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Updated: 1 hour 2 min ago

Discretion, Expertise and Professionalism

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 13:41

In the following interview, Emily Moreland, broker/owner of Moreland Properties, a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® in Austin, Texas, discusses the firm’s membership in the network, referral strategies, and more.

Region Served: Greater Austin and Central Texas
Years in Real Estate: 33
Number of Offices: 3
Number of Agents: 80

You’ve been affiliated with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) for nearly two decades. What first attracted you to the network?
As a new agent with JB Goodwin REALTORS® in 1977, I experienced the referral network first-hand. At that time, it was called RELO. J.B. Goodwin made sure we understood how important a referral could be for our business, and I worked hard to become a member and earn my place with such a great group of broker/owners. LeadingRE brings together a network of the best brokers in the industry to exchange referrals and share best practices. Their leadership and resources are the best in the industry, and the network’s longevity is a testament to the organization’s worth.

What are some of the biggest benefits associated with being part of the LeadingRE network?
The ability to refer one of our valued clients to a similar brokerage in another city is a true value. Clients appreciate our level of service, and LeadingRE expands that for us globally. When making large purchasing decisions for our company, we look to LeadingRE’s vetted business partners in order to choose wisely.

How do you retain prospects within the luxury home marketplace?
Word of mouth and personal referrals are the lifeblood of how our sellers and buyers continue to trust our firm. We’ve built a reputation for discretion, expertise and professionalism, which is important for every segment of clientele. Our focus on client relationships and continuing personalized service well after the transaction is over is paramount to business retention, as well as growth.

In what ways do you keep Moreland Properties top of mind?
Technology is important, and we take great strides to tell our brand story as much as possible. That said, social media, digital and even traditional print and broadcast marketing will never take the place of face-to-face interactions. Our agents’ personalities and expertise are what keep us top of mind. The way we introduce ourselves to buyers and sellers has evolved with the advent of new media, and it’s exciting to implement innovative strategies. I’m fortunate to have LeadingRE as a trusted group to keep us more informed where new tech is concerned.

Final Questions…

What is your most effective way to motivate agents?
Cultivate their love of real estate and offer best practices to connect with future business while remaining true to their company’s core values and purpose.

What is your No. 1 tip for getting buyers and sellers to work together?
Remind both parties that they want the same outcome and offer middle ground on smaller items that can help soften a transaction.

What is your best time management tip?
Wake up and do the things you want to put off first, then keep your eyes on the horizon by working on items that will propel you to where you want to land.

For more information, please visit

John Voket is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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Buyers Beware: Senior Living Comes With Risks

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 13:35

(TNS)—The market for housing communities intended for those ages 55 and older recently got a big makeover, marked by a much wider selection of amenities, homes and target buyers than in the past. Developments featuring hiking and biking trails, big-name entertainment, athletic sports, community gardens and upscale and solar-powered homes are in. Golf courses and country clubs are no longer required features.

Top developer Del Webb continues to build massive projects with resort-like features, adding in more modern perks like a BMX pump track. Smaller developments target niche populations, such as equestrians, small plane hobbyists or retirees from specific professions. Private beaches, pickleball, film festivals, RV clubs and serious cooking classes are popular. Safety—most developments are gated—continues to be a key sales driver.

Rules defining these “active adult communities” are changing too. In addition to traditional 55-plus developments that prohibit younger buyers, the market now includes more developments that cater to older residents but don’t dictate ages of residents or visitors.

Meanwhile, the nation’s baby boomers have aged into willing and able target buyers. The generation holds about $8 trillion in home equity—an almost two-thirds cut of the entire nation’s—and it has made 55-plus developments one of the hottest markets going for U.S. home builders. Today’s developments are attracting buyers that never would have gone for traditional golf and tennis communities.

To get a sense of what’s on offer in active adult communities, check out the searchable resources at, a brokerage firm that offers research, photos and reviews of thousands of these developments. (They don’t take money directly from builders of these developments but do hope to hook you up with an agent selling property in one. No endorsement implied here.) Numerous articles from real estate brokers and seniors organizations offer good basic advice on factors to consider when comparing 55-plus communities.

We’ve added below a few less-noted quirks of active adult communities that could have major implications for your happiness. While each of these points is a potential pitfall for buyers, they aren’t intended to deter sales in this evolving market. Rather, consider this information a basis for forming questions to ask in order to avoid unpleasant, post-relocation surprises.

Children may be closer than you think. “Active adult community” is a neutral term that can mean strict rules for age or none at all. While 55-plus restricted developments bar younger residents by law, “age targeted” developments can have any number of kids. It’s trendy for developers to broaden their potential buying pool, sometimes with a creative blend of both.

It’s important to ask where the lines are drawn now and in future development that may share facilities. Almost every community allows young visitors, but restrictions will vary widely. Can teenagers stay all summer and use the pools? Will the future club house for the family part of the development be isolated from the adults-only facilities or next door?

That pickleball court may never look so good again. Development companies typically maintain the pools, golf courses, bike paths and other amenities as long as there’s ongoing home-building. Once development is complete, they often hand over those responsibilities to another entity, such as an on-site country club, a professional management company or a homeowners association.

Going forward, who will manage the perks that attracted you? The quality of those amenities will depend on their skills, priorities and budgets.

Local politics affect your fun and finances. The homeowners association within a 55-plus community can be extremely powerful, oftentimes controlling the community’s budget and rules. In other words, it can determine how much you pay in fees, the length of the grass on your putting green and the size of your beloved garden ornament.

All of those factors—fees, rules and budget priorities—can change. Tennis courts may get pushed out in favor of pickleball, for example. The association probably can ban your cigar smoke at whim. Even age restrictions aren’t always set in stone. Find out how much control you have over these decisions, or in choosing the team that will make them.

You need an exit plan. While it’s hard to predict when health will fail, most of us will need continuing help eventually. And if you live in an active adult community, you may have to sell to get it. Those underage caretakers may be reticent or even barred from moving into a restricted community to help.

What level of fitness is required for continuing residency? While the development’s marketing materials probably tout the convenience of nearby medical facilities, few are set up for people that cannot live independently.

©2019 News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Increasing Conversions at Luxury Open Houses

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 13:07

Those of you who know me know I’m passionate about open house conversion. When I got started in the real estate business at the age of 18, I didn’t have any great leads. I didn’t have any money to spend on marketing, but I needed to meet buyers and sellers, so holding open houses became a great way to access them without spending a lot of money.

Now, granted, I didn’t have any listings, so my broker helped me arrange to hold open houses other agents didn’t want to hold, which was fine with me. I didn’t care if it was my listing or not—I wanted to meet those great prospects. Doing this was so effective for me that I never gave it up. In fact, during my entire real estate career, it was common for me to take Friday off and hold an open house every Saturday and Sunday because, on average, I would sell about four houses a month from holding open houses, and I probably held 1,500 or more open houses in my career.

How does this relate to luxury listings? Why would we need to discuss open house conversion? It seems so basic. Exactly—it is basic, and, yet, many of the luxury agents I coach ask for help with open house conversion.

Think about it: Today’s luxury sellers and buyers often begin their searches online, may be using a handler or their schedules are not conducive to attending an open house, let alone engaging with you and giving you their information. And, even if they’ll come and look, they are tougher to convert. Plus, we all know you only have a few minutes to make a great impression.

So how do we ensure an increase in open house conversion? First, you need to set a goal for your open house and commit to it. I recommend the following: 

  1. Identify at least two quality prospects.
  2. Set appointments with them before they leave.
  3. Meet them within 48 hours and show them 1-2 properties.
  4. Collect as many names and numbers as possible to call the next day.

Once you set and commit to your open house goals, you need to take the appropriate steps to achieve them. Here a few things to keep in mind as you work to achieve your goals:

Make your open house buyer-centric vs. house-centric.
What do I mean by this? Well, how centric would it be if you came to my open house and I tried to force the house on you? Let’s say you walk in the door and I immediately begin with, “This is why the house is great and these are the amazing features, and this is the benefit to you and why it is a good deal,” and then I ask, “Would you like to buy this house?” I should really gear my focus more on building rapport with the buyer and getting into the buyer’s head so I can determine if the buyer wants to buy the house, and if they don’t want to buy the house now, I can build a relationship with them and sell them something else.

Perfect your approach.
Now this may not be a good approach for you, but I’ll tell you what my approach was. I knew when I saw someone drive up, I didn’t want to be sitting when they came in, but I also didn’t want to pounce on them at the door. See, I don’t believe that I should rush to the door, look them in the eye and do the firm handshake because, quite frankly, many of us work markets where we have mixed cultures. The “look them in the eye” and the firm handshake is American culture. It doesn’t translate. For example, if it’s someone who is of Japanese descent, they don’t want to shake my hand. A good rule of thumb is to let them make the first approach. Smile! Be charming and interested in them without being pushy. Tell them to make themselves at home; it relaxes them subconsciously. Be helpful but don’t hover. Give them a bit of space.

