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Updated: 1 hour 2 min ago

NAR Carries Into the New Year its Resolution to Combat Housing Discrimination

Sun, 02/09/2020 - 10:04

Since the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, our nation has made great strides promoting equal housing opportunities for all Americans. Despite this progress, housing discrimination persists, and many of our metropolitan areas remain racially segregated.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has long been a champion of the Fair Housing Act and the critical role it plays in protecting the American Dream. In 2019, NAR undertook several initiatives to ensure Americans can purchase homes in communities of their choice, protecting their ability to build equity and accumulate wealth through homeownership. NAR looks to redouble those activities in 2020.

Last year, NAR implemented organizational reforms in order to better deliver on its fair housing obligations and commitments. Whereas, for decades, NAR’s Diversity Committee handled the association’s fair housing advocacy work, NAR in September created a new 45-person Fair Housing Committee in order to position the association as a committed and innovative leader within the industry.

I joined NAR in November 2019 as its director of Fair Housing Policy. In this role, I serve as the staff executive of the new Fair Housing Committee. I am also partnering with national fair housing groups and others to promote accountability among NAR’s membership, reinforce our association’s commitment to nondiscrimination and increase REALTOR® access to improved training programs.

The creation of the new Fair Housing Committee strengthens NAR’s existing Diversity Committee, allowing for a renewed focus on promoting diversity and inclusion in the REALTOR® association, developing programs and services geared toward the needs of minority members and cultivating NAR’s relationships with multicultural real estate organizations and other important stakeholders. The Diversity Committee works closely with the Fair Housing Committee, recognizing that an inclusive and engaged membership, coupled with strong partnerships among minority communities, helps shape more informed and impactful public policy on fair housing. For example, the committees will work collectively throughout 2020 with the intention of bridging the homeownership gap between white and minority homeowners.

This past year saw incidents that underscored the need for the National Association of REALTORS® to increase its commitment to strengthening and solidifying fair housing protections in communities across the country. In the immediate aftermath of a New York Newsday investigative report alleging racial discrimination in Long Island’s housing market, NAR:

  • Emphasized its support for Fair Housing Testing. NAR issued a statement underscoring the need for paired-testing audits to ensure our industry is held to the highest standard.
  • Supported increases for fair housing activities in the FY2020 federal budget. In early December, NAR publicly called on the chairmen of the Congressional Appropriations Committees to provide more funding for fair housing activities across all federal, state and local government entities, along with their private, non-profit partners.

In 2020, NAR will work to heighten our members’ understanding of their obligations under fair housing laws while continuing to push for greater accountability throughout the real estate industry when those laws are violated. The Newsday report was a reaffirmation that NAR must maintain its leadership role in order to ensure the nation achieves the goals established when the Fair Housing Act was signed into law over a half-century ago.

When President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law in 1968, he said, “We have come some of the way, not near all of it. There is much yet to do.” NAR has done much to advance fair housing the last several decades. Much more is yet to come.

Bryan Greene is NAR’s director of Fair Housing Policy.
For more information, please visit

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Tornado Warnings Issued in California: How to Prepare for the Next One

Sun, 02/09/2020 - 10:03

As Christmas Day neared its end in 2019, Californians in parts of Santa Barbara and Orange County received an unexpected tornado warning due to a risk caused by heavy rain, snow and winds, resulting in a winter storm.

Are you prepared for a possible tornado or other natural disaster? Do you have adequate insurance, current infrastructure and preparedness?

Most California homes were built for earthquakes, not tornadoes. Two storms developed during this time, with one in Southern California that flooded the 5 Freeway in the Grapevine, the Angeles Crest Highway, the 15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass and other freeways across Los Angeles County. A second storm, arriving from the Gulf of Alaska, dropped more rain and snow across Southern California. So far (at press time), Los Angeles County has received 1.5-2.5 inches of rain, with some regions reaching three inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

In Northern California, there was a winter storm warning for both San Diego and Santa Barbara Counties as heavy snow made for dangerous travel by car. Up to 14 inches of snow was expected to fall in Santa Barbara County mountain areas, and up to eight inches of snow was expected in Julian and Pine Valley.

Fortunately, both tornado warnings expired shortly after with no reports of damage, but the incident has hopefully increased awareness among California residents.

Tornadoes are not commonly associated with the state of California, but they are more common than you might think. According to the National Weather Service data from an almost 20-year period between 1991 and 2010, California averaged 11 tornadoes per year, while Kansas averaged 96 and Oklahoma averaged 62. Northern California has observed 101 tornadoes since 1950.

As weather across the world becomes more unpredictable with climate change, it’s important for residents in California (and other states) to learn how to protect themselves and their homes in the event of a tornado. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) has crucial information to begin your education.

What should you do when another tornado warning occurs? DHS recommends that you immediately find safe shelter in a sturdy building, safe room, basement, storm cellar or small interior room on the lowest level of a building. Make sure to stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.

Below are some steps you can take to prepare for tornadoes in the future.

Tornado Preparation

  • Know the signs: rotating, funnel-shaped cloud; approaching cloud of debris; or a loud roar.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. Also check out the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio.
  • Pay attention to weather reports for meteorologists’ predictions.
  • Identify a safe shelter near you, such as a safe room built using FEMA criteria or a storm shelter built to ICC 500 standards. Consider building your own safe room that meets these criteria.

For more information on being proactive in case of a tornado or other natural disaster, visit

Desirée Patno is the CEO and president of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE), as well as chairwoman of NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC). With 30 years of experience in housing, Patno is a champion for women’s economic growth and independence. In 2017, named her the Highest-Ranking Woman and 4th Overall Top Real Estate Influencer to Follow. For more information, please visit

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How Participating in the Power Broker Report Can Help Your Business

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 21:02

With the deadline to submit RISMedia’s 2020 Power Broker Survey just over one week away, now is the time to ensure your inclusion in the industry’s preeminent ranking of the nation’s top residential real estate firms. Here’s a look at just some of the firms that have already completed this year’s survey, ensuring their inclusion in the 32nd Annual Power Broker Report, to be released in April:

eXp World Holdings
Crye-Leike Real Estate Services
Equity Real Estate
Latter & Blum Companies
Realty Austin
Watson Realty Corp.
Lyon Real Estate
Shorewest REALTORS
Zephyr Real Estate
Realty connect USA
Hasson Company REALTORS
Revelation Real Estate
McEnearney Associates Inc.
Rose & Womble Realty
PMZ Real Estate
Chase International Real Estate
Legacy Real Estate & Associates
Five Star Real Estate
Key Realty, LTD

RISMedia’s Power Broker Report is the industry’s longest-running, preeminent ranking of U.S. residential real estate firms by sales volume and transactions. 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. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 18, 2020.

Why participate? Here are the top five reasons how completing the survey can help your business:

  1. Superstar Status: You’ll join the industry’s elite when your firm is listed in the longest-running, largest-circulated ranking of the nation’s top residential real estate firms!
  2. Widespread Exposure: RISMedia’s Power Broker Report is distributed to more than 500,000 real estate professionals and puts a powerful PR vehicle in your hands for local and national media. A turnkey press kit is delivered to all participants!
  3. Recruiting Power: Being ranked as an RISMedia Power Broker will help you attract the best agents and retain your top producers.
  4. Third-Party Credibility: Your standing in RISMedia’s Power Broker Report sets you apart from the competition and helps establish instant trust with clients and prospects.
  5. World-Class Networking: To Top 500 Power Brokers will be invited to RISMedia’s 32nd Annual Power Broker Reception & Dinner at the NAR Conference & Expo in New Orleans on Nov. 13, 2020, an invitation-only event honoring the nation’s top brokers.

New to the Power Broker Survey?
If you participated in past years, RISMedia will be emailing 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.

