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June 27, 2017

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Updated: 1 hour 44 min ago

Educating Clients on HUD

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 17:38

Ryan Fitzgerald

By Ryan Fitzgerald

Given the large financial requirement of buying a home, it’s often out of reach for a large portion of the U.S. population. The economic recession, which was triggered by the collapse of real estate and mortgage lending markets, further decreased home buying accessibility. A number of lenders have returned to the 20 percent down requirement when purchasing a home. Since the median price of a U.S. home is currently $228,400, most Americans do not have access to the $45,680 which would be a 20 percent down payment. Certainly, the better credit score a consumer has tends to decrease the required down payment percentage.

Fast growing economies in cities like Austin, Texas and Raleigh, N.C., didn’t see as many home foreclosures as compared to cities like Las Vegas and Atlanta during the recession. When you have higher volatility in home prices, combined with a slower economic growth pattern, the result becomes more HUD foreclosures. So, what is a HUD home, and how do you explain this to your clients?

A Short History on HUD

@Unsplash, 2015. pixabay.com

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was established in 1965 via the HUD Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The primary goal of the HUD program was—and still is—to expand the availability of funds for housing programs and to reach larger segments of the U.S. population. Per HUD’s website, the department’s mission is to “create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.”

In terms of home buying, HUD homes are houses that have been purchased through the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) government insured loans. HUD assumes ownership of homes should a home buyer default on their loan and, subsequently, their home is foreclosed.

How to Help Clients Buy a HUD-owned Home

Buying a HUD-owned home is a bureaucratic process that requires specific steps—though HUD states that it’s often easier than performing a traditional real estate purchase transaction:

  1. First, you must be a HUD registered real estate agent to help your clients place a bid. However, you or your clients can also research the HUD home inventory independently at the HUD portal.
  2. You’ll then need to contact the Listing Broker indicated on the HUD home listing.
  3. Your client’s offer must be made during what’s known as a specific “listing period.”
  4. HUD emphasizes the importance of obtaining a home inspection—however, even if your clients aren’t buying a HUD home, home inspections are still recommended.
  5. If your clients are financing the purchase of a HUD home, they will need to obtain a mortgage loan through a traditional lender. If they’re  seeking an FHA loan, they must secure the loan through an FHA approved lender.
  6. Owner-occupant purchasers are priority bidders and HUD gives them a certain amount of time (10 days) in which to bid on the purchase of the home.
  7. HUD homes are maintained and inspected by a Field Service Manager (FSM), which is a third-party company or individual who contracts with HUD to perform any repairs or general maintenance as required. If your clients have specific questions about the home, you’ll be directed to contact the FSM.
  8. Asset Managers are also third party contractors who are responsible for marketing and selling the home. Therefore, questions about the selling process can be directed towards the company or individual who is the AM for the property of interest.
  9. If you’re not a registered HUD agent, your clients can still use you as a closing agent, however, they will be responsible for paying any fees involved in conducting the closing.
  10. The down payment, closing costs, and commissions are generally lower when buyers purchase a HUD home.

Buying a HUD home can take a fair amount of navigating through all of the bureaucracy. However, considering that HUD doesn’t necessarily want to maintain a large inventory of empty homes that are just sitting on the market, your clients may find a great deal on a brand new home. Another great website to check out for HUD homes is HomePath.com by Fannie Mae.

Ryan Fitzgerald is the owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, N.C. Connect with him on Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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3 Reasons Cold Calling Isn’t Dead

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 13:29

Alexis Craig

By Alexis Craig

For a long time, I couldn’t make a cold call. I have a stutter and it’s noticeable when I’m nervous or talking to strangers. But I wanted to see if I could use cold calling as a lead acquisition and growth strategy.

I initially expected cold calling to be a large waste of my time. I believed all of the “anti-calling” messages: “cold calling is obsolete,” “cold calling is dead,” and “never make a cold call again.”

My results were quite the opposite. I realized, if done right, cold calling can be effective. Here are three reasons cold calling is still alive and well.

Fastest Way to Get Started

I love building email marketing campaigns and an SEO strategy as much as the next gal, but it takes time. A lot of time. SEO experts believe it takes a new website about 12 months to rank with competitive keywords.

If you’re not generating leads organically, then how else will you grow your business? Cold calling allows any agent to get started immediately while they wait for their SEO to take off.

Since I started cold calling, I’ve been able to add about 120 people to my database and take four listing appointments over eight weeks. It’s been one of the fastest and cheapest ways to add more people into my sales pipeline.

Marketing is Not Selling

Things like content marketing are just that — marketing. Any agent who spends time creating blog articles, drafting emails, and completing administrative work is avoiding their most important task: talking with potential customers. For some, “marketing” becomes an avoidance strategy.

Listen, I still hate cold calling. Even after placing more than 600 calls, my palms still sweat, my heart races, and I stutter on the phone. I’ve been made fun of a few times by rude people who think I stutter out of fear. But I get over it because I prefer winning. I’d rather win than chase some shiny object.

