Affordability Index Another Positive Factor for Housing

Published by Jim Droz

If you work primarily with buyers, you’ve probably used historically low interest rates as one of the carrots to dangle in front of potential clients. Now there’s even more positive food for thought to offer in the form of a recent National Association of Realtors report showing housing affordability at its highest level since records started being kept in 1970.

NAR’s Housing Affordability Index rose to a record high 206.1 early this year, based on the relationship between median home price, median family income and average mortgage interest rate. The higher the index, the greater the household purchasing power. And the more positive figures you have to show your prospects, the greater the possibility they’ll work with you to get a deal done.

The high affordability figure, an improving jobs outlook and the holding steady of low interest rates have many agents optimistically looking ahead and letting their clients know about it. Continue reading “Affordability Index Another Positive Factor for Housing”

13 Months of Persistence Finally Paying Off

Published by Jim Droz

Want fries with that? That question isn’t in many real estate agent handbooks, but when things got especially tough for Josh Herbel he started serving food at a restaurant to make ends meet.

Now after thinking about quitting his day job Herbel can’t wait to exit his night job because of a market turnaround in the California desert region of Rancho Mirage. Much of his optimism springs from a $1.25 million transaction that resulted from a HouseHunt lead, two more strong possibilities on the horizon and a pipeline that includes at least a dozen prospects he’s actively in touch with.

“This has finally given me the freedom where I can get things going in the right direction and cut down from five nights to two nights to zero nights a week as fast as possible,” Herbel said about his night shifts at the restaurant. “Thank you HouseHunt. That $25,000 commission check will be pretty sweet.”

Herbel, who has been a licensed agent since 2006, started in the real estate business when things began turning south all across the country.

“People were starting to get pessimistic about the bubble starting to burst and homes were going to go down in value, so I kind of caught it at the start of the downfall, and then 2007 was just a horrible year, followed by a bunch of years with not much happening,” Herbelsaid. “But I knew it was going to turn around and that I needed to get out there and get some advertising and marketing help and HouseHunt seemed to be the best option at the time and, wow, I’m glad I went with it because I can definitely see the results panning out.”

Continue reading “13 Months of Persistence Finally Paying Off”

Get Blogging Right with the Write Stuff

By Jaime Westman

If you’re a real estate agent there’s a good chance you didn’t major in English or world literature in college. And that’s OK because the type of writing you need to do to get noticed doesn’t require grand prose or a never-ending supply of flowery adjectives.

When it comes to blogging, you basically need to be yourself and write about things you enjoy about your community, such as the views, historic neighborhoods, parks, churches, schools or social activities. If you want your blog to be well received, you should post articles that are important with an informative and entertaining flair. Only posting listings could turn interested homebuyers off; they also want news and information that will affect them and their family if they decide to work with you and move to your area.

Blogging, if done correctly and with some wit, will generate leads for your business if you capture each lead in your contact management system and assign them to a drip e-mail or marketing plan. You should also devote enough time to drive traffic to your site and share your posts on social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, in addition to sites popular with Realtors and homebuyers and sellers. Continue reading “Get Blogging Right with the Write Stuff”

Negotiation Tactics

Published by Jim Droz

Any job involving sales will undoubtedly involve wheeling and dealing along the line. But the negotiation process for real estate agents the past few years has been elevated dramatically because of the up-and-down state of the market, interest rates and economy in general. Negotiating can be artful and strategic, in addition to nerve wracking and frustrating.

Successful negotiators know the importance of preparedness. Local real estate conditions should be right in your wheelhouse, so use them to your advantage and cite updated figures whenever possible. Beyond the financial numbers, figures such as how long a house has been on the market or why the seller put it there are essential things to know in pricing negotiations. Other facts and figures to know, depending on the transaction, include local legal and zoning issues regarding housing, recent development proposals, the quality of the school districts and possible property tax increases and special assessments expected in the near future.

