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Updated: 47 min 58 sec ago

Existing-Home Sales Skid 1.3 Percent

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 10:07

Continuing a recent wavering trend, existing-home sales skidded at the start of the year, according to the January National Association of REALTORS® report. Last month, the adjusted annualized rate of sales totaled 5.46 million, down 1.3 percent month-over-month, but up 9.6 percent year-over-year.

Credit: National Association of REALTORS®

“Existing-home sales are off to a strong start at 5.46 million,” according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “The trend line for housing starts is increasing and showing steady improvement, which should ultimately lead to more home sales.”

In January, the amount of existing homes on the market totaled 1.42 million, up 2.2 percent from the month prior, but down 10.7 percent year-over-year.

Across all house types (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome), the median price was $266,300—a 6.8 percent increase year-over-year, according to the report. The median price for sales in the single-family space was $268,600, while the condo median was $248,100.

“Mortgage rates have helped with affordability, but it is supply conditions that are driving price growth,” says Yun.

By region:

Midwest

Existing-Home Sales: 1.29 million (+8.4% YoY)
Median Price: $200,000 (+5.4% YoY)

Northeast

Existing-Home Sales: 730,000 (+7.4% YoY)
Median Price: $312,100 (+11.5% YoY)

South

Existing-Home Sales: 2.38 million (+11.7% YoY)
Median Price: $229,900 (+6.3% YoY)

West

Existing-Home Sales: 1.06 million (+8.2% YoY)
Median Price: $393,800 (+5.2% YoY)

Currently, inventory is at a 3.1-month supply, the report shows. In January, the average existing-home listing was on the market for 43 days, six days less than the previous year. Of homes sold, 42 percent were on the market for less than one month.

Of the adjusted annualized rate of sales, 4.85 million were single-family, while condo and co-op sales totaled 610,000. Twenty-one percent of sales were all-cash, and 17 percent by individual investors or second homebuyers. Two percent were distressed. First-time homebuyers comprised 32 percent of sales.

“It is good to see first-time buyers slowly stepping into the market,” says Yun. “The rise in the homeownership rate among the younger adults, under 35, and minority households means an increasing number of Americans can build wealth by owning real estate. Still, in order to further expand opportunities, significantly more inventory and home construction are needed at the affordable price points.”

According to the realtor.com® Market Hotness Index, included in the NAR report, the hottest markets in January were: Fort Wayne, Ind.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif.; Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ind.; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

“We are hopeful and also confident that home sales will improve this year,” NAR President Vince Malta says. “NAR has and will continue to do its part in the industry, reiterating the social and economic benefits of homeownership and advancing conversations surrounding housing affordability concerns.”

On the report, Bill Banfield, executive vice president of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans, said in a statement: “It doesn’t matter how low interest rates are; if there are limited choices of homes on the market, sales will suffer and prices could keep going up. The constraints in housing may be aided by building new homes, but there is such pent-up demand it is unlikely to get back into balance in the near future.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

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Applauding the Best and Brightest: 2020 Newsmakers to Be Celebrated This Spring

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 10:05

RISMedia’s 2019 Real Estate Newsmakers Reception & Dinner (Credit: PlanOmatic)

This spring, RISMedia’s 2020 Real Estate Newsmakers are being celebrated at the Real Estate Newsmakers Reception & Dinner, an exclusive gathering honoring the more than 300 individuals who made news for their contributions to the industry in the past year.

During the event, the 2020 Newsmakers will be recognized on stage, in addition to the Hall of Fame Newsmakers, a class of distinguished icons in the industry. The 2020 Hall of Fame Newsmakers are:

  • Paul Boomsma, President & CEO, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
  • Brian Buffini, Chairman & Founder, Buffini & Company
  • Harold Crye, Principal & CEO, Crye-Leike REALTORS®
  • Marilyn Eiland and Mark Woodroof, Managing Partners, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene
  • Dan Elsea and Stuart Elsea, President, Brokerage Services and President, Financial Services, Real Estate One Family of Companies
  • Georgianna Findlay Finn, Co-Owner & Founder, Coach Real Estate Associates, Inc.
  • Lawrence “Larry” Flick IV, Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®
  • Bob Hale, President & CEO, Houston Association of REALTORS®
  • Dave and Gail Liniger, Co-Founders & Vice Chairs of the Board, RE/MAX Holdings, Inc.
  • Nick Shivers, President & CEO, The Nick Shivers Team, Keller Williams Portland Central.

The event, being held May 13 at the National Press Club (“The Place Where News Happens”), precedes RISMedia’s Midyear Power Broker Forum, held May 14 at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. During the popular session, Power Brokers will candidly discuss “The Leading Edge: Bold Leadership Strategies for Challenging Times.”

RISMedia’s Real Estate Newsmakers Reception & Dinner is presented by Master Sponsors American Home Shield, HSA Home Warranty, Quicken Loans and Realty ONE Group; Host Sponsors Cinch Home Services, the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing and Real Estate Express; and Event Sponsors Local Logic, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, RE/MAX LLC and ShelterZoom. For attendance information, please contact Deb Ryan at 203-855-1234 ext. 165 or dryan@rismedia.com.

For more from the 2020 Real Estate Newsmakers, go to RISMedia.com/2020-Newsmakers or RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. For consideration for the 2021 Real Estate Newsmakers, please email nominations to maria@rismedia.com.

The post Applauding the Best and Brightest: 2020 Newsmakers to Be Celebrated This Spring appeared first on RISMedia.

Realty ONE Group Wows International Attendees at Annual ONE Summit in Las Vegas

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 10:04

The UNBrokerage Unveils New Luxury Brand, Preview Launch of New Website and Walks the Vegas Strip to Benefit the Beverly Carter Foundation

Realty ONE Group, one of the country’s fastest-growing franchisors, hosted its annual ONE Summit recently at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev., and kicked off the event with the ONE Walk down the Vegas Strip to benefit the Beverly Carter Foundation.

ONE Summit 2020 opened with the charity walk and a Welcome Reception, followed by two full days of remarkable speakers, including Taya Kyle, Eileen Collins and Pamela Meyer; breakout sessions; panel discussions; a Women’s Leadership Luncheon; and a final BLACK & GOLD Gala at the world-renowned Hakkasan Night Club.

“This event keeps getting better and better because our outstanding real estate professionals are helping us build a dynamic coolture that fuels ONE Summit and everything we do,” said Kuba Jewgieniew, CEO and founder of Realty ONE Group. “We came to celebrate with each other, learn and have an amazing time, but we also made some highly-anticipated announcements, unveilings and had a host of surprises for our attendees.”

Las Vegas headliner Terry Fator and magician Shin Lim wowed the crowd of more than 1,500 franchise owners and real estate professionals. Summit-goers also shopped through thousands of apparel and other items at the ONE Shop, known for its dynamic ONE-branded gear, and were able to design, customize and print their own T-shirts at high-tech kiosks.

The Unbrokerage Unveils
During the first day of the Summit, Realty ONE Group unveiled its new luxury brand, ONE LUXE, launching first in several key markets, then rolling out across the country and Canada throughout the year. The ONE LUXE brand has all of the wow and appeal of the UNBrokerage brand with the modern luxury appeal that attracts high-end buyers and sellers.

