners (FSBO) start out with strategies like these.

Whether you’re a first time for sale by owner (FSBO) or seasoned real estate professional, buying, selling or renting a property requires commitment and hard work. If you don’t have the time, don’t kid yourself. Hire a real estate professional. Trying to market your property on the ‚cheap‘ usually offers little reward. In most cases, you’ll end up wasting valuable time and money. But if you’re serious about going it alone, do some research to understand what you’re up against and how to avoid common pitfalls.

Fortunately, most of the information you will need is readily available. You only need to avail yourself of the numerous for sale by owner (FSBO) resources currently available on the web. Since much of this information is written by real estate professionals, it’s fairly comprehensive. These resources cover every aspect of the for sale by owner process, including property preparation, determining and setting the selling price, the advertising process, buyer/seller negotiation, as well as understanding the closing process. Even the contracts and forms required to close a property are available and best of all, many of these services are free!

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Home Remodeling Can Increase the Value and Comfort of Your Home

Home remodeling improvements can provide a significant boost in improving both your living space as well as the value of your home. It can often make your home more energy efficient while making it more comfortable and attractive.

Many folks plan remodeling projects for their homes to raise the comfort level but it is also a popular choice if you plan to sell your home and wish to increase the market value. Remodeling your home may be an overwhelming task if you are not quite sure where to begin. We will point out some tips here to start you in the right direction.

Planning Your Home Remodeling Budget

When considering making any major improvements to your home, you should first think of your budget. Even before you decide what you wish to change, you should decide how much you can afford to spend. Next you can choose how you plan to finance the project. Home improvements may be quite an endeavor for the average home owner, but if your have budget in mind, it will at least give you some guidelines for maintaining costs. In my experience both as a builder and end user, unexpected costs may arise and you must be equipped financially for these possible delays.

Where to Start

The kitchen and bathroom areas are the two main parts of the house that usually reveal the age of a house more than the areas do. For this reason, they are among the most popular home remodeling projects. Many advances in comfort and energy efficiency have come in recent years. Taking advantage of these can increases the value and overall look of your home whether you are renovating for your own comfort or selling your home.

Kitchens have become more of a gathering area for entertaining and the shift has been for people to spend more time in the kitchen. It has been found that most people choose to move into a house that does not require renovating. This is an important consideration if you are planning to sell your home in the coming months. A recently remodeled home can be easier to sell and the increased value will generally return more than the cost of renovations.

Renovating Your Kitchen

A kitchen renovation can make the most striking impact on the general appearance of your house but often involves many decisions because of all the various components. Most projects of this type usually require electrical and plumbing work, so it may not be an ideal do-it-yourself project, without extensive knowledge and experience. Kitchen remodeling can be a large undertaking, consisting of choosing cabinetry and flooring as well as finding the right appliances and fixtures that will match your lifestyle and financial budget.

Bathroom Remodeling

Bathrooms are another popular home remodeling project, but like kitchens, they usually involve decisions on new cabinetry, fixtures, and flooring. Bathrooms are usually easier to estimate, providing you are not getting into complicated changes that affect the water pipes or sewage lines. Bathroom remodeling or kitchen remodeling can add to your home’s comfort and enjoyment, as well as raise the value of the house.

Is it Worth Remodeling?

It has been my experience that dollar for dollar, a well remodeled kitchen or bathroom will often yield two to three times the increase in value relative to what was spent on the project. These two areas of the house in particular seem to reflect the increase in value more than other areas. That is why I usually recommend your remodeling dollars should be spent there first. Even if you are not planning to sell your home anytime soon, you will most certainly reap the benefits from additional comfort, energy savings and a general sense of pride.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Dealing With Conflict in the Workplace

Introduction

Conflict is a major concern in both your personal and working life. If not dealt with quickly, tactfully and efficiently conflict could lead to serious confrontation and/or a complete breakdown of relationships. It could even lead to violent and dangerous situations.

A conflict could stem from a minor complaint that was not resolved and left to fester. This could then gradually grow into an insurmountable problem. A conflict can be as innocent as sibling rivalry – arguing over a toy – to a dispute with a customer or colleague over a product, service or procedure to a war between countries in extreme cases.

There will be times during the course of a working life where you will have to deal with complaints and conflicts. Your successful handling of these situations will have a direct bearing on you and your organisation’s reputation for customer service and its continued success.

What causes conflict.

Conflicts normally occur when people have different ideas and believe they have the superior view point. This is particularly true of conflict in the workplace – between colleagues and/or management. The issue becomes one of power, of gaining control or of ‚being proved right‘. To resolve this type of conflict it is necessary to move from the power clash, to one of service and responsibility – to work for the good of the group rather than individuals within it. In resolving a conflict it should be more important to make sure that both parties needs are met rather than winning the argument.

Conflict can also be caused by a lack of communication or by a failure to recognise the needs of another person. Whatever the scenario, the main component in conflict is misunderstanding. These misunderstandings can occur due to differences in age, culture, race or religion. Conflict situations can include customer related issues, misunderstandings or communication barriers or Conflict among work colleagues.

Conflicts due to customer related issues.

A complaint, no matter how trivial it might sound to you, is legitimate in the eyes of the customer and must be taken seriously. Customers come into your organisation to do business. They have a need and they believe (or hope) that you will be able to fulfil that need. They are willing to pay you for your time, effort and service and they expect your full and undivided attention. If they do not receive this attention or a satisfactory product or service, then they are not receiving value for their money and then have every right to complain.

Conflicts arising out of customer related issues could include;

  • problems or faults with services or products. The customer has not received the quality of service or product that they expected and are unhappy enough about it to complain. A complaint of this nature can be fairly easily resolved if the parties involved are prepared to communicate and compromise.
  • delays or poor timing of product or service supply. The customer has been kept waiting longer than expected or advised for their product or service and, as in the point above, become upset at the delay. Delays can cause a great deal of inconvenience for customers, particularly if they have made time to be on hand and are then disappointed.
  • difficult or demanding customers. Some customers are hard to please and are, by nature, very demanding and aggressive. If they are not handled carefully they could, potentially, become threatening.
  • drug or alcohol related issues. These could include being refused entry or ejection from premises due to their condition and the risk they represent to other customers or staff.

Conflicts due to misunderstandings or communication barriers.

No two people are exactly alike – not even twins. People have different points of view brought about by the many influences on their lives.

