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Updated: 37 min 10 sec ago

Commit to Combatting Discrimination With NAR’s Fairhaven

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 03:04

NAR PULSE—Promote fairness, equal opportunity and integrity in real estate when you utilize Fairhaven, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) fair housing training simulation for REALTORS® that uses the power of storytelling to help members identify, prevent and address discriminatory practices in real estate. Visit Fairhaven.realtor and share with your team!

Set Your Sights on High Visibility With NAR + Photofy!   
Through NAR + Photofy, you and your members gain access to customized templates that enhance your association’s brand and increase visibility across social platforms. Download the Photofy App today and share with your members.

Help Your Agents Stay Out of Debt
Are your agents worried about money management and potentially going into debt? Encourage them to attend NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness webinar on Oct. 13: “The Psychology of Money: Managing Debt and Taking Control of Your Financial Life.”

The post Commit to Combatting Discrimination With NAR’s Fairhaven appeared first on RISMedia.

Shifting Marketing Strategies for Today’s Luxury Climate

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 03:03

On Sept. 14, RISMedia held its annual Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange, co-presented this year by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The exclusive full-day, virtual event attracted thousands of industry professionals and featured broker- and agent-focused sessions with some of real estate’s most successful and innovative executives, brokers, agents, coaches and influencers.

In an incisive look at high-end marketing strategies during an agent-track session at the event—How to Shift Marketing Strategies for Today’s Luxury Climate—moderator Diane Hartley, president of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, asked three industry leaders how they maximize marketing opportunities in the luxury home arena.

Nashville has been a hot spot in the market since before the onset of COVID-19, noted panelist Jack Miller, principal listing broker with Parks Realty, who three years ago listed the estate home of Kelly Clarkson and her then-husband Brandon Blackstone for an aspirational $9 million.

“In a market where the high-end was typically $1 to 3 million, we felt $6 to $7 million was more realistic,” Miller said. “But they were not yet highly motivated to sell, and in the three years the home was on the market, we were able to create a lot of exposure for it—even hosted an episode of ‘Million Dollar Properties’ on HGTV, which generated interest from a pool of wealthy buyers.”

The home ultimately sold for $6.9 million, he said, but competition was keen, and in a rising market, he was able to sell several other multi-million-dollar properties, including a Nashville country bar with a $35 million price tag.

“You have to focus on what will help your client accomplish their goals,” said Miller. “In this case, taking on a property with an aspirational list price when the market was going up and the seller was in no hurry—and capitalizing on the exposure—was definitely the way to go.”

Taking on an overpriced property can indeed open doors, agreed panelist Roman Pavlik, director of the Luxury, Sports and Entertainment Division of Laurie Reeder Luxury Real Estate in South Florida.

“The state of the market is critical,” said Pavlik, who has been selling real estate in the Metro Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach triangle for more than 20 years. “If it’s going up, it can easily catch up to your pricing—and create a lot of press.”

The state of inventory also has a lot to do with marketing strategy, Pavlik added.

“There are more upscale buyers than available properties, and many buyers are searching on their own,” he said. “But we have access to MLS information that the public can’t access. I look for high-end leased properties at the end of the lease period, for example, and call the seller. Maybe they’ve been leasing it because they couldn’t get their price, but once they realize how much the property has appreciated, they often decide it’s time to sell.”

Consider the relocation market, offered Miller.

“The majority of people moving to Nashville today are after a lifestyle change,” he said.

“I had one out-of-state buyer looking to spend up to $10 million on a waterfront property and/or one with an indoor basketball court. But after we’d exhausted every property we had to show him, he decided to look in Florida.”

Unwilling to lose the client, Miller said, he made the referral to a Florida broker, who ultimately sold the client a property for $18.5 million.

“The client was delighted, as was the broker, and I collected a great referral fee,” he said.

In any inventory situation, a seller can benefit from accelerated marketing, noted panelist Jennie Heal, president of Supreme Auctions in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“We work with homeowners—typically owners who don’t need to sell, but rather want to sell,” she said. “Maybe they have three or four houses around the country, and they want to sell one and invest the proceeds—or they’re tired of the maintenance cost. We partner with high-end agents all over the country, set a window of 30 to 45 days, and create great exposure for the home through the auction process.”

The strategy, Heal explained, is to spotlight the property and create pressure to act.

“That culminates in a competitive bidding war that brings the highest possible market value for the seller,” she said.

Pavlik vouched for the process.

“We had a home on the market for two years, priced at $1.8 million,” he said. “The accelerated sale option brought in 120 buyers in 30 days and the property sold for $2.4 million.”

But everyone knows a REALTOR® noted Hartley. How do you win the business in the first place?

“You do what it takes to set yourself up as the local high-end expert,” said Pavlik. “When clients don’t want to alienate their country club friends by choosing one broker over another, they are likely to turn to you instead.”

Miss the event? Click here to purchase access to all the sessions at a special discount.

Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange 2021 Sponsors

Diamond Sponsors
Buffini & Company
Center for REALTOR® Development
Inside Real Estate
Real Estate Webmasters
Realty ONE Group

Platinum Sponsors
Elm Street Technology
MoxiWorks

Master Sponsors
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Homes.com
LoneWolf Technologies

Host Sponsors
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
Rocket Mortgage
zavvie
ShelterZoom

Event Sponsors
Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®)
David Knox Real Estate Training
Mbition 
Pillar To Post Home Inspectors
RPR®
Sherri Johnson Coaching & Consulting

Barbara Pronin is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

The post Shifting Marketing Strategies for Today’s Luxury Climate appeared first on RISMedia.

Century 21 Offering Realogy’s Inclusive Ownership Program

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 03:01

Celebrating its milestone 50th anniversary in 2021, Century 21 Real Estate LLC is now offering an Inclusive Ownership Program, allowing entrepreneurs who represent diverse populations including women, LGBTQ+, veterans, and ethnic and racial groups the opportunity to grow their business.

Launched in 2020 by parent company, Realogy, the Inclusive Ownership Program offers franchise owners affiliated with the CENTURY 21® brand business and financial incentives that support growth and productivity, exclusive education and business mentorship opportunities such as a tuition discount to enroll in “Realogy’s Ascend: The Executive Leadership ExperienceSM” program, market coaching and consulting, discounted brand leadership development experiences, and assistance to attain a Certification by National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).

Franchise owners affiliated with the CENTURY 21® brand also receive a complimentary membership and conference registration to an industry partner organization of choice, including the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals®, the Asian Real Estate Association of America and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance.

“We believe that representation within the CENTURY 21® network should reflect the same diverse communities that we serve,” said Michael Miedler, president and CEO of Century 21 Real Estate, in a statement. “It is not only important for us to recruit an inclusive agent salesforce but to also open a pathway for real estate entrepreneurs representing underserved populations to achieve sustainable success in business ownership. The Inclusive Ownership Program allows us to attract and invest in the most promising leaders and provide them with the resources and access they need to drive growth and deliver extraordinary for their home buying and selling clients.”

“We are proud to be at the forefront of this innovative Inclusive Ownership Program,” said Juan Sanchez, broker/owner of CENTURY 21 Bear Facts Realty in Denver, Colorado, in a statement. “As homeownership becomes a reality for a more diverse population, it’s more important than ever that our company and our affiliated agents truly represent the buyers and sellers we serve across the full spectrum. It’s smart business and, more importantly, it’s the right thing to do. With the power of the CENTURY 21® Brand behind us, and access to its breakthrough technology, marketing and learning platforms, we will be able to further elevate the real estate experience for the agents and their clients.”

Over the past year, the CENTURY 21® brand has added six new companies via the Inclusive Ownership Program, adding to its roster more than thirty U.S.-based affiliated brokerages owned by veterans, women, and Hispanic, African American, Asian-American Pacific Islander and LGBTQ+ industry leaders.

The C21® affiliated companies joining the brand as part of this new program include:

– CENTURY 21 Bear Facts Realty, Denver, Colo.
– CENTURY 21 Bridgeway Realty, Syracuse, N.Y.
– CENTURY 21 Guardian Real Estate Services, Wakefield, R.I.
– CENTURY 21 The Avenues, Calhoun, Ga.
– CENTURY 21 Sandstone Real Estate Group, Conway, Ark.
– CENTURY 21 Rucker Real Estate, Charlotte, N.C.

To qualify for the Inclusive Ownership program, a brokerage must have one or more individuals with majority ownership (51% or more) in at least one of the following segments: Ethnic and Racial (Hispanic/Latino, African American/Black, Asian American Pacific Islander), Women, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Veteran.

For more information, please visit
www.century21.com.

The post Century 21 Offering Realogy’s Inclusive Ownership Program appeared first on RISMedia.

