Speaking of Real Estate
REALTOR® Magazine is letting people know about a sponsor webinar on how to make better use of Facebook and other social media sites in your business. Below is a description of what you’ll learn by Jason Lutz, COO of REsocialbot, the webinar’s presenter:
Social media marketing: Why it’s never worked for you in the past and how you can change it in 6-minutes flat.
We’ve all heard about people using Facebook and other social media outlets to drum up a significant amount of business, but who are these people and more importantly how do they do it?
You’ve probably seen or even used systems that auto-post new listings to your social media. As you know, the postings rarely result in a deal and they certainly don’t elevate you as a true professional. Simply put, they might help with a listing presentation, but they won’t help build your business.
In this 30-minute web class I’ll show you exactly how to get more followers, shares, likes and most importantly buyers and seller with no effort. Our system takes about 6-minutes to setup. Once you’re done, you’ll never have to mess with your social media for business ever again AND you’ll get more referrals than ever before.
The 30-minute webinar is Nov. 17, at 11 a.m., Pacific time.
REALTOR® Magazine is letting people know about the event because it believes it could contain ideas real estate professionals will find useful in their business but it was not involved in the development of the content and it doesn’t endorse the webinar.
Facebook: is it friend or foe when it comes to building your business? On the face of it, a social media site like Facebook would seem to be a no-brainer for reaching out to people when they’re ready to buy or sell a house. But often the reality doesn’t live up to the potential. You either spend too much time on the platform for little return or you turn off people by marketing too directly to them.
A top producer in the Atlanta area, Maura Neill, thinks she’s found the right balance. The RE/MAX Around Atlanta agent uses Facebook in a variety of ways, but one way she uses it to good effect is to build attendance at events she hosts twice a year. And it’s these events—off-line, in-person, on the ground—that build her business in the end.
In fact, she says, she gets anywhere from half a dozen to a dozen referrals out of these events, and that is part of the concrete ROI she sees from her social media effort.
Neill talks in-depth about how she uses Facebook in The Takeaway with Nobu Hata, a new audio podcast series. Neill’s remarks are featured in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR.
Also looked at in the video is the big win by the real estate industry against what many saw as overreach by the federal government on anti-kickback enforcement. A federal appeals court has shot down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement of Sec. 8 rules under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The CFPB imposed a massive fine—$109 million—against a mortgage company for sending referrals to mortgage insurers that used its affiliated mortgage reinsurance business.
Back when HUD administered RESPA, such “tying” arrangements were considered fine, depending on how they were structured. But when CFPB took over RESPA enforcement, it said they weren’t fine and hit the company for illegal referrals. What’s more, it imposed its fine retroactively, so the company was on the hook for the arrangement even during the years HUD said it was legal.
NAR sent a friend-of-the-court brief to the appeals court that said such retroactive enforcement was wrong, and the court agreed. Not only did it require the CFPB to withdraw the fine, it said CFPB’s interpretation of Sec. 8 was incorrect. HUD’s was the correct one.
In another video segment, an NAR analyst explains why it’s going to take a few years before lenders will be able to make federally backed rural home loans quickly under a new direct endorsement program that Congress created for the Rural Housing Service. FHA already uses direct endorsement and NAR for a long time called on Congress to let RHS use it too for rural home loans. Congress agreed, but RHS doesn’t have the money to make the system changes it needs to make it happen, so even though RHS has the authority, it’s going to be around 2019 before quicker rural home loans happen.
The video looks at another win, albeit a much smaller one. In a change to its FHA single-family loan handbook, HUD removed language requiring appraisers to act as home inspectors by testing appliances when they go to set a value on a house. NAR argued that that was outside the scope of appraiser duties and HUD agreed.
Another segment in the video looks at how well the new closing rules are doing one year after they took effect. NAR found that there are fewer closing delays because of the new rules. But agents are still facing a needlessly tough time getting their hands on the new closing disclosure, which replaced the HUD-1 Settlement Form. But even that is showing some improvement.