These influences include;

genetics – the things that we inherit from our parents and over which we have no control. These things might involve the colour of our eyes and hair to our health.

upbringing – which involves the way in which our parents raised us and the values they instilled in us.

culture and religion – this influences the things that we believe to be true and the customs and traditions we follow

economics – our view on life can be strongly influenced by our economic situation, whether we are financially comfortable or struggling to make ends meet.

education – our level of education will also have a large impact on what we think and how we view the world.

the environment – this means the environment in which we operate: our neighbourhoods, housing situation, and the people we are surrounded by.

life experience – involves all the experiences we have had in our lives, the successes and failures, the lessons we have learned from these experiences and the many roles that we have played to date.

All of these things and more go in to making us the individuals we are and our thoughts and feelings about almost everything we come into contact with will be shaped by these influences. So we have our own opinions and points of view on a whole range of things and these sometimes clash with other peoples. These clashes can take the form of a lively but friendly debate but they could just as easily become heated and aggravated and degenerate into shouting matches. The beginnings of conflict.

We can avoid these situations by reaching an understanding between the parties. This can be done by communicating openly and honestly, being willing to listen to the other person’s point of view – remembering that the influences that have shaped their beliefs and view points could be very different to yours – but no less valid.

Misunderstandings and communication barriers could occur because;

  • people do not listen to each other with an eye to reaching an understanding
  • people are not prepared to compromise in order to resolve the situation
  • people do not understand cultural differences and are not prepared to make allowances for them.

To resolve a conflict situation steps need to be taken to bring the two points of view closer – to reach a compromise that both parties can accept. Part of good conflict resolution skills is the art of communication and recognising the barriers to a good two way communications flow. These barriers can include;

  • Not paying attention. Customers or colleagues who are trying to communicate with you will feel ignored and frustrated if you allow yourself to become distracted. Not paying attention to them is rude and unprofessional and stops the communication flow. The result of this could be the loss of a customer, a complaint about you to your manager or a loss of respect. Do not allow yourself to be distracted – focus your attention on what is being said and really listen to your customer or colleague. If you must interrupt the conversation to answer the phone, or speak with another staff member, excuse yourself.
  • Not looking at a person. Maintaining reasonable eye contact with the person you are communicating with is very important. It shows you are paying attention and that you are interested. By not looking at the person who is talking to you, you are indicating not only disinterest, but are also making them feel uncomfortable. They may think you are not being honest or trustworthy – you may be trying to hide something from them.
  • Interrupting. Interrupting someone when they are talking is a major barrier to open, two way communication and could easily cause conflict. Once again, you are indicating that you are not interested in what they have to say. Breaking into what they are saying to make your own thoughts known, or worse, to finish their sentences for them is no way to gain a proper understanding of the other persons needs and expectations. Allow them to finish what they are saying and pay attention. If, for some reason, the conversation needs to be wound up, then take control by asking leading or closing questions – that allow for short answers only.
  • Tone of voice. The tone of voice used during a conversation could also start a conflict. Arrogance, demand, anger, whining, disinterest etc all add a tone to the voice that can cause people to react negatively. When dealing with customers or colleagues you should keep your tone friendly, calm and pleasant. At the very least, if you do feel annoyed you should try and keep the tone of your voice neutral.
  • Sarcasm. Sarcasm has no place in any conversation between two people and is an open invitation for conflict. There are times, in everyone’s working life, when you think „If I get asked one more stupid question, I’ll go mad!“, but sarcasm in the face of a silly question or remark does nothing but hurt the other person and, possibly, dent their self esteem. We often forget that not everyone knows everything we do about our industry – in fact most customers know very little about the tourism and hospitality industries. We can forgive our customers or junior colleagues, therefore, for asking questions that may have obvious answers – obvious only to someone who knows. Show patience and understanding – it’s just as easy and much more pleasant than giving a sarcastic or snide answer.
  • Rudeness. There is never any excuse for rudeness. A respectful and courteous attitude on your part should avoid or defuse any antagonism a person brings with them into your office. Should you find yourself never the less, dealing with a person with whom you simply cannot get along – rudeness is not the solution. Speak to your supervisor or manager and ask for their advice.
  • Cultural differences. Cultural differences can be the source of a great many conflicts. When dealing with people from other countries, other beliefs and so on, it is easy to misunderstand words, gestures and customs. If you want to excel at your profession it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with some of the more prevalent customs of other cultures. On the whole, however, people from all over the world, from all walks of life and from all creeds respond well to respectful and courteous behaviour. Do not make fun of customs you don’t understand. Treat everyone you deal with, both customers and colleagues, with respect and you should do very well.

Any one of these points could provoke a customer or a colleague into complaining – which could then, potentially, turn into a conflict. It is a good idea therefore, to remain courteous and polite when dealing with other people.

Signs of potential conflict

A conflict does not happen suddenly. People do not go from calm and cool one moment to angry and aggressive the next.

Conflict builds. It may take hours, weeks or even years. However long the process takes, there are always signs that a conflict is building. If these signs are recognised early then steps can be taken to quickly and efficiently resolve the situation before it becomes a major issue.

Early signs of conflict can include (but are not limited to):

  • aggressive body language: Narrowed eyes – trying to intimidate you Flared nostrils – a sure sign of building anger as the person takes a deep breath, either to control themselves or to go on the attack Stretched muscles in the face and jaw line – tightened in building anger and aggression Tapping fingers or feet – shows impatience
  • malicious or negative gossip among colleagues
  • difficulty in discussing an issue calmly and rationally
  • tone of voice – indicating boredom, sarcasm, irritation

These are all signs of irritation, dissatisfaction or impatience. If you recognise any of these signs when dealing with a complaint or a conflict you should endeavour to find out the reasons why the other person is starting to feel impatient or irritated. You can do this by asking relevant questions and listening carefully to their answers. In this way you can reach an understanding of the issue at hand and perhaps avoid escalating the situation.

If not recognised and acted upon these signs could then be followed by;

  • Raised voice – speaking rapidly in a loud, high pitched voice – or even shouting
  • Body leaning forward in an effort to intimidate
  • Hand gestures – finger poking and pointing in an aggressive manner.
  • Refusal to cooperate
  • Storming out of a room, slamming doors, drawers or implements

At this point you may already have a conflict and it will take careful handling to bring the situation back under control

Crisis situations

Complaints can escalate into conflict and conflict, if not resolved effectively, could potentially escalate into a crisis.