Delta Media Group Announces New Ad Campaign

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 03:00

Delta Media Group recently announced a “Delta Fresh” ad campaign, which debuted in the September issue of its Real Estate Marketing & Technology magazine. The new ads convey that Delta delivers the “fastest, freshest data there is,” with the alternative being less or “almost fresh.”

Based on this theme, Delta’s product and service offerings are individually featured, including websites, CRM, SEO, email marketing, showing software (introducing its new Local Showings by Delta Media) and general marketing.

Images used in the unique ads include pizza, sneakers, roses, bananas, burgers, shirts, apples, salads and pasta. Sample headlines include “How Fresh Is Your Data?,” “Does Your Website Need a Fresh Look?,” “How Fresh Is Your SEO?,” “How Fresh Is Your Showing Software?,” and more.

Delta Media cuts through tech ad clutter with new “Delta Fresh” campaign

“The competition for attention has never been greater,” said Aaron Geh, head of digital marketing at Delta Media Group, in a statement. “As a tech company, you have to think outside the box to break through the massive ad clutter,” he added.

Geh, who has spent more than two decades managing tech-based marketing programs, worked with the WAV Group to develop a way to stand out from conventional tech advertising. Technology ads, he notes, “All look pretty much the same.”

To focus on establishing the Delta Media brand and differentiation, Geh said, “We got rid of the technology in our technology ads.”

“Core to the Delta Media brand is to be different, and that means striving to be the best at everything we do,” Geh said. “Our new ad campaign uses powerful images to communicate our differentiation as the best, or ‘Delta Fresh,’ versus settling for something less, as in ‘Almost Fresh,'” he added. “The focus is not on the technology, but what the technology does.”

View the first ad online in Real Estate Marketing & Technology magazine’s October issue. Additional samples can be viewed here.

For more information, please visit deltamediagroup.com.

The post Delta Media Group Announces New Ad Campaign appeared first on RISMedia.

How to Guide Millennial Buyers in the Current Market

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 12:04

We’ve all seen the headlines. Millennial buyers are being squeezed out of the market as prices continue to climb.

While the recent data showing consistent price gains supports that thesis thus far, experts believe it also gives way to a potential opportunity for buyers who currently make up the largest cohort in the market, according to reports from the National Association of REALTORS®.

“For millennials and other first-time buyers, today’s markets are signaling a return toward seasonal trends, as improvements in the number of available homes for sale are tamping down the unsustainable price trajectory of the last 12 months,” said George Ratiu, manager of economic research at realtor.com®, in a recent statement.

Ratiu was responding to recent reports that showed a rebound of pending home sales after a two-month slump.

He also noted that the price gains are likely cooling down along with the heated competition for listings as the market settles, providing better buying opportunities for folks still in the market.

While affordability still presents challenges to buyers nationwide, real estate professionals aren’t counting younger consumers out of the market just yet.

Guiding Younger Buyers

Agents and brokers say they are trying anything they can to help their millennial clients seize their share of the American Dream, including sweetening their offers to sellers.

“With first-time buyers, we were having a little bit of a harder time being competitive because of all of the cash that was coming in and the attractive offers to those sellers,” says Yuri Blanco, broker/owner of RE/MAX Executives in Boise, Idaho. “We were looking at increasing earnest money deposits, and that was rough because a lot of them are first-time buyers, so they are just starting.”

To help younger clients stand out, Blanco notes that she and her agents have had to restructure their offer packages, waiving contingencies, inspections and appraisals in some cases to stay competitive.

According to Lynn Chute, vice president of HomeSmart Realty’s office in Denver, Colorado, that was also the case in her market.

According to Chute, nearly 60% of buyers in the Denver area in the past year were millennials, including her daughter, whom she helped buy her first home.

“We had to get creative with finding ways of making their offer stand out,” Chute says, adding that she put a seller home warranty on the property at the time of contract to protect the seller if anything happened between contract and close.

According to Chute, managing expectations was also paramount to navigating first-time and younger buyers in the market.

“Everything goes back to communication,” Chute says, adding that she made sure her daughter had a good understanding of what was going on in the market and the potential challenges.

“Talking them through that and helping them understand that this is their first home and not their forever home [is important],” she says.

Nina Hollander, a broker at Coldwell Banker Realty in Charlotte, North Carolina, echoed similar sentiments.

“Everybody starts probably thinking they’ll get more for their money than they actually will,” Hollander says, adding that many want turnkey homes, putting them in competition with other buyers who have more money to leverage in the market.

With millennials accounting for roughly 20% of her clientele, Hollander says that showing younger buyers what they will be able to afford in a specific market can help mitigate unrealistic expectations that they may have.

“You just have to be prepared to spend a lot of time,” Hollander says, adding that, in many cases, she will call listing agents to gauge if her buyer’s budget would be competitive for the home projected to have multiple offers.

Depending on the listing agent’s response, Hollander says she will make an offer or bypass the listing, so they don’t waste time.

Compromise and Concessions 

A robust urban environment is still appealing to younger and older millennials, but helping clients find more affordable options outside of the city limits breed success on the house-hunting front, according to real estate agents in Phoenix and Seattle—two markets that have led the nation in price gains for the past 25 months.

“More of them are going to have to compromise on what they want, and they are going to have to lower their expectations or drive a little bit further,” says Jennifer Wehner, CEO of the Wehner Group with eXp Realty in Arizona.

Wehner says persisting price surges coupled with lagging inventory and new construction are straining the Phoenix market, which has been a hot spot for buyers fleeing pricier coastal cities.

Based on recent reports, Phoenix recorded a 32.4% increase in prices in July from the year before.

Despite the increased expense, Wehner notes that buyers can still find affordable options if they are willing to taper their expectations and demands or travel to neighboring markets near the metro area.

“Every neighborhood is different,” says Wehner. “Right now, if I were an investor or a buyer, I’d go to Peoria or other markets. It may seem out of the way right now, but you can still find affordable housing.”

Not every millennial buyer is strapped for cash, however.

According to Seattle-based broker Shonna Peterson at the Warmack Group with Keller Willams, the Pacific Northwest city has attracted a mix of younger and older millennials—25 to 40 years old—despite its pricier housing options.

Contrary to perceptions surrounding younger buyers entering the market, Peterson notes that many of her millennial clients enter the market prepared to compete, coming to the table with 20% down in many cases.

“Most of our buyers are pretty savvy about what they are coming into,” Peterson says, adding that the several millennial buyers she encounters are well aware of how expensive Seattle is.

With a bustling tech and start-up sector, Peterson has seen a trend of workers migrating into Seattle for high-paying jobs that help counter the record high price tags for homes.

“The millennial buyer is very data-driven and has had quite an opportunity to observe the market and in one like ours specifically,” Peterson says, adding that, in many cases, if they’ve decided to move there, “they are well qualified to participate in our market.”

Rather than underestimating buyers in the demographic for its perceived inexperience, Peterson encourages agents to improve their understanding of millennials in the market.

“You have to be prepared to correspond with your client base in the way that they prefer, and so I think my No.1 piece of advice for any agent is to make sure that they understand the way that their client wants to be communicated with because that varies throughout the generations,” Peterson says.

Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email him your real estate news to jgrice@rismedia.com.

The post How to Guide Millennial Buyers in the Current Market appeared first on RISMedia.

Becoming a Champion of Green and High-Performance Homes

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 12:03

Introducing the 2021 EverGreen Award Winners

As most real estate professionals know, the business extends beyond transactional relationships with buyers and sellers. Professionals working in the industry need to immerse themselves in their communities and be mindful of shifts in the market as well as consumer tastes and preferences. Further, they should strive to serve clients by being knowledgeable about emerging technologies in green housing and high-performance homes.

From breakthroughs in solar power to recycled and upcycled insulation materials, there’s a seemingly endless amount of information real estate professionals should empower themselves with. To that end, the tool chest of knowledge that the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR’s) Green Designation provides plays a significant role in helping agents develop better listings that attract buyers while shining a light on the benefits of high-performance homes.

This is why many look toward NAR’s Green Designation, which can increase a real estate professional’s earning potential and save homeowners considerable sums of money. It’s also a pledge that they care about the quality of life for their community and its future generations.

Every year, the Green REsource Council (which confers NAR’s Green Designation) presents the EverGreen Awards. This award honors elite real estate professionals who have taken extraordinary measures to advance green building, develop their skills and technological knowledge, and apply that to bolstering their professional offerings and reputation. The organization recognized two deserving winners for 2021: Ali Al-Asady and Christopher Matos-Rogers.

