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(TNS)—As you prepare to finalize a home purchase, there’s an important step to take before the closing: the final walkthrough. This personal inspection helps ensure that the home you committed to on paper is in relatively identical condition to when you first visited, and that the seller is compliant with the terms of your real estate contract.
What Is the Final Walkthrough Before Closing?
A final walkthrough is an opportunity for you, as the homebuyer, to visit and assess the property you’re purchasing before the closing. The goal of the visit is to ensure the home is in the same condition it was when you agreed to buy it.
“It’s also an opportunity for you to ensure that the seller has moved out or substantially moved out, and that the seller did not cause any damage during the move-out,” adds Lisa Okasinski, a real estate attorney and owner of Okasinski Law PLC, based in Detroit.
This visit is important, as it allows you to assess whether the seller has met your interpretation of the purchase agreement and removed all their personal property, explains David North, broker/owner of Realtrua in Redmond, Washington.
“This is also the time to confirm that non-subjective contractual obligations of the seller, such as specific repairs, have been met,” North says.
Final Walkthrough Checklist: What to Look For
There are several items you should confirm during the final walkthrough of the property. Okasinski and Elizabeth Grimes, an attorney with Ligris + Associates PC in Wellesley, Massachusetts, recommend the following checklist:
– The seller’s belongings have been fully moved out.
– Any repairs that the seller promised would be done have been completed.
– All appliances that the purchase agreement specified would remain are in proper working order.
– The seller left copies of all manuals and instructions for appliances and fixtures.
– Door and window locks are fully functioning.
– The HVAC systems (furnace, air conditioning, etc.) are working properly.
– All faucets are working, toilets flush properly and there are no plumbing leaks.
– All walls, ceilings and doorways are structurally intact and not damaged from moving.
– The yard is free of any debris or damage.
– The seller left the garage door openers and keys in the home or with their agent.
“Cleanliness, completion of repairs, any changes to the condition of the property from the time of the sales contract, presence of all items that are contractually included in the sale and removal of items not included in the sale should all be checked during your final walkthrough,” North advises.
When Is the Final Walkthrough?
The final walkthrough commonly takes place 24 to 48 hours before closing. The home purchase agreement typically contains a provision allowing for the walkthrough, and it might specify the window of time in which it can occur.
“I always suggest to my clients to schedule the final walkthrough on the morning of the closing so that they are getting a last look to make sure the property is in good condition prior to signing closing paperwork,” Grimes says.
What to Bring to the Final Walkthrough
You are not required to bring anything with you to the final walkthrough, but you might want to bring a checklist (either on paper or your phone) that you can mark off during your visit. Your real estate agent and/or attorney might also be present with you during the final walkthrough.
“I always suggest buyers bring a flashlight to look in basement and attic areas that have low visibility, too,” Grimes says.
How Long Should a Final Walkthrough Take?
The duration of the walkthrough is up to you—there is no legal maximum or minimum time limit, according to Okasinski. Generally speaking, prepare to take the time necessary to carefully evaluate the home. Rushing through a final walkthrough can lead to regret, as you could accidentally overlook flaws or breaches of contract.
“How long it takes is highly dependent on the property, how inclined you are to look at details, what you end up finding and other unpredictable factors,” North says. “I always recommend scheduling at least an hour and a half—sometimes longer. Walkthroughs don’t usually take longer than that, but they can, at times.”
Can a Buyer Back Out During the Final Walkthrough?
Whether or not you can terminate your real estate contract after the final walkthrough depends on the terms of your agreement.
“In most cases, it would be hard to terminate the purchase agreement as a result of the final walkthrough, unless you could point to a major change in the condition of the property,” Okasinski cautions. “For smaller items of damage that happened after the purchase agreement was entered, it’s more realistic that the parties would agree to have the buyer withhold from the seller an amount necessary to make the repairs at closing.”
Legally, however, you are allowed to back out if the property does not meet the obligations detailed in your real estate contract, according to Grimes.
“Typically, sellers and buyers instead agree to either monetary compensation or other solutions to ensure the transaction moves forward,” Grimes says.
What to Do If You Find Issues in the Walkthrough
You might discover a problem or violation of your purchase agreement during the final walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean it’s a dealbreaker.
“Depending on the problem, there is usually a solution that can be worked out with the seller,” Okasinski says. “For example, if the seller appears that they are not able to move by the scheduled closing date, you could either delay the closing date or enter into a lease with the seller so that you receive rent from them after the scheduled closing date. If there is damage to the property you notice, you could have the seller agree to make the repairs to the property or negotiate to have the purchase price reduced by the cost of repairs.”
“I always advise the buyer to review the situation carefully and figure out whether or not it’s worth delaying the closing or mentioning it to the seller,” adds Jason Gelios, a REALTOR® with Community Choice Realty in Southeast Michigan. “However, larger issues like missing appliances or major damage to the property should never be overlooked.”
Gelios notes that most of his buyer clients don’t back out of the deal without holding the seller accountable for things not honored in the purchase agreement.
“Most sellers are open to making things right at this stage of the process,” Gelios says.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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Zillow Group announced the closing of its acquisition of ShowingTime, an online scheduling platform for home showings.
Zillow Group entered into a definitive agreement to acquire ShowingTime in February 2021 for $500 million. The transaction was successfully closed upon meeting customary closing conditions.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Oct. 1, 2021, through 5 p.m. ET on Mon., Nov. 22, 2021, fans can enter for their chance to win the HGTV Urban Oasis® 2021 located in Indianapolis, Indiana. The prize package, valued at over $600,000, includes the newly built, fully furnished home and $50,000 from LendingTree. Eligible entrants can enter twice per day at HGTV.com/Urban, where they can also find additional sweepstakes details and the official rules.