Important Information

  • The survey should be completed by an individual, shareholder or entity with 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 be submitting 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 and in a partial ranking in RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. Brokers who rank in the Top 500 will be invited to RISMedia’s 25th Anniversary Power Broker Reception & Dinner, an annual gala held on Nov. 13 in New Orleans, La., in conjunction with the REALTORS® Conference & Expo. 

Contact Executive Editor Maria Patterson at or IT Manager James Jones at

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NAR Advocacy Delivers Results in Washington

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 21:01

Every day, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) fights for policy initiatives on behalf of the nation’s 1.4 million REALTORS® and 75 million property owners. In December, these efforts paid off when key provisions impacting the real estate industry were included in the latest federal spending bill.

REALTORS® have much to celebrate in the funding package for fiscal year 2020. The bill reauthorizes the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program for seven years, provides authority for the National Flood Insurance Program through Sept. 30 and extends several tax provisions important to real estate markets.

“Confidence and stability are two of the most critical factors impacting America’s housing market and economy,” says NAR President Vince Malta. “Fortunately, this funding agreement delivers that certainty to our members and the clients they work so hard to serve. NAR fought to eliminate short-term questions surrounding the status of the National Flood Insurance Program, federal terrorism insurance and these tax provisions, all of which will allow our members to plan better, minimize stress for prospective homebuyers and sellers, and keep our nation’s economy moving forward.”

Here is an update on the status of NAR’s advocacy efforts related to these programs:

Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIP)
NAR scored a major victory with the seven-year reauthorization of TRIP, reassuring REALTORS® that the program will be in place until Dec. 31, 2027. Primarily benefitting commercial members, terrorism risk insurance is often required to secure financing for properties nationwide.

TRIP has its origins in the 9/11 attacks, after which many insurers raised terrorism risk insurance to unsustainable prices or stopped offering coverage entirely. The initial Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, providing a system of shared public and private compensation for insured losses from acts of terrorism, became law in 2002. Before its scheduled expiration in 2020, NAR repeatedly called on Congress to reauthorize TRIP, publicly supporting Chairwoman Maxine Waters’ Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
A nine-month extension of the NFIP’s authority will ensure policies can be issued and renewed through September. Since the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act expired in 2017, the program has operated on a string of short-term extensions with multiple lapses during that time. That unpredictability has put home sales in jeopardy and left insurance policies in limbo, with NAR research showing that NFIP lapses threaten 1,300 transactions daily.

NAR’s goal is to work toward a long-term solution that will ensure the program is solvent and sustainable moving forward. That’s why the association spent the year supporting the NFIP Reauthorization Act, which includes significant reforms and a five-year reauthorization, striking a delicate balance between sustainability and affordability.

Tax Extenders
Included in the spending package are temporary extensions of three tax provisions that expired at the end of 2017. The bill extends these provisions retroactively and through 2020:

  • Exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt from gross income, meaning that owners of primary residences who sold them short and had part of their mortgage debt written off will not have to pay tax on the amount forgiven
  • Deductibility of premiums for mortgage insurance
  • Deduction of the cost of energy efficiency improvements to commercial buildings

NAR also advocated strongly for H.R. 5377, which passed the House in December. “The Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act” provides a temporary two-year repeal of the $10,000 cap imposed on state and local tax deductions (SALT).

Looking to the Future
Though NAR is thrilled with these important legislative victories, the association will continue to work vigilantly to advocate for bipartisan congressional support for public policy initiatives that protect property owners, promote the interests of REALTORS® and advance the real estate industry.

For more information, please visit

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Mayi de la Vega: A South Florida Success Story

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 21:00

Vitals: ONE Sotheby’s International Realty
Years in Business: 11
Size: 18 offices, 900 agents
Regions Served: From Coral Gables to Melbourne
2019 Sales Volume: $3.1 billion

There’s a reason people in South Florida call Mayi de la Vega, founder and CEO of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, a “Cuban-American powerhouse.”

Since starting the firm in 2008, de la Vega has grown it from just a single office to 17 offices, and is regularly one of the top 10 highest-producing Sotheby’s International Realty affiliates worldwide.

What is your firm’s unique value proposition in your market?
Mayi de la Vega: Brand, ownership, tools, top agents, support—it’s not just one thing. It’s a spread of solutions, people and strategies that we offer to engage with our agents, allowing them to be successful.

How are you competing against new business models?
MD: We’re playing offense. We’re growing our business through both organic agent recruiting and thoughtful, strategic acquisition. While we are highly competitive in splits, we focus on support, especially in technology, marketing and training. Because our business is local and our owners are here, everyone has a direct line to speak or meet with senior leadership at any time. We’re not a corporation in another state or even country that has investors or stockholders to report to. Agents, at the end of the day, want and need to understand that support at every level is nearby. Our approach is always to be engaged, local and family-owned.

How did the South Florida market fare in 2019?
MD: Overall, our market was far more normal as compared to previous years. Our sales were about 10 percent higher than 2018, and in a market where price reductions are becoming far more common, this is a serious accomplishment. The market continues to offer good deals for savvy shoppers since, for much of the footprint, inventory is plentiful. This is not the case in our northern locations where inventory is very light. Sellers are slowly accepting that the pricing of their properties needs to be leveled to the current market. With interest rates being historically low, and plentiful inventory, “right pricing” will create more traffic, and, ultimately, more sales.

How do you maintain profitability as the market fluctuates?
MD: It’s a combination of things. First, you must be very careful with your expenses: constant vigilance on your spend, and always take the opportunity to renegotiate with your vendors. Significant savings are always around, it’s just a matter of being a detective to cull them and then lower them. Additionally, it’s not just how much, but how you pay. Terms can be very flexible, which offers the ability to manage cash flow. Agent add-ons, such as allowances, should be continually evaluated and aligned to agent production. These can add up to unbelievably large amounts of spend if not managed. The key to any brokerage is its ancillary services. Without these, massive opportunities are lost.

What are some of your most successful recruiting and retention strategies?
MD: It’s all about relationships. You must engage with the agents and create the relationship first. Of course, the environment is highly competitive and slanted toward the agents’ benefits package, but you’ll never get there without a relationship. The same is true for retention. Value, trust, partnership and continuous communication are key in retention of any agent or team. Be proactive with business planning and course correction. Agents need to feel you care only about them, which comes from lots of one-on-one coaching, mentoring and friendly chit chat. All of this helps the relationship, and the better it is, the harder it is for the agent to leave.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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2020 Election Candidates: How They’ll Affect First-Time Homebuyers

Thu, 02/06/2020 - 13:09

This year’s election is proving to be one of the most contentious battles for the White House the country has seen in years. Both Republican and Democratic candidates have established their platforms on issues from immigration reform to healthcare. Aside from those issues, a robust economy and low mortgage rates, where do some of the 2020 presidential election candidates stand on housing policies, and how will their plans affect the first-time homebuyers out there?

Republican Incumbent President Donald Trump
In September 2019, the Trump Administration announced its plan to reform the housing finance system and privatize the government-backed mortgage entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Treasury Housing Reform Plan has three focal points: 1) limit the role of the federal government within the mortgage market, 2) protect taxpayers from future bailouts, and 3) promote market competition in the housing finance system.

Proponents of the plan argue that it promotes sustainable homeownership and staves off a severe housing crisis like the one in 2008 that saw housing prices plummet nationally—on average almost 20 percent. Critics of the plan argue that a mortgage industry regulated by the free market is inherently biased against low-income families, therefore becoming a barrier to homeownership for many.

How approval of this plan could affect real estate agents: Private lenders favor strong credit and stable incomes, so young adults (who typically have shorter credit histories and lower incomes) may find it more difficult to get approved for a mortgage. This could limit the number of younger buyers entering the market, reducing the potential business opportunities for agents. It could also push down housing demand as more buyers continue renting.