But what does it take to earn the EverGreen Award? According to the Green REsource Council, award recipients share the following traits:

– Dedication to the green lifestyle and workstyle
– Green industry skills based on training, competency and experience
– Active participation in the Green REsource Council, other professional associations and community organizations
– Commitment to the advancement of the green building industry and its practice
– Creative implementation of green events, practices or habits in the office or community

Connecting Health to Home
For Al-Asady, a REALTOR® with HomeSmart Elite in Phoenix, Arizona, his commitment to resource efficiency began during his youth. Growing up in a lush region of Iraq, he still reflects on his realization of how planting a seed not only feeds the ecosystem, but also serves as a strong metaphor for productivity—a sentiment that motivates him to educate real estate professionals in regard to the importance of promoting green housing.

In 2008, Al-Asady began to think about how to incorporate his appreciation of nature and high-performance homes into his profession.

“You probably remember how the market was,” he says. “So many agents exited real estate, so I thought about how to stay sharp. NAR offered the Green Designation, and I was one of eight in Arizona who earned it [in 2009], and was one of two who really leaned into it afterwards.”

Earning the designation was among the educational highlights of Al-Asady’s career at the time. It was also the beginning of what has become a laser-focused commitment to educating professionals on the upsides of high-performance homes. But when he set out on this mission, he soon realized it was more challenging than he expected.

“I was ready to change the world, but the world wasn’t ready,” he says.

This challenge led him to becoming a real estate educator. Much more than his personal and professional passions that sent him down this path, Al-Asady also understood the importance of optimizing homes with better ventilation and air quality as well as overall resource efficiency.

“At first I didn’t realize how complex it all was,” he says. “When we talk about health, we talk about exercise or nutrition, but I eventually connected the dots. My main focus is improving indoor quality, and now also outdoor quality, especially with climate change happening all around us.”

Al-Asady implies that there are numerous reasons to lean into energy-efficient initiatives. Topping the list? Helping clients make sound investments. Then, of course, there’s the ethical side of it.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Al-Asady says. “It doesn’t only affect us, but future generations as well.”

Candid in his feelings about winning the EverGreen Award, Al-Asady’s commitment to green and sustainable real estate isn’t just for recognition’s sake.

“When I got involved, it was for pure passion. It took me over 10 years to be recognized, and I know the previous winners have taken the time and put in tremendous effort, so to be part of this group is an honor.”

Small Carbon Footprint, Big Step for Georgia
Matos-Rogers, a REALTOR® at PalmerHouse Properties in the metro region of Atlanta, Georgia, has a background in marine biology, so when he decided to earn his Green Designation, he was already incorporating many of the Green REsource Council’s values into his everyday life. He felt it only made sense to formalize what he already believed in. He also noticed a glaring hole in the local real estate market and realized that his values could enhance the buying and selling experience if more real estate professionals took similar steps.

“My husband and I drove electric cars, but when we shopped for a house with solar panels, we found that there was a lack of them in Atlanta. There were builders and a market, but the real estate industry seemed unaware of it.”

The obvious first step for Matos-Rogers to introduce green thinking to Georgia’s real estate market was to earn his Green Designation. From there, he focused on inspiring others to do the same.

“We brought the Green Designation back to Atlanta after six years,” he says. “We more than doubled the number [of designees] from 40 to 87 and turned it into a big event with vendors and education.”

Like fellow award-winner Al-Asady, Matos-Rogers isn’t leaning into the green movement for financial gain.

“I live it every day,” he says. “I want to advocate and support the market. I’m not an agent who tries to own [my] market. It’s too big to even try. My efforts have been to expand knowledge and empower agents.”

For Matos-Rogers, the first winner of the EverGreen Award from Georgia, spreading awareness in his home state as well as throughout the Southeastern U.S. is important.

“It’s exciting to see Georgia on the map, and my goal is to make this a trend,” he says. “It’s good for [real estate professionals] throughout the South to see that representation and for people from across the country to see that it’s not just them taking these initiatives.”

Looking ahead, Al-Asady and Matos-Rogers both see a promising future, one where more professionals make earning NAR’s Green Designation a high priority.

For more information, please visit green.realtor/evergreen_awards.

Caysey Welton is RISMedia’s Content Director. Email him your real estate news ideas to cwelton@rismedia.com.

 

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Home Price Growth Reached All-Time High in August

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 12:02

While there’s been a slight slowdown in the markets due to reappearing fall seasonal trends following last year’s year-long competitive environment, in August, home prices continued to grow, with annual gains reaching a record high of 18.1%.

According to the CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI), this is the largest 12-month growth in the U.S. index since the series began in January 1976. Home prices increased month-over-month by 1.3% compared to July 2021.

Key takeaways:

– Appreciation of detached properties (19.8%) was the highest measured since the start of the index—7.8-percentage points higher than attached properties (12%).

– CoreLogic predicts that home price growth will slow to a 2.2% increase by August 2022 due to ongoing affordability challenges.

– For the month, home prices increased significantly in the Pacific Northwest with Bend, Oregon, experiencing the highest YoY increase at 37.2%. In second place was Twin Falls, Idaho, with a YoY increase of 35.8%.

– Idaho and Arizona again led the way with the strongest price increase at 32.2% and 29.5%, respectively.

What CoreLogic has to say:

“Home prices continue to escalate at a torrid pace as a broad spectrum of buyers drive demand for a limited supply of homes,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic, in a statement. “We expect to see the trend of strong price gains continue indefinitely with large amounts of capital chasing too few assets.”

“Single-family detached homes continue to be in high demand,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic, in a statement. “These properties offer more living space and distance from neighboring homes than that of attached properties. On average, detached homes have 28% more inside space compared to single-family attached properties and about twice as much space as apartments in multifamily structures.”

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Closing the Wealth Gap and Bolstering Latino Homeownership

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 12:01

Latinos are on track to reach the goal set by the Hispanic Wealth Project (HWP) of a median $45,450 household wealth by 2024, further narrowing the non-Hispanic white/Latino wealth gap.

According to the 2021 State of Hispanic Wealth Report, recently published by HWP and the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), there are several factors driving wealth for this segment of the population, but real estate takes the lead: residential property values make up more than half (52%) of Latino assets, driven by both homeownership and investment property ownership.

Home equity continues to build, with Latino equity levels at a median of $95,000 in 2019. Between 2016 and 2019, there were 818,000 net new Latino-owner households—the highest three-year increase since before the Great Recession.

Homeownership continues to bolster wealth gains, with owners reporting 28 times the wealth of renters. According to the report, while Latino renters have a median net worth of $6,210, the net worth for Latino homeowners is $171,900.

Among homeownership trends is a reliance on family, with Latinos the most likely demographic to live in a multigenerational household. Forty-one percent report having at least three incomes supporting their household and 50% either pool all incomes to pay for all or at least some expenses, including rent or mortgages—the highest of any demographic.

Latinos are also heavily investing in real estate, with the demographic increasing their ownership of investment properties by 33.1% between 2016 and 2019.

While there has been progress, however, hurdles still exist. Down payment continues to be the single-largest barrier to homeownership. Over 36% report not having enough saved for a down payment as their primary reason for not buying a home.

Additionally, the pandemic introduced added challenges for existing homeowners. As of March 2021, 8.4%of Latino home loan borrowers were in forbearance, and 0.7% of Latino borrowers were at least 60 days delinquent. According to the report, the demographic is 2.3 times more likely to be in forbearance and 1.5 times more likely to be delinquent than non-Hispanic white borrowers.

Despite these roadblocks, the report says 53% of survey respondents expect to purchase a home in the next five years, with 36% of Latinos planning to buy an investment property within that time frame, continuing to build demand for real estate.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to lizd@rismedia.com.

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Forbearance Rates Declining at Faster Pace

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 12:00

As of Sept. 26, the total number of loans now in forbearance decreased by 7 basis points to 2.89%.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) latest Forbearance and Call Volume Survey estimates there are 1.4 million homeowners currently in forbearance plans.

The details:

– Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans in forbearance decreased 6 basis points to 1.38%.
– Ginnie Mae loans in forbearance decreased 7 basis points to 3.35%.
– Portfolio loans and private-label securities (PLS) decreased 14 basis points to 6.77%.   – Independent mortgage bank (IMB) servicers decreased 5 basis points to 3.19%.
– Loans in forbearance for depository servicers decreased 13 basis points to 2.93%.

The takeaway:

“The share of loans in forbearance declined at a faster rate last week, dropping by 7 basis points, as exits increased and new requests and re-entries declined,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s senior vice president and chief economist, in a statement. “While 1.4 million homeowners remained in forbearance as of Sept. 26, this number is expected to drop sharply over the next few weeks as many are reaching the 18-month expiration point of their forbearance terms. Most borrowers exiting forbearance through a workout are opting for a deferral plan, which allows them to resume their original payment, while moving the forborne amount to the end of the loan.”

