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Updated: 5 min 12 sec ago

Thoughts on Leadership: In Defense of Downtime

3 hours 10 min ago

This week my travels find me at home (of course), meeting virtually with our teams around the world.

As I like to say, when you’re at work, be at work. When you’re off, be off. It’s just as important to be in the moment during your downtime as it is to be focused during go-time when you’re working hard with team members to execute and accomplish your goals

The concept of work and downtime came up just this week. Mike Frazier, a great leader and the president/CEO of ReeceNichols, said he was committing to checking his email twice per day on his upcoming vacation.

I said, “Mike, maybe think about this: Set your auto reply to let recipients know that from this date until this date you’ll be checking your email once per day.”

A lot of people get tense if they completely shut off their email, wondering what kind of messages they’re receiving or what information they’re missing. By checking once per day, you can stay in the loop, spend a dedicated amount of time reviewing your emails and then deal with whatever you don’t get to the next morning.

For example, I vacation a lot with my family in Hawaii, which is three hours behind California time, (where my home base is) and six hours behind the East Coast. So, whenever I’m in Hawaii, I get up before anyone in my family and spend 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. checking my emails as my daily check-in. I know some of you are reading this and thinking, Gino, you’re up at 5 a.m. during your vacation? And yes, I am. I usually have the opportunity to take a nap in the afternoon while on vacation anyway, so the 5 a.m. wake-up doesn’t feel inconvenient.

In the modern world, (and especially in today’s new fully digital world) it’s hard to really ever disconnect. Time off becomes much trickier in this environment of hyper-connectivity, where we’re just one app away from diving right back into a project or replying to dozens of emails. There’s an argument to be made for drawing more distinct lines around work and non-work, especially when spending time outdoors, exercising and relaxing with family can actually increase your productivity and focus when you do return to the office. As writers Jackie Coleman and John Coleman explained in an article for Harvard Business Review: “There’s an upside to downtime.”

Ferris Jabr, author of “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime,” said this about dedicating yourself to real downtime: “Downtime is in fact essential to mental processes that affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behavior and instill an internal code of ethics…downtime is an opportunity for the brain to make sense of what it has recently learned, to surface fundamental unresolved tensions in our lives and to swivel its powers of reflection away from the external world toward itself.”

So, what’s the message? Downtime is important not only for its physical benefits on your well-being, ability to boost productivity in the long-term and biological capacity for helping our brains process information, it’s also a critical element of self-reflection and ideation. Ideas incubate in the space between…it’s why you experience an epiphany while brushing your teeth, in the shower, out on a jog or walking your dog. Downtime affords us the necessary breathing room our brains require to sift through information and formulate it to fit the execution of our goals.

This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.


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Keeping Up With Changes and Modifications to Real Estate Theory and Practice

Wed, 07/08/2020 - 12:43

NAR’s RSPS certification provides real estate professionals the knowledge they need to thrive

A self-proclaimed “education junkie,” Joanne Chando has a passion for professionalism. Licensed real estate broker and chief edutainment officer of Joanne Chando Productions, Chando’s professional education has played a central role in her ability to survive—and thrive—no matter the market. Having earned 20-plus designations/certifications throughout her career, Chando points to the National Association of REALTORS® Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) certification as a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to keeping up with the changes and modifications to real estate theory and practice.

“With so many licensees, it’s essential that real estate professionals stay on top of trends and changes so that when they are prospecting, meeting with a new buyer or working with a seller, they have the most current information available to them,” says Chando.

Committed to the importance of the real estate profession, Chando earned the RSPS certification in 2016. Today, she teaches RSPS certification courses to real estate professionals who not only want to learn, but also crave to be the very best.

“I love teaching the live RSPS certification course and watching all the little lightbulbs start going off over my students’ heads,” says Chando.

“Whether you work in a traditional resort or second-home area or not, the RSPS education gives you a broad base of knowledge of the many market concepts that can be translated to your local market and customer needs,” she adds.

In addition to providing the knowledge needed to stay ahead of the competition, the RSPS certification also helps real estate professionals diversify their portfolio of investment properties.

“The RSPS certification guides the associate from the idea of investing in a second-home, income/investment property or resort property through to realization,” says Chando. “RSPS helps clarify the thinking process—whether for themselves or to guide their customers—points them in the direction of getting further professional advice, as well as what the repercussions may be if the market suddenly changes.”

The course was recently updated in December 2019, making it even more pertinent to today’s real estate professionals.

“The timing of updating the RSPS course couldn’t have been better,” says Chando. “We looked at the many changes in the tax laws, 1031-exchanges and estate wealth transference along with the demographic changes of the customer base to address their needs more finely.”

Given the current climate, according to Chando, having a thorough understanding of investment properties and their traditionally longer horizon can help reduce the fear and stress of surviving as we work toward a new normal.

To that end, REBAC’s Real Estate Investing: Build Wealth Representing Investors and Becoming One Yourself course plays a key role.

“The REBAC course speaks our language,” says Chando. “It takes some very complicated concepts and breaks them down to practical knowledge. The course trains the associate to help build a team of professionals who can assist their customer in building an investment portfolio. It also shows the associate how to find and approach investors by developing a niche market.”

For more information, please visit Note: The RSPS online course is 30-percent off through NAR’s Right Tools, Right Now initiative until Aug. 31, 2020.

Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to

The post Keeping Up With Changes and Modifications to Real Estate Theory and Practice appeared first on RISMedia.

Ice Pops and Cream Pops Make an Easy, Cool Summer Snack

Wed, 07/08/2020 - 12:39

(TNS)—Technically, we aren’t supposed to call them “popsicles.” That’s a registered trademark. But ice pops, creamy pops made with milk or yogurt, and other fruity desserts-on-a-stick are having a moment. You might be seeing them pop up on your Instagram feed, in bright colors, made with orange and mango, and filled with pieces of fruit.

Because pops are versatile and easy to make, it’s worth it to try them at home, says baking and dessert blogger Vallery Lomas.

You need only fruit juice, or iced tea, and whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have on hand. You can add milk, cream, chocolate or even the last of that swig of St. Germain or bourbon if that’s what it takes to cool off.

Lomas recently posted an Instagram video class for her blueberry, Greek yogurt and coconut milk pops.

“I started making popsicles because I lived in an apartment with no air-conditioning,” Lomas said. “I like them for a summertime breakfast or snack because I can control what’s in it. I get good fat from the yogurt and it keeps me full.”

Ice pops also a make a good cooking project for kids, allowing them to combine fruits, even though freezing and unmolding time do require a bit of patience.

Pops are also great for serving at a social distance. Just grab a stick and keep it moving.

Here are some tips for making your own pops:

Molds: You can find ice pop molds at home goods stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $13. To remove the pops from the molds, run hot water over the mold just until the pop releases. Once the pops are removed, return them to the freezer briefly to set.

Storage: Don’t store the pops in the molds because you’ll have a hard time removing them. Instead, put them in zipper bags where they will keep about two weeks.

Instagram-worthy pops: Get your pops ready for social posts by adding extra fruit or even edible flowers to the mold before pouring in the liquid. Lomas says you can make pops pretty by giving them a garden atmosphere using lavender sprigs or lemon thyme leaves.

“If I was having a socially distant backyard party, I would serve beautiful popsicles,” she said.

Fruit pops: You’ll need about 2 cups of fresh or frozen fruit, 1\2 cup of orange or apple juice and 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar, honey or other sweetener. Puree the ingredients in a blender, then pour into molds. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to preserve the color of peaches and mango.

Creamy pops: A cup of Greek yogurt and 1\2 cup of milk can serve as the base for creamy pops. Feel free to use coconut water, soy or almond milk. You can add whole fruit to this base, or put all the ingredients into a blender and puree, then pour into molds.