Have your go-to rapport-building and discovery questions prepared.
Ask questions in a conversational way to build rapport and gather information. “Have you seen many open houses today?” “I’m curious, do you live in the area now?” “Have you been looking long?” “What size were you looking for?” “What questions about this home can I answer for you?” Find ways to highlight the benefits of why they should talk to you and work with you. Find your hook to get them locked into you!

Ditch the sign-in sheet or app and use only as a last resort.
I personally do not believe in pushing a sign-in sheet or app on people the minute they walk in the door. Why? Because they don’t want to do it. They just don’t want to do it. Especially at a luxury open house. They’re going to resist you, and it’s going to break rapport and chances are they’re not going to give you correct or complete information. Have a conversation and build the rapport. Earn the right to collect their information.

Find your hook.
Why do they resist you? They think they can hunt on their own. Your hook: pocket inventory and your willingness to hunt and find hidden gems. Luxury buyers want an area expert, so demonstrate your knowledge.

Don’t just send them on a search of the house. Remember, you need to hunt them!
This likely means pressing a bit harder and following up a bit more aggressively than you are comfortable doing. Remember your goal: to leave the open house with two appointments set for within the next 48 hours, and as many names and numbers as possible to call the next day!

Follow up at least five times before moving them from the front burner.
We all know there are pros and cons to holding open houses. The pro is they are virtually free, although luxury open houses take more of an investment than a regular open house. Regardless, you are sitting there for free and people are coming to you. The con is you cannot always control quality or quantity of people at an open house. So how do you make the most of your open house? Below are my three secrets:

  • Secret No. 1: Maximize your traffic.
  • Secret No. 2: Successfully capture their information.
  • Secret No. 3: Effective follow-up!

You need to make sure you maximize your traffic.
Study the area and data and have switch properties ready, that are larger or smaller, you can take them to.

Use a broadcast app to circle prospect.
An app like Slydial allows you to leave a voicemail without calling (or even dialing a number), enabling you to better communicate with potential and existing clients in a time-efficient way. You can even prerecord a message and deliver it to 10 contacts at a time.

If you properly market your open house, it can supply both buyer and seller leads because a seller may come through who is a buyer but also has something they need to sell.

Offer a sneak preview to the neighbors.
Have your seller give you the opportunity to do a one-week or two-week pre-launch to invite the neighbors in to meet them. This will ensure additional quality time and conversations to take place—especially with a luxury listing. One of our luxury clients does this from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on a Saturday, and they serve loads of muffins and invite the neighbors to join them. Then they offer market updates and information, and it gives them a chance to really talk to the neighbors coming through. Some of our luxury clients will hold a Thursday evening wine and hors d’oeuvre event to launch there is a new listing in the community. Not all sellers will want to do this, so you’ll need to take it case by case, but it’s very effective.

Implement a ‘Neighbors Know Best’ campaign.
When you are inviting people to the open house, one of the best rejection-free door-knocking scripts is what we call our “Neighbors Know Best” campaign. It is also powerful to use with the neighbors at your pre-launch or sneak preview event. The goal is to collect information from the neighbors on what they love about the area and the community, and why they love living there.

You can then compile their comments into a marketing brochure to give to prospective buyers.
It’s a great way to market the home, keep the sales price high and engage the neighbors in conversation. It’s easy because the neighbors will talk about how long they’ve lived there and where they’ve moved from, which gives you a perfect opportunity to say, “If you ever were to move, where would you go next?”

If you receive several RSVPs to your invitations or are in an area where the open house will draw a lot of traffic, you may want to consider having a back-up host to ensure you don’t lose any leads.
The host doesn’t necessarily need to be licensed as they will simply be helping to meet and greet and gather information. If they are licensed, you will need to work out if you are sharing leads with them, alternating leads, etc. Or, you could have a lender participate with you because the lender could pick them up for a loan and you could pick them up for a buyer. This ensures you don’t lose any leads if it’s busy.

Think of the open house as your mobile office.
If it’s slow, call the neighbors and invite them to come by and invite anyone in your database who may be a match. Do a video walk-through and promote your open house as an Instagram story. Run a Facebook live stream of the open house. Focus on your goal and get as much work done as you can, and remember to collect as many names and numbers as possible.

If you want help with open house conversion or open house scripts and buyer questions, contact us for a complimentary Business Strategy Call at

Debbie De Grote is the founder and owner of Excelleum Coaching and Consulting. The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing is a premier independent authority in training and designation for real estate agents working in the upper-tier residential market.

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Consistency in a Time of Change

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 13:02

When you have spent your entire career in real estate as I have, you learn to manage the inevitable ebbs and flows of the industry. I’ve seen trends come and go. I’ve seen markets rise and fall. But in the end, the longevity, integrity and sustained growth of this industry continues to make it a dynamic and rewarding career path.

My experiences leading some of the most prominent real estate brands in the world have given me a unique perspective as I take on my new role leading the strategic direction for Realogy Expansion Brands. I’ve learned that in order to thrive in this industry—whether you are the head of a franchise, own a brokerage or work as an agent—you need to be prepared to make tough decisions to grow your business. Even the smallest choices matter when you work toward your goals.

As we move into a new decade, the industry is witnessing a dramatic shift in terms of consumer and agent expectations. Clients expect more bundled services. Agents need better ways to maintain long-term client relationships to gain referral and repeat business. Meeting these expectations means having the right tools in place. Technology is no longer a value proposition—it’s table stakes. Companies must recognize and respond to this evolution to remain viable and relevant.

This past year, ERA Real Estate’s objective was to better support our affiliated brokers in the form of new strategic partnerships, resources and programs that help position the agent at the center of the homeownership lifecycle.

A perfect example of this is the brand’s new relationship with HomeAdvisor, a digital marketplace that connects homeowners with pre-screened, local service professionals to carry out home improvement, maintenance and remodeling projects. Now, clients working with an ERA broker have access to HomeAdvisor’s network of top-rated and reviewed service professionals in their area through a self-service website and dedicated call center. ERA was the first real estate partner to offer this concierge service network-wide, giving participating brokers another client touchpoint, while providing a value-added experience for buyers and sellers.

Additionally, ERA Real Estate recently launched ERA Moves, a strategic client outreach program. This tool offers ERA-affiliated, independent agents two ways to stay top of mind with their clients, positioning them as local market experts. One of its components provides applicable homeowner discounts through agent-branded, automated emails. It also provides clients with a concierge service that reduces the stress, time and expense associated with the moving process. ERA was the first to offer this service nationwide, all at zero cost to the agent and broker. More importantly, however, the program creates another way for affiliated agents to remain in contact with their clients throughout the homeownership lifecycle. And the best part? It also creates an additional stream of revenue for affiliated brokerages through referral fees. (More: Keeping Agents Top of Mind With ERA Moves)

Now more than ever, the industry is recognizing that profitability is a competitive advantage. At ERA, we encourage our affiliated brokers to “Grow Your Way”—offering them the flexibility to choose what makes sense for their business goals, whether it’s through the addition of ancillary business, customized branding or providing business consulting services. And when it comes to empowering people to make pioneering changes to their business, the strength of the ERA network is formidable. A consistent story I hear from ERA brokers is how they love to inspire, support and work with their colleagues across the network, including sharing their listing presentations, compensation strategies or blueprints for creating additional revenue through ancillary businesses.

This is what organically happens when you have a brand with such an influential culture of collaboration.

Ron Restaino, founder and owner of Restaino & Associates ERA Powered, recently shared that they were courted by many franchisors over the years and would listen politely, but ultimately declined each offer because they all required the brokerage to swallow their brand—their identity—and essentially give up their autonomy. All of that changed when he learned about the ERA Powered concept and realized it was the solution they had been looking for all along—a franchise that gives the tools, service and support needed, while allowing them to remain who they ultimately wanted to be.

ERA’s “Grow Your Way” value proposition will be instrumental as we look at how the brand will continue to grow in the next decade and beyond.

We will continue to build upon the brand’s founding principle that each customer, independent sales agent and brokerage is unique and should be free to develop their business as they see fit. Companies who affiliate with ERA get the best of both worlds: the support, technology and leverage that comes with joining a national brand with nearly 50 years of success, as well as the ability to retain their own local brand identity.

A new decade brings a host of exciting prospects, including the opportunity to get closer to the consumer and help them manage the changes in their own lives. “The only thing constant is change” is an appropriate expression for all of us in this industry. At ERA, adapting to change is not enough. We want to create change. We’re excited by the opportunities that lie ahead and look forward to TEAM ERA being a changemaker in 2020 and beyond.

Sherry Chris is president and CEO of ERA Real Estate. For more information, please visit


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It’s 2020! Make Sure Your Vision Is Too

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 13:18

NAR PULSE—REALTORS® Vision Insurance offers great, competitive group rates and savings on frames, lenses and contact lenses, and coverage is available for you and your family. REALTORS® Vision Insurance is available to all NAR members through the REALTOR Benefits® Program. 