The cozy cottage is located in Indianapolis, Indiana, a bustling city in the heartland of the United States, known for its midwestern hospitality and culinary and cultural offerings. The three-bedroom home includes two and a half bathrooms and plenty of outdoor spaces to entertain, including a beautifully landscaped backyard with a covered porch and an outdoor dining space. The 1980s-inspired design incorporates blush and mauve tones with nods to the decade throughout the home.
The expansive kitchen includes counter space to eat at along with new, state-of-art appliances and a full dining area off the kitchen. Across from the kitchen is the living room with statement furniture pieces and a beautiful brick fireplace. Down the hall from the living room is the main bedroom suite, which incorporates neutral tones and greys to create a relaxing oasis with a large en suite bathroom with natural light and a unique art gallery over the tub. The home includes two guest bedrooms each with their own unique design and color palette, with one guest bedroom acting as a multipurpose office as well. The home has excellent outdoor features, including a furnished garage that is perfect for an Indianapolis-inspired garage party.
The home was constructed by local builder Bespoke Construction with interior design by Brian Patrick Flynn.
Viewers can tune-in to the one-hour special HGTV Urban Oasis 2021 on Wed., Oct.6 at 7 p.m. ET on HGTV, which will also be available on discovery+ and HGTV GO.
As the founder and CEO of Northrop Realty, a Long & Foster company, Creig Northrop leads daily business operations and growth for his Maryland-based specialty brokerage.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, he helped grow Northrop Realty into a billion-dollar brokerage while expanding from 10 to 12 offices.
Here, Northrop discusses what it means to be an RISMedia Real Estate Newsmaker—individuals recognized for their positive contributions to the real estate industry—and how to successfully transition from a top-producing real estate team to a billion-dollar company.
Jordan Grice: You were selected as a Real Estate Newsmaker Achiever; how have you stayed so productive over the past year and a half?
Creig Northrop: During the pandemic, we knew that you could either pivot or pause. We pivoted, and that was primarily because our technology was five years ahead of the other brokerages.
People wanted to know where they were going to quarantine next. I think that has changed our marketplace and our company. We’ve tripled our business because we had the tech foresight already before COVID, which put us at the forefront of most buyers. After all, it didn’t slow our processes down because we were ahead of it.
JG: Tell us about your transition from real estate team to brokerage and some of the benefits and differences between leading both.
CN: As you build a team, you’ve got to create the best systems and invest a lot of money. My wife and I invested all of our money into the team and systems, and we got great people and built an incredible team structure.
We achieved our goals and decided we wanted to teach it to others and help them grow under Northrop Realty. We brought our years of experience with trial and error and financial investment to a brokerage model. Most brokerages offer just a split, but we offer a game plan, administrative help, coaching and everything the agent needs to sell real estate so they can focus on the client.
JG: What are some of your most valued keys for success that have helped get your brokerage to the billion-dollar milestone?
CN: You have to care about your clients, community and everybody. We wanted our agents and clients to know that we care about them. I know every agent and everything about them. We run things like a family unit.
Next is consistency. The problem with many agents is that we aren’t consistent. You put an ad in, and it doesn’t work, and you stop the ad. Being consistent is the number one aspect of any successful entrepreneur.
Lastly, you have to have confidence. Our agents have confidence in our brand, and they are confident in their expertise because of the ongoing training that we provide.
JG: What is one challenge your market is facing, and what are you doing to address it?
CN: The biggest challenge in our market, and probably most markets, is limited inventory and convincing sellers to sell. October is the second-best month in real estate, and people don’t realize that. Most sellers think spring is the time to sell, so what you find is you get more money and less competition by selling in October. How we are overcoming that is marketing to sellers that there is no better time to sell than right now and showing them that things do sell in the fall.
JG: What was the most important thing that you learned during the past year?
CN: I’ve learned that people live in their houses more than they ever have, and I think a question that came out of the past year is, where do you want to quarantine next? I also learned how to pivot and how to rely on technology more than I ever have.
Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email him your real estate news to email@example.com.
The post Newsmaker Spotlight: Creig Northrop on Transition From Team to Top-Producing Brokerage appeared first on RISMedia.
Mark Johnson Builds an Environment Where ‘Agents Can Be Themselves’
JPAR Real Estate
Years in business: 9
Size: 65 offices, 3,500 agents
Regions Served: 24 states
2020 Sales Volume: $5.6 billion
2020 Transactions: 22,250
JPAR Real Estate is one of the U.S. real estate market’s rising stars, with 65 locations across 24 states. In 2018, the company hired noted real estate coach Mark Johnson as its new CEO, and he’s been instrumental in the growth JPAR has seen, relying on his decades of experience examining the inner workings of high-performing real estate companies.
Keith Loria: What makes you a fit for the real estate industry?
Mark Johnson: I’m a human performance student, coach and people person, and I have always worked on developing myself and leaders. And when I was called to enter the real estate industry, it was a natural fit. My team and I have built a company of winners in an industry where our average agent earns two-times the national average, and our per-person productivity (PPP) has increased 8% year-to-date.
KL: How is the real estate market looking as of Q4? Is there any lingering impact from the pandemic?
MJ: The real estate market has been unlike any other. This is a historical moment in time for all of us, and we’ve seen exponential growth. The inventory constraint is forcing us all to be more resourceful and creative. The pandemic has redefined the meaning of “home,” as home is now so much more than it used to be.
KL: What is the key to recruiting and maintaining strong agents?
MJ: We seek a different kind of agent. We are very different from your average real estate company. We aren’t so large that an agent feels invisible. We are innovative, with a strong culture rooted in core values and integrity. It’s not so much about recruiting as it is continuing to build one of the best places to work in America. To that end, we are consistently awarded the best place to work. And we want to help agents build wealthy, and also mentally strong, families. It all goes back to the focus on people.
KL: What makes JPAR unique?
MJ: We aren’t like anyone out there. We aren’t going to make any false promises, and we aren’t trying to be the biggest. We want to be the best. We are focused on people—and process—over profits, yet our goal is to help agents create wealth.
