Monday
June 27, 2016

Speaking of Real Estate

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Updated: 14 weeks 5 days ago

Real Estate to Benefit as Internet Access Taxes End

Mon, 03/14/2016 - 07:56

Ten states today levy what are known as Internet access taxes. That might come as a surprise to many people, since the taxes are largely invisible. They’re levied on companies like Verizon and Comcast, the Internet service providers (ISP) that manage the infrastructure through which Internet traffic flows. These companies pass the taxes on to consumers in the form of higher fees.

Back in 1998, Congress limited the taxes to just the 10 states—Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin—by passing the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

Since then, Congress has gone back and reauthorized the law every few years, because the original ban was only temporary.

That will change now. Congress just a few weeks ago passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, and, as the name implies, the law makes further bans unnecessary. What’s more, the 10 states that levy the taxes will have to stop by June 30, 2020.

NAR has been one of the biggest advocates for making the ban permanent and ending the taxes because of the importance of the Internet to the industry.

The win is a top story in the latest Voice for Real Estate news program. The video also looks at what real estate professionals can do from a risk management standpoint to limit their liability for photo copyright infringement. This has become a major issue in real estate because of the ubiquity of property photos online. What do you do if a copyrighted photo shows up on your website through a feed or by other means? If you’re found in violation of someone’s copyright, the penalty can be big: as much as $150,000.

But there’s good news here. A law has been on the books for some time that provides liability protection. But you have to put a process in place to make it work. The video talks about that process.

Another story looks at NAR’s latest contract signings numbers. They’re down a bit, but NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun doesn’t think the dip signifies much, given how weak economies around the world are right now. The weak economies have dampened the U.S. economy, and yet people are still out there signing contracts at a strong pace. Contract signings are holding up remarkably well, he says.

The video also looks at an upcoming international real estate conference in Cannes, France. NAR and eight associations of REALTORS® are hosting a big booth at the conference to boost the interest of investors around the world in U.S. commercial and residential properties. About 100 real estate professionals from around the country are going, too, to make connections with investors in other countries.

Watch the video.

NAR Speakers Represent Both Sides of Political Aisle

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 13:51

From NAR Public Affairs:

A March 7 article in Inman News alleges that the real estate industry is behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton more than any other presidential candidate.

The article cites NAR’s support of, and invitation to, Secretary Clinton to speak to REALTORS® at the 2013 REALTOR® Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

The article would benefit from more context. The association strives to select General Session speakers who play an important role in shaping our country’s public policy discourse, and NAR invited Secretary Clinton to share her experiences serving our country as First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State. Her remarks followed a long line of similar NAR speakers over the years, including former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and General Colin Powell.

Expenses associated with hosting the Secretary were covered by conference registration fees; no member dues were used to support her speech.

As the Inman article asserts, throughout her career, Clinton has been a friend to REALTORS®, and she championed several important real estate initiatives during her time as the U.S. senator from New York, for which she received REALTOR® support.

She was the lead Democrat sponsor of the Community Choice in Real Estate Act, which sought to permanently prohibit banks from engaging in real estate brokerage, during several congressional sessions. She also introduced legislation to enable homebuyers in high cost of living areas to take advantage of Federal Housing Administration loan programs through increased loan limits. These were top legislative priorities for REALTORS®.

In addition to support for Sen. Clinton, the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) has also made contributions to Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for their congressional re-election efforts.

RPAC’s mission is to identify candidates for elected office who will work with REALTORS® to promote and protect the American Dream of home and property ownership, and it has supported many candidates in that endeavor. In the 2014 congressional elections, RPAC supported 457 candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

The REALTOR® Party supports candidates of both parties; it is recognized as the most bipartisan PAC in the country with disbursements nearly evenly divided between the two political parties’ candidates. At the same time, the association does not endorse presidential candidates.

More on NAR’s political involvement at the national level is available at Realtoractioncenter.com

This post is from NAR Public Affairs. 

NAR Speakers Represent Both Sides of Political Aisle

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 13:51

From NAR Public Affairs:

A March 7 article in Inman News alleges that the real estate industry is behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton more than any other presidential candidate.

The article cites NAR’s support of, and invitation to, Secretary Clinton to speak to REALTORS® at the 2013 REALTOR® Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

The article would benefit from more context. The association strives to select General Session speakers who play an important role in shaping our country’s public policy discourse, and NAR invited Secretary Clinton to share her experiences serving our country as First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State. Her remarks followed a long line of similar NAR speakers over the years, including former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and General Colin Powell.

Expenses associated with hosting the Secretary were covered by conference registration fees; no member dues were used to support her speech.