The company also previewed the launch of its new, ONE-of-a-kind website, realtyonegroup.com, that will launch later this month. The site was modeled after innovators outside of the real estate space and promises design, special features and fun like no other.

Benefitting the Beverly Carter Foundation
Carl Carter, Jr., son of Beverly Carter and founder of the Foundation that works to ensure the safety of all REALTORS®, joined runners and walkers and a local FOX News crew on Sunday, along with Jewgieniew and his family, to show support for a great cause and start the two-day convention off showing unity among all real estate professionals.

Realty ONE Group recently donated $11,111 to the Foundation during the recent National Association of REALTORS® convention to help raise awareness for the Foundation and create new tools for agent safety.

Realty ONE Group now has more than 12,000 real estate professionals in over 270 locations in 40 states, Washington D.C., and Canada. The company has doubled its real estate professional count and volume and tripled its transaction count since 2017.

Carl Carter Jr. at the Realty ONE Group ONE Summit (Credit: Realty ONE Group)

For more information, please visit www.realtyonegroup.com.

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Thad Wong: Mastering Marketing, Technology and Culture

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 21:00

Vitals: @properties
Years in Business: 20
Size: 33 offices, 2,800 agents
Regions Served: Chicagoland, second-home communities in Southwest Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, and the Atlanta Metro area
2019 Sales Volume: $10 billion
2019 Transactions: 21,000
www.atproperties.com

As co-founder of @properties, one of the United States’ 11 largest brokerage firms by sales volume, Thad Wong has accomplished a great deal since first starting out as a Chicago agent in the mid-’90s. He started the firm 20 years ago and has seen sales grow from $40 million to more than $9 billion since opening its doors in 2000.

What first made you interested in a career in real estate?
Thad Wong:
I was always a great salesman growing up; it was in my blood, so I knew that’s what I wanted to do. And I thought it would be a good idea to sell something expensive to correlate the greatest return. I thought about yachts, but I lived in Chicago, so that didn’t seem like the greatest thing. Real estate, therefore, made the most sense.

How was business for the firm in 2019?
TW:
It was great. It was a flat year market-wise. Our local Chicago market was down, but our market in Atlanta was up. We grew considerably through expanding in western suburb markets and opened two offices on the North Side as well. We grew about $1 million, so it was a good year for us.

Why are agents interested in joining your firm?
TW:
Usually, they come for the marketing and technology, and they have heard good things about our culture. We have a really deep-rooted organization, and the culture is only growing and becoming a more integral part of people’s lives. And our marketing is tops.

What are your plans for 2020?
TW:
We think it’s going to be a big year. We still have more expansion planned locally in the Chicagoland area. There are some other large suburbs we have not gone into yet. Right now, we have four offices that will be delivering between the first and second quarters this year. We’re also looking to expand in Southwest Michigan, as well as in Milwaukee and other areas of Wisconsin.

Can you provide an example of a technology you’ve brought in that has helped your agents?
TW:
Most companies will buy pieces of technology, but we’ve built our own suite of services. One piece is a deal management system (DMS), which manages the contract all the way from execution to close; it’s a seamless, online, integrated system that communicates with our agents and includes everything from reminders to automated checklists to brochure tools that go with all the photography and everything done in-house to market the listing. It’s an ever-evolving piece of technology.

What’s the secret for motivating agents?
TW:
We do a lot of training and coaching. I’m a big believer in the notion that when you can motivate and inspire an agent to grow and increase production, that is one of the things they are most appreciative of. We offer a lot of classes and also incorporate the Ninja training. We feel that works nicely with what we’ve done in-house.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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Greater Productivity for All

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 13:05

Tim and Roxie Gross
Broker/Owners
RE/MAX Signature
Houston, Texas
www.signaturehomeshouston.com

Region Served: Houston/Magnolia, Texas
Years in Real Estate: 7
Number of Offices: 4
Number of Agents: 170

What were the most challenging issues you had to overcome as the brokerage expanded in recent years?
We’ve always tried to prepare for the next chapter by reinvesting and hiring more staff than we currently needed but knew we would need. Staying positive and putting in the hard work day after day, while being open and adapting to the changing industry, has been crucial. Another challenging issue is agent turnover. We feel such a personal connection to every agent we bring on and support, and we still struggle with the turnover in this business on a personal level.

Why did you decide to retain three recruiters to help build your team?
If you’re in real estate, especially on the broker side, you know it’s a small and shrinking margin business. We’ve been able to maintain profitability by being “lean and mean.” We have fewer overall staff personnel than traditional brokerage models; however, each of our team members plays a critical part in the success of the business. We hired our first recruiter a little over two years ago and discovered that the expense was easily justifiable if they were successful, so last year, we decided to triple down and hire a staffing company to help us find two more amazing recruiters…and ended up expanding our work family from 100 to 170 agents.

How do you plan to inspire greater agent productivity this year?
We have multiple mentor programs. If you’re in your first year with our company, we pair you with an experienced mentor and hold mandatory Monday mentor trainings, with topics ranging from contract basics to real estate case studies. We’re also reactivating our “Road to…” series this year, which is a monthly gathering of like-minded agents who will help support and advise one another with a goal of greater productivity for all.

What first attracted you to RE/MAX, and why have you remained committed to this brand?  

Brand awareness. After meeting with multiple franchises, RE/MAX presented the best opportunity for growth and potential agent success. We love the brand because everyone knows and trusts RE/MAX. Since then, RE/MAX has shown a commitment to our success and our agents’ businesses. The corporate vision and action plan models how we run our brokerage in that we’re out there learning and improving as much as possible while offering dedicated support to clients.

Final Questions…

What’s your best time management tip?
Game-plan your three most important goals that you want to accomplish or make progress on the following day, then plan to have them done by noon.

What’s your No. 1 tip for dealing with difficult buyers and sellers?
Be proactive when explaining the real estate process. Communicating your systems and processes with possible outcomes helps lessen stress with difficult clients.

What’s your best tip for running a successful meeting?
Respect everyone’s time by starting on schedule, staying on topic and ending on time.

For more information, please visit www.remax.com.

John Voket is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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3 Things Luxury Real Estate Agents Can Outsource to Grow Their Business

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 13:22

Time is a luxury real estate agent’s most precious commodity. The more time an agent has, the more time they can spend on networking and nurturing client relationships, which is directly connected to real estate success.

But too often, agents find themselves caught up in the details, like paperwork, the technical ins and outs of marketing listings and social media—not necessarily because they’re the best at it, but because they’re busy and on autopilot. There’s an underlying belief that if they don’t do it themselves, it won’t get done and their business won’t grow.

However, real estate success stories are rarely created without the help and support of others. Fortunately, it has never been easier to outsource tasks, and there are at least three that most agents can afford to delegate to experts so that they have more time to focus on client-facing matters.

1. Administrative Tasks
The road to real estate success is paved with far more administrative tasks than anyone realizes before they start their luxury real estate journey. There are supplies to be ordered, meetings and business trips to be scheduled, managing a client database, preparing forms, and more.