Layered pops: Let each layer of fruit puree or creamy pop mixture set in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before adding the next flavor. Be sure to keep other purees refrigerated while layers are setting.

Blueberry-Coconut Greek Yogurt Pops — Makes 10

1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) Greek yogurt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) full fat coconut milk
4 tablespoons granulated sugar•, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

*Honey can instead of sugar, and adjust to taste

In a large bowl, combine the Greek yogurt with the coconut milk and 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey. Stir vigorously until you have a smooth consistency. Taste and add more sweetener, if desired. Set aside.

Make the blueberry sauce by combining the blueberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar or honey in a small pot. Cook over medium heat until the blueberries start to break down. Stir and continue cooking until it reaches a jamlike consistency. Remove from heat.

Place a tablespoon of the yogurt mixture in each mold. Add a tablespoon of blueberry sauce. Top with another tablespoon of the yogurt. Continue alternating until the mold is nearly full. Place the top on the mold and add the sticks. Freeze for six hours.

Once the ice pops are completely frozen, place the mold under running water so that they will loosen. Remove and enjoy immediately, or place in the freezer in an air-tight container with parchment paper dividing each row. These are an easy grab-and-go breakfast for summer, or a cool treat for any time of day.

*Recipe courtesy of Vallery Lomas;

©2020 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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5 Options for Dealing With Debt

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 13:08

NAR PULSE—Encourage your agents to join the Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness’ webinar on July 15 at 1 p.m. CT. They’ll learn strategies for eliminating and managing debt, the financial, credit and tax ramifications, and more. They can register and view past recordings at

RPR Resources Are Available!
Earn the Little Orange Book: Sales and Marketing Rules to Live By for REALTORS® for FREE through the Members Value Plus (MVP) Program when you utilize any Realtor Property Resource® (RPR) resource offered in the Right Tools, Right Now program.  Act by July 15!

Increase Marketability and Boost Business
Encourage your agents to compete in your State Association’s 2020 C2EX Challenge! By earning their C2EX Endorsements your agents gain a competitive advantage and can position themselves as experts in the field that hold themselves to the highest standards. Get started at

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Customizing the Tech Engine for Maximum Results

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 13:07

Lamacchia Realty Launches Powerhouse Platform

If there’s one thing that’s become crystal clear for businesses in the wake of the coronavirus, it’s that technology is inextricably linked to success—in times of crisis and otherwise.


Anthony Lamacchia, CEO of Lamacchia Companies and broker/owner of Lamacchia Realty, serving the Boston metro region, realized this fact long before the impact of the pandemic when he set out to develop an internal tech engine designed for the unique needs of his business model. As Lamacchia says, “I wanted it to have everything an agent, our staff and our leadership team could need.”

This past January, he officially launched LamacchiaHUB, a private-label, all-in-one technology platform that systematizes operations for managers, agents and employees, creating critical efficiencies and enhancing the capability to do business company-wide.

A Personalized Powerhouse
According to Lamacchia, despite the fact that a sea of existing technology already floods the market, it all fell a bit short. “We would’ve needed to buy 10 systems to do what we wanted to accomplish,” he explains. “Some systems are good when the lead comes in, but terrible with transaction management. Others are good with transactions and terrible with leads. I wanted a platform that would work completely from end-to-end—from lead to closing.”


LamacchiaHUB is the culmination of that goal. According to Lamacchia Companies’ Vice President of Finance, Sarah Chaisson—the firm’s first employee who came on board 15 years ago—the company had experimented with a variety of off-the-shelf technologies over the years, but ultimately, none fit the bill.

“We had internal people on one system and agents on another system, and that posed a lot of problems,” explains Chaisson. “That’s when we started talking about creating our own system that both agents and staff could use. We had heard a lot about Salesforce, and they helped us customize the system so that it would serve as a total transaction management platform, from the second an agent gets a lead to the time a property closes, and then afterwards to stay in touch.”

Chaisson began sowing the seeds for LamacchiaHUB in 2014, and spearheaded the effort with the help of Business Systems Engineer John “Oz” Remby.


“We recognized that we needed something that was cloud-based to be readily accessible to all staff and agents at all times and on all devices,” explains Remby. “We decided to build our CRM on the Salesforce Platform because of its inherent ability to be fully customizable, to grow and scale with our business.”

After spending five years and more than a million dollars creating a platform that is truly unique to Lamacchia Realty, the system was rebranded as LamacchiaHUB. “It is tailored 100 percent to the way we do business,” says Remby. “We can make the tool do what we need it to do, rather than having to conform to the tool because of limitations in the technology.”

“Our office staff, management, agents—everyone in the whole company is now using this same platform, yet it meets all the specific needs of different departments,” explains Chaisson.


LamacchiaHUB is a game-changer for agents. According to Lamacchia Realty top producer Michelle Wesson, “This customizes what agents and the administration needs. It’s dramatically changed my business.”

Wesson was among an advisory group of 10 agents who were closely involved in the development and testing of LamacchiaHUB, a key factor in its ultimate success.

“Everyone in the company has had a say in how the platform works and the features that go into it,” says Remby. “Literally every day, I get ideas or requests from leadership, staff and agents. The end result is a collaborative effort. This helps us ensure the tool is something everyone wants to use, not has to use.”

The platform has facilitated critical operational efficiencies and transparencies, says Chaisson. “We would need to have more people on staff if it wasn’t for this system,” she explains. “From the second they put a property under agreement, agents can see all the tasks they need to do on specific days. They will also see their commission split so they’re not questioning what they’ll get paid on a transaction. The platform also gives them access to different dashboards so they can see their performance this year versus last year and how much they need to sell to bump up to the next commission bracket. It’s literally laid out for them in black and white.”

A Competitive Edge in the New Normal
In the time of coronavirus, a tool like LamacchiaHUB gives agents a much-needed advantage as they navigate new market realities.

“I think it gives them a big competitive edge,” says Lamacchia. “It walks them through the transaction start to finish. It enables them to track all of their clients and keep in touch.”

Remby also emphasizes the system’s ability to help agents track the full lifecycle of a client’s transaction, thanks to the program’s built-in automation. “Agents can enter in leads and nurture them all the way to clients, then track their client’s transactions from start to finish. They can then continue to re-engage with past clients to stay top-of-mind for repeat business,” he says. “It’s especially helpful for agents who are new to real estate and/or those new to Lamacchia and our process. Even our seasoned agents find this extremely helpful to make sure each transaction is completed to a high standard.”

Wesson has experienced this capability first-hand. “The platform allows us to follow a buyer or seller through the transaction from beginning to end,” she explains, “providing reminders that are needed to keep us on track. This helps us make sure we’re meeting all of our deadlines.”

Since the system is cloud-based, agents and staff can access LamacchiaHUB from anywhere, especially important in today’s work-from-home era. “Agents can hop on their laptop at home, then log in from a computer at one of our offices if they need to do a little work there. Then they can open it up on their phone while in-between showing appointments,” explains Remby.

LamacchiaHUB also incorporates a groundbreaking property search tool, LamacchiaLinks, which allows agents to enter the search criteria of a buyer to discover matching listings of other Lamacchia agents. This includes properties not yet on the market, giving agents an important competitive advantage in a tight-inventory environment. Listing agents can pull a list of buyer clients and leads that are looking for the exact properties they are trying to sell.

“Our MLS login, property records, etc., are all very easy to access through LamacchiaLinks without ever leaving the platform,” says Wesson. “This is such a time saver. It allows us to use our time in the most effective way.”

More Important Now Than Ever Before
LamacchiaHUB helps agents run their business and stay connected, which is more valuable than ever in a time when in-person contact has been limited.

“One of the many things Anthony emphasizes is to stay top-of-mind with clients, your sphere and past clients,” says Wesson. “With this system, we can do that in a much more time-efficient manner.”