As the Inman article asserts, throughout her career, Clinton has been a friend to REALTORS®, and she championed several important real estate initiatives during her time as the U.S. senator from New York, for which she received REALTOR® support.

She was the lead Democrat sponsor of the Community Choice in Real Estate Act, which sought to permanently prohibit banks from engaging in real estate brokerage, during several congressional sessions. She also introduced legislation to enable homebuyers in high cost of living areas to take advantage of Federal Housing Administration loan programs through increased loan limits. These were top legislative priorities for REALTORS®.

In addition to support for Sen. Clinton, the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) has also made contributions to Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for their congressional re-election efforts.

RPAC’s mission is to identify candidates for elected office who will work with REALTORS® to promote and protect the American Dream of home and property ownership, and it has supported many candidates in that endeavor. In the 2014 congressional elections, RPAC supported 457 candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

The REALTOR® Party supports candidates of both parties; it is recognized as the most bipartisan PAC in the country with disbursements nearly evenly divided between the two political parties’ candidates. At the same time, the association does not endorse presidential candidates.

More on NAR’s political involvement at the national level is available at Realtoractioncenter.com

This post is from NAR Public Affairs. 

Does DIY Apply to Buying a House? Young People Might Think So

Mon, 02/29/2016 - 17:15

One of the side effects of digital communication is it can make people slow to get out from behind their screens to talk to someone face-to-face. Maybe you’ve noticed it with people you know, particularly young people who’ve grown up with technology.

Research conducted for NAR last year found that young people experience a high level of anxiety when it comes time to move from online home shopping to talking to a real estate professional. As long as they’re gathering information on their phone, tablet, or laptop, they’re fine. But as soon as they want to talk to someone in the business, they find themselves outside of their comfort zone. That’s an interesting finding from a sociological standpoint, but from a business standout, it’s a problem.

That’s why NAR did something different this year with its national ad campaign. Instead of focusing on the benefits of home ownership or why now is a good time to buy, it focused on this tension-point for young people. It did this in two ways: First, it designed content that speaks directly to people who are comfortable gathering information online but less so picking up the phone. Second, it designed a digital-first strategy for placing ads. That means focusing on what people see on their phones, tablets, and laptop and putting less emphasis on what they see on their TVs.

Traditional media like TV, radio, and print remain important, but because young people live their lives online, the campaign places a new emphasis on the digital side.

NAR’s ideas behind the ad campaign are explored in The Voice for Real Estate, NAR’s news video. The video also looks at an effort that is gaining ground to let veterans using federally backed, zero-down financing buy their house without having to worry about loan caps. Right now, VA loans are capped based on market area. That makes it hard for veterans to buy a house that costs more than $477,000. That amount goes far in many markets but there are also markets where that doesn’t even reach the median home price.

In good news, the House passed a bill that would eliminate loan caps for VA loans. That’s a move NAR supports, and now the Senate needs to act on it.

NAR played a role in getting the House to pass the bill. A REALTOR® from the Orlando area in Florida recommended changes to the loan caps in testimony before a VA subcommittee, and lawmakers heard the recommendations loud and clear.

The video also looks at an interesting development in commercial real estate finance. Real estate professionals say loans for most property types in most markets remain very difficult to get. The only real bright spots are multifamily loans, which benefit from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantees. But office, industrial, and retail loans remain a tough sell, especially in secondary and tertiary markets. And yet some federal regulators are saying commercial lending is getting too loose.

It’s a disconnect that NAR is watching closely, and the video reports on that as well.

It also looks at another interesting issue: airplane landing patterns. The Federal Aviation Administration wants airlines to use a single landing pattern if an airplane has to land with one engine not working. That would mark a change from what happens today. Right now, airlines set their own landing path based on the type of plane and other data.

For NAR, safety is the crucial issue. It’s joined a big coalition asking the FAA to put the matter through the regular rule-writing process, which allows for public input. That’s not the approach the FAA has taken up to this point. Should the FAA prevail without input, some developments that have already been approved could be affected—and there’s no way to look at the data the FAA is using to base its action on.

Access more on all of these developments in The Voice for Real Estate.

Does DIY Apply to Buying a House? Young People Might Think So

Mon, 02/29/2016 - 17:15

One of the side effects of digital communication is it can make people slow to get out from behind their screens to talk to someone face-to-face. Maybe you’ve noticed it with people you know, particularly young people who’ve grown up with technology.

Research conducted for NAR last year found that young people experience a high level of anxiety when it comes time to move from online home shopping to talking to a real estate professional. As long as they’re gathering information on their phone, tablet, or laptop, they’re fine. But as soon as they want to talk to someone in the business, they find themselves outside of their comfort zone. That’s an interesting finding from a sociological standpoint, but from a business standout, it’s a problem.

