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Updated: 2 hours 29 min ago

Danny Joyner: Always Evolving, Never Complacent

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 21:00

Vitals: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner, REALTORS®
Years in Business: 55
Size: 10 offices, 430 agents
Region Served: Upstate South Carolina
2018 Sales Volume: $1,066,012,426
2018 Transactions: 4,432
www.cdanjoyner.com

Having lived in Greenville, S.C., all his life, Danny Joyner is well-versed in the area. While in high school, Joyner began his career at his father’s company, starting in property management and working his way up doing appraisals, insurance and residential sales. Eventually, he was named president and general manager of the firm’s commercial division. He became president of the C. Dan Joyner Company in 2010, and led the company through the transition to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner, REALTORS® three years later. This year, the firm ranked No. 167 in closed transactions in RISMedia’s 2019 Power Broker Report.

Characterize your market and what you’re seeing in 2019.
Danny Joyner: We’re in a very strong and dynamic market. Our area continues to receive national recognition on many levels for our incredible downtown and our quality of life. We’re 30 minutes from the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. We have some of the most pristine lakes and are only about a three-hour drive from some of the most beautiful coastal areas in the world. Like many areas, though, lack of inventory was a real issue for our area in 2018. Today, prices continue to climb as demand far outweighs supply.

What is your growth philosophy for the firm?
DJ: I think we’ll always be in “growth mode.” Attracting quality individuals or other companies who align with our culture and goals is very important to us. I believe that people want to join an organization that wants to grow. In today’s world, complacency is a killer. We want to constantly evolve and meet the needs of not only our associates, but also our clients.

What most sets your firm apart in the marketplace?
DJ: One thing that sets us apart, other than the incredible tools and technologies that we provide, is our extensive training and development program. We were recently awarded for having the top training program in the entire state of South Carolina, across all industries—which I’m extremely proud of. I know that when our associates are working in our marketplace, they’re trained and knowledgeable in every facet of our industry.

What are the biggest opportunities for increasing business right now?
DJ: The growth in our area is astounding. Corporations are moving into the Upstate area in record numbers, and they’re bringing personnel and families with them. In turn, our local businesses are growing and need to attract talent from the local market, as well as from other areas. From recent graduates to retirees, Upstate South Carolina is a sought-after home. We’re delighted to serve as recruiting and relocation ambassadors for these drivers of our local economy, while helping more and more of our neighbors achieve the American Dream of homeownership.

How are you updating your technology and training to provide the resources agents need to succeed?
DJ: We recently launched a comprehensive platform aimed at making our agents even more effective. We want our agents to do what they do best, which is maintain strong relationships with their clients and contacts, be ready when a client has a real estate need and provide the very best experience. The best way to do that is to give them tools that make the once time-consuming tasks more manageable. Our new platform provides a better experience for clients, as well, with enhanced home-search capabilities, automated digital ads for listings and in-depth market insights.

How are you preparing your salesforce to meet the expectations of today’s consumer?
DJ: It’s about being a trusted advisor, and that starts with relationships. Our agents are committed to understanding the unique goals and aspirations of their clients. Everyone is different, and we coach our agents to recognize and appreciate that. In addition, many first-time homebuyers need more guidance and clarity throughout the process. Our agents are equipped with tools to help answer the what-ifs and how-tos.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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6 Common Habits of Successful Upper-Tier Real Estate Agents

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 13:13

While every real estate professional has his or her unique qualities and habits, there are some common habits and tendencies that many of The Institute’s successful real estate professionals recommend.

1. Balance Work and Personal Life
Although difficult, Institute members’ No. 1 recommendation is to realize that it is more than possible to provide exceptional service to your clients while still making time for family and friends. Here are some of their tips for trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance:

  • Make each outing with friends or family special. Whether it is going out to dinner at a nice restaurant, enjoying 18 holes at the local golf club or shopping at a community art fair, these types of activities will not only create memorable personal experiences but also provide an opportunity for you to be seen in or involved with your local community.
  • Take a spa day. If you struggle with self-care, schedule a visit to the spa or sign up to take a class at your gym. Not only will it be more rejuvenating than staying at home, but also you will be more likely to stick to something if you have to pay in advance.
  • Invest in an assistant. If you find that you are spending a lot of time on menial work, outsource that work to an assistant. You can even hire a virtual assistant to help out.

2. Network Constantly
High-end real estate professionals usually find success in the fact that they don’t ever turn off their networking radar. Because real estate is social by nature, there are opportunities at every corner to make connections. Whether it be going to lunch with potential clients, attending seminars, connecting with people via LinkedIn or simply reaching out to local business owners to gain their trust, there are a lot of different ways to network.

3. Practice People Skills
Just as any learned skill, people skills can be thought of as a muscle. Simple gestures like a strong handshake, eye contact and a sense of humor can go a long way in real estate, as clients appreciate an agent who can make them feel at ease. Being able to engage in small talk is one thing, but high-end real estate professionals often have excellent people skills, which make others feel both important and valued. In general, people like to talk about themselves, so remembering facts about a potential client or work associate can be really impactful.

4. Stay Tech-Savvy
Real estate professionals who stay current with tech trends often do well with modern buyers and sellers. Their willingness to try new things gives them the ability to exist on platforms that their competitors might not be using. Trying new apps for organization and scheduling can be a great way to grow both personally and professionally.

5. Keep in Touch
As most real estate professionals would probably attest, staying connected to people you meet both personally and professionally is essential. High-end real estate professionals not only keep a running list of contacts complete with phone numbers and email addresses, but also go above and beyond to show former clients that they care. Follow-up calls, handwritten letters and small gifts are all ways you can show your appreciation as a real estate professional.

6. Invest in Learning
As with any profession, those who are willing to invest in continuing education often go on to greater levels of success. As the real estate industry constantly evolves, upper-tier real estate professionals have to be intentional about improving their know-how and skills. Taking a class or going to a live training session is a great way to get exclusive insights from industry leaders while networking with other real estate professionals at the same time.

For those real estate professionals who really want to succeed at the highest levels, getting a certification is a great way to distinguish yourself from the competition and promote yourself as an industry leader.

The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing is a premier independent authority in training and designation for real estate agents working in the luxury residential market. For more information, please visit www.luxuryhomemarketing.com.

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Pillar To Post Home Inspectors: Innovating for 25 Years

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 13:08

Editor’s Note: Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In the following Q&A, Dan Steward, Pillar To Post’s president, discusses the milestone, and how the company’s franchisees have been instrumental to its longevity.

Q: This year marks Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®’ 25th anniversary. To what do you contribute your longevity?
A: We’re just happy to continue as the No. 1 home inspection franchise in North America. This is the 19th year in a row we’ve been ranked as such by Entrepreneur Magazine. We credit our franchisees for doing great work that continues to let us grow, helping us service even more areas in the U.S. and Canada. We’re currently in 48 states and nine Canadian provinces.

Q: What are some innovations that you feel you’re leading the charge in?
A: Technology. This industry was born for technology, yet did well without it for years due to good old-fashioned hard work and great training. Our franchisees continue with training and education all the way and earn certifications in a variety of programs and processes. Most of these benefit homeowners, but we also offer a lot of back-office programs and support to our franchisees who are continuously learning and are literal founts of knowledge.