Enhance Your Professionalism With C2EX and Earn BIG With MVP!
Log into the Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) website and take one of the 11 assessments offered to earn The Little Black Book: Relationship Rules to Live By for REALTORS® – Download! Act by Jan. 15!

NAR’s Broker Summit
NAR’s Broker Summit is coming to Los Angeles on March 31-April 1, 2020! 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 $299 until Jan. 15. Register today!

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Changing the Rulebook, Charting the Future

Sun, 01/05/2020 - 10:07

Redfin Makes Its Mark on Real Estate

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

“I want my company to be the Apple Store of real estate,” said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman back in 2012. “Shopping for a home should be all about the customer. By thinking more like a retailer, it’s possible to make the experience better.”

Today, Kelman has grown Redfin into one of the country’s leading real estate brokerage websites, with full-service agents who build relationships with real estate consumers in personal ways, whether over coffee or during home tours, but who are also equipped with online tools designed to make them smarter and faster.

Over the years, Redfin has set out to make many changes to the classic real estate model to create a better experience for the customer. Redfin’s agents are paid on salary and their commission, which is lower than most real estate firms, is dependent on customer satisfaction. Customers also have access to all listings online, and don’t have to rely on an agent to show them which properties are for sale.

Redfin believes that one tool that truly sets them apart from other real estate firms is their consumer-focused mobile app, which allows prospective buyers to peruse an area and search for nearby listings that fit their criteria. Consumers can search by neighborhood or school district…even by pizza shop.

Redfin believes its model is clearly working. The company reports that its listings sell 17 days faster and for $9,100 more than the average real estate transaction. More than 10,000 customers buy or sell a home with Redfin each year. Perhaps most important of all, Redfin boasts a 95 percent customer satisfaction rating.

Glenn Kelman, CEO, Redfin

The Redfin Customer Survey: Transparency Is Priority
Redfin distributes various surveys based on the event at hand. For example, a customer would receive a different survey after making an offer versus taking a home tour. Redfin makes sure that all reviews are shared with agents.

The first part of every survey, however, starts the same way and asks the following questions:

1. How likely are you to recommend your agent’s real estate services to a friend or acquaintance? (Rated 0-10, with 10 being the strongest possible recommendation)

2. Please review your experience with your agent.

3. Can we anonymously share your comments about your agent with other Redfin website users? We will never share your name, email or other contact information.

If a client worked with a Redfin partner agent, his or her survey may include additional questions about that experience.

Once the client submits the first survey, they may be taken to a longer second survey. The second survey asks questions that are specific to the event. These responses are used internally for purposes such as developing demographic statistics, and are not directly displayed on

Foretelling the Future
As Redfin plans for further growth in the year ahead, tracking the market and consumer trends will remain a critical part of its strategy. To that end, the company has made some bold predictions for the 2020 housing market.

“We predict the housing market will be more competitive in 2020 as the cooldown that began in the second half of 2018 comes to an end,” says Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “Charleston and Charlotte will lead the nation in home-price gains, thanks to homebuyers moving in from expensive cities. Hispanic Americans will experience the biggest gains in home equity wealth, and climate change will become a much bigger factor for homebuyers and sellers.”

Here are Redfin’s six top housing market predictions for 2020*:

Prediction No. 1: Bidding wars will rebound thanks to low mortgage rates and a lack of homes for sale.

Low mortgage rates will continue to strengthen home-buying demand, but due to a lack of new homes for sale and homeowners staying put longer, there will be fewer homes on the market in 2020 than in the past five years, according to Redfin. More demand and less supply mean bidding wars will rebound in the first quarter.

“We expect about one in four offers to face bidding wars in 2020, compared to only one in 10 in 2019,” says Fairweather. “This increase in competition will push year-over-year price growth up to 6 percent in the first half of the year, considerably stronger than the 2 percent growth seen in the first half of 2019. Supply and demand will become more balanced later in the year as more listings of new and existing homes hit the market, allowing price growth to moderate to 3 percent.”

Prediction No. 2: Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates will stabilize at 3.8 percent.

Throughout 2020, 30-year fixed mortgage rates will remain low, hovering around 3.8 percent, Redfin forecasts. Faced with slowing economic growth, the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low. Although the housing market is strong, weakness in other sectors, like manufacturing, is pulling down on the economy.

“Because investors are already bracing for the possibility of a recession, we don’t expect mortgage rates to fall much lower than 3.5 percent in 2020 even if the economy weakens,” says Fairweather. “And even if the economy strengthens, we expect mortgage rates to stay below 4.1 percent.”

Prediction No. 3: For the first time, Hispanic Americans will gain more wealth from home equity than white Americans.

According to Redfin, in the next decade, Hispanic Americans will, for the first time, gain more home equity than white Americans; that’s because the majority of new homeowners are Hispanic, and home values in Hispanic neighborhoods are increasing faster than in white neighborhoods.

“There are more Hispanic homeowners in Texas than in any other state, and Texas cities are likely to experience strong gains in home values over the next decade as people move here from more expensive places like San Francisco and Los Angeles,” says Fairweather. “Hispanic families will likely benefit from home equity gains for generations to come. Hispanic Americans could tap their home equity to finance their children’s education or to start businesses. Over time, this will improve economic equality for Hispanic Americans.”

Prediction No. 4: Climate change will become a bigger financial factor for homebuyers and sellers.

In 2020, homebuyers and sellers will take the consequences of climate change into account when deciding to buy, says Redfin. The financial costs of climate change are already becoming more tangible as fire and flood insurance premiums rise.

“More people are becoming hyper-sensitive to flood insurance and its costs,” says Houston Redfin agent Irma Jalifi. “They’re thinking about how the weather will change over the next decade and whether there will be more historic floods like we’ve experienced recently. I had a buyer back out of a deal because he found out the property required flood insurance.”

Over the next decade, higher insurance premiums in high-risk areas will make housing even less affordable to more people, predicts Redfin. And in areas with the highest risk, insurers may stop providing insurance altogether, which means it will be nearly impossible to secure a mortgage in those areas.

Prediction No. 5: Charleston and Charlotte will lead the nation in home-price growth.

Affordable Southeast cities like Charleston and Charlotte are attracting an increasing number of migrants from expensive cities, which will drive up home-price growth in these areas, according to Redfin. Charleston saw a 104 percent annual increase in the number of Redfin users looking to move there, relative to the number of users looking to move out, in the third quarter of 2019, and Charlotte saw a 44 percent increase. Migrants are attracted to the growing economies of Charleston and Charlotte—Microsoft is spending $23 million to expand its Charlotte campus, and in Charleston, the new Volvo plant is adding thousands of jobs.

“A lot of migrants from up North or out West move to Charleston because it is such a lovely place—out-of-towners fall in love with our Cypress gardens and world-class beaches,” says Redfin agent and Team Manager Jacie Paulson. “The fact that we have an international airport means that companies are more willing to allow their remote employees to live here because it is easy to travel back and forth to headquarters. We also have a strong local economy with jobs at Boeing, Volvo and in the military.”

Prediction No. 6: More city streets will become car-free.

In 2020, Redfin believes more cities will favor green modes of transit and actively discourage driving. Some cities already have plans in the works—San Francisco’s Market Street will transform into a car-free corridor in 2020 and New York City drivers will have to pay to drive into the heart of the city beginning in 2021. In cities that become less car-friendly, those that frequently spend time in the city center will place more value on a commute that doesn’t require a car and move to either the walkable city center or close to public transit. Meanwhile, some people will choose to avoid the city center altogether and put a higher value on homes in the suburbs where they can work, play and live.

The Redfin team at the NASDAQ Market Site in Times Square

Partnering for the Future
By consistently staying ahead of the curve on key market trends and consumer demands, Redfin plans to make an even bigger impact in the real estate space in the year ahead.

“We strive to be good partners, as individual agents negotiating a sale with another party, and as a company,” says Kelman. “We pride ourselves on the quality of life we offer our agents who, compared to agents at other brokerages, earn more and stay at their brokerage longer. We believe the only way to advance the careers of agents at Redfin, and, ultimately, at other brokerages, is to innovate, giving agents the best products to serve customers. This is why we’re hopeful that we can develop new partnerships with other brokerages over time, so all of us can help people take advantage of new technologies for selling homes.”

*These predictions reflect the beliefs of the Redfin team about the overall housing market. It’s not intended as historical information or future guidance to the investment community and shouldn’t be relied on for those purposes. To find out which predictions in this article come true, and which predictions turn out to be incorrect, follow the Redfin blog for real-time research on the housing market.