Democratic Candidate and Former Vice President Joe Biden
The former vice president and senator from Delaware hasn’t announced a universal housing policy as of this writing. Thus far, he has campaigned for justice system reforms that focus on providing paths to housing for those with criminal records. He also plans to invest in low-income communities “to ensure that every American has access to clean drinking water, well-paved roads, high-speed broadband, safe schools and affordable housing.”

Though Biden’s universal housing plans remain unclear, his platform champions an expansion of middle-class jobs and opportunities, revitalization of distressed cities and climate-centric incentives for homeowners to retrofit their buildings for reduced carbon footprints.

What could this mean for real estate agents? While it’s hard to say without a definitive plan, Biden’s “second chance” policy could potentially squeeze the starter home market even tighter than it already is, depending on how and where his efforts are focused. This could increase the price of starter homes and mean more showings and offers as you help your buyers find a home and place the winning bid. It could help homeowners to sell their homes faster and receive more competitive offers.

Democratic Candidate Senator Bernie Sanders
Among the Vermont Senator’s proposals is one that would end mortgage sales to Wall Street vulture funds and “thoroughly investigate and regulate the practices” of large rental housing investors and owners. Sanders also wants to boost enforcements to protect buyers from potentially fraudulent or predatory mortgage lending practices and ensure that all lending costs and risks are clear and highly visible, instead of buried in the fine print.

What could this plan mean for real estate agents? These measures could mean that fewer homes fall into foreclosure, reducing market volatility that could negatively affect buyers. However, it could also reduce inventory in an already tight market. Additionally, the protective policies could help prevent buyers who lack homeownership education or experience from defaulting on their mortgages.

Democratic Candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren
The Massachusetts Senator’s housing platform rests largely on reducing rental costs by 10 percent by investing “$500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three million units that will be affordable to lower-income families.”

Warren also plans to invest in middle-class housing opportunities with a “Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund,” a $4 billion spend to construct new housing for middle-class renters in communities with severe housing supply shortages. How could this affect real estate agents? Such a laser focus on increasing rental opportunities could decrease the demand for available homes for sale, subsequently driving home prices down into more accessible levels for entry-level buyers.

Housing may not be one of the hot-button issues this election year, but it’s still important to be informed on the issues. Do you have questions about how the 2020 presidential candidates will affect first-time homebuyers? Head over to our Secrets of Top Selling Agents Facebook Group to see what other agents may have to say.

Mark Mathis
is vice president of Sales for For more information, please visit

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Latest Tax Scam Holds Your Info for Ransom: Here’s How to Spot It and Other Fraud

Thu, 02/06/2020 - 13:05

(TNS)—Most of us find it nerve-racking enough that we’re forced to focus on gathering our piles of paperwork to fill out our tax returns.

Now adding to our stress, we must watch out for tax season scam artists, too. The crooks are everywhere from the gym parking lot to the latest emails and text messages.

A new trend: Expect an increase in ransomware attacks in 2020 on tax preparers where time-sensitive files may be frozen and only thawed when tax preparers pay a ransom to the hackers, according to Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout, which offers identity theft protection and data security.

Levin said sometimes a ransom is paid, the files are released and the hackers still use data that has been stolen to file false tax returns.

Fraudsters want your Social Security number and other key personal information in order to file fake tax returns as early as they can in the season to claim inflated tax refunds. So, the con artists will be busy long before the April 15 tax deadline.

The crooks want to e-file tax returns before you do because they know that the Internal Revenue Service system will reject a tax return when the IRS has already received another return using the same Social Security number. The IRS will first process e-filed tax returns on Jan. 27.

One huge red flag for ID theft: You discover that you can’t e-file your tax return because of an issue relating to a duplicate Social Security number. (The IRS will also reject an e-filed return for basic errors, such as if you misspelled the name the IRS has on file, but you would be able to resubmit an e-file in many cases if the issue is properly corrected.)

If you discover that a fraudulent tax return has been filed with your Social Security number, you must first file IRS Form 14039 to alert the IRS that you’re a victim of ID theft.

In 2018, the 649,000 confirmed fraudulent returns attempted to claim $3.1 billion in refunds, according to the IRS. The IRS said it stopped 597,000 tax returns filed by identity thieves claiming $6 billion dollars in 2017 tax refunds.

As part of a Security Summit Initiative, the IRS is working with representatives of state tax agencies, tax preparation firms, payroll processors and others to combat tax refund fraud that hinges on stolen personal information.

The crooks get a leg up by stealing key information to make their fake returns look more legitimate. Much financial information is already out there after major data breaches such as those at Equifax, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Anthem. But cybercriminals are still actively seeking Social Security numbers and other data, too, with tricks as common as a phishing email that targets tax professionals, retirees or business owners.

Here’s a rundown on some of the latest scams:

They’re calling, again, about your Social Security account.
Crooks are claiming that there is a problem with your Social Security account. Some may tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended. It’s another attempt to scare you into returning a robocall.

Many demand action now. Some want you to “verify” your financial information, such as your Social Security account and banking information. Others might demand money on a gift card or Bitcoin.

In January, the Inspector General of Social Security warned that telephone scammers may take the next step by sending phony documents by email to convince potential victims that they must comply with the fraudster’s demands. The attachments may involve letters that appear to be from Social Security or the Social Security Office of the Inspector General. But retirees and others shouldn’t be fooled by official-looking letterhead and government jargon.

A new online system was announced in November to report Social Security scams online at

Never provide sensitive information—or authenticate yourself—to someone who contacts you out of the blue, Levin said. Don’t trust caller ID.

Business owners, does that IRS notice seem weird?
ID thieves are increasingly showing sophisticated knowledge of the tax code and even aiming to file fraudulent tax returns relating to a business or partnership, according to the IRS.

Business owners are warned that one sign of trouble is that the company may fail to receive routine correspondence from the IRS because the thief has changed the address for the business. Or you might receive an IRS notice that doesn’t seem to make sense based on your business or tax situation.

Tax preparation software for business-related returns now requests more information to protect the tax filer, including the name and Social Security number of the company executive authorized to sign the corporate tax return.

Sophisticated phishing scams are targeting payroll offices, too, and requesting W-2 information. Scammers might pose as the CEO or vice president of the company’s payroll organization to trick someone with access to data into disclosing sensitive information for the entire workforce.

“This scam has emerged as one of the most dangerous phishing emails in the tax community,” according to H&R Block’s Tax Institute.

The W-2 scam has hit all types of organizations—big corporations, small businesses, public schools, universities, hospitals, tribal governments and charities.

“Never click on a link or open an attachment without independent confirmation of the sender,” Levin warns.

Cybercrooks are engaging in social engineering to make some emails seem more legitimate. Some may reach out to you directly by name to sound like your boss, such as: “Dear Chris: You really messed up this time. See attached.”

Or you might receive a text, robocall or email that’s supposedly from the security department of your bank or the board of elections to “confirm your information on file.” A text may even say your account has been frozen because of suspicious activity and ask you to click on a link and enter your User ID in order to resolve the issue.

Don’t be fooled. Contact your bank directly if you’re concerned.

Levin warned that some of the malware-laden links may include authentic looking graphics, excellent grammar and no misspellings.

“Often the only way to tell something is amiss is by looking at the URL—but even that can be misleading,” Levin said.

Is your tax preparer about to get scammed?
Andy Phillips, director of H&R Block’s Tax Institute, said fraudsters have really narrowed their focus on tax preparers, not only to steal client data but also to get their hands on information from the professional, such as e-service passwords.

“If a fraudster is able to hack into a tax preparer’s network, they may be able to steal personal information of all clients that have filed with that preparer,” Phillips said.

Some fraudsters, he said, have even found ways to change refund account information to ensure that the fraudster gets the tax refund.

No, the IRS isn’t emailing you a tax transcript.
ID thieves are crafting phishing emails to trick users into giving up passwords and other information, perhaps by even impersonating your tax provider. And they’re sending attachments hoping that you’ll be duped into downloading malware.

