January 17, 2017

Speaking of Real Estate

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Updated: 24 min 20 sec ago

Live Webcast: Using a Reverse Mortgage to Buy a Home

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 15:07

Reverse mortgages, also known as home equity conversion mortgages (HECMs), can be used to help seniors finance the purchase of a home in addition to their traditional purpose of enabling people to borrow against the equity in a property where they already live.

Learn about when and for whom this tool may be appropriate in a live webcast hosted by NAR on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 2 p.m. Eastern time.


  • Scott Trembley, CEO of The Trembley Group, a real estate firm in Myrtle Beach, S.C., that handles home purchases with HECMs
  • Frank McInerney, a loan specialist with Reverse Mortgage Funding in Bloomfield, N.J.


  • Jon Boughtin, NAR Communications


How Will You Make Your Mark in 2017?

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 09:48

Credit: Morguefile.com/GaborfromHungary

Here we are at the beginning of a new year once again, and you’re probably already thinking about how to make 2017 even better than 2016. But let’s take a minute and appreciate the great work you did last year. It was definitely a big year for real estate, and we asked real estate professionals to share the moments they were most proud of in the business in 2016. The question is how will you follow it up with even bigger accomplishments in 2017? Take a look at some of your colleagues’ biggest achievements in 2016, and tell us your own story in the comments section below.

Love and Real Estate

In searching for a date, I encountered a woman with whom I shared similar interests: live concerts, movies, eating healthy, and enjoying each other’s company. As we got to know each other, we discovered that we both were in real estate; she is a rental property owner, and I specialize in residential property management. I helped her divest her inventory and replace them with higher-quality rentals, as well as get the management accounts for the properties. We now share the same household together! —Norbert Huston, GRI, Huston Associates Real Estate, Stockton, Calif.

Back to Where It All Started

This year I was blessed with a heartwarming sale. I had the opportunity to sell a generational homestead back to its original family. It had ended up as an REO with the last owners (non-family members), and my clients called up wanting to see it. I had to tell them it was already under contract, but they begged and I relented. While I was showing the home, I heard whispers among my clients: “Remember when you fell in the creek, Dad?” That’s when they told me their story and how much they wished they were able to repurchase their family home. With a wish and a prayer, I called the listing agent and asked her to please allow us first dibs if the current sale contract were to fall through. The listing agent said it was a pretty solid deal, but she’d let us know. The following Tuesday, the deal miraculously fell through, allowing my clients the opportunity to buy back their memories. It was a very touching sale and one that reminds me every day what a wonderful profession real estate can be. —Jacklyn Leber, e-PRO®, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Montana Properties, Twin Bridges, Mont.

Proving Her Professional Worth

I got a seller $30,000 more for her home than she was asking as a FSBO. —Kathleen Marie Stansfield, GRI, Exit King Realty, Venice, Fla.

Balancing Priorities

I was an NAR regional vice president and still had a record year for sales and profit. —Joe Pryor, CRS, e-PRO®, The Virtual Real Estate Team, Oklahoma City

A Win for Everyone

My proudest moment was when I worked out an occupancy between my seller and a woman in her 70s going through a divorce. He needed to have a means of income, and she needed to have a place to live right away. The transaction closed about five months later. I felt I delivered on my duties to all parties. —Don Day, SFR, Diamond Realty & Associates, Bossier City, La.

Overcoming Complex Challenges

I completed a transaction that included an appraisal that came in $65,000 low, a lengthy temporary lease for the buyer, acreage that had to be reallocated and resurveyed, and a chicken coop full of chickens! It was an extremely complex transaction, but with the right attitude and a spirit of cooperation, the other agent and I were able to successfully close this transaction. I’m counting this as my big win for 2016. —Dana Johnson Williams, GRI, RE/MAX ONE, Beaumont, Texas

What was your biggest accomplishment in 2016? Share your achievements in the comments section below.

Important Tax Provisions Still Available for 2016 Tax Year

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 09:37

The following status update on mortgage debt cancellation relief, an important federal tax issue for homeowners, is written by Jon Boughtin of NAR Media.

The 114th Congress recessed in early December without completing work on a so-called “tax extenders” package needed to continue important tax breaks for real estate. This included tax relief for the cancellation of mortgage debt, as well as the deduction for mortgage insurance premiums.

Mortgage debt cancellation relief is important for underwater homeowners who, without the provision, would be taxed on mortgage debt forgiven in a short sale. Mortgage insurance premium deductions, likewise, are helpful for a large number of homeowners, particularly first time homebuyers, who lack a 20 percent downpayment when purchasing their home.

The National Association of Realtors® advocated for a tax-extenders package that would extend both of these provisions into 2017, but Congress adjourned without taking further action.

Although these provisions expired at the end of 2016, there is a misconception that they are unavailable to homeowners for the 2016 tax year. Both the mortgage debt cancellation provision and the mortgage insurance premium deduction are available to homeowners filing their 2016 taxes this year.

Further work is required in Congress to extend these provisions into 2017, and NAR is supportive of those efforts.

You can learn more about this issue at NAR.REALTOR.Jon Boughtin, NAR Media

10 Articles You Found Most Useful in 2016

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 08:00

We at REALTOR® Magazine are always looking for tips and insights into the real estate business to share with you in hopes of improving your odds of success. This year, we hit a nerve with a few interesting stories covering topics such as verbal missteps with clients, social media posts that could land you in hot water ethically, and underlying tensions between brokers and team leaders, among others. These 10 features were the most popular on our website in 2016; did they help you learn something about your business?

