July 27, 2016

Speaking of Real Estate

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Updated: 1 hour 48 min ago

Is That Nanny Cam in Your Seller’s House a Lawsuit Waiting to Happen?

Mon, 07/25/2016 - 12:42

Nanny cams are popular with parents today. The tiny, easy-to-hide devices help parents keep tabs on their kids while they’re away. State privacy laws differ, but for the most part, you’ll want to let buyers know upfront if there’s a chance they’ll be captured on one of these or other types of surveillance devices while they’re in the house.

The key issue is expectations of privacy. If you’re inside someone’s home, you have a right to expect a certain amount of privacy; if you’re outside—say on a public sidewalk—you can’t always expect the same level of privacy.

In a similar manner, if you’re recording a phone conversation, privacy expectations are relevant. People expect a phone conversation to be private, so you’ll want to let them know beforehand if you plan to tape the conversation as a way to  keep accurate notes or for other reasons.

These types of privacy issues are a top story in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR. The video shares excerpts from a recent video by NAR’s Legal Affairs division on what you need to know about surveillance cameras when you’re showing a house or recording a phone conversation with customers.

The video also looks at how much easier it’s going to be for your clients to get FHA insured mortgage financing for their condo purchase. Congress just passed an NAR-backed bill that makes financing available even if only 35 percent of the units in a project are owner-occupied. That’s down from a 50-percent owner occupancy ratio, a significant change that can make a big difference in a buyer’s ability to get a loan. Also, a project can have more space set aside for commercial use, a change that will be particularly helpful as more developers design projects that mix housing with retail space.

Other stories in the video look at NAR’s effort to curb accessibility lawsuits in commercial real estate and a meeting NAR hosted on Capitol Hill two weeks ago to flesh out ideas for making housing more affordable to low- and -moderate income households and to reduce homelessness.

Access The Voice for Real Estate.

Bring 7,000 People to Your Showing — on Facebook Live

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 14:23

If you’re trying to figure out how Facebook Live can expand your marketing efforts, why not try using it to broadcast a showing of one of your listings? Real estate professionals are just beginning to explore Facebook’s livestreaming functionality as a way to better engage with their audience, though you should be aware of some of the security threats a live broadcast can pose. But we can safely say that Leigh Brown, ABR, CRS, broker-partner at RE/MAX Executive Realty in Charlotte, N.C., knocked it out of the park when she took her Facebook Live viewers on a tour of a foreclosure she’s selling.

It wasn’t just a video property tour — which, by the way, drew nearly 7,000 views. (That’s a lot of potential buyers!) Brown’s live broadcast served triple duty as an educational piece for what buyers should look for in foreclosures, a behind-the-scenes look at what her job is like, and a marketing tool for her listing. And, of course, there’s plenty of that trademark quick wit Brown has become known for industrywide.

“My plan is to be accessible and real — no big surprise there for anyone who knows me — and to make sure consumers get what they want, which is a glimpse into the world of real estate,” Brown says. “I won’t do Facebook Live on every house, just sporadically to keep [my social channels] from getting too repetitive. This house has a story, though, and pictures would not adequately tell it. It was also a chance to answer questions I had been receiving from prospects in a way that is honest and relatable.”

Brown says she received four offers on the home after her live showing, which aired July 6. The video above is a YouTube upload of Brown’s Facebook Live post, but here’s the original on her Facebook page.

10 Tips to Be a Better Agent

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 16:27

Need more tips for improving your skills and upping your real estate game? We’re all about helping real estate professionals reach greater success, which is why we dedicated the July/August issue of REALTOR® Magazine to lists upon lists of helpful ideas for improving your client relationships, avoiding ethical dilemmas, spreading your brand on social media, and more. To add to that, REALTOR® Magazine hosted a Facebook Live event on Monday (watch it above), and we called in five Chicago-area practitioners to play a little game of musical chairs — or as we called it, “musical tips.” The person left standing had to offer their best tips on a range of real estate topics. We had plenty of laughs, and with more than 6,000 viewers tuning in to share their own tips, we got plenty of interesting ideas!

Here are 10 of the best tips we gleaned from the five participants of our Facebook Live event.

On Growing Your Referral Network:

“Use social media to your advantage. People give me testimonials and tag me in posts.” Moses Hall, Ani Real Estate

“After doing a deal, we do things like ‘coffee is for closers,’ so our cooperating agents get Starbucks.” Catherine Holbrook, Americorp Real Estate

“Do everything you can do, do it consistently for a period of time, and naturally, your sphere of influence will grow.” Mo Dadkhah, Main Street Real Estate Group

On Engaging With Open House Visitors:

“I try to pay attention to details, so if I see someone wearing a [Chicago] Bears hat, obviously they’re a Bears fan. So I try to gauge conversation in something their interested in, and hopefully they will open up a little bit.” —Hall

“People are more eager to work with you when you leave them alone for a little bit and give them their space.” —Holbrook

“A lot of people have unread emails, but not a lot of people have unread text messages. I ask people if I can get their phone number to say, ‘Hey, thanks for coming to the open house. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help.’ This creates more interaction than an email.” —Dadkhah

