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Creating life-long relationships should be the goal of every agent on your team. Adding value to buyers by providing actual value is easy to do, yet most agents don’t add any value to a potential buyer and therefore don’t get hired and don’t convert many leads into new clients.
By adding tremendous value to the homebuying experience with every single potential new client, your buyer agents can convert more leads into loyal clients and referral sources for life. You have to include the value and be able to communicate and market yourselves as actually adding real valuable services to them, even, ‘exclusive’ services that no other agent or brokerage does in your marketplace.
I’ve always said, ‘First we sell ourselves and our value, then we sell a house.” Do your agents know how to sell the value of your team and what they bring to the potential client’s experience?
Follow these easy-to-implement steps that will have everyone on your team creating ‘real value add’ to potential buyers and see your lead conversions increase dramatically as well as increases in listings, sales, repeat clients and referrals.
Step 1: Create a system for all new clients.
This means every single new, potential client (both listings and buyers) go into the ‘system’ for tracking and more effective follow up. Using a simple CRM, you can create better follow up reminders for calls and emails and make sure you are maximizing each lead, and nothing will slip through the cracks. It all starts with an organized, repeatable system.
Step 2: Provide your own ‘Exclusive Homebuyer Program.’
Sure, your brokerage may have some great printed or digital buyer presentation, but you need to create your own, team-branded version and include each of your buyer’s agents with their own customized page for their presentation and guides. You need to co-brand with your company but include your team photos, your mission, your purpose, your market share graphs, your ‘system’ and program that your team provides. Coach the agents on your team how to communicate with confidence the services outlined in your buyer program and guide. Provide each of your buyer’s agents with their own About Me page that showcases the special skills and services they bring to the buyer.
Create a digital and printed ‘Exclusive’ Homebuyer Program.’ What your unique program consists of is all of the steps you take a buyer through from needs analysis to financing to home inspection through closing and moving. You want to show added value, and here is your chance to show them all the valuable tasks and expertise you bring to the table and that you do it better than anyone else in the market. You have exclusive access to know about new listings that your team is listing before they come on the market that you can get that buyer into first and fast. These are real value propositions that you must be able to communicate and show each new client. Create a brochure or digital booklet or “Homebuyer Guide” that shows the radically differentiated value you and your team bring to the table for this buyer. Brand it and demonstrate all the special and extra services you and your agents bring to the process that make it stress free. Literally say that you add value to the process and are seen by your clients as invaluable to the process of homebuying and selling.
Step 3: Include an offer to ‘Enroll in the ______ Team’s Exclusive Homebuyer Program and Receive Our Complimentary Homebuyer Guide.”
This is a free, value add. People want the information you are willing to give them and when you provide it, they are not only impressed, they choose to work with you. Include everything they need to buy a home, from the offer to purchase, homebuying specifications and wants/needs list, financing, list of referrals for home inspectors, title and closing information, moving checklists, and this valuable resource is part of your Homebuying Program. When you call it ‘something’ and give it a name, it makes it real and legitimate and truly valuable. They will be overwhelmed with your services and see you as the top professional that you are. Your team members will be able to convert at a much higher level too because they will now have a marketing tool that communicates the value of working with them and your team.
Step 4: Use these everywhere to convert leads into clients.
Your new Exclusive Homebuying Program should be used at open houses, on call-ins and when responding to online leads on your listings. You can always refer to the program and the guide and again use it to help show your services and the expertise and truly different services your team provides. Offer this as a lead generator on social media with a call to action link and you will see amazing results from effectively marketing yourself.
By coaching your team and differentiating yourself through using a “Homebuyer Program,” it will give you a competitive advantage when trying to get hired by potential buyers. It goes without saying that you will have to also provide this level of service to your buyers as well. Again, talk about what you actually do for your service fee. You will separate your team and your buyer’s agents on your team from everyone else who offers nothing to a new buyer except some MLS printouts. Your team will be adding tremendous value, attracting and converting new clients and referrals as well as generating new revenue to your team immediately.
For a FREE copy of Sherri’s exclusive “Adding Value to Buyers” script strategy, CLICK HERE.
Sherri Johnson is CEO and founder of Sherri Johnson Coaching & Consulting. With 20 years of experience in real estate, Johnson offers coaching, consulting and keynotes, and is a national speaker for the Homes.com Secrets of Top Selling Agents tour. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 844-989-2600 (toll-free) or visit www.sherrijohnson.com.
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(TNS)—People love traveling, whether it’s meant to get away and relax or to reconnect with family and loved ones. However, a new survey reveals that some people are so willing to travel even if it may hurt them financially.
The home-sharing platform Vrbo conducted a survey of American travelers with the help of Ipsos and found that millennials aren’t willing to put off their vacation, even if they can’t afford it.
“Forget what you thought about millennials traveling on a shoestring,” said Karen Fuller, senior director of Global Market Research at Vrbo. “Our results revealed that they are actually the most likely to go into debt for travel, which is consistent with the notion that millennials like to accumulate experiences, not things.”
Comparatively, only 27 percent of Gen Xers and 15 percent of baby boomers were willing to go into debt for travel.
As Fuller explained, millennials are focused on having experiences, rather than material things. This matches up with the survey findings that discovered that 45 percent of millennials will “travel purely for exploration in 2019.”