Adam Wiener is Redfin’s chief growth officer. For more information, please visit

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Raising Awareness About the 2020 U.S. Census

Sun, 01/05/2020 - 10:04

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is urging its 1.4 million members to do everything they can to raise awareness about the 2020 U.S. Census. The U.S. Census is mandated to take place every 10 years, according to Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, and requires that all individuals living in the 50 states, D.C., and the five U.S. territories be counted. This population count allows the federal government to better understand demographic information within states and localities across the country.

Census data helps ensure that states and localities have proper representation in Congress. States use this data to draw maps for redistricting purposes. Census data also ensures sufficient federal funding is allocated to states for schools, hospitals, roads, federal small business grants and other federal programs and projects. A recent George Washington University report showed that $1.5 trillion in federal funds are distributed each year to states and localities based upon information derived from Census data. Census data is also extremely helpful to the housing industry, because the data helps economists, REALTORS®, business owners, builders, developers, government housing agencies, and other related companies to understand housing trends, demands and needs currently and in the future.

Beginning in March 2020, the Census survey will be available for households to complete. April 1, 2020 is National Census Day, and by this date, every home in the U.S. will be invited to participate in the Census. For the first time in history, the Census survey can be completed online at, or alternatively by phone or mail.

Privacy and data security are key concerns for respondents. The Census Bureau is limited to publishing statistical data based upon Census survey responses and is prohibited under federal law from releasing any identifiable individual data, including names, addresses, race and ethnicity information, or any other related information submitted by individuals and families. The Census Bureau also has key protections in place to ensure data security while working to combat misinformation and other scams. The Census Bureau will never ask for bank account information or credit cards, Social Security numbers, or money or donations of any kind.

Last summer, NAR submitted a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs explaining the many benefits of Census data to NAR and asking Congress to allocate full funding for the 2020 Census to ensure a complete count. Without a complete and accurate count, states and communities across the country could miss out on federal dollars over the next 10 years for key programs and projects. NAR has also partnered with many other associations and groups in this awareness effort.

NAR began its Census awareness efforts by launching an NAR Census Awareness Campaign for 2020. This campaign is designed to bring greater awareness to the Census survey and to encourage NAR members and other major stakeholders to participate in this year’s Census. NAR members are encouraged to ask their clients, family, friends and neighbors to participate. Members are provided with key resources, including articles, visual aids, social media hashtags, and more, to share information about the significance of the Census.

A complete and accurate Census count is essential for sustainable investments in states and localities throughout the country now and in the future. Please be sure to complete the Census survey, and be counted! For more information about the upcoming Census, including FAQs, visit

Nia Duggins is NAR’s business issues policy representative. For more information, please visit

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With New Campaign, REALTORS® Have a New Tool to Share Who They ‘R’

Fri, 01/03/2020 - 21:00

Jay Mitchell, a REALTOR® from the Virginia Beach area, sees a recently launched app as a game changer for how REALTORS® communicate who they are.

“We wanted it to be something everyone can have their hands on,” says Mitchell, of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty and 2020 Consumer Communications Chair for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). “It takes literally seconds to be posted. It just makes it so easy for them to embrace ‘That’s Who We R.'”

The app, which recently rolled out to all REALTORS®, is the latest addition to the “That’s Who We R” campaign, launched by NAR to reintroduce to the public how REALTORS® benefit consumers, the economy and communities as advocates for property owners, engaged community members and trusted advisors with in-depth knowledge of the industry.

The consumer ad campaign has existed for two decades, but “That’s Who We R” launched in February 2019. It aims to reinforce for the public that a REALTOR® is a member of NAR and subscribes to its Code of Ethics. It is the most successful consumer ad campaign to-date for the REALTOR® community.

Funded through a $35 annual assessment for members, the comprehensive campaign featured, for the first time in 2019, customizable print, video and digital assets to help REALTORS® build their brand and their businesses. The campaign leans into the “R” membership mark, focusing on how REALTORS® go above and beyond in their efforts for their clients, their neighbors and their communities. In 2020, the campaign will go further and ask consumers to “Look for the R” to know that they’re working with a trusted, reliable professional. This is another compelling reason why members should showcase their REALTOR® status with a prominent membership mark.

The “That’s Who We R” campaign reached more than 2 billion consumer impressions in 2019. Surveys show it positively moved the needle on perceptions of REALTORS®, with 80 percent of consumers stating that the campaign made them more likely to use a REALTOR® in the future. A central point of the campaign included ads that were featured during cable sitcoms like “Seinfeld” and “The Big Bang Theory,” early morning cable news programming on CNN, Fox and MSNBC, and radio and streaming audio stations like Pandora and Spotify.

“I think it has put us on the map in a very different way,” says Mitchell, who adds that in addition to the print and digital assets, the REALTOR® Team Store® added “That’s Who We R” merchandise to its inventory.

Now, with the addition of the app and its customizable features, “it (the campaign) has the right legs to get everyone excited,” says Mitchell.

With the app, NAR partnered with the content creation app Photofy to create a custom version of the app that is already pre-loaded with “That’s Who We R” social media assets. As part of the new offering, REALTORS® are able to select their preferred campaign materials and personalize them with their name, photo, contact information or company logo.

Going into the new year, Mitchell says the app is the perfect tool to help members. With the campaign’s new ads encouraging people to “Look for the R,” now members can easily show it.

NAR created campaign videos and animations that can be instantly shared, and also numerous customizable campaign graphics “so agents can select, personalize and post it quickly,” he explains. “They should also be good for local and state associations. It’s something everyone in the REALTOR® family can have their hands on. It has consistency to build upon and last many years.”

For more information, please visit

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Treat Your Leads Like Gold

Thu, 01/02/2020 - 13:03

In the following interview, Michael LaRocque, broker/owner of LaRocque & Co., REALTORS® in Cocoa, Fla., discusses the firm’s internet lead program and branding strategies.

Region Served: East Coast of Central Florida
Years in Real Estate: 20
Number of Offices: 1 brick and mortar, 2 virtual
Number of Agents: 37

When it comes to online leads, where are the majority of your leads coming from?
One-hundred percent of my paid online leads are from®. I don’t pay any other providers and haven’t for years. In the past, I tried all of them, but I eventually chose® because their leads have proven to be the most viable.

You’ve been using® for seven years. How has that relationship progressed over time?
We’ve seen amazing growth and expansion, ranging from the number of agents under our roof to the number of sides closed and areas serviced. We now have agents available to serve our customers in three counties on the East Coast of Central Florida. The close collaboration with® has been instrumental in this growth trajectory.

Have you found that one transaction can turn to many over time?
Yes, it’s commonplace, and part of our long-range planning. We acquire a lead originally sourced from®, transact on the immediate business at hand, then turn our attention toward converting that lead into a “customer for life.” We want their repeat business and referrals. We have many examples of this, but perhaps the best is a lead that was delivered to us with an original inquiry value of $50,000 or thereabouts. My agent successfully closed the first transaction, but over time, this lead purchased, sold and rented many more units with us. Fast forward to today, and the sum total of business has fallen into the $1.5 million production value over time. The takeaway? Treat all your leads like the gold they are.

Let’s talk about branding. How is your company working to brand itself?
We recently reinvented our website and are now utilizing more social media to establish name recognition. We like to acquire our leads from®, then keep them on our website and stay relevant to them on social media. Branding is even more important, as the public seems to have a shortening memory.

How does your company branding come into play in terms of drawing in new customers?®’s Local ExpertSM is an important feature for this, as it’s a continuous effort to stay top-of-mind with the public. In an environment of “always-on” intel and immediate availability of information, you must stay out in front of your market to expand your brand.

How do you use your branding with your sellers?
Reporting functions available to us from both® and our website allow us to exhibit to our sellers that our marketing efforts are the surefire way to get their property sold in a timely fashion and at top dollar. It’s a combination of some tried-and-true techniques in conjunction with the latest technologies and social media utilization that gets it done.

Final Question…

What is your favorite thing about working in real estate?
Working with our life-long customers and my team.

For more information, please visit

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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Who Keeps The Earnest Money When a Real Estate Transaction Falls Through

Thu, 01/02/2020 - 12:58

Who Keeps The Earnest Money Deposit in a Home Purchase?

When buying a home, many folks have no idea what role earnest money plays in a real estate transaction. The earnest money payment forms part of almost all real estate contracts and agreements. It is a payment that you make to the seller of the property in good faith, proving you can back up your offer with cold hard cash. The idea is to show you are serious about buying the property. The money will be held in an escrow account.

If this is the first time you are purchasing a home, it may seem like you are handing over money and getting nothing in return. That, however, is not the case. Once the earnest payment has been received, the seller will take the property off the market, and the earnest payment will go towards the cost of the home. It forms the financial cement indicating you’re a sincere home buyer.

Does it always work out that way? No, it doesn’t, and since the earnest payment can be rather large, it is a good idea to understand what can go wrong before you hand over the cash.