Q: Can you provide an example of a separate program or focus and certification?
A: Radon testing comes to mind. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that nearly 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are radon-related. In Canada, that number stands at approximately 3,000. Formed by the breakdown of uranium—a natural radioactive material found in soil, rock and groundwater—radon is a dangerous gas that’s hard to detect because it’s colorless, odorless, tasteless and radioactive.

Q: Is there a special test and certification for radon testing?
A: Yes, and radon testing is the only way to know if it’s present in a home or structure. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors conduct a short-term test using a continuous monitor to provide a snapshot of the home to see if it has elevated levels of radon. Testing takes approximately 2-3 days. Results are then provided/interpreted, and the report is sent directly to the client. Recommendations will then be made for a mitigation system. Owners of condominiums and houses built on slabs also need to check on the air quality and the presence of radon in their living quarters.

Q: How can people contact Pillar To Post for this test?
A: They can visit www.pillartopost.com/radon for tools and resources, as well as for information on how to contact their local home inspector.

Q: Congrats on the 25th anniversary! What are you doing to celebrate?
A: It was hard work, but we compiled 25 tips—one for each year—with the help of our franchisees. These tips, which can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y6yqxe7r, can be shared with homeowners and are great for real estate professionals to have handy.

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

The post Pillar To Post Home Inspectors: Innovating for 25 Years appeared first on RISMedia.

The Best Places to Retire—No. 1 May Surprise You

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 13:04

A lot goes into your home and lifestyle in retirement—especially location.

For impending retirees, Nebraska ranks at the top, due to factors like safety and wellness, as well as affordability, according to Bankrate findings released this week.

To determine the nation’s prime retirement states, analysts at Bankrate considered cost of living (highly weighted), along with crime, culture, weather and wellness. Nebraska, at No. 1, had high marks in four of those five. (The exception? Weather.)

According to Bankrate, overall, the top 15 retirement states are:

  1. Nebraska
  2. Iowa
  3. Missouri
  4. South Dakota
  5. Florida
  6. Kentucky
  7. Kansas
  8. North Carolina
  9. Montana
  10. Hawaii
  11. Arkansas
  12. Wisconsin
  13. North Dakota
  14. Vermont
  15. New Hampshire

For affordability—a chief concern for retirees—the highest-ranked states are:

  1. Michigan (Tie)
  2. Missouri (Tie)
  3. Indiana
  4. Arkansas
  5. Ohio
  6. Mississippi
  7. Kansas
  8. Iowa
  9. Kentucky
  10. Alabama
  11. Oklahoma
  12. Tennessee
  13. North Carolina
  14. Nebraska
  15. Idaho

For the best living overall in retirement, the Midwest reigns supreme, with seven states in the top 15. If affordability is the deciding factor, however, both the Midwest and South score, with seven states each. While four states across the Northeast and West are represented in the top 15, when accounting for affordability, the Northeast vanishes, and Idaho is the sole state in the West.

“There are many factors to consider when deciding where to retire,” says Adrian Garcia, Bankrate.com data analyst. “Some people may choose to stay close to family, while others prefer to seek out warm weather or affordable living. It comes down to very personal preferences, so it’s important to weigh all factors and determine what is most important for your happiness.”

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

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Show Us Who You R!

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 13:04

NAR PULSE—NAR’s national ad campaign “That’s Who We R” was built to show consumers who REALTORS® are and the value they provide. Check out ThatsWhoWeR.realtor to see how brokers and agents across the country are utilizing campaign materials to show their REALTOR® pride, and download customizable materials, social assets, and more!

How to Use Your REALTOR® Benefits
“It was easy to take advantage of the offer, which included a nice bonus of money off the purchase. It pays to be a REALTOR®,” says Stephen McDaniel. See what REALTORS® like Stephen are saying about NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program, and find out how you can apply it to your professional and personal life.

Planning for Retirement Is the Roadmap to Success
Remind your agents that the Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness is here to help with an array of resources—a retirement savings calculator, an interactive tool to test different financial scenarios and many retirement-related articles. Tell them to start planning today!

The post Show Us Who You R! appeared first on RISMedia.

Is the Inventory Pinch Returning?

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 13:03

The days of few homes on the market and multiple offers are predicted to return—and for buyers, the potential for renewed roadblocks, according to a new realtor.com® report.

The change is on course to hit in October, realtor.com’s researchers say. In February of this year, gains in inventory shrunk substantially, down from 6.4 percent in January to 5.8 percent. In the following two months, gains hovered at 4.4 percent. Come May, growth slackened to 2.9 percent, and in June, to 2.8 percent. According to realtor.com, if conditions hold, there is the potential for a resurging shortage in supply—and in as little as three months.

“It was only 18 months ago that the number of homes for sale hit its lowest level in recorded history and sparked the fiercest competition among buyers we’ve ever seen,” Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com, says. “If the trend we’re seeing continues, overall inventory could near record lows by early next year.”

According to Hale, the cause of the decline is hard to pinpoint—but a big factor is homeowners’ reluctance to sell.

“It’s likely a combination of rate-lock, recently decreased consumer confidence and older generations choosing to age in place,” says Hale. “So far there’s been a lackluster response to low mortgage rates, but if they do spark fresh buyer interest later in the year, U.S. inventory could set new record lows.”

If bore out, buyers could face more obstacles, as listings move quickly and prices surge. In June, the average days on market rose to 56, according to realtor.com’s report, two days longer year-over-year. Over the same time, an additional 8.7 percent of listings lowered their price. Of June’s listings nationwide, the median price was $316,000—likely the peak for the year.

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

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

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Regional Spotlight: NYC Mansion Tax Replaces Controversial Pied-à-Terre Upcharge

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 13:02

Earlier this year, lawmakers attempted to impose a pied-à-terre tax on second homes as a way to raise funds to support the city’s much-needed infrastructure upgrades. Facing strong opposition from real estate leaders who argued the tax would deter wealthy consumers from investing in luxury second homes, the proposal fell flat. In its place came a “mansion tax,” which took effect on July 1.

What Is the Mansion Tax?
A supplement to the state’s real estate transfer tax (RETT), the mansion tax is a one-time fee charged upon the sale of residential property. Working on a graduated scale, the mansion tax charges 0.25 percent for residential properties that sell for between $2 million and $3 million. The tax caps at 2.9 percent for properties that sell for over $25 million. Previously, the RETT charged a flat 1 percent on home sales of $1 million or more.

The revenue from these increased taxes will be set aside for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Central Business District tolling capital lockbox, as well as to fund up to $5 billion in financing for MTA projects, according to the New York State of Opportunity FY 2020 Enacted Budget Financial Plan. Typically, the mansion tax will be paid for by the buyer. In the case the buyer is exempt or does not pay, the seller would be liable.

“Source: The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance)

According to the New York Times, June saw a flurry of closings throughout the city, despite a luxury market slowdown as buyers rushed to close before the tax took effect. Contract signings were up 29 percent before the new mansion tax implementation, according to Compass’ Q2 Manhattan market report, which considers all contract, sales and inventory activity across Manhattan.