“The thing I love most about LamacchiaHUB is that you can’t forget to do something,” says Chaisson. “Everything is literally laid out for you step-by-step from the moment the lead comes in. This will help agents stay organized, be more efficient and do more business.”

For more information, please visit

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

The post Customizing the Tech Engine for Maximum Results appeared first on RISMedia.

Ask the Experts: Taking Care of Your Home Inspection While Following Proper Guidelines for COVID-19

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 13:06

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president and CEO of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®.

Dan Steward
President and CEO
Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®

Q: This is certainly the most unusual of times. How is Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® handling customers and business in the wake of COVID-19?

A: This is something none of us has ever experienced, although there have been other disasters and trying times for our industry. Like every other business is likely to say, the health and safety of our customers is our highest priority. As such, we are diligently monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), Health Canada and medical professionals to ensure we are taking the necessary steps to protect our customers. During this time, wherever possible, and only with customers’ comfort and approval, Pillar To Post remains open and committed to providing a best-in-class home inspection that helps clients turn a house into a home.

Q: How do you minimize contact and keep the proper distance while conducting home inspections?

A: Fortunately, we have years and years of experience building solid relationships with REALTORS®, and, in most cases, we can use a lockbox to enter without even having to see a REALTOR® or homeowner. If the homeowner is “sheltering in place,” we follow all safety and distancing protocols and keep it to a one-person job.

Q: Why should people continue with home inspections or other semi-essential services?

A: We feel that people are going through enough, as are our home inspectors. They are all small business owners who would like to get on with a task that will bring everyone a step closer to getting back to a normal life. While following all safety guidelines, our home inspection is just one more large task that people can move forward with. At a time when many items and services have to be put on hold, it’s great to keep up with those that can be managed. This causes less stress and allows people to feel less “behind” on life.

Q: Where do you see the other side of this crisis?

A: Hopefully, we will all have learned a lot about personal distance, safety, helping others in a time of need and putting proper protocols in place for an unlikely event such as this. We at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors will certainly have lots of catching up to do, as will most companies. We are strong. We are a franchise system with a large network, and one of our strongest advantages is the support we give each other and our customers.

On behalf of both myself and the entire Pillar To Post Home Inspectors family, since the horrific death of George Floyd this past May, our thoughts have been with his family, but also on the civil unrest we are all facing in these times. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors has a reputation for diversity, and we are proud to have launched small businesses for many minorities who are among those looking for the American Dream. This dream often includes owning their first home, and, in our case, owning their own business. We want to be there to support everyone looking for a chance at these dreams. We support freedom and justice for all.

For more information, please visit

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Home Prices Could Cool This Summer, Says CoreLogic

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 13:05

While May home prices increased, according to the latest CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) and HPI Forecast, this summer could experience a cooldown. In May, home prices increased by 4.8 percent on a national level YoY. From April, they increased 0.7 percent.

The local markets varied widely. In Philadelphia, for example, single-family home prices increased 7.7 percent in May YoY, but in San Francisco, they only increased 1.1 percent.

By June, however, CoreLogic expects price growth to stall and stay that way through the summer. According to the CoreLogic HPI Forecast, month-over-month, prices may decrease 0.1 percent in June, and they could decrease by 6.6 percent by May 2021. Areas with a tourism economy could get hit harder; Las Vegas home prices are expected to decline by 20.1 percent by May 2021. Meanwhile, where market conditions are considered normal, the decline should be smaller, as in San Diego, where home prices are anticipated to drop by just 1.3 percent in the next 12 months.

The CoreLogic Market Risk Indicator (MRI) predicts that the following areas will experience a decline in home prices in the next 12 months: Prescott, Ariz.; Lake Havasu, Ariz.; Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Ala.; and Naples and Crestview-Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

“Pending sales and home-purchase loan applications are higher than in June of last year and reflect the buying activity of millennials,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “By the end of summer, buying will slacken and we expect home prices will show declines in metro areas that have been especially hard hit by the recession.”

“Home-purchase activity, bolstered by record-low interest rates, continues to exceed expectations despite the severe recession,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Pent-up buyer demand was delayed from spring to summer and is reflected in the latest price data. But with elevated unemployment, purchase activity and home prices could fall off after summer.”

For more information, please visit

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In Crisis Response, Culture Is Everything

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 13:01

Shawn Krause, EVP, Quicken Loans

For businesses around the globe, the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered an immediate need to rapidly shift to a virtual work environment. While a monumental challenge for many firms, Quicken Loans® flawlessly transitioned some 18,000 employees to remote work situations. Here, Executive Vice President Shawn Krause explains how the team was able to keep operations flowing…and, more importantly, keep the Quicken Loans family safe.

Maria Patterson: Shawn, could you please describe your role at Quicken Loans.
Shawn Krause: I’ve been at the company for nearly 29 years. I just recently came off a 10-year stint in Washington, D.C., where I worked on government advocacy. I started as a loan processor in 1991 and have done many things over the years, including leading our Capital Markets team, leading the Technology team, and many things related to process improvement. Basically, whenever something needs figuring out, I love to go in and help figure it out!

MP: So when did the company’s response to the coronavirus crisis first kick in?
In January, our business continuity people gave us an update on the pandemic. We kicked our response into high gear in mid-to-late February. We determined from the beginning that everyone who could work from home would. Anyone deemed critical to the infrastructure remained on site—about 500 team members, mostly those who use large machines and equipment that we couldn’t put in people’s homes. The other 98 percent of the company’s 18,000 team members were sent to work from home. We had almost all of those team members home by March 13.

MP: How did you ensure those who remained on site stayed safe?
We took a building that had 2,000 people down to a few hundred, so physical distancing wasn’t a problem. We also had lunch brought in for them every day and made sure they had up-close parking spots.

MP: How did you transition 18,000 people to work from home?
First of all, we had an awesome group of team members working on this. Everyone worked together to get to the ultimate goal of keeping our team members safe. One example is the fact that our event team set up a drive-through to get everyone the equipment they needed to work from home. We had a new team of people going through every day. We’ve gotten great feedback from our team members about how quick and organized we were in setting up the project. It is such a great example of all of our ‘ISMs’ working together. Our ISMs drive our culture—they were guiding us and helping us make decisions along the way. More than anything, the ISM that led us here was, “We’ll figure it out.”

MP: Clearly, you were extremely prepared…
Luckily, the second the discussion of the virus started to happen, the technology team bought every computer, webcam and headset they could. The great thing was, team members could see how calm, collected and calculated we were in getting them everything they needed. Our CEO did live video streams every day from our war room, letting all of our team members know exactly what was going on. Our priority was to keep our team members safe and healthy, then make it possible for our clients to get mortgages. And that’s exactly the same philosophy we’re using as we go back into the office.

MP: How did you ensure collaboration and good morale while operating virtually?
We have a team called “The Amazement team” that focuses on the team member experience. Their goal is to amaze our team members every day, and they proposed all sorts of things to do virtually that would keep our team members engaged. I was so impressed with the things they came up with, like team members playing Family Feud and virtual euchre with senior leaders. We also did virtual roundtable discussions—a replacement for the in-person meetings we usually hold. They give our team members a chance to tell us what’s going on, what needs to be fixed and what challenges they might be having. Now we’re focusing on mental wellness and making sure everyone has the resources they need.

MP: What are your next steps as we move forward in a still uncertain environment?
Even though the business has been breaking records while 98 percent of team members are working from home, collaboration is much easier in person, and the city of Detroit gains so much from us working downtown. For those reasons, we developed a hybrid plan to allow people to come back and still have physical distancing. Additionally, we’re thinking of creative ways to get people out to make sure our small businesses downtown make it through this. We also bought a mask-making machine, and we’re going to make masks for team members and the community.