That’s why NAR did something different this year with its national ad campaign. Instead of focusing on the benefits of home ownership or why now is a good time to buy, it focused on this tension-point for young people. It did this in two ways: First, it designed content that speaks directly to people who are comfortable gathering information online but less so picking up the phone. Second, it designed a digital-first strategy for placing ads. That means focusing on what people see on their phones, tablets, and laptop and putting less emphasis on what they see on their TVs.

Traditional media like TV, radio, and print remain important, but because young people live their lives online, the campaign places a new emphasis on the digital side.

NAR’s ideas behind the ad campaign are explored in The Voice for Real Estate, NAR’s news video. The video also looks at an effort that is gaining ground to let veterans using federally backed, zero-down financing buy their house without having to worry about loan caps. Right now, VA loans are capped based on market area. That makes it hard for veterans to buy a house that costs more than $417,000. That amount goes far in many markets but there are also markets where that doesn’t even reach the median home price.

In good news, the House passed a bill that would eliminate loan caps for VA loans. That’s a move NAR supports, and now the Senate needs to act on it.

NAR played a role in getting the House to pass the bill. A REALTOR® from the Orlando area in Florida recommended changes to the loan caps in testimony before a VA subcommittee, and lawmakers heard the recommendations loud and clear.

The video also looks at an interesting development in commercial real estate finance. Real estate professionals say loans for most property types in most markets remain very difficult to get. The only real bright spots are multifamily loans, which benefit from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantees. But office, industrial, and retail loans remain a tough sell, especially in secondary and tertiary markets. And yet some federal regulators are saying commercial lending is getting too loose.

It’s a disconnect that NAR is watching closely, and the video reports on that as well.

It also looks at another interesting issue: airplane landing patterns. The Federal Aviation Administration wants airlines to use a single landing pattern if an airplane has to land with one engine not working. That would mark a change from what happens today. Right now, airlines set their own landing path based on the type of plane and other data.

For NAR, safety is the crucial issue. It’s joined a big coalition asking the FAA to put the matter through the regular rule-writing process, which allows for public input. That’s not the approach the FAA has taken up to this point. Should the FAA prevail without input, some developments that have already been approved could be affected—and there’s no way to look at the data the FAA is using to base its action on.

Access more on all of these developments in The Voice for Real Estate.

Which Markets are Best For Building Apartments This Year?

Mon, 02/29/2016 - 15:50

Sponsor webinar

Rick Wilson

Analyst Rick Wilson of Axiometrics will be giving his take on good places to build apartments in a webinar on Thursday, March 24, at 2 p.m., Eastern Time.

Wilson will also be sharing his thoughts on markets that will be attracting jobs and younger households, whether apartments should be built in the suburbs or urban areas, and where he sees rents heading.

He’ll also share his three- and five-year forecasts to help with planning for real estate professionals who specialize in apartments.

The webinar is free and is sponsored by AppFolio, providers of web-based property management software. REALTOR® Magazine believes the market forecasts will be useful to its readers and is passing along information about the webinar, but its promotional efforts do not constitute an endorsement of the content.

Register. 

Past AppFolio webinars:

Improving Your Digital Marketing Strategy.

Converting Tenant Prospects. 

 

 

Which Markets are Best For Building Apartments This Year?

Mon, 02/29/2016 - 15:50

Sponsor webinar

Rick Wilson

Analyst Rick Wilson of Axiometrics will be giving his take on good places to build apartments in a webinar on Thursday, March 24, at 2 p.m., Eastern Time.

Wilson will also be sharing his thoughts on markets that will be attracting jobs and younger households, whether apartments should be built in the suburbs or urban areas, and where he sees rents heading.

He’ll also share his three- and five-year forecasts to help with planning for real estate professionals who specialize in apartments.

The webinar is free and is sponsored by AppFolio, providers of web-based property management software. REALTOR® Magazine believes the market forecasts will be useful to its readers and is passing along information about the webinar, but its promotional efforts do not constitute an endorsement of the content.

Register.

Past AppFolio webinars:

Improving Your Digital Marketing Strategy.

Converting Tenant Prospects. 

 

 

Why Did That Agent Send You a 1099?

Wed, 02/10/2016 - 15:53

Did an agent at another brokerage send you an IRS 1099-MISC form? If you received a referral fee or shared commission last year that was for more than $600, you might have received a 1099 from the other agent. Receiving a 1099 from the agent isn’t a new requirement, but NAR attorneys say they get questions every year about this at tax time. You’ll want to check with your accountant on anything having to do with taxes, but as a general matter, even if the settlement agent is the one that disbursed the commissions at the close of the transaction, the money is still technically coming from the other agent, and so it’s that agent’s job to send out the 1099 form.