People wish to be taken seriously. If they are not, or are repeatedly ignored, can become aggressive and a threat to safety and security of the organisation and the people in it. Equally, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and are not in control of themselves, can present a danger to those around them if they are not handled carefully.

Situations where personal safety of customers or colleagues may be threatened and assistance required may involve:

  • drug or alcohol affected persons
  • people with guns or other weapons
  • situations where someone has been or may be hurt
  • people who appear to be violent or threatening
  • situations where customers refuse to leave or to be pacified.

In these cases it is extremely important to:

  • remain calm yourself and to try and calm the other person.
  • move them, discreetly, out of the main area of your office or shop
  • take note of details of the problem for future reference
  • DO NOT argue with a person who is visibly upset or aggressive as this will only compound the situation.
  • bring in the assistance of relevant management, security and/or authorities such as police as soon as possible.

Organisational requirements

You cannot simply make a conflict go away by giving the complaining party whatever they want. Resolving a conflict is a delicate balance between reaching an agreement between parties while at the same time staying within the constraints of your organisations requirements and policies.

These constraints may include:

Costs issues. Often, a conflict with a customer will be centred around dissatisfaction with a product or service. If the product or service was actually found to be faulty then the simplest solution to the problem is a straight forward replacement. Sometimes, however, the situation is not as simple and the customer will demand further compensation. In these cases a replacement may not be enough and something extra may need to be done. When determining the extent of compensation, if any, to be offered to the client, there are a few issues to consider. These could include;

  • Customer good will & repeat business. If your organisation is dependent on customers coming back again then this is an important consideration.
  • Organisations reputation. A dissatisfied customer will tell many people that they received bad service from an organisation who did not meet their needs and this can lead to a loss of business.
  • Direct cost. Compensation to a client can be in the form of cash, additional products or services, or an upgrade to the product or service they have purchased. If compensation is to be of a monetary nature then the cost to the organisation must be considered.

Organisation policy on refunds or exchange. Most organisations will have policies on giving refunds. Some companies will give money back, others will give credit for products or services they provide. In the tourism industry you must also consider the refund policies of the principals you deal with. For example some advance purchase airline tickets do not allow refunds at all within a given period prior to departure and if the customer does not use the ticket, they have lost their money.

So before agreeing to provide a solution to the customer, you must first determine if it is financially viable to do so and to take the organisations policies and procedures into account.

Resolving conflict situations

When a person has purchased a product or service from your organisation and it is not what they expected it to be, or does not perform properly they will feel dissatisfied and disappointed. As a consequence when this person complains they generally believe that they have a legitimate reason for doing so and they may do so long and heatedly to the first person they come across in your organisation. This might be you – even though you had nothing to do with the original sale and have never met the customer. The worst thing you can do is tell them its not your problem.

Take ownership of the issue, regardless of whether you were involved in the problem or not. „Passing the buck“ at this point is not going to help matters. The customer approached YOU, so deal with the issue and don’t pass them off saying „It’s not my problem“ or „The lady who handled this is not here now….“. At that particular moment in time the customer does not see you, the individual, they see you, the representative of the company, so it is you, the representative of the company, they expect to help them.

If you were not part of the original transaction where the problem occurred get as much information as you can from the customer to help you determine what to do. For example, you could ask;

  • exactly what the problem is
  • when & where it occurred
  • how long ago the problem occurred
  • what they paid for the product or service
  • how they see the situation being resolved – this will give you an idea of the person’s expectations and how they impact on the organisation’s policies and procedures.

If the person who was involved in the original transaction is available you should ask them to join the discussion in order to get both sides of the picture. It is very important, however, to keep to the issue at hand and not to let emotions or ego get in the way of finding a solution to the problem; stay calm, listen to all points of view with an open mind and try to keep the communications process flowing in a positive manner.

Finding a solution to a conflict involves a certain set of skills and techniques. It takes a step by step approach to ensure a positive outcome for all parties concerned.

Steps in resolving conflict

Finding a solution to a conflict will often become a matter of „give and take“ where one party makes a suggestion that may not be entirely acceptable to the other. When this happens you will need to define the issues as seen by all parties and negotiate a mutually acceptable outcome. This would normally happen in a logical sequence:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Work out what you want out of the conflict
  3. Brainstorm for options
  4. Evaluate solutions
  5. Decide on solutions

Define the problem

Everyone involved in the conflict needs to agree on a definition of the problem before it can be solved. This could mean describing the problem in terms of each persons needs and understanding of the issue at hand. Questions to consider might include:

  • What is the problem? Is it only my problem? Who else is involved?
  • Can I solve it? Is it worth solving?
  • Is this the real problem or merely a symptom of a larger one?
  • Does it need an immediate solution or can it wait? Is it likely to go away by itself? Can I risk ignoring it?
  • Does the problem have ethical dimensions?
  • What conditions must the solution satisfy?
  • Will the solution affect something that must remain unchanged?
  • Will I need help?

Asking these types of questions will outline what all the issues are from various perspectives giving you a firm foundation for exploring options. Depending on the nature of the problem and what it will take to resolve it, it might in extreme cases even be worth letting the matter go. It is important to keep a customer satisfied, but not at all costs. If a customer is being completely unreasonable and demanding then sometimes it is the better option to lose that customer.

Work out what you want out of the conflict

You also need to develop a clear understanding of the expected outcome. This could be; an agreement on acceptable compensation for faulty products or service a better relationship with the other party a mutually acceptable solution to an ongoing work issue the other person to respect your opinion With firm expectations of what would be an acceptable outcome in mind, you can then begin to negotiate with the other party until an agreement has been reached.

Brainstorm for options – When all parties concerned have had the opportunity to explain their feelings on the matter, then all of the issues should be out in the open. At this point you can look at the various options available. There might be a number of solutions to the problem which could work for everyone involved. Don’t get stuck on one solution just because it’s the first one you find. Be creative about the possibilities available to you, and look for common ground. You can decide from the options later.

Evaluate solutions – In deciding the best result from the options available you should weigh up the pros and cons of each one based on the organisations policies and procedures, cost or budgetary constraints, legal ramifications and mutual benefit. When discussing and evaluating options it is often the case that each party will prefer an option that most closely gives them what they want regardless of its impact on the other party. In these cases you need to negotiate and compromise so that an agreement that both parties are satisfied with can be reached.