I have never been so proud of a team of people. I had a front row seat watching everything happen, seeing what was going well and what this crisis brought out in us. It helped us to change course and gave us perspective on the things that are really important for the future.

For more information, please visit

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news and ideas at

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Mayo Clinic Minute: Easing the Itch of a Mosquito Bite

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 12:52

(TNS)—It’s a common summer annoyance that can leave you scratching at your skin— the bite of a pesky mosquito. Learn how to ease the itch and get some relief.

There are millions of mosquitoes swarming this summer, sucking blood and leaving itchy, red bumps on the skin.

“Their saliva deposits in the skin from where the bite is, and it’s causing a reaction to that saliva,” says Dr. Summer Allen, a Mayo Clinic family physician.

Dr. Allen says some of the tried-and-true home remedies for treating mosquito bites work well. Calamine lotion, over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream and even a cold compress can ease the itch.

“It’s going to sooth and kind of calm down that intense burning and inflammation that they’re feeling in their skin,” says Dr. Allen.

And, while it’s not always easy, it’s important to keep the itching to a minimum.

“If they scratch it hard enough, or depending on what they use to scratch their skin, they can cause a break in their skin,” says Dr. Allen. “They can develop a bacterial infection.”

Although using insect repellent and other prevention tips can reduce your chances of being bit, really, getting at least one skeeter bite this summer is almost inevitable.

“Time takes care of it, and try to do your best not to scratch it if you can,” says Dr. Allen.

2020© Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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When Engagement Matters More Than Ever

Sun, 07/05/2020 - 10:03

Molly McMahan
Director of Marketing, Technology and Philanthropy
Coldwell Banker McMahan Co.

With over 25 years of experience working in the real estate industry, Molly McMahan feels right at home. In fact, this business runs in her family. Her father had a long career as a principal broker and she recalls taking part in advertisements for his firm as a child, and even working with his staff as a teenager. “Even though I started working for this company 25 years ago,” she says, “it’s a lifelong thing.”

During her years of handling marketing and technology for 10 different offices serving Kentucky and Indiana, McMahan has accomplished many things for her company, from building its first website to discovering new tools to help her agents. She has also developed a love of giving back and has incorporated philanthropy into her business model.

“About six years ago, we started doing a philanthropy piece where proceeds out of every closing were donated to a particular charity,” she explains. “We’ve settled on, for the past few years, the Kentucky Veterans Trust Fund.” This trust fund helps veterans across the state with anything they may need, from transportation services to shelter appointments for the homeless. “We’re helping people who sacrificed so much for us.”

As McMahan and her team navigate their way through COVID-19, they have faced some challenges. However, even with a lack of inventory throughout this pandemic, they are noticing a rise in consumer confidence.

“As we’re getting on the other side of this, people are really starting to get interested again,” she says.

With consumer interest levels rising and agents slowly getting back into their normal routines, McMahan has found RISMedia’s ACESocial to be a great help. “I’ve really noticed an increase in engagement since we joined ACESocial,” she explains.

Before becoming a member of ACESocial in early 2019, McMahan and her team shared Coldwell Banker corporate content and articles from its Blue Matter blog. Though this worked for them, she explains that it wasn’t truly unique to her firm.

“That’s the great thing about ACE. Since there are so many articles, nobody sees it anywhere else, so it looks like our own relevant content on a wide variety of topics.”

As the only person who handles marketing efforts for 10 offices and more than 200 agents with minimal assistance—in addition to her role in technology and philanthropic efforts—McMahan has found that the simplicity and consistency of ACESocial was just what she was looking for. “Nothing compares to the ease of ‘set it and forget it,'” she says. “With ACE, I know something will be there whether I interact with it or not, which is extremely helpful.”

For more information, please visit and

Paige Brown is RISMedia’s content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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Teleworking Tips for Coping During COVID-19

Sun, 07/05/2020 - 10:01

(TNS)—Teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic can make you feel like you’re working all the time. Know how to set boundaries between your work and personal life, as well as avoid professional isolation.

If your office is closed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, you might be working from home for the first time. While teleworking can offer many benefits, teleworking during the pandemic poses unique challenges. Consider these tips for maintaining work-life balance and avoiding professional isolation while social distancing.

Pros and Cons of Teleworking

Before the pandemic, research suggested that teleworking can increase employees’ job satisfaction and commitment to an organization, and even slightly improve their performance at work. Teleworking can also reduce exhaustion and work-related stress, possibly due to a reduced commute or more-flexible hours. Other benefits include a reduction in commuting costs and more freedom to work independently.

However, teleworking has always had drawbacks, including social and professional isolation, decreased information sharing opportunities, and difficulty separating work and personal time. The lack of a physical separation between these two worlds can cause family obligations to intrude on work and work obligations to bleed into family time. This can cause teleworkers to work extra hours to prove themselves, resulting in burnout. The ability to be constantly connected to work through a variety of technologies also can cause employees to feel like they are always on or unable to unplug at the end of the day.

Teleworking Due to the Coronavirus

Teleworking during the pandemic brings extra challenges.

Those new to working from home likely aren’t used to being isolated from co-workers and might not have a home office or area conducive to doing work. With other family members also potentially at home, including children or a partner, avoiding distractions and interruptions might be next to impossible. To find privacy, employees could find themselves in the awkward position of conducting meetings from their bedrooms or kitchens. And getting virtual meeting technology to work properly isn’t always easy. These changes can cause anxiety, stress and frustration.

Preventing Professional Isolation While Teleworking

For those new to teleworking, the biggest challenge of working from home during the pandemic might be the lack of in-person collaboration with colleagues. Teleworkers don’t get to see their managers, staff or team members in the hallway or at the watercooler. As a result, regular contact through email, phone calls and virtual meetings is crucial. You might make time at the start of meetings specifically for small talk to give people time to interact.

Managers might consider having a regular five-minute check-in with each staff member, even if there is no pressing business to discuss. For colleagues, consider scheduling virtual lunch and coffee meetings to catch up on each other’s projects and maintain your relationships. Online communication platforms also can help keep you connected throughout the day.

Teleworking and Work-Life Balance During the Coronavirus

The key to work-life balance as a teleworker is being able to set boundaries—both for your work and personal obligations. To get started:

Develop a routine. Come up with rituals that help you define the beginning and end of your workday. For example, make your bed and get dressed each morning as if you were going into the office. When you’re done working each day, change your outfit, take a drive or walk—in place of your normal commute—or do an activity with your kids.  Starting and stopping work at around the same time each day might help, too.

Exercise your willpower.
Take care of yourself by eating healthy and working out. Resisting the temptation to do otherwise will help you when you need the discipline to set boundaries for your work and personal life.

Talk to your manager. Discuss your manager’s expectations for your availability and the obstacles you might be facing at home. Ask what time of day is acceptable for you to stop checking your work emails or responding to work requests. Or agree on an alternative schedule with flexibility that allows you to spend some time caring for your kids during the day and make up hours at other times.

Talk to your family. If you are working from home due to the pandemic and also have family at home, try to establish guidelines regarding interruptions. If your children are young, you’ll likely need to regularly talk to them about when you are working and can’t play, as well as come up with activities or temporary distractions for them. If there is more than one caregiver at home, you might take turns caring for the kids. You might also remind family and friends what times of day you can and can’t talk or text.

Think before you press send. Working from home might mean emailing, messaging or texting every time you want to talk to a co-worker. Reduce the burden on your colleagues by making it clear when a request is urgent or important. If you’re in a leadership role, consider how sending late-night emails might affect your employees’ ability to unwind and enjoy time away from work.

Prioritize your work.
Focus on your most important work right now. Working all of the time isn’t good for you—or your family.

Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic requires patience, creativity and persistence. Keep experimenting to figure out what works best for you during this uncertain period.