In terms of Gen X, 20 percent said they’ll travel for a special occasion this year, while 44 percent will travel for a milestone event such as a birthday or anniversary. Baby boomers are the least likely to travel for a hobby or activity such as hiking or skiing, compared to 23 percent of millennials.
Visit Travelpulse at www.travelpulse.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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For more than 25 years, I’ve coached agents to get to their next level by helping them stay ahead of the game in terms of their knowledge and skillsets. In today’s world of 24/7 information (and often misinformation), the time to be diligent about staying sharp, informed and skilled is right now. If not, you are not only costing yourself commissions; lack of knowledge is costing consumers in your market thousands of dollars.
I’m talking about the surge in iBuyer programs that are burgeoning across the country. What started as a little disruption in markets such as Phoenix, Raleigh, Dallas, Vegas, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, San Antonio, Tampa and Nashville is now spreading, with the help of deep financial pockets and lots of false advertising.
I don’t say that lightly. As someone who’s been in this industry my entire adult life, a little disruption and competition is not only something to not fear; it should be embraced. It makes us better as service providers when we are in a constant state of learning and skill-development. However, false advertising and flat-out misinformation that leads consumers to lose a big chunk of equity from their investments—all while basically maligning agents as an unnecessary expense and speedbump in the home-selling process—is not something we could stay quiet about.
That’s why we put more than a month of research into investigating what these companies are doing and saying so that we could get the real information out to our coaching members and real estate professionals across the country. That way, when they are speaking to people in their sphere and farm, they can do so with all the facts and data they need to help protect consumers as the advocates and resources they truly are.
As real estate professionals who are committed to service, not just sales, the underlying greed of these programs is problematic. By coaching consumers in your market to better understand the facts about iBuyer programs and other programs that may prey on homeowners, you can develop long-term trusted relationships and represent yourself as a resource that they can count on to help them protect their best interests.
In a world where fake news and misinformation spread like wildfire, it’s helpful to have the tools and training that can help you get ahead of them and be a champion for consumers. That raises the bar for not just you, but our industry.
We’re here to help. 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. I’ve spelled them all out in an almost hour-long recorded presentation and coordinating workshop called iBuyer Beware: Why IBuyer Is the Worst Thing to Happen to Homeowners to help. 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 aspiration to buy a home is universal, according to new research.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual homebuyers are motivated by the notion of owning their own property—a driving factor heterosexual homebuyers share, according to the National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Buyers and Sellers, which amalgamates data from NAR’s 2015-2018 Profiles of Home Buyers and Sellers.
Four percent of homebuyers identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, according to the Profile—a figure predicted to rise in time, explains Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR.
“The number of homebuyers and sellers who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual has remained steady at 4 percent since we first included the question in our HBS survey in 2015,” Yun says. “Given that millennials now make up 37 percent of homebuyers and attitudes regarding sexual orientation continue to shift even among Generation Z, we expect to see this percentage increase in future surveys as younger generations are more likely to self-identify as LGB.”
The findings in the Profile include:
June is LGBT Pride Month. Ten years ago, NAR amended its Code of Ethics to bar discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Equality Act, which the House passed recently, would amend the Fair Housing Act to include these protections, as well.
According to John Smaby, NAR president, “the American Dream of homeownership traverses across the spectrum of our society—including sexual orientation—and REALTORS® always have and will continue to advocate so that anyone who wants to, and is capable of purchasing a home, is able to do so.”
Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.
After much anticipation (and a significant delay), the Treasury Department released the second round of proposed rules for the Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) program on April 17, 2019, building upon earlier proposed rules that provided the framework for the program. The rule release coincided with a White House Opportunity Zone Conference, which the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) 2019 Commercial Liaison, Bob Turner from Memphis, Tenn., attended. The event featured President Donald Trump and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson as speakers, focusing on the Administration’s commitment to making the program a success.
This second round of rules fills in many unknowns about the program and how it will work. For those who are unfamiliar with QOZs or need a refresher, the program is a creation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, intended to drive new investment, jobs and development to underserved communities designated as “Opportunity Zones.” It provides several types of tax relief for investors who reinvest capital gains into QOZs:
The new rules provide clarity on many aspects of the program left uncertain by the earlier proposal. For example, tangible property purchased by an O Fund in a QOZ must be either “original use” or “substantially improved”—but original use had been undefined. We now know that original use commences with the depreciation of an asset. This is positive news for real estate, as it allows O Funds to purchase incomplete projects in QOZs and meet the original use requirement as long as the property has not depreciated yet. There is also guidance on vacant or abandoned property—if it has been in that condition for at least five years, the original use commences with the purchase by the O Fund. Less than five years, and it must meet the substantial improvement requirement: investing an equal amount into the asset as its purchase price, not including the basis of the land it sits on.
There is also more information on QOZ Business Property, which must be used in the active conduct of a trade or business (so simply investing in land does not qualify). Leased tangible property qualifies as long as the lease was entered into after 2017 and meets the same requirements as owned property. Additionally, there is guidance for property straddling a QOZ—if it is contiguous, and the value of the portion within the QOZ is greater than that outside of it, all of the property is considered QOZ business property.
Even with these new proposed rules, there are still questions about the QOZ program. One unaddressed area is data reporting requirements, which are important both to protect against fraud and abuse and to track the effectiveness of the program—what types of investments and developments are successful versus not, and where the program is working best. HUD and the Treasury Department are currently seeking input on what those requirements should be (at press time).