KL: How do you ensure your agents are happy?
MJ: Happiness is the personal responsibility of the agent. We are an agent-centric company, so there’s no smoke and mirrors—and the agents can be whoever they want to be. We provide support, tools and a lot of communication.
KL: How does JPAR stay up on the latest technology?
MJ: Several ways. First, I am highly connected in the industry and maintain great relationships. We also follow all of the industry news media in addition to several outside the industry—trendmakers like Peter Diamandis, author of “BOLD.”
KL: What’s the best piece of advice you like to share with your team?
MJ: Be a solutionist. Be a problem-solver. Solve your customers’ challenges in an elegant, easy way. Also, what makes you productive is more than hard work. Yes, it is hard work, but it is also proper sleep, time off, exercise and nutrition.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.
As rents have become vastly more expensive over the last few years with an already scarce supply of affordable housing, it might surprise some to learn that certain vital lower-income professions—namely nurses and teachers—are actually able to keep their overall housing costs well below the recommended 30% of total income.
But that statistic hides a creeping web of other struggles created by these rent burdens, according to a new Zillow report, as nurses and teachers are constrained in their housing choices, often having to take on roommates and downgrade their living situation to make ends meet.
“Many renters have been able to keep costs low even as prices have grown over the past several years, but merely affording rent does not mean they are thriving,” said Zillow economic data analyst Nicole Bachaud, in a statement. “A deeper look shows a big slice of the market is out of reach for workers looking to maintain a comfortable rent burden.”
While the median rent burden in most large metros for teachers and nurses falls below that 30% level, people in these professions are only able to access a fraction of the market if they want to maintain that level. In Atlanta, for instance, less than 1% of rentals are available to teachers at the median rent burden of 18.2% of income. In Miami, where nurses typically spend just under 22% of their income on rent, only 2.6% of properties are within that range.
While in several metros the share of income teachers and nurses spent on rent has actually decreased in recent years (even as rents overall have risen 24% since 2016), Bachaud said this has come at a cost.
“That often means renting an older home with less space but a smaller price tag, or doubling up with roommates or a partner,” she said.
As vital professions are either being priced out or having to settle for smaller living spaces with longer commutes, Bachaud said cities can start taking steps to address these issues, which have made it difficult or nearly impossible for many communities to support nurses and teachers.
“Boosting supply is the clearest path to improving affordability,” Bachaud said. “Allowing for even small amounts of new density could have a big impact on prices.”
Relaxing zoning restrictions—specifically allowing single-family lots to build housing for two or four families—could quickly create vast swaths of new living spaces, with another Zillow study from 2019 estimating that this change in even 10% of lots could create 775,000 new homes in the Los Angeles metro, which amounts to more than a 50% increase over current stock.
Loosening restrictions like these could also serve to slow across-the-board runaway price growth caused by the recent overwhelming demand for homes, the report states.
Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The post Nurses and Teachers Settling for Less to Keep Costs Down appeared first on RISMedia.
Rohit Chopra is the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director, his nomination approved 50-48 with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.
Prior to the new role, Chopra filled a Democrat seat on the Federal Trade Commission, becoming an FTC commissioner in 2018. Before that, he was appointed as the CFPB’s student loan ombudsman in 2011.
Chopra is the CFPB’s third permanent director since the bureau was created by the Dodd-Frank Act. Kathy Kraninger, the last administration’s choice to run the bureau, was asked to resign by Biden on his first day in office.
Experts expect Chopra to have a more aggressive approach to the “watchdog” role, worrying some politicians there will be unnecessary oversight.
“I have grave concerns that Commissioner Chopra would return the CFPB to the lawless, overreaching, highly politicized agency it was during the Obama Administration,” said Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, during his speech opposing the nomination.
However, increased enforcement could shine a brighter line on fair lending in the industry.
According to Chopra, his first focus will be the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“On behalf of the American Land Title Association and our members nationwide, we congratulate Rohit Chopra on his confirmation as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” said Diane Tomb, the American Land Title Association’s (ALTA) chief executive officer, in a statement. “ALTA and its members look forward to working with Director Chopra and the Bureau’s staff to help provide positive and compliant real estate settlement experiences for consumers—and to serve as a resource on important issues, such as wire transfer fraud, third-party oversight and mortgage disclosures.”
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news to email@example.com.
The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance (The Alliance) is celebrating the first anniversary of its launch, having attracted more than 1,700 members, partnerships with the leading companies, brands and REALTOR® associations and a long list of achievements in its first 12 months. The Alliance has become the real estate industry’s most prominent voice in the continued fight to protect the LGBTQ+ community from housing discrimination as it also works to grow the community’s homeownership levels and improving the real estate industry’s recognition and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community’s housing needs.
The Alliance, which was founded in June 2020, launched four months later under the leadership of elected President John Thorpe, a 10-person Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Weyandt.
Some of the key highlights of the organization’s first 12 months include:
– Launching more than 50 chapters
– Attracting dozens of major national partners including founding members Realogy, First American Title, realtor.com®, Engel & Völkers, HomeServices of America, Truist, Bank of America, Chase, PrimeLending, Prosperity Home Mortgage, EXIT Realty, US Bank, Caliber Home Loans, RE/MAX, National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
– Signing Memorandums of Understanding with 15 REALTOR® organizations including NAR and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), along with joint efforts with the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) and National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).
– Holding its first LGBTQ+ Housing Policy Symposium
– The publication of a comprehensive LGBTQ+ First-Time Homebuyers Guide and creation of a consumer-facing website.
– Hosting the nation’s first national LGBTQ+ First-Time Homebuyers Seminar
– Issuing a groundbreaking report on the impact of lifelong discrimination on LGBTQ+ homebuyers and sellers
– Embracing the intersectionality of our community by creating inclusive programming for people of color, active military and veterans, women, etc.