You can get more on this in the latest Voice for Real Estate. The news video also looks at what’s appropriate and what’s not when it comes to “coming soon” listings. NAR General Counsel Katie Johnson says “coming soon” is probably okay if no agents can show the house, but if agents at the listing brokerage are showing it while no one else can, it could be a violation of the NAR Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Other stories look at the effort of lawmakers to make FHA condo financing easier to get. The House last week passed a bill that would allow a person to buy a condo unit with FHA financing even if only 35 percent of the units are owner-occupied. That would be a big drop from the current requirement of 50 percent minimum owner-occupancy in the project. On commercial real estate, the video looks at a report just out by NAR, Deloitte, and RERC/Situs and that says all major commercial sectors will see gains this year but they’ll be far more modest than they were last year.

Watch the video. 

 

 

8 of the Best Insights from Real Estate Superstars

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 15:26

Real estate experts at Inman Connect share their best tips and tricks of the trade.

Over the course of the Inman Connect conference, there have been a number of quotable soundbites from powerhouse speakers from across country. Of course, it’s hard to fit them all into the content we’ve been bringing you from the scene in New York, so here are eight quotes from the speakers meant to help you think about how to spin your business forward. Some of them are smart business tips, some pontificate about the future of technology, and others are simply inspirational.

I have 4.5 stars instead of 5, and people tell me that makes me look more believable and real.
–Jill Biggs, sales associate at Coldwell Banker in Hoboken, N.J., on why a bad customer review doesn’t necessarily impact your business negatively

We talked about Redfin and their value proposition and if they’re a threat to the market, and we found that talking about the disruptors demystifies them and allows us to focus on our own value proposition. We were able to create vocabulary around our core values.
–Thaddeus Wong, co-founder of @properties in Chicago, on how brokers can use competition to create culture in their companies

If there’s a piece of technology that’s so important to you, you probably shouldn’t rely on the vendor to offer the education. You want someone in your business who has used it and can educate from first-hand experience. Provide training at the agent’s level.
–John De Souza, president of Cressy & Everett Real Estate in South Bend, Ind.

It is impossible to be ready because ‘ready’ means you’re sure it’s going to work. You’re in the business of experimenting.
–Seth Godin, marketing expert and author, on how marketing to niche groups can net practitioners more business

There are a lot of lists out there about the top 250 agents and so on. A consumer can’t choose an agent based on just productivity. What agents need to do is go out and tell stories of their success. We too often just put a number out there.
–Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

The narrower your niche gets, the more successful you become because those people feel like you were sent to serve them.
–Marguerite Giguere, sales associate at Windermere Real Estate in Tacoma, Wash.

When you say, ‘I’m too busy,’ that just means, ‘I don’t think that’s important enough for the time that I have.’
–Leigh Brown, ABR, CRS, broker-manager of RE/MAX Executive Realty in Concord, N.C., on why professionals should be more willing to help each other rather than criticize each others’ mistakes

Real estate is going to be profoundly affected by on-demand services. Your home becomes even more important in the on-demand era. It’s not just about delivering meals. It changes the home experience because how you travel and live changes dramatically.
–Kara Swisher, executive editor of technology news site Re/code, on what real estate can learn from services like Amazon Prime

Press the ‘Ignore’ Button

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 13:26

Morguefile.com

In between sessions at the Inman Connect conference in New York, everyone’s on their phones in the hallways. They’re bound to be conducting business in one way or another. If I know real estate people, they’re checking messages, sending contracts, and negotiating deals in what free time they have. But now in the third day of the conference, I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve seen over the last few days put their phone to their ear and actually talk.

We all know technology has changed the way we communicate, and we don’t have to be face-to-face or talk on the phone to get things done. But it’s not about whether you have to; it’s about whether you should, even if you don’t have to. Practitioners constantly make the point that this business is built on relationships, so I would have expected to see more attendees step out to make a quick phone call — to make a personal connection to someone who’s relying on them back home. But instead, they’re texting, scrolling, tweeting, or doing whatever else the whole time. If they are, in fact, doing business from their seats, it speaks volumes to how they choose to connect to their clients.

I don’t mean to sound accusatory. Technology has made real estate an amazingly efficient business in many respects, and practitioners have been wise to take advantage of that. But, man, it’s a sign of the times when all these real estate folks — some of the most social people I know — can go days on end without talking on the phone. Doesn’t anyone — especially a client — need a voice on the other end of the line anymore?

Leigh Brown mentioned having the same observation when she spoke at Inman Connect on Wednesday. “There are things in real estate that don’t change despite technology: Those who hustle succeed,” she said. “They pick up the phone and call people. I’ve seen only a handful of people doing that in the hallway. People are allergic to their phones.” (She meant talking on their phones.)