Added Fratantoni, “Although call volume dropped in the last week of September, we expect that servicers will be very busy through October.”

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Considering Cutting Back Homeowners Insurance Coverage to Save? Press Pause on That

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 03:02

If money is running tight and you’re looking for ways to cut back, you may be tempted to cut into your homeowners insurance coverage. This could be a mistake.

If you don’t have adequate coverage and your house gets damaged or destroyed, or someone gets seriously injured on your property, you may be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lower your homeowners insurance premiums without scaling back your coverage and putting your family’s financial future in jeopardy.

Bundle Your Insurance Policies
If you currently have your homeowners insurance through one company and your auto or life insurance through a different insurer, you may be spending more than you have to. Insurance companies typically offer substantial discounts to customers who bundle their policies. If you buy two or more types of insurance from the same company, the total you spend may fall significantly, even if you keep your coverage limits exactly the same.

Find Out If You Qualify for Discounts
You may be eligible for one or more discounts on your homeowners insurance. Insurers reward customers who make upgrades that make them less likely to file a claim. For example, you may qualify for a reduction in premiums if you repair or replace your roof, update your home’s electrical system or install a monitored home security system. If you make any of those changes, notify your insurance company and ask if you’re eligible for lower rates. You may also qualify for a discount if you’ve been with your current company for several years.

Raise Your Deductible
Your homeowners insurance premiums are based, in part, on your deductible. If you experience a loss, you’ll have to pay the deductible out of your own pocket before your insurance will kick in.

Raising your deductible may lead to a significant reduction in your premiums. Call your insurance company or agent and ask. You should only raise your deductible if you’ll have access to that amount of money if you need to file an insurance claim.

Shop Around for Better Rates
Switching to a different company is another possible way to save money. You should compare rates from different homeowners insurance companies every year. If you contact other insurers and request quotes, you may be surprised to find that you can get the exact same coverage you have now at a much lower cost from a different company.

Even if the insurer you currently have offered the lowest premiums when you bought insurance, another company may quote you a lower price today. You also may be eligible for discounts that weren’t available to you when you originally purchased homeowners insurance.

Agents, want more tips like these to share with your existing and prospective clients? Check out our automated social media marketing platform, ACESocial.

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Is Strong Equity Enough to Hold Back Foreclosures?

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 03:01

The Data & Analytics division of Black Knight, Inc. released its latest Mortgage Monitor Report, exploring the relationship between equity positions and downstream foreclosure start rates and, ultimately, distressed liquidations.

According to Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske, the data suggests that the healthy stores of equity in the hands of homeowners currently in forbearance may not be sufficient on its own to ward off foreclosure activity.

“An analysis of our McDash loan-level mortgage performance dataset back to 2007 shows that holding equity in one’s home might not be a blanket backstop to foreclosure activity,” said Graboske in a statement. “Borrowers with limited equity were much more likely to be referred to foreclosure during the early stages of the Great Recession than those with strong equity positions. But foreclosure start rates on homeowners who were 120 or more days past due have been relatively similar regardless of equity stakes from 2010 on, with borrowers in the strongest positions only slightly less likely to be referred to foreclosure.”

“So, while we may see some variation in foreclosure activity based on the equity levels of borrowers who are unable to return to making payments post-forbearance, those with strong equity won’t necessarily be immune to foreclosure referral,” he added.

“The same data also shows that borrowers with strong equity stakes are more than 40% less likely to face the involuntary liquidation of their homes than borrowers with weaker equity positions, limiting both potential losses on such mortgages and distressed inflow into the housing market. Still, even among borrowers with 40% equity stakes who are referred to foreclosure, some 30% in recent years have lost their home to foreclosure sale, short sale, deed in lieu, etc.,” said Graboske.

“What the data doesn’t tell us is why so many people who could avoid involuntary liquidation by selling through traditional channels simply do not end up doing so. Whether that’s due to lack of understanding of their equity positions or the foreclosure process in general is unclear,” he added. “But given the large number of high equity homeowners currently struggling to make their payments, this represents a significant challenge for the industry: how to educate struggling homeowners on the post-forbearance, foreclosure and—if needed—home sale processes, to limit unneeded stress on homeowners and the market alike.”

The report also finds that the white-hot housing market, which has driven homeowner equity to record-breaking heights, is starting to show signs of cooling. According to the Black Knight HPI, annual home price growth slowed from an all-time-high of 19.4% in July to 19% in August, marking the first decline seen in the rate of annual appreciation in 15 months.

Daily tracking data from the company’s Collateral Analytics group suggests further cooling in September as well. Any slowdown in appreciation will likely be welcomed by potential homebuyers, who have seen the monthly payment required to purchase the average priced home with a 20% down 30-year fixed rate mortgage increase by nearly 20% (+$210) over the first nine months of 2021.That brings the average monthly mortgage payment to its highest level since late 2007.

It now requires 21.6% of the median household income to make the monthly mortgage payment on the average home purchase, making housing the least affordable it’s been since 30-year rates rose to nearly 5% back in late 2018. Since the Great Recession, home-price growth has begun to slow when such payment-to-income ratios hit approximately 20.5% or higher, but low inventory levels in recent months have led to record home-price growth even with tightening affordability.

Any further rate increases—such as those seen in the week following the Federal Reserve’s announcement on tapering—will only exacerbate the affordability side of the equation.

For example, should home prices and incomes hold steady, but interest rates rise to 3.5%, the average monthly payment would rise by more than $100 and home affordability would hit a 12-year low. At 4%, the payment-to-income ratio would climb above its pre-Great Recession (1995-2003) average. If rates climb back to 5% as in late 2018, it would require $380 (+29%) more per month to buy the average-priced home than it does today, with affordability reaching the lowest levels on record outside of the 2004-2008 period.

Source: Black Knight

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First African American, Female-Owned Century 21 Company in Charlotte

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 03:00

Arica Rucker, local entrepreneur, influencer and broker/owner of Rucker Real Estate Inc., recently announced that she has chosen to affiliate with Century 21 Real Estate LLC and will do business as CENTURY 21 Rucker Real Estate throughout North and South Carolina.

“We value and appreciate the trust that the people and businesses in Charlotte and throughout the surrounding areas have given us, and our affiliation with CENTURY 21 will allow us to go to the next level of service excellence as our agents deliver more personalized, extraordinary experiences,” said Rucker in a statement. “We look forward to working with the brand to elevate the home-buying and selling experience and to becoming the first choice for real estate consumers throughout the areas that we serve.”

“We are excited to partner with Arica and her team and look forward to supporting their team as they go above and beyond and give 121% to the people and families of North Carolina,” said Mike Miedler, president and CEO of Century 21 Real Estate LLC, in a statement. “Their energy and enthusiasm for delivering quality service and real estate outcomes to both consumers and their agents is unparalleled.”

For more information, please visit www.century21.com.

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Strength and Savvy Keep John L. Scott Legacy Going Strong

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 12:03

J. Lennox Scott shares how a steadfast commitment to excellence has powered John L. Scott Real Estate for 90 years 

Seattle in the 1930s was a youthful city on Puget Sound on the western edge of the nation—a friendly city with tree-lined streets, a burgeoning city center, and 350,000 hard-working residents largely connected to the lumber and fishing industries. Named for the Native American chief of the tribes who settled it, Seattle was 80 years old and primed for growth, with thousands of acres of undeveloped land.

Into this thriving city with a small-town vibe came a young Scottish immigrant named John L. Scott. A ship-building engineer by trade, Scott drove into town in his Ford Model T, with his bride and infant son in tow, on the way to San Diego. However, he took one look around and felt he was destined to call Seattle home as it reminded him of Scotland.

He settled in, working for a short time in the lumber business before gravitating to real estate, and in 1931, he opened the doors of his business, John L. Scott Real Estate.

Ninety years ago, young John had no way of knowing he was launching a legacy—or a dynasty. Today, led by his grandson J. Lennox Scott, the company is celebrating its 90th anniversary, continuing to flourish with more than 100 offices and over 3,000 agents in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California.

J. Lennox Scott, Chairman & CEO, John L. Scott Real Estate

Barbara Pronin: Lennox, three generations and 90 years in business is a huge milestone to celebrate, and it says a lot about your family’s strength and savvy over the years. But you were only 23 when you inherited the company. What was it like to take on that responsibility at such a young age?