The Administration is on track to have final rules by the end of 2019, barring any delays. Until then, the proposed rules are effective, and with the new information from the second round, we expect to see participation in the program increase rapidly in the coming months.
Erin Stackley is NAR’s senior representative for Commercial Legislative Policy. This column is brought to you by the NAR Real Estate Services group. For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.
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(TNS)—The average interest for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages is nearing 4 percent again, ushering the way for millions more homeowners to save money by refinancing.
The recent drop in rates means that 5.9 million people can potentially save money by refinancing their existing home loans and securing a lower rate—two million more than last month, according to a recent report by Black Knight. The combined savings totals $1.6 billion, or an average of $271 per person per month.
The sharp drop in rates comes as a surprise, as most experts were betting that rates would be on the rise, says Mark Hamrick, Bankrate’s senior economic analyst. For borrowers, however, this is an unexpected gift.
“The fact that this swoon in rates has occurred as and when it has underscores the fact that accurately predicting the future of rates is difficult indeed. So, instead of trying to outsmart the market, go with what you know for certain, which is where rates are right now,” Hamrick advises. “Between the pace of the news cycle and economic developments, the environment can change with release of a single presidential tweet. In an uncertain environment, seize upon certainty where you can find it.”
Why Your Credit Score, Income and Debt Matter
Before you spend the time applying for a mortgage refinance, be sure you check your balance sheet and credit first. Applying for a refinance is similar to getting a mortgage in that lenders will consider your FICO score, debt-to-income ratio and employment history when evaluating your application. Your interest rate is a reflection of your financial situation, and banks tend to reward low-risk customers with better rates.
Borrowers want to aim for a credit score of over 740 and a loan-to-value ratio of 75 percent or under to nail down the best rates, says Melissa Cohn, executive vice president at Family First Funding LLC in Toms River, N.J. The income needed for a loan is dependent on the bank’s qualifications; for self-employed borrowers, additional proof of income may be required to meet loan prerequisites.
Homeowners who have improved their credit score since getting their original mortgage should see if refinancing makes sense for them. For every 20-point increase in credit scores, the interest drops about 0.125 percent. So, if someone had a 680 credit score and now has above a 760, this alone will improve their rate by about 0.5 percent, says Daniel M. Shlufman, Esq., mortgage banker at Classic Mortgage LLC in Maywood, N.J.
For folks who are hoping to lock in a better rate but are not currently financially ready to do so, create a financial game plan now for a better position down the road. This includes paying down debt and saving money for an emergency fund (so that credit cards are not the go-to in a pinch).
“Anyone who has owned a home for a modest period of time can attest that unexpected expenses are the rule, not the exception. In addition, life brings its own surprises and added expenses,” Hamrick says. “For young families, that might include the birth of a child and related added expenses. By boosting your own finances, effectively paying yourself, you’ll also be boosting your creditworthiness which can only help one achieve financial goals overall.”
The Best Scenarios for Refinancing
Falling rates might seem like a money windfall if you have a higher interest rate than what’s available today, but make sure refinancing bolsters your bottom line. Expensive lender fees can actually put you in the red if you decide to refinance and the savings don’t outweigh the expense.
Generally, you need a drop in the rates of 0.5 to 1 percent (depending on the monthly savings and the closing costs) to justify doing a refinance, Shlufman notes. The rule of thumb is that the savings should be enough to recoup the closing costs within about 18 months to make a refinance justifiable.
“If the closing costs are $3,600, you would need a savings of about $200 per month on the mortgage payment for a refinance to be worthwhile,” Shlufman says. “The larger the loan, the more likely a refinance will make sense, since most of the closing costs are fixed (e.g., appraisal fee, recording fees, etc.) while the monthly savings will be much greater.”
If You’re Paying PMI, Pay Attention
Refinancing also makes sense is if you have private mortgage insurance, or PMI, and the house value has increased so that there is equity of at least 20 percent. Refinancing into a lower rate not only shaves off interest costs, but also knocks out monthly PMI payments, which are typically 0.5 to 1 percent of the total loan on a yearly basis. For borrowers with a $200,000 mortgage and a PMI payment of 1 percent, for instance, that’s a savings of $2,000 per year or $167 per month.
FHA loan borrowers are another group that can potentially benefit from refinancing into a conventional loan. Since PMI is more expensive on FHA loans, those qualified borrowers might save a small mint by reducing or eliminating their FHA PMI and locking in a lower rate, Shlufman says.
Those who want to reduce their terms and go from a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to a 15-year loan might be able to ax an additional 0.5 percent from the top, since 15-year loans usually have lower rates. That might also mean larger monthly payments, but overall less interest paid over the life of the loan. Adjustable-rate mortgage holders can also profit from dropping rates; the timing might be right to lock via a fixed-rate mortgage as rates continue to hover around the 4-percent mark.
Finally, folks hoping to tap their equity while reducing their interest rate can take advantage of cash-out refinances. These are low-interest loans that allow homeowners to borrow against their equity by replacing their existing mortgage with a new loan for a higher amount and receiving the balance in cash. These can be useful for people who want to make home improvements, as the interest is tax-deductible.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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Vitals: Crye-Leike REALTORS®
Years in Business: 42
Size: 117 residential offices, 3,183 sales associates
Regions Served: Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Little Rock, NW Arkansas (Bentonville-Walmart country); Huntsville, Jackson, Miss.; Atlanta
2018 Sales Volume: $6.5 billion
2018 Transactions: 30,550
Harold Crye and Dick Leike joined forces in 1977 to start Crye-Leike REALTORS® (No. 8 in closed residential transactions in RISMedia’s 2019 Power Broker Report) in Memphis, Tenn. Over the last 40 years, they have grown the firm to one of the top in the nation, with more than 3,100 agents and 139 offices serving markets in Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi. Here, Crye, the firm’s president, explains how the firm has created a sustainable success plan for the long term.