A couple of weeks ago, we asked our readers for their scariest experiences in the field, and the horrifying stories poured in. We ran a few of the most frightening, but we can’t get enough. Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and to stay in the “spirit” as long as we can, we’ve decided to bring you more of your fellow practitioners’ freakiest moments on the job.
This batch of tales are more the eerie kind. They’re not so much about actual paranormal activity in homes — but they’re the kind of situations you’ll be happier to read about than experience yourself. Here’s part two of our favorite scary stories from real estate professionals.
- I listed a home in which a well-publicized murder had recently taken place. Everyone knew about this stigmatized property, and other agents were asking me, “Did you know this was the house where that guy was killed?” The house was on the market for a couple of weeks with little activity when one day, a neighbor called me to tell me there was sewage running down the driveway. Come to find out, the city was doing work on the old sewer lines on that street, and it backed up into my listing. No other home in the area was affected. The city hired a restoration company to pretty much gut the place, removing the hardwood flooring, cabinets, appliances and 18 inches of the bottom of the drywall throughout the entire house. The company did a great job, and weeks later, the place looked completely remodeled. It sold within a week! I truly believe the house “cleansed itself” — with sewage — of the evil mojo that was lurking there. —Lauren Sato, CRS, GRI, Revelation Real Estate, Chandler, Ariz.
- When I started selling real estate, I was showing a property in winter, and it was getting dark pretty early. The home was vacant and did not have utilities connected. My buyer was looking in a room and ran out screaming, “I saw a floating head!” We went back the next day to see the home in daylight — and there were three men in the house passed out. We also saw needles on the floor! I have not walked in a dark house since that day. —Myra Dennis, GRI, SRS, Terrain Realty, McAllen, Texas
- I toured a bank-owned property with my clients that had numerous rooms with blackened walls, a few jars with unrecognizable items on the kitchen window ledge, a tightly wrapped bag hanging from the door between the house and garage, a serrated knife in a room made under the stairs in the basement. Very confused, one of my buyers decided to wait in the car while the other completed the tour. All the strange items made more sense when we looked in the shed, where a voodoo-looking shrine was still intact. As we turned to leave, we saw a sacrificed chicken in a bucket. After the showing, I advised the to send someone out to clear the property. Definitely one of the strangest showings ever. —Jennifer Hafer, SRS, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Bethlehem, Pa.
- I was taking my buyers through a “teardown” property, and there was an outside staircase that went to the “office.” We got up there and looked around, and when we went into the bathroom and pulled back the shower curtain, there was a jean jacket hanging up with red splatters all over it. I seriously freaked out, thinking it was blood, and my buyer took a closer look and said it was red paint. But I still have my doubts! —Danielle LaCrosse, d’aprile properies, Hinsdale, Ill.
- I showed a brand-new home and found a pair of black and red panties wadded up on the master bathroom floor. Not creepy in the scary sense, but creepy in the “who was in here?” sense. I took a picture of them and sent it to the listing agent and teased her for a solid week. —Paula Brahan, ABR, CRS, Realty Executives, Hattiesburg, Miss.
- I was working on-site sales a few years back and had an agent check out a unit for one of her clients. She called to tell me the door was wide open when she arrived. Obviously, I was confused because we never left anything unsecured. So I went to check it out and after looking everywhere in the condo, I opened a closet and a man rushed out past me and out the door. Apparently, he broke in and had friends over the night before. It was actually funny after the fact but could have turned out pretty bad — especially for the agent that went in before me. —Kevin Gallagher, Keller Williams Realty, Charleston, S.C.
- I had a seller proudly show me his collection of children’s coffins he kept in his dirty, moldy basement. I was so creeped out by the guy that I didn’t take the listing. —John Ravenscraft, Ravenscraft Realty, Hannibal, Mo.