– Developing the industry’s exclusive LGBTQ+ Real Estate Top Producers List
– Welcoming hundreds of attendees to its exclusive “Alliance Certified Ally” education curriculum
“It has been a remarkable year in so many ways, and I look back with awe at how a group of nearly 60 dedicated real estate professionals came together last summer and spent countless hours creating a transparent and inclusive blueprint for what we now lovingly call The Alliance, an organization which has become synonymous with the LGBTQ+ community and DEI efforts in real estate,” Thorpe said in a statement. “Our Oct. 1 anniversary has even more meaning as it comes just days before National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11) when so many are given a platform to be their authentic selves in a society that is becoming increasingly supportive of our community. ”
Thorpe pointed out that The Alliance was forced to cancel its inaugural conference last month due to a spike in COVID-19 in Las Vegas, but will hold “Experience: The Alliance” virtually on Dec. 9.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us including continuing the fight to get the Equality Act through the Senate to a full vote,” Weyandt said in a statement. “There is absolutely no reason that sexual orientation and gender identity should not be protected classes in Fair Housing law and that LGBTQ+ people should not be protected from all forms of discrimination at the federal level. We also have a unique opportunity to showcase the emotional and financial benefits of homeownership to the LGBTQ+ community, which continues to lag far behind the national average in homeownership rate.”
“By providing our members with a platform to educate and reach the community, our community within the industry finally has the opportunity to make a substantial impact in touching lives we never thought possible,” added Weyandt. “It is also critical for us to continue to attract allies of the LGBTQ+ community and provide them with an understanding of the unique housing needs, challenges and opportunities LGBTQ+ people have today.”
Source: The Alliance
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If there’s one word that definitely does not describe the city of Las Vegas, it’s authenticity. This is a place for escape, where showstopping entertainment meets extraordinary dining experiences under the glitzy lights of Las Vegas Boulevard. But maybe when we’re confronted with such geographic charisma, we recognize the importance of authenticity even more.
What is authenticity? It’s a grounded sense of keeping things real. It’s candor, honesty and openness combined with everything you say and do to reflect exactly who you are. Authenticity is essential for leadership because when we’re authentic, we’re confident in ourselves. We can more easily combat the mental vulnerability associated with the challenges of being a leader.
Socrates famously said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
The phrase is a prerequisite for authenticity. If you don’t know who you are, how can you possibly show other people the truly authentic you?
Part of knowing who you are is knowing your capabilities, and your mental reactions to both the wins and the losses of leadership and life. This is not a one-time exercise; rather, it is a constant journey to discover who you are, and it is directly tied to the effectiveness, productivity, performance and output of your leadership.
Bill George, Harvard Business School professor and author of “True North” wrote in his book: “The truth is, no one can be authentic by trying to be like someone else. There is no doubt you can learn from their experiences, but there is no way you can be successful trying to be like them.”
When you’re authentic, people trust you. When you imitate, people are skeptical that you mean what you say. George says the failure of leaders most often occurs when they aren’t quite sure who they are, when they haven’t developed a strong enough identity or sense of self to be authentic in their work and thus, empower their team to be the best they can be.
This type of authentic leadership also requires vulnerability. When you lose, when goals are not accomplished, you can get real about why and combat challenges with constructive solution-based strategies.
Another aspect of authentic leadership is integrity. What you say you do, you get done. (It’s related to accountability, but it’s the psychological glue that holds accountability together.)
How can authenticity be built up? By identifying your purpose. Why do you lead? Why are you in the role you’re currently in? What is the purpose of your work? Purpose-driven work leads to greater authenticity.
Steve Jobs once said: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
There will always be societal and peer pressures pulling at your authenticity, but when you have purpose, when you have Jobs-like courage, when you have a strong sense of self, you can weather the winds of these pressure systems and continue to lead authentically.
So, what’s the message? Last week, I wrote about Jessica Buchanan’s harrowing tale of her kidnapping by Somali bandits. The experience taught her that change happens, and you either let it happen or you control it. The same is true with your identity. Either you create the picture of who you are, or you let someone else sketch it for you. When you are authentic, you are the artist of your self-image. Of course, you are. Because being authentic, at its very essence, is simply being undeniably you.
This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.
This month, Real Estate magazine had the chance to sit down with Jes Fields, Rocket Mortgage’s Real Estate Channel executive vice president, to discuss how the company’s tools and technology help agents and their clients find success in today’s competitive market.
Paige Brown: Tell us about your professional history with Rocket Mortgage and how it led to your current role within the company, and what exactly that role is.
Jes Fields: I joined Rocket Homes four years ago. During that time, I experienced the real estate business inside and out. I built meaningful relationships with agents and learned what they need to succeed. This year I was given the opportunity to lead the real estate channel for Rocket Mortgage. I’m absolutely thrilled to build on the work I did at Rocket Homes, continue growing agent relationships and help streamline the partnership between agent and lender.
PB: What are your primary roles and responsibilities?
JF: I’m setting the vision for Rocket Mortgage and how we engage, serve and support agents. I lead both our banking and agent relationship manager teams, which are focused on helping agents and their clients succeed. I also provide the vision for Rocket Pro Insight—the portal for agents to access anything they need. Another key part of my role is asking for feedback from agents and continually measuring how satisfied they are with our service. We love feedback at Rocket Mortgage; we welcome it and encourage it.
PB: How do you and your team support agents to position them ahead of the competition?
JF: At Rocket Mortgage, we want to give agents white-glove service. We’ve built support teams that specialize in each of the real estate brands, whether you’re an independent or one of the larger brands, and we also have a dedicated team to serve them 24/7 in order to provide a customized, catered experience. Our strategy is to support the agent, investing in their success—and, based on the feedback we have received, agents feel really good about that.
PB: Tell me about the Verified Approval from Rocket Mortgage and how it provides buyers with a competitive edge.