What sets your firm apart most in the marketplace?
Harold Crye: As a major regional company, we have all the tools that agents need to be successful, but still have the family feel that agents desire. We have strong brand recognition, and we provide thousands of leads to our associates through our membership in Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and through our award-winning website. National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) surveys indicate that most buyers prefer a company that has all the services needed in the transaction, and Crye-Leike is a one-stop shop for all these services. We own a very successful mortgage company, title company and insurance agency. We also have commercial sales and property management. In these changing times, our residential property management has been very successful.
How did your market fare last year, and what factors contributed to this?
HC: 2018 was a challenging year. Sales in most of our markets were either flat or down, while company-wide sales volume was up just slightly at $6.5 billion. A serious shortage of inventory, especially new houses, will continue to slow sales in 2019.
Are you planning to grow your firm this year?
HC: Crye-Leike has been growing for over 40 years and we will continue to grow in 2019. In addition to opening new offices in the Atlanta region (Buford, Peachtree City, Douglasville, Lawrenceville, etc.), we’re also opening two new offices in the Northwest Arkansas region (Fayetteville and Rogers).
What are some of the biggest challenges you’re currently facing?
HC: Not only is the industry in transition, but technology is quickly changing the way we operate. Therefore, our challenge is to transition to the new world while making sure we don’t move so fast that we lose great sales associates who are still operating a traditional model, but have great people skills and many happy past customers in their sphere of influence (SOI).
What are the biggest opportunities for increasing business right now?
HC: Successful agents should be focused on working with builders who can provide them with houses to sell. These are mostly the small-volume builders who don’t have their own salesforce. They should also be focused on their raving fans from their SOI. Many Crye-Leike agents are using our new CRM program, MoxiWorks, to maintain contact with their past customers.
What do you look for in someone new coming into the company?
HC: Energy and passion are great attributes, but I learned many years ago that you cannot always see what may be driving a person to achieve great success. Not all great agents look like they just came out of central casting.
How are you preparing your salesforce to meet the expectations of today’s consumer, especially first-time homebuyers and millennials?
HC: We’re now hiring many millennial sales associates. Crye-Leike, through its real estate school, has access to millennials that are getting their real estate license. We’ve hired a social media director and additional staff to help with training all our associates on the latest tech tools.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.
In the following interview, Debbie Phipps, team leader and REALTOR® with The Debbie Phipps Team at Keller Williams Realty in Christiana, Del., discusses promoting her team—with a partner she can trust.
Region Served: Tri-State area of Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania
Years in Real Estate: Over 30
Number of Offices: 1
Number of Agents: 5
You’ve been building a strong reputation for several decades. Can you talk about the importance of branding, both when you’re starting out and when you’re well established?
I focus on staying on top of marketing changes and which generation is looking at what, and how to get everyone’s attention, because making yourself public is critical to your success from day one until 30 years in. I learned early on that you don’t ever want someone to say to you, “Oh, I didn’t know you were a REALTOR®” because you didn’t tell them. You always need to be front-of-mind and stay front-of-mind. You could give great service to a client, and 20 years could go by before they’re ready for their next transaction, and despite a great experience with you, if you haven’t kept in touch, they may not remember your name…or may not know you’re still in business. Don’t let that happen.
How do online buyers notice/respond to your branding presence?
I’m everywhere, and people call me to list houses because they see from their own research that no one else has the branding I have. I spend a lot on marketing, and my biggest investment is on realtor.com®. I identified early on that it was the place to be, as it’s the only site that had a relationship with the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), and the only site that allows us to download directly from our multi-list. No one else does that.
Have you gotten listing appointments as a result of your pervasive branding?
Absolutely. While I’ve gotten listing appointments, better yet are the listings I get.
How do you incorporate your ability to do online marketing in your listing presentation?
How do you sell potential clients on this element? During listing presentations, I show potential clients what will happen if they list with me, how I come up in every zip code using realtor.com®’s Local Expert product, how their house will show up when buyers search, and all the ways I get buyers to look at my listing.
How does your presence on realtor.com® compare with other places you could advertise?
Realtor.com® is efficient on a much higher level. With realtor.com®, I can count on the quality of up-to-date information. If the price changes, the realtor.com® listing changes. If the house has sold, it disappears. A lot of other sites are not as well updated, and after I’ve listed on those sites, I have no control over that information as it changes. With realtor.com®, I know it’s always correct and current, so I can send people there and trust that they’ll get the right information. I still do some print marketing in the Real Estate Book, as there’s still a population of people who want to see the print ads, and I don’t dismiss that, but realtor.com® is where I put most of my focus.
What’s your favorite thing about working in real estate?
Making a difference in people’s lives. I was in the corporate world before real estate, and the level of satisfaction is so different when you’re working with individuals and helping them achieve personal accomplishments.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
When selling a high-end property, it’s often about how you frame the positive features that hook an affluent buyer. Though many potential buyers will focus on the price tag, it’s the responsibility of the real estate professional involved in the transaction to know which features add value to the property and to understand the mindset of affluent buyers. In many cases, once a buyer understands the value of a given property, it reflects in the price they’re willing to pay.