- One evening, I was reviewing photos I had taken of a creepy foreclosed home earlier in the day. There was a snake I hadn’t noticed on the floor in the photo of the master bedroom. I was so surprised; I zoomed in and sure enough, there it was! I was glad it was the last photo I took before leaving because I know if I had noticed it, I would have run out of there never to return. —Christine Clausen, SFR, Century 21 Lee Real Estate, Ingleside, Texas
First, Connecticut REALTORS® brought in the muscle power of the WWE to metaphorically show the strength of a REALTOR® in a home transaction. Now, the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® is playing matchmaker with lovelorn home shoppers, helping them find a spark with the right house.
In its first image and awareness campaign, the association is targeting the first-time buyer crowd ages 18 to 34 with humorous videos likening the home-search process to speed dating, says MAAR President Judy Shields. The campaign, which has been in development since last fall, features 30-second spots like the one above that will air on local television stations and on-demand video, as well as social media, through Nov. 7.
“A consumer-focused campaign is something MAAR members have wanted for years, and they are very happy with the finished product,” Shields said in a statement. “I’m so happy with how we accomplished the messaging and humor. It’s important for consumers to know the importance of using a REALTOR® to help with the complicated transaction of buying a home.”
MAAR has set up a website — MatchmakersForHomes.com — where all its campaign media can be viewed.
It’s something many real estate professionals know about. Right after a sale closes, many clients don’t just like the agent that helped them; they love the agent that helped them, especially when the transaction went seamlessly and was even pleasant. Of course, happy buyers often make great sources of referrals snd, down the road, they’re often move-up buyers who will want to use their agent’s help once again.
These are good business reasons to care about the success of clients long after a sale closes but really these reasons pale in comparison to the human reason for caring. Anyone of good will will want to see new owners succeed. And let’s not forget the benefits to neighborhoods when households are succeeding at homeownership. Successful owners tend to invest in their properties, helping to maintain values for everyone who’s in the area.
It’s with these thoughts in mind that a recent announcement by the Fedral Housing Finance Agency is important. FHFA is the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and it’s extending a program that enables financially struggling homeowners to refinance their Fannie- or Freddie-backed mortgage even if they have little or no equity in their home. A second program gives an incentive to lenders to modify the mortgage of borrowers who are underwater.
The programs were a response to the financial crisis several years ago and while many homeowners are seeing equity growth again, there are still borrowers struggling to make their payments and who have room to refinance into a lower interest rate.
The latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR talks about the programs and how borrowers who are able to refinance or get their mortgage modified can go on to become tomorrow’s move-up buyers. In the video, FHFA official Megan Moore talks about the pockets of borrowers who are still struggling.
If you know of struggling borrowers, you would be performing a service to them if you point them to these programs, because they can help them stabilize their situation and become tomorrow’s move-up buyers.
The video also looks at a pass HUD took on its FHA condo financing rules, which implement a recent law to make FHA-backed financing for condos more widely available. Today, only about 10 percent of all condo loans are FHA backed, which means a lot of buyers who need FHA to get financing are not able to buy a condo unit, even though condos are one of the best ways for households to get into homeownership.
By law, HUD is supposed to provide a maximum owner-occupancy ratio for a project to be eligible for FHA financing. Right now that ratio is 50 precent, which means if anything more than half the units are being leased out by owners, FHA can’t back the purchase of units in that project. Congress told HUD the ratio would automatically drop to 35 percent if the agency doesn’t do anything. Well, the agency decided to do something: it’s asking for input from the public on what the number should be. As a result, the ratio is still 50 percent while the agency seeks input, and NAR is trying to make the case that it should be dropped to 35 percent, as the law calls for.
On the plus side, the rule does bring back what’s known as spot loans. These are FHA loans that lenders can make for units even if the project isn’t FHA certified. The units can be purchased with FHA financing on a case-by-case basis. So, that’s an important improvement that can help borrowers right away.