It is also vital not to confuse a down payment with an earnest money deposit. A house down payment and earnest money are not the same things. The resource at Maximum Real Estate Exposure does an excellent job explaining what earnest money is, how it works, and how it differs from down payment funds.

How Much Should I Put Down?
It is only serious buyers who should put down an earnest money deposit. Let’s be honest; we are talking about a substantial amount of money. An earnest money deposit can be anywhere between 1 – 5% of the purchase price of the home.

So, if you are buying a home for $500,000, the earnest money will range from $5,000 to $25,000 and potentially more. That is a lot of money to put down to ask someone to take a property off the market.

Before you hand it over, you need to make sure that you have a contract covering the payment. That purchase and sale should include all of the obligations of each of the parties. From a buying standpoint, you will want to make sure there are essential contingencies, such as a home inspection and procuring financing.
When making an earnest payment, you’ll want to consult with your real estate agent on what is a traditional amount in the local market.

The Earnest Payment Makes the Purchase Contract Official
Handing over the earnest money effectively seals the deal. Once all of the financial issues have been settled, the property is now yours. That is unless something goes wrong. This is where it is crucial to have a buying agent on your side. He or she will look after you and make sure that everything stays on track.

Your buying agent will explain to you that the earnest money deposit is one of the four components that form part of the sales agreement. Without earnest money, the contract is likely not considered legal in most American states and foreign countries for that matter. One of the many things a buyer’s agent does is protect a buyer’s earnest money deposit by keeping up with contract performance time frames.

The Earnest Money Deposit – When Will It Come Through?
The earnest payment is best described as partial payment for the home you are about to buy. On average, the earnest money is handed over soon after an offer has been accepted. That is generally between 24 – 48 hours.

Some buyers who invest in prominent expensive properties may be asked how they obtained the money to make the deposit. This is to make sure there is no fraud, and that the money has come from legit sources.

Most of the time, buyers are asked to provide bank statements, deposit slips, and proof that the money has been in your account for at least 60 days. In some countries, it is easy to make offshore transactions, but that does not go for the United States. This can make it hard for foreign investors who often rely on financial resources from abroad or offshore.

Once the earnest money deposit is submitted, it is held by a third party, such as a real estate company or lawyer, until the completion of the home has gone through.

Specialist escrow companies have sprung up around the real estate industry, and many buyers and sellers turn to them.

What Happens If the Deal Falls Through?
Should the seller presume the earnest money is theirs the moment it has been submitted? Absolutely not. The seller will never see the money unless there is a default on the buyer’s part. Most of the time, a buyer’s lawyer or buying agent, will make sure there are clauses in the contract that protects the buyer.

There are many things that can still happen. If the home inspection brings up certain red flags, the buyer may just say thanks, but no thanks. The appraisal process might also affect the earnest money deposit. If there is an appraisal contingency that states the home must appraise for the purchase price and it doesn’t, the buyer will not have to proceed.

Financial problems such as the mortgage falling through will also mean the buyer can have his money back. Too many issues discovered in the home inspection are perhaps the most common reason for the earnest money being returned to the buyer. Yes, you can try to negotiate a new deal, but it doesn’t always work out.

The buyer being unable to sell his own home is another reason a sale could fall through. In real estate circles, this is known as a home sale contingency. The seller failing to stick to a moving out schedule is yet another problem that creeps up from time to time.

Does the Seller Ever Keep the Earnest Money?
Yes, the seller has the right to keep the money under certain circumstances. If the buyer decides to cancel the sale without a valid reason or doesn’t stick to an agreed timeline, the seller gets to keep the money. These are the most common ways a buyer will lose their earnest money.

Adhering to an agreed schedule is very important when it comes to buying and selling a home. The real estate business is all about making commitments and following them through. You may be one in the chain of many, and making sure that everything works out for all of you, is a bit like walking a tightrope in a circus. It is not easy, and you should not underestimate the skill of your local real estate agent.

If you are the buyer, it is imperative to have a professional with experience on your side. A buyer’s agent will help you to negotiate the earnest money deposit, make sure the entire home buying process runs smoothly, and ensure that you get the best value for money as far as the total purchase price of the property is concerned.

Final Thoughts on Earnest Money Deposits
So when answering the question “who keeps the earnest money when a home sale falls through?” it boils down to who violated the terms of the contract. If a buyer defaults on one of their commitments or time frames, they will lose their money. If, however, the buyer backs out of the transaction do to one of their contingencies, the seller will not be able to keep the earnest money.
Both buyers and sellers need to know the ins and outs of earnest money.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell Metrowest Massachusetts real estate for the past 33 years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England for the past decade. In 2018, he was the No. 1 RE/MAX real estate agent in Massachusetts.

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Regional Spotlight: Forecasting the Market in Seattle

Thu, 01/02/2020 - 12:51

When looking at the current market, or projecting market condition in the months or years to come, the key factors that are essential to analyze remain the same: job growth, interest rates and the months of unsold supply. All three factors drive the sales activity intensity in a particular area, and in Central Puget Sound (King and Snohomish counties) job growth is extremely strong, interest rates are in the threes (at press time) and the more affordable and mid-price ranges are at a severe shortage of unsold inventory.

These market factors all bode well for a positive year 2020 in the residential real estate market.

Home Price Appreciation Projections
In Seattle and on the Eastside, we anticipate a frenzy market, with home price appreciation for homes priced up to $1 million to reach 6 percent-plus. This price range makes up 81 percent of sales activity in Seattle and 71 percent on the Eastside.

Homes up to $500,000 in Southeast and Southwest King County, as well as Snohomish County, are projected to reach extreme frenzy sales activity intensity and appreciate 8 percent-plus. This price range makes up 70 percent of sales activity in Southeast King County, 75 percent in Southwest King County and 64 percent of sales activity in Snohomish County. From $500,000 to 750,000, we will see a frenzy market, and home appreciation will reach 6 percent in Southwest and Southeast King County, as well as Snohomish County.

More Affordable and Mid-Price Ranges
In 2020, we will see seller gridlock in many areas in the more affordable and mid-price ranges. These gridlock conditions occur as a result of sellers hesitating to put their home on the market for fear that they may not be able to lock in their next home. This leads to fewer new listings coming on the market.

Current Luxury Market
In the high-end and luxury market close to the job centers, sales activity intensity is projected to be up in spring 2020, then shift to moderate during the summer. Luxury sales activity intensity will be slightly lower starting in summer as more luxury listings start coming on the market, with an approximate 15-point reduction in intensity. Buyers may have the opportunity to secure a home-for-sale contingency when negotiating to purchase a luxury home.

In Seattle and on the Eastside, we project a frenzy market, with home price appreciation of 5 percent in the luxury price range of $1-$1.5 million. Sales activity intensity will be strong from $1.5-$3 million, then selective above.

The 6 Phases of the Yearly Housing Cycle
Every year, the housing cycle can be divided into six phases. When comparing the number of new resale listings by month, the trends are cyclical and predictable. Though every year is slightly different, the main trends remain the same.

Selling in Today’s Market
No matter what phase of the housing cycle we’re in, the best time to sell is when the timing is right for you. There is no issue with buying and selling within same-market timing—the result is often the same net seller asset equity any time of the year. While this is typically the case, there are certain scenarios that could have a differential. When looking to sell, it’s important to work with an experienced broker to showcase your home in the best light to get the best price.

Homebuyers in 2020
The building blocks of a strong housing market are in place for 2020. For many consumers, the biggest challenge they will face when looking to buy a home in 2020 is related to available homes for sale in the more affordable and mid-price ranges.

For those looking to buy this year, it’s highly recommended to begin the process early by connecting with a trusted broker for a market consultation. Being Buyer Ready, Day One is essential to get a home in today’s real estate market. Beginning the financing conversation early is also key—it can help buyers understand what they can afford and create a higher level of seller certainty. The latter can provide a leg up above other buyers in the market, leading a seller to accept your offer.

Lawrence Yun, National Association of REALTORS® chief economist, projects interest rates will remain low and fairly stable in 2020.

With excellent interest rates, strong home price appreciation and more, there will be many opportunities for buyers and sellers in the markets we serve in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California.

J. Lennox Scott is chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. For more information, please visit

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Case-Shiller: Home Prices Now 15 Percent Higher Than Last Peak

Wed, 01/01/2020 - 13:04

In October, home prices rose 3.3 percent year-over-year, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic/Case-Shiller Indices, bringing them a milestone 15 percent-plus higher than their last peak, in July 2006.

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

Atlanta, Ga.
October/September: 0.4%
Year-Over-Year: 4.2%

Boston, Mass.
October/September: 0%
Year-Over-Year: 3.4%

Charlotte, N.C.
October/September: 0.4%
Year-Over-Year: 4.8%

Chicago, Ill.

October/September: -0.4%
Year-Over-Year: 0.5%

Cleveland, Ohio

October/September: -0.5%
Year-Over-Year: 3.3%

Dallas, Texas

October/September: -0.1%
Year-Over-Year: 2.9%

Denver, Colo.