Diane Hartley is president of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, an independent authority in training and designation for real estate agents working in the luxury residential market. Hartley brings her passion for luxury marketing and more than 20 years of experience growing and leading businesses to her role as president of The Institute. For more information, please visit www.luxuryhomemarketing.com.
As inventory reappears, the housing market’s narrative is shifting.
Averaging these markets, home prices have risen 1.4 percent year-over-year—a deep dive from 8.4 percent the prior year, according to realtor.com. On the flip side, inventory jumped 14.6 percent—a big break from the 4 percent national trend—and each market has more than four months supply, one month more than the 50 largest markets in the nation. Meanwhile, sales have slowed, on average falling 5.5 percent year-over-year.
“The U.S. housing market has largely favored sellers over the last several years as a result of the record-breaking low inventory and red-hot demand that led to intense competition and fast-rising home prices,” explains Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com. “However, we’re now seeing some metros buck this trend.”
Every major region is represented, suggesting the turn is widespread—but the driving factors vary. According to realtor.com, in Chicago, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Providence, Riverside and Tampa, economic gains are lagging the national trend, and fewer job prospects are pushing residents out. In Dallas, Nashville and San Antonio, the driving force is largely overheated prices, which, long-term, were unsustainable.
Across these areas, sales are still weak, but are expected to grow as inventory rises, Hale says.
“These 10 housing markets are already more buyer-friendly when looking at the availability of homes for sale in different markets; however, the mismatch between what’s available and what buyers want has led to lukewarm demand and lackluster sales,” she states. “As inventory continues to grow in these markets, buyers will see more options, and should ultimately gain more bargaining power.”
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 email@example.com.
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NAR PULSE—QuickBooks® Self-Employed gives you an easy way to track your mileage and expenses, capture receipts and more, to help you with your real estate business finances. Sign up for a free 30-day trial of QuickBooks® Self-Employed from Intuit®, a REALTOR Benefits® Program partner, and receive Social Media for REALTORS®: Digital Marketing – Download for free from NAR’s Member Value Plus (MVP) Program. Plus, be automatically entered to win a $300 Amazon Gift Card from Intuit®! Act by June 15!
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Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®) is the nation’s largest property database built exclusively for REALTORS®. It is a valuable tool and resource that is available to all NAR members at no extra cost, as part of NAR membership dues. Learn more.
Keep Up to $1,000 in Your Pocket
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We have reached June. I assume you are just as shocked as I am at how quickly the year has gone.
June is special for two reasons. It represents National Homeownership Month and LGBT Pride Month, an incredible combination for the members of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) and all real estate professionals.
First, we celebrate National Homeownership Month and join NAR and the entire industry in showcasing the emotional and financial benefits of homeownership. We also celebrate LGBT Pride Month, and this year, we do so with more of realization of how far the LGBT community has come—and how far we have to go. This year, Pride Month commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which launched the modern LGBT movement.
As I shared in a previous RISMedia article, it was June 27, 1969 at 3 a.m. when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, long known as a safe haven for LGBTs. Several bar patrons were forcibly arrested on what were called “dubious” charges and the LGBT community erupted with anger. Tired of mistreatment, riots commenced that night and for several nights afterwards.
A year later, many of those involved returned to Stonewall to commemorate the anniversary, leading to June being recognized as Pride Month today.
The world’s largest Pride event in New York City will be even bigger this year. For the first time, World Pride, which has never been in the U.S. in its 20-plus years of existence, will be part of the NYC Pride Parade on June 30. Our NAGLREP New York City chapter, led by Lisa Ortiz-Rodriguez, has again made arrangements for us to march along with about 150,000 others with an expected crowd of 4.5 million cheering us on. If you want to join our NAGLREP contingent, we would love to have you and ask that you register with us here. (If you can’t get to New York, we have more than a dozen local chapter events this month, as well.) It will be a poignant moment when we make a left onto Christopher Street and pause to reflect in front of the Stonewall Inn.
We will also march with great pride this year because of NAGLREP’s role in helping the Equality Act pass in the U.S. House of Representatives. This critical bill, which was first launched in 1974, had never before been brought to a vote, let alone pass.
While we still have an uphill battle to get the Equality Act through the Senate and to the President, this was the first step in amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit and the jury system.
Thank you to our NAGLREP partners HSF Affiliates, Realogy and RE/MAX, along with Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, who were part of a group of approximately 200 major U.S. firms that joined the Human Rights Campaign’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act. Our partner the National Association of REALTORS® was one of nearly 500 major associations to publicly back the Equality Act.
Our recent LGBT Real Estate Report outlined how discrimination holds back the LGBT community in their desire to enter homeownership, one of the reasons why LGBT homeownership rates are just 49 percent, 15 percent below the national average.
We realize the important role NAGLREP plays in helping more in the LGBT community get to participate in homeownership. The LGBT community has made amazing strides in the past decade, including the legalization of same sex marriage and now the monumental step for the Equality Act.
On behalf of all of us in NAGLREP, thank you to the entirety of the real estate profession for welcoming and supporting us, and allowing us to celebrate Homeownership and Pride Month with you.
Jeff Berger is the founder of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP). For more information, please visit www.naglrep.com.