The video also looks at the state of home sales, which are flat and expected to stay flat until the end of 2016, why it’s important for real estate professionals to vote in a month, and what makes for a cost-effective investment in landscaping. Another thing the video looks at is a new audio podcast NAR has launched to help you get ideas for boosting your business based on what successful agents, brokers, and other industry people are doing today. The first podcast in the series looks at how you can create a board of directors to get more referrals and also get ideas for improving your marketing, The new series is called “The Takeaway with Nobu Hata,” which refers to the host of the show, Nobu Hata, NAR’s director of member engagement.
It’s the witching month once again, and as Halloween approaches, now’s the time to tell tales of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls. But some scary stories aren’t fake — and real estate professionals have some of the creepiest real-life anecdotes.
Anything can happen when you’re out in the field, and we’ve heard horrifying tales of vacant properties where someone’s home, ghostly figures in listing photos, and ghastly encounters during home tours. Some practitioners have even figured out how to turn a haunted listing into marketing gold. We asked our followers on social media for a fresh round of their most frightening tales, and, boy, will they tingle your spine. (Check out part two of this collection for more scary real estate stories.)
- I had a first-time home buyer with a limited budget, and we found a small Cape Cod that was completely redone from top to bottom and being offered at an incredible price. This home showed like brand-new: new drywall, doors, windows, roof, carpeting, kitchen, and baths. My clients were so excited as they ran upstairs while I stayed on the first floor, critiquing the home and wondering why the sale price was so low. While standing in the dining room, I heard a woman’s voice in the kitchen say, “I’m in here.” Startled, I went to the kitchen to see who it was — and no one was there. The voice came again: “I’m in here.” I was so freaked out that I yelled for my clients to get ready to go. Of course, they wanted to make an offer so I pulled the seller’s property disclosure statement. Added onto the last page was a newspaper article that read: husband killed wife in the kitchen and lit the home on fire. I still get chills to this day — and, no, my clients decided not to make an offer! —Andrea Decker, SRES, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Coopersburg, Pa.
- Several years ago, my client and I were doing a final walkthrough of a house before closing. My buyer had requested that the seller fix a fence in the backyard. It was winter, and the snow was about a foot deep. As we were walking outside toward the fence, my foot hit something hard under the snow. We started digging and saw a boot. Thinking it had just been thrown in the yard, we attempted to pick it up. Then out of the snow came a leg, and that freaked us out. A homeless person had wandered onto the property and froze to death. Police roped off the area, and the closing was delayed two weeks. The buyer still closed, though. —Garry Britton, Hunt Real Estate ERA, Rochester, N.Y.
- A repeat buyer couple and I went to view a short sale listing. After I knocked on the door, it cracked open about a half an inch. I peaked inside, and it was pitch black. In the darkness, I heard a voice say, “Come in.” My buyers and I entered with our hands out in front of us because we couldn’t see anything. I asked, “Can I turn on some lights?” No reply. We turned a corner, where I found a light switch and turned it on. We were standing in the kitchen, where four or five people were sitting on couches in their pajamas, staring blankly ahead. There was also a deep freezer chest in the middle of the room and a hole in the floor. All of a sudden, two huge German shepherds pounced on a sliding door and started barking like crazy. My clients and I almost hit the ceiling, but the people sitting on the couches didn’t even flinch. They just sat staring straight ahead. I asked a question, and one of them kind of mumbled something. I thanked them for their time, and my clients and I quickly scooted out the door and into my car. We drove several miles before any of us spoke. Mrs. Buyer broke the silence by saying: “Did anyone else feel like we were about to become Sunday barbecue?” —Debbie Cullen, ABR, GRI, RE/MAX Realty Team, Cape Coral, Fla.