One scam involves emails that pretend to be from the “IRS Online.” The scam email carries an attachment labeled “Tax Account Transcript” or something similar, and the subject line uses some variation of the phrase “tax transcript.”

Phillips, of H&R Block, said other examples of imposter IRS emails include phrases such as “Automatic Income Tax Reminder” or “Electronic Tax Return Reminder.”

The pitch might look more legitimate because of links that show an IRS-like website and details pretending to be about a taxpayer’s income tax refund or e-filed return. Some emails contain a “temporary password” to access the files.

“But when taxpayers try to access these, it turns out to be a malicious file,” Phillips said.

You can forward malicious emails to

ID thieves still steal purses and wallets.
Crooks can go the old-fashioned route by breaking into unlocked cars in a subdivision or lockers at the local gym to steal personal ID information too, such as a Social Security card or an old Medicare card that includes your Social Security number in your wallet.

It should go without saying but you need to make sure that you don’t leave tax returns on the kitchen table or sitting on the front seat of your car where crooks could access that information too.

©2020 Detroit Free Press
Visit Detroit Free Press at
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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3 Ways to Build Trust With Sellers

Wed, 02/05/2020 - 13:35

Working with luxury clientele can provide some of the most rewarding experiences a real estate agent can ask for. One topic that frequently comes up when we interview top-performing, Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist agents for our monthly Member Spotlight is that building and sustaining trust with these clients is imperative for both the client and agent’s real estate success.

Unfortunately, real estate agents are often associated with the stigma of being “salespeople,” which implies that an agent will say anything to “win” a listing. Even in luxury real estate, it’s important to recognize this stigma and empathize with new clients who may have had unsatisfactory experiences with other agents in the past.

Whether you’re a new or seasoned agent, nurturing client relationships takes time, effort and consistency. Learning new ways to ensure successful client relationships is a key component of creating referral-worthy experiences that grow your practice.

That’s why when it comes to helping a luxury client sell their home, setting the tone for total transparency up front can prevent roadblocks, or losing the listing to another agent.

Here are a few ways to build and sustain the kind of trust with sellers that can lead to lasting relationships and real estate success (even if you’ve been selling luxury homes for years).

1. Keep Them in the Loop
Because luxury clientele have busy lives, it’s easy to assume that they don’t want to be “bothered” with the details of their sale. While that may be true for some, it’s important to establish first how you’ll communicate and deliver updates about their listing.

We have spoken to some successful agents that send a short video clip via text or email every day with updates, and some that make a point of telling their clients in their initial meeting that they will deliver both good and bad news as it comes up.

Most clients want to know if you’re encountering any struggles with their listing. No matter how small the detail, communicating always wins and will leave them feeling confident that they are in the right hands.

No matter how you and your client decide to communicate, it’s important that you do so regularly if that is their expectation.

2. Don’t Overpromise
In a competitive and sometimes slow-moving market, getting listings can be difficult for both new and seasoned agents, making it tempting for some to tell prospects that they can get them an offer quickly, or lead them to think that their home is worth more than it is.

However, when an agent makes a promise they can’t keep, they will only hold a seller’s trust until those promises go undelivered. Being honest about what you can and can’t deliver can help you earn a client’s respect and trust, and lead to repeat business and referrals that ultimately add up to long-term real estate success.

3. Be a Resource
One of the best things you can do for any client, especially your sellers, is to invest in your education. Most luxury real estate clientele are already market-savvy and tend to know more about real estate than traditional real estate clients. Staying on top of trends and knowing your feeder cities and your local market inside and out are what will ultimately build trust with your sellers.

Your Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist certification tells them that working with you ensures that you possess all of that knowledge and experience, but continuing your education with our Leaders In Luxury events, Luxury Live Conferences and reading our monthly reports are other ways to keep your knowledge and skillset fresh .

If you’re ready to take your career to the next level, view our training options and why becoming a CLHMS agent can give your real estate practice the boost it needs.

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’s Broker Summit Is Coming to Los Angeles March 31-April 1, 2020!

Tue, 02/04/2020 - 12:21

NAR PULSE—This premier two-day, broker-only networking event is designed to give real estate leaders practical and actionable information to position brokerages for success. Early-bird registration is now open for $299 until Feb. 15. Register today!

Earn Your C2EX Brokerage Endorsement
Find out how when you sign up for the Commitment to Excellence webinar on Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. CT. Learn how this award-winning platform empowers REALTORS® to demonstrate their professionalism and commitment to conducting business at the highest standards. Don’t miss out—register today!

NAR’s ‘That’s Who We R’ Campaign Goes Live
The 2020 “That’s Who We R” national ad campaign inspires consumers to “Look for the R” for reassurance, resources and reliable guidance on their path to property ownership, both residential and commercial. View the ads at, and access campaign materials you can integrate into your marketing.

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Long & Foster to Teams: Grow Your Way

Mon, 02/03/2020 - 12:50

(Above) Long & Foster Real Estate has launched new team websites. (Credit: Long & Foster Real Estate)

For 50 years, Long & Foster Real Estate has been at the forefront of the Mid-Atlantic real estate scene, with marketshare stretching from New Jersey to North Carolina, across 10,000 agents and 220 offices in seven states.

Despite its large scale, at Long & Foster, agents always come first—a commitment Wes Foster, founder of the organization, steadfastly upholds, and exemplified in its latest venture, real estate team websites. In January, the firm launched the websites, developed in partnership with Real Estate Digital and RP3 Agency, after gathering in-house input.

“Our new team websites leverage direct agent feedback, as well as insight from industry experts, resulting in easily customizable websites that are consistent with the look, features and functionalities of and our individual agent sites,” Barry Redler, chief administrative officer of The Long & Foster Companies, explains.

On the modern, responsive team websites, the capabilities include click-to-call and click-to-text functionality, as well as the ability to customize the design and pages within the site, with content specific to the team.

“Everybody differentiates themselves in a certain way, but great storytellers earn more business,” Redler says. “These are great storytelling pages; they help the team illustrate why their team is the best choice, and how their affiliation with Long & Foster helps them be more successful in real estate. If you’re an agent focused on investing, for example, we’ve got a content page for you. If you’re focused on luxury real estate, we have content for you. If you’re focused on something more unique, you can go in and add any page from any of the templates we have, as well.”

Additionally, when it comes to generating leads online, every inquiry is sent to the team, and agents are displayed on listings, with an “Add to Contacts” button for easy reach-out.

“All leads are routed to the team leader,” Redler says. “The team member sections are dynamically updated from our in-house system, so the contact information and team information are always current, and the listings are prioritized and branded with the team’s information.”

The best part? They are completely turnkey, and designed for immediate use.

“The most important thing is simplicity,” Redler says. “For the agents and the team leader, it’s a turnkey solution. It’s really easy to get the site up and running, and once they do, a team can literally click a button and have a great website that they can be proud of, and fully customize it to the extent that they want to.”

As with its agent-centric solutions and tools, with the rollout of team websites, Long & Foster demonstrates its readiness to support teams, and help them on their path to success—however they define it.

“We pride ourselves on building on Wes Foster’s legacy on being an agent-focused company, and we wanted to have a platform for our agents to grow their business in whatever way they see fit,” Redler says. “We make sure that our tools and support give them the ability to grow with us.”

For more information, please visit

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

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Real Living: ‘The Home of Lifestyle Advisors’

Sun, 02/02/2020 - 10:04

(Above) Teresa Palacios Smith, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion, and Allan Dalton, CEO, Real Living Real Estate

Editor’s Note: This is the cover story in the February 2020 issue of RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. Subscribe today.

Energy and excitement ran high at Real Living Real Estate’s recent Real Living RLBridge broker event in Atlanta, Ga. Nearly all of the network’s broker/owners congregated to discuss business, share best practices and celebrate a new order at the network.