When it comes to sitting down at the table, it’s important to keep your cool and act professionally. Be calm because it doesn’t benefit either participant to upset the dialogue with escalated emotions. Equally important is to be assertive and passionate about staying on track toward getting a fair deal done for both the buyer and seller. Remember, it’s not personal, so check emotions at the door and be professional at all times. Explain your side of the bargaining table and then ask the opposing party to present all their facts and figures to support their position. Once you have all the facts, you then attempt to create a favorable situation based upon what you know.

Here are some other tidbits to keep in mind:

Pay attention: Just as real estate is all about location, location, location, it’s important to listen, listen and listen some more before and during negotiations. Then remove the personal feelings and concentrate on getting a deal done with what you’ve learned.

Trading places: Take a look at things from the other person’s perspective. By doing that, each side is more likely to ease off on their demands to a point where the terms are mutually agreeable.

Keep it positive: No matter the tone in private, give your client and the opposing side the information in a positive way. As an agent, never say anything bad about the buyer or seller. Keep the negotiation informational.

Look ahead: Create a compelling and positive vision by having your client imagine what it will feel like to move on and what his or her life will be like when that happens.

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Colorado Agent Answers the Calls to help his Area’s Military Personnel

Published by Jim Droz

Scott Ignatius isn’t on active duty but he feels a duty to be active when it comes to finding housing for military personnel in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“I enjoy working with these guys and their families who are based at Fort Carson,” said Ignatius, a HouseHunt agent who focuses on that section of the city. “Military personnel have enough to worry about. Helping them with their housing needs is the least I can do. They’re always coming and going, so things have to be done quickly a lot of the times. It’s part of the job and the reason I enjoy doing it.”

Ignatius said quick responses to leads and inquiries with phone calls and e-mails are important, as is being flexible and creative.

“Sometimes we sell houses to military guys in Iraq or Afghanistan whose wives are here and have power of attorney,” he said. “We’ll take a video of a house they want to buy, upload it on YouTube and e-mail it to them for viewing. Then we can handle the paperwork on this end. We have to be very flexible and creative when it comes to our business, but we do whatever we can to make the customer happy.”

Ignatius also knows the drill when it comes to working leads, whether they involve military personnel, the public or employees at the Air Force Academy. Of the 12 methods he employs to attract and maintain business – which includes past clients, referrals, multiple websites and helping military families obtain VA financing – his affiliation with HouseHunt the past six years has been especially beneficial. Continue reading “Colorado Agent Answers the Calls to help his Area’s Military Personnel”

Improving market conditions! Is it happening in your city?

Published by Jim Droz

Ah, spring is in the air. Time for a young Realtor’s fancy to turn to … improving market conditions! Is it happening in your city? Hopefully it is, because things apparently are booming and blooming in a number of areas, according to a HouseHunt agent survey.

Whether the uptick in numbers and attitudes from the first quarter of 2012 continues hinges on a variety of issues, but any sign of life has to be taken as a positive, right? Now if only the government can refrain from mucking things up.

Much of the upbeat attitude from HouseHunt’s report stems from tighter inventory and listings moving more quickly off the market. Of agents reporting, 38 percent said inventory was tight in their cities, compared to 13 percent at the beginning of 2011, and 30 percent reported houses selling in 60 days or less, compared to 10 percent last year. Continue reading “Improving market conditions! Is it happening in your city?”

Sellers Still Need to Have Realistic Expectations on Pricing

Published by Jim Droz

No matter what kind of market we’re in – and signs are pointing to a shift away from one heavily favoring buyers – it’s important to set the right price from the outset. As a real estate agent you know this, but good luck convincing a stubborn client who views the price-rising trend as an opportunity to ask for the moon.

Being swayed by such thinking is simply setting everyone up for a fall. And your seller needs to hear this … in a gentle yet convincing manner. The only time to even think about venturing into the “start high and come down later if necessary” portion of the playbook is in a market environment where prices are rapidly moving up and inventory is extremely low. And even though national surveys and reports, including one by HouseHunt, show some stabilization and parts of the country where inventory is shrinking, we’re not to that stage yet.