The Art of Compromise – Compromise does not mean giving in or losing. It means looking for ways to meet each others needs by making concessions to the other party involved. Compromise involves negotiating what you are, or are not, prepared to do in order to get what you want.

You should be open to good arguments rather than pressure or manipulation from the other party. Be open to reason but closed to threats. In difficult conflicts it might be necessary to bring in another person to mediate. This person might need to be skilled, mutually respected, and not have a personal interest in the outcome.

Decide on a mutually acceptable solution – When all available options have been tabled and considered then you can decide on the best one – the one that keeps both parties happy! Make sure each person takes responsibility for agreeing with the decision. This may take the form of a written agreement or contract, or a letter outlining what was agreed to.

Separate your feelings from the problem. When your emotions get tangled up in the pros and cons of an argument you can’t reach the best conclusion. If you take a strong position because of the way you feel, you can’t work out the best solution to the problem because your perception of it is controlled by things which are likely to have nothing to do with the problem. It’s not about who is right or wrong. Arguing over whose fault it is or placing blame will do nothing but increase tension and get in the way of resolving the situation. You should not let your feelings get in the way. Points that can help here include:

  • Act and speak calmly. Arguing with a customer or colleague could result in a full blown confrontation. Pause before making a response to them. This will give you time to collect yourself, to calm any irritation you might feel and also gives you a chance to work out how to phrase your response in the most appropriate way.
  • Try to put yourself in the other person’s place; empathise with them. Use expressions such as „I can understand why you would feel that way“ and encourage them to share their point of view.
  • Listen carefully and completely to what they are saying. Hear them out without interrupting them. Show you are interested through a positive listening attitude and ask clarifying questions to make sure you have understood them correctly.
  • Be patient and understanding. Don’t interrupt them. Once they have had their say, they will generally be a lot calmer and easier to reason with. The problem can then often be resolved in a civilised manner.
  • At the appropriate time, acknowledge their point of view and ask them to give you the courtesy of now listening to your (organisation’s) position. For example; „I understand what you are saying, may I now explain our position to you, and then we can see how we could solve the problem together?“

Documentation

Recording accurate information about complaints, conflicts and their outcomes is a very important part of any business. This type of information will show (among other things);

  • areas of the business that are not working properly
  • processes and procedures that need to be changed.
  • things that customer like / or don’t like about your products or services
  • gaps in the supply and demand of your products or services

With this information in hand, an organisation can then use it to continually improve its products, services, image and reputation.

Information can be recorded by way of (but not limited to):

  • Letters (or emails)of complaint. These should always be taken seriously. A written complaint should be answered immediately – even if it is simply to advise the customer what will happen next. An investigation of the complaint should follow and the customer should then be advised of the outcome. A report of the complaint and the outcome should then be sent to the relevant supervisor or manager for any further action needed.
  • Notes taken during a phone call or after a face to face meeting. Once again, it is good business practice to record the details of complaints or discussions about conflicts. These notes can be used for the organisation’s continuous improvement programme but they can also be used as reminders of the conversation should a dispute arise.
  • Formal documentation. These could be; Refund forms Credit notes Contracts or agreement forms

Evaluating conflict situations

It is good business practice to continually look for ways in which an organisation can improve its practices and procedures. One of the main ways an organisation can do this is by seeking feedback – comments from customers, staff and other visitors to the organisation. Reasons for seeking feedback can include;

  • to ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business
  • to maintain its reputation
  • to learn from errors or mistakes
  • to make improvements to the service or product delivery or quality to improve productivity and efficiency
  • follow up to see if customer is satisfied in the case of a complaint or conflict

In a matter as important as a complaint or a conflict, feedback can also be sought by way of a phone call, letter or perhaps even a personal visit the person concerned to ensure that any issue that existed between the conflicting parties has been successfully resolved.

When looking for how effective the solution to a conflict was, some of the questions that should be asked could include:

Why did this situation happen in the first place? A close examination of the circumstances surrounding the matter of conflict from both the customers and the organisations perspective can show up problems in procedure, policy or product or service delivery. Issues to look at could include;

  • Was there a breakdown in communication?
  • Is the service delivery as good as it could be?
  • Are the organisation’s policies and procedures as effective as they could be?
  • Was the service/product faulty in some way?

Did we resolve it effectively? This is a very important question from the customers and the organisations point of view.

  • For the customer, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they are satisfied, that they have received value for their money and most importantly that they will probably continue to do business with you.
  • For the organisation, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they have retained a customer and kept within organisational guidelines and budgets

When looking at how the problem was resolved:

  • Ask critical questions about the outcome – was it the best possible option for every one concerned? Did it cost your organisation money? Too much money? Was the outcome worth the cost?
  • Evaluate the customer’s reaction to your proposal – were they happy with it? Were they prepared to be reasonable? Will they continue to do business with you?
  • Compare the situation to any previous incidents of this nature. How was it handled last time? Is there a pattern emerging that should be addressed?
  • What can we do to prevent it happening in the future? By looking at how the problem occurred in the first place and how effectively you resolved it you can then take any necessary steps to prevent the same thing happening again. This might mean; A change in policy or procedure A change in a product or service Training staff in customer service skills Training staff in conflict and complaint handling

By asking these, and other relevant questions, you can make improvements to the organisation. This could lead to greater customer and staff satisfaction which will have a positive impact on the organisations continued success and prosperity.

For more information go to: www.lptraining.com.au

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

House Plan – It’s Importance to Building a New House

A house plan is a must for building a home before its construction begins. It is helpful for planning home space, estimating the cost of the expenses, allotting the budget, knowing the deadline of the construction and setting the schedule of meeting with the architect, designer or home builder. So if you are planning to build a new house without it, then it’s for sure, the house will have a low quality structure and design and also cost you more money in the long run because of the mistakes that may arise once the construction starts.

When making a house plan, there are many important points to consider. One is the location where the house will be built. It is usually best to buy a land before you start to make a house plan. Knowing the area and the type of terrain you chose to build on is helpful to properly plan the house and maximize the space of the land area. It’s also necessary to consider the lifestyle and the size of the family to see how many number of rooms and bathrooms needed, what kind of style and design of the living room, kitchen and dining room and how much space is needed for each of them. You also need to consider the number of your vehicles for you to plan well how much big your garage should be. It’s best to discuss these details with your family to make sure that your new house will meet your standard of living.

