I write this post on what is a “holiday” for many people: President’s Day. A three-day weekend, the most joyous of “holidays.” Meanwhile, my wife – who is now a REALTOR® in Chicago – is running around prepping for another day because three day holiday weekends only means an extra day to be with clients looking for homes in a market starving for inventory. She has realized what many a real estate pro already has known: There are no such things as holidays for REALTORS®.
This, after a marathon Saturday of showings where half the houses she saw sold by the end of the day, turned into a night of presenting four offers to her seller only for the elation to quickly wear off when said sellers realized they have no home to move into once their condo closes in two months. Let’s face it, the market realities today mean that the hours real estate professionals work may not be the hours they’d LIKE to work.
There’s lots of “work-life-balance” talk on the interwebs, but unplugging may be hard to do when you’re in a multiple-offer situation, or if you NEED to show that listing that just came up on your MLS radar. However, the time you DO have with your clients will prove to be the most valuable, and squeezing every bit out of time with them might mean a make-or-break deal. Some tips…
Audit Your Productivity Processes Now:
No other technology can position the client/agent team better in today’s hot market than mobile technology. How mobile are you? How mobile is your broker-tech, MLS, and forms technology? These entities are not created equally, and if you realize you’re working in the tech dark-ages, literally make it better, or carry contracts with you. Recognize that “being mobile,” actually means “being productive.” Know how to use DocuSign, Dotloop, zipForm or whatever your broker or MLS’s technology is that allows you to write offers on the fly. Dropbox and Evernote collaborations with clients may save your listing sanity. Sometimes having a MiFi hotspot and a laptop is all you need to be productive, whether your next office might be a Starbucks or the passenger seat of your car. The words, “I need to go back to my office to…” should never be enter into your lexicon.
Bonus: Brokers, make your next sales meeting a workshop, one in which your agents practice writing mobile contracts. For example, practice writing and sending forms to each other. Broadcast it live with about.me. Record it and throw it on your Youtube page. Your time is valuable too! Continue reading »
Let’s face it; the days between Christmas and New Years Day are a wasteland of rest, relaxation, and “Breaking Bad” binge watching. I know you deserve it. You got last minutes showings, closings, and paper shuffling buttoned up all while getting holiday shopping and family cat herding done. But those couple days can be productive as well, with only a couple hours within each of those days being put to good use!
December 26: Organize your clients. Shuffle your Class A, B and C peeps. Add to them your successfully-closed clients and those who were advocates for your business in the past year. For me, my “Class A” peeps were my top referrers of business and freshly-closed clients from the last year. “Class B” were those who weren’t loud raving fans, usually the families and busy folks who had their hands full living life. “Class C” were those nearing the 4- to 5-year home-cycle, plus warm leads from the previous year – all potential business for the coming year who may not know it yet.
December 27: Analyze your marketing. What worked this last year? What didn’t? What was the best bang for the buck that reached the most people in my sphere with the least amount of time, money, and energy? Cancel everything that didn’t work. Categorize your aforementioned peeps into the relevant lists in your marketing systems; at the very least into email lists.
December 28: Costco run. Pick up a couple cases of cheap champagne and bubbling cider. Full-size or cutesy individual size, whatever your budget allows. It doesn’t even need to be bubbly, pick up something that says “you” or that exemplifies your top clients. Post-holiday sales are awesome for this.
December 29 and 30: Say “Thank You” in person. Remember those “Class A” clients I mentioned? Continue reading »
Kicking off the 2013 REALTORS® Conference & Expo, members of NAR helped build 28 homes with Habitat For Humanity of Greater San Francisco on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
“These homes are a huge asset development for families,” said Phillip Kilbridge, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater San Francisco. “They can use it as a stepping stone for more education, stability, and deep engagement in their community.”
R. Brian Matza, broker and contractor with Nob Hill Realty, remembers running drills during his days as a firefighter along this narrow property adjacent to a highway in San Francisco’s Oceanview-Merced-Ingleside neighborhood.
“Because of the high housing costs in San Francisco, the affordability index is really difficult, especially for entry level,” said Matza, a San Francisco native. “Now to see this coming in here, it’s a fantastic thing and I’m happy to be part of it.”
San Francisco’s median home price hit $1 million in April – its highest level in six years, according to the San Francisco Association of REALTORS®. Kilbridge says it has become increasingly important to provide opportunities for lower income families to own a home.
Today is October 1, a big day in the world of health care reform. That’s because today’s the day the online state health insurance exchanges launch. What are the health exchanges? They’re online marketplaces—one for each state—where consumers can shop for health coverage in a way that’s intended to make comparisons easier than before.