In the beginning, it can be hard to juggle all of it, but the cost of hiring an assistant or virtual assistant can be a bit intimidating. Even if you’re a seasoned luxury real estate agent, if you’ve never outsourced these types of tasks before, it can seem like a costly experiment.

One way to get around that is by hiring an intern. There are plenty of websites dedicated to finding and hiring an intern for free these days in exchange for giving them job experience, and you can find them with a simple Google search.

You may be dealing with a younger crowd, but many people rely on unpaid internships to get great referrals for future positions and have a lot of incentive to do a great job handling your simple organizational tasks.

2. Social Media
The importance of social media marketing keeps increasing, but your time for it might not be. Hiring a social media marketer to take care of your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram accounts can save you anywhere from 5-10 hours per week, if not more.

Again, there are plenty of sites online that put you in contact with people who can take over this task for you. Posting a job description on any of these sites for a social media marketer with some experience in real estate will likely bring in at least a few qualified prospects who you can interview to find the right fit.

This is one of the areas of your business that might seem like a needless expense if you don’t personally see the value in social media marketing yet or aren’t seeing a return on your own personal efforts, but that’s exactly why you need an expert to take over this aspect of your business. With the right social media marketer, a couple of things can happen. First, your online presence looks more trustworthy if a prospect happens to click on one of your Facebook ads or looks you up online. The second thing to consider is that the regular effort will eventually compound and will help with some of your organic lead generation. Consistency is key, and hiring someone who has the time and expertise in this area can positively impact your bottom line over time.

3. Listing Marketing
Just like social media marketing, getting some help with your listings can not only free you up for networking, client relations and doing what you do best, but also greatly improve your listings.

If you aren’t a strong writer, hiring a copywriter online or locally to write your MLS listing or the copy for a mailer can save you some time and stress. Similarly, a copy or content writer can help with crafting your blog posts to highlight certain listings or Facebook ad copy.

Looking for more ways to grow your business beyond your wildest dreams this year? Our CLHMS Training is an easy way to learn luxury real estate strategies from top-producing agents and elite peers. Click here to learn more!

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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Keep C2EX Momentum Going

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 13:19

NAR PULSE—Remind your agents to stay engaged with Commitment to Excellence on their path to this valuable endorsement. Encourage them to log in to C2EX.realtor and complete all the steps, including the 10 Assessments and their assigned Learning Topics and required Tasks.

Hack, Breach, Phish…
…three words that can spell disaster for your business. Safeguard your business with CyberPolicy®— NAR’s newest REALTOR Benefits® Program partner. A leader in cyber insurance, CyberPolicy offers a layer of protection with customized plans, NAR-exclusive premium credit and enhanced coverage for REALTOR®-owned brokerages. Should an attack occur, the insurers will work with you to recoup losses, recover stolen data and preserve your professional reputation. Learn more about this valuable, new cybersecurity member benefit.

RPR and ShowingTime Build a Showing Integration
In an effort to help REALTORS® create convenient and seamless workflows, Realtors Property Resource® (RPR) is excited to announce a data and usage integration with ShowingTime, one of the real estate industry’s leading showing management tools.

The post Keep C2EX Momentum Going appeared first on RISMedia.

NAR Releases Marijuana Report: Impact on Residential Real Estate

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 13:12

More states are implementing regulations related to the use and sale of marijuana, whether for medical or recreational purposes. These changes are having significant impacts on other industries, including real estate. A new report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), Marijuana and Real Estate: A Budding Issue, looked at how the marijuana industry is influencing real estate markets, particularly in areas where marijuana has been legalized since before 2016.*

“The commercial industry has been impacted considerably, and we have seen a ripple effect into the residential markets—especially in states where marijuana has been legal for a longer period of time,” Dr. Jessica Lautz, vice president of Demographics and Behavioral Insights for NAR, told RISMedia.

The impact starts off in the commercial space, in states where marijuana can be legally grown, sold and consumed. Growers and distributors are increasing the demand for land, and require warehouse space to store their supply and storefronts for selling it.

The impact is quickly trickling down into residential real estate, as well.

“As more states legalize marijuana, the real estate market will progressively have to adjust,” said Lautz in a statement. “From property owners to manufacturers to those who simply want to engage for leisure, it all touches real estate in some form.”

Who’s doing the work on the agent side? Of those surveyed, only 2 percent were marijuana specialists in residential real estate, but while the sample size of NAR members who have experience with marijuana-related listings and buyers is still small, it is growing, with 2 – 5 percent of residential respondents, in states where marijuana is legal either for medical and/or recreational use, saying they are aware their MLS contained a marijuana field.

REALTORS® are seeing a correlation between limited housing supply and the marijuana industry. According to the report, between 9 percent and 23 percent of members in these states say that cash-only purchases from the marijuana industry, which typically only runs on cash, are one of several reasons for tight inventory.

In terms of how the industry impacts property values, NAR found that between 7 percent and 12 percent of respondents saw an increase in home values for properties located near dispensaries. Meanwhile, 8 – 27 percent saw a decrease in value. Most reported no changes.

Another element to consider: rentals and HOAs. Several HOAs have limits regarding using and growing marijuana on their property; however, 3 percent of those surveyed did say that specific HOAs now allow growing or smoking in the home or common areas.

In the rental space, half of surveyed members say they’ve had no problems leasing a property that was previously occupied by a tenant who legally grew marijuana. There were some downsides, however. These units and homes sometimes had lingering odors and moisture issues—problems that are more common in states where recreational marijuana has been legal for a longer period of time.

“Residential practitioners are getting used to the new normal of having marijuana legally used within rental properties, while homeowner associations are tasked with setting new rules to address consumption and growth,” said Lautz.

There’s a cost for tenants who want to grow or smoke marijuana, however. Out of tenants who regularly smoke in their rental, almost nine out of 10 were responsible for paying their own utility costs.

What might the industry expect from marijuana legalization? There could be a shift in how property management handles marijuana-related cases. Fifty-eight percent to 67 percent have already seen addendums added to leases that restrict smoking on the premises.

“It is impacting rules over growing in buildings and using common areas, and landlords are starting to add addendums having to deal with these matters,” Lautz told RISMedia. “In the future, when we look at the residential side, there could be complications for both landlords and for buying and selling property where marijuana is sold or used regularly.”

*NAR’s report reflects data and responses gathered from states that legalized marijuana (for medical and/or recreational use) both before 2016 and after 2016. To access the report, visit nar.realtor.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

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Eager to Sell Your House? Try Describing It as ‘Adorable’

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 13:02

(TNS)—Mary Beth Hurtado wields a kind of linguistic artistry to describe a house she’s trying to sell.

The good words: Classic. Stunning. Backyard paradise. Turnkey. Newly renovated. Redeemed to perfection.

The bad: Handyman special. Motivated seller. Tiny. Basement.

“Basement sounds like a dirty old stone basement,” said the 20-year real estate agent for RE/MAX in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “You want to say it has a ‘lower level.’ It takes a long time to write these descriptions for me. It takes hours because you have to say it exactly right for each house.”