J. Lennox Scott: It was a daunting challenge. My dad, who was the second generation to lead the company, unfortunately passed away far too young in 1977. I was 23 and just out of college. I had always known this would be my career path, as I had worked for the company in various capacities over the years—I started by painting signs at the age of 10. But little did I imagine that just 13 years later—after I’d been selling real estate for just under a year—I’d be called upon to take the reins. But there we were. Ready or not, I became CEO in 1980, just in time for the start of the Great Recession when home mortgage rates shot up to 16%.

BP: How did you figure out where to begin to lead this large and successful company?

JLS: Luckily for me, with the love the team had for my dad, they told me they would support me in this endeavor. I knew what I didn’t know but I was eager to learn, and I was fortunate to be surrounded—and supported—by the best agents and the most knowledgeable leadership team anyone could possibly imagine. It was real teamwork at a time when we needed it most, and still today, collaboration is the basis for our model. It’s the frequency of focus on the vital few items that vault us forward, tracking and sending our path ahead. We’re laser-focused on providing the right resources and solutions for both our agents and our clients.

BP: Ninety years is a long time for any company to thrive. What’s the backbone of John L. Scott Real Estate? What makes it grow and prosper?

JLS: I think it starts with our commitment to transactional excellence—a promise to do our very best for every buyer and seller—and a long history of fulfilling that promise. You know, when your family name is on the door, you feel that commitment every day—and I’m proud to say it’s already continuing into a fourth generation. My daughter, Savannah, who’s 26, started out as a team assistant six years ago, and was just recently licensed to sell real estate—and my daughter Stephanie, who’s an artist, provides the geometric artwork that’s becoming a hallmark in our offices.

J. Lennox Scott with real estate coach Tom Ferry

BP: How would you describe your company culture, Lennox? What motivates your most successful agents?

JLS: Without question, our culture is built around the power of teamwork, of helping, of being kind, of celebrating the success of our teammates as much as we rejoice in our own. Our mantra here is, ‘Good to great, great to greatness’—and there are many components to greatness. Our agents are as competitive as any, they have proven entrepreneurial spirit—but they understand that part of greatness is sharing and helping—and that extends to our clients. Our goal is to provide an Ultimate Client Experience®, being their personal representative, and additionally, delivering marketing excellence for sellers. That means easing the pain points for buyers and sellers—not just providing bridge loans, for example, but facilitating iBuyer solutions; or our Market Ready Plus+ program, giving sellers access to capital so they can fix up their home to showcase it before listing…or providing buyers with access to their equity so they are able to buy before they sell. In fact, more than 80% of our business today comes from repeat and referrals. This is the greatest compliment we can receive.

BP: The COVID-19 pandemic upended life as we knew it. How has the health crisis impacted your business?

JLS: In many ways, the pandemic affirmed the caring we have for each other and for the community. We used all available pathways to increase our connectivity, reaching out to clients and to each other via video and Zoom, changing our business practices to keep people safe, and using ingenuity and electronic skills to keep real estate in motion. Later, as the pandemic drove people to reevaluate their priorities, and many found themselves able to work remotely, we were busier than ever, but we were also well-positioned to manage the great rush to relocate. In all, we booked 34,000 transactions in 2020 with a dollar value of $16 billion.

BP: Can you give us a sense of how the company grew to its present reach and scope?

JLS: When my grandfather settled in Seattle more than 90 years ago, it was first because it reminded him of his homeland in Scotland, but also because he recognized the city’s potential for growth—and he was right. As the trolley lines came in, making it easier for people to commute, he went from one office to three. In the 1940s, with the expansion of floating bridges across Lake Washington, the company expanded again—and then was able to grow again with the coming of the freeways and the ferries across Puget Sound. Today, as you mentioned, we operate 110 offices with more than 3,000 agents in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and now franchising in California.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) honored J. Lennox Scott with the 2020 Brokerage Leadership Award. Scott is pictured here with LeadingRE President and CEO Paul Boomsma.

BP: The world is changing in many ways, Lennox. Diversity and inclusion are on everyone’s agenda. How is your company responding?

JLS: What a wake-up call to the nation was the murder of George Floyd—and what a reminder that there is so much more to do. As an industry and individually, we have worked hard to support diversity, which leads to fair housing. The timing is right to take great leaps forward as an industry. Following the passage of two bills this year, we are working now with the state of Washington to identify and help remove any racist language from home title documents, and to make diversity education mandatory for all real estate professionals. Oregon, as you may know, has banned the practice of so-called “love letters,” with the law becoming effective Jan. 1, 2022. Agents there may no longer present these letters, which are written by buyers in an effort to woo sellers, because of the risk that could pose to fair housing. We remain squarely focused on eliminating barriers and promoting equal homeownership rights—it’s another facet of our commitment to customer care.

BP: There is a quote by you on your website that says, “Our business is transactional excellence, but our higher purpose is Living Life as a Contribution®.” Tell me how you came to believe that, and how you put it into action.

JLS: Our practice of living up to a higher purpose began with my grandfather and has been 90 years in the making. The John L. Scott Foundation supports 25 children’s healthcare events for 19 different hospitals, most years helping raise some $15 million-plus for that purpose. In addition, in non-COVID years, members of our John L. Scott family personally serve 50 dinners every year to families with sick children at Ronald McDonald Houses. In 2020 and 2021, we were not able to volunteer in person, but have kept our commitment with Ronald McDonald Houses by providing catered meals to residents. Most of our agents and team members give back in other ways to the communities they serve as well. It’s a natural part of our culture of care. There is also a more spiritual aspect to what we do based on the principles my wife sets out in her book, “Speaking the Language of Miracles.” It starts with the premise that the situation—any situation—is not who you are. For many people, it opens the door to a journey of self-discovery and to the inspiration and empowerment that are vital to positive outcomes.

BP: So, affirmation is a core value…?
JLS: Yes, and our statement of who we are is the desired outcome. Our executive team takes this practical five-step approach: What’s the situation? What’s the desired outcome? What role can we play in the desired outcome? What activities can we do to back this up? And finally, track and sense our progress, learn as we go and anticipate what’s coming next. Discipline is key. It’s critical.

BP: If you had a crystal ball, Lennox, what changes to the industry would you predict, and how is the company preparing for them?

JLS: Actually, I gave a speech on that topic in 2008, and it’s something we continue to think about and work on today. There were three things that technology is moving forward. First, reduce the transaction process time. We’ve got it down now to 10 days, but we want to get it down to five. That would free up the agent and provide more certainty to buyers and sellers. Second, assist the residential investor nation by ensuring that every listing can be seen nationally in a nano-second. Third, provide a portal to give each property owner easy access to all the information on their property.

One of the responsibilities of leading brokerages is to identify these kinds of issues before they become issues and develop practical and doable solutions to address them. This is our approach that keeps our company proactive and passionate in a world where needs have been ever changing since my grandfather came to town 90 years ago.

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

Barbara Pronin is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

 

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Disruptor Roundup: Unison Hopes to Upend Home Equity Access

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 12:02

Editor’s Note: The Disruptor Roundup analyzes companies implementing unconventional models.

Unison calls it a “co-investment.” In exchange for a portion of the proceeds whenever you eventually sell the property, the San Francisco-based company offers cash up front with no debt, no monthly payments and no interest.

Though the somewhat radical nature of this model might evoke images of Bay Area startup culture, Unison has been around since 2004 and the general principles of its model are not unique. Other companies have usually focused on co-investing with consumers looking to buy, providing a portion of the down payment in exchange for eventual pay-off from the home sale—something that Unison also did, until recently.

But now, as more and more homeowners are sitting on growing piles of home equity, Unison has pivoted and hopes to make a splash by allowing people to draw cash from their home without adding to their monthly bills.

“Homeowners are participating in one of the biggest wealth-building moments we’ve seen in residential real estate,” said Thomas Sponholtz, CEO and chairman of Unison, in a statement. “The record levels of tappable equity they’re accumulating give them a lot of options, whether they’re eyeing retirement or renovation.”

How it works:

According to its website, Unison will invest up to 17.5% of the value in your home up front after conducting an independent appraisal. The amount—a minimum of $30,000 and a maximum of $500,000—can then be used for whatever you want, no strings attached and no interest owed.

When you sell your home, or after 30 years, whichever comes first, Unison takes its original investment back, plus a percentage of your home’s appreciation—usually 40%. That means if you received a $30,000 “co-investment” and then sold the house for $100,000 more than Unison originally appraised it for, you would pay Unison a total of $70,000 (plus a 3% transaction fee).

Unison said its capital comes from long-term institutional investors—university endowments or pension funds, which depend on the relatively reliable returns from real estate. The company has no legal power or rights to your home—they are simply investors, hoping just like you that your home appreciates in value.

What are the risks?