©2020 Mayo Clinic News Network
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Thriving in the Luxury Real Estate Market During Quarantine: An Interview With Debbie De Grote

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 12:55

“How do we approach this time with empathy and a little bit of grace?”

We spoke with luxury real estate business coach Debbie De Grote about how to keep growing personally and professionally while everyone is sheltered in place.

If you’re wondering what these times mean for your luxury real estate career, you’re not alone.

Most agents are wondering how to network now that events are cancelled and what kinds of conversations they should be having with their existing network.

Assume the Role of the “Wise Adviser” in Your Luxury Real Estate Market

Debbie, like the Institute, believes the best way to continue growing in your luxury real estate career right now is a heightening focus on deepening relationships with clients and prospects, tying up loose ends, and becoming a true resource for your local luxury real estate market.

“The old scripts you’ve used in the past maybe aren’t appropriate for the moment…but just being there, and just showing up in the best capacity we can, which right now means the role of the ‘wise adviser’,” she says.

She suggests calling clients to ask what you can do for them right now—not transactionally, but to lend a helping hand.

“I might call them and say, ‘How are you? I’m here under ‘house arrest’ and working on my marketing…I saw your name come up and I just thought I would like to check and see if you’re okay. I have a lot of great connections to vendors in the community—is there anything you might need?”

From there, she suggests just listening. If they sound stressed, help where you can. If they seem receptive, it may be okay to let them know you’re open to answering any questions they have about real estate, too.

Debbie offers a gentle transition, suggesting something like, “Lots of friends and family are calling and asking what this is doing to the real estate market—is there anything you’d like to ask me?”

The goal is not to get a listing or a buyer to work with, but to let them know you’re available for any questions they have.

Educate Your Market

As a coach, Debbie has the opportunity to work with many different luxury real estate agents. She works with agents who are just starting their luxury real estate career and those who are well into their veteran years, and she says the most successful agents in both groups are the ones who are taking the time to educate their markets right now.

Her network of high producers are wasting no time in sending their email lists information about the community and financial resources like grants and market data. She also has agents who are hosting weekly livestreams with their networks just to answer any questions they may have about their options.

People Are More Receptive Than You Think

Right before she spoke with us, Debbie had just gotten off a call with one of the agents she coaches who said that people have been more willing to talk than ever.

And with so many people at home with not much to do, it’s likely that they will be more receptive to getting a phone call and having a conversation with you, too. In fact, this may be the best opportunity you will ever receive in your entire luxury real estate career to really connect with current and past clients.

While there will be those who are less open, you won’t know until you reach out. That’s why right now, Debbie says the best thing to do is to let them lead the conversation once you open up communication.

Beyond conversation, there are also plenty of buyers and sellers who are still ready to take action. One of Debbie’s agents recently closed on a $700,000 home sold completely online.

Right now, if agents can’t go into the client’s home but the client wants the home listed, some sellers are making their own video of the home to give to the agent to post on the MLS listing, which is posted with instructions to submit a pre-approval letter and an offer contingent upon interior inspection.

Tie Up Loose Ends

As for professional growth, Debbie also recommends getting to those projects you’ve kept on the backburner for months. If you haven’t had time to organize your CRM (or get one!), have needed to hire a virtual assistant, or need to revamp your website, now is the time to focus on these things.

And while she acknowledges that these changes may be hard to work around with kids or partners home, she says agents who continue to stay productive and proactive during this time will have a much easier transition back into the swing of things when the world gets back to a faster pace.

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, Debbie points out the importance of taking care of yourself during this time. She recommends continuing to get ready in the morning, exercising and doing anything you can to maintain normalcy in your routine. These things will help keep you energized and positive.

She also recommends limiting your intake of news beyond what you really need to know to stay safe. As always, it’s best to hone in on your local real estate market and really listen to what’s going on around you before making assumptions about what’s possible for you in your business. This can be your chance to take stock of your luxury real estate practice and finally gain the momentum you’ve been looking for.

Looking for More Ways to Continue Growth in Your Luxury Real Estate Career During These Times?

We’re staying committed to your professional growth in a number of ways during this time. Here are a few of our best resources to help you continue to grow your skills and your practice from home:

Luxury Livestream: Luxury Livestream will replace our Luxury Live Events, and still qualify agents for their Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist designation and its exclusive benefits.

Ditch the Pitch: This one-of-a-kind training is for Institute members only and helps agents master the art of relationship building with affluent clientele. All current CLHMS designees can access this course in their membership portal.

Estate of Mind Podcast: The Institute has taken some of its best members-only trainings, instructors and other guests to bring you into the most important conversations happening in luxury real estate right now. You can access these for FREE on any podcast platform or The Institute’s YouTube channel.

Diane Hartley is the president of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, a premier independent authority in training and designation for real estate agents working in the upper-tier residential market. Hartley brings her passion for luxury marketing and more than 20 years of experience growing and leading businesses to her role as president of the Institute.

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NAR Unveils Implicit Bias Training for REALTORS®

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 12:51

This spring, as part of its Fair Housing Action Plan, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) teamed up with the experts at the Perception Institute to create a free online workshop to help members avoid implicit bias in their daily business interactions.

What is implicit bias?
The human brain uses shortcuts that allow us to quickly make judgments and solve problems without conscious thought. These mental shortcuts, or “heuristics,” help our unconscious minds process around 11 million bits of information per second. (In contrast, our conscious minds process around 50 bits per second.)

These split-second mental shortcuts can lead to problems. Implicit bias is the brain’s automatic, instant association of negative stereotypes with particular groups of people, often without our conscious awareness. These unconscious stereotypes, embedded in our brains over time by history and culture, can cause us to treat those who are different from us unfairly, even while our conscious minds reject discrimination.

How does bias affect the real estate market and my business?
“All agents go through pre-license training, we do continuing education, and we know the law. We come into this business wanting to help people buy their dream homes. We all think we’re being fair,” says Pat Combs, an agent with Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt Realty in Grand Rapids, Mich., and past president of NAR.

But an undercover investigation of real estate agents published in December 2019 by Newsday revealed sobering findings. The three-year study uncovered evidence that brokers and agents allegedly subjected minorities to different treatment from whites in 40 percent of transactions, and in nearly half the transactions involving black potential homebuyers.

“It’s been a surprise to a lot of agents that they are not coming across as fair as they thought they were. The testing has opened our eyes,” says Combs.

In an increasingly multicultural America, making diversity a central part of business strategy is a business imperative. The fastest-growing demographics in America are Asians and Hispanics. Hispanic homebuyers accounted for nearly half of the homeownership growth in the past decade. There are 6.3 million mortgage-ready black and Hispanic millennials in the 31 largest U.S. metro areas. Bias in the real estate market not only harms home seekers, it also stops brokers and agents from growing and diversifying their customer base.

What can real estate professionals do to counter biases?
The good news is that recent studies have identified specific practices to interrupt and override the bias that can interfere with our objectivity.

Jasmyn Jefferson, principal managing broker in the Tacoma, Wash., office of Windermere Professional Partners, has organized implicit bias training for agents in Washington. “Interacting with people that look different than you and have different lived experiences can be uncomfortable, scary and difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be wonderfully enriching,” she says. “Remember that feeling when you first got your real estate license? It was tough, and messy, but you just had to jump in. It’s the same thing with implicit bias work.”

The new free online workshop from NAR and the Perception Institute helps members understand how our unconscious brains stereotype others without our knowing it. It offers practical tools to help with cross-group interactions, like creating protocols and scripts to ensure you treat every potential client the same and don’t have to worry about saying the “wrong” thing.

The training offers other techniques to improve relationships with all the different people agents encounter—to ensure they treat everyone as individuals, practice empathy and appreciate the world from others’ perspectives.