Certain words and phrases—and even the number of exclamation points in a property listing!!!!!—can help improve the value of a property and reduce its time on the market, academics found through an analysis of more than 700,000 homes listed and sold over a decade in the Charlotte, N.C., area.

The researchers, Sean Brunson and Richard J. Buttimer Jr. of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Steve Swidler, the Hanson/KPMG professor of Business and Finance at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., suspected their conclusions would apply to most real estate markets.

The terms “adorable,” “awesome,” “gorgeous,” “historic” and “luxurious” were helpful in boosting property value, they found. The bigger the house, the more frequently it was described as “beautiful.”

“Adorable,” in particular, could add more than $43,000 to the value of what is often a small, hard-to-sell property, according to the study, “An Adorable Housing Paper: The Informational Content of Agent Remarks.”

Yet the research found that almost 40 percent of homes described as “adorable” also were characterized as “large,” the latter of which was found to reduce its value by $2,601.79.

“Adorable” still increased by 5 percent the chance a house would sell, according to the study. The use of “awesome” raised it 1.02 percent and “gorgeous,” 1.44 percent.

‘Historic’ Adds 18 Days on Market
The research found that though “historic” and “luxurious” were typically considered attractive descriptors, they seemed to have a harder time selling. It took “historic” homes about 18 days longer to get off the market, and eight extra days for homes touted as “luxurious.”

“It’s not unique to Charlotte, the quantitative numbers that you see,” Swidler said, adding that he and his colleagues studied the market in Charlotte after a real estate association there offered them a trove of data, the largest to date for such a study.

The descriptor of “adorable,” Swidler said, was a relatively infrequent term in property descriptions, appearing in just around 1 percent of entries in the Multiple Listing Service, an expansive real estate online search platform.

“It is relegated mostly to smaller-sized homes,” he said. “If you were in a home that was 300,000 square feet or larger, it’s unlikely that ‘adorable’ would be used. The words that you use have to have real meaning. I don’t think you can call a large house ‘cute’ or ‘adorable.’ It doesn’t make sense.”

The use of “investment,” “motivated,” “distressed” and “reduced” would slash the value of a property anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000, according to the study. For listings that included the words “motivated” or “reduced,” it took about a respective 29 and 44 extra days to sell.

Homes described as “large” and “spacious” saw their property values fall by a respective $2,601.79 and $7,351.26, according to the study, which attributed the decrease to a buyer “believ(ing) the REALTOR® is trying to conceal the lack of space by claiming the house or a room show bigger than they are.”

The team conducted the study around what it called the “hedonic modeling of house prices,” or the analysis of factors that contribute to the price of a property, including square footage; the number of bedrooms and bathrooms; location; and the area’s school district.

It did not indicate how important the description of a property was relative to other elements, such as photos of the house or the safety of the neighborhood.

“Using a superior data set with over 700,000 observations, we document the set of most frequently used descriptive terms and show that context is important,” according to the study, which said the size of the data set offset the chance of coming to erroneous conclusions.

The data collected by the team spanned the 2008 financial crisis and crash of the real estate housing bubble. Swidler said he and his colleagues had not studied whether certain descriptive terms could have even marginally helped some houses sell.

“Would ‘adorable’ have helped you during a real downturn?” he said. “The answer is I don’t know, but maybe we should look at it.”

The authors clarified that they did not conduct a “full-blown textual analysis that examines readability of sentiment or structure,” calling it “likely excessive.”

The Power of Punctuation
“MLS property descriptions tend to be relatively short (250 words or fewer) and frequently informal,” according to the study. “They may contain abbreviations (e.g., “SS appl” for stainless steel appliances).”

Even punctuation could prove fruitful!!

“One exclamation mark appears to generate extra excitement about the property and raise its value $6,649.62,” according to the study. “However, two exclamation marks raise the home’s value $4,295.19 and the more exclamation marks used, the less the added value.”

An overzealous real estate agent prone to “overuse (abuse) of exclamation marks” need not worry, the study said, finding that excessive punctuation—as many as five exclamation points—”has virtually no effect on buyer enthusiasm for the property.”

As she sells houses on the Philadelphia Main Line, Hurtado is careful with her use of punctuation. Just one exclamation point is sufficient, she said, “if it’s something really amazing.”

“Use nice words,” she said. “Use powerful, selling words. I think your words should be the exclamation point.”

©2020 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Visit The Philadelphia Inquirer at
www.inquirer.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Bringing Transparency to the Real Estate Process

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 10:07

RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine recently had the opportunity to chat with Doug Seabolt, CEO of Rocket Homes, about the company’s focus on helping consumers navigate the complexities associated with the home-buying and -selling experience. In this exclusive interview, Seabolt provides a closer look into how he believes technology and innovation will continue to challenge the status quo of how consumers buy or sell homes.

Real Estate magazine: How have things been progressing at Rocket Homes since the rebranding in 2018?
Doug Seabolt:
Since rebranding our company and launching RocketHomes.com, we’ve maintained our focus on expanding and enhancing the building of an end-to-end home-buying and -selling experience that provides transparency and bridges the gap between the disparate real estate and mortgage processes in order to eliminate the confusion and stress that is often associated with buying or selling a home.

RE: What steps did the company take last year to improve the home-buying experience for consumers?
DS:
This past year, we’ve spent tremendous energy on helping consumers navigate the complexities associated with home-buying and -selling by providing them with real-time access to our sister company, Rocket Mortgage, and our Network of Partner Agents at the point and time they need it. In addition, we created multiple products that provide consumers with in-depth insights, using both real-time and historical data, into what’s going on in a specific market, right down to a neighborhood level. What’s clear to us is the insatiable appetite consumers have for data, insight and information to help them make the best, most informed real estate decisions possible.

RE: Why is it important to provide consumers with a more seamless, one-stop experience today?
DS:
We believe that providing consumers with tools, information and services that give them better insight and knowledge, as well as access to all associated services they may need during their home-buying or -selling journey, lessens the confusion and stress of buying or selling a home.

RE: How is the current overall investment in the proptech space ultimately going to benefit real estate consumers?
DS:
We’ve said many times over the years that technology and innovation will continue to challenge the status quo of how consumers buy or sell homes. With the ever-increasing flow of investment into proptech, and more and more industry thought leaders reimagining the home-buying and -selling experience, consumers will ultimately benefit by having more data and information at their fingertips and more transparency into the process, creating a higher degree of certainty and a better overall home-buying or -selling experience.

RE: What’s your major focus for the year ahead?
DS:
In 2020, we will continue our focus on enhancing the consumer’s overall home-buying and -selling experience by providing them with enhanced housing insight and information, and access to mortgage approvals and real estate professionals in real-time through our integrations with our industry partners.

For more information, please visit www.rockethomes.com.

Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at paige@rismedia.com.

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DEADLINE EXTENDED: Participate in the Power Broker Survey Today

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 10:06

RISMedia’s 32nd Annual Power Broker Survey is closing Tuesday, Feb. 25. To participate in the survey this year, brokers are required to have completed a minimum of $75 million in sales volume and 250 transactions in 2019. 