On Pricing a Listing Correctly:

“I tell sellers if we have been in the market for two weeks and there are no showings, it’s overpriced. Or if we have had 10 showings and no offers, it’s overpriced.” Stephany Oliveros, CIPS, CHI Properties

“I am a firm believer that you can list at whatever you want to list at, as long as it makes pretty good sense. But you might not get that appraised; so why not list the number that would appraise?” Lindsey Schendel, Newman Realty

“I think in this market, if something has been listed for more than two weeks, it’s time to have a conversation with your client to renegotiate price. I coach agents to take a market analysis and send it every 15 days to their client, just to keep them educated on what’s happening with the market. If you ask them to reduce the price, I think you need to give them some evidence as to why. So if you’re doing everything you can with your marketing, and you list it at the same price as a neighbor and it’s not selling, I think you should make adjustments to the price so you can sell it.” —Dadkhah

On Market Comps:

“I do include currently listed properties, but I cushion it. If a property is currently listed at a specific price, it might still be over market value, so I wouldn’t advise my seller to look at that price. They may say, ‘My neighbor listed at this,’ but that’s direct competition. … I try to study the demographics of the area and the type of buyer, so when I’m working with an investor, we can strategize and know what to expect with specific offers.” —Hall

Property Management: Disruption-Free Software Changes

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 14:33

Vince Coley of property management software company AppFolio talks about ways to replace your software without disrupting workflow in an upcoming webinar.

Here’s how AppFolio sets up the webinar:

“If your property management business has been through a software transition before, you know that change isn’t easy. But if you are losing precious time and money to outdated systems that don’t work with your business, you might need to change faster than you would like. In fact, if you are hesitant to make necessary changes to your business your competitors are likely outgrowing you already.

“Join AppFolio Director of Implementation Vince Coley for strategies on positively transforming your business without negatively impacting your workflow. Vince and his team have helped thousands of your peers transition their businesses out of old technology, saving them hours a day and countless dollars. This is a webinar you won’t want to miss.”

The 60-minute webinar is Thursday, July 28, at 2 p.m., Eastern.


  • Setting measurable goals to assess your business practices
  • Helping your team navigate business changes
  • Conquering hurdles in implementing software systems
  • Motivating your team to adopt new processes

The webinar is sponsored by AppFolio, providers of web-based property management software, and promoted by REALTOR® Magazine.

Registration page. 

Past AppFolio webinars:

Ramping Up Apartment Leasing. 

Which Markets are Best for Building Apartments This Year?

Improving Your Digital Marketing Strategy.

Converting Tenant Prospects. 


Orlando REALTORS® Lend Support to Shooting Victims

Tue, 07/05/2016 - 16:55

ORRA President John Lazenby, left, and Christian West-Howard
(Photo via Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association)

In the aftermath of the tragic June 12 shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people — the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — one local REALTOR® opened his heart and his properties to bring victims and their families some comfort in mourning. Now his efforts have inspired the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association to join the call.

Christian West-Howard, a real estate agent and property manager with Capital Homes, Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla., offered several rental properties he owns free of charge to victims’ families who needed to stay somewhere while they searched for and recovered loved ones after the shooting. He also worked with local hotels to donate rooms, and the combined efforts provided more than 250 family members with free temporary housing, according to ORRA. His original post on Facebook spreading the word of his support was shared more than 30,000 times.

Last week, ORRA announced it would dovetail with West-Howard’s efforts by donating $25,000 toward assistance programs for survivors of the shooting to help them housing-related needs. ORRA says the money will go toward:

  • Rent and mortgage assistance for survivors who cannot work because of their injuries.
  • Securing housing for family members who are moving to Orlando to care for victims.
  • Providing accessibility features and relocation services for survivors who are moving away.
  • Retrofitting victims’ homes with wheelchair-accessible equipment.

“I am awed and humbled by Christian’s take-charge response to this tragic event that has impacted our entire community, and proud to call him a fellow REALTOR® and ORRA member,” ORRA President John Lazenby said in a statement. “The entire ORRA Board of Directors is pleased to become a part of an Orlando REALTOR®’s resolve to help with the housing needs of those in our community who are enduring such unimaginable challenges.”

West-Howard said in the statement that he’s proud his fellow REALTORS® are standing alongside him to help the community. “I’m grateful that my REALTOR® organization has stepped up for the community, and I believe ORRA’s involvement will make a real difference to the survivors,” he said.

Anyone wishing to help the continued relief efforts for survivors can also donate to the City of Orlando’s OneOrlando Fund.

Infographic: What Sellers Should Know About Green Upgrades

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 14:51

Everybody knows energy efficiency is rising in importance among today’s buyers, but if you’re a seller looking to make your house more appealing to a more environmentally conscious generation of home buyers, what kinds of eco-friendly projects should you focus on? HomeSelfe, an app that allows home owners to do a DIY energy audit of their homes, offers this handy infographic based on their research about what efficient features buyers want and where sellers should focus their energy, so to speak.