With implicit bias training, real estate professionals can exemplify their values, improve relationships, grow their business and halt discrimination in the home-sales market, one interaction at a time. For more information, visit

Bryan Greene is NAR’s director of Fair Housing Policy.

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At-Home Fitness Experiences a Pandemic-Era Resurgence

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 12:45

(TNS)—Clad in black leggings and grip socks, Katy Winter strides into Vita, her Oakland, Calif.-based fitness studio. She’s all primed to teach a power Pilates class to a group of clients, only the place is completely empty.

No worries. Winter unfurls a yoga mat upon the gleaming wooden floor, props her MacBook laptop on a cushioned stool and gazes into the screen. Twelve faces in little Zoom squares smile back at her.

“How are you holding up?” she asks. “Go ahead and start your playlists, and let’s get going, everyone!”

Behold the virtual new fitness normal. Ordered to close their doors as part of the COVID-19 lockdown, resilient gyms, dance studios and other facilities have turned to online platforms to help participants stay active, get motivated and find their Zen without leaving their living rooms.

It’s a far cry from the days when Jane Fonda, all aglow in neon spandex, urged millions to get their sweat on via VHS videotapes. But with modern audio-visual technology making real-time interaction possible, the rise of—and return to—home fitness has proven a blessing on many levels.

“We’ve had some of our clients talk about how they’re dealing with depression and anxiety during these challenging times. How they’re crying all day and can’t get off the couch,” Winter says. “I tell them, just try giving us 45 minutes or so. Get the blood flowing. You’ll feel so much better.”

Of course, the instructors and facilities also benefit, as the coronavirus closures have many of them struggling to stay afloat.

Jordan Schreiber, who owns the ATA Martial Arts Leadership Academy in Martinez, is facing his biggest fiscal hurdle ever, and that’s saying a lot, considering he opened his business in 2007—just as the recession started to hit.

“That was nothing compared to this,” he says. “This has been incredibly brutal.”
Stefan Trandafirescu, a dance instructor who owns The Rose Ballroom in San Jose, can relate. With his revenue in a free-fall and a strident landlord offering no breaks in rent, he claims the recent months have been “very, very painful.”

And so they’re forced to adapt or wither away. To survive, many of them are leaning into things that weren’t exactly in their wheelhouse: working with camera equipment, video monitors, headsets and unfamiliar software platforms—all while trying to hone their on-screen magnetism.

“That’s part of the fun and the challenge of it,” says Randy Myers, a Berkeley-based personal trainer and group exercise instructor, who is known to encourage his charges with virtual fist-bumps. “Fortunately, I like to learn new things.”

Shabnam S. Wright is on the same page. An award-winning belly dancer who runs the Shabnam Dance Studio in Oakland and teaches classes via Skype, she says the pandemic has been “good in a way”—pushing her to rethink her approach to instruction.

“A business can’t do things just one way,” she says. “This has forced us to be innovative.” And amazingly creative. With instructors unable to rely on studios packed with familiar equipment, they’ve had to improvise.

“We try to think of what people have at home,” says Winter, who has had clients use “weird props” like women’s tights for stretch bands, a roll of toilet paper for inner thigh work and wine bottles in place of light dumbbells.

“You just have to be careful not to smash them,” she says.

Schreiber has had to be even more imaginative. Recently, he and his staff administered skill tests to more than 100 martial arts students, who, under normal circumstances, would perform them in-studio and alongside sparring partners. Instead, the tests were carried out on Zoom with students challenged to respond to the teachers’ virtual “attacks.”

As for the subsequent rank ceremony, it became a drive-through affair with masked staff members adhering to social distancing edicts by using extender poles to pass the colored belts to students, who remained in their cars.

And then there’s Terez Orr, a dancer and instructor with Smuin Ballet in San Francisco. Unable to work with pupils at the company’s new facility on Potrero Hill, she had Marley flooring—professional dance flooring—installed in the kitchen of her snug San Francisco apartment. From there, she administers lessons via Zoom to ballet students who, of course, had to make their own in-home modifications.

“It’s a challenge to find the proper height for the bar, which normally would be mounted on a wall,” she says. “They can use a chair or a table, but that might not always be stable … And we try to do small jumps instead of big ones.”

Naturally, there are downsides to the online transition. The instructors refer to the loss of personal connection and the in-room group energy. Myers had to move some of his online sessions from his home into his backyard after his cat became a nuisance. Now, he occasionally frets over whether a lawn-mowing neighbor might ruin the vibe.

“There are so many things you don’t encounter in a gym,” he says.

And Orr admits that certain tutorials simply can’t be done remotely.

“I’m a very hands-on instructor,” she says. “It’s difficult sometimes not being able to physically correct something a student might be getting wrong. I also worry about the safety of the spaces they’re working in. I don’t want them falling over any furniture!”

Trandafirescu and his ballroom dancing partner, Carolyn Barreno, lament the loss of bonds they formed with young couples taking lessons in preparation for weddings that now have been canceled or indefinitely postponed. And they miss the group-dancing socials often held at The Rose Ballroom.

“Those are a chance for everyone to see friends, connect, mingle and talk,” Barreno says. “And it’s a time when you can ask different partners to dance. Obviously, all that has vanished.”

Still, there are significant benefits to the online movement. Several instructors acknowledge that the video tutorials have helped them reach a broader audience, attracting clients outside the Bay Area who appreciate the convenience and otherwise wouldn’t make the trek to the brick-and-mortar outlets.

Also, adds Orr, there’s a certain “safety net” to home exercise.

“Some people just feel more comfortable learning on their own, outside of a group situation,” she says.

Maura Smith, a Berkeley resident who has participated in online classes with Myers, counts herself among them.

“I’ve been willing to try certain things—like Pilates and dance—that I normally wouldn’t,” she admits. “I have a fear of failure. So I often avoid things that I’m not familiar with, especially in group situations.”

Monica Albe of Richmond harbors similar sentiments. When taking online Zoom classes provided by the UC Berkeley recreational sports fitness program, she can see the instructor but chooses an option that prevents others from seeing and hearing her.

“I love that I can be a bum and anonymous,” she says. “I can be sweaty and a complete dork but still feel like I’m part of something cool. It’s much better than a Netflix workout video because it’s live, and the (trainer) is someone I can actually talk to. And I know I can ask for help through the chat function if I need it.”

Orr is convinced that the pandemic-era streaming workouts have been just as valuable for her as they’ve been for her clients.

“It’s a reminder that we’ll be OK and can get through this together,” she says. “To feel that collectively, through a computer screen, is pretty amazing.” And also incredibly uplifting, according to Wright.

“A lot of people aren’t moving right now,” she says. “They’re stuck inside, on the couch or at a work desk. Their hips are locking up. We need to move. We need to dance. We need to be happy and tune in to our bodies.”

All of which brings up the question: Is the Zoom-ified at-home streaming fitness craze here to stay—even post-pandemic? Or will it go the way of Jane Fonda’s playful-peppy workout videos?

“I’ve heard from a lot of people that ‘this works for me,'” Myers says. “So I think that from here on out, the online classes will at least be part of the mix for many of us. It’s redefining what we can offer.”

©2020 The Mercury News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Are Your Agents Taking Advantage of the Right Tools, Right Now?

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 14:05

NAR PULSE—In this uncertain time, NAR’s Right Tools, Right Now program has made a sweeping selection of resources available for FREE or at reduced cost for members, including offers on finance, technology, skill-building toolkits and more to help boost business. See the latest offers here.

Save Time, Money and Stay Safe With Members TeleHealthSM
NAR has worked to ensure that REALTORS® may continue to access virtual healthcare from Members TeleHealthSM for just $7/month (a 50 percent savings). As an additional benefit, the prior activation fee has also been waived. Learn more here.