To be fair, it’s not just the younger crowd I see operating in this manner. Yes, attendees at Inman Connect skew younger, but there are a fair number of older practitioners here, too. And they’re all texting instead of talking.

For all I know, they could be going back to their hotel rooms at the end of the day and spending hours making phone calls and catching up with clients, friends, and family. But I doubt it. It’s become easier to stay connected in a disconnected way, and to some extent, we’re all guilty of it. But this conference has provided a moment for me to reflect on how so many of us have made convenience the priority in the way we operate. And I’m not going to press the “ignore” button on that.

Press the ‘Ignore’ Button

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 13:26

Morguefile.com

In between sessions at the Inman Connect conference in New York, everyone’s on their phones in the hallways. They’re bound to be conducting business in one way or another. If I know real estate people, they’re checking messages, sending contracts, and negotiating deals in what free time they have. But now in the third day of the conference, I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve seen over the last few days put their phone to their ear and actually talk.

We all know technology has changed the way we communicate, and we don’t have to be face-to-face or talk on the phone to get things done. But it’s not about whether you have to; it’s about whether you should, even if you don’t have to. Practitioners constantly make the point that this business is built on relationships, so I would have expected to see more attendees step out to make a quick phone call — to make a personal connection to someone who’s relying on them back home. But instead, they’re texting, scrolling, tweeting, or doing whatever else the whole time. If they are, in fact, doing business from their seats, it speaks volumes to how they choose to connect to their clients.

I don’t mean to sound accusatory. Technology has made real estate an amazingly efficient business in many respects, and practitioners have been wise to take advantage of that. But, man, it’s a sign of the times when all these real estate folks — some of the most social people I know — can go days on end without talking on the phone. Doesn’t anyone — especially a client — need a voice on the other end of the line anymore?

Leigh Brown mentioned having the same observation when she spoke at Inman Connect on Wednesday. “There are things in real estate that don’t change despite technology: Those who hustle succeed,” she said. “They pick up the phone and call people. I’ve seen only a handful of people doing that in the hallway. People are allergic to their phones.” (She meant talking on their phones.)

To be fair, it’s not just the younger crowd I see operating in this manner. Yes, attendees at Inman Connect skew younger, but there are a fair number of older practitioners here, too. And they’re all texting instead of talking.

For all I know, they could be going back to their hotel rooms at the end of the day and spending hours making phone calls and catching up with clients, friends, and family. But I doubt it. It’s become easier to stay connected in a disconnected way, and to some extent, we’re all guilty of it. But this conference has provided a moment for me to reflect on how so many of us have made convenience the priority in the way we operate. And I’m not going to press the “ignore” button on that.

Is Anyone Getting Tech Fatigue?

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 11:24

The showroom floor at Inman Connect.

For a conference that partially serves as a launching pad for new innovations in the real estate industry, there’s a sense at Inman Connect this year that someone needs to push the pause button on the rapid technological shifts taking over the industry.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of new tools being presented here that sincerely promise to simplify the real estate process for both the agent and consumer, with the emphasis heavily on the evolving app world rather than gadgetry. But much of the discussion around forward-looking tech is focusing on the evolution of things like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and how on-demand services could impact real estate in the future — things we won’t see come to full fruition for another 10 to 20 years or even longer. In the past, a lot of tech presented at Inman Connect had more imminent implications for the industry. There’s this feeling right now that, hey, the industry has been through a lot of change and much more is coming, but let’s just take a breather for a minute.

In sessions with team leaders and brokers, they talk about how they’ve created culture, and instilling a sense of technical know-how by offering cutting-edge tools and education is definitely a part of that. But many of them have been vague about the specific tools they use and more detailed about how they encourage agents to find their place in a brand and uphold the values of customer service. It’s not that the tech piece of the puzzle is somehow losing importance — I think everyone can agree it’s as important as ever. But the industry has been talking about it so much lately that there’s a danger we’re glossing over what is still the most valuable part of working with a real estate agent: the relationship aspect. And I think people here at Inman are trying to do their part to remind their peers of that.

There have even been somewhat contentious moments around tech talk that haven’t been well-received by the audience. Thursday morning, Kara Swisher, executive editor of technology news site Re/code, was talking about AI when she mentioned its potential ability to replace real estate agents in the future. That inspired more than a few murmurs in the crowd. (To be fair, though, Swisher was one of the more engaging speakers overall and earned points when Brad Inman said Rupert Murdoch had been sitting in her chair last year. “Did you clean it?” she said, followed by an uproar of laughter from the audience.)