7 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Clients
Sometimes, real estate agents’ tongues get ahead of their brains. Here are some client scenarios to approach with tact and diplomacy to keep your business relationship on track.

5 Things Prospects Can’t Say No To
People instinctively turn you down when you offer them your service. Work in these phrases when communicating with prospects to get them to “yes” faster.

Social Media Posts That Get You In Trouble
It’s often misunderstood how the Code of Ethics extends to your online conduct. What you wouldn’t say or do in front of someone, you also shouldn’t do on social media.

5 Things Every Real Estate Pro Should Fear
These wicked marketing tactics are nightmares for your business. Here’s how to avoid spooking clients and killing your future success.

Trends That’ll Influence Homes in 2016
Help your buyers and sellers learn what’s new on the residential front to meet their own needs as well as the desires of future buyers.

What Are Your Team Leaders Not Telling You?
Office dynamics can be tricky where sales teams are concerned. Team leaders offer brokers these thoughts on how to reduce frustrations.

7 Sins of Personal Branding
Your personal brand influences how you want others to feel about you. If your photos, logos, and other elements aren’t executed right, it could harm your reputation.

Are You Too Nice For Your Own Good?
We’re taught to be kind to everyone, but that means keeping your guard down against potential predators. To stay safe, adapt your nature to a more dangerous world.

6 Steps for New Agents to Succeed Long-Term
Do these things at the beginning of your career, and you’ll set yourself up to build a business that will last well into the future.

Do You Know Your Emoji Etiquette?
Emojis are becoming commonplace in professional communications, but know when they are and aren’t appropriate to use with your clients.

Families Can Get $11,000 More In Loan Funds

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 14:37

Interest rates are inching up and credit can still be hard to get but there is one bright spot for households hoping to buy a home soon: they can get a larger loan now, thanks to recent loan-limit increases for both conforming loans and loans backed by FHA.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) increased the conforming loan limit a few weeks ago, for the first time in 10 years, and it’s now at $424,100 in most markets, up from $417,000.

That increase didn’t come about by chance. Among other things, the agency last year heard from NAR on making the limits more responsive to changes in market conditions. “NAR encouraged them to use a number of factors that would create the most favorable result in all communities nationwide and did in fact result in an increase in loan limits,” says Megan Booth, an NAR regulatory policy representative.

As a result of that increase, FHA loan limits will also be going up, because those limits are set as a percentage of the conforming limit. Starting in 2017, borrowers in high-cost areas will be able to get loans as high as $636,150, almost $11,000 more than what they can get this year. That increase is expected to make a big difference for households trying to buy in major metro areas like Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington.

Details of the new loan limits are covered in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR. Also covered are remarks by Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) on why it’s crucial that lawmakers do no harm to housing next year should Congress take up tax reform and reform of the secondary mortgage market companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Despite being on opposite sides of the aisle, both lawmakers said residential real estate is too important to the health of the U.S. economy for any changes to disrupt home sales. That means lawmakers must tread lightly as they look at whether long-time tax incentives for homeownership, like the mortgage interest deduction, should be touched. It also means any changes to Fannie and Freddie mustn’t reduce investor interest in mortgage-backed securities. “I think [low interest rates on 30-year, fixed rate loans] go away if we don’t have a government insurance program,” Sherman said at a meeting NAR hosted last week with S&P Global on the state of homeownership.

The video also includes remarks by NAR President Bill Brown on the nomination of neurosurgeon Ben Carson to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and what to expect in home sales in 2017. Access the video.


REALTORS® Get In On the Mannequin Challenge

Mon, 12/12/2016 - 13:28

For those who haven’t heard, the Mannequin Challenge, an online video challenge where people freeze in place to enact a still scene while someone takes a video of it, went viral in the last couple of months. The challenge, which started with teens capturing moments of adolescent life, has grown in popularity among people of all ages — and now real estate professionals are even joining the fun.

Members of the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® went stiff for the challenge during the Triple Play REALTOR® Convention & Trade Expo in Atlantic City, N.J., earlier this month. The idea to take part in the online challenge came from Jesicca Skoloda, YPN chair for the Luzerne County Association of REALTORS®. Check out PAR’s video above. Think your association could do better?

Financial Countdown: 3 Budgeting Secrets for 2017

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 09:51

REALTOR® Magazine is promoting a sponsor webinar on the future of property management. Below is text provided by the sponsor, AppFolio, about the event.

“This is it: the end of 2016 is almost here. As we look at the future of property management, it’s clear that you need an accurate picture of your business’s financials and a solid plan for growth. Join AppFolio Project Director Stacy Holden for a comprehensive (and guaranteed to be entertaining) session on the basics of strategic budgeting, so that you can maximize your profits by knowing where to spend.

Register for our free 60 minute webinar on Thursday, December 8 at 11:00 AM PST / 2:00 PM EST to learn more about:

“Analyzing competitive data for your area
Calculating your Total Effective Rent
Pricing your units for optimal profitability
Assessing and improving your accounting toolbox
… and more!

“This event is brought to you by AppFolio, providers of cloud-based property management software. This webinar is also promoted with the assistance of Realtor Magazine.”