@FirmBee, 2015. Pixabay.com

You can use cold calling to build your pipeline while you wait for your marketing platforms to replace your prospecting efforts. But that should only be done when you’re generating enough leads to reach your income goals. And many of us aren’t.


Enter a Buying Process Already in Progress

How long does it take for you to get an email address and turn it into a sales conversation? If you target FSBO, expired listings, or neighborhoods with high turnovers, you could enter a sales conversation today.

Ever been in that situation where you’re months into a sales discussion? You probably sat down with the client, filled out a CMA, then suddenly, another agent swoops in and lists your client. It’s fair game. Why not be that guy or gal? Cold calling can allow you to benefit from the months someone else spent nurturing a lead.

Final Note on Pure Cold Calling

Okay, I agree. Pure cold calling is dead. Picking a random number, knowing nothing about them, and then calling is a terrible way to prospect. The market is too competitive and you’ll just make people angry. Here’s what I’m doing that has had some good success; I call it my 1-2-3 punch.

First, send them a sales letter with an offer. This increases the probability that they heard about you before you ever call, making the call less “cold.” Plus, it gives you something to talk about, other than listing their home. Sending a sales letter improved my results nearly 800 percent. Without a sales letter, I was like the nerdy kid looking for a prom date — all I got was rejection.

Second, find out as much about your prospect as possible. In a world of social media, calling blind is lazy. Here’s what I do for FSBOs: I look at their Zillow listing. I write about three or four things I noticed about the home that potential prospects would want to talk about. The observations I pick vary based on who I think I going to talking to. For women, I try to focus on interior topics. For men, I’ll focus on the garage or other features.

One last note, it’s important to be sincere. If you aren’t interested in talking about their garage, don’t try to do it. Prospects can tell. Instead of building rapport, they’ll see you as rude.

Well, there you have it. Pure cold calling is dead, but smart sales calling can be one of the fastest and cheapest ways to fill up your pipeline. If your business is looking anemic, consider adding cold calling.

Alexis Craig, founder of Mocha Homes, leads a team of real estate rebels in Lansing, Mich. Connect with her at mochahomes.com or facebook.com/MochaHomes.

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Finding Your Real Estate Niche

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 17:57

Anita Clark

By Anita Clark

It can be difficult for both new agents and seasoned professionals to maintain a year-round stream of prospects from our online marketing efforts. This is especially true if we do not focus on a specific niche or market segment.

It is easy to get sidetracked by the latest shiny real estate thing. It can also be hard to get started because of time constraints or the myriad of online options we have available to us such as:

  • Blogging
  • Using social media
  • Dabbling with both blogging/SM
  • Local citations
  • Paying someone to do it for us
  • Reviews
  • Working with virtual assistants
  • Doing something else
  • Not sure where to start

So how do we maintain our online marketplace presence while continuing to help buyers and sellers into and out of homes? We need to specialize in niche marketing and become the expert on a particular process, area, or thing before moving forward and conquering another niche. That way we can better use our time and resources on a few online tasks instead of spreading ourselves too thin and being ineffective on all fronts.

Remember, it is important not to discriminate, so while you may target a specific societal block, helping all real estate consumers should be our goal. If in doubt, check out the Fair Housing Act for more details. With that said, here are a few key things we can do to establish and master our niche marketing.

Establish a Niche Baseline

We need to first determine if we are going to target a specific demographic, age group, type or style of dwelling (i.e townhomes, homes with acreage, etc.), location (i.e. subdivision, county, city, etc.), or something entirely different that is relevant in our market. The list is virtually endless but here are several examples to get you started.

Demographic Examples

  • Active seniors (55+)
  • Divorcees
  • Empty nesters
  • International clients
  • Military relocations
  • Move down/up buyers
  • Multi-generational
  • Newlyweds
  • Single parents
  • Widows/widowers

Age Examples

  • Baby boomers
  • Generation X
  • Millennials (Gen Y)
  • Silent generation
  • Single under 40 (or 50, 60, etc.)

@PublicCo, ©2017. pixabay.com

Property Type/Style Examples

  • Colonial
  • Commercial
  • Condos/townhomes
  • Equine properties
  • Farms
  • Fixer-uppers
  • Foreclosures
  • Gated communities
  • Historical
  • Homes with pools (or acreage, basements, 3+ car garages, etc.)
  • Lake houses
  • Lofts
  • Luxury properties
  • Manufactured homes
  • New construction
  • Oceanfront
  • Ranch style
  • Victorian

Location Examples

  • Close to a local feature (i.e. beach, downtown, lake, park, river, etc.)
  • Golf course living
  • Neighborhood
  • School district (including universities)
  • Specific area (i.e. city, county, suburb, etc.)
  • Subdivision
  • Zip code

Other Examples

  • Disability access
  • Eco-friendly
  • Media room
  • Smart homes
  • Special features (i.e. gardens, workshops, etc.)
  • Walkability

Add to or choose something from the lists above. There are plenty of opportunities. Other considerations include how much business we want (some may be content with five to 10 transactions a year while others want to be top of their market) and the distance we are willing to travel for this niche. The key is to find something we can become the local real estate expert on.