The showroom floor, where there are booths for a few stalwart tech ventures along with many newcomers, has also seemed to have lighter traffic this year, too. It’s definitely had its traffic peaks, but I’m seeing more conference attendees stopping in the hallway to talk to each other than vendors.

Some bright minds in the industry have been warning professionals for a while now not to run wild with every new innovation they come across. It’s bad for their wallet and potentially bad for business if they’re constantly adding new technology layers to their routine. I think we’re seeing the tech hangover set in now. We all know practitioners like to party it up when they go away to conferences. But I don’t think the slight sluggishness I’m sensing from the crowds here at Inman Connect is because they went out drinking too late the night before.

Is Anyone Getting Tech Fatigue?

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 11:24

The showroom floor at Inman Connect.

For a conference that partially serves as a launching pad for new innovations in the real estate industry, there’s a sense at Inman Connect this year that someone needs to push the pause button on the rapid technological shifts taking over the industry.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of new tools being presented here that sincerely promise to simplify the real estate process for both the agent and consumer, with the emphasis heavily on the evolving app world rather than gadgetry. But much of the discussion around forward-looking tech is focusing on the evolution of things like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and how on-demand services could impact real estate in the future — things we won’t see come to full fruition for another 10 to 20 years or even longer. In the past, a lot of tech presented at Inman Connect had more imminent implications for the industry. There’s this feeling right now that, hey, the industry has been through a lot of change and much more is coming, but let’s just take a breather for a minute.

In sessions with team leaders and brokers, they talk about how they’ve created culture, and instilling a sense of technical know-how by offering cutting-edge tools and education is definitely a part of that. But many of them have been vague about the specific tools they use and more detailed about how they encourage agents to find their place in a brand and uphold the values of customer service. It’s not that the tech piece of the puzzle is somehow losing importance — I think everyone can agree it’s as important as ever. But the industry has been talking about it so much lately that there’s a danger we’re glossing over what is still the most valuable part of working with a real estate agent: the relationship aspect. And I think people here at Inman are trying to do their part to remind their peers of that.

There have even been somewhat contentious moments around tech talk that haven’t been well-received by the audience. Thursday morning, Kara Swisher, executive editor of technology news site Re/code, was talking about AI when she mentioned its potential ability to replace real estate agents in the future. That inspired more than a few murmurs in the crowd. (To be fair, though, Swisher was one of the more engaging speakers overall and earned points when Brad Inman said Rupert Murdoch had been sitting in her chair last year. “Did you clean it?” she said, followed by an uproar of laughter from the audience.)

The showroom floor, where there are booths for a few stalwart tech ventures along with many newcomers, has also seemed to have lighter traffic this year, too. It’s definitely had its traffic peaks, but I’m seeing more conference attendees stopping in the hallway to talk to each other than vendors.

Some bright minds in the industry have been warning professionals for a while now not to run wild with every new innovation they come across. It’s bad for their wallet and potentially bad for business if they’re constantly adding new technology layers to their routine. I think we’re seeing the tech hangover set in now. We all know practitioners like to party it up when they go away to conferences. But I don’t think the slight sluggishness I’m sensing from the crowds here at Inman Connect is because they went out drinking too late the night before.

Wickr, Snapchat . . . They Raise Novel Record Keeping Issues

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 09:25

Apps whose messages self destruct after a few seconds offer a new way to communicate with clients. For that reason, you might see an increase in the use of apps like Snapchat and Wickr in real estate. Although the messages go away, they can still be copied and saved, by both the sender and the recipient.

Courts in California and Missouri have recently ruled that these communications don’t have to be kept as part of one’s business record keeping. As Finley Maxson, senior counsel at the National Association of REALTORS®, says, “Both states have made it clear that these are not the type of correspondence licensees are required to retain in their client files.”

The rulings are a top story in The Voice for Real Estate for the week of January 25. Another top story looks at the surge in home sales, which increased almost 15 percent in December. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says the jump confirms the slowdown in sales the previous month was caused by the closing rules that took effect in October.

“The decline back in November we attributed largely to the rule on mortgage closings, the Know Before You Owe rule,” Yun said when he released the December sales figures last week. This latest data “is confirming that it was mostly delays and not cancellations.” Under the closing rules, lenders have to give borrowers a certain amount of time to look over documents before the closing, so finalizing the documents at the last minute is no longer possible. And if certain changes are made to the terms between the time the loan estimate and closing disclosure are issued, new time frames might kick in.

The video also looks at two other important developments in the industry: the life sentence handed down to the man who took the life of an Arkansas real estate professional, Beverly Carter, and the role a new NAR tech lab is playing in the design of smart home devices. NAR tech analysts at the lab are testing devices such as temperature and air quality sensors with the aim of helping manufacturers and research institutions make these devices more useful from a real estate perspective.