“As a result of the State budget just adopted in Albany, hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis will flow from the City’s real estate sector toward supporting the region’s mass transit network. It is now critically important that such funds be deployed in the most effective manner possible, producing a 21st century mass transit system that a global city like New York deserves,” said Real Estate Board of New York President John H. Banks. “We also need to continue to monitor the impact these tax changes and other tax and policy changes on the federal, state and city level will have on investment in New York City moving forward. We are appreciative that State leaders did not move forward with a misguided recurring pied-à-terre tax that was not well thought out and had the potential to have significant adverse impacts on job creation and property taxes.”

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

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iBuyer Programs Are Costing You Commissions

Sun, 07/07/2019 - 10:03

The word on the street is that iBuyer programs are gaining traction and getting funded—in big ways. That’s nerve-wracking for many agents, especially for those in markets that were early targets of marketing waves and who have conditions such as Phoenix, Raleigh, Dallas, Vegas, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, San Antonio, Tampa and Nashville.

The problem is, there’s so much misinformation, and just as many flat-out untruths, in the way these programs are being marketed that agents are left scratching their heads, while consumers are losing a lot of equity for absolutely no reason at all. As a real estate speaker and coach for more than 25 years, that’s frustrating to me. At my organization, we’re all about people. About helping them get the most out of this life. About helping them get to their personal next level. These programs are hurting people, and that’s not okay with us.

There will always be disruptors in the business. I get that. There will be things that will force agents to increase their skills, compete on a higher level, think creatively and up their game. I have no problem with that. Frankly, I don’t think most top producers do either. A little competition is a healthy thing, as it moves people out of their comfort zones and into their commitments, and that’s awesome.

However, when programs come into our industry that affect an agent’s ability to earn a living—and they’re based on misleading information and false narratives—that’s when it’s time to spring into gear and know the real facts, figures and data that can counter the mistruths and leverage that disruptor for all it is (and frankly, isn’t).

That was my goal when I put more than a month’s worth of research and resources into investigating these programs so that I could present to my coaching members and the real estate community at large what they very clearly need to know about them. That way, they can inform the folks in their sphere and farms about the financial losses they could face if caught in the clutches of these kinds of programs and why it’s important to have a real estate professional by their side to advocate for their best interests and investments.

The truth is, these programs aren’t iBuyers. They’re iInvestors. And just like investors, their goal is not to benefit the home seller, but to get the property at the lowest possible price, force repairs and turn it over quickly for the highest potential return on the company’s investment—not the homeowner’s.

The good news?

  • iInvestors actually show the value of a 6-7 percent commission.
  • Most of these sales are homeowners who contacted them before an agent did; therefore, you need to educate the homeowners in your market.
  • This can be an easy concern to handle on a listing appointment.
  • This model will not last.
  • You can offer to buy the house for what iInvestors are offering.

Learn the facts so that you can be a resource that consumers in your market can count on for the truth about protecting their investments. To help, I’ve spelled them all out in a recorded presentation called “iBuyer Beware: Why iBuyer Is the Worst Thing to Happen to Homeowners.” Find it at www.ThePowerProgram.com/iBUYER.

Darryl Davis has spoken to, trained and coached more than 100,000 real estate professionals around the globe. He is a best-selling author for McGraw-Hill Publishing, and his book, “How to Become a Power Agent in Real Estate” tops Amazon’s charts for most sold book to real estate agents. He is the founder of the Next Level real estate training system The Power Program®, which has proven to help agents double their production over their previous year. Davis earned the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation, held by less than 2 percent of all speakers worldwide. To learn more, visit www.ThePowerProgram.com.

The post iBuyer Programs Are Costing You Commissions appeared first on RISMedia.

The VA Loan Program: Creating a Path to Homeownership for 75 Years

Sun, 07/07/2019 - 10:01

On June 5, 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) held a 75th anniversary celebration of the GI Bill and the 24 millionth home loan that was recently processed through the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program. The event took place in Washington, D.C., at the National Press Club and featured speakers from the VA, NAR, the American Legion, the National Association of Mortgage Bankers and the National Association of Home Builders.

The GI Bill, which began as The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, provides educational and training opportunities for veterans. The GI Bill also offers the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program, which is a vital homeownership tool that provides veterans with a centralized, affordable and accessible method of purchasing homes as a benefit for their service to the nation. VA Home Loans provide government-backed financing with zero down payment. According to NAR’s Home Buyers and Sellers Profile survey data from 2016 to 2018, 41 percent of veteran homebuyers obtaining mortgage financing used the zero down-payment option.

Speakers at the event took the opportunity to laud the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program. NAR President John Smaby congratulated the VA on the great success of the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program in providing veterans and their families access to safe and affordable mortgage financing: “At the National Association of REALTORS®, we believe that homeownership is a part of the American Dream. After all, it is homes that have allowed veterans the security to relocate, transition from military to civilian life, grow their families and even retire in a place they can call their own.” Smaby stressed the ongoing support of REALTORS® for the VA Loan Program and the commitment of REALTORS® across the country in helping the nation’s service members reach the American Dream of homeownership.

NAR Research Analyst Brian Horowitz gave an in-depth analysis of the VA Home Loan Program. According to Horowitz, the median age of a veteran homebuyer is 59, and one-fifth of veteran purchasers are first-time homebuyers. The current homeownership rate for veterans in the U.S. is 78 percent, compared to 68 percent for the non-military population. When looking at the makeup of veteran households, Horowitz noted that for many service members, family extends beyond the traditional nuclear family, with vets providing homes to their grown children, grandchildren or parents. In fact, 17 percent of veterans are purchasing multigenerational housing, compared to 12 percent of the general U.S. population.

The highlight of the celebration was the recognition of the 24 millionth VA Home Loan to Sergeant First Class William Kopf, of Scranton, Pa. SFC Kopf’s REALTOR®, Marilou Saar, was also on hand for the event. Nine out of 10 veterans use a real estate agent when they purchase a home. These real estate agents are critical to ensuring that veterans find the right homes for their families.

On the horizon for the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program is H.R. 299, the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.” This bill contains favorable provisions that would eliminate the loan cap on VA Home Loans, allowing veterans to use the benefit to purchase the homes they want wherever they prefer. REALTORS® support this measure and continued changes to the VA Loan Program that enable veterans access to safe, affordable financing for the homes of their dreams. For more information about VA Home Loan Programs, visit www.nar.realtor/veterans-affairs.

Sehar Siddiqi is NAR’s Federal Policy Representative. This column is brought to you by the NAR Real Estate Services group.

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Become a Local Expert and Land More Leads

Thu, 07/04/2019 - 13:00

In the following interview, Greg Drake, broker of Realty Professionals, LLC in Lakewood, Colo., discusses his lead strategy, including how to leverage online ratings and reviews.

Region Served: Denver metro market
Years in Real Estate: 16
Number of Offices: 1
Number of Agents: 9

What is your favorite thing about working in real estate?
The constant challenge. We’re working with different personality types and styles, while managing the various changes in technology that are constantly occurring in our industry to stay ahead. I also love the competition. We have to focus on how we can provide value to our clients, especially when it comes to online leads. Since they’re interviewing multiple brokers before they make a decision, we have to serve their needs better than the competition. That constant challenge is what gets us up in the morning.