Become The Expert

Once you have chosen a niche, it is time to learn everything you can about it. For instance, if you choose a particular subdivision you will want to know details about the builder (even if it is a mature community), land rights and information, and community utility types/options.

You will also want to know whether there is a homeowners association, key market indicators/statistics, growth around the subdivision, nearby entertainment/restaurants, schools, and a host of other facts that tell buyers and existing homeowners you know as much or more than anyone else in the local area about their subdivision.

If you have an interest or passion in the niche (equine for example) your enthusiasm will shine through. When others see you sincerely care about a topic they will take notice. Once they start joining, sharing, and engaging, you can bet your phone ringing for real estate assistance will be next.

How To Keep It Going

We all know buyers will continue to buy and sellers will keep listing their homes on the local market. What we want is a percentage (what is yours?) of those consumers to call us. But…how do we keep a steady flow of real estate calls coming in to stay busy year-round?

If you are committed to using online resources to generate new prospects, leads, and clients, your cornerstone should be based on blogging. It’s easy to write 10-plus articles about something we care about. It should be that simple when we want a specific piece of the local market share too. Once your in-depth articles are created, you need to periodically share them.

The easiest way to do that is to utilize social media. The sites you use is entirely up to you but the key is to have an active following. Ensure you engage with your followers too! Joining or creating a Google Plus and/or Facebook community is a fantastic way to generate local buzz. Establishing a LinkedIn group can also create new interest, so can Pinterest, Instagram, and plenty of other sites. Even paying for ads such as a Facebook article boost can do wonders to help establish your niche authority.

The point is, we have to share our content, add relevant information/content from others, and be “present” in whatever setting we have established or are a member of. Being top-of-mind when buyers are ready to start looking or sellers are prepping to list their home is exactly what we want. Closing deals with those same consumers is not nearly as difficult as we think when we develop and grow a real estate niche.

What’s your real estate niche?

Anita Clark is a residential real estate agent with Coldwell Banker SSK, REALTORS®, in Houston County, Ga. She is from Coventry, England, is a retired military spouse, and has been assisting buyers, investors, and sellers in middle Georgia since 2007. Connect with Anita on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, or on her Warner Robins Real Estate Blog.

YPN Awarded Funds to Extend Reach

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 09:35

Newly-formed or relaunched state and local YPN groups are about to get a little help from their NAR friends.

The National Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors gave final approval on a proposal put forth by the YPN Advisory Board to establish a $6,000 annual fund that would support events and programs to help networks become established.

“We’ve had the same budget for a long time, so we’re excited to be doing new things,” said Krista Clark, 2017 chair of the YPN Advisory Board, during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo on May 16. The grant money will provide YPNs with a means to connect with members and build involvement through kick-off, education, networking, RPAC, or other events.

Elizabeth Mendenhall, 2017 NAR president-elect, addressed the YPN Advisory Board during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, encouraging leadership and involvement.

Four new network grants at $1,000 each, and four revitalized network grants at $500 each, will be available each year. Networks will be required to apply for a portion of the grand money through their sponsoring REALTOR® Association, which would be responsible for handling the funds if approved. A new YPN is defined as having submitted paperwork for recognition within 12 months of applying for the grant, and the funds must be used for the event referenced in the application. YPN are ineligible if they’ve hosted an event in the 12 months preceding the event referenced in the application, and if they’ve ever been the recipient of a Network of the Year Award. The YPN Advisory Board will review applications and award grants on a quarterly basis.

The NAR Board of Directors approved a new annual travel stipend of $3,000 per YPN Advisory Board member, which will be used to reimburse travel costs accrued by individual Advisory Board members who trek across the country to support local and state YPN groups. The reimbursement will be capped at $1,000 per event unless otherwise approved by the advisory board in advance, and only one member will be reimbursed for attendance any single YPN event.

During their travel to YPN events, Advisory Board members are required to discuss the NAR YPN Pledge, Network of the Year Awards, upcoming NAR meetings and events, and other talking points as determined by the groups involved.

“We’re proud to have this platform to extend our reach,” said YPN Advisory Board member Tommy Choi. “This will also be tool we can tweak every year to see how we can support the networks out there.”

In addition, the Board of Directors also approved a one-time $30,000 budget for a national YPN website revamp. The YPN Advisory Board is just beginning the planning phase of the project, but Clark said the goal of the new site is to provide YPN members with content, videos, information, and resources that will help them grow and sustain their business.

For more information on any of the budget items listed above, contact Rob Reuter at rreuter@realtors.org.

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4 Tips to Specialize Your Work With Seniors

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 22:54

Brandon Doyle

By Brandon Doyle