There are lots of ways to obtain a desired house plan for your new house. You can search it through the internet and choose from various websites that feature display homes with their corresponding house design plans. Searching for some examples of house plans can be an efficient, smart and fast way of getting and refining ideas in planning and making your own one.

Certainly, a house plan is necessary in building a house. It helps you visualize how the house should look like when it’s fully finished. Seeing the overall layout and house design will make you sure that the architect has met your exact requirements on its structure, features, designs, styles and all other important details in building your house. It also gives the home builder a good overview on its house design and guides him all the way through the entire project. So it’s imperative to not be rush in making a house plan to ensure that all your requirements are met and to avoid mistakes. Ideally, preparing a house plan should take several weeks and need a lot of discussion with your architect or home builder. Doing this gives you a sense that your hew house is built safe and also assures you its quality and excellence.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Buying Property in Puerto Vallarta – How to Find The Right Agent

Puerto Vallarta is one of the best tourist locations in Mexico. It has everything one would want in a world class tourist destination. It will provide you with breathtaking beaches, great restaurants serving the most mouthwatering food, and a vibrant cultural scene.

Tourists can also enjoy the water activities, the vintage appeal and old Mexico charm of Puerto Vallarta. It boasts of world class amenities and the attractions that will tempt and entice to stay there for ever forever. Yes, now you can. You can own a property in Puerto Vallarta like countless Americans, Canadians and Europeans have done. Everyone wishes for a risk free real estate investment. Now your wish can be fulfilled. You will be able to have a great time on vacation in Puerto Vallarta whenever you feel like and rest of the time your Real Estate investment in Puerto Vallarta will keep earning you money in rental. You may choose any type of property; it may be a condominium, fractal or timeshare.

Though, buying Real Estate in Puerto Vallarta sounds tempting, a potential owner has to be careful as is the case with all major real estate transactions. What you can do to help yourself is to roam around the beautiful city, immerse yourself. Find out which location you fancy. What sort of property would you like? Get to know all the property options you have.

The next step will be to find a local real estate agent in Puerto Vallarta who can assist you in this Endeavour. A real estate agent will help to find the right abode for you. Always choose real estate agents who are involved in all stages of the transaction from beginning to end and takes commission only when the sale is realized. The real estate agent may decide to keep few important things hidden from you. Therefore, you should investigate the property before the purchase. Self education is very important in real estate matters.

Make sure the Real Estate agent is familiar with the locality. Real Estate agent or the firm should be a known figure and should have a good reputation. Your friends familiar with the area or your lawyer can be of great help while choosing a Real Estate agent in Puerto Vallarta. The simplest way to know about the real estate agent is to do research on internet. Most of the real estate agents have well maintained websites that can give you ample information about the areas of information, services, fees, and list of properties for sale. It is also advised t to find a real estate agent who is an AMPI member.

Keep these points while hunting for your dream abode in Puerto Vallarta and you will surely get one.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

When Selling A House – The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Employing A Real Estate Agent

When selling your house – you have two options. One, you can sell it by yourself and the other – you can engage the services of a real estate agent. Each of the option has its own advantage and disadvantage. But since the employment of real estate agent is more beneficial, this is adapted by many property trader – be it buying or selling.

One of the best advantages of coursing the sale of your house through a real estate agent is the ease and facility of the sale. With a good agent you can sell your house at a higher price, but more importantly, you can sell it faster through the agent than doing it yourself. This could be due to the enormous data base of clients of the agent.

Another advantage of the use of real estate agent is the knowledge and experience of the agent. These real estate experts would know how to advertise your house. The network is big enough to reach more prospective clients.

Your agent can be helpful in giving you valuable tips on how to make your house more attractive and desirable to prospective buyers. You do not have this talent. The experience of the agent has honed him or her to know the ways and means to magnetize the buyers.

Your agent, who is trustworthy, can give you an idea on the true value of your house. He or she can advise you on how much would you really get for the property. But one disadvantage of having a real estate professional in relation to this is the number of houses to be sold by the realtor. With so many houses in the realtor’s listing, your house may not have the optimal selling time.

A disadvantage which usually discourages a seller to hire an agent is on the commission. Sellers of property are the ones to pay the commission of the agent – an agreed percentage of the total selling price. The commission of the realtor will be an out of pocket expense on the part of the seller. Or we can look at the commission as a reduction in the price of the house.

There are some agents, hope you do not encounter one like this, the tendency for them to reduce the price of your house to fast track the selling. So – when you are dealing with an agent, it is advisable not to inform them how far lower can you go on the selling price. The agent will tap this low amount, just to have a property sold.

Using a real estate agent can bring advantages and disadvantages, but as these can better sell your property, you have to just think of the advantages. After all, your goal is to sell the property fast at the best optimum price.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

The Characteristics Of The Real Estate Market

The real estate market is the economic sector that involves the buying and selling of infrastructure such as buildings either for residential purposes, business premises, and the industry segment. Like any business sector it is susceptible to the economic forces of supply and demand. The main people involved in this field include the owner, renter, developers, renovators, and the facilitators.

This sector has a number of characteristics that are specific to it. Real estate is durable since the buildings can last for many years while the land it stands on is indestructible. As a result the supply is composed of a large share of already pre-existing stock and a tiny percentage of new development. Thus the stock varies in price only according the deterioration, renovation, and the new development coming up.

Stock in this sector could be referred as heterogeneous since every piece is unique. All buildings are different in terms of the location they are situated in, their structure and design as well as how they are financed. Change in this field takes quite a long time. This is as a result of the long duration involved in financing and construction of new property.

The real estate has the very unique feature in terms of the buyers in this market. The property can be purchased either as an investment with the expectation of earning returns or as a consumption good with the thought of using it. Individuals could also invest in the market for both reasons whereby they use the property for a while before selling it at a profit. As a direct result of its dual nature, there is a high demand since individuals tend to over-invest in this sector.

Immobility is yet another characteristic unique to this sector. The properties as well as the land it lies on are both immobile. As a result there is no physical market place meaning one has to go to where the property is situated. Therefore this issue makes location a prime factor before investment.

The main factor in demand for property is demographic, that is the population size and growth. The demographic composition plays a huge role in determining the demand and as a result the price. The performance of the economy also affects the performance of the sector since it plays a role in the ability of investors to take loans and mortgages for financing their business ventures. Naturally, the pricing determines the level of demand in the sector.