- I was visiting a new development that was still empty and had no electricity. I went down into the basement of one of the homes with a flashlight, and I saw something in the shape of a head on the floor! I just ran out of there as fast as I could. I later found out it was a bike helmet. —Alexandra Leal, HallVersátil, Almada, Portugal
- As I was showing a piece of land, my client and I discovered both human and pet cemeteries overgrown with brush, cement kennels, a vacant squatters’ camp complete with homemade alarms, massive spider webs between nearly every tree, and it was at the end of a long dirt road with a big yellow “Dead End” sign. All I kept thinking was this property looked like something straight out of a horror movie. —Sean Walker, Century 21 Triangle Group, Cary, N.C.
- I once showed a home that, from the outside, looked like a simple, ordinary ranch. Once inside, however, we were amazed at the number of religious symbols all over the place. There was a crucifix over every door — including closets and cupboards — and each door had a picture of various saints and religious icons taped to the front and back. It was very overwhelming and, frankly, creepy. Interestingly enough, my client was an Orthodox priest. He said, “This house is ruled by fear.” —Karen Rice, AHWD, Davis R. Chant, REALTORS®, Hawley, Pa.
- I was hosting an open house alone, and an older man came in by himself. He didn’t really look around too much but kept talking to me. He talked about another home he had near Lake Superior and mentioned it was such a cold lake that you could dump a body in it and it would never come back up. —Laureen Maynes, Lund Realty, Glendale, Ariz.
- I recently sold a house that had been empty for 16 years. The neighbors called it the “Dead House.” Apparently, tragedy struck the family who used to live there: Dad committed suicide, mom disappeared, and son was sent to jail and killed himself. While emptying the house of everything, I found a legal book with highlighted paragraphs on how to kill and kidnap people and get away with it. —Cheryl DCruz, RE/MAX Aerospace Realty, Cape Canaveral, Fla.
HUD officials are developing new rules that will make it easier for buyers to get loans to buy condominium units and improve the process condo projects must go through to get certified by the FHA. The rules, set to come out at the end of October, follow the passage earlier this year of a new law, H.R. 3700, designed to ease restrictions that have made it difficult for many creditworthy buyers to obtain mortgages for condos, a common entry point to home ownership in the United States.
To help you understand the coming changes to the condo-financing and recertification processes, NAR is hosting a live webcast on Friday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Guests will include two NAR staff members who played key roles in encouraging lawmakers to pass H.R. 3700. Register.
Now this is an endorsement that will body slam your competition. The Connecticut REALTORS® association has teamed up with WWE Superstars — a show filmed in Connecticut — in a new campaign to educate home buyers and sellers about the importance of using a REALTOR®. As part of the campaign, the association has released a video featuring WWE champions Titus O’Neil and Big Show helping a family move into their new home. Who holds the heavyweight title now?
“Connecticut has many beautiful homes, but it also happens to be home to some of the strongest men and women on the planet: our neighbors, WWE,” Connecticut REALTORS® President Michael Feldman said in a statement. “By partnering with WWE Superstars Big Show and Titus O’Neil, we can deliver the message that REALTORS® help with the components of a move.”
Are you ready to rumble? Check out the humorous video above.
It’s common today for real estate brokerages to have systems in place for sending email alerts whenever there’s new or updated listings that customers might be interested in. it’s not new technology, and in fact the technology is arguably ubiquitous in the industry. Now imagine you get hit with a letter demanding you pay a fee for your use of that technology,
Although patent abuse seems like a straight-forward issue, getting Congress to agree on a solution isn’t easy because lawmakers are concerned about inadvertently hurting companies that hold valid patents and are entitled to patent protection within the law.
It’s against this backdrop that NAR took matters into its own hands and filed a claim with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office and in federal court challenging the validity of the email alert patent held by Data Distribution Technologies, LLC. NAR argued the patent is for ordinary, garden-variety technology and isn’t owed patent protection. The company, in response, reached out to NAR and proposed a settlement in which it agreed to stop suing, and threatening to sue, companies for using the technology.
It’s one small victory in a much larger problem with patent trolls, but, as NAR Associate General Counsel Ralph Holmen has said, it sends a message to other patent trolls that the real estate industry is prepared to fight back and has the means to win. Because of that, the chances of your business getting distracted with an expensive, stressful, and time-consuming patent battle for using basic technology is far less likely than it was a few weeks ago.