Realty ONE Group Creates a Legacy for the Future
Editor’s Note: This is the cover story in the June issue of RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. Subscribe today.
Real estate in the next two to three years? We can only imagine. And if we dare to, we’ll probably fall short of foreseeing the change that will occur in our industry in just 24 months. Change so fast you can’t look away.
Realty ONE Group is keenly focused on it, innovating their technology, training and marketing services, and orchestrating key partnerships to not just be a part of that change, but to drive it.
This is “ONE” company that always seeks bigger. Looks farther. Knows there is more.
Since the company’s inception, Realty ONE Group CEO and Founder Kuba Jewgieniew and his bright and talented executive team and staff, who are committed to the same principles and values upon which he founded the company, have been determined to build an organization with the staying power of the Fortune 500 greats. To do that, they know it’s not about just pivoting on the newest technologies or adopting the latest marketing fad.
It’s about looking beyond the immediate future. Not just anticipating change, but seeking it out.
Like the precious face of the hopeful young girl on this magazine’s cover, there’s a bright and exciting future ahead for the next several generations. Realty ONE Group knows it would be a shame to get distracted by what’s right in front of us.
Why It Happened
It was just too much: the amount of money that Jewgieniew (pronounced Yev-gen-yev) paid to his broker when he did 111 transactions and more than $30 million in volume as an agent in his first full year in real estate in 2004.
“It was too much to leave on the table when I did all the work,” says Jewgieniew. “I was grinding it out and loving what I was doing, but never saw my broker until I had to hand over my commission. I realized quickly that there had to be a better way and that I wasn’t the only one feeling like this.”
Like with everything in his life that causes him discomfort, the spark ignited and Jewgieniew looked for a solution, not just for him, but for anyone experiencing the same angst. And he walked out the door.
Based on a 100-percent commission model, Jewgieniew created Realty ONE Group to give real estate professionals a better life. (Note: Jewgieniew refuses to call them agents. Using the term “professionals,” he believes, gives them the respect they command.) But, from the beginning, he wanted something different for everyone—buyers and sellers, office staff, online traffic, friends, neighbors, partners, anyone who crosses paths with Realty ONE Group at any time. It has to be a whole different experience, or it’s just not good enough.
The Very Definition of Humble Beginnings
We love a good “rise to greatness” story, and Jewgieniew has one. His mom, Elizabeth, and his dad, Jerzy, met at a young age in Poland and started their family with nothing. His dad was a mechanic by trade, but did his best work as an inventor. They seeded their only boy, a young, determined, sometimes mischievous Jewgieniew, with both humility and ambition. His parents instilled hard work and drive in their son the same way most parents instill manners and good hygiene. But it wasn’t an easy start, as the family had very little money.
“Despite what little we had, I’m so grateful to my parents for giving me what I consider to be the perfect start in life,” says Jewgieniew. “For me, it was the combination of freedom and guidance, passion and gratitude, and, ultimately, love that shaped me.”
His family immigrated to America and continued to build a better life. Jewgieniew worked his own way through college and, after graduating from the University of California, San Diego, started a lucrative career as a financial planner and portfolio manager. But he’s an inventor like his father, and was building hardware and software programs on the side; always curious, always exploring what could be.
Affecting people and creating change are what Jewgieniew values most about his role in creating one of real estate’s fastest-growing and most disruptive franchisors today.
The One Difference
With his eye fixed on what he considers an industry mired in traditions, Jewgieniew and his leadership team know that real estate will look entirely different in the next decade and that the stakes are high as competition continues to flood the playing field.
To entice anxious real estate agents and would-be franchise owners hoping to build on retirement, you have to not only stand out, but also let them know you’re here to stay. To do that, you have to prove you have the foresight for what’s to come and that you’re thinking of not only their children, but also their children’s children. And for Realty ONE Group, that means acting differently.
“Creating new, compelling experiences for people is what it’s all about for Kuba,” says Mike Clear, Realty ONE Group’s chief operating officer, who joined the company in 2017. “He truly believes that life is just too short to be unoriginal, and it’s hard not to believe it, too, when you’re around him.”
The make-it-different lens is used on everything, so much so that it has become second nature to the Realty ONE Group team.
“We’ll usually map out a project and then immediately flip it on its head,” says Clear. “By the time we complete it, it can, and usually does, look totally different from our original concept.”
That happened when the Laguna Niguel, Calif., office lease came up, prompting a move to a new space. Plans for the new Realty ONE Group “Hub”—named as such to avoid any implication of an ivory-tower headquarters office—changed repeatedly as the team burst with new, fun ideas meant to give the staff a reason to want to come to work. The Hub has a front entrance made entirely of glass—giving the illusion of not having a front door—and the brand’s signature black and gold cover are splashed all over the walls with vivid canvas portraits of Realty ONE Group’s love and laughter. A turf and gold ball soccer wall, shipping container conference room, zen garden and coffee barista are alone worth going in for a tour, and, of course, everyone is welcome.
“The passion Kuba has for everything he does is so infectious that it fuels us all to dream and imagine and go big—really big,” says Chief Brand Officer David King, who led the marketing and branding efforts for an expansive U.S. mortgage company before joining Realty ONE Group in 2017. “Every space in the new Hub was an opportunity for us to add meaning to our environment—to give our team something to think about or to be inspired by or to simply enjoy.”
Another preview of the difference will come when Realty ONE Group launches its new website later this year, promising to look nothing like any other real estate website.
