HouseHunt Network

A Blog for Real Estate Agents

Month: July 2011 (Page 1 of 3)

Agents get slight mileage deduction help for second half of 2011

By Jim Droz

Most real estate agents and brokers spend a lot of time in their car, with some agents logging more than 20,000 miles a year for business purposes alone.

Fortunately, local transportation costs are deductible as business operating expenses if they are ordinary and necessary for your real estate business. It makes no difference what type of transportation you use – car, SUV, limousine, motorcycle, taxi – or whether the vehicle you use is owned or leased.

If you drive a car, SUV or van for business, you have two options for deducting your vehicle expenses: use the standard mileage rate or deduct your actual expenses for gas, depreciation and other driving costs.
Most people use the standard mileage rate because it is simpler and requires less record keeping: You need only to keep track of how many business miles you drive, not the actual expenses for your car, such as the amount you pay for gas.

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Firm reports a stabilization of ‘normal’ home prices

By Jim Droz

Prices of “normal” homes — those that aren’t foreclosures or short sales — are stabilizing and the numbers of future foreclosures are falling. That “sliver of good news for consumer spending” was included in CoreLogic’s July report on housing and market trends.

In May 2011, the firm’s Home Price Index excluding distressed sales only dropped 0.4 percent from a year ago, compared to a decline of 7.4 percent for the all transactions measured by the HPI. Even while including distressed sales, the HPI increased between March and April — the first time in more than six months — and was up again between April and May.

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Metro area foreclosures are down, but sluggishness continues

By Jim Droz

Foreclosures declined in more than 84 percent of U.S. metro areas during the first half of the year, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties. But that doesn’t mean these markets are staging a turnaround.

“These dramatic decreases indicate the foreclosure pipeline continues to be clogged in many local markets across the country,” said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio, whose firm reported in July that the national foreclosure rate fell 29 percent over the past 12 months.

Much of that backlog, he said, is due to a glut of already-foreclosed properties that the banks are having a hard time selling and to the slowdown in the processing of foreclosures. The biggest decline in foreclosures has come in judicial foreclosure states where defaults go through the courts and paperwork is scrutinized by judges.

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Making technology your friend will help grow your client list

By Jaime Westman

The pace of adoption for new technologies has exponentially quickened in the Internet era, and managing the many channels of online conversations can be vital to promoting and protecting your professional brand and reputation.

Ryan Holmes, CEO for HootSuite, a social media dashboard that aggregates content from several social and business networks, noted this week that Google’s new social play, Google+, gained 10 million users in about 15 days.

“Social is very fast-moving and very fast-growing,” he said. “It is the most prolific communication medium in the history of mankind.”

And that makes monitoring – and participating in – online conversations even more vital, said Holmes, whose mother worked in real estate. “There’s a lot going on. People are mentioning your company, your business. You need a way to look at how you listen to this conversation. It can be overwhelming.”

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Report says pending home sales rise unexpectedly

By Jim Droz

Pending sales of existing U.S. homes unexpectedly rose in June from May and rose sharply from a year ago, data from a real estate trade group showed on Thursday.

The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in June, was up 2.4 percent to 90.9 from 88.8 in May. The index was up 19.8 percent from a year ago.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the report were expecting pending home sales to fall 2 percent.

The association’s senior economist, Lawrence Yun, said the latest monthly reading shows tight credit and economic uncertainty is still constricting the market.

“The best way to ensure a more solid recovery in housing is to simply return to normal, sound credit standards so more creditworthy home buyers can get a mortgage,” he said.

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