Watch the video on YouTube. 

A Risk Worth Taking

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 19:35

Panelists at the “Strategies for Standing Out” session speak about how they became leaders in their markets.

At a session during Inman Connect on Wednesday called “Strategies for Standing Out,” the common theme was that you have to be willing to take risks in order to be viewed as a local leader. Marguerite Giguere, a sales associate with Windermere Real Estate in Tacoma, Wash., who has built a niche in the city’s downtown market, told a personal story about a situation she’s facing in her business today that’s posing a lot of risk to her image. However, she’s rising to the challenge in hopes it will force conversations that will enlighten her community more about what she does. It serves as a good example for the kind of risks worth taking for real estate professionals. Here’s what Giguere had to say:

“I launched a website last March called MovetoTacoma.com, which is a way to reach buyers outside the city. I really didn’t expect it to get a ton of attention because it’s just a real estate site. And then it was written about by NPR, Business Examiner, and all these other publications, and some people in my community responded with ‘eff you. We don’t want our rents going up or our home prices going up, and you’re the face of gentrification.’ I was really surprised by that reaction, but that’s sometimes the other side of standing out. I’m a leader in my community, and part of that is having really difficult conversations. This issue is something that I’m still working on, and I might end up looking like a jerk. But if I do it right and do my part to engage with and have conversations with my community, I could end up being really successful and changing the way people look at our city. When challenges come your way, you have to break it open and get in there and talk to people about it.”

A Risk Worth Taking

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 19:35

Panelists at the “Strategies for Standing Out” session speak about how they became leaders in their markets.

At a session during Inman Connect on Wednesday called “Strategies for Standing Out,” the common theme was that you have to be willing to take risks in order to be viewed as a local leader. Marguerite Giguere, a sales associate with Windermere Real Estate in Tacoma, Wash., who has built a niche in the city’s downtown market, told a personal story about a situation she’s facing in her business today that’s posing a lot of risk to her image. However, she’s rising to the challenge in hopes it will force conversations that will enlighten her community more about what she does. It serves as a good example for the kind of risks worth taking for real estate professionals. Here’s what Giguere had to say:

“I launched a website last March called MovetoTacoma.com, which is a way to reach buyers outside the city. I really didn’t expect it to get a ton of attention because it’s just a real estate site. And then it was written about by NPR, Business Examiner, and all these other publications, and some people in my community responded with ‘eff you. We don’t want our rents going up or our home prices going up, and you’re the face of gentrification.’ I was really surprised by that reaction, but that’s sometimes the other side of standing out. I’m a leader in my community, and part of that is having really difficult conversations. This issue is something that I’m still working on, and I might end up looking like a jerk. But if I do it right and do my part to engage with and have conversations with my community, I could end up being really successful and changing the way people look at our city. When challenges come your way, you have to break it open and get in there and talk to people about it.”

Leigh Brown: You Won’t Like This, But I’ll Say It Anyway

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 18:33

Leigh Brown talks straight at Inman Connect.

Leigh Brown has something to say that you probably won’t like, but she’s going to say it anyway: Stop bragging so much.

Real estate professionals are big on projecting an image of success at all times and publicly announcing every one of their triumphs on social media — particularly when it’s a high-priced listing that nets them a big commission. It’s OK to celebrate the good times, but there aren’t too many who are willing to acknowledge their mistakes as openly. And if they do, they’re often shunned by their peers.

The best-foot-forward culture that has developed in the industry doesn’t allow practitioners to be human, Brown said at the General Session during Inman Connect on Wednesday. When you can’t own your mistakes, that makes your successes less meaningful.

“We’ve all overpriced a house, and if you say you haven’t, you’re either a vendor or a liar,” Brown quipped. “But we don’t want to say that because we don’t want to get uncomfortable, do we? … You’re going to have as many fans as you do enemies, so you might as well be honest with people.”

Brown turned the mirror on the audience, forcing practitioners to take a look at themselves and calling out those who act like “eighth-grade mean girls.” She encouraged less shaming of those who mess up and to spend that energy reaching out with a helping hand to someone you see who is in need. “I’m the first one to admit we have a bunch of jacklegs in real estate, but what happened to showing a little bit of grace to each other?” Brown said. “Do you take the time to reach out to somebody around you to help make them better?”

It’s worth examining why the expectation is so high to appear in control and at the top of your game, not just to change how we treat each other but also to appear more authentic to consumers. “Wanna know why consumers don’t trust us? Because we brag about how much money we make and tell them lies about their properties to make things look good,” Brown said.

Tough words for sure, but does she have a point?

Leigh Brown: You Won’t Like This, But I’ll Say It Anyway

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 18:33

Leigh Brown talks straight at Inman Connect.