How are you utilizing online leads?
I’ve been working with realtor.com® for online leads since I began working in real estate. When their Connections lead generation platform came out, I was one of the first people in. Now, I’ve been using Local Expert since it came out last fall. One of the first in upon the launch of Local Expert, we basically bought into the whole west side of Denver.

While it’s great to have positive reviews on sites like Yelp and realtor.com, have these reviews ever led to tangible results?
Absolutely. I recently closed a deal with a client who called me up and said, “Greg, I’d love for you to help me buy a home.” As I was going through the typical intake process, I asked how he was introduced to me and he said, “You have fantastic online reviews. That’s why I chose you to be my broker.” He was reading reviews on realtor.com, Facebook and Google—and even went to my LinkedIn page. One of the things that popped up was my Local Expert branding on realtor.com, which caused him to look at me as an expert in this area. This got him on the track to go in and research me in more depth.

Is this a stand-alone incident, or have there been other times when your branding and reviews have had a direct impact on a lead?
I can directly trace three other recent transactions where a consumer saw my profile on Local Expert and then reached out to me to sell their home. They checked my online reviews secondarily, but the initial reach-out came from the Local Expert ad and my realtor.com profile.

How do you find out if your branding and reviews were the source of these leads?
I ask all of my clients why they ultimately chose me after interviewing other agents. Again and again, they point to realtor.com Connections and Local Expert.

Do you use your Local Expert branding and reviews in listing presentations?
Yes, I use my reach with Local Expert in my presentations and clients think this is a huge resource other brokers don’t have. They love seeing that they’re using the top person in the area. In fact, I’ve had clients tell family members about who they’re working with, and when the family member Googles me, they’re impressed when they learn that I’m the Local Expert in the area. It raises their overall level of comfort. The bottom line is that realtor.com produces results. It’s the highest-quality lead source we have, bar none. While we spend money on them all, in terms of generating online leads, realtor.com is my team’s bread and butter.

For more information, please visit www.hub.realtor.com/team.

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

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Is Your MLS Fueling Disruption Through Inaction?

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 13:05

Do you remember rushing to return a DVD to Blockbuster before you were charged a late fee? Or taking your Kodak film cartridge to a local drugstore for one-hour processing so you could get photos developed immediately? What about shopping at one of Tower Records gigantic stores for the latest vinyl album?

Blockbuster, Kodak and Tower Records were category leaders. Each eventually faced technology-based disruption in their industry. They now offer a valuable lesson for the real estate industry today. When your industry is being disrupted, inaction—or action that comes too late—can result in displacement, or, worse, irrelevance.

Industry Action
Today, hundreds of MLSs and real estate brokerages are battling disruptors hoping to take over our position as the first point of contact for consumers looking to buy or sell property. For too long, third-party advertising websites have co-opted a space that rightfully belongs to real estate professionals.

Many real estate brokers and agents spend thousands of dollars every month to promote their listings with online advertising companies. Agents once believed that they had no choice but to spend their money on third-party sites because there were no other viable options. In response, the Broker Public Portal (BPP at brokerpublicportal.com) was founded by MLS and brokerage firms to create an alternative to expensive third-party advertising portals.

The Broker Public Portal provides consumers the same comprehensive, real-time MLS data used by real estate professionals—the people who list and sell homes. Powered by Homesnap and Homesnap Pro, BPP provides the only nationwide mobile tech that follows industry-defined Fair Display Guidelines. There are no display ads from other agents or brokers on one’s listings, and all inquiries are sent to the listing agent or broker for free.

Broker Public Portal with Homesnap has been a gamechanger. Now available to over 1 million agents through more than 200 MLSs, Homesnap is delivering agents millions of dollars in free leads—leads that are included in their regular MLS membership fees—by exposing agent listings to millions of consumers.

BPP with Homesnap also offers the only app in America that works with every MLS system, including dynaConnections, Paragon and CoreLogic’s Matrix, with Rapattoni and FBS Flexmls soon to follow.

However, even though over 1 million agents are benefiting from the free leads generated from No. 1-rated search app Homesnap, hundreds of MLSs are still sitting on the sidelines and not signing up for this service that will reshape the consumer search landscape.

Is Inaction Fueling Your Own Disruption?
The danger is real. When an industry faces technology disruption, doing nothing or waiting to see what happens before you act has negative consequences. History has taught us that. Just ask the folks who used to run Blockbuster, Kodak and Tower Records.

It’s time for every MLS and every broker who serves on an MLS board to take action to partner with the Broker Public Portal. This is about the future of our industry; inaction is not an option. We’re in this together. BPP with Homesnap is our industry initiative, and that means we’re all part of the BPP movement. It’s time for all of us to step up. MLSs and brokerages cannot sit on the sidelines and watch. If your MLS doesn’t offer BPP with Homesnap, let them hear your voice today. Contact your MLS leadership directly to let them know that the BPP is vital to their future.

Gurtej Sodhi is chief information & operations officer, corporate EVP at The Crye-Leike Group of Companies Inc., one of the largest real estate/mortgage banking/insurance/title firms in the U.S. with 150-plus offices that conducted 30,000-plus transactions resulting in annual sales volume exceeding $6.5 billion in 2018. Crye-Leike’s footprint extends across nine states with participation in over 40 MLSs. For more information, please visit www.brokerpublicportal.com or www.homesnap.com/bpp.

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Clients Want the Highest Level of Service

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 13:04

NAR PULSE—NAR’s Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) program helps your agents build client service skills through self-assessments, customized learning paths and assigned tasks. Remind them to log in now to take the Client Services assessment and begin the journey to their C2EX Endorsement.

Share Your Brand Secrets With realtor.com®
Even your best customers can drift away if you don’t stay top of mind. Share with realtor.com® your best tip, ad, social post or whatever you do to reach likely sellers in your city or town to position yourself as the local expert. Act by July 15 through NAR’s Member Value Plus (MVP) program to earn a free download of all the collected secrets (a $250 value!).

Free Webinar on Social Engagement Is July 30
Agents who want to learn how to naturally increase likes, comments and shares on their social content should be encouraged to join the upcoming webinar, “Proven Ways to Get Engagement on Social Media” from Back At You Media, an NAR REALTOR Benefits® Program partner. Advance registration is required. Learn more.

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Nothing to Cry About: More Than a Third of Home Sellers Get Weepy Over the Deal

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 13:01

(TNS)—You’ve heard of seller’s remorse, but seller’s tears?

More than a third of people who’ve sold their homes say they have shed tears over the experience.

Consumers’ polled by Zillow rank peddling their properties as one of their most stressful events—along with getting fired or planning a big wedding.

Zillow quizzed home sellers about the process and found that 36 percent admitted sobbing over the experience. One in five of the people surveyed said they cried five times or more while unloading their property—boo hoo hoo.

“If you’ve ever sold a home before, you know how daunting the process can be,” Zillow’s Jeremy Wacksman said in the report. “Anticipating that stress can be a huge obstacle that keeps homeowners from moving on to the next stage of their lives.