Unison calls the co-investment scenario a win-win. Even in hardship cases where your home is damaged or you are in danger of foreclosure, the company claims they will be motivated to work with you—they are invested in your property too, after all.

Another important part of the Unison co-investment is that under most circumstances, the company also shares in the risk if your home happens to lose value when you sell it. If you decide to buy out Unison early, however, there is no loss-sharing. The contract is for a minimum of five years, which Unison calls the “restriction period.” After that five-year period, you can buy out Unison whenever you want, though you will still have to pay a portion of the appreciated value along with the co-investment amount.

Unison also reserves the right to add a “Deferred Maintenance Addendum” after the initial investment if it identifies major issues in your home, which allows them to make further adjustments to how much you owe when you sell the house or buy them out if the maintenance issues are not addressed.

What are the opportunities?

According to data Unison released this month, homeowners gained $2.7 trillion in home equity in just the last year, a run fueled by a historic increase in home prices. Residential property owners hold over $22 trillion in equity—much of it concentrated in metros and coastal markets. A handful of cities—namely, Virginia Beach, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix, Arizona; and Columbus, Ohio—topped 25% in median home equity growth this past year, meaning many hot housing markets now have an abundance of equity.

Though Unison’s service is available in 30 states and Washington D.C., the company currently has only 7,800 co-investment agreements, according to its website. After announcing earlier this summer that it had raised $210 million in investment capital, Unison is hoping that more homeowners will see their home equity as something to tap into now, whether it be for home renovations, paying off other debts or anything else they want or need.

Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com.

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Home Warranty Partnership Emerges From Shared Vision and Company Culture

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 12:01

When a buyer moves into their new home, it’s typically after a stressful buying process—hopefully, made simpler by a skilled agent—and, more often than not, an arduous moving process. After settling in, the last thing they want to worry about is an appliance or home feature failing on them. This is where home warranties come into play.

A home warranty is a service contract that provides a homeowner with discounted repair and replacement services should something break in their home. For decades now, Cinch Home Services has been a leader in the home warranty arena.

For Aaron Starck, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Starck Real Estate, it was Cinch’s impressive track record and positive culture that led him to partner with the company.

“We’ve been aware of Cinch, HMS at the time, for over 15 years,” says Starck. “In 2014, we began a search for home warranty services that worked best for our marketplace and our brokers. After thoroughly vetting four or five home warranty service providers, we began our partnership with Cinch.”

Starck goes on to say that, as a general rule, he believes that home warranty service standards have to be high—or these companies will not last long in today’s competitive marketplace.

“The fact that Cinch was the company we selected after our careful vetting process says a lot about their commitment to excellence and their dedication to providing an outstanding experience, but most of all, about the quality of the people on their team,” says Starck.

For Starck, that was the most important piece of the puzzle and what set Cinch apart from the competition.

“Through prior experience, we knew there were other good products in the marketplace, but ultimately, we felt there was a shared cultural fit between us and Cinch’s commitment to service,” says Starck. “This was exemplified by the local team behind that service whom we had a chance to get to know during our search.”

This made Starck’s decision to work with Cinch a relatively easy one. Throughout the course of the firm’s relationship with the company, Starck notes that there have been many instances that confirm that they made the right choice.

In the seven years since the partnership began, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Starck Real Estate’s clients have benefited enormously. The proof is in the numbers, as Starck explains that a high percentage of his clients use the warranty once it has been purchased.

But the benefits of working with Cinch extend even further, according to Starck, who points to the service he and his team receive from Cinch’s local and national teams as another key benefit.

“Stephanie Ramirez and Julie O’Brien work directly with our managing brokers and agents, and they’ve built a tremendous relationship with our offices,” says Starck. “They’re quick to respond to any client-related issues or other needs, such as training.”

At the corporate level, Starck has a strong relationship with Dan Strayer, vice president of national sales, who Starck can count on to ensure the relationship with the company, his clients and his brokers runs smoothly.

“Cinch is a familiar and trusted presence in our branch offices,” concludes Starck.

To learn more about how you can partner with Cinch Home Services, please reach out to Doug Stein, chief growth officer, at dstein@cinchhs.com or visit www.cinchhomeservices.com.

Jameson Doris is RISMedia’s social media/blog editor. Email him your real estate news to jdoris@rismedia.com.

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Regional Spotlight: C.A.R. Issues Statement on SB 539 Bill

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 12:00

California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) President Dave Walsh issued the following statement in response to the signing of SB 539 into law:

“Late last year, California voters approved Proposition 19 to allow those who are age 55 or older, persons with disabilities and victims of wildfires greater freedom to transfer their property tax basis and provide much-needed revenue for fire districts and local governments.

“SB 539, a bipartisan measure authored by Sen. Robert Hertzberg and co-authored by Sens. Ben Allen, Brian Dahle, and Mike McGuire, as well as Assembly members Megan Dahle and Adam Gray, was signed into law yesterday by Gov. Gavin Newsom. SB 539 is a common-sense measure that provides necessary clarifications for the proper implementation of Proposition 19’s provisions. These clarifications will help ensure Proposition 19 is implemented consistently throughout California and provide certainty to qualifying homeowners and those with family farms.”

Source: C.A.R.

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Cover Story: A Better Future for Agents

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 03:06

Editor’s Note: This is the cover story in the October 2021 issue of RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. Subscribe today.

HomeSmart Believes the Right Business Model Will Always Win. Here’s Why.

The competition is fierce as brokerage companies pull out all the stops to provide a better future for agents. With no crystal ball to predict who will come out on top, one thing is clear: A company that values evolution and choice will always win.

Today, it’s no longer about being with the right brokerage model. Instead, it’s all about the right business model—a distinction that’s behind every decision and every iteration of brand evolution at HomeSmart.

HomeSmart is moving full-speed ahead—adapting to every new environment so that as the future unfolds, the brand will still be going strong no matter who else is at the top of the leaderboard with them.

With an agent-centric, technology-powered business model—and the freedom of choice built into each and every step along the way—HomeSmart is empowering its agents from every angle and adapting to new environments in numerous ways.

Business Model vs. Brokerage Model: A Key Point of Differentiation
As a trend-setting, cutting-edge company, HomeSmart provides dedicated broker support, proprietary systems and tools, flexible fee plans, and marketing and transaction services.

But that’s just the beginning.

Laser-focused on helping agents serve their customers, HomeSmart was built on a service mindset that’s delivered upon through technology and scale.

Permeating every aspect of the business, HomeSmart provides power of efficiency and the ability to leverage any type of go-to-market strategy via its proprietary technology platforms.

“Because of the vision and proprietary technology built into the organization, we can support a number of different types of models,” says HomeSmart President Ashley Bowers, underscoring the importance of recognizing the difference between brokerage models and business models.

While a brokerage model is simply a fee structure, a business model constitutes everything behind that. It’s operational excellence, high service, offices, people interacting with people, technology and marketing.

An ongoing conversation among real estate practitioners, there’s no shortage of discussions surrounding which brokerage model is the right way forward.

“Our agent-centric business model provides both flexibility and optionality so that agents don’t have to stick with one type of brokerage model,” says Bowers. “We can offer a variety of fee plans to fit both the situation and needs of any particular agent, all of which goes back to providing agents 100% of the resources they need to be successful.”

Brand Evolution and Technology’s Leading Role
A key component of HomeSmart’s brand evolution, technology has played an integral role since day one.

“We’ve focused on technology from the very beginning, and rather than using it as a barrier between ourselves and our agents, it has been an important piece of the puzzle as far as helping our agents grow their business further,” says HomeSmart Chief Industry Officer Todd Sumney.

By utilizing technology to gather all of the information an agent needs and placing it at their fingertips—whether it be on their mobile phone or company dashboard—HomeSmart has remained focused on core competencies. This has paved the way to providing extremely high service and support in addition to a large amount of value through technology and service…or what the brand refers to as its recipe for success.

“As we’ve continued to evolve, it’s become clear that many people working in the industry didn’t even know that the opportunity we provided at HomeSmart existed,” explains Sumney. “In a way, we were the best kept secret in real estate; however, we needed more agents to know about it.”

Building in and offering flexibility for agents in every aspect of the business has allowed the team at HomeSmart to adapt to any agent’s need no matter where they are in the country or within the lifecycle of the real estate business they’re in.

“By focusing on innovation, collaboration, tools and resources—and empowering agents in every way with technology—we serve them and help them evolve as well,” says Sumney.

As the real estate industry continues to change for both practitioners and consumers alike, HomeSmart has cemented its spot at the forefront of the evolving landscape.

One of the first companies to embrace the shift toward moving transactions online and becoming 100% paperless, HomeSmart has always been on the cutting edge.