Real Living, part of the HSF Affiliates LLC family of real estate brokerage franchise networks, is growing with new franchisees, new resources and fresh, new branding that positions the network and its professionals as the “Home of Lifestyle Advisors.” Network members are energized, and their clients are responding, resulting in sales growth at franchisees across the country.

At the center of the action is network CEO Allan Dalton, who is relentless in his support of Real Living franchisees and their needs. Dalton has more than three decades of real estate operations, leadership and marketing experience. He is the former president and CEO of®, he co-founded, he co-owned a 32-office brokerage and has created marketing systems for leading real estate brands.

He begins his second year as Real Living CEO with ample enthusiasm (as always) and momentum. With the future undeniably bright for the Real Living network and its members, Dalton weighed in on progress and prospects.

RLBridge broker event, Atlanta, Ga.

Maria Patterson: Allan, you are deeply respected within the industry for your leadership roles, both as the former president and co-owner of a major real estate brokerage and then as CEO of®, and for the growth and success of these companies. Should we expect the same growth at Real Living?
Allan Dalton:
I am very optimistic that the answer is a resounding yes. Not primarily because of me or my past achievements, which you so generously referenced, but instead, because of the incomparable Real Living brand and its existing network brokers and agents, and due to the wonderful balance of synergy and sovereignty that the Real Living brand and network enjoys.

Gino Blefari, Chairman, Real Living Real Estate

MP: Interesting choice of words, “synergy and sovereignty”—please explain.
HSF Affiliates provides many additional resources that Real Living, on its own and at this stage of its growth, could not expect or justify. Specifically, Real Living immensely benefits from the heralded leadership of Gino Blefari, our chairman; Chris Stuart, our vice chairman; Michael Jalbert, our EVP for Global Field Operations; Teresa Palacios Smith, our VP of Diversity & Inclusion; and Rosalie Warner, our SVP for Network Services. However, beyond this Hall-of-Fame-like executive team (none of whom require additional resume-related attention), is an impressive and deep bench of talented executives and staff, dedicated to the growth of our “Re-engineered Real Living.”

Chris Stuart, Vice Chairman, Real Living Real Estate

MP: What does “Re-engineering Real Living” mean to your network and the consumer?
We are unlike other brands that have to patch or alter their brand as it no longer conveys the intent of its leaders; there is also often an unwitting tendency to conflate what reimagining one’s brand means with merely redesigning one’s logo. Real Living, to the contrary, has completely and strategically overhauled its value proposition.

MP: How did you accomplish this, Allan?
When Gino Blefari appointed me CEO of Real Living and I took the helm of leadership, the Real Living brand and network had a different challenge.

MP: What was that specifically?
We had to unearth and expand upon that which was inherently remarkable and distinctive about the Real Living brand, and then build out its value proposition from there. It was like the legendary Marvel Method, whereby first, the iconic character is imagined and branded, then the emerging value proposition emanates from the discovered DNA.

MP: And what is the DNA of Real Living?
AD: Ironically and appreciatively, it was discovered by a competitor—that being Realogy. Realogy publishes research that revealed that Real Living, in its relative present-day smaller size and years in the business, was found to be the third-most recognizable brand in real estate. When I first saw these results in a Century 21 brochure, I must confess that my first reaction was, “This must be what they mean by ‘fake news.'”

MP: Why do you think Real Living, which is much smaller and has been around for a much shorter time than many other brands, scored so highly?
I believe it is for two reasons. First, that we sound more like a real estate company than any other brand name, and secondly, there is a primitive pull to the word “living” or “life” as the industry is evolving from selling homes to selling lifestyles. Our members love the connection between Real Living and how we are now positioned to be the Home of Lifestyle Advisors.

Real Living’s fresh, new branding positions the network and its professionals as the “Home of Lifestyle Advisors.” Above, Navona Hart, owner/broker of Real Living Cornerstone in Farmville, Va.

MP: Tell me what it means to be a “lifestyle advisor.”
Simply stated, moving forward, there will be great pressure on industry fees unless brokerages and their agents move beyond only asserting transactional value and not relational or advisory importance and relevance.

MP: And what are you doing to ensure that? Your claim to be the Home of Lifestyle Advisors is not just a pithy slogan, but substantive and meaningful?
Shakespeare in Hamlet writes, “Suit the actions to the word and the word to the action.” To that end, we have introduced to our network not only extensive lifestyle, advisory related training, but also sweeping consumer-centric content through our network’s beloved “Real Living. Real Answers.SM” Our content includes digital and offline programs such as:

“The Real Living Lifestyle Planning Guide” and “Neighbors Know Best,” a consumer testimonial program to support how we market our properties, and a rejection-free prospecting program
“Downsizing with Distinction,” “How to Effectively Move Up” and “Why Homes Don’t Sell,” videos and guides for expired listings
“Do You Want to Be a FSBO or Select a FMBA?,” a one-of-a-kind program for FSBOs

“Real Living. Real Answers.” also includes “When to Rent and When to Buy,” “Before You Select the Right Price for Your Home, Select the Best Pricing Strategy” and, more simply, but catastrophically, overlooked content.

Real Living Real Estate Vice Chairman Chris Stuart

MP: “Catastrophic”? Allan, that’s a strong word, or even an indictment…
AD: Absolutely. One of the reasons I select that sensationalistic-sounding word is that only 12 percent of consumers, according to NAR (National Association of REALTORS®), return to their agent for future business transactions. This is, in my view, because during the time they are not selling, agents do not engage them in a fashion similar to other professionals. Agents focus more on creating a sphere of influence vs. influencing their sphere, and more on databases than on developing a client base like other professionals with whom we covet analogous status. What is catastrophic is that consumers maintain, figuratively speaking, one doctor, one lawyer and one financial planner, while they simultaneously and routinely engage in real estate roulette and randomly search when it comes to selecting their real estate agent. And this typically occurs only when a transactional need surfaces.

MP: How are you changing this pattern?
One example is our Real Living Lifestyle Planning Guide. This incomparable relational program allows our network lifestyle advisors to lock in clients for life rather than merely mimicking how the industry wishfully proclaims that “I want to be your agent for life” yet lacks any corresponding plan for building and sustaining these relationships. Imagine a financial planner not having any financial plans.

MP: So your lifestyle advisors also advise consumers to do planning?
Yes, but with the help of the Real Living self-help planning guide.

MP: And how is this working?
Our three leading brokerages led by Jason Sherman and Justin Levitch of RLAH in Washington, D.C.; John Meesseman, Real Living Kee Realty, Clinton Township, Mich.; and Bob Molta, Real Living Realty Professionals, Longmeadow, Mass., have all told me it is a profound and effective differentiator.

(L to R) Bob Molta, Justin Levitch, Allan Dalton, John Meesseman

MP: You mentioned the brand’s leaders. Please share more about them.
Our leaders have emerged both nationally and locally. Nationally, our entire essence as a brand and franchise management team begins and ends with Gino Blefari. Gino is the only true “triple threat” I have known in real estate. Before becoming CEO and chairman of HomeServices of America and Real Living Real Estate, respectively, Gino was the No. 1 agent in a county of almost 2 million population for years. He then managed the No. 1 office in a major brokerage. Later, he became the president of the No. 1 Century 21 company in the world. After that, he founded one of North America’s seven largest brokerages. Gino’s accountability systems, driven through his meticulously authored West Coast offense, is a career changer for brokers and agents.

Chris Stuart possesses the greatest integration of brokerage experience and innovation, together with high-tech experience, of anyone I have ever met in real estate, and it is enormously impactful that he is our Real Living vice chairman.

Michael Jalbert, EVP of Global Field Operations, is an organizational maestro and was instrumental in Realogy’s worldwide growth as he is becoming for HSF Affiliates and Real Living.

Rosalie Warner, the former president of Prudential Real Estate, is our SVP for Network Services and represents the executive gold standard in execution and results.