“Our survey found more Americans were stressed over selling their home than planning a wedding, getting fired or becoming a parent.”

The home sellers insist it isn’t crocodile tears.

They say that uncertainty about their home’s sale price, worries that the property wouldn’t sell and pressure to fix up the homes triggered their weeping fits.

With home prices in most neighborhoods at record levels, it could be that some of the sellers were crying all the way to the bank.

Since 60 percent of the folks Zillow talked to were also buying another property, buyer jitters also added to their consternation.

©2019 The Dallas Morning News
Visit The Dallas Morning News at www.dallasnews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Relationships First: How HomeServices of America Became the Nation’s Largest Residential Real Estate Company

Sun, 06/30/2019 - 21:01

(Above) Ron Peltier (Left), HomeServices Executive Chairman, and Gino Blefari (Right), HomeServices CEO (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

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

On the heels of commemorating its 20th anniversary in 2018, HomeServices of America has a new milestone to celebrate this year: taking the No. 1 spot in U.S. residential transactions.

While you could attribute several factors to the firm’s place at the top of the leaderboard—the advantages of being a national network with local leadership; a seasoned and accessible executive team; technology and core services that help agents serve consumers for life—one reason trumps all others: HomeServices of America’s steadfast commitment to putting people first.

The HomeServices Mission: Still Going Strong
According to HomeServices Executive Chairman Ron Peltier, the company’s success has and will continue to hinge upon staying true to the vision the company was founded upon in 1998: serving the consumer.

“Being No. 1 is an exciting achievement,” explains Peltier, “and it’s the result of a lot of diligent work by a lot of people who are committed to helping the consumer navigate the biggest financial and emotional decision of their life. We want to create the best, most positive consumer experience. That’s our mission, and we try to execute on that every day.”

According to HomeServices Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Dana Strandmo, this relationship-centric mission has been the real difference-maker for the company. “Ever since we began in 1998, we’ve not strayed from that course. Relationships have to be first—with the consumer, with the agent and with the broker. I think that’s carried us to the No. 1 spot—sustaining that people-first strategy.”

Peltier also stresses that success has come through a focus on being the best, not the biggest.

“We have a lot of people who are passionate about being the best,” says Peltier. “We are fortunate to occupy the No. 1 space, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that our goal was never to be the biggest, if we’re not the best. I would trade being the biggest for being the best any day.”

Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic

Exemplifying Leadership at All Levels
HomeServices of America’s track record of steady growth, financial strength and operational excellence merges with parent company Berkshire Hathaway’s pillars of trust, integrity, stability and longevity to create an exemplary model of leadership in today’s often-fractured real estate landscape.

This past year, HomeServices expanded its executive leadership team with the promotion of Gino Blefari to CEO. Blefari also serves as chairman of HSF Affiliates, which operates Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Real Living Real Estate, while Peltier steps into the role of executive chairman of HomeServices, emphasizing that he has no intention of retiring.

The move, Peltier explains, is about building an even stronger company. “We have grown significantly in many ways since HomeServices started 21 years ago, which requires a lot of engaged leadership. Gino is a leader with proven skills and a long track record of success. This  reflects our commitment to continue to grow and innovate.”

Meanwhile, Blefari describes the opportunity as an “immense privilege and challenge.”

“Throughout my career, I have consistently believed that challenges bring out the best in all of us,” he explains. “I now get to work alongside Ron to impact the future of our HomeServices of America-owned brokerages. And, as chairman of HSF Affiliates, I get to continue supporting and collaborating with colleagues there and the network professionals across the country and around the world.”

That begins with Chris Stuart, whom Blefari promoted to CEO overseeing all operations pertaining to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Real Living Real Estate, the new Berkshire Hathaway Commercial Real Estate and the Real Living Real Estate brands, and Allan Dalton, CEO of Real Living Real Estate.

“The enormity of this combined constellation of companies and their ever-growing success in both America and globally challenges every bit of my business and real estate experience…which, quite candidly, is most exciting for me,” Blefari adds.

HomeServices of America’s relationship-focused leadership and culture is the key ingredient to the company’s highly successful model of acquiring firms with a strong local leadership, as well.

“Relationships are everything to us,” says Peltier. “Owners of companies may be looking for an exit strategy, but they’re not looking to throw in the towel on their legacy and the people in the company. They take a lifetime to build something valuable and important to the community, and they want to protect that.”

The acquisition of Mid-Atlantic regional giant Long & Foster in 2017 is a perfect example. A privately owned and independent company for 50 years, Long & Foster becoming part of HomeServices was a key part of the firm’s transition plan, explains CEO Jeff Detwiler.

“For 50 years, Wes (Foster) talked about the value of our independence and the local aspects of real estate,” explains Detwiler. “If we had compromised that perspective, employees and sales associates wouldn’t have had confidence in what we were doing. The move allowed us to preserve our agent-first and customer-focused business model.”

The depth and breadth of HomeServices of America was another significant draw.

“By joining HomeServices, we became part of a national entity that is able to deliver solutions predicated on a national platform,” says Detwiler. “HomeServices has unmatched financial stability and a reputation that is second to none—a reputation that is all about success and integrity.”

The reputation and prowess of Berkshire Hathaway was also a draw for Christy Budnick, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty.

“Our founder and chairman, Linda Sherrer, and I chose to affiliate with HomeServices in 2016,” she recalls. “One of our first memories of being introduced to our new brand was a quote by Warren Buffett: ‘Berkshire Hathaway wants to be in businesses that are enduring. Real estate brokerages will be around 100 years from now and HomeServices of America will be around 100 years from now.’ From that point forward, each interaction we had with HomeServices reinforced that we were philosophically aligned and that they were the right partner to maintain the legacy, culture and integrity of our company.”

While local operators appreciate the autonomy to conduct business as needed for their respective markets, they also enjoy accessibility to a national network and to the HomeServices leadership team.

“The HomeServices leadership team has a deep understanding of the real estate industry,” says Budnick. “The brain trust that exists across the HomeServices companies is unequaled; we have the best operators in the country, and the HomeServices of America leadership team challenges each of us to learn from one another.”

“Ron recognizes and appreciates that all real estate is locally driven,” says Blefari. “Therefore, leaders should support our brokerages through the execution of best practices, the establishment of appropriately measured accountability systems, and to bring greater scale and efficiency surrounding innovation and technology.

“And, we remain dedicated to ensuring that our companies live up to our brand promise—that we not only provide stellar service, but also deliver a wide spectrum of core services and cross-company affiliated relationships that satisfy consumers’ desire for trusted and convenient real estate transactions,” Blefari says.

Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic

Technology Built for Relationships
When it comes to technology, the focus at HomeServices is on ensuring that agents are equipped to support buyers and sellers through every phase of the real estate lifecycle.

“We will continue to be fast, fluid and flexible in a way that is good for consumers and the agent community,” Peltier explains. “Today, the customer is still looking for a relationship with someone who is honest, reputable and has the tools and services to help them navigate a complicated transaction.”