There are a number of ways to finance investment in the real estate market from government and commercial institutions. Financial aid can be obtained from commercial banks, savings banks, mortgage brokers, life insurance companies and other financial institutions. However, the best practice still remains getting funding from your own savings.

In view of the recent real estate market crash it is best to follow some guidelines. As a buyer ensure that the price you pay for the property matters a lot as well as the ability to dispose of the purchase later down the road. If not it is advisable to downsize your mortgage to be on the safe side. As a seller, identify when it is the right time to put your property on the market in order to avoid low offers.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Renovation Loans: FHA 203(K), Fannie’s Homestyle Renovation Mortgage and Conventional Rehab Loans

With a plethora of homes still sold as short sales and foreclosures, renovation loans are increasingly popular with homebuyers. Many family dwellings are being redesigned for additional family members these days. As rental housing costs rise, families decide to live together and save money. There are multiple situations that could apply: boomerang children, aging parents, or divorced with grandchildren – the family home is in need of expansion or renovation to ensure everyone fits comfortably.

Rehab loans such as the FHA 203(k) program or the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage are the perfect answer for some first time homebuyers, too. If the borrower qualifies for the 203(k) program, the buyer can borrow based on what the house is expected to be worth after the home rehab is completed.

I will summarize some common home renovation loans available to consumers and some of the requirements for each. Interest rates are subject to vary for each loan detailed, so be sure to check with a qualified loan officer first, before embarking on a home purchase or refinance.

Renovation loans are effective for consumers and banks and mortgage companies because they offer the necessary resources to remove foreclosures from the market and redo them. Plus, these loans provide first time homebuyers, (who have historically been 30-40% of a healthy real estate market), the opportunity to renovate before moving in.

FHA 203(k) Rehab Loan

FHA insured home renovation loans are more popular now then ever before, because resources for renovations are greatly needed. A streamline 203(k) loan includes less than $35,000 in renovations. For homebuyers needing over $35,000 in rehab work, a full 203(k) is necessary.

To qualify for the FHA 203(k) loan, the borrower must agree to hire a real estate consultant to assess the construction plan and sign off on each phase. The project must be completed in six months, with five draws (or payments to contractors) allowed. A list of approved property renovations is included with the loan. Many borrowers feel this loan is too complicated – or the list of renovations too restricted for their projects. But the interest rate on FHA loans is low enough to make it worthwhile.

If interested in a FHA 203 (k) loan, find a mortgage broker with experience in this type of rehab loan to complete the transaction. FHA loans are typically available for owner occupied residences. These loans are government insured and have a more expensive mortgage insurance rate (PMI), with a 1.75% up front payment and a monthly payment of 1.35%, compared to other loan products. Jeff Hurd, Mortgage Banker with Fidelity Bank Mortgage in Newport News, Virginia, said „With conventional rehab loans, the consumer has the option to pay all of the PMI up front, monthly or have the lender pay it (LPMI).“

Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage

When comparing the Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan to the 203 (k), Hurd says the HomeStyle loan product offers more flexibility with repairs and renovations and in the types of homes purchased. The Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan offers a wider scope of renovation projects, and can be utilized on a second home and an investment property as well as a primary residence.“

Other advantages of the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage include less money down then conventional rehab loans (a minimum of 5%) and less cost for the mortgage insurance. Monthly mortgage insurance payments are reduced with higher down payments and/or a good credit score above 680. The conventional Homestyle will typically present a PMI pricing advantage over FHA. With Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage, home purchases and improvements can be combined into one loan for virtually any property – and it doesn’t have to be Fannie Mae owned. The repairs or renovations must be permanently affixed to the structure and add value to the property. Lenders have to be pre-approved to sell this product, so make certain to ask the loan officer if he or she is participating in this home finance program.

Rehab Loans – the Time is Now

Now is a great time to purchase a home with a rehab loan. There are so many houses that may be in distress. Whether the house is bank owned, or it’s a foreclosure or short sale, or a homeowner is upside down and doesn’t want to put the money into a property to fix it up – there are homes to choose from. Right now homebuyers have a good opportunity to buy a house for a great price and renovate it with the financing. These rehab loan products make it easier to buy a house and complete home rehab projects at the same time, before the move in date. Chances are excellent that a consumer can purchase a property, make the necessary renovations and walk out of the transaction with equity in the home. Hurd says, „There is a market of savvy consumers ready to acquire these houses now.“

The housing market has changed tremendously over the last five to seven years. Because there are still vacant properties available in this real estate market, rehab loans are a means of obtaining these properties in need of repair. Homebuyers now can expand their choices of homes to live in because they can remodel to suit their needs. Real estate investors can purchase, rehab and rent or resell the property.

Rehab loans are an excellent stimulus for the real estate market and a great way for homebuyers to purchase what they want without having to worry about liquidating cash investments or having tens of thousands of dollars in addition to a mortgage to fund home renovations.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

California Labor Code Violations Produce Big Damages Through Private Attorney General Act [PAGA]

A Fictional Account of Labor Code Violations

Disclaimer: This story is completely fictional without reference to any particular person, company or employee. Any resemblance or name approximating a real individual or company is purely coincidental.

A Background Story of Multiple Labor Code Violations Leading to Penalties.

Melinda worked for Busy-Body Industries to clean homes. Busy-Body had a written employment agreement with Melinda and 2,000 other home cleaning persons in California. The agreement provided that all the Busy-Body employees were confirm their appointments the previous day by calling customers on a schedule delivered to the employee at the beginning of the week. The employees were also to call in just before and after each cleaning. Busy-Body required its employees to have mobile phones, and to subscribe to unlimited minutes through the wireless provider of their choice. Busy-Body paid a standard $2.00 per day to each employee for what Busy-Body designated as Mobile Phone Expenses.

Melinda and all other housecleaners used their mobile phones at least six times per day for Busy-Body related business. Melinda’s monthly unlimited mobile phone service cost $130.00 per month. Using her phone for company calls did not increase her bill.

Busy-Body also required its employees to purchase their cleaning supplies, and paid them a standard 40.00 per month as a set reimbursement based on a 12 month historical average for its 2000 employees. However, some employees worked in areas where the square footage of a luxury home required more cleaning agents than persons cleaning middle class neighborhoods.

Busy-Body collected the cleaning person’s tip as part of the pre-paid pricing and charged the employee a $5.00 per transaction fee for collecting the tips. Employees were not permitted to receive tips directly from customers. Busy-Body used this method to track tips in order to make individual tax withholdings and contributions for each employee.