“We were able to achieve this goal through our own technology,” explains Sumney. “Because we still own brokerages and we’re working in the business every single day, we know when something needs to evolve and get better. So we’re constantly honing the system so that we can do an extremely high amount of transactions in a very efficient manner.”

“At HomeSmart, our focus is technology,” adds Bowers. “The technology is really about being able to get more transactions across the finish line and remove the friction and tension from the process while being less about providing flashy tools that don’t necessarily lead to a successful close.”

Another aspect of the brand’s evolution that has helped position HomeSmart ahead of the competition is HomeSmart Founder and CEO Matt Widdows’ philosophy of never taking “no” for an answer.

“That’s a big piece of who we are as a brand,” says Bowers. “While many companies within the industry defer to saying that things aren’t possible, we take a different approach by asking, ‘Why can’t we do that?'”

This simple mindset shift can be found throughout the organization, laying the foundation to ensure that progress isn’t obstructed.

“One of the biggest things we’ve done is integrate all of our technology together into one real estate ecosystem,” says Sumney. “We’ve eliminated all the pain points and have made it easy for agents to scale their business while offering deeper engagement for the consumer.”

Along with providing a higher level of service, HomeSmart has kept the REALTOR® at the center of the transaction.

“So many companies in the real estate industry try to remove the agent from the process, but we believe that the agent is the center of the transaction,” says Sumney. “Instead of displacing them, we empower them and enable the consumer to engage with them on a deeper level.”

The Power of Choice in an Ever-Evolving Landscape
There’s no shortage of choice within the real estate industry. From deciding which company to work for to the type of clients you’d like to represent and the best market to launch your career, agents are inundated with an overwhelming amount of options.

While having too many options at your disposal can often be counterintuitive, at HomeSmart, it’s all about choice.

In fact, as we head toward the future, it’s going to become increasingly important for brokerages to continue providing choices for agents so that they can adapt to the market—no matter what it looks like.

“We offer agents 100% of choice in many different areas, beginning with our ever-popular flat-fee model and 100% commission on all sales and rental transactions,” says Sumney, who goes on to explain that the company recently announced additional options as it relates to fee plans.

Enter HomeSmart+, HomeSmart’s newest commission plan.

Designed to provide a way for agents to earn additional income beyond their own transactions, and an opportunity to earn money into their retirement, the HomeSmart+ revenue share program allows agents to earn money when their referred agent closes a transaction.

Giving agents yet another choice as to the way they can run their business, HomeSmart+ is the next step in the brokerage’s continued growth.

Choices abound in other areas as well, including education, training, mentoring and technology.

By providing optionality in these key areas, agents can choose the pathway that’s best designed to help them meet their goals.

Depending on their specific needs, HomeSmart agents can work at their own pace so that they’re totally in control.

“Some agents want to have a mentor, while others want to join a team, so we give them the freedom to choose what works best for their own situation,” notes Sumney.


The same philosophy applies to education and training, as some agents prefer a remote or in-person learning program that has structure, while others would rather do it on their own.

Agents even have options when it comes to the technology they use within their day-to-day routine.

There is, however, one tool agents across the company must use.

“Everyone uses our transaction management platform, RealSmart Agent,” says Sumney.

As the industry continues to change and evolve, determining what else should be brought to the table centers around listening to what agents, brokers and franchisees, as well as internal HomeSmart employees, are asking for.

“We feel that knowledge is power, and we want as much information and input as possible,” adds Sumney, who wholeheartedly believes in the power of choice.

A brokerage built by a broker, for brokers, and a real estate company built by an agent, for agents, HomeSmart is in a unique position to see first-hand exactly what agents need, whether they’re in the first phase of their career or working at a more advanced level.

Courage Through Leadership: Setting the Stage for Change
Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they have in common is the courage to push through uncomfortable situations.

Now more than ever, people want leaders who have the strength of mind to make the hard decisions that will ultimately bring about change. And that’s exactly the type of people who make up HomeSmart’s leadership team.

“As leaders, we’ve all vowed to never be in a situation where we look back and say, ‘We should have changed or made a pivot here, but we didn’t have the courage to do so,'” says Bowers. “We’re okay with making mistakes here and there as we put ourselves in a vulnerable position when trying something new and different, but keeping this spirit alive will help us continue to lead in this space.”

Coming from outside the industry herself, Bowers understands the importance of a diverse leadership team made up of individuals from all walks of life.

No matter what type of experience a leader brings to the table, grit and determination are two qualities that can’t be overlooked.

“We’re always looking for those who want to join the revolution and who like to run at warp speed, which is something we can get a sense of very early on during the interview process. We want people on the team who truly believe that there’s no job too small or too large,” says Bowers.

“The people who join HomeSmart are typically on the rebellious side anyways,” adds Bowers. “They tend to do things differently, and that fits with the overall vibe of the brand.”

Reevaluating Your Business Model to Keep Up With the Competition
As real estate brokerage companies contend with change rather than simply resting on their laurels and sticking to what they know, they must get to a place where they’re comfortable being uncomfortable.

While it may sound like a challenging proposition, in keeping with the stages of business growth, broker/owners should reevaluate their business model every two to three years.

“You don’t necessarily need to change your business model entirely, but you need to question it because everyone around you will be questioning it,” explains Bowers, who urges those at the helm of brokerage operations to ask themselves three important questions: Is it still right? Is it still working? Is there something that needs to be added?

HomeSmart is empowering its agents from every angle to solidify their position at the center of the transaction.

To help brokers with the process, HomeSmart leans on every member of the organization to share where they see the potential for opportunity as well as what they believe the brand can do to stay ahead.

“So much of the reevaluation process is the eyes and ears that are on the front-line,” says Bowers. “We want to know what they’re seeing and hearing in addition to what parts of the process are causing frustration.”

Paying attention to the competition is also important, as one of the first steps in revamping your own business model is understanding how you stack up against others, finding the whitespace to compete.

“Look at the competition and see how their growth compares to yours,” says Bowers. “Are they staying the same, or are they growing faster or slower than you?”

Sizing up the competition also includes being aware of organizations outside the industry that could potentially get their foot in the door and change the real estate landscape as we know it.

Preparing for the Future
The future is looking brighter than ever at HomeSmart as the brand hunkers down and prepares to raise the bar higher when it comes to what they’re offering real estate agents—and how they’re positioning them for continued success no matter what transpires.

“We’ll continue to provide agents the things they’ve come to love and expect,” says Sumney, which includes office access, brick-and-mortar locations, support, personnel on the ground and in every market, training, mentoring and marketing resources.

Sumney concludes, “As we work toward the future, we’re 100% committed to providing a full-service brokerage with both remote and tech-driven capabilities.”

And that’s how HomeSmart will continue to win.

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

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

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It’s Always the Right Time for Right Tools, Right Now

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 03:05

Created to support REALTORS® through difficult times, Right Tools, Right Now (RTRN) is now a permanent program of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and a significant member benefit. Each month, RTRN provides members the opportunity to save on products, services and resources that are carefully vetted to provide value for agents and their businesses. All RTRN offerings are available to members for free or at a substantial discount.

“The Right Tools, Right Now program underscores our commitment to put members first,” says NAR CEO Bob Goldberg. “Activated in 2009 in response to the housing crisis, and relaunched in 2020 to support members through the pandemic, RTRN is now a permanent initiative to provide essential and timely tools, helping members proactively prepare for strategic growth in every economic climate.”

Business Critical Resources
The most vital and beneficial REALTOR®-specific solutions are made available from NAR and through our partners, including the REALTOR® Store, the REALTOR Benefits® Program and the Center for REALTOR® Development:

Webinars to help agents manage their finances or generate more business

Educational courses to expand skills and enhance credentials

Proprietary market reports that inform business decisions and guide strategy with current data, analytics and research

Digital tools and technology for more effective marketing and safer, more efficient transactions as well as the latest tech and mobile devices

Essential services for business and personal needs, ranging from health insurance and auto rentals to delivery services and cyber security tools.

Recent popular RTRN offerings include:
From the REALTOR® Store, at no cost: the 2020 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, which gives REALTORS® insight into changing buyer and seller behavior and attitudes

Through NAR’s partnership with Second Generation Ltd., at no cost: a .realtor web address, enabling members to create a personalized web and email address to show off their style and expertise

From the Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness, at a substantial discount: the Financial Wellness Retirement Summit

Tools to Match the Times
Offerings are updated monthly to correlate to what’s happening in the real estate market—and the world. Members can choose from a wide range of curated products, services and resources aimed at helping them prosper in an ever-changing business environment. In addition, there are resources based on special awareness months and relevant themes that rotate monthly:

– January – REALTOR® Brand
– February – Innovation
– March – That’s Who We R
– April – Fair Housing
– May – Advocacy
– June – Homeownership
– July – Community Building
– August – Sustainability/Resiliency
– September – REALTOR® Safety
– October – Professional Development
– November – Home Buyers and Sellers
– December – Economic Outlook

Members Value Plus Program
NAR’s long-standing Member Value Plus program, or MVP, is now part of Right Tools, Right Now. Every two weeks, participants receive an offer via email to perform a quick and simple action to earn a valuable reward.