View NAR’s Latest REALTOR® Safety Webinar
In this free REALTOR® Safety webinar from the National Association of REALTORS®, Carl Carter, Jr., REALTOR® and founder of the Beverly Carter Foundation, shares the importance of following safety protocols and best practices while working in the real estate industry. Watch the recording and view other archived safety webinars here.

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Case-Shiller: Home Price Gains Steady in April

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 14:01

In April, home prices increased 4.7 percent year-over-year, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic/Case-Shiller Indices, a 4.6 percent increase from the previous month. The 10-City Composite annual increase was recorded at 3.4 percent—flat from last month. The 20-City Composite recorded a 4.0 percent gain YoY, up from the previous month’s 3.9 percent increase.

The complete data for the 20 markets measured by S&P:

Atlanta, Ga.
April/March: 0.8%
Year-Over-Year: 4.5%

Boston, Mass.
April/March: 1.3%
Year-Over-Year: 4.3%

Charlotte, N.C.
April/March: 1.2%
Year-Over-Year: 5.6%

Chicago, Ill.

April/March: 1.1%
Year-Over-Year: 1.4%

Cleveland, Ohio

April/March: 1.6%
Year-Over-Year: 6.0%

Dallas, Texas

April/March: 0.7%
Year-Over-Year: 2.8%

Denver, Colo.

April/March: 1.0%
Year-Over-Year: 4.0%

Las Vegas, Nev.

April/March: 0.8%
Year-Over-Year: 4.7%

Los Angeles, Calif.

April/March: 0.7%
Year-Over-Year: 4.1%

Miami, Fla.

April/March: 0.6%
Year-Over-Year: 3.9%

Minneapolis, Minn.
April/March: 1.9%
Year-Over-Year: 6.4%

New York, N.Y.

April/March: 0.4%
Year-Over-Year: 2.5%

Phoenix, Ariz.

April/March: 1.4%
Year-Over-Year: 8.8%

Portland, Ore.
April/March: 0.6%
Year-Over-Year: 4.3%

San Diego, Calif.

April/March: 1.2%
Year-Over-Year: 5.8%

San Francisco, Calif.
April/March: 0.7%
Year-Over-Year: 2.8%

Seattle, Wash.

April/March: 1.4%
Year-Over-Year: 7.3%

Tampa, Fla.
April/March: 1.0%
Year-Over-Year: 5.8%

Washington, D.C.

April/March: 0.9%
Year-Over-Year: 3.8%

How the Industry Is Responding:

“April’s housing price data continue to be remarkably stable,” says Craig J. Lazzara, managing director and global head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The National Composite Index rose by 4.7 percent in April 2020, with comparable growth in the 10- and 20-City Composites (up 3.4 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively). In all three cases, April’s year-over-year gains were ahead of March’s, continuing a trend of gently accelerating home prices that began last fall.

“As was the case in March, we have data from only 19 cities this month, since transactions records for Wayne County, Michigan (in the Detroit metropolitan area) continue to be unavailable. This is, so far, the only directly visible impact of COVID-19 on the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices,” said Lazzara. “The price trend that was in place pre-pandemic seems so far to be undisturbed, at least at the national level. Indeed, prices in 12 of the 20 cities in our survey were at an all-time high in April.

“Among the cities, Phoenix retains the top spot for the 11th consecutive month, with a gain of 8.8 percent for April. Home prices in Seattle rose by 7.3 percent, followed by increases in Minneapolis (6.4 percent) and Cleveland (6.0 percent). Prices were particularly strong in the West and Southeast, and comparatively weak in the Northeast.” — Craig J. Lazzara, Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy, S&P Dow Jones Indices

“While actions to mitigate the pandemic have varied, everyone has been affected by COVID-19—and the impact has not been even across local economies or housing markets. Nevertheless, some of the tailwinds that supported the demand coming into 2020, such as demographics and low mortgage rates, remain intact and may even accelerate demand. Still, supply headwinds, such as declining for-sale inventories, will continue to keep a lid on the number of transactions but also push up home price growth.” — CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Selma Hepp

“Home prices were well supported in April thanks to low interest rates and a lack of choices in what to buy. Pent up demand from those anxious to shop for a new home while stuck in theirs should continue this momentum as shown by the surge in purchase mortgage applications in recent weeks.” — Bill Banfield, Quicken Loans Executive Vice President of Capital Markets

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Home Protection Plans Bring a Measure of Comfort in an Uncertain World

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 13:59

Cinch Home Services provides buyers and sellers peace of mind throughout the real estate process


Regina Coia, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty, got her start in the industry in an interesting way. While attending Villanova University, she worked as a server at a country club in the property’s main dining room. When she noticed that the male servers were making large sums in tips in the Men’s-Only room at the club—where only men were allowed to serve—while women only made the standard 18 percent, she appealed to her boss.

He agreed that there was no valid reason to preclude her from serving there, and arranged for her to become the first female server in what was known as the Plymouth Room. She thrived in the new setting and, after about a week, one member approached her and asked if she wanted to sell real estate part-time.

That was 1986, and that same drive has helped Coia shine in each new role she has taken on in the real estate industry, catapulting her through successful tenures at Coldwell Banker and now Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

Finding opportunities and capitalizing on them is the name of the game for real estate professionals like Coia who are looking to stand out from the competition. And thanks to a longstanding partnership with Cinch Home Services (formerly HMS National), Coia’s agents can do just that by offering their buyers and sellers superior home protection plans to help control the costs of appliance and system breakdowns.

“When I joined the brokerage in 2017, Cinch was one of our three providers,” says Coia. “As we were looking to increase our home warranty sales for risk mitigation and client peace of mind, I found it cumbersome for our agents to have to articulate the value proposition of multiple companies, so I polled our leadership team as to which company they felt would best serve our needs as a single provider company-wide.”

The answer was clear: Cinch Home Services. Now, with two years of experience working solely with Cinch, Coia says that she and her team are still thrilled with the level of service they receive from the Cinch team every day.

Drilling down even further, Coia points to Account Executive Jonathan Stroud as a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to the success of the partnership over the years. “Our agents have incredibly high regard for Jonathan and enjoy working with him,” explains Coia.

“He has been a delight,” adds Coia, who can’t say enough about his prompt and professional communications. “He has always been appreciative of Homesale Realty’s relationship with Cinch.”

But the benefits associated with working with Cinch don’t end there. In fact, according to Coia, the biggest benefits center around the leadership team that’s in place—as well as the easy claim-filing process. Another huge advantage is that they’re working with a single provider who is committed to making homeownership as easy as possible.

Additionally, Coia notes the importance of the peace of mind Cinch’s products provide her company’s clients. “If one of our selling clients elects to purchase a one-year home warranty for the buyer of their home, they receive a complimentary warranty during the listing period,” she says.

With all the uncertainty in the real estate market—and the world—right now, it’s more important than ever to hold onto the little things that bring us and our loved ones comfort. Being able to offer Cinch’s superior home protection plans is more vital than ever before as real estate professionals work to protect their client’s biggest investment.

To learn more about how you can partner with Cinch Home Services, please reach out to Adam Brown, vice president, National Sales, at or visit

Jameson Doris is RISMedia’s social media/blog editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to

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Thoughts on Leadership: Change Takes Charge

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 07:58

Between virtual meetings and the whirlwind of everyday work, I’ve been revisiting the key insights from some of my favorite business books, “The Leadership Challenge” by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. Particularly applicable is the authors’ chapter on leading through change, and the importance of being proactive about changing course when challenges present themselves. They place emphasis on combatting challenge with change, and even purport that it’s a leader’s top priority to do so.

This year has been a series of challenges for all of us, and most of them have been obstacles we’ve never faced before. While status quo leaders fear change, extraordinary leaders embrace it and are even themselves catalysts for change to conquer whatever difficulties they encounter on their road toward accomplishing their goals.