Teresa Palacios Smith, a longtime real estate and relocation specialist, is the former president of NAHREP (National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals) and is, I believe, our industry’s most credible and passionate voice regarding the vital importance of diversity and inclusion.

Marie Cabo

And Real Living’s marketing is drawing great raves from consumers, brokers and our agents. This widespread and enthusiastic buy-in would not be possible without the leadership of HSF Affiliates’ VP of Global Marketing Wendy Durand, and especially the relentless creativity and world-class marketing acumen of Marketing Manager Marie Cabo. Marie is instrumental in executing our new consumer-centric culture.

MP: Allan, you also mentioned local leadership…
Rusty Willis of Real Living Capital City Realty in Atlanta, Ga.—arguably, the most respected and beloved broker in the entire Real Living network—recently conceived of and hosted a three-day, broker-to-broker event in Atlanta, attended by the majority of Real Living network brokers from across America. This is an example of exemplary leadership that any other brand would be hard-pressed to duplicate. Attending the conference were three exceptional leaders: RLAH’s CEO Jason Sherman, who, along with business partner Justin Levitch, has grown to become Real Living’s No. 1 brokerage; John Meesseman is without question as fine a brokerage operator as I have met; and Realty Professionals’ Bob Molta is a remarkable developer of people and strategic genius. This event was highly beneficial for both brokers and their teams, as brokers were able to take back actionable programs, strategies and ideas to better their teams and strengthen their relationships with clients.

Allan Dalton and Rusty Willis

MP: Tell us about some of your newest franchisees since you became CEO.
Two of the newest include Kathy and Jim Rebhan of Real Living Carolinas Real Estate in Charlotte, N.C., whose business is up 40 percent since we re-engineered Real Living; and the other is industry icon Ken Baris of Jordan Baris Inc., REALTORS® Real Living in West Orange, N.J., who is experiencing unprecedented growth even though his company has been a top performer for decades in Northern New Jersey.

(L to R) Teresa Palacios Smith, Rosalie Warner, Allan Dalton, Gino Blefari, Ken Baris, Tricia Kobos and Champ Claris at the grand opening of Jordan Baris, Inc. REALTORS® Real Living.

MP: We have never seen you more excited. How would you summarize your unmistakable and infectious excitement for Real Living?
While so much of the industry is talking about disruption, pressure on fees and endlessly speculating on business threats without any solutions, Real Living network members are increasingly rejoicing in:

  • Being connected to the stability of HSF Affiliates and, ultimately, Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of the Berkshire Hathaway enterprise
  • Not being a brand that has over-saturated the markets
  • Communities love the campaigns focused on that where they live is “Where Real Living begins”
  • Real Living’s leadership components, with all their resources and experience, are working tirelessly to ensure that our network agents not only remain ultra-relevant and flourish, but that Real Living leads the way for the industry to evolve from its transaction value to the combination of transactional and relational value—real estate with lifestyle

Allan Dalton with franchise owners Jim and Kathy Rebhan and Ken Baris

MP: Allan, it’s clear you’re ready for a bright future at Real Living!
This is the most exciting time for the brand and our network. Real Living provides a strong value proposition, transcendent tools and expert leadership to help network professionals grow their businesses. For consumers, the brand stands apart, tying lifestyles and lasting relationships into the real estate process with the aspiration of better and ongoing real estate service over time.

For more information, please visit

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

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USGBC Report: Annual LEED-Certified Ranking Released, Colorado Tops List

Fri, 01/31/2020 - 21:00

Green living continues to be high on the priority list for many homeowners across the U.S. Every year, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) tracks how many LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects are finished each year, as well as which states rank at the top for the most LEED-certified square feet per person.

Overall, in 2019, there were 2,209 total LEED-certified projects, totaling 501.08 million gross square footage.

What does it mean to be LEED-certified? According to the USGBC, these projects “support personal health and well-being.” They also reduce carbon emissions and save money for families, businesses and taxpayers by using less energy and water.

Here’s how the top 10 rank:

1. Colorado
Number of Certified Projects: 102
Gross Square Footage (GSF): 23,962,344
GSF Per Capita: 4.76

2. Illinois
Number of Certified Projects: 121
Gross Square Footage (GSF): 49,363,822
GSF Per Capita: 3.95

3. New York
Number of Certified Projects: 193
Gross Square Footage (GSF): 72,778,916
GSF Per Capita: 3.76

4. Massachusetts
Number of Certified Projects: 101
Gross Square Footage (GSF): 24,505,512
GSF Per Capita: 3.74

5. Hawaii
Number of Certified Projects: 12
Gross Square Footage (GSF): 4,083,713
GSF Per Capita: 3.00

6. Maryland
Number of Certified Projects: 96
Gross Square Footage (GSF): 15,234,554
GSF Per Capita: 2.64

7. Virginia
Number of Certified Projects: 98
Gross Square Footage (GSF): 19,981,112
GSF Per Capita: 2.50

8. Minnesota
Number of Certified Projects: 25
Gross Square Footage (GSF): 12,708.706
GSF Per Capita: 2.40

9. Oregon
Number of Certified Projects: 33
Gross Square Footage (GSF): 8,825,432
GSF Per Capita: 2.30

10. California
Number of Certified Projects: 400
Gross Square Footage (GSF): 80,669,066
GSF Per Capita: 2.17

View more details in the below infographic:

Credit: U.S. Green Building Council

Changes from last year? Virginia continues on an upward trend, and Minnesota and Oregon return to the top 10 after missing in 2018. Additionally, because Washington, D.C., is a federal district, it does not make the list; however, it leads the U.S. in green building with 52.86 square feet of LEED space per resident.

During the 2019 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, USGBC introduced a new pathway for the LEED initiative, titled LEED positive—no longer solely focusing on reducing harm, but now working towards repairing and restoring as well.

“As we embark on a new decade, the USGBC community is focused on helping more projects get on the path to LEED certification and a more sustainable future,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC, in a statement. “Over the last year, the top 10 states have certified projects that serve as incredible examples of how green building can create more sustainable and resilient spaces that improve our living standard. There is still much work to be done, but the progress made across these states shows us that our work is having a tangible impact on people’s lives. As we enter our next chapter, we are committed to helping more buildings, cities and communities improve their sustainability performance through LEED.”

For more information, and to view an interactive chart of the ranking, visit

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

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The 2020 Real Estate Market: What You Need to Know

Thu, 01/30/2020 - 12:56

One of the most-asked questions for real estate agents is, “How’s the market?”

While it’s most important to know what’s happening in your area, it’s also a good idea to have a general overview. In the most recent Secrets of Top Selling Agents webinar, Steve Harney shares what experts are saying about this year’s real estate market in “2020 Market Predictions for Real Estate.”

After being in the industry for over 25 years, Harney is a residential real estate expert who specializes in market trends. He started as an agent and then developed his own 500-agent real estate firm.

Currently, Harney works with producers to help them achieve success. He is often quoted in major news sources and is recognized as one of the most accurate market trends predictors today.

In his Secrets webinar, Harney shares information about home price appreciation, interest rates and inventory and demand. Find out everything you need to know so you can talk to your clients as an expert.

What does the market look like?
Harney opens the webinar by stating that the housing market is a solid foundation for the U.S. economy going into 2020. In addition to this, home sales are projected to increase substantially in the coming year. This can be seen in the recent report from Time which showed an increase in buyer traffic, increasing by 12.6 percent nationwide. If you’re in the West, you probably saw a good year, with activity jumping 23.1 percent.

When thinking about when to make your next push in the industry, Harney advises not to wait until spring when most of the competition will also be out. Instead, he recommends starting now, since buyers are already flooding the market.

What is influencing these changes?
According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates should remain low throughout 2020 and 2021, averaging around 3.8 percent. Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of REALTORS® all also believe rates will remain under 4 percent through 2020. This means the market won’t be facing any resistance like what was seen at the end of 2018 when rates increased. Harney refers to this as a “perfect buying environment.”