“What we love about HomeServices as a company is that they place a high value on technology, but technology that allows us to interface better with our clients,” says Budnick.

“We use a phrase that’s become a little bit of a mantra for us: People first, enabled by process, powered by technology,” says Strandmo. “That set of priorities reinforces the relationship aspect of who we are.”

For that reason, HomeServices of America Chief Technology Officer Patty Smejkal directs the company’s technology effort toward meeting the needs of agents and consumers. “We’re focusing on the things they need to get their jobs done. We have subject-matter experts who focus on the features and functionality of the technology and help implement it at the local level. We do everything we can from a corporate perspective to make sure technology is being implemented correctly.”

In today’s environment, however, offering the latest technology solutions is no longer enough. HomeServices is also dedicated to the integrity and security of the transaction, instituting systems and protocols to enforce cybersecurity at every level.

“We’ve implemented cybersecurity best practices and tools at each company to protect consumer, agent and employee data,” says Smejkal.  “We’ve also established best-in- class information-security protocols, so we can monitor, manage and respond if there is a problem.”

“We’ve also instituted training for our 7,000 employees,” adds Strandmo. “And we’ve expanded that out—we have wire fraud disclosures that we provide to all consumers and partners on every transaction.”

Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic

Innovating for the Next 20 Years…and Beyond
Through a commitment to innovation and technology that facilitates agent productivity by streamlining the transaction and enhancing the agent/client relationship, HomeServices is charting the course for its next 20 years. But like everything HomeServices sets out to do, innovation for the future must always put people first.

As Smejkal says, “We are nothing without our relationships. So, before we implement the latest technology, we always ask, ‘How does it affect the relationship?’ It has to have value to the end user, whether that be the consumer or the agent.”

That said, staying committed to continuous innovation remains a priority for HomeServices of America, as it taps into its network of local leaders and national resources to keep the company a visionary industry leader.

“Our greatest opportunity is to change the perception of our industry to the benefit of our agents, brokerages and consumers,” says Blefari. “The collective strength of our real estate network is such that we have the critical mass to assimilate technology on our terms.

“This is why I believe we must remain a leader in technology. We must help all of our companies to evolve in a fashion that will make it clear to consumers and clients that our companies are not only the most transactionally proficient, but also the most relationally ready and relevant.”

“Success by any measure starts with our commitment,” says Peltier.  “Everything we’re doing today, I want to believe we’re doing it better than a year ago,” he explains. “And I expect a year from today, we’ll be doing most everything better than we are now. It’s about not being satisfied with where we are in this journey. Along that journey, there are many things that happen—new innovations, new development, new technology, new ways of doing business. I’m confident that we will continue to find the best way of deploying our services to agents by not trying to redo the past, but by continuing to take on innovation.”

Serving the Real Estate Lifecycle
“Affiliated businesses have always been a core part of the HomeServices business model and central to what we do,” says Strandmo.

“Our passion for providing a seamless real estate experience for consumers marries perfectly with HomeServices of America’s vision,” says Budnick. “Consumers want convenient access to quality services at competitive rates without having to go to multiple ‘shops’ for their mortgage, title and insurance services.”

Here’s a look at the full spectrum of business lines that are part of the HomeServices of America family.

Franchise
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

  • One of America’s fastest-growing franchise networks
  • 50,000 agents; 1,500 offices since its launch in September 2013
  • Located domestically in 47 states and now globally in London, Berlin, Milan and Dubai

Real Living

  • Known as “Home of Lifestyle Advisors” and where “Real Living Begins”
  • Earned a record 98 percent customer satisfaction rating for 2018

Mortgage
Prosperity Home Mortgage

  • Ranked as a Top 20 lender in the U.S. across all brands, based on volume
  • Brands include: Prosperity Home Mortgage, HomeServices Lending, Edina Realty Mortgage, The Lending Partners and Long Mortgage
  • Nearly 22,000 closed loans in 2018
  • 45 states, 400 mortgage consultants
  • Ranked as one of the “Top 50 Best Companies to Work For” by Mortgage Executive Magazine
  • Atlanta, Ga., Loan Officer Michelle Hipps Wentworth received recognition in November 2018 as a Gold Producer with the second-highest number of submissions to Invest Atlanta Homeownership Team

Trident Mortgage Company

  • Ranked as a “Top 100 Mortgage Company in America” in 2018 by Mortgage Executive Magazine
  • Brands include Thoroughbred Mortgage Company
  • Nearly 6,100 closed loans in 2018
  • Six states and 50 mortgage consultants; serving the Greater Philadelphia region and New York City’s northern suburban market

Settlement Services

  • 115,000 Title transactions; 31,000 Escrow transactions
  • Local expertise together with national footprint of nearly 45 HomeServices-affiliated title operations
  • Offers proprietary HomeServices Exchange platform for secure, integrated communications and record sharing

Insurance

  • $166 million total annual premium
  • 140,000 total policies in force
  • Ranked 17th in nation across all brands and types of insurance, based on volume
  • Licensed in all states in the continental U.S.

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

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

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Industry Says Landlords Lose Out in NYC—Could Other Major Markets Be Next?

Sun, 06/30/2019 - 10:03

New York City is experiencing a shift in its rental market in response to a new package of laws that enforces stronger tenant protections. The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 was voted in on June 14, and brings with it new regulations such as limits on improvement-related rent increases and stricter processes for building conversions. These laws were reportedly enacted in order to combat abuses by landlords who take advantage of tenants by overcharging.

Various real estate groups, however—most prominently the Real Estate Board of New York—lobbied against these laws, stating that stricter regulations would, in the end, disincentivize landlords from maintaining rental units to high standards, as well as impact affordability and vacancy rates.

REBNY President John H. Banks released the following statement in response to these laws:

“The harmful impact of this legislation will be profound for New York City’s economic future. There are many losers including small property owners, contractors as well as tenants. This legislation will keep rent lower for some, but also significantly diminish housing quality and lead to less tax revenue to pay for vital government services. It will worsen the City’s housing crisis. The construction of future affordable units will slow, if not end altogether, the housing vacancy rate will worsen, and nothing will have been done to make it easier for those who struggle to pay their rent. There was a path to responsible reform that could have protected tenants as well as owners, jobs and revenue, but Albany chose not to take it.”

Louise Phillips Forbes, a licensed associate real estate broker with Halstead Real Estate, agrees that the enacted laws could be detrimental to the health of the rental market in New York City.

“My opinion is that the new overall tenant protections will largely impact the attitude and the philosophy and mentality of landlords,” she says.

Phillips Forbes believes that New York City is the leader for the rest of the country in real estate, and this shift could have a domino effect across the nation.

“The problem with the idea of doing it nationally is that you’re going to have an entire national process of paralyzed workflow. The food chain is going to get backed up and delayed,” she adds.

Reba Miller, senior sales executive and associate real estate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New York Properties, believes that the new conversions law will have a particularly negative impact on the industry.

“If this law was in effect when I first got into the real estate market, I would not have had a career,” says Miller.

Here are some of the biggest changes ahead, and how they may impact the New York City rental industry.