“The key is to not just create something to be different,” says King. “We do it to elevate the experience, give people something to be excited about and hope that it leads them to their own inspiration. At the end of the day, we do it for people.”
Jewgieniew’s passion transfers to whatever he fixes his gaze on, including the disadvantaged and underprivileged, which led the team to establish ONE Cares in 2014, the official 501(c)3 arm for Realty ONE Group. It was a real way to solidify the company’s commitment to giving back to its family of agents and to others in need.
For years, the company and its real estate professionals have raised money, donated, hosted charity events, volunteered and worked together to make an impact on a variety of organizations. And ONE Cares has helped its own agents who suffered loss or faced challenges.
That work will continue, and in a big way. The company plans to do much more in the years to come and with a greater focus on nonprofit organizations that are committed to really making change and benefiting others.
In recent months, Jewgieniew pledged $11,111 to kickstart 2019 fundraising for ONE Cares, and he recently donated another $11,111 (see the ONE again) to S.A.F.E., or the Stop Abuse for Everyone non-profit organization, on behalf of husband and wife agents in his Temecula, Calif., office who lost a daughter to domestic violence.
“This is really how we make a difference,” says Jewgieniew. “Beyond helping people buy and sell homes, we can instantly impact lives by just doing our part. And that’s the legacy we want to leave for our kids and for our families.”
Realty ONE Group just celebrated its 14th anniversary on May 1, and unlike other cake-filled anniversary celebrations, the Realty ONE Group offices and its agents celebrated with a company-wide day of giving. It’s become a tradition symbolic of the company’s high value on people and making an impact.
But Still, There Is Fun
One of the hallmarks for the Realty ONE Group culture is fun, which is why the company coined its own term, “coolture.”
“Contrary to popular opinion, work and fun don’t have to be separate experiences,” says King, who orchestrated the company’s biggest convention to date, the ONE Summit, this past March at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. “We packed ONE Summit with fun, valuable and memorable experiences so our real estate professionals would know we’re here to help them not just be more successful, but enjoy their jobs.”
Realty ONE Group hosted memorable speakers like Earvin “Magic” Johnson and U.S. Navy Seal Rob O’Neill, while celebrating award winners with a formal masquerade party open to all attendees. The company also broke a Guinness World Record by creating the largest word out of dice—the ONE logo—with 11,111 gold and black dice, each carefully placed by convention-goers.
“It was the typical case of Kuba finding a way to let Realty ONE Group real estate professionals be a part of something unique and memorable,” says King.
And for the company, there’s no telling what memories will be made next as it continues to add onto the company’s army of real estate professionals and places an office in all 50 states while looking to expand into new countries.
Like a blockbuster movie, you definitely want to stay until after the credits just to get a teaser of what’s next.
For more information, please visit www.realtyonegroup.com.
Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the first quarter of 2019, home prices rose 1.1 percent, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) Home Price Index (HPI). From Feb. to March 2019, home prices rose 0.1 percent. Based on Census division:
Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington
Change MoM in Prices: 0%
Change YoY in Prices: 3.7%
Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
Change MoM in Prices: 0.7%
Change YoY in Prices: 7.1%
West North Central
Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
Change MoM in Prices: 1.1%
Change YoY in Prices: 5.8%
West South Central
Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas
Change MoM in Prices: 0.3%
Change YoY in Prices: 4.4%
East North Central
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin
Change MoM in Prices: -0.8%
Change YoY in Prices: 5.1%
East South Central
Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee
Change MoM in Prices: -0.4%
Change YoY in Prices: 6.2%
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Change MoM in Prices: -0.6%
Change YoY in Prices: 4.4%
New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
Change MoM in Prices: 0.8%
Change YoY in Prices: 3%
Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South California, Virginia, West Virginia
Change MoM in Prices: 0.1%
Change YoY in Prices: 5.6%
The HPI is based on data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and accounts for conforming, conventional mortgages in the single-family space.
Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency
In an about-face from March, April’s pending home sales slid 1.5 percent, according to the National Association of REALTORS® Pending Home Sales Index, based on contract signings. The decline persisted year-over-year, as well, with sales slipping 2 percent.
“Though the latest monthly figure shows a mild decline in contract signings, mortgage applications and consumer confidence have been steadily rising,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “It’s inevitable for sales to turn higher in a few months.
“Home price appreciation has been the strongest on the lower-end as inventory conditions have been consistently tight on homes priced under $250,000,” Yun says. “Price conditions are soft on the upper-end, especially in high-tax states like Connecticut, New York and Illinois. We are seeing migration to more affordable regions, particularly in the South, where there has been recent job growth and homes are more affordable.”
For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.
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The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently filed a motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit Moehrl v. NAR, which alleges the organization conspired to inflate commissions by requiring all brokers to “make a blanket, non-negotiable offer of buyer broker compensation when listing a property on a Multiple Listing Service (MLS),” violating federal antitrust laws. In addition to NAR, Realogy, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX and Keller Williams are among the defendants named.
“What they are claiming is completely baseless,” states Mantill Williams, VP of PR and Communications Strategy at NAR, who emphasizes the MLS is pro-consumer and pro-competition.
“These lawyers are just conspiring to line their own pockets on the backs of consumers,” he adds.
Rene Galicia, director of MLS Engagement at NAR, agrees, stating the allegations stem from a lack of understanding of the industry.