Because there will be a greater influx of buyers and higher demand for homes, CoreLogic predicts that home prices will rise at least 5 percent over the year. Similarly, home value is expected to continue to appreciate. This is due to an inventory shortage and a high demand from buyers. In fact, in 2019, housing inventory dropped overall by 12 percent, while homes available for less than $200,000 dropped by 18 percent. This poses a challenge, especially since millennials and Generation X buyers are flooding the market, looking for low-cost homes. Harney says the best way to avoid issues with this is by listing properties as soon as they become available, especially if they’re in the lower price range.

Will there be a recession?
A recession is defined as a temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity decrease. While a number of experts expect a recession during 2020, it’s important to keep in mind that a recession does not mean a housing crisis. In fact, a housing slowdown is one of the bottom five possible triggers of a recession.

During the webinar, a listener asked whether home sales would be affected by the 2020 election. Harney explained that, yes, there may be a slight decrease in home sales during that time. However, it’s not due to a lack of buyers. Instead, it’s because people are distracted by the election and put off buying. As a result of this, generally, home sales the following year are expected to significantly increase.

To learn more of Harney’s tips and listen to the full recording of the webinar, join the Secrets of Top Selling Agents Facebook Group here. For more free real estate education, including best practices, visit the Secrets of Top Selling Agents website.

Joe Sesso is national speaker and author for For more information, please visit

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Women in Real Estate: ‘What Moves Her’ Campaign Helps Develop Female Leaders

Thu, 01/30/2020 - 12:47

(Above) What Moves Her (Credit: Coldwell Banker)

Coldwell Banker recently launched a national women in real estate campaign, What Moves HerSM, focused on helping women develop their professional goals and supporting leadership across the industry. The campaign launched in January, with a sold-out event in Chicago that hosted over 300 attendees.

Here, Sue Yannaccone, Coldwell Banker/NRT regional executive vice president, Eastern Seaboard & Midwest Regions, and founder of What Moves Her, shared insights about the campaign and event, discussing how this initiative will help reshape the industry.

Sue Yannaccone, Founder, What Moves Her (Credit: Coldwell Banker)

Can you tell us a little bit about the campaign? What inspired this idea?

Sue Yannaccone: The What Moves Her campaign was created for women in the real estate industry to help develop their leadership abilities and fully realize their professional development goals. In the past several years, I’ve been part of many localized initiatives that have given a voice for women to empower each other. All these events were extremely well attended, and the attendees left feeling empowered and energized.

However, these events were regional, and didn’t fill the greater void of offering a national platform for women. This is where I felt personally moved—with the resources and scope of Coldwell Banker, we had a real opportunity to create this space for women. My boss, Ryan Gorman, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker, not only listened to my call for action, but he supported this vision every step of the way.
What’s unique about the elements of this campaign?
SY: What Moves Her creates a space to offer resources through a national event series for women to explore their motivations, develop their skillsets and have a place for professional networking. What is unique about this campaign is that the space is not exclusive to women, but is also open to men who are interested in how to work with women better or improve their own leadership.
Tell us about the event. How many attended? Who were the speakers?
SY: The campaign’s event series kicked off in Chicago with a sold-out event. We had over 300 attendees at our very first What Moves Her event. It featured a market and industry overview by Gorman, panel discussions by various industry representatives, and a keynote address by Delia Passi, CEO and founder of the Women’s Choice Awards. I presented on a topic that is very close to my heart, which is honing our emotional intelligence in business. The panel discussions featured women from across the industry, including agents, managers, leadership and industry leaders from the state association and MLS. Topics of these panels included business-building techniques, work-life balance, managing staff, branding and finding a business identity.

Delia Passi, Keynote Speaker (Credit: Coldwell Banker)

How long will this campaign be running?
SY: This is an ongoing campaign, which is not exclusively for Coldwell Banker—we see it as a resource for all women in our industry. We look forward to continuing to partner with outside speakers and organizations that will add value to the discussion of women in real estate. We will be expanding our social offerings, original research and exploring pop-up events. The larger event series will take place across the nation in 2020 and will focus on bringing together leaders in real estate and business development, providing key tools and strategies to help women continue on a path of success in their personal and professional lives.

Additionally, the campaign is part of the larger CBWomen initiative within the Coldwell Banker brand to shine a spotlight on women who are leading in their company, their business and their community—with the goal of inspiring and supporting all women to find their path to leadership in real estate. The initiative has produced original research on the topic of women in leadership and a regular CBWomen podcast series, which features women who are leading in their company, their business and their community.

Why is it so important to support leadership development, particularly for women interested in taking the helm?
SY: I spent most of my career with my head down, working really hard and not looking up to notice I was the only woman in the room. It wasn’t until I earned the title of CEO at my last company that more people wanted to hear from me, particularly women. I had women at every stage of their career coming to me for advice. At the time it made me laugh, since in my mind, I was still Sue. However, I have come to realize that I am in a position where I can help someone else be fearless or take a risk. I have a platform and the privilege to help. What Moves Her is important to give all women the opportunity to find their voice, whether it be by helping others or taking advantage of the provided resources to grow their business.

Credit: Coldwell Banker

What can real estate agents and brokers do to support the cause?
SY: We are asking that everyone explore the question of “What moves you?”—this very important question drives the campaign. The answer will help define what next steps you have to take to find your own level of success. This is key, as every person has different goals they want to meet. Not every woman wants to be the leader of a company; instead, they might want to grow their business into a team. Brokers should be encouraged to host roundtables and offer tangible resources and tools for women to meet these goals.
What are your thoughts on the campaign, and where do you see it going?
SY: I feel passionate about inspiring people, but I really love getting into tangible growth tactics. The What Moves Her campaign and the events are designed to motivate, provide real examples of success and offer up tangible learnings so no matter what you need, each attendee walks away inspired to take action to grow themselves and their business. We are just at the beginning and I am thrilled and exhilarated to watch this campaign evolve.

For more information on the campaign, please visit

Do you know someone who is making strides toward the advancement of women leadership in the residential real estate industry? Contact to learn more about our Women in Real Estate series.

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

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Housing Costs Ease for Homeowners, but Rise for Renters Post Financial Crisis

Thu, 01/30/2020 - 12:42

A decade after the housing crisis, a U.S. Census Bureau report shows that the housing cost burden has eased for homeowners, but has remained stagnant for renters since the peak of the recession. Recent data from the American Community Survey (ACS) analyzes the percentage of “burdened” households—those that spend at least 35 percent of their monthly income on housing costs.

Household growth has kept housing demand strong for both homeownership and renting since an increasing share of high-income earners are choosing to remain renters; however, housing supply cannot keep up with the rising demand, which is leading to growing home prices and rent, especially for low-income earners.

Key Findings

  • There were 77.7 million owner-occupied housing units and 43.8 million renters in 2018. Findings reveal that 40.6 percent of renters were cost-burdened when paying for rent and utility bills in 2018.
  • Sixty-two percent of homeowners had a mortgage in 2018, down 6.5 percentage points from 2008.
  • In 2018, 20.9 percent of homeowners with a mortgage were burdened, about 8 percentage points down from a decade ago.
  • Eleven percent of homeowners without a mortgage payment were burdened in 2018 compared to 12 percent in 2008.
  • Nearly 40 percent of rental unit residents spent 35 percent or more of their monthly income on rent and utilities, a decrease of only 0.2 percent from 2008.

The pressure on rent is influenced by three main factors:

1. Landlords are able to increase rent prices due to low vacancy in rental properties since demand still outnumbers supply.

2. High-income renters have increased for eight consecutive years and are driving the market. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of high-income renters grew by 311,000, joining the 4.6 million that have been added to the market since 2010.