The patent win is a lead story in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video. Another top story is a look at what’s going to happen in Washington in 2017, when there’s a new president and Congress in town. What will be the top issues? NAR Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello says the issues for housing will be tax reform, secondary mortgage market reform, and reauthorization of flood insurance. All of these issues have been put on the back burner for the last few years, but now that the government is getting a new start in 2017, expect them to be taken up with new vigor. REALTORS® have a lot at stake in how these matters get addressed. Secondary mortgage market reform is crucial to the amount of money lenders have to make mortgages with, and tax reform always puts the mortgage interest deduction and other residential and commercial real estate tax incentives under a spotlight.
The video also looks at home buyer and seller trends over the last 35 years. It was in 1981 that NAR launched its annual buyer and seller survey, and it’s informative to see how buyer and seller characteristics have changed over the years. For one thing, FSBOs have been in retreat. They account for only 8 percent of transactions today, down from 15 percent, and repeat buyers are much older today on average, 53 compared to 36.
Also in the video is a look at how big the housing gap is in metro areas across the country. The gap is measured against the number of jobs created, so in places where a lot of jobs have been created, like San Francisco and Denver, the gap can be huge, because housing permits just aren’t keeping up. Historically, for every 1.6 jobs created nationally, there’s been a new house or condo permitted. Now some areas are seeing more like one housing unit permitted for every 6.5 jobs created, and in some markets its even much bigger. In San Francisco, for instance, the gap is 18.5 to one.
The video also gives a head’s up on a live webcast in late October on new FHA condo financing rules that are coming out. The rules will implement NAR-backed changes that are supposed to make FHA insurance easier to get for buyers. The webcast will walk you through the rule and answer your questions.
Watch The Voice for Real Estate.
I attended a safety seminar at the National Association of REALTORS® building in Chicago on Monday, expecting to hear the same old thing: pay attention to your surroundings, keep your head out of your phone, watch people’s microexpressions, yadda yadda yadda. But self-defense instructor Joe Rosner actually made some interesting points that aren’t necessarily groundbreaking but are worth repeating.
In honor of REALTOR® Safety Month, we invited Rosner to take part in a Facebook Live demonstration of simple safety moves that can save your life. (Watch the video above.) But on the nonphysical side, he gave some good mental pointers about what to do in a dangerous situation. Here are a few of my favorites:
- When calling 911, many people are flustered and don’t make a lot of sense. Remember to tell the emergency operator just two things: your location and that there is an “assault in progress.” It’s a purposefully vague statement in case you haven’t been attacked yet but fear for your safety. It also gets a fast police response, Rosner says.
- The “bystander effect” is real, which means people justify in their heads why they don’t have to take responsibility for helping someone. That’s why using a whistle or some other noise-making gadget to signify danger can be highly ineffective; people can say it might have been the whistle from a nearby soccer game. If you can, direct your call for help to a specific person nearby so they know they are responsible for helping you: “Hey you in the blue shirt! I’m being attacked! Call 911!”
- Stun guns aren’t good weapons. Why? Because they require you to get up close to the assailant to be effective — and what you need to do is run away. You’re better off trying to flee than fight at close range.
- Deception works. Point to anywhere on a building and say, “That’s a police camera.” Hail down the next car that passes by and say, “That’s my spouse.” Hold up your phone and say you have an app that sends photos directly to your local police department. Your attacker won’t know whether you’re telling the truth, and he might not want to stick around to find out.
- Ask yourself: Who is that person and why are they here? If you can’t come up with a logical explanation that makes sense, consider that a warning and get out of there as quickly as possible.
John DeSouza, president of Cressy & Everett Real Estate, a brokerage with more than 190 sales associates in 10 offices in Indiana and Michigan, will talk about how his company combines traditional and digital marketing methods to win listings and be a regional leader in a webinar his company is sponsoring on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 11 a.m. Pacific time.