Busy-Body also required each of its employees to launder and press their uniforms Employees not maintaining dress codes. As proof that uniforms were properly clean and pressed, Busy-Body required employees to scan and deliver a separate cleaning bill each week, but did not reimburse for these expenses. An employee not submitting an expense voucher for cleaning was fined a $15.00 „failed inspection“ fee.

Also, Busy-Body employees are required to pay for their own vacuum cleaners and replacement bags. They are allowed to use the vacuum cleaners for personal use. Busy-Body considers the vacuum cleaner a tool of the trade, similar to tools owned and used by a carpenter.

A cleaning person when dispatched left his or her home to go directly to her first appointment of the day. There was no Busy-Body „home office“ that cleaning people drove to or from when making their appointed calls. The Busy-Body corporate office is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with no office locations elsewhere in the country. Once a month, employees were required to attend a tele-conference which provided training, company news updates, and company feedback on customer demands, expectations, and satisfaction levels. Employees were expected to attend these conferences after their regular work hours while at their home computers, usually after 6:00 p.m. They were not compensated for this time, or the phone and internet expense incurred as part of these monthly meetings.

When Melinda questioned the Company practice of being fined for the „failed inspection“ fee when she cleaned and pressed her uniforms at home on her own time, her manager said to her, and all on the conference, that the dry cleaning service was the only way the company could track that the company „brand“ was being presented by each employee.

„Then we should be paid for the expense of the dry-cleaning,“ Melinda said.

„You paid for the uniforms, and can wear them for personal use. It is not a company expense,“ her manager had told her during the phone conference.

„Melinda was upset with this answer, and didn’t back down: But you picked the clothing, and it has our company logo on the shirts.“

„The logo is very attractive,“ her boss told them. You should be proud to wear it for personal use.

Within a week after her comment, Melinda’s employer called her to say her services were no longer needed, and tor return her company documents and uniform. Melinda pressed for an answer why she was being terminated.

„I’ve never been written up. My customers all love me. This isn’t fair.“

„You’re an at-will employee,“ the H.R. Director told her during the phone conference. „We don’t have to have a reason.“

STORY ANALYSIS TO IDENTIFY THE CALIFORNIA LABOR CODE VIOLATIONS and „PRIVATE ATTORNEY GENERAL ACT“ [„PAGA“] IMPLICATIONS:

California Labor Code Violation: Personal Cell Phone Use for Business on An Unlimited Plan

This issue has been resolved in California by the Cochran decision. The employer cannot defend itself by the argument that it cost no more for the employee to use the phone. The court shifted focus to the benefit received by the employer, and required a factual inquiry into the average likely ratio of personal to employer use of the airtime. The employer owed the employees a percentage reimbursement of personal expenses incurred for the employer’s business.

Then the question is whether $2.00 per day for every employee is a fair and reasonable calculation of the likely personal to business use ratio. An employer is allowed in California to use an optional method of estimating costs instead of paying the exact dollar amount based on individual expense reports but there must be a close approximation based on evidence of real costs. An employer may want to follow this optional approach because of the difficulty and time associated with individual reporting.

In this instance, if the unlimited plan costs $80.00 per month, and the employees use their personal plans between 30% to 50% of the time for business, and a random check of business calls on the phone records support that range, then 40% could be a reasonable and fair reimbursement, as any one employee in any one month could use the phone more or less than the midpoint.

Melinda’s typical use is six times per day business use at 10 minutes each or 60 minutes per day. She uses the phone for personal reasons about 10 times per day at 20 minutes each or 200 minutes. The ratio of business to personal is 60:200 or 30%. At $130.00 flat fee, she should be getting $39.00 per month reimbursement. $2.00 per month is clearly inadequate.

California Labor Code Violation: Cleaning Supplies and Equipment.

Busy-Body pays a standard reimbursement rate $40.00 per month for cleaning supplies based on a 12-month historical average for its 2000 employees. Is this formula supportable by evidence showing that individual employees are being adequately compensated?

The cleaning cost appears reasonable based on the depth of the data over 12 months, but Busy-Body may need to sub-classify its employees into the „big home“ neighborhood group and the „moderate home“ group, as each set of homes will have its own „cost of supplies.“ The more refined and specific the formula, the more likely it will be upheld as a legally sufficient approximation of actual costs.

The vacuum cleaners are tools owned by the employees who retain them in their personnel possession and are free to use them for personal purposes as well. They likely are not reimbursable expenses. But what about replacement bags and belts related to wear and tear for employer benefit? Those costs are arguably reimbursable because the volume of bag use for business is so much greater than for personal use. Busy-Body employees, for example, routinely use and dispose of at least one bag per home cleaning. Each employee cleans between 1 or 2 homes per day five days per week. Busy-Body could be left holding the bag for unreimbursed expenses owed to 2000 employees, including penalties, and attorney’s fees.

California Labor Code Violation: Imposing Costs for Collecting Tip Income

Passing this cost onto the employee would be illegal. In California, tips belong exclusively to the employee. Businesses routinely collect and distribute these tips. Most customers add the tip not as a separate payment to the employee, but as a component of the overall authorized card charge. Tip collection and administration is a cost of business to be absorbed without offset to the employee. Moreover, Busy-Body is required by law to treat the tip income as regular wages and subject to UI, ETT, SDI, and PIT withholdings. Busy-Body must therefore include the deductions in its paystub itemization. This itemization would include a category of „tip income,“ or like wording. Failure to report, distribute and withhold all have tax and California Labor Code penalties for non-compliance.

California Labor Code Violation: Work Clothing Laundry Expenses

California employers who require their California employees to wear apparel unique to the employer’s brand by such features as color, style, design, or logo are must pay the costs to obtain and maintain the work related clothing. If the employee advances the cost, the cost must be promptly reimbursed.

In California, uniform cleaning and maintenance other than simple home laundry must be reimbursed to the employee. If the employee is required to spend time at home to meet specific care requirements of the employer, such as ironing, the „reasonable value of the time“ used can be paid as an extra pay „allowance.“ If the employee is required to incur outside laundry and pressing services, as might be the case with a dry cleaner, the actual employee expense must be reimbursed.

Busy-Body employees are required to wear clothing having the company logo, and are required to pay a „fine“ if the clothing is verified as clean and pressed by a drycleaner. Busy-Body is required to reimburse these costs. Further, imposing a „fine“ for non-compliance is an improper deduction from wages unrelated to an employee’s willful or grossly negligent damaging of company property. The fine operates as a „charge back“ against earned wages in violation of Labor Code Sec. 221.