3. New production of multifamily housing has been focused on meeting the demands of these high-income renters. In 2018, for example, 29 percent of new multifamily units, mostly in the Northwest, had rents above $2,050. In comparison, only 9 percent of new apartments in 2018 had rents under $1,050 a month, and less than 4 percent had rents less than $850. Less than 3 percent of new apartments built since 2008 have been affordable for median-income renters.

These findings highlight the nation’s persistent struggle to achieve affordable housing to meet the demand of household growth, as well as the desperate need to find a solution so that every person and family can have not only a personal domain, but perhaps a place to start their business and begin building long-term wealth.

Starting this year, California will enact statewide rent control meant to temporarily guard renters against egregious rent hikes until 2030, limiting rent increases to under 5 percent per year. Time will tell how this measure will affect renters and landlords, but critics note that lowering costs is only part of the puzzle to solving the affordable housing crisis. Low inventory is another problem that needs to be addressed, as more housing helps to bring down costs.

Desirée Patno is the CEO and president of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE), as well as chairwoman of NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC). With 30 years of experience in housing, Patno is a champion for women’s economic growth and independence. In 2017, named her the Highest-Ranking Woman and 4th Overall Top Real Estate Influencer to Follow. For more information, please visit

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Pending Sales Short 4.9 Percent

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 13:21

At the close of 2019, pending sales tumbled 4.9 percent, a decline from November, according to the December National Association of REALTORS® Pending Home Sales Index, based on contract signings. The decrease equates to 103.2 in the Index, which considers 100 on par with signings in 2001.

On an annual basis, contracts rose 4.6 percent.

Credit: National Association of REALTORS®

On a regional scale, the biggest fall in the Index month-over-month was in the South, down 5.5 percent to 118.1, followed by the West, down 5.4 percent to 93.1; the Northeast, down 4 percent to 92.4; and the Midwest, down 3.6 percent to 98.8. On an annual basis, all but the Northeast rose.

According to data from®, buyers continue to flock to markets with more practical prices, including: Fort Wayne, Ind.; Burlington, N.C.; Topeka, Kan.; Pueblo, Colo.; and Columbus, Ohio, where list prices remain roughly $250,000.

“The state of housing in 2020 will depend on whether home builders bring more affordable homes to the market,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “Home prices and even rents are increasing too rapidly, and more inventory would help correct the problem and slow price gains.”

According to Yun, without an increase in inventory, home sales stand to track up 3 percent this year.

“Due to the shortage of affordable homes, home sales growth will only rise by around 3 percent,” says Yun. “Still, national median home-price growth is in no danger of falling due to inventory shortages and will rise by 4 percent. The new-home construction market also looks brighter, with housing starts and new-home sales set to rise 6 percent and 10 percent, respectively.”

For more information, please visit

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Window to the Law: Fair Housing Update

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 13:17

Editor’s Note: This is part of a monthly video series from the National Association of REALTORS® to inform and educate members about important aspects of being a real estate professional. Watch for this series each month in RISMedia’s e-News.

The Fair Housing Act is more than a list of dos and don’ts, rights and penalties. Fair Housing protects your business as real estate professionals who depend on a free, open market with equal opportunity. Watch the latest Window to the Law video from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) for tips and tools you need now to understand and comply with this important law.

See the video.

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Disruptor Roundup: Flyhomes Backs Buyers With the Power of Cash

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 13:09

Founded in 2015 by Stephen Lane and Tushar Garg, Flyhomes is a full-service brokerage that says it runs with “a start-up mindset.” It first launched with just one agent on board, growing to a team with over 50 members. It currently operates in the Greater Seattle, Portland, San Francisco Bay and Boston areas. According to the company, it has closed 1,500-plus clients with total sales of over $1.2 billion.

“For most people, a home is the single biggest purchase they’ll ever make, and the traditional process of making that purchase is fraught with obstacles, stress and worry. We believe our approach—which supports homebuyers with a vertically integrated product offering—is the future of real estate,” said Garg, Flyhomes CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “Because we do everything from touring homes to funding their purchase, we have greatly simplified the process for buyers.”

How does it work?
While consumers can sell their home using Flyhomes, the company specializes in working with buyers. Instead of a traditional offer, in which an agent submits on behalf of the client for a specific price, Flyhomes actually purchases the home first—closing in under two days—and then sells it for the same price to the client.

Flyhomes prepares everything from appraisals to inspections in advance to ensure a quick closing. If the Flyhomes offer is not accepted, the buyer’s earnest money is returned.

Where is the money to fund these purchases coming from? Flyhomes says it is backed by venture capital firms, allowing the company to pay for homes in cash, as well as providing a 0.75 percent rebate to the buyer from the commission paid by the seller.

Sellers can use Flyhomes’ “Trade Up” option to sell their current home—and the company says it will purchase the property if it doesn’t sell in 90 days, on a mutually agreed-upon price. The buyer would then use the system outlined above to purchase a new home. Sellers in available markets are charged the following commissions: 2.5 percent if located in the Bay Area; and 3 percent in Seattle.

Where do agents fit in?
Flyhomes does hire agents who help consumers throughout the real estate process, but they are salaried rather than working on commission. Flyhomes says it structures its business after “the top brokerage teams.” Each client has a single point of contact during their transaction, but the company also has individual team members assigned to home tours, marketing, transaction coordination, pricing analysis, and more.

Are there concerns?
While having a network of professionals working on behalf of the buyers and sellers can be an advantage, it can also pose communication problems. Flyhomes does provide a central point of contact for each consumer, but if a handful of agents are assisting with the transaction, that leaves room for miscommunications or lost information.

Additionally, as the central point of contact is not typically the agent who shows the house, and the buyer is dealing with numerous agents, it can be harder to build that rapport that leads to a trusted and ongoing relationship between agent and consumer.

Lastly, if two buyers represented by Flyhomes put an offer on the same home, both offers must be the same. Because of this, these buyers are automatically giving up the leverage that a traditional brokerage could offer; instead, they are tied to a number determined by brokerage-wide “pricing team.”

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

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NAR’s ‘That’s Who We R’ Campaign Launches Feb. 3

Tue, 01/28/2020 - 12:55

NAR PULSE—The evolution of the “That’s Who We R” national ad campaign, which helps consumers understand the value of REALTORS®, launches Feb. 3. This year’s ads rally consumers to “Look for the R” for reliable guidance on their path to property ownership. Watch this preview prior to the campaign’s launch.

Skip the Waiting Room
With Members Telehealth your agents can see a doctor on-demand via smartphone app, web chat, email or phone. It’s a convenient and cost-effective way to get treatment from board-certified physicians, and it’s available to all NAR members through the REALTOR Benefits® Program.

2020 Vision: Using RPR in the New Year
The New Year is a time to look ahead, plan for success and prepare accordingly. This “2020” vision can be more easily accomplished by reviewing these popular 2019 RPR articles that your agents may have missed.

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New-Home Sales Slide 0.4 Percent

Mon, 01/27/2020 - 12:37

For the third month straight, new-home sales slipped, according to the Commerce Department’s December report.

The Breakdown

New-Home Sales (Annual Rate): 694,000

  • -0.4 percent month-over-month (Dec. 2019/Nov. 2019)
  • +23 percent year-over-year (Dec. 2019/Dec. 2018)

For-Sale Inventory: 327,000
Months’ Supply: 5.7
Average Price: $384,500
Median Price: $331,400

What the Industry’s Saying

“New-home sales were effectively flat in December, after downward revisions for prior months. However, the sales pace for newly built single-family homes ended 2019 with a gain of 10 percent, increasing to a total of 681,000. This marks 2019 as the best year for new-home sales since the Great Recession.” – Robert Dietz, Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders

“These numbers could serve as a bit of a wake-up call for builders that have grown increasingly confident in the demand for the homes they’ve been putting up with growing vigor since the summer. After revisions, this series has now fallen month-over-month in each of the past three months. Still, with overall inventory as scarce as it is currently, it’s clear that more construction is desperately needed.” – Matthew Speakman, Economist, Zillow

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