New Rent Increase Thresholds Based on Improvements
In the past, a portion of renovation-related expenses incurred by landlords could be passed onto tenants as a permanent rent increase. The new law states that only $15,000 in renovation costs can be passed on, spread out over 15 years. That means that New York City renters could expect a maximum monthly increase of only $89 to their rent payment if improvements are made to their unit.

According to Phillips Forbes, this change could lead to lower standards in renovations. 

“I find that when you can’t increase the rent and you have labor costs that go up, you’ve removed the incentive. There are going to be more violations and more neglect—more landlords doing the bare minimum,” says Phillips Forbes. “Never again will the landlord spend $125K to add new floors, a new radiator, etc. I represent a lot of people who want to find affordable housing and we’ve been able to do that, but not at the expense of paralyzing people.” 

New Condo and Co-Op Conversions Rules
The new law states 51 percent of tenants must agree to a conversion in a rent-stabilized building (and to purchasing) before the state attorney general can sign off on a conversion plan. Previously, owners with a conversion plan needed only 15 percent of tenants to approve.

“I’m probably going to be doing one of the last development projects that will be a conversion if the political environment doesn’t change,” says Phillips Forbes. “It will be almost impossible to convert buildings with 51 percent, and this will devastate those individuals who have spent their lives’ fortune to purchase a building and do a conversion. If plans have not been submitted or approved, these conversations are going to be withdrawn.”

“To state now that 50 percent need to purchase in order for a plan to become effective may not have its full effect today given the market slowdown, but it will have some long-term effects for those property owners wishing to purchase buildings and create value, as many of the converters like Francis Greenburger, David Berley, Marty Raynes, Aby Rosen and Larry Gluck have done successfully,” says Miller, who adds that earlier conversions were like hitting the lottery. “There is no lottery anymore as properties are too expensive, the conversion process is costly, insider prices are no longer discount prices and the whole business has changed.”

The Termination of High-Rent and -Income Deregulation
Today’s landlords will have more difficulty deregulating apartments, if they are able to at all. The new law removed an existing option allowing landlords to deregulate an apartment if the occupant earned $200,000 or more per year. Additionally, the deregulation threshold, previously held at $2,774, has been eliminated.

This could impact the value of rent-stabilized buildings, causing them to drop 20-45 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition, there could be a market slowdown if owners have to sell for less. 

Other changes include: 

  • More stringent tenant protections – Tenants can no longer be black-listed for not paying rent, paying it late or being a nuisance. In addition, late fees are now capped at $50 and security deposits are limited to one month’s rent. Landlords are also now required to return the tenant’s security deposit two weeks before their scheduled move-out date.
  • Updated guidelines for preferential rent – Landlords with rent-stabilized apartments can no longer hike up rents to the upper limit during lease renewals.
  • Removal of the vacancy bonus – Owners of rent-stabilized buildings can no longer increase rents by as much as 20 percent after tenants have moved out.
  • Removal of “owner-use” loophole – Previously, landlords and their family members could remove tenants from multiple rent-stabilized units in order to use these apartments as personal residences—a process they were reportedly using to hike up rents. Landlords can now only claim one unit as a primary residence.

“The immediate impact is that we are going to see an entire shift in our economy, from landlords and tenants to contractors and suppliers of materials,” says Phillips Forbes.

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

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When Appraisals Come Back Low, Brokers Scramble to Salvage the Deal

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 21:00
https://rismedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/DailyNews_062919_Opt.mp4

 

As brokers, the primary job of bringing buyers and sellers together on a price usually seems like the bulk of the work, but it’s really only half the battle. Inspections, taxes, insurance and financing are just a few of the outside forces that need to be satisfied before closing.

The third party playing a critical role in the process is the appraiser. This is the uncompromising professional who operates and is bound by independent standards and rules.

So, what happens when the appraisal comes back lower than the negotiated price?

Unfortunately, nothing will happen automatically unless this scenario is previously spelled out in the contract. It’s up to brokers to get back to work and recalibrate new terms for the transaction.

“It depends on the buyer,” says Chris Bradford, broker of Lifestyl Real Estate in Indiana. “They may be cash-strapped, [but] if they have enough for 20 percent down, they might have enough if it doesn’t appraise.”

A short appraisal changes the leverage landscape of the deal. Even if they have the cash on hand, buyers won’t be as inclined to honor their offers once they know the underlying asset has a smaller basis price. Sellers could have to come down halfway between the agreed-upon price and the appraised value—or even lower, depending how badly they want to sell the property.

Bradford notes that sellers might not be able to come down much because they might need to make a certain amount of money in order to fund their next purchase. In that event, it’s incredibly hard to keep the buyer at the same price, but it’s also difficult to start over, knowing that any other buyer would likely have the same appraisal issue.

Other than renegotiating, brokers have limited options:

Appeal the appraisal. Most mortgage companies allow for such a challenge, but the chances of getting a higher valuation are slim. Assuming the appraiser didn’t make a mistake and has legitimate comps to support the appraisal, lenders will typically stand by their vendors. If the appraiser was from an area outside of where the home was located, there’s a better chance he or she missed something noteworthy, such as the proper school district; the fact that someone is willing to borrow more to attain the property doesn’t change the valuation formula.

Seek out another lender. A different bank would use a different appraiser, and that person could see things differently. You could even stage the property better, provide suggested comps that support a higher valuation, and call out improvements that might have been missed during the first appraisal. Shy of directly telling the appraiser what to do, this guidance may help your cause if the appraiser is open to hearing your suggestions. The risk is that the buyer would have to pay for this work whether or not the second appraisal comes up—and it usually doesn’t, Bradford says.

Find another buyer. Starting over is challenging, but much of the groundwork would still be in place from the previous listing and marketing process. A good place to start is with people who were already interested in the home or had lost out in a bidding war. If Offer A was $50,000 short of the winning bid, and Offer B is more than $100,000 higher than the appraisal, then Offer A would be better than compromising 50/50 on a reduced price. Of course, that assumes the new buyer can cover a short appraisal.

Walk away. As tough as it is to lose a deal, especially one that gets very close, there might be no choice but to walk away. If your seller does decide to terminate the contract and pull the listing, it’s a good idea to pay attention to comps in that area for the next six months in case there’s a verifiable upswing that would justify the price your seller needs.

Since many agents are inexperienced with appraisal shortfalls, Bradford says that it’s critical for brokers to educate their team on how to handle such situations. Equally important, he says, is to educate clients about this possibility—especially in low-inventory markets, where short appraisals are more likely—so that it’s not such a shock once it happens.

Of course, the best way to defend against these appraisal threats is to ensure that they never occur in the first place. Andrew Hillman, broker of Hillman Real Estate in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, says that “the strategy should start well before the appraisal is complete.”

Hillman recommends a proactive approach to prepping the appraiser and securing a higher down payment from the buyer.

“It’s the broker’s responsibility to provide the appraiser with details that aren’t stated on the listing sheet,” Hillman says. “For example, if the broker received multiple offers, this is information that the appraiser needs to know. This would show that the market determined the value with the demand exceeding supply. This holds weight.”

While a short appraisal presents a variety of problems for a deal, Sep Niakan, broker of HB Roswell Realty in Miami, Fla., notes that it can also create an opportunity for savvy buyers if sellers won’t come down to market price.