Leigh Brown has something to say that you probably won’t like, but she’s going to say it anyway: Stop bragging so much.

Real estate professionals are big on projecting an image of success at all times and publicly announcing every one of their triumphs on social media — particularly when it’s a high-priced listing that nets them a big commission. It’s OK to celebrate the good times, but there aren’t too many who are willing to acknowledge their mistakes as openly. And if they do, they’re often shunned by their peers.

The best-foot-forward culture that has developed in the industry doesn’t allow practitioners to be human, Brown said at the General Session during Inman Connect on Wednesday. When you can’t own your mistakes, that makes your successes less meaningful.

“We’ve all overpriced a house, and if you say you haven’t, you’re either a vendor or a liar,” Brown quipped. “But we don’t want to say that because we don’t want to get uncomfortable, do we? … You’re going to have as many fans as you do enemies, so you might as well be honest with people.”

Brown turned the mirror on the audience, forcing practitioners to take a look at themselves and calling out those who act like “eighth-grade mean girls.” She encouraged less shaming of those who mess up and to spend that energy reaching out with a helping hand to someone you see who is in need. “I’m the first one to admit we have a bunch of jacklegs in real estate, but what happened to showing a little bit of grace to each other?” Brown said. “Do you take the time to reach out to somebody around you to help make them better?”

It’s worth examining why the expectation is so high to appear in control and at the top of your game, not just to change how we treat each other but also to appear more authentic to consumers. “Wanna know why consumers don’t trust us? Because we brag about how much money we make and tell them lies about their properties to make things look good,” Brown said.

Tough words for sure, but does she have a point?

To Be Successful, You Have to Be Weird

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 13:44

Seth Godin speaks about marketing to outsiders at Inman Connect.

There’s nothing more boring than being “normal,” and if you’re trying your hardest to fit in, then people won’t care what you’re doing.

That’s the idea marketing expert and author Seth Godin was getting at during the General Session at Inman Connect in New York. He said more and more people are falling outside the box of what’s considered normal, and if you plan to stay relevant to consumers, you have to be willing to cater to the weird and unconventional — and promote yourself that way. Basically, that means you have to find a segment of buyer you can connect with, but you can’t be the “every man” agent anymore because that doesn’t resonate with people.

“There’s all this pressure to be normal, have normal clients, drive a normal car, have normal listings,” Godin said. “And now something is changing. There are more people who are outside of normal than inside normal. What you’ll find is that normal people are ignoring you because they don’t care. People who care are outsiders, and you’ll be forced to segment to them.”

Godin used motorcycle company Harley as an example of a business that found loyalty in a fringe market. “Harley takes disrespected outsiders, gives them a badge, and makes them insiders,” he said.

What this means for you is that you won’t find the greatest success in targeting the “typical” buyer, however that applies to your market. Everyone has an idea of the type of client they want to attract, and for many real estate professionals, it’s the same kind of person. So don’t be like that. There’s a whole group of prospects your competition isn’t trying to reach, and those are the people who are looking for someone like you to work with. As Godin put it: “You must plants the seeds where they will grow and walk away from the places where they won’t.”

Does that sound weird?

The ‘Facebook Moment’ Is Over

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 18:27

Panelists talk about the latest tech trends at Inman Connect on Tuesday.

Wherever real estate falls in its transformation to a high-tech industry, it’s somewhere between Facebook and Snapchat. That analogy is meant to point out that Facebook, now so commonly used that it’s considered a basic element of modern life, represents the minimum technology standard consumers expect of real estate professionals. Snapchat, on the other hand, is a bit newer, with its applications still evolving, and represents a higher bar that more tech-savvy agents are rising to.

But we’ve moved beyond the point where practitioners can cite Facebook and Twitter as examples of how they stay relevant with technology — because there’s nothing new about either platforms, Anne Jones, a sales associate with Windermere Real Estate in Tacoma, Wash., suggested during a tech forum at Inman Connect in New York. “Stop talking about tweeting and Facebooking,” she said. “We’re passed the Facebook and Twitter moment.”

Does that mean Snapchat now represents a new standard for where pros should be with their technology skills? Not quite yet. We’re in a period now where practitioners need to delve deeper into the technology they’ve become comfortable with to understand how it’s actually working for them before adopting more ambitious advancements, said Seth Dailey, co-founder of Keller Williams Gateway in Baltimore.

That starts with understanding the analytics generated by the tech you use. The analytics on Facebook ads, for example, are misunderstood by way too many professionals who use the the tool, Jones said.

“You can only improve what you measure,” Dailey said. “Everyone here is about getting homes bought and sold, and if you want to improve that, you have to measure your success.”