October/September: 0%
Year-Over-Year: 3.3%

Detroit, Mich.

October/September: -0.5%
Year-Over-Year: 3.1%

Las Vegas, Nev.

October/September: -0.2%
Year-Over-Year: 2.3%

Los Angeles, Calif.

October/September: 0.4%
Year-Over-Year: 2%

Miami, Fla.

October/September: 0.3%
Year-Over-Year: 3.3%

Minneapolis, Minn.

October/September: -0.2%
Year-Over-Year: 4.2%

New York, N.Y.

October/September: 0.3%
Year-Over-Year: 0.8%

Phoenix, Ariz.

October/September: 0.5%
Year-Over-Year: 5.8%

Portland, Ore.
October/September: -0.5%
Year-Over-Year: 2.7%

San Diego, Calif.

October/September: -0.2%
Year-Over-Year: 2.9%

San Francisco, Calif.
October/September: -0.4%
Year-Over-Year: -0.4%

Seattle, Wash.

October/September: -0.3%
Year-Over-Year: 2.5%

Tampa, Fla.
October/September: 0.6%
Year-Over-Year: 4.9%

Washington, D.C.

October/September: 0.3%
Year-Over-Year: 3%

“With October’s 3.3 percent increase in the national composite index, home prices are currently more than 15 percent above the pre-financial crisis peak reached July 2006,” Craig J. Lazzara, of the S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. “As was the case last month, after a long period of decelerating price increases, the national, 10-city and 20-city composites all rose at a modestly faster rate in October compared to September. This stability was broad-based, reflecting data in 12 of 20 cities.

However, “it is, of course, still too soon to say whether this marks an end to the deceleration or is merely a pause in the longer-term trend,” cautioned Lazzara.

Heading into 2020, appreciation could temper, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®, if builders expand inventory options.

“Demand remains strong and supply is lacking,” says Yun. “Moreover, faster price appreciation in warmer Southern states reflect the ongoing migratory trend of people moving out of expensive regions of the country to more affordable parts. In 2020, more home-building activity and consequent growth in supply should tame down home price gains. That’s a healthy development for potential homebuyers. Southern cities should once again do better than most other markets.”

Additionally, although buyers face increasing prices, they also benefit from rising values, Bill Banfield, executive vice president of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans, points out.

“The silver lining to this month’s increase in home price is homebuyers will see continued appreciating value in their home after the transaction, even though the high price may not have been welcome initially,” Banfield says. “The moderately rising home prices of late 2019 suggest the economy is approaching a point where prices are beneficial for both buyers and sellers. However, the strain of low inventories at most price points suggests prices will continue to rise into the foreseeable future.”

At the local scale, home prices varied.

“Price trends varied across cities depending in part on affordability constraints and population growth pressures,” Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic, says. “High-cost markets, where the lack of affordable housing remains a critical issue, had the largest deceleration in price growth from one year ago, with prices declining in San Francisco on an annual basis for the third month in a row. Of the cities in the composite index, Phoenix and Tampa top the list of annual appreciation, reflecting rising demand from strong population growth in Arizona and Florida.”

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

Tue, 12/31/2019 - 13:00

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 available for $299 until Jan. 15. Register today!

RPR®’s 2019 Product Highlights
In a focused effort to help REALTORS® “wow” their clients and close more deals, Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®) launched various platform and app upgrades throughout 2019, including the RPR Learning Menu, Mailing Labels, Opportunity Zones and more. Learn more about these resources for you and your agents here.

Tell Your Agents: See the Savings!
Your agents can’t sell a house if they can’t see it. When they enroll in REALTORS® Vision Insurance, they’ll receive competitive group rates and exclusive member discounts on eye health expenses for the whole family. It’s available through the REALTOR Benefits® Program and offers savings on exams, frames, lenses and more.

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2020 Housing Market Predictions: A Snapshot

Thu, 12/26/2019 - 13:03

With 2020 nearing, experts and forecasters have issued many market predictions, aligning on certain points, but diverging in opinion on others. Below, RISMedia’s snapshot:

Although homebuilders maintain optimism, buyer demand is stronger, and analysts are divided on whether inventory is meaningfully rising. For 2020, the National Association of REALTORS® expects 10.6 percent more housing starts (multifamily and single-family), while® researchers forecast a 6 percent increase in single-family starts. On the flip side, the Urban Land Institute projected single-family starts to tumble 4.7 percent. According to Census data, construction in November spiked—an encouraging indicator.

Home Prices
After a cooling-off period, home prices reignited this year, and are expected to further increase in 2020. How much? At most, a cohort of economists at the NAR Forecast Summit predicted a 3.6 percent rise; at least, predicted 0.8 percent; and in the middle, both the ULI and Zillow settled within 2 percent (2.5 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively). By comparison, from January-November 2019, the median price rose 3.18 percent, according to data from Homesnap.

Home Sales
Despite benefiting from low mortgage rates, buyers continue to grapple with limited options, contributing to muted sales this year—a challenge continuing into 2020, experts predict. As of September, NAR expected a 3.4 percent gain in home sales in 2020; in December, however, researchers dialed down to a modest 1.8 percent. On an annual basis, existing-home sales inched up 2.7 percent, according to NAR’s November report.

Markets to Watch
Where will buyers flock in 2020? NAR’s and’s leading markets include:

  • Charleston, S.C.
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Ogden, Utah
  • Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem, N.C.
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. also included Boise, Idaho; Chattanooga and Memphis, Tenn.; Columbia, S.C; McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas; Rochester, N.Y.; and Tucson, Ariz., in its ranking.

Mortgage Rates
Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve kept the key rate unchanged, and with the economy humming, analysts anticipate continued lows in 2020. Out of the NAR Forecast Summit, economists expected a favorable 30-year fixed mortgage in 2020, at 3.8 percent. researchers have a similar take: 3.88 percent. According to Freddie Mac, as of December 19, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.73 percent.

Odds of a Recession
Throughout much of 2018 and 2019, analysts debated the probability of a recession, either in 2020 or 2021. The consensus at the NAR Forecast Summit: at best, no recession, and at worst, a 29 percent chance. For its part, Zillow forecasted no recession whatsoever, thanks to Americans’ confidence (equaling increased spending), a heartening labor market and promising wages.

The Takeaways
The economy. Homebuyers. Inventory. Mortgage rates. As 2019 comes to a close, housing industry leaders sound off:

“While we are seeing near-term positive market conditions with a 50-year low for the unemployment rate and increased wage growth, we are still underbuilding due to supply-side constraints like labor and land availability. Higher development costs are hurting affordability and dampening more robust construction growth.” – Robert Dietz, Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders

“For the last few years, the lack of inventory has constrained the pace of home sales and increased the rate of home-price growth, leading to affordability challenges across the country. November’s strong monthly and annual gains indicate that potential homebuyers next year will have more properties to choose from…[and] the continued increase in permits indicates that the pace of construction should stay strong in early 2020.” – Mark Fratantoni, Chief Economist, Mortgage Bankers Association

“While the economy is in a sweet spot, improvements in housing market sales volumes will be modest heading into next year simply due to the lack of available inventory. The demand is clearly not being met for entry-level millennials and trade-up Generation X homebuyers. If there was more inventory of unsold homes for buyers to choose from, home sales would be rising at a faster rate.” – Sam Khater, Chief Economist, Freddie Mac

“As inventories of starter homes continue to be a barrier for millennials, we will see more non-traditional households, such as roommate situations or even multigenerational living, popping up to support the financial load. This trend shows no sign of slowing down in the coming year, which presents an opportunity for agents to appropriately guide these younger adults to homes that balance both their desire for homeownership and potentially elevated costs.” – David Mele, President,

“If current trends hold, then slower means healthier and smaller means more affordable. Yes, we expect a slower market than we’ve become accustomed to the last few years, but don’t mistake this for a buyer-friendly environment—consumers will continue to absorb available inventory and the market will remain competitive in much of the country.” – Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research, Zillow

“Housing remains a solid foundation for the U.S. economy going into 2020. Although economic output is expected to soften—influenced by clouds of uncertainty in the global outlook, business investment and trade—real estate fundamentals remain entangled in a lattice of continuing demand, tight supply and disciplined financial underwriting. Accordingly, 2020 will prove to be the most challenging year for buyers, not because of what they can afford, but rather what they can find.” – George Ratiu, Senior Economist,

“The consensus [at the Forecast Summit] was that mortgage rates may rise, but only incrementally. I expect to see home price affordability improvements, too. This year we witnessed housing costs grow faster than income, but the expectation is for prices to settle at a more reasonable level in the coming year, in line with average hourly wage growth of 3 percent on a year-over-year basis.” – Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, NAR

What are your expectations of the 2020 housing market? Leave a comment below!