JF: The Verified Approval is an approval in which our underwriting team reviews credit, income and assets before there is a purchase agreement, or even an offer on a property. It’s a really strong approval, which we guarantee with $1,000 that if our human underwriters verify, that approval will not prevent them from closing. In fact, we have seen that buyers with a Verified Approval are nearly twice as likely to close on their mortgage. An agent’s time is really valuable, so we want to make sure they feel confident that their buyers, with a Rocket Verified Approval, have strong buying power, have been vetted and can make a really strong offer. It’s a competitive and fast-moving market, so with our Verified Approval and our overnight underwrite, real estate professionals can be competitive and move at lightning speed.
PB: What’s the difference between a standard Approval Letter and a Verified Approval?
JF: The standout is that a Verified Approval is fully underwritten by a human, with a complete review of all docs that confirm credit, income and assets. As an agent, you want to have confidence in your buyer’s financing before you submit an offer—and that’s exactly what a Verified Approval delivers.
PB: Can you talk about some of the benefits of Rocket Pro Insight?
JF: Rocket Pro Insight is a newer technology that we launched within the last year. When you sign up, you’re able to see details about your client in a secure environment. If you’re ready to make an offer, the client, through www.rocketmortgage.com, or the agent, through Rocket Pro Insight, can make an adjustment to the approval letter and submit the offer on the fly. Or, if the buyer isn’t approved yet, the agent can use Rocket Pro Insight to refer them to one of our dedicated mortgage bankers. Rocket Pro Insight is incredibly popular—as of June 30, 2021, there were 50,000 agents leveraging the tool. Plus, we’ll be releasing some exciting new features and functions in Q4 that will even further enhance the agent’s experience.
PB: What other tools does Rocket Mortgage offer to agents, and how can they best utilize them for their real estate business?
JF: We are incredibly proud of our “overnight underwrite” program. Rocket Mortgage has a team of underwriters working around the clock to ensure agents can get Verified Approvals for their clients—even while they’re asleep. There aren’t many lenders who can say that!
The above article is sponsored content. For more information, please visit www.RocketPro.com/RealEstate.
Paige Brown is RISMedia’s content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Mortgage interest rates increased this week, now crossing the 3% threshold. The National Association of REALTORS’® Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting Nadia Evangelou released the following statement in response to the increase:
“Mortgage rates rose sharply this week following the trend of the 10-year Treasury yield. Specifically, according to the finance mortgage provider Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 3.01% from 2.88% the previous week.
“While rates were below 3% for the last nearly four months, it seems that rates at the 2% range are likely over. Inflation has risen above the 2% target since April. Nevertheless, rates were still near record lows as investors expected inflation to rise faster due to lower prices a year earlier. Meanwhile, the Fed recently pushed up its inflation estimates for this year as inflation will likely be around for longer. The ‘grace’ period for higher inflation seems to be coming to an end as the Fed may also raise interest rates by the middle of next year.
“History shows us that rising inflation causes the 10-year Treasury yield to drift up as investors buy stocks instead of bonds. Particularly, higher inflation erodes the return that the investor of a bond or loan is holding over time and bonds are not any more attractive to investors. This in turn makes bond values go down and yields rise. Consequently, mortgage rates move upward as they are tied to the 10-year Treasury yield. The relationship between inflation, the the 10-year Treasury yield, and mortgage rates is shown clearly in the graph below. It’s obvious that all these three indicators move roughly together.
“Nevertheless, consumers shouldn’t panic. Keep in mind that even though rates will increase in the following months, these rates will still be historically low. The National Association of REALTORS® forecasts the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to reach 3.5% by mid-2022.
“Finally, remember that mortgages don’t adjust for inflation. Thus, fixed-rate mortgage holders may even benefit from higher inflation since they are paying back money at a lower value than it was borrowed. To put it simply, homeowners will pay back less for their loan.”
For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.
Local real estate entrepreneurs Maira Fernandez, broker/co-owner and Ramon Torres, vice president, recently announced that they have left another real estate franchise and will now do business as CENTURY 21 Realty Group. Fernandez and Torres, and their 51 sales professionals, serve homebuyers, home sellers and property investors in Guttenberg, throughout Hudson county and the tri-state area.
“Maira’s and Ramon’s focus on personalized client relationships and always elevating on behalf of their company’s agents and their clients ladders up perfectly with our company’s mission to deliver extraordinary experiences,” said Michael Miedler, president and CEO of Century 21 Real Estate, in a statement. “They are a welcome addition to our family of relentless sales professionals, and we look forward to working with their team at CENTURY 21 Realty Group.”
“We couldn’t be more excited to be affiliated with a global powerhouse that, for almost 50 years, consistently reinvents itself to keep its hard-earned reputation and relevance as a real estate industry leader and company that cares for its clients and customers,” said Fernandez in a statement. “With a steady upward trend, we expect more inventory to come onto the market this year and next, and our relentless sales professionals will now have access to productivity tools and technology tools to better serve our clients and customers.”
For more information, please visit www.century21.com.
On Sept. 14, RISMedia held its annual Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange, this year co-presented by the National Association of REALTORS®. The exclusive, full-day, virtual event attracted thousands of industry professionals, featuring broker- and agent-focused sessions with real estate’s most influential and successful executives, brokers, agents, coaches and more.
A conversation that is every bit as important as the current overheated market—consolidation—was broached in a panel discussion in the broker track, titled “The Advantages and Challenges of Acquisitions, Roll-Ups and Mergers.” The panel was led by MoxiWorks CEO York Baur and the panel consisted of Stephanie Anton, SVP, Corcoran Affiliates, The Corcoran Group; Helen Hanna Casey, CEO, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services; Rick Haase, president, United Real Estate; and Dan Kruse, president and CEO, Century 21 Affiliated.
Although each panelist had somewhat differing viewpoints on nuances of consolidation, they all agreed on a couple fundamental takeaways: culture and technology are imperatives when considering mergers, acquisitions and rollups.