New to the Power Broker Survey?
If you participated in past years, RISMedia emailed you your firm’s link to the survey. If you did not receive it, or are new to the survey, you can complete it here:

More: How Participating in the Power Broker Survey Can Help Your Business

Important Information

  • The survey should be completed by an individual, shareholder or entity with a minimum of 50.1 percent ownership interest inclusive of subsidiaries. For your survey to be accepted, please be sure to check the boxes on the verification page and make sure it is signed by: 1. your broker; and 2. your CFO, accountant or other party who can validate that the data submitted is correct.
  • If you are part of a franchise brand, your corporate office may have already submitted data on your behalf. We encourage you to complete the survey nonetheless, to enrich our research results.
  • There is no cost or any obligation to participate in RISMedia’s Power Broker Survey.

I Completed the Survey—Now What?
The Power Broker ranking and results will be revealed on April 1, 2020, in a complete directory and interactive ranking on RISMedia.com, and in a partial ranking in RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. Brokers who rank in the Top 500 will be invited to RISMedia’s Power Broker Reception & Dinner, an annual gala held in conjunction with the REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

Questions?
Contact Executive Editor Maria Patterson at maria@rismedia.com or IT Manager James Jones at jim@rismedia.com.

The post DEADLINE EXTENDED: Participate in the Power Broker Survey Today appeared first on RISMedia.

George Q. Morris: Reaching the Pinnacle

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 21:01

Vitals: CENTURY 21 Everest
Years in Business: 10
Size: 14 offices, 945 agents
Regions Served: Utah and California
2019 Sales Volume: $2.8 billion
2019 Transactions: 6,429
www.c21everest.com

Last year, George Q. Morris, CEO of CENTURY 21 Everest, was honored for being the No. 1 CENTURY 21 office in the U.S. and the world based on sales production. It marked five years in a row that the firm was on the list of top offices.

With four offices in Utah and 10 in California, the 25-year veteran of real estate is tasked with leading a team of almost 1,000 agents, and is proud of all his team has accomplished.

You are listed as the No. 1 office in the world for Century 21. What is the secret that got the firm to this level?
George Morris:
The thing that makes us unique is that we are more like a personal development company that happens to sell real estate. We are highly invested in working from the inside out and training and coaching our agents to become their very best. We have a high success rate with agent productivity. Our managers and brokers meet with our agents regularly to understand their goals and map out a business and accountability plan for the agents’ success. We offer unique tools for strengthening the mindset, skills and discipline required to succeed in real estate.

What sort of tools?
GM:
These include a daily podcast, Elevate your Real Estate, which is texted out to our agents each workday morning and available for free on iTunes and Google Play or whatever podcast app you use. While many real estate agents are still in bed, our agents can be found at Morning Ascent meetings where they begin the day journaling what they are grateful for and writing down their goals. They also receive daily training at the morning meeting, engage in role-play to strengthen skills and recite daily affirmations to keep a positive mindset. At our monthly Summits, our agents hear inspiring and educational messages from the leadership team and our top-producing agents. We recently launched the Everest Sales System, with a powerful team of coaches available to meet weekly with agents who are seeking to grow their business.

How do you maintain profitability as the market fluctuates?
GM:
The life events that affect buying decisions continue in all real estate cycles. Our philosophy is to keep our agents working in all types of markets. The agents who continue to work will survive and thrive. In a world of competing models, an agent must be able to articulate their value proposition in order to protect commissions.

How do you stay on top of trends and innovations?
GM:
Research. Reading publications, such as those from RISMedia, and exchanging information and ideas with our large network of brokers across the nation.

What market segments/niches have you recently expanded into?
GM:
We are currently focused on expanding our efforts to create one team of services for our customers, offering support in ancillary ventures such as lending, title and escrow.

How are you attracting new agents to your firm and retaining top producers?
GM:
Our training, coaching and events assist us in attracting and retaining top-tier real estate professionals who often perform above their peers at other brokerages. This creates a culture of achievement and friendly competition that casts a vision of what is possible with a real estate career. Many of our agents jokingly mention that at their previous brokerages, they could be a big deal by making more than $100,000 GCI per year. At Everest, the bar has been raised. Nearly one-third of our agents make more than $100,000 GCI, with the top-producing agents exceeding $1.5 million GCI. Our agents collaborate and assist each other and genuinely enjoy being together. We reward our top-performing agents with a top producer trip each year, which is a great recruiting and retention tool. We will travel together next spring to Kauai and treat our agents to 4-7 nights of accommodations depending on their production level.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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2020 Real Estate Tips and Trends

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 13:01

The new year and new decade will bring new trends to the real estate market and see a continuation of some trends that currently affect both real estate investors and homeowners around the country. Low mortgage rates, a changing rental landscape, low inventory and other factors will shape the market in 2020 and could influence the decision to buy or sell real estate this year.

Mortgage Rates Will Stay Low
As the Federal Reserve continues to strive for a slight increase in inflation, homebuyers can expect mortgage interest rates to remain low in 2020.The Fed hopes to boost economic activity with an annual target inflation rate of 2 percent, but it hasn’t been able to achieve that rate consistently for some time. As a result, it has announced that it plans to keep short-term rates low for the time being.

This is good news for homebuyers who plan to finance, especially as a strong economy continues to encourage homeownership in many areas. However, if a homeowner is selling a home in 2020, they can expect buyers to ask the seller to contribute towards closing costs. Average closing costs will remain at about 2 percent to 5 percent of the price of a home, with buyers searching for ways to mitigate them.

Landlords Will Face New Challenges
Residential landlords in many areas may need to tighten their belts as rent-control ordinances come into effect. Average investment in multifamily properties has already dipped in New York and California, where rent control laws were passed last year. Aspiring landlords may find it more difficult to break into the retail investment market, as home prices continue to climb in cities like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, not to mention relative newcomers to the high-rent scene, like Seattle, Portland and Nashville. Rent prices will continue to go up, however, and many younger homebuyers will look to purchase in the suburbs or to relocate altogether to more affordable parts of the country.

Inventory Will Remain Low
As the largest group of millennials turns 30 this year, more and more young people will start looking to buy their first homes, so the number of homes on the market, especially in desirable areas, will remain low, and bidding wars will continue. Many baby boomers are either remaining in their own homes longer or are looking to downsize into condos, townhomes or starter-size homes, which will exacerbate the shortage of properties available on the market.

Starter Homes Will Grow in Popularity
In the wake of the Great Recession, home builders largely focused on catering to the high-end market, but now that the economy has mostly recovered, starter home construction is being ratcheted up to meet the demands of younger homebuyers who want to buy their first homes, and older home buyers who want to downsize. With unemployment and interest rates at record lows, and many millennials getting married and starting families, it’ll be no surprise to see new-build starter homes appearing on the market.

Home Prices Will Slow, but Demand Concentration Will Increase
In 2020, new jobs will become increasingly concentrated around major city centers, with a growing portion of workers in the service industry relocating to those areas to seek employment. That means that home prices in those areas will continue to grow, but they can’t grow forever. Real estate prices will actually grow at a slower rate in 2020 than they have in the past. Demand for housing in big markets will stay strong, but if you’re thinking of selling in an area with a high cost of real estate, now is the time to do it, as home prices must slow to wait for wages in these areas to catch up.