“They don’t understand how MLSs and the real estate market work,” says Galicia. “Brokers, who have their boots on the ground, will say that it is ultra-competitive, and the management of data has allowed us to have a better understanding than the plaintiffs do.”
In a recent release, NAR stated that the lawsuit mischaracterizes the Association’s rules, leading the class action attorneys to “dream up purportedly anticompetitive rules that simply do not exist in NAR’s Handbook or Code of Ethics.
“In reality, NAR rules specifically direct listing brokers to determine—in consultation with their clients—the amount of compensation to offer buyers’ brokers in connection with their MLS listings,” the release continues.
It goes on to say that a buyer’s broker is “free to negotiate a commission from the listing broker that is different from what appears in the MLS listing. Neither NAR nor any MLS has any say in setting broker commissions.”
Galicia looks at the Manhattan real estate market to compare, as it does not currently run on a central MLS.
“In the Manhattan real estate market, you see the opposite of what plaintiffs argued,” he says. “There, data quality suffers, and without an MLS, some brokers are able to create their own markets, which doesn’t foster competition amongst other brokers and doesn’t result in a centralized repository of property information for consumers.”
“You see the opposite of what plaintiffs argued—that the MLS hurts consumers and doesn’t provide for a good competitive landscape—it’s a bold lie,” he says. “In the Manhattan real estate market, data quality suffers, and large brokers create their own markets and don’t allow small brokers to compete. MLS levels that playing field.”
“The MLS system is designed to create competitive markets to facilitate the sale of residential property in a way that benefits both buyers and sellers,” said NAR president John Smaby in a statement.
Additionally, NAR’s filing adds that “past court rulings have noted that NAR rules provide a more transparent marketplace, and encourage REALTORS® to share listing information and cooperate in the sale of real estate.”
Katie Johnson, NAR general counsel and chief member experience officer, recently spoke on the matter at the Risk Management Issues Committee: Legal Hot Topics session, held during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo. Since the initial lawsuit, she said, two copycat claims have surfaced against NAR.
“We are hoping to consolidate the cases and defend vigorously in one action instead of three,” said Johnson.
As far as the next steps go, “we are just waiting on the judge,” Williams says.
“In today’s complex real estate environment, REALTORS® and Multiple Listing Services promote a pro-consumer, pro-competitive market for homebuyers and sellers, contrary to the baseless claims of these class action attorneys,” said Smaby. “Our filing [at press time] shows the lawsuit is wrong on the facts, wrong on the economics and wrong on the law.”
According to the release, NAR is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit “with prejudice” on the basis of the above arguments which they say contest the allegations, as well a “failure to demonstrate harm.”
In the latest development in response to NAR’s motion to dismiss, the plaintiff’s attorneys this week let the court know they are amending their complaint. NAR officials note that “this is a sign that the class action attorneys recognize the legal viability of NAR’s position and are regrouping to try to salvage their baseless claims.”
Stay tuned for updates.
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.
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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a five-part series on best practices for operating a culturally and globally diverse real estate company. See Part 1.
Owner and CEO
Giorgio Viganò Real Estate
Founded in 1960, Giorgio Viganò Real Estate is headed by 29-year real estate veteran Benedetta Viganò. The company, a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE), enjoys a healthy, active market in Milan for a variety of reasons. Here, Viganò shares why being prepared to do business in a global environment is key to the company’s continued success.
What is the size of your firm?
Benedetta Viganò: We have one office with five sales associates.
Please describe current market conditions. What are some of the biggest drivers of business?
BV: The real estate market in Milano is actually very good and very active compared to the rest of the country. The most important trend is that the city has become, since the EXPO in 2015 (a universal exposition hosted by Milan, which ran from May through October), the point of reference for investments, both residential and commercial.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities in operating a global real estate business?
BV: Italy has signed the Reciprocity Act, therefore, almost anyone can buy if the Italian can buy in their countries. Some of our biggest challenges are: explaining to clients coming from countries where we cannot buy, why they cannot buy here; financing, if they need a mortgage; or advising if they want to buy a property here with an offshore company. Opportunities are many, however, and surely the most important factor is the word-of-mouth—if you sell a property to a foreign buyer, they will certainly refer your company to friends and clients because they know you are an expert and they trust you because you respect their culture.
Has Milan become more culturally diverse in recent years?
BV: Before the EXPO 2015, Milano was mostly a city for local first-time homebuyers, although it has always been very attractive from a rental point of view, as the city is home to the most important Italian universities. Today, however, Milan is home to international schools, as well as very important hospitals and fashion brands.
Why did you choose to become part of LeadingRE, and how has it helped you succeed on a global playing field?
BV: Our company is the first non-U.S. member to have joined LeadingRE when it was still RELO. Being part of this great network for 16 years has allowed us to place ourselves above the majority of our competitors. Many clients contact us because they know we can provide global exposure. Our continuous presence at conferences has helped us to understand the cultural differences of other countries, thanks to the knowledge of colleagues from other countries and sessions dedicated to the international real estate markets. It is also very easy to refer clients, as we are able to describe the company to our client since we know them personally. From our point of view, we are very relaxed when we refer a client to a LeadingRE member, as we know the network only signs with the best of the best.
Why is sensitivity toward cultural diversity necessary for any real estate firm path forward?
BV: Clients who want to move to other countries need to be understood and respected. It is always scary to buy where you are a foreign citizen, as sometimes it might take years before you are able to embrace another culture that may be very different from yours.
Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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