“This market is definitely turning around again to the healthy status that it was in the mid-2000s,” said Meg Russell, a real estate agent in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. “We’ve definitely hit the bottom in pricing, and I think buyers know that.”

Still, the transition to a middle ground regarding buyers and sellers is likely to be gradual. Continue reading “Sellers Still Need to Have Realistic Expectations on Pricing”

National Realtor Group Urges Caution with REO Rental Plans

Published by Jim Droz

Real estate owned (REO) properties could make banks and lenders landlords under a rental plan given the go-ahead by the Federal Reserve. The idea is to help some of the institutions it supervises clear foreclosed properties from their books.

The plan, which would take place “at the earliest practicable date,” is seen as necessary by the Federal Reserve because mortgage delinquency rates remain “stubbornly high” and millions of more properties are expected to be foreclosed on in coming years. If the banks feel they can make more money renting the houses rather than sell them – possibly at a loss – they have the Federal Reserve’s blessing.

But the plan hasn’t received the backing of the National Association of Realtors, which is mostly critical of the plan.

“Investors are already absorbing much of the nation’s housing inventory, and Realtors are concerned that a bulk sale or rental program in areas where such a program is unnecessary could delay or impede local market recoveries,” NAR president Moe Vessi said in a statement. “Realtors know their markets, and the demand is clearly out there.”

That demand is showing up on some national reports and outlooks, including a first-quarter survey conducted by HouseHunt Inc. that showed inventory tightening and multiple offers on houses increasing, among other trends. Continue reading “National Realtor Group Urges Caution with REO Rental Plans”

Name Recognition is Important to Attracting and Keeping Clients

Published by Jim Droz

Before the Internet took over our lives and marketing, Realtors actually had to get out in the world, interact and see what the other guys were doing to drum up business. Those who did so discovered that the most successful agents were the ones with whom clients and prospects were most familiar. Business just seemed to flow to the agents who stood above the crowd. They weren’t known because they were successful; they were successful because they were known.

It’s a philosophy that still works today, but we now have even more tools and gadgets to get our personalities and messages across. Building a recognition base is mainly sticking to a program of constructive and repetitive exposure. The goal is to become so well known that when a consumer hears the words “real estate” or is finally ready to buy a house, your name or image immediately pops to mind.

Once you set a marketing and promotional budget, establish a priority list for related expenditures that might include customer service, client retention, electronic marketing, current condition releases, testimonials, signage, target marketing, direct marketing, mass media marketing, publication advertising and miscellaneous recognition tools. Continue reading “Name Recognition is Important to Attracting and Keeping Clients”

Rising Gas Prices

Published by Jim Droz

The good news for real estate agents is that market prices in some areas are starting to increase a smidge; the bad news is that gas prices beat houses to the punch. And then some. Skyrocketing prices at the pump are taking a toll on people who drive a lot, and that definitely includes agents who want to give their clients the level of service they feel they need but are paying more to get the job done.

So what to do? Driving less is one option, but that could mean skipping an open house and not driving clients to listings and neighborhoods you know they might be interested in. Buying a more fuel-efficient car is another possibility, but unless you’re in need of new wheels, that’s a pretty costly move. You could also try to handle most of your business and communication online a couple days each week, but we all know that things pop up during the day that need your immediate attention – in person.

Technology is great, but face time is crucial to the people business of real estate. And although it’s also competitive, sharing a ride with other agents sounds odd but might be a good habit to develop if you keep running into the same people at broker tours of houses in your area. If the previews typically occur on the same day of the week and you generally enjoy the company of the people you frequently see, why not bring up the idea with a peer or two? Every little bit counts, and you can discuss certain trends and conditions while hopping from tour to tour or event to event. Continue reading “Rising Gas Prices”