DeSouza will be joined by Mark Tepper of Matterport, a Silicon Valley 3D and virtual reality company. They’ll talk about how the brokerage combines traditional marketing with new digital tools in its marketing to stay ahead of the competition. Among the topics covered:
- Strategies for selling homes faster
- Digital vs. traditional marketing
- New tools to help your agents win listings
- How to attract and retain top agents
- Emerging trends in real estate
- The future of 3D and virtual reality
REALTOR® Magazine is promoting the webinar but has not participated in the development of the content.
- Date: Tuesday, Oct. 4
- Time: 11 a.m., Pacific time
- Cost: Free
When you’re trying to pay your bills each month, it’s hard to think about retirement. But there are two things that can help you retire when the time comes. The first is owning your own home. It can be good advice for your clients and it can be good advice for you, because your home is an asset that can provide a foundation for when you no longer have a steady income from work. And yet one of every five members of NAR does not own his or her own home. The second thing that will help is owning investment property. And here, about a third of NAR members don’t have this asset working for them.
Looking ahead to 2017, NAR will be launching a program to help you fill in the gaps about what you know about investment real estate so you can help yourself as well as your clients.
NAR President-elect Bill Brown said at the Leadership Summit he hosted a few weeks ago that we wants retirement to be a priority during his term in office, and his goal is to give NAR members this education resource to help them turn their real estate career into a successful retirement. You can expect to hear more about the program when it comes out.
Brown’s remarks are excerpted in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR. The video also looks at two public policy issues that are starting to have an impact on how you do business. The first has to do with small drones, which are now something you can use commercially as long as you meet federal requirements that took effect at the end of August 29. In the video, you’ll meet a real estate agent who hired a company to take drone video for a listing she’s trying to sell. She talks about how she thinks the video will help her. The second policy issue has to do with smart homes and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things refers to the online collection of data from home appliances and personal devices, and smart homes refers to homes that have these Internet-connected appliances in them. The two go together.
NAR has launched a lab to look at smart-home technology and help companies design the products and the data they generate so they help owners, sellers, and buyers make smart decisions based on energy use and other performance measures. NAR’s focus on the issue comes at a good time, because the federal government is getting ready to launch a process in which it will determine whether rules are needed to govern the Internet of Things and, if so, what the rules should look like. NAR has commented on the Internet of Things before and it plans to comment as this process goes forward.
The video also looks at the latest home sales numbers, which NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says are down because of the shortage of homes available for sale in many parts of the country. It also looks at the effort REALTORS® are making in the wake of Louisiana flooding. The video also looks at efforts by NAR staff to help kids go back to school with helpful supplies by working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Michael Cuevas, a sales associate with Fulton Grace Realty in Chicago, says that asking the right questions of a real estate agent is an important part of lessening anxiety for consumers concerned about the home buying or home selling process. After all, the real estate websites where most shoppers start their home search can’t give them all the specific advice they need. So hiring the right agent involves properly vetting them.
But there’s one question most consumers think they should ask, Cuevas says, that has no bearing on how effective an agent will be for their client: What company do you work for? From a recent blog post Cuevas wrote:
“Prior to the evolution of the MLS and most of the online real estate search sites, the company [an agent] worked for used to matter. In today’s market, nothing could be further from the truth. Real estate companies today, more or less, offer the same product as their competitors. It’s no different than shopping for a mortgage. Most banks will offer you the same rates, it just comes down to who provides a better level of service.
It’s the agent who will make the difference in a making a wise financial decision, not the company on their business card.
Just because an agent is associated with the biggest company in town does not make them any more qualified than the agent at a very small office. Some of the best [practitioners] work for the smallest companies. If your agent constantly talks about how big their office is and how many sales their office had, they most likely lack their own personal experience and have to justify it with leveraging their company’s statistics.”
Do you agree with Cuevas’ point of view? Let us know in the comments below.