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Steering Unveiled in Newsday Report, New York Announces Regulations to Combat Buyer Discrimination

Thu, 12/26/2019 - 13:02

The act of steering—guiding potential buyers toward specific neighborhoods based on their identity—is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act. Recent evidence shows, however, that the law hasn’t deterred some brokers and agents from breaking the law.

In November, Newsday released an investigate report, a result of a three-year probe into possible acts of buyer discrimination in Long Island, N.Y., which found that 40 percent of Newsday’s undercover tests showed evidence that “brokers subjected minority testers to disparate treatment when compared with white testers, with inequalities rising to almost half the time for black potential buyers.”

In response, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new regulations aimed at combating discrimination of minorities by real estate professionals.

“The investigation shows that we haven’t put behind us the legacy of discrimination that has plagued our industry,” Joe Rand, chief creative officer of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty, told RISMedia. “I don’t think that many of these agents had malice in their hearts, but we haven’t done enough to teach them the ways that bias can involuntarily creep into our decision-making. We have to do better.”

The investigation paired up minority (black, Hispanic and Asian) testers with white testers, giving each set the same general profile to solicit an agent’s help in looking to purchase a home with the same budget. Each tester recorded their interaction with their agent via hidden camera.

According to Newsday, black testers experienced disparate treatment 49 percent of the time, while Hispanic testers experienced this differing treatment 39 percent of the time, and Asian testers 19 percent of the time. Additionally, in seven Newsday tests (8 percent of the total 86 tests), agents were more accommodating to white testers, providing more stringent rules for minorities and denying them equal service.

In almost 24 percent of tests, Newsday reports, agents provided different advice for the paired testers that could be construed as steering. For example, one agent told a black customer that a certain neighborhood in Long Island had “the nicest people.” Meanwhile, that same agent told her white customer to “kindly do some research on the gang-related events in that area for safety.”

This month, Cuomo introduced three regulations that would enforce anti-discrimination education, according to Crain’s New York Business. The New York State Real Estate Board has approved the provisions, and they are now in a two-month public comment period before being enforced.

These regulations will require all licensed agents to provide clients with a state-generated form that provides information on their fair housing rights. Firms will have to post a notice of these rights in the window of all their locations, and all brokerages will have to provide anti-discrimination education—to be recorded with sound and visual footage and saved for a year.

“New York State is taking immediate action to help ensure renters and homeowners are protected from any and all discriminatory actions when it comes to safe, accessible housing,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These new regulations and protocols will help ensure anyone looking to rent or buy a home knows their rights so they don’t fall prey to unscrupulous real estate brokers and landlords.”

“These new regulations not only make it clear that discrimination will not be tolerated, they will also help New Yorkers better understand their rights when looking for a place to call home,” said Rossana Rosado, Cuomo’s secretary of state, in a statement.

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) recently released a report, “Fair Housing Solutions: Overcoming Real Estate Sales Discrimination,” providing several solutions for the industry, as well as government agencies, for ending discrimination:

  • More funding for fair housing testing, education, enforcement and research
  • Increased agent diversity in real estate with more offices in communities of color
  • Better content and training for industry professionals on complying with fair housing laws
  • Improving fair housing investigations and implementing more serious consequences against violators
  • Preserving HUD’s 2014 Disparate Impact Rule
  • Preserving HUD’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule

“The problem of discrimination in real estate sales is not going away on its own and it is not exclusive to Long Island. It’s time for real estate associations and state and federal regulators to step up and implement actions that will fix what is clearly a broken industry,” said Lisa Rice, president and CEO of NFHA, in a statement. “The number of housing discrimination complaints is at its highest in years. The good news is that we have the tools to make changes, but we need industry officials, real estate agents, and enforcers to be willing to use them.”

National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President Vince Malta provided the following statement:

“While NAR has long been a champion of the Fair Housing Act, recent incidents have underscored the progress our nation must still make. Governor Cuomo’s proposals continue to reflect our societal understanding of the collective need to do more, and we believe REALTORS® across the country must work with their state and local government leaders to combat issues that arise in each community.

At the national level, REALTORS® have redoubled our commitment to pursuing equal access to housing for all Americans. Back in September we created a 45-member Fair Housing Committee to further elevate these critical issues and, earlier this month, NAR sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to secure adequate funding for fair housing activities at HUD.

As we stated immediately following the report’s release, NAR was deeply troubled to review the results of Newsday’s three-year investigation into how real estate agents on Long Island treat buyers of different backgrounds, which does not reflect the ethical commitment made by 1.4 million REALTORS® nationwide. Housing discrimination violates NAR’s Code of Ethics, and there is no place for this behavior in our industry, our society or our world.”

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

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Keep Your Agents Smiling

Tue, 12/24/2019 - 08:33

NAR PULSE—Encourage them to enroll in REALTORS® Dental Insurance and start saving. There are three great plans available through the REALTOR Benefits® Program, all with superior coverage for the whole family, including 100-percent in-network preventive care and benefits for 370-plus procedures. Learn more!

RPR®’s 2019 Product Highlights
In a focused effort to help REALTORS® “wow” their clients and close more deals, Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®) launched various platform and app upgrades throughout 2019, including the RPR Learning Menu, Mailing Labels, Opportunity Zones, and more. Learn more about these resources for you and your agents here.

Ready to Learn and Earn?
New offer from NAR’s Member Value Plus (MVP) Program: Listen to any episode of the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD) Podcast and tell us what you think to earn The 4 Secrets to Real Estate Success Webinar – Download for FREE! Act by December 31!

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NAHREP’s Calderon, Now a Candidate for Congress, Tackles Housing Affordability and Fights for Hispanic Homeownership

Sun, 12/22/2019 - 10:08

Marisa Calderon, executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), is running for Congress to represent Southern California in the 50th District. Calderon sat down with RISMedia to discuss the biggest challenges and opportunities related to affordable housing and Hispanic homeownership, and how her leadership background with NAHREP can help solve California’s dire inventory challenges, as well as provide solutions that could prove effective across multiple housing markets in the U.S.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Marisa Calderon:
I have an immigrant background. Both of my grandfathers were farmers in the Bracero program. They came to this country to provide my family with a better life than what was available to them in Mexico. My family actually settled in Southern California generations ago and were amongst some of the first here in the area, so I have deep ties to the 50th District. The immigrant work ethic is about working hard to provide for your family, earning your way to a more prosperous circumstance. My parents were lifelong Air Force servicemembers, and from a career perspective that absolutely instilled in me a service mentality. I would say their hard work and dedication helped inform the work I do for both NAHREP and the Hispanic Wealth Project. There’s so much we can do in our industry if we focus on trying to achieve good outcomes.

How long have you been a member of NAHREP? Tell us a little bit about your accomplishments within the organization.
MC: I’ve been at NAHREP going on a decade, and I’m the executive director. The organization has grown and changed dramatically. When I started, it was really a three-person operation and it felt like a startup even though it had been around for about 12 years. That’s in part due to the fact that NAHREP deeply felt the challenges of the housing crisis. At one point, we had to severely downsize and relocate from Washington, D.C., back to San Diego where it started, and where it continues to exist. In that span of time, I’ve had the privilege of being able to expand our footprint by modifying our strategic approach for how we engage and what the value proposition is for our members, who are now in nearly 100 locations across the country. We have more than 30,000 business professionals involved who expand across the housing industry. It all comes down to NAHREP helping increase their professional net worth and, ultimately, the all-around goal is increasing sustainable Hispanic homeownership. What is good for this community is good for all of America.

What is the Hispanic Wealth Project, and how long have you been a board member? What initiatives have you helped lead in this role?
The Hispanic Wealth Project was born out of the decimating impact the housing recession had on all communities, but especially the Hispanic communities more so than other racial-ethnic demographics because two-thirds of their wealth is tied up in their home equity. For most folks who are native-born, who have Hispanic heritage, the idea of home is core to their culture, and the notion of the American Dream is a huge aspirational element. When it was stripped away, part of our efforts were going toward identifying these challenges and determining a series of solutions to bridge the wealth gap. We’re really proud of what we’ve done, but our ultimate goal is to triple the median Hispanic household wealth by 2024. I’m proud to say that things are moving in a positive direction, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

How have you advocated for affordable housing and housing policy?
I would say from an affordable housing perspective, what really matters so much to me, whether you rent or own your home, is that you have a place that meets your family’s needs, and it fits in a realistic budget for you. That’s at the core to being able to really prosper. Affordable homeownership is important because it’s the cornerstone of filling that wealth gap, helping to increase intergenerational wealth and household wealth. I’m grateful to have been able to participate in speaking opportunities with groups like the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Consumer Federation of America, as well as other organizations, providing the unique focus of trying to identify the very nuanced elements associated with the housing crisis and inventory challenges, and identifying solutions-based elements to solve them.