First, however, the panelists discussed why the current market is so fertile for consolidation.
“You can go all the way back into the ’70s to see when this started,” said Hanna Casey. “Constant changes in the market require constant changes in the industry.”
Haase agreed that much of it is indicative of the maturing market, and added that economies of scale allow for more efficient and effective operations.
Anton and Kruse also agreed, with Anton adding, “The ‘why’ is interesting at this moment, but the best scenario is when it makes sense for both parties.” Kruse said consolidation allows a company to “get to that next level.”
With the implications clear of why consolidation is happening and beneficial for the industry, Baur shifted his focus to understand what makes for a good partnership. He inquired if acquisition targets should be more strategic or opportunistic.
“It’s both,” said Haase. “It can be because of an exit strategy or value proposition void, so partnering is the only way. Sometimes you see growth, and somebody wants to be a part of our organization because they have a need. What drives those types of phone calls is their company is losing ground, so they need to learn how to compete with PE and VC money pouring into the industry. So they are looking for a sustainable future.”
Kruse, on the other hand, leaned more into the opportunistic camp.
“We have had the best growth through opportunities we may not have planned on,” he said. “Typically when we have targeted geographic areas we wanted to move into, those take more time and energy because it’s not set up with the opportunity right in front of you. And many times, you’re forcing culture or your model, so you may need the right people to help it move forward.”
This shifted the conversation to culture, where Kruse emphasized how important the human element is in dealmaking.
“When we moved into other markets and found that we liked the broker and the team and felt they could help us, those have been great fits that exploded us in territories we might not have been looking for,” he said. “It’s more about the people. When we can find a leadership team that believes in similar structures, has a similar model and similar culture, that’s a slam dunk for us.”
Hanna Casey had her own take on culture and how it intertwines with technology.
“It isn’t just that you have the same values or mindset on marketing and agents, but what’s really important today is the mindset for the future, and you have a team in place that agrees where you want to go and technology needs to be a part of that culture,” she said. “If they have systems that are antiquated and you believe they can be part of your future, you’ve got to be able to get them to believe that those systems don’t work for tomorrow.”
Baur, who himself is a technologist, had a similar take on technology’s role in acquisitions during a one-on-one discussion with RISMedia CEO and Publisher John Featherston, prior to the start of the panel.
“The main issue is the business itself,” he said. “We believe technology is critical to agent performance and productivity, which makes you more attractive to an acquirer. But if your tech isn’t up to speed that may be a factor why you should want to be acquired.”
RISMedia is providing free access to select sessions from the event. Hear from Baur in this insightful one-on-one with Featherston:
Miss the event? Click here to purchase access to all the sessions at a special discount.
Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange 2021 Sponsors
Caysey Welton is RISMedia’s content director. Email him your real estate news ideas to email@example.com.
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States with unallocated Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds could wind up losing them as the U.S. Department of the Treasury prepares to reevaluate where the money is needed most.
The Treasury will start assessing how it will reallocate “excess” ERAP funding that Congress approved to help distressed tenants and property owners on Sept. 30. The process is part of a legal requirement that Congress set when it allocated $26.5 billion under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (ERA 1) in December 2020.
“Congress anticipated that there would be a need to reallocate ERA 1 funds in the fall of 2021 in order to address evolving needs for rental assistance over the course of the ERA program and to reflect the greater capacity of some recipients to deploy funding,” wrote Adewale Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the Treasury, in a Sept. 24 letter offering initial insight into how the department will approach the reallocation process.
“Our overarching goal is for ERAP grantees to deliver as much assistance to as many eligible renters as possible,” Adeyemo continued. “This requires us to direct these resources to state and local agencies demonstrating the greatest capacity for delivering funds to tenants and landlords and to places experiencing the highest needs.”
Congress approved two rounds of ERAP funds in the past year totaling $46.5 billion. Thus far, programs have distributed $7.7 billion of rental assistance to 1.4 million households, according to recent Treasury data.
The Treasury report showed that state and local programs distributed $2.3 billion in ERAP funds to roughly 420,000 households in August. While that is an improvement from previous months, there is still more work to be done, according to Gene Sperling, American Rescue Plan coordinator and senior advisor to President Biden.
“There is still a meaningful and painful gap that could still lead to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary evictions and heartbreak and devastation that results from them,” Sperling said during a recent national call with the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The Treasury notes that numerous state and local grantees will use up their ERA 1 funds in the coming weeks and months, while others are on pace to exhaust their second round funds of the ERAP (ERA2).
“Though we have a long way to go, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and other steps are on track to protect millions of households from eviction,” wrote Adeyemo. “Reallocation, as required by the statute, is an important step to ensure that resources are available in areas with the greatest news and the highest capacity to deliver these resources.”
Along with requiring the Treasury to reallocate “excess” ERA funds, the statute allows the department to develop reallocation procedures governing this process.
The department will determine excess funds by using a grantee’s “expenditure ratio.”
The Treasury will calculate ratios by dividing the amount of funds a grantee has distributed since January 2021 by 90% of its original ERA 1 allocation.
Grantees can qualify for reallocated funds if they’ve committed at least 65% of their total ERA 1 allocation and demonstrate a need for additional funds.
The Treasury will seize state and local grantees’ “excess” ERAP gradually over months. The first determination of expenditure ratios will occur after grantees submit their September reports on ERAP distribution on Oct. 15.
The department will also repeat the process periodically, increasing the minimum expenditure ratio each time, with a final reallocation occurring in Spring 2022.
While the Treasury indicated that it will create a fair process designed to make additional funds available to high-performing grantees, housing advocates are also urging the agency to consider how it will continue to provide relief to renters and housing providers in areas with under-performing grantees.
“Ultimately, the reallocation process should ensure that those who need to be made whole ultimately are regardless of where they live and the effectiveness of their local grantee in disbursing the funds,” says Nicole Upano, director of Public Policy at the National Apartment Association.
Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall buyers this year will have more supply to choose from, with inventory reaching a 2021 peak of 646,053 for-sale homes in September.
According to the realtor.com® Monthly Housing Report, almost one-third of the 50 largest metros saw increases in newly listed homes compared to last year. New listings were up more than 10% YoY in Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Jacksonville, Florida; and Washington, D.C.
– U.S. housing inventory is still down YoY, declining 22.2% in September, but still an improvement over August (-25.8%).
– Compared to the national rate, improvements in inventory decline are more noticeable in the 50 largest U.S. metros, down by an average of 18.5% YoY.
– Overall new listings are down nationwide (-3.9%) YoY for the first time in five months, while newly-listed entry-level single-family homes continued to increase (+8.0%).
– Among the areas with the biggest drops in newly-listed homes in September were those impacted by Hurricane Ida, including the Northeast (-5.4%) and South (-3.2%), as well as the West (-4.7%) where wildfires may have delayed sellers’ plans. Resurging COVID cases could have also played a role.
Typical seasonal patterns were missing from last year’s fall market, but while there’s been improvement, sky-high competition still poses a challenge.
“Put simply, this September buyers had more options than they’ve had all year and while that’s typical of early fall, that’s not what happened in 2020. Still, it’s important to remember that while buyers may have an easier time this fall than they did in the spring, the market remains more competitive than it has been historically at this time of year,” said realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale in a statement. “There are fewer homes for sale than last year and less than half as many as two years ago; homes are also selling a lot faster. With new listings in September dipping below last year for the first time in five months, next month’s data will yield important clues about whether this setback is going to be temporary or a new trend.”
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to email@example.com.
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Mortgage rates peeked over the 3% threshold for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM), marking 3.01% for the week ending Sept. 30.
According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, this is up from last week’s 2.88%.
– 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.01% with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Sept. 30, 2021, up from last week’s 2.88%. Last year, the 30-year FRM averaged 2.88%.
– 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.28%with an average 0.6 point, up from last week’s 2.15%. Last year, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.36%.
– 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.48% with an average 0.3 point, up from last week’s 2.43%. Last year, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.90%.
This marks the end of a seven-week streak of either remaining flat or moving slightly. The biggest week-over-week increase since February, the 30-year loan increased 13 basis points—the first time since June that Freddie Mac-reported mortgage interest rates reached above 3%.
“Mortgage rates rose across all loan types this week as the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield reached its highest point since June,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, in a statement. “Many factors led to this increase, including the Federal Reserve communicating that it will taper its support of the capital markets, the broadening of inflation and emerging energy supply shortages which compound other labor and materials shortages.”
Khater continued, “We expect mortgage rates to continue to rise modestly which will likely have an impact on home prices, causing them to moderate slightly after increasing over the last year.”
“The 10-year Treasury yield also rose out of its sideways trend dating back to mid-August and above 1.5% for the first time since late June. These increases were caused by the recognition that the economy is doing well and that growth will likely continue,” said realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale in a statement. “This sentiment was boosted by the Fed’s statement last week that the economy had made enough progress toward economic goals that tapering of asset purchases may be warranted soon. While uncertainty over a variety of legislative priorities—from infrastructure plans to the debt limit—increase the potential for surprises and volatility in rates, the likely near-term trend is for rates to move higher.”
“Early fall is usually the best time of year for buyers to purchase a home, and with September housing inventory hitting 2021 highs, this season holds that typical promise. Home shoppers will want to think about rising rates when setting a budget. Smart buyers should consider calculating a monthly payment not only at today’s rates, but also at rates that are a bit higher so that they won’t be derailed by a sudden upward move,” said Hale. “Additionally, home shoppers want to carefully consider their must-haves versus nice-to-haves since both rising home prices and higher rates mean higher monthly payments. At today’s rate, the monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home for-sale is roughly $150 higher than it was a year ago with $25 of the increase owed to higher rates and $125 owed to higher home prices.”
HomeSmart recently launched HomeSmart+, a revenue sharing program that provides a way for agents to earn additional income beyond their own transactions, and an opportunity to earn money into their retirement.
Ashley Bowers, president of HomeSmart, says she believes the company is the first brand to offer both a flat transaction fee model and a revenue share model.
“Sometimes agents like the idea of a revenue share model, but once they begin being tasked with referring agents to a brand, they want to go back to only performing real estate transactions,” Bowers tells RISMedia. “Today, that means making a brand switch or continuing to pay a split fee. With HomeSmart, they can simply make a fee plan change on the backend. This gives them complete optionality which agents are looking for, and freedom of choice in their fee agreement with their brokerage without them having to change their branding.”
“We surveyed the agents to learn what they invest in and what’s important to them, and understanding a long-term retirement option was significantly important to them,” says Bowers. “With HomeSmart+, they can earn points towards a lifetime of retirement.”
HomeSmart+ will provide agents the choice to continue with one of HomeSmart’s 100%-commission plans or the chance to generate revenue through the HomeSmart+ revenue sharing program.
“Our agents wanted the option for greater financial freedom, while maintaining access to the brick-and-mortar office locations and top-of-the-line customer service and support they’ve become accustomed to with HomeSmart,” said Matt Widdows, HomeSmart’s founder and CEO, in a statement. “HomeSmart+ accomplishes this and much more. We’ve raised the bar for the industry, and I am proud we can offer our agents the financial rewards they work so hard to achieve. I wanted to build this as a thank you to the professional REALTOR®.”
HomeSmart+ agents are rewarded on the revenue, and not just profit, they bring in through referrals, eliminating the concern over spending that’s created with traditional profit-sharing models, according to the company.
Through the program, Agents can receive up to 80% of the commission per transaction, which is capped each anniversary year, plus revenue share from the sales activity of the productive agents they sponsor into the company. HomeSmart will also continue to offer its 100%-commission plans.