“To date, more than 300,000 members have utilized nearly one million Right Tools, Right Now offers valued at over $27.5 million, and I encourage every REALTOR® to take advantage of these discounts,” says Goldberg. “I want our members to know that they’ll have the tools and support they need—no matter what tomorrow brings.”

Encourage Agents to Take Advantage of Right Tools, Right Now—Right Now!
Tell your agents to visit nar.realtor/right-tools-right-now for information about the program and current offers. Members can also learn more about the MVP program and subscribe to it at nar.realtor/mvp.

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

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Could the Race to Space Create New Housing Opportunities?

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 03:04

What do outer space and real estate have in common? These days, more than you’d think.

With billionaires like Richard Branson, Elon Musk and now Jeff Bezos taking an interest in space travel, space tech companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are taking notice—and according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), they and other private aerospace companies will likely expand to accommodate the budding interest in private rides to space.

So what does that mean for real estate?

If NAR’s prediction is correct, the space tech boom could also mean a housing boom, which would create opportunities for builders, buyers and real estate agents alike.

A recent article from realtor.com® quotes NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun telling Fox Business, “Given that SpaceX and Blue Origin employees have sophisticated high-tech skills with presumably high income, the impacted small community real estate market will clearly benefit.”

To his point, markets where aerospace companies are putting down roots are starting to see some traction. According to Elon Musk, SpaceX alone is expected to acquire “thousands” of new employees over the next few years.

How Tech and Aerospace Are Already Impacting the Real Estate Market
As tech companies grew exponentially over the last 20 years, so have the housing prices around them.

In fact, a quick glance at housing prices between 2000 and 2020 show percentage increases in the double and triple digits.

– Prices in Cameron County, Texas, and Santa Barbara County, California, experienced 51% and 108% increases, respectively.

– Sierra County, New Mexico, and Kern County, California, experienced 80% and 114% increases, respectively.

– And prices in Brevard County, Florida, grew by an impressive 128%.

If these trends are any indicator of what’s to come, then the rising interest in and popularity of private space rides in these areas will likely drive up prices even further.

However, realtor.com® also quotes Yun telling Fox Business that price growth may be tempered as demand increases.

What’s Next?
For now, it seems SpaceX and Blue Origin are forging ahead with big plans to normalize private space travel in Texas, California and Florida.

By 2024, SpaceX plans to transport passengers to Mars from its locations in Cameron County, Texas and Santa Barbara, California.

Meanwhile, Bezos’s Blue Origin company is actively hiring, and is working from its location in Van Horn, Texas. Both companies also leverage launch sites at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Brevard County, Florida.

What Does This Mean For Real Estate Agents?
The new construction tied to new housing markets could create great opportunities for new real estate agents looking to break into the industry representing buyers.

Partnering with builders is typically a mutually beneficial way to connect with prospects, and considering thousands of roles may need fulfillment at companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, there may be plenty of prospects to go around once building starts.

On the other hand, depending on how quickly new housing is filled, new homes may take some pressure off inventory and make it easier for existing agents to get their buyers relocated.

McKissock Learning is the nation’s premier online real estate school, providing continuing education courses and professional development to hundreds of thousands of real estate agents across the country. As part of the Colibri Real Estate family of premier education brands, McKissock Learning, along with its sister schools Real Estate Express, Superior School of Real Estate, Allied Schools, The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, Gold Coast Schools, The Rockwell Institute and Hondros Education Group, helps real estate professionals achieve sustainable success throughout each stage of their real estate career. Learn more at mckissock.com/real-estate.

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How Anthony Lamacchia Turned a Vision Into Reality

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 03:03

Lamacchia

This month, we had the opportunity to sit down with Anthony Lamacchia—CEO of Lamacchia Companies and broker/owner of Lamacchia Realty—to learn about what motivates him to continue pushing forward and why agents and brokers need to do a better job of paying attention to the market.

Paige Tepping: Tell me a little bit about your history in the industry and what you’ve done to get where you are today.

Anthony Lamacchia: After turning 21 back in 2002, I bought my first property and ultimately began my real estate career as I got involved with buying properties, fixing them up and then selling them. In 2004, I decided to get my real estate license, and two years later, I left my dad’s landscape construction business and began selling as a REALTOR®. And I sold a lot. It wasn’t long before I became a top REALTOR® in my marketplace, which set the stage for my next venture: building a team. Between 2009 – 2012, we were selling upwards of 700 homes a year between myself and eight other power team members. In 2015, I took a leap of faith and decided to convert our model to the brokerage model. While it took a couple years, I finally got it right, and today we’re growing a lot.

PT: Are there any milestones that stand out in your mind over the years that have helped shape who you are?

AL: The work ethic that I learned from my family is one thing I would point to that has helped me get to where I am today. As far as milestones, we hit a billion dollars in sales volume last year, which is a really cool company milestone. One of our brand offices also achieved a significant milestone this past June: 100 sales in one office in one month.

PT: What’s on the horizon at Lamacchia Realty?

AL: First and foremost, we will continue to grow. In fact, our growth is going to accelerate because we’ve gotten better at it. We opened an office in Fort Lauderdale last year, and we believe that Florida will continue to be a lucrative market as we’re seeing mass movement down to that area.

PT: What drives you on a daily basis and keeps you motivated to continue pushing forward?

AL: I’ve been interested in (and obsessed with) business since a very young age. Having grown up with a dad who owned his own business and a grandfather who worked as his accountant, I always expected to get into business. From the time I was young, I envisioned owning a large company—and while I used to think it would be landscape construction, it ended up being real estate. I love the business, and real estate happened to be the path I chose.

PT: You’re passionate about providing top-notch technology, tools, systems and training. Why is this so important, especially given today’s real estate environment?

AL: We take a different approach than other brokerages, most of whom get involved in the race to the bottom and give up tons of commission and don’t try to create real, valuable things. One of the things that differentiates Lamacchia Realty from all the other brokerages within the industry is the fact that we’re a full-service, value-based brokerage. We want to offer agents everything they would need, from training to technology to support. We’re 100% committed to offering them everything they need so that they can focus on what they’re best at, which is selling real estate.

PT: What are some of the key offerings you provide your agents?

AL: Most importantly is the sales training we provide, which is totally different than the sales training provided by other brokerages—and it’s sold across North America. Step-by-step, it teaches people what to do, what to say and when to do it. And for those who take advantage of the program and follow it closely, their business is growing dramatically. In addition to our sales training, we also have an extensive suite of services. We provide our agents with listing assistants and buying assistants (or what others call transaction coordinators) as well as a team of people who take care of administrative tasks for them.

PT: You’re also passionate about advocating for homeownership. Talk about your work in this area.

AL: I’m very involved with the National Association of REALTORS®, without which we would be in big trouble as REALTORS®. In fact, next year, I’m going to be chairman of the lending and finance committee. I enjoy being involved in the various committees that I’m part of, and I’ve spent time testifying at the state level with lawmakers on Beacon Hill as well as at the national level on Capitol Hill. Years back, when the market was in bad shape, I had many meetings with numerous government agencies (FHFA, FDIC, HUD) and met with a handful of senators, congressmen and heads of different bureaus.

PT: As we head toward the future, if there’s one thing agents and brokers should focus on, what would it be?

AL: They need to do a better job of paying attention to the market so that they know what’s to come. I’m amazed at the amount of broker/owners and agents who have verbalized the fact that the market has changed and that it’s now better for buyers because it’s not as frenzied as it’s been. This is exactly what I’ve been telling people would happen since last April. I don’t have a crystal ball or anything, but I’ve dedicated my time to watching the market and monitoring the data.

PT: What’s your best advice for real estate professionals?

AL: My best advice is to get real training. Too many agents approach training by the seat of their pants, and they’re missing out.

PT: What’s your favorite part of your job?

AL: As I truly enjoy seeing and connecting with everyone who makes up Lamacchia Realty, my favorite part of my job would have to be the people. I love helping others grow, and I take pride in seeing them reach their goals. There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing someone come into the company at 10 sales a year and reach that same number after just six months with us.

To learn more about Lamacchia, his visions and the goals of his company, please visit www.RealTalkWithAnthony.com.

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

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