What do you believe are some of the changes that need to be implemented by Congress to bridge the affordability gap and resolve the housing crisis in California?
The lack of housing inventory really is the primary issue in terms of what I see. It’s a lack of affordability and of demand, because there aren’t enough homes at any given price point. The most helpful thing would be to solve the inventory challenge, but that can be interdependent on federal and regulatory policies. Land-use regulations really prohibit new residential construction challenges from being addressed. Most folks need a home loan in order to purchase a home, and so financing has to be affordable. I would say underwriting guidelines that help first-time buyers are definitely going to be important. The way creditworthiness is evaluated today is the same way it was evaluated many years ago, but now people earn their income in different ways so it’s much more complex. Sometimes they are W-2 employees, sometimes they work in the gig economy and sometimes they are self-employed. They earn in different ways, but we are using the same tools to evaluate loan worthiness as we have in the past. It isn’t necessarily accurate, and so people with an appetite for homeownership are being left out when they are otherwise creditworthy.

How can housing policy changes impact not only California, but also the real estate industry nationwide?
Some of the changes regarding inventory would have a material impact in California as well as other communities. Housing inventory challenges are felt around the country, especially in states like Texas, Florida, New York and some areas of the Midwest. It’s just felt more significantly here in California because it is so populous—a lot of the housing demands are being driven by the Hispanic population. Addressing challenges like inventory, affordable homes and loan financing—those things in particular would be helpful to the economy overall.

What are your goals if elected?
I am looking to bring a “make sense” approach and a solutions-based approach to Congress. I think it’s important to work across the aisle and be solutions-oriented in the spirit of doing good for constituents irrespective of what the political climate is. People in the industry have real needs and we owe it to them to provide solutions.

(L to R) Marisa Calderon, Executive Director, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals; Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.); and Jerry Ascencio Sr., Owner, Mission Real Estate (Courtesy of Marisa Calderon)

Calderon and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) (Courtesy of Marisa Calderon)

Calderon and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (Courtesy of Marisa Calderon)

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

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A Feast for the Eyes: Luxury Real Estate in Italy

Sun, 12/22/2019 - 10:06

Marco Argentieri (Credit: PlanOmatic)

Based in Verona, Italy, Cofim Immobiliare Vr SAS was founded in 1993. Committed to satisfying each and every customer who walks through the door, the firm goes above and beyond to provide high-quality service and professionalism throughout the home-buying and -selling process. Here, Founder and Owner Marco Argentieri provides a glimpse into the luxury Italian market.

Please describe your current housing market.
Marco Argentieri:
As far as average home prices in the area, apartments are typically priced right around €600,000, with villas boasting price tags of €800,000. While price reductions have been the norm over the past few years, beginning in 2019, we’ve seen prices stabilize in many of the markets in which we work. This is a trend that’s occurring in Verona, as well as throughout the Veneto countryside. We’re also seeing prices rise in the Lake Garda area, whether prospective buyers are considering new construction, lakefront villas, penthouses in the city center or historical homes. Additionally, we have an abundance of “ancient homes” that often come with large amounts of land that aren’t easy to sell.

Tell us about the types of properties in your market and which are most popular.
The two most popular types of properties in our market are apartments and villas. Breaking that down even further, 80 percent of our customers are interested in purchasing an apartment, while 20 percent are searching for the perfect villa to call home.

What types of buyers do you work with? Are they predominantly local, or mixed from other countries?
In the city, most of our buyers (70 percent) are local or coming from other Italian cities (20 percent) for work or to increase their quality of life. Buyers from foreign countries make up 10 percent of our customer base within the city. In the Lake area, 40 percent of our buyers are local, 30 percent are from other Italian cities and 30 percent are from foreign countries.

What are some of the most important trends in your market?
One of the biggest trends we’re seeing is an increasing demand for new homes (apartments/villas) that incorporate green features and have a smaller footprint (80-160 square meters).

How does being part of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® help advance your business?
Being part of LeadingRE is very useful when it comes to getting listings, as homeowners enjoy the international exposure we can provide. Another benefit is the referral system, which also works very well for us.

For more information, please visit

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

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Capitol Hill Update: NAR’s 2019 Political Advocacy Efforts

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 21:04

National home price increases toward the end of 2019 marked 91 straight months of year-over-year gains, signaling a strength in the housing market, while also highlighting the affordability challenges that are keeping countless American families and aspiring homeowners out of the market altogether.

The challenge of housing affordability is just one of the many issues that the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is working on in Washington, D.C., and in state legislatures across the nation—continuing its 120-year mission of protecting private property rights, defending U.S. consumers and promoting the value of homeownership.

NAR has spent much of the past 12 months emphasizing and leveraging industry partnerships to strengthen its advocacy efforts. After a four-year gap, NAR hosted a reunion this March of “The Group,” the informal name given to the four key industry trade leaders—the National Association of Home Builders, American Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association and NAR. The Group met several times throughout the year and will meet again in April to build policy consensus and convey a united real estate industry.

On a more granular level, nearly a decade of NAR efforts culminated in a Department of Housing and Urban Development announcement unveiling new Federal Housing Administration condominium loan policies. NAR is hopeful the changes will yield thousands of new homeownership opportunities and help increase access to credit, as condominiums are often the most affordable option for first-time homebuyers, small families and those in urban areas.

This rule extends certifications from two years to three and allows for single-unit mortgage approvals, among other reforms. After being officially implemented on Oct. 15, the changes are already being felt in many parts of the country where affordability and inventory concerns are the most significant.

While NAR continues to work toward long-term reauthorization and reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the group spent most of 2019 publicly lobbying for H.R. 3167, the NFIP Reauthorization Act of 2019. This legislation includes a five-year extension along with significant reforms to improve mapping, enhance mitigation and remove obstacles to private flood insurance, policy NAR believes “strikes a delicate balance between NFIP sustainability and affordability.” The bill was unanimously approved by the House Financial Services Committee earlier this year and is awaiting action in both chambers of Congress.

On the heels of the 75th anniversary celebration of the GI Bill, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act was signed into law in late June, increasing well-deserved resources for America’s veterans. This legislation eliminates the cap on home loans issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs and helps ensure our nation’s veterans have greater access to the American Dream of homeownership.

Finally, early this year, NAR unveiled a comprehensive vision for Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) reform—a private, shareholder-owned utility model. NAR’s proposal—unveiled at the group’s annual Policy Forum in February—prioritizes and protects a liquid mortgage market for Middle America and underserved borrowers alike.

While NAR eyes GSE reforms that ensure responsible, creditworthy Americans can secure a mortgage in all types of markets, its work with Congress and the administration will continue until consensus on reforms that protect taxpayers, support homeownership and maximize competition is found. NAR believes the utility model it proposed earlier this year outlines the best possible path forward for the GSEs, and 2020 advocacy efforts will be shaped by its collaboration with policymakers to secure these positive, pragmatic system reforms.

For more information, please visit

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Surge of Single Mothers Entering the Labor Force Are Seeking Homeownership

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 21:03

Single women have outpaced men in homeownership since 1986, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By and large, college-educated women who have delayed marriage have greater buying power and overall financial independence. As more single mothers enter the labor force, they are one step closer to financial independence and being able to afford a home.

Despite facing many barriers to employment, such as finding affordable childcare and predictable work schedules, the share of young, single mothers in the workforce increased 4 percentage points since 2015, as shown in recent Current Population Survey (CPS) data.

The rise in single mothers entering the workforce has been a response to less reliable federal policies, such as welfare, that have left working for pay the only option. In addition, new policies at the local level, such as paid leave, minimum wage increases and other family-friendly policies, have made it easier for single mothers to take advantage of the competitive labor market. The highest growth in employment for young mothers has been in nursing and in managing and moving warehouse inventory.

According to a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco report, women of all races and ethnicities between the ages of 25 and 54 have increased their share in labor force participation since 2014. The share of women with either a college education or more in the labor force is the highest among all groups by educational attainment, but growth has not been as significant in the last few years.

There are 2.7 million mothers between the ages of 25 and 34 who are not married or living with a partner, and they make up nearly 25 percent of all mothers in this age group. On top of the daily challenges of raising children on their own, these women also tend to be poorer and less educated than other women their age.

Half of single mothers make less than $30,000 per year, which is true for only 20 percent of all young women. Half of single mothers also have only a high school diploma or less, compared to just 29 percent of all young women. Single mothers in both rural and urban areas without a college degree, however, account for a majority of the recent increase in single mothers’ participation in the labor force.

Single or not, with children or without, women seek homeownership for a variety of reasons, including having a sanctuary or refuge, cementing one’s professional progress and helping lay an economic foundation for years to come, and providing a stable home for their children.

Fortunately, there are resources available for single women homebuyers to assist them in the home-buying process. For instance, programs are offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as at the local and state level. Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCCs) and Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are also at their disposal. These programs can help single mothers buy homes and assist with the down payment regardless of whether or not they have a low income or poor credit history.

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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