Of course, no one has to use the online marketplaces. All the traditional ways of buying health coverage remain in place, so you can think of the online exchanges as just another option, although there’s an important caveat: Whatever coverage you buy, and however you buy it, your coverage must be a plan available on your state exchange (and a few other rules apply) for you to receive premium credits, which are a form of assistance to help you cover your costs if you meet income guidelines.
So, bottom line, if you’re eligible for premium credits (you earn 400 percent of the poverty rate or less), you can get those credits to help you offset your health insurance costs if you buy on your state exchange or if you buy outside the exchange and certain conditions are met. More details on this and other aspects of the health reform law are in a REALTOR® Magazine article, “Health Care Reform: A Guide to Your Coverage Options.”
Do you have to buy your coverage today, now that the online exchanges are launching? No, you don’t. In fact, the individual mandate, which is the part of the law that requires everyone to have health insurance or pay a penalty if they don’t qualify for an exception, doesn’t actually take effect until 2014. What you have between now and 2014 is a three-month period in which you can shop for coverage, whether you do your shopping online or in a more traditional way.
The health care law has a lot of moving parts to it, including several provisions that have already taken effect, such as Continue reading »
“New normal” is a phrase we’ve become familiar with in this post-bubble real estate industry. It describes the current landscape of home prices that are lower than their peak but still healthy and steadily rising, stricter lending standards, and continued low (albeit slightly rising) interest rates.
But if you think about it, the term “new normal” really just connotes a recent change. I should know, I just had a baby five months ago – believe me, I’m living in a new normal.
So I’d like to point out another new normal: the situation of the Millennial generation.
I’m sure you’ve read reports saying that many young adults are putting off buying a house because they’re strapped with college loan debt (which, the New York Times aptly points out, is due to rising tuition costs outpacing income levels, among other reasons). More Millennials are returning to their parents’ homes after college to save money. They’re delaying both marriage and starting a family. Many of them are still trying to decide if they ever want to get married and/or have children.
But what else do we know about Gen Y?
Yes, they have higher student loan debt than previous generations, but they’re also more highly educated. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 66.2 percent of 2012 high school graduates are enrolled in colleges or universities (71.3 percent of young women and 61.3 percent of young men), as compared to 61.7 percent of grads who went to college in 1992 and 49.2 percent 40 years ago. More are seeking higher post-graduate degrees as well. And overall, Gen Y has less debt from material items than older generations, shying away from credit cards and fancy cars.
There’s also one more thing we know about Millennials: They love houses — or at least the idea of a owning a home of their own. Continue reading »
President Barack Obama reiterated his view that a recovering housing market is essential to an improving U.S. economy in an online forum Wednesday where consumers grilled the president on his housing plans.
“Homeownership is a quintessential element of the American dream,” Obama said. “Keeping the overall economy moving in the right direction means that there’s a stronger market for homes.”
The 30-minute event, moderated by Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, was live-streamed on the White House’s Web site. Zillow fielded housing questions from consumers ahead of time via social media and selected a handful to present to Obama at the forum.
The questions covered topics such as the Home Affordable Refinance Program, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, home affordability, and the effects of student loan debt on housing. Continue reading »
Empowerment was the name of the game for Day 1 of Inman News’ Real Estate Connect in San Francisco. Consumer empowerment; technological empowerment and access; and the broker and agent DIY ethos were all on full display.
Hear It Direct kicked off the day with a panel of buyers and sellers who talked about their buy/sell experience. The group, all California-based, consisted of a multi-state housing investor, a set of move-up buyers/sellers experiencing life-changes, and a couple of first-time buyers. The common threads: There’s an information gap during the search experience, and there’s a communications gap with agents and brokerages.
All these consumers were savvy and cynical in the ways of real estate marketing, and all were visually driven, citing their need for virtual tours and numerous listing photos. The iPhone was the top tool for all, using app geolocation to view listings and open houses within their targeted search area while physically in the area. Mobile targeting of specific homes was their segue way into local, detailed information searches about the home on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The lack of features as simple as pictures on a listing signaled a problem property or a “lazy agent,” one panelist said.
These panelists performed searches for months, and in one case over a full year, before first contact with their agent. But when ready, they acted quickly to pick an agent and act upon the work they had done in the preceding months.
When it comes to communications, the panelists wanted it on their terms, quickly. They wanted to be prepared for their experience and the market and told upfront what would be expected of them. They wanted to be partners in the transaction process but said they seldom received the information they wanted or the experience they expected.