For more articles like this one, visit www.ahs.com.

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Luxury Awaits in Argentina

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 13:00

Paul A. Reynolds

Founded by Jeanne Reynolds, Reynolds Propiedades SA has been serving its clients’ needs since 1966. With five offices in Argentina and one in Montevideo, Uruguay, the firm specializes in properties located in Buenos Aires—both downtown and within the suburbs—with representatives located in Bariloche and Argentina’s wine-producing area, San Rafael, Mendoza. Here, President and Managing Partner Paul A. Reynolds discusses the current state of Argentina’s market.

Please describe your current housing market.
Paul A. Reynolds:
While the average home price in the area currently stands around $300,000 USD, we’re seeing a slight decline in prices, which is mainly due to lower closing prices. Asking prices are basically the same as they were the year prior. We’re also seeing an overload of inventory due to reduced demand.

Tell us about the types of properties in your market and which are most popular.
PR:
Smaller apartment units between 400 and 800 square feet are most popular.

What types of buyers do you work with? Are they predominantly local, or mixed from other countries?
PR:
Our buyers are predominantly local. Looking back, 2002 to 2009 were the best years involving foreign real estate investors. This was during the aftermath of the 300-percent devaluation of the Argentine currency.

What are some of the most important trends in your market?
PR:
Due to the lack of mortgage funding and overall liquidity, there’s a market for micro apartment units with a wide variety of amenities, resulting in an increased demand for rental units. Real estate professionals have had restrictions placed on rental commissions, which are payable 100 percent by property owners today. Prior to this, owners paid one-third of all commissions earned.

What are your biggest challenges/opportunities for growth?
PR:
We’re lacking a credible government economic plan, as well as bank financing, both of which present challenges.

How does being part of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® help advance your business?
PR:
Property owners view our association with LeadingRE as a major opportunity to market their homes to foreign investors, especially in light of the current economic uncertainty prevailing in Argentina. The latter allows us to strongly increase the opportunity of bringing in new listings.

For more information, please visit www.reynoldspropiedades.com.

Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at paige@rismedia.com.

 

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In 94 Percent of Major Markets, Home Prices Up

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 12:49

Across the country, home prices remain on an uptrend, escalating in 94 percent of major metropolitan regions, according to the latest National Association of REALTORS® quarterly report, based on findings for the fourth quarter of 2019. In the fourth quarter, the existing-home median price was $274,900, a 6.6 percent gain year-over-year.

Buyers continue to lean on low mortgage rates, the report shows. In the final quarter of the year, household incomes rose to $79,740—an increase of roughly $2,650 year-over-year. At the same time, to afford a mortgage, NAR estimates homebuyers needed $48,960, or about $3,940 less, year-over-year, due to lower mortgage payments. In the fourth quarter, the average 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.76 percent.

For first-time homebuyers, affordability also expanded last quarter. To afford a mortgage, the average first-time homebuyer needed $48,288, or approximately $575 less year-over-year, and their average monthly mortgage payment slid to $1,006, assuming a 10 percent down payment.

Still, housing options remain sparse. At the end of the fourth quarter, 1.4 million existing homes were on the market, an 8.5 percent deficit year-over-year, according to the report.

“We saw prices increase during every quarter of 2019 above wage growth,” explains Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “It is challenging—especially for those potential buyers—where we have a good economy, low interest rates and a soaring stock market, yet are finding very few homes available for sale.”

In the fourth quarter, appreciation climbed considerably in 18 major markets, including:

  • Trenton, N.J. – 18.2% year-over-year
  • Boise City-Nampa, Idaho – 13.7%
  • Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss. – 11.8%
  • Kingston, N.Y. – 11.2%
  • Albuquerque, N.M. – 11.1%

Meanwhile, the coasts continued their high-price streak, with the costliest homes in:

  • San Jose, Calif. – $1.25 million (-0.3% year-over-year)
  • San Francisco, Calif. – $999,000 (3.9%)
  • Anaheim-Santa Ana, Calif. – $828,000 (3.6%)
  • Urban Honolulu, Hawaii – $812,600 (0%)
  • San Diego, Calif. – $655,000 (4.6%)
  • Boulder, Colo. – $630,400 (6.4%)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif. – $617,300 (7.2%)
  • Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. – $528,800 (8%)
  • Nassau County, N.Y. – $496,600 (3.7%)
  • Boston-Cambridge, Mass. – $482,800 (4.9%)

To afford these areas, a family has to make more than $100,000, assuming 5 percent down on a 30-year fixed mortgage, according to the report.

“Rising home values typically create wealth gains for existing homeowners as shown in NAR’s latest study,” says Yun. “However, areas that are deemed ‘too expensive’ will obviously have trouble attracting residents and companies looking to do business there. We need a good balance that benefits both current and future homeowners, but right now, the balance is still in favor of home sellers.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

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Newsmaker Spotlight: York Baur on Why Achieving Takes Grit

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 12:39

York Baur has been CEO of MoxiWorks since 2012, and during that time, the company has expanded to over 260 brokerage clients, as well as recently acquired Imprev, boosting the tech company’s existing toolkit with marketing automation.

Here, Baur provides insight on what it means to be an RISMedia Real Estate Newsmaker—individuals who are recognized for their positive contributions to the real estate industry—as well as what trends the industry is currently seeing, and what it takes to achieve success in real estate.

You were selected as an RISMedia Real Estate Newsmaker, in the Achiever category. What does it mean to be an achiever in the industry?
York Baur:
Being an achiever takes grit. It means having perseverance and passion for achieving long-term goals. Unlike other industries, real estate isn’t a high-growth, churn-and-burn, VC-fueled industry. So, if you’re going to succeed, you have to have grit, a good plan and staying power to make that plan succeed over time.

How have you used your expertise to become a success story in real estate?
YB:
Much of my career I’ve been involved in building and applying technology to help make salespeople better. The real estate industry is a great example of a selling industry that benefits from technology. And, because the industry has been relatively slow to adopt technology, there’s a lot of opportunity still ahead for the whole industry. We have a chance to dramatically improve productivity through the applications of technology throughout the sales process.

What are some of the trends you’re currently seeing in real estate?
YB: More than ever before, the consumer is demanding a higher-quality experience. This includes higher expectations around professionalism, but also immediate access to data and information without having to talk to someone at every step. Because of this, the agent needs to rely on technology to do the things for them that they can’t, in real-time, provide to a consumer. If the agent does that well, they are left with more time to up their game on professionalism and relationship-building—the pieces that are proven to generate business for them. All of this leads to the challenge of, if you don’t embrace the technology, you’re going to fall behind on consumer expectations.

How is MoxiWorks innovating around this growing challenge?
YB:
MoxiWorks has been adapting and innovating around the newest trends for a decade, but always around two core principles we believe to be vital for success in the long run. First, we built tools that make an agent great with the people they already know. And, we built those tools on the MoxiCloud. The MoxiCloud is an open platform that allows our tools to work with 50 other companies’ technology so that the brokerage and their agents get the best solutions for each of their unique situations.