Change is nothing to be afraid of, in fact, it’s the best driver of innovation we’ve got. It’s the work of us as leaders to do what has never been done before; this inherently means embracing change and avoiding a business-as-usual or that’s-how-it’s-always-been-done attitude. (As the saying goes, once you think you know it all, your slide to mediocrity has already begun.)

Challenges, as the authors explain, test values, desire, aspirations, capabilities and capacities. They also require innovation to solve. You can’t solve a new problem with the old way of doing things; a new problem, which generates brand-new questions for your business, requires an entirely new set of ideas and strategies to execute.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, chair and director for the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative, conducted an extensive study on innovation and leadership, concluding the two concepts are inextricably intertwined. She said, “Change requires leadership … a ‘prime mover’ to push for implementation of strategic decisions.”

High-performing leaders are able to excavate opportunities from challenges where other leaders cannot. They identify new systems and processes to generate the positive momentum of transformational changes. For example, the Frappuccino, one of Starbucks’ most popular drinks, was itself the result of innovative leadership and seizing initiative. Dina Campion, who in 1993 oversaw 10 Starbucks locations throughout Southern California, noticed other coffee shops selling blended coffee drinks that Starbucks, at the time, was currently not offering.

“It was the summer of 1993, and Los Angeles is very hot in the summer,” Campion said. “We noticed there were some smaller coffee shops that did some sort of blended coffee beverage. A couple of store managers and I felt there was a huge opportunity for Starbucks.”

Campion seized the initiative. She contacted one of her former California store managers, Dan Moore, who had moved to Seattle to work at the corporate headquarters. She even purchased her own blender and shipped it down to the Sherman Oaks, Calif. store to test the product.

By the summer of 1994, Campion’s region was serving the blended drink to its customers, who were all eager to enjoy the refreshing beverage. Starbucks’ corporate office took notice and planned for a company-wide launch the following summer. It was certainly a challenge—and a change—but Campion and her team were ready to seize the imitative and execute.

“We had less than five months to execute our first major new product launch,” Moore said. “I remember sitting on the floor over the weekends with store design and blueprints for all of our more than 500 stores, mapping out blended stations for each one. Then I flew out to all 23 markets and did training in every city.”

And so coffee history was made. In its first week after launch, Starbucks sold 200,000 Frappuccino drinks, then 400,000 the following week and the next week, 800,000 Frappuccinos were sold. The Frappuccino accounted for 11 percent of sales that summer to drive Starbucks stock to a record high.

So, what’s the message? The Starbucks story is just one of so many anecdotes that prove why challenge must be met with change. There’s one more layer to this leadership puzzle that’s as important (or more important) than the rest: meaning. To be fully engaged in overcoming a challenge, your team must know why. “Meaningfulness thrives when people understand the purpose of their organization and the work they do,” write Kouzes and Posner. Connect your challenge with meaning and purpose and the outcome won’t just be a better state of existence for your team and business but also for the world.

This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.


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Newly Pending Transactions Up, But Inventory Remains Low

Sun, 06/28/2020 - 10:08

Newly pending sales went up again, increasing 2.1 percent WoW and 13.7 percent MoM for the week ending June 20, according to the latest Zillow Weekly Market report. These areas experienced the largest spikes in pending home sales for this week: Buffalo (+26.3 percent), San Jose (+19 percent) and Nashville (+14.4 percent).

In addition, home sales have sped up, with properties selling at the fastest pace in more than two years, according to Zillow. During this week, homes sold after 21 days on the market, on average.

Here’s a breakdown of other market factors:

New For-Sale Listings: -1.2% WoW, +3% MoM
Total: -0.6% WoW, =18.8% YoY

Median List Price
+0.7% WoW ($335,160, on average)
+3.2% YoY

Home Price and Pending Sales Forecast
Zillow expects prices to decreased 1.8 percent from April to October 2020, with a slow recovery through 2021. Economists predict pending sales volume hit bottom in April, forecasting almost-full recovery by end of year.

Source: Zillow

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NAGLREP Celebrates Pride Month and Heritage of Success

Sun, 06/28/2020 - 10:07

The past few months have been an emotional rollercoaster ride for all Americans, with an unprecedented health crisis that derailed the global economy followed by a massive wave of civil unrest not seen since the protests of the late 1960s.

For the real estate profession, this has been the most trying time since the Great Recession, with many states and localities issuing edicts that made it difficult to keep the housing market in motion. However, a mix of new technologies and old-fashioned perseverance ensured that real estate professionals could handle transactions and continue to make a living.

For LGBT Americans, the tumult of the spring brought about the cancellation of the annual Pride celebrations that are both the experiential centerpiece of the community and an important reminder of the progress made to gain a full measure of equality within the American family. Of course, public safety concerns take precedent over parades, fairs and concerts, and LGBT Americans shared the disappointment that many other communities across the country felt in seeing annual traditions put on hold.

But there was also a victory for the LGBT community this spring that changed history for the better: the June 15 U.S. Supreme Court decision that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 offered protection from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. After too many years, the contradictory patchwork of state and local laws was replaced by a standardized affirmation that LGBT Americans should not fear for their careers just because they are LGBT.

The Supreme Court victory was a long time in coming around, but there was one significant industry in this country that was already upholding the tenets of equality long before it became enshrined in federal law.

The members of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) have been grateful to be part of an industry that has been committed to the concepts of equality and respect for the individual. Over the past decade, NAGLREP and its partners in the industry have set standards to ensure career development and advancement is available to the LGBT real estate professionals. Since its founding in 2007, NAGLREP members have helped people from across a wide diversity of cultural backgrounds in their common ground pursuit of the American Dream through homeownership by helping them buy and sell property..

This incredible odyssey began in 2008 when NAGLREP members began attending  National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Diversity Committee meetings with hard work and perseverance to amend Article 10 of the NAR Code of Ethics to include  sexual orientation and gender identity. At a time when roughly half of the country would not have such a concept in their state laws, this was a brave step for NAR to include a protected class before Federal Fair Housing Law. By 2011 and 2013, Article 10 was updated to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Clearly, NAR’s ability to recognize the dignity of all working people helped chart the country on the right course.

Furthermore, the industry has been prescient in recognizing the economic value that LGBT professionals can bring to the workforce. NAGLREP’s inaugural Conference in 2014 brought out an A-list of Corporate America. In subsequent NAGLREP LGBT Housing Policy Summit Conferences, leaders from Capitol Hill have addressed NAGLREP members in honest and supportive observations of challenges that need to be addressed.

NAGLREP recognizes that among the work that still needs to be done is the passage of the Equality Act, which would finally expand the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While there may be waffling and evasiveness across parts of Washington on this legislation, NAGLREP is proud to stand with the industry leaders that have vocally called out for its passage: Bank of America, Realogy, HSF Affiliates, Keller Williams, RE/MAX, US Bank, Wells Fargo and NAR all endorse the Equality Act. NAGLREP has also aligned with the most prominent LGBT non-profits—HRC, NGLCC, PFLAG, Lambda Legal—to raise awareness  for the Equality Act.

The association has also formed the LGBT Mortgage Advisory Group to represent the interests of both LGBT homebuyers and mortgage professionals. With a focus on strategies for successful advocacy, professional education and career empowerment, this group is co-chaired by Kimber White and Valerie Saunders, respectively the president-elect and executive director of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.

Today, NAGLREP has grown to more than 2,800 members in the real estate industry, with local chapters across the nation engaging with their local REALTOR® associations. And not unlike the marchers in the Pride parades that will resume when the coronavirus is extinct, the association is able to look back with satisfaction over what has been accomplished and will look ahead with enthusiasm over what future goals can be surpassed.

Jeff Berger is the founder of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP). For more information, please visit

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