Commercial Broker Uses Drone to Deliver Listing Agreement to Client

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 14:13

You’d probably send a listing agreement to your client by email or give it to them in person. But Russ Russell, ALC, CCIM, broker-owner of Russ Russell Commercial Real Estate in Huntsville, Ala., decided to deliver one by drone.

In the video above, Russell sends the agreement to his client, Army Commander Dean Anderson of a local Veterans of Foreign War post, which is now up for sale, by rolling the agreement up into a tube, securing it on a drone, and flying the drone six miles from Russell’s office to the VFW post. The drone lands safely in front of Anderson, who is waiting at the post to grab the listing agreement, sign it, and send it back into the air.

Russell’s inventive deployment of his listing agreement comes at an appropriate time: The Federal Aviation Authority finalized its long-awaited rule for commercial drone use Tuesday, a move the National Association of REALTORS® supports. The rule, which takes effect in August, will clear the way for the real estate industry to start investing in drone technology for listing photos and videos, among other purposes. Russell’s video was filmed June 6 — on D-Day, to commemorate his military clients — and he used a professional drone operator who had a waiver from the FAA at the time allowing for the use of the drone.

Russell claims this is the first instance of a real estate professional delivering a listing agreement by drone.

“We are a military city — we’ve got a 38,000-acre military arsenal that drives our economics — there are a lot of drones and drone research being done here, and I wanted to be on the cutting edge of this technology,” Russell says, explaining his motivation behind making his video. “I just create things. I’ve been doing it all my life.”

Slower Growth But Solid Financing Options

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 13:00

NAR Commercial Research Economic and Regulatory Update. June 2016

Sales of high-end properties in major markets are seeing a slowdown while smaller projects in secondary markets remain strong. NAR Analyst George Ratiu provides an economic update while Stephanie Spear of NAR Government Affairs shares new financing options you should know about.

Agent Turns Online Marketing Videos Into Comedy Sketches

Fri, 06/17/2016 - 15:59

Terry Waggoner, sales associate at F.C. Tucker Company in Indianapolis, has quite the sense of humor. The real estate agent is applying his aptitude for comedy toward his business, creating funny open-house videos for Facebook and YouTube to draw laughs — and visitors. In a recent video, above, Waggoner plays both the agent and the home shopper at a mock open house at one of his listings. The video, titled “How to Attend an Open House,” is filmed in a silent movie format, and his over-the-top facial expressions do all the explaining (aside from a little narration). Waggoner hit a nerve — or, rather, a funny bone — with his audience when he shared the video on Facebook, where it has garnered 19,000 views as of Friday.

Waggoner posted another comedic video in January called “Don’t Be Weak,” hilariously encouraging buyers to venture out in the dead of winter — and in piles of snow — to his open house. See that video below.

Teamwork: It’s OK for Individual Agents to Ask for Help

Fri, 06/10/2016 - 12:26

You know a prospect will move on quickly if you don’t respond to their query in a timely fashion. But when you’re an individual agent juggling multiple clients, listings, marketing initiatives, and everything else that comes along with maintaining your own business, it’s hard to find the time to be on-call at all hours for potential clients. This is where having an assistant or a team of people supporting you can be crucial to capturing new business.

But your mentality may need to change. Stop thinking that because prospects are calling for your services, it means you have to be the one to answer every call, says Craig Hogan, vice president of luxury marketing at Coldwell Banker. The point is that prospects need to make contact with someone who can hear their needs and concerns right away, and a member of your team can be that stand-in until you’re available.

Hogan was talking in the context of servicing high-income clients, people who often have a team of their own — attorneys, consultants, event planners, personal assistants — managing different aspects of their lives. People like that expect a “Ritz-Carlton level of service,” Hogan says, which often requires supporting team members on your side to achieve. His advice isn’t exclusive to high-end agents. It can be applied to anyone in the real estate business. “Customers understand that it’s not just you making the magic happen,” Hogan says. “A great team that gels and gets things done is so much better.

“You want your people to have people,” he adds, explaining that clients often feel more comfortable when they know you have a team of people working on their behalf.

Your clients know they aren’t the only one you’re working with, but they still want the feeling of having your full attention. That can be translated by having one or more support staff who can take calls and answer emails from prospects on your behalf when you can’t, he says. So don’t feel like you have to handle the pressure of managing everything yourself. Get some help, and learn to hand some of the your day-to-day responsibilities off to someone else.

Live Webcast: Year-Round Tax Tips for Real Estate Professionals

Fri, 06/10/2016 - 11:09

April 15 may come around just once a year, but for anyone who runs their own business, tax season never ends. From preparing and filing estimated taxes to keeping records and understanding the nuances of deductions, taxes are complex and require regular attention.

REALTOR® Magazine will host a live webcast on Thursday, June 23, 2016, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern time, that will focus on steps REALTORS® can take throughout the year to make sure they’re prepared when it’s time to file their tax return. Panelists will include Peter Baker of Business Planning Group in Washington, D.C., and Linda de Marlor of Tax-Masters, Inc., Rockville, Md. Register.