“The idea is to lock the deal in for the buyer as a first step, especially if there might be other buyers interested in the property. If the agent is confident that there are no comps to get the home appraised at the agreed-to-purchase price, they can wait until the appraisal comes in low and use that as a bargaining tool to get the price lower,” Niakan says. “The buyer is happy, and the seller is much more likely to compromise at that point since they probably already passed the inspection period and have also lost a few weeks of time before the appraisal report has come in. They’re just a week or two from closing and are more likely to be willing to compromise. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a legitimate tactic.”

Andrew King is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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Living the Luxe Life in Uruguay

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 13:27

Anja Oest and Charles Wright

Founded in 1982 in Argentina, La Cite Real Estate is currently headquartered in Punta del Este, Uruguay—a location they’ve been working out of for the past 26 years. The firm serves Maldonado, which includes the areas of Punta Ballena, Punta del Este, La Barra, Manantiales and José Ignacia. Working with clients to achieve their real estate goals in the South American country known for its verdant interior and beach-lined coast, owners Anja Oest and Charles Wright go above and beyond to provide buyers and sellers alike high-quality service. Here, Wright provides a glimpse into the current housing market—and the biggest trends impacting the luxury sector.

Please describe your current housing market.
Charles Wright: We’re currently experiencing a slight drop in prices, making it a good time to invest in Uruguay. Depending on location, amenities, etc., apartments can be priced anywhere from $200,000 to millions of dollars, while houses range from $300,000 all the way up into the millions.

Tell us about the types of properties in your market and which are most popular.
CW: While we primarily sell condos and houses, condos tend to be most popular among Argentinian and Brazilian customers. European and American customers tend to gravitate toward houses and gentleman farms.

What types of buyers do you work with? Are they predominantly local, or mixed from other countries?
CW: We work with two types of customers: regional (Uruguayan, Argentinian and Brazilian) and non-regional (American and European). While we’re native English, German and Spanish speakers, these languages aren’t common in Uruguay. Having lived in both Europe and the United States, we not only understand the language, we also understand the mentalities of our customers.

What are some of the most important trends in your market?
CW: One of the biggest trends we’re seeing is the influx of Europeans coming into Uruguay and settling down because it’s a peaceful country that’s welcoming to foreigners. In fact, 96 percent of the country’s population is of European origin. It’s also important to note that Uruguay has a very good health/medical system, as well as international schools and universities.

How does being part of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® help advance your business?
CW: Working with LeadingRE gives us the opportunity to make ourselves known worldwide, which enables us to get new customers from around the world. We also receive listings and referrals, which we’ve been able to close successfully.

A plethora of windows ensures you’ll never miss the views below.

For more information, please visit www.lacite.com.uy or laciteuruguay.com.  

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

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Pending Home Sales Rebound 1.1 Percent

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 13:22

At the height of real estate season, activity in the market rebounded 1.1 percent, according to the National Association of REALTORS® Pending Home Sales Index, based on contract signings. On an annual basis, activity declined 0.7 percent.

Credit: National Association of REALTORS®

“Rates of 4 percent, and in some cases even lower, create extremely attractive conditions for consumers,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. Buyers, for good reason, are anxious to purchase and lock in at these rates. The Federal Reserve may cut interest rates one more time this year, but there is no guarantee mortgage rates will fall from these already historically low points.

“Job creation and a rise in inventory will nonetheless drive more buyers to enter the market,” Yun says. “Home builders have not ramped up construction to the extent that is needed. Homes are selling swiftly, and more construction will help keep home prices manageable and thereby allow more middle-class families to attain ownership opportunities.”

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

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Window to the Law: Real Estate Wholesaling

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 13:20

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

Frequent viewers of late-night television may have seen advertisements about how they can make “millions” in real estate by quickly flipping properties for a higher price—a practice known as wholesaling. Watch the latest Window to the Law video from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to learn more about the real estate wholesaling business model and some of the potential legal pitfalls related to this practice.

View the video.

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In Recurring Trend, Home Prices Slow

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 13:46

Appreciation in April fell for the 13th month in a row, with prices rising 3.5 percent year-over-year, downshifting from 3.7 percent the prior month and 6.4 percent the prior year, according to the latest national S&P CoreLogic/Case-Shiller Indices.

According to Philip Murphy, managing director and global head of Index Governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices, “broad-based moderation” is the pattern, despite the movement of rates, which had impacted prices in 2018.

“The national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose from below 4 percent in late 2017 to briefly reaching almost 5 percent by the latter part of 2018,” explains Murphy. “Peak year-over-year changes in the 20-City Composite [the 20 largest markets] coincided with the upward turn in mortgage rates during the first quarter of 2018. In 2019, mortgage rates reversed course again and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is again under 4 percent, yet the year-over-year house price moderation that coincided with the 2018 uptick in rates has not changed course.”

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate stands at 3.84 percent, Freddie Mac reports.

“Perhaps the trend for the moment is toward normalization around the real long run average annual price increase,” Murphy says. “Comparing the year-over-year National Index nominal change of 3.5 percent to April’s inflation rate of 2 percent yields a real house price change of 1.5 percent—edging closer to the real long run of average of 1.2 percent.”

However, CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin foresees a shift.

“The U.S. housing market is showing signs the cooldown may end within the next few months,” McLaughlin says. “While the slowdown is now in its 13th consecutive month, half of the country’s markets are now seeing an increase in home price appreciation from March to April. This suggests the great cooldown of 2018-2019 might be coming to an end. Coupled with mortgage rates falling to 18-month lows, it seems the housing market frost is poised to thaw quickly this summer.”

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

Atlanta, Ga.
MoM: 1%
YoY: 4.9%

Boston, Mass.
MoM: 1.9%
YoY: 3.9%

Charlotte, N.C.
MoM: 1%
YoY: 4.2%

Chicago, Ill.
MoM: 1.2%
YoY: 1.9%

Cleveland, Ohio
MoM: 0.7%
YoY: 3.5%

Dallas, Texas
MoM: 0.6%
YoY: 2.7%

Denver, Colo.
MoM: 0.8%
YoY: 3.8%

Detroit, Mich.
MoM: 1.6%
YoY: 3.5%

Las Vegas, Nev.
MoM: 0.6%
YoY: 7.1%

Los Angeles, Calif.
MoM: 1%
YoY: 1.5%

Miami, Fla.
MoM: 0.1%
YoY: 3.9%

Minneapolis, Minn.
MoM: 1%
YoY: 3%

New York, N.Y.
MoM: 0%
YoY: 2.1%

Phoenix, Ariz.
MoM: 0.8%
YoY: 6%

Portland, Ore.
MoM: 1.1%
YoY: 2.6%

San Diego, Calif.
MoM: 0.5%
YoY: 0.8%

San Francisco, Calif.
MoM: 1.6%
YoY: 1.8%

Seattle, Wash.
MoM: 1.1%
YoY: 0%

Tampa, Fla.
MoM: 0.7%
YoY: 5.6%

Washington, D.C.
MoM: 0.9%
YoY: 2.6%

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

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