California Labor Code Violation: Travel and Commuting Expenses

Busy-Body employees have no „home-base,“ that is, no place they predictably report to work, such as a staging area or corporate office. Instead, their schedule takes them from their private homes to a scheduled customer location often different each work day. The usual rule is that commuting expenses are not reimbursable travel expenses, but Busy-Body employees have no „commute“ from home to first work location. All their work related driving expenses are therefore reimbursable. To reinforce this conclusion, the Busy-Body corporate office is out of state with no satellite offices.

There are 2000 Busy-Body employees across the country, each with a different set of distances actually traveled. Busy-Body must reimburse actual individual travel expenses, portal to portal, for each employee based on expense vouchers submitted. California case law recently allowed employers the option to pay a standard travel expense payment without regard to specific recorded expenses but only if the formula has a rational and proximate relation to actual expenses. Most companies use the prevailing IRS mileage reimbursement rate as an acceptable rate to cover gas, insurance, and maintenance. This rate, coupled with data showing the average travel range in various regions of the country (requiring Busy-Body to sub-classify its employees) could satisfy California law and reduce employer administrative costs.

Melinda’s Case for Wrongful Termination — Retaliation

Melinda is an employee „at-will“ but that status is irrelevant to the likely reason for her firing in this case. She had a good work record. Her first friction with Busy-Body was when she questioned the propriety of laundering Busy-Body required uniforms. She was fired a week later with no explanation. The firing was illegal because Melinda protested an issue covered as a „fundamental right“ in California: payment of wages and expenses. California allows this „cause of action“ to be heard by a jury if Melinda reasonably believed the violation of law occurred, and in some manner complained to the employer about the illegal practice. The short time between between complaint and firing, coupled with her good work record, is strong circumstantial evidence that Busy-Body’s motive was to punish or silence Melinda.

Strength in Numbers: California’s Private Attorney General Act [PAGA].

California has a unique law that appoints private attorneys to prosecute cases on behalf of the State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, Labor and Workforce Development Agency. This Act is labeled California’s Private Attorney General Act [PAGA].

PAGA is so powerful because it gives an enforcement energy that was almost completely lacking given limited agency resources. This lack of resources, and the widespread scope of abuses, led the California legislature to basically allow private attorneys to be „Attorneys General“ for the good of the public. A powerful incentive of the law is that these private attorneys can recover penalties from employers, and recover attorney’s fees incurred in prosecuting the case. The recovered penalties are divided between the State and the employees.

But one aspect of the case unlike a state action is that an employee brings the suit on behalf of multiple other employees who are invited to join the lawsuit. The corpus of money recovered is then held to be claimed by the employees after the State gets its share. Many PAGA cases will settle before trial, and the State is often willing to compromise its share of the total recovery to less than the statutory 75% in order to facilitate the settlement.

The Private Attorney General must notify the Labor and Workforce Development Agency [„LWDA“] in detail concerning the nature of the proposed civil action, and the employer must be notified before suit with the opportunity to correct the alleged violations. If the LWDA declines to sue on the matter, and the employer does not present timely „cure“ of the violations or conditions, then the individual employee represented by private counsel may proceed on behalf of the State of California and the employees to collect the penalties. Labor Code Section 2699 defines a hefty penalty: for most employers the fine is $200.00 for each aggrieved employee for each pay period in which a violation occurred. There is a one-year statute of limitations from the date of the last violation in a series to collect penalties. 26 pay-periods times $200 = $5,000 per year per employee X 2000 employees =$10,400,000.00.

The Technical Issues Related to a PAGA Case.

Multiple questions have been raised by defendant Employers and the Courts concerning the interpretation and future of PAGA. Some of the more pressing ones:

  1. Does PAGA have to meet class certification requirements applicable to the standard Class Action case.
  2. Can Courts require a PAGA employee named in the action to go to arbitration to determine the merits of his individual action to determine if he is a typical representative of the issues to be addressed in the PAGA case. [Undecided by a Court of Appeal, but Trial Courts are in fact „managing“ PAGA cases this way.]
  3. How much discovery is required at what stage of a PAGA case for a court to determine the scope of the PAGA claims? [It appears that the Courts are following the trend begun in class action certification motions to include evidence obtained in an individual arbitration proceeding to determine the probable merits of the claims, but there has been no appellate decision published on this question as yet.] Discovery will be accelerated on the individual claim to meet the burden of proving that claim in Arbitration.
  4. What is the effect of the 2015 California Supreme Court decision [Valencia] on the future of PAGA cases? If the Federal Arbitration Act applies to require an individual to arbitrate his individual claim and to waive class action participation, does that same pre-emption by federal law apply to a PAGA case? Employees argue not: that it is the State of California, and not the employee, who is represented by the „Private Attorney General.“
  5. What is the standard of proof for PAGA damages when each employee may have been damaged somewhat differently, but within a probable range of minimum to maximum loss? The answer has been given in the „Duran“ case. Statistical evidence is admissible to arrive at an acceptable probable amount of damages despite individual employee variations if the probable number is arrived at an expert following generally accepted statistical methods with adequate sampling. Whatever the method adopted by the Court, it must allow the Defendant fair opportunity to attack the methods used or the sampling relied upon by the employees.

Conclusion

Busy Body will have a busy time in Court. The list of its employee rights violations is long: unpaid mobile phone expenses; wrongful assessment of employee penalties to reduce wage payments, failure to reimburse uniform laundry expenses, unpaid expenses for supplies needed to do the work; unpaid travel expenses, failure to deduct and itemize tips and taxes withheld; unpaid work hours for mandatory training. Each of these violations carries penalties set by statute, and if fully assessed against Busy-Body, will result in tens of millions of dollars in damages if the Court allows the case to proceed as a PAGA case, or if the case qualifies as a class action unrestricted by an arbitration agreement. The freedom to proceed with a PAGA case is under attack by the employer community. To the extent the courts are inclined to impose class action case management tools in a PAGA case, the freedom to proceed subject only to the PAGA notification requirements seems at risk currently. Still, Melinda and Busy-Body may well have a complex and costly battle that will end with millions paid or lost. Melinda herself will proceed on her own case for wrongful termination because of retaliation when she opposed some of these illegal practices.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

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