As we continue to move through this consolidation phase in our space, we encourage brokerages to do a better job of asking the hard questions of their vendors. The way we see it, you can’t be good at everything, so being all things to all people isn’t a recipe for success. Being a true open platform gives customers and users what they need from the experts that create those technologies.

What advice can you provide to anyone looking to become an industry expert?
YB: The thing about our industry is that it’s like no other. I came in as an outsider to this space and had to learn to be open-minded and not make assumptions that this industry was similar to others. In order to succeed, I recommended really learning the ins and outs of the industry as a whole to make the biggest impact and become an expert and leader in it.

To view Baur’s 2020 Newsmaker profile and those of all the other honorees this year, visit RISMedia.com/2020-Newsmakers.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

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1 RPR ‘Wow’ Moment and 5 Closed Deals

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 13:09

NAR PULSE—The real estate team of Robyn Anicherro and Nicole Nicolay share their story of how using RPR created a big “wow” moment for one client, which led to a series of more “wow” moments and closing table successes.

Funding Unexpected Expenses
Have your agents set aside savings for unanticipated events like a market downturn or major repair? Encourage them to join NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness’ FREE webinar on Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. CT to learn about budgeting for emergencies. Register today at NAR.realtor/CFFW/webinars.

Go Behind the Scenes of NAR’s New Ad Campaign
A lot went into the making of the new “That’s Who We R” campaign! See how it came together by viewing the short behind-the-scenes video at ThatsWhoWeR.realtor.

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Brokers: Don’t Miss Your Opportunity to Participate in the Power Broker Survey

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 13:07

RISMedia’s 32nd Annual Power Broker Survey is closing Tuesday, Feb. 18. To participate in the survey this year, brokers are required to have completed a minimum of $75 million in sales volume and 250 transactions in 2019. 

New to the Power Broker Survey?
If you participated in past years, RISMedia emailed you your firm’s link to the survey. If you did not receive it, or are new to the survey, you can complete it here:

More: How Participating in the Power Broker Survey Can Help Your Business

Important Information

  • The survey should be completed by an individual, shareholder or entity with a majority ownership interest inclusive of subsidiaries. For your survey to be accepted, please be sure to check the boxes on the verification page and make sure it is signed by: 1. your broker; and 2. your CFO, accountant or other party who can validate that the data submitted is correct.
  • If you are part of a franchise brand, your corporate office may have already submitted data on your behalf. We encourage you to complete the survey nonetheless, to enrich our research results.
  • There is no cost or any obligation to participate in RISMedia’s Power Broker Survey.

I Completed the Survey—Now What?
The Power Broker ranking and results will be revealed on April 1, 2020, in a complete directory and interactive ranking on RISMedia.com, and in a partial ranking in RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. Brokers who rank in the Top 500 will be invited to RISMedia’s Power Broker Reception & Dinner, an annual gala held in conjunction with the REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

Questions?
Contact Executive Editor Maria Patterson at maria@rismedia.com or IT Manager James Jones at jim@rismedia.com.

The post Brokers: Don’t Miss Your Opportunity to Participate in the Power Broker Survey appeared first on RISMedia.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Disincentivized Homeownership, With Crippling Repercussions: Study

Sun, 02/09/2020 - 10:07

Affordability Forum Highlights Need for New Policy

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act disincentivized homeownership, the housing industry says, bearing broad consequences in the economy, for household wealth, and more.

At a forum hosted by the National Association of REALTORS® on Thursday, experts and legislators met on policy, addressing affordability, credit, gaps in the homeownership rate and supply, and the far-reaching implications of the legislation.

In tandem, NAR released reports on accessory dwelling units, tenure and zoning, and, most notably, a research white paper, prepared by Rosen Consulting Group (RCG), to advocate for incentivizing ownership.

Among its provisions, the TCJA cut down the mortgage interest deduction, imposed a limit on state and local tax deductions—which include property taxes—and doubled the standard deduction, deterring filers from itemizing, the RCG research shows.

To combat the fallout, NAR and RCG propose a credit, which would entail:

  • A benefit to first-time homebuyers
  • Basing eligibility on local parameters, such as earnings and home prices, with adjustable ceilings and/or income phase-outs
  • Basing eligibility on home-sale timing, when the benefit to the economy is larger than in later years, with phase-outs over time
  • The ability to choose the credit or to itemize, based on circumstances, year to year

“It is critical to structure any new federal tax policy that incentivizes homeownership as a tax credit rather than a deduction, so that the benefit can be taken without the need for itemizing deductions,” the RCG research states. “This would better support the large and rapidly growing groups of households who have struggled to gain access to homeownership during the last decade and have now been largely excluded from the annual federal tax incentives for owning versus renting.”

By basing eligibility on indicators in the local market, the credit “equalizes” homeownership, according to the research, and assists homebuyers in most need of support. Likewise, if eligibility hinges on sale timing, the credit encourages homeowners to trade up, after their current eligibility phases out—adding crucial inventory to the market. Per the research, consumer spending tends to track up in earlier homeownership years.

Most vitally, with a credit, affordability can expand, especially to the group hardest hit in the recession: the $50,000-$200,000-earning households, which include minorities and millennials.

Among $50,000-$150,000 households, specifically, African Americans comprise 5.5 million individuals, Hispanics, 7 million, and millennials, 20 million, according to the research. As of the fourth quarter of 2019, both the African American and Hispanic homeownership rates trailed whites, 44 percent and 48.1 percent versus 73.7 percent, respectively. Despite the millennial rate rising to 37.6 percent, it continues to lag, as well, lower than the pre-recession record, 42 percent.

‘Institutional Challenges Still Must Be Faced and Defeated’
During the forum, NAR President Vince Malta discussed the importance of unity when it comes to ensuring the future of homeownership, especially for minority populations.

“We have to work together with a broad coalition of multicultural real estate groups, lenders and builders to broaden housing opportunities for the underserved communities,” Malta said. “We believe that widely spread property ownership helps makes society fairer, more prosperous and more equitable. Everyone deserves access to affordable housing.”

Among the challenges, access to financing has posed roadblocks, forum panelists shared.

“There are many people who are mortgage-ready but are not buying. Why? Because they can’t afford it. Because of low inventory. But also because they don’t have access to credit,” said Sara Rodriguez, CEO of Titan Title and 2019 president-elect of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

Discrimination, too, has inarguably played a role, explained Bryan Greene, director of Fair Housing Policy at NAR.

“You might expect there to be a lower homeownership rate among minority Americans, as a history of discrimination in this country has left many with lower incomes…and less generational wealth to pass on for down payments,” Greene said. “We’ve seen homeownership rates among racial groups steadily rise, but I think many of us would have expected rates to have risen more.”

“Being educated on down payment assistance and credit will help increase black homeownership,” noted Donnell Williams, president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. “The average African American purchasing a home is 48 years old—we are moving that down with programs and by providing education.”