None of this was a surprise to the brokers and agents in the industry panel that followed—but these insights should be a wake-up call to brokers who aren’t in sync with such expectations, the panelists said. The industry panel included practitioners Sue Adler, CEO of HearItDirect and leader of the Sue Adler Team, Keller Williams Realty in New Jersey; Dawn Thomas, broker-associate, Intero Real Estate Services (@SVandBeyond); Michael Williamson, executive vice president and partner, John Aaroe Group; and Joe DiRaffaele, owner, DiRaffaele Group, Coldwell Banker Premier Realty in Las Vegas. They were joined by industry consultants Michael McClure and Rob Hahn and real estate tech company reps Joelle Senter of dotloop and Nick Taylor of Zillow.
Getting in sync starts with enhanced training so agents better educate clients on the nuances of the transaction. “Don’t assume [buyers and sellers] know specifics about the transaction, because they don’t,” said Williamson, adding that client customization of broker services—having the ability “…to be all things to all people…”—will be an ongoing challenge for brokers.
Rob Hahn’s last words were poignant: “All of our industry politics and inside baseball doesn’t matter to those people [the panel].”
It all boils down to hardware, design, content, and entrepreneurship shifting into a “by the people, for the people” ideology in which consumers aren’t just the end user, they’re partners in the change, said InmanNews and Real Estate Connect Founder Brad Inman in his general session keynote.
Brad’s vision has always been on consumer-centrism and making the real estate transaction easier. At the conference this week he’s using the term “future proof” to describe the resources and tools that will take us to that vision.
Innovation is coming from all direction—and entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need venture capitalists and angel investors to acquire the capital to launch a company or product, Brad told the audience yesterday. These “misfits… rebels… and troublemakers…” as he calls them, can now crowdsource for funds by taking concepts directly to users for cash via kickstarter.com and the like.
So, are you feeling empowered?
The Super Bowl is less than a week away and fans are abuzz in anticipation for the “HarBowl” or the “SuperBaugh,” as the matchup between San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens pits sibling coaches against one another.
But football in general is a family affair — especially among viewers. According to Century 21’s Big Game Survey conducted in December, 84 percent of Americans watch the game from the comfort of their own home, a friend’s home, or a family member’s home.
“It gives us an unprecedented opportunity to tell our story in front of the largest TV viewing audience of the year,” said Century 21 Chief Marketing Officer Bev Thorne. “What’s great is it’s set in the home, which is the heart and soul of the services we offer.”
Drawing a record 111.3 million viewers last year, Super Bowl game day has evolved into a celebrated multimedia phenomenon, infiltrating YouTube channels, Facebook statuses, and Twitter feeds. It’s also a big game day for advertisers — and Century 21 is in the huddle again this year.
Last year, they became the first real estate company to advertise during the Super Bowl in 21 years. The commercial featured Donald Trump, Deion Sanders, and Apolo Anton Ohno working with a Century 21 agent who does it “Smarter. Bolder. Faster.”
“Because [the Super Bowl] brings together friends and family in a very familial environment, it’s a great opportunity for lots of conversation, so we’re putting our Century 21 agents in the middle of those conversations,” Thorne said.
Super Bowl advertisers paying between $3.7 million and $3.8 million per 30-second ad spot. For Century 21, that investment paid off in 2012. Continue reading »
At a briefing during the group’s annual conference, NAHB Vice President of Survey and Housing Policy Research Paul Emrath was upbeat about the recovery of housing targeted toward seniors and baby boomers. He noted in particular that builder confidence in new, single family homes in the 55-plus market tripled in the third quarter of 2012 as compared to the same time in 2011.
“Everything is up, year-over-year,” Emrath said. “It’s an indication that we’re starting to dig out of the hole we fell into in 2009.”
In NAHB’s forecast, boomers and seniors are projected to grow their share of the market over the next few years. By 2020, the group expects the market share of U.S. households in the 55-plus age bracket to grow more than four percent, to 46.6 percent.
Yet Emrath warned that the future of NAHB’s reporting on boomer and senior markets is in peril because the Census Bureau changed the way that they collect generational information.
“The forecast that you just saw is at risk right now,” Emrath said. “When I get back to Washington, I’m going to spend a lot of time writing letters trying to persuade [HUD and the Census Bureau] that they were misguided in removing these 55-plus questions from their surveys.”
In addition to the economic data, Emrath hit a few of the boomer and senior highlights of NAHB’s new consumer preference survey, called What Home Buyers Really Want. Continue reading »