When an agent has accumulated enough retirement points based on personal transactions and referrals, they can change their status to “retired” and continue to earn residual income through HomeSmart+ even after they are no longer active in the industry. Agents need to keep an active real estate license and have it be held by a HomeSmart brokerage or a HomeSmart referral company to stay in compliance.
“Dramatic changes are disrupting the real estate industry and creating financial headwinds for many agents,” added Widdows. “HomeSmart+ gives our agents the security that comes with owning their future and setting themselves up for long-term financial success. It’s another example of HomeSmart’s industry leadership in action.”
In terms of building agent loyalty and attracting new agents to HomeSmart, the company says they continue to show they are a brand “with the courage to change with the preferences of our customer base, whether that be our brokers, agents or consumers.”
“We’ve built a tech-enabled business that allows us to make the appropriate pivots as the industry demands different things. While we’re not the first to come up with a revenue share model, we are an established organization and brand now adding this as an option,” adds Bowers. “The earlier in the process that you attach yourself to a revenue share model, the larger the opportunity is to build your revenue share pool. Agents who got in late or have missed out on other opportunities will see that now we’re creating an opportunity for them.”
For more information, please visit www.homesmart.com/plus.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a monthly video series from the National Association of REALTORS® to inform and educate members about important aspects of being a real estate professional. Watch for this series each month in RISMedia’s Daily Real Estate Advisor.
There’s currently a misconception in the industry that crimes against real estate agents are random, opportunistic street crimes, when in fact, most are predatory in nature. In this video, hear from victims of predatory crimes, learn how to identify predatory behavior and what to do to keep yourself safe in the field. Visit the REALTOR® Safety Program website to learn more.
What the video here.
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Designated Broker/Owner, HomeSmart Advantage Group
Region served: Greater Tucson
Years in real estate: 24
Number of offices: 2
Number of agents: 300
John Voket: What is your best tip for getting the right listing price?
Andy McDonald: Show sellers the comps, ask them to consider improvements they’ve done, then ask how much they would pay if they were to buy their own house. We typically get to a reasonable number after that.
JV: What is your No. 1 tip for dealing with difficult clients?
AM: Give them 24 hours to sit on new information and understand what their options are before asking them to make a decision in order to avoid knee-jerk responses. Time allows for the big picture to set in.
JV: Please describe your most effective way to motivate agents.
AM: We promote agent success with a monthly Top 10 list. Agents appreciate the recognition that they can share with their sphere, and it motivates them to make the list every month.
JV: How do you successfully get buyers and sellers to work together?
AM: Agents set the tone for clients by working professionally with one another. When our clients see us being respectful, they typically follow suit. Remaining professional is key to a successful closing.
JV: How has affiliating with HomeSmart helped you elevate your company above the competition?
AM: A forward-thinking brand, affiliating with HomeSmart has given us an edge in technology, price structure and overall franchise support. Matt Widdows (founder and CEO) and his team are constantly evolving to keep up with the changing times and provide advantages that enable us to stay on top. Whether it’s new elements, features or apps on our proprietary tech platform, recruiting assistance in every market, or promotional materials, HomeSmart leadership is always implementing value-added services to help us maintain a top market position.
JV: How has your recruiting strategy changed over the years, and how has that affected your agents’ productivity/sales ratios?
AM: Nine years ago, I was eager to recruit anyone and everyone in our Tucson agent pool. Our company works hard for all agents, high and low producers alike. However, a few years ago, I decided to be more selective and recruit only producing agents. As a result, our units and sales volume has increased year-over-year along with our per-agent production. Our typical agent is now selling double the national average.
JV: What role does your mentorship program play in enhancing agent performance?
AM: Our mentorship program in combination with readily available broker support has been successful in launching new agents into their careers. We focus on teaching agents how to handle every aspect of a real estate transaction so that they are equipped to have a long, successful career. We are attracting younger agents with our mentorship program, which is a benefit for our long-term growth. Currently, four of our Top 10 agents went through our mentorship program.
JV: Your company recently received a huge media boost in your market. What does this mean for your brand and team?
AM: HomeSmart Advantage Group recently received the “Best Real Estate Company/Broker” award from the Arizona Daily Star, an award that was voted on by the public, which means that our agents have done a fantastic job of connecting with clients and providing superior service. I’m extremely proud of our HomeSmart company, because 10 years ago, we were not a household name in southern Arizona. The recognition means that Tucson residents have shown their appreciation for HomeSmart Advantage Group and for our level of service and commitment to our profession. We look forward to continuing to provide exceptional service to the greater Tucson market.
For more information, please visit www.homesmart.com.
John Voket is a contributing editor to RISMedia.
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(TNS)—Q: For the last several months, my condo association has accused me of missing two payments from several years ago that they apparently just discovered. I paid my dues with online bill pay and provided the association with proof of payment for those two months. The property manager is still asking for the “missed” payments and refuses to give me a copy of my account ledger. What can I do? — Ira
A: Your question highlights the need for keeping good records. Now that you are being accused of not paying your dues, the onus is on you to prove that you did.
Association maintenance payments are applied to the oldest outstanding amount due. This means the payment you make in October will be applied to a payment missed in May, along with late fees and collection costs. This procedure cause confusion and further problems because you think you are paying October, but your association feels you are just catching up on an earlier missed payment.
Because of this, you will need to do more than show them only the two payments they claim you did not pay.
Gather proof of monthly payments going back before the payments they claim you missed. Check to see you paid every month.
If you did, provide management with proof you made all of those payments and politely demand they correct their ledger.
If it turns out that you missed earlier payments, write a check for the overdue amounts before the problem gets worse.
Your community must provide you with a copy of your ledger, and there are penalties for them refusing to do so. It is also suspicious that the property manager does not want to.
Speak to a board member and let them know what is happening, especially after you prove you are current with your dues.
Most property managers are honest and hardworking, but there are always exceptions to every rule, and no one likes to admit their mistakes.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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