As Greene pointed out, just last year, African American homeownership leveled to its pre-1968 rate, when the Fair Housing Act first passed.

“The fact that homeownership rates for African Americans have regressed in spite of the presence of fair housing laws makes clear that various institutional challenges still must be faced and defeated,” Malta said, adding that “by strengthening post-purchase counseling; funding programs to prevent foreclosure for low- and moderate-income and vulnerable families of color; and building tools that help create early-warning displacement triggers, we can ensure first-time homebuyers have the knowledge and resources to remain homeowners for the rest of their lives.”

At the beginning of the year, NAR announced changes in its approach to defending fair housing, with a new plan that calls for examining licensing regulations and training, among other programs.

“As this country becomes more diverse, we need to make sure, as real estate professionals—whether Hispanic, Asian, white or whoever—that you serve people the correct way no matter your background, and that you provide full access to the opportunities we are fighting for,” said Jim Park, chairman emeritus of the Asian Real Estate Association of America.

‘Overturning a Century of U.S. Tax and Housing Policy’
As an economic engine, homeownership matters, the RCG research shows.

Beyond individual savings and wealth—a compelling incentive on its own—homeownership contributes to GDP as a portion of spending (e.g., paying utilities). Examining GDP in the third quarter of 2019, housing-related spending sunk to 14.6 percent, down from the historical 16.9 percent per year. Construction (including home renovations) historically nets 5.1 percent of GDP per year, but as of the third quarter of 2019, contributed only 3.1 percent. Since 2010, GDP growth has stalled under 3 percent.

In a compound effect, homeownership also boosts the labor market, because businesses can collateralize their home, fueling hiring and spending. According to the research, small businesses employ 47 percent of the private workforce, and, in separate studies, both Harvard and MIT connected dots between entrepreneurship, homeownership and the housing market. Affordability is linked to local job market strength, as well, additional findings from NAR show.

With the current economic expansion, the longest on record, homeownership can continue driving momentum, or cushion a downturn, NAR and RCG say. In fact, if activity in the housing market stabilized—namely, construction and home sales—RCG estimates 0.25 percent-0.5 percent gains in GDP per year, over the next four years, and $220 billion-$400 billion into the economy overall. According to additional estimates from NAR, one existing-home sale translates to $85,000 in “economic impact.”

Then there are the intangibles, like the American Dream homeownership symbolizes, and benefits to the community, such as improved neighborhoods and schools, and, for children especially, safety and stability. According to NAR, homeownership preserves these, and more.

However, as a result of the TCJA, the amount of deductions dropped significantly in 2018, markedly within the $50,000-$200,000 segment, the research shows. Moreover, because the MID and SALT deductions are not adjusted for inflation—in contrast to the standard deduction—they have less long-term viability, because the bar to itemize keeps moving out of reach.

“In effect, the TCJA practically terminated the annual tax benefits for owning a home for all but the highest-income households, overturning a century of U.S. tax and housing policy,” the research states.

Importantly, NAR and RCG acknowledge that while the TCJA effectively erased incentives, it could help in unexplored ways, such as allowing for down payment savings—a challenge for homebuyers today.

From a macro perspective, however, the benefits of homeownership spread wide, and as such, it is critical for the federal government to support, NAR and RCG say.

“No longer providing a tax incentive for buying a home versus renting is a fundamental policy shift for tens of millions of households,” the research states. “A larger number of households in the middle-class, minority and millennial group…continue to face the greatest headwinds to increased homeownership. In order to ensure U.S. tax policies
support access to the American Dream of owning a home…it is imperative that homeownership can and should be incentivized in the federal tax system.”

In December, Congress approved federal funds for two key provisions: the ability to deduct mortgage insurance premiums, and the ability to exclude debt that was forgiven (i.e., in a short sale). Both had been pending reauthorization. The House of Representatives also passed H.R. 5377, which proposes eliminating the $10,000 limit on SALT deductions for two years, beginning with 2020 returns. The bill is currently awaiting a Senate vote.

Along with assessing the disparities in homeownership and the impact of the TCJA, the forum hit on short supply, with consensus that the affordability crisis is pervasive, and that the biggest challenges have regulatory roots—in fact, one panelist shared that it contributes to 24 percent of the cost of erecting a single-family home. In another session, panelists touched on the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, an expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, which centers on declining existing homes and rehabilitation.

In addition to leadership at NAR, the forum included perspectives from Muriel Bowser, District of Columbia mayor; Stefanie DeLuca, the James Coleman professor of Sociology and Social Policy at John Hopkins University; and Brian Montgomery, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Ahead of the forum, NAR urged HUD to consider a litany of policy suggestions, centered on credit, GSE reform, “Yes in My Backyard”—which addresses land-use restrictions—and more.

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

Liz Dominguez contributed to this report.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

The post The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Disincentivized Homeownership, With Crippling Repercussions: Study appeared first on RISMedia.

‘Do What You Love’ Sweepstakes Asks Real Estate Professionals What They Love About Real Estate

Sun, 02/09/2020 - 10:05

From being their own boss to having a career where there’s no cap to your income potential, people have been flocking to real estate for decades. To celebrate the month of love, we’re asking prospective and licensed real estate agents why they love real estate.

All you have to do is upload a five- to 15-second video explaining why you love real estate and you’ll be entered to win a $300 VISA gift card! For sweepstakes rules and information, visit this page. Sweepstakes ends Feb. 29, 2020, so enter now!

Having trouble coming up with just one or two reasons? Here are some ideas to narrow it down:

Flexible Schedule
One of the benefits associated with a career in real estate is its flexible schedule. Want to be able to pick your kids up from school every day? Want to take that 10 a.m. yoga class you’ve had your eye on? Want to sleep in during the week? You can as a real estate agent!

Unlimited Income Potential
One of the best things about real estate is that you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your annual income. Unlike salaried or wage-paying jobs, this commission-based career allows you to get back in income what you put into it in effort and energy.

Passion and Interest in Real Estate
One of the main reasons people love real estate is because they are passionate about houses, interior design, and basically anything else that you could watch on HGTV. The ability to work in an industry that you are truly passionate about is one of the reasons why real estate agents boast one of the highest job satisfaction rates in the country!

Be Your Own Boss
The real estate business is inherently entrepreneurial, which means for most real estate agents, you’re the one calling the shots. When you’re a real estate agent, you can win “World’s Best Boss” each year running!

Work With People
Another major reason why real estate agents love their work is they get to work and interact with a variety of people. While some office work is required, the majority of agents’ time is spent on-the-go, not in front of a computer screen all day.

So, why do you love real estate? Let us know!

Yazir Phelps is the president of Colibri Real Estate, a national leader in online learning for pre-licensing, continuing education and professional development. Colibri Real Estate’s portfolio of brands includes Real Estate Express, McKissock Learning, Superior School of Real Estate, Allied Schools and The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing. Phelps has over 18 years of experience in marketing at Fortune 500 organizations and over five years of experience working directly with real estate professionals. Learn more at realestateexpress.com.

The post ‘Do What You Love’ Sweepstakes Asks Real Estate Professionals What They Love About Real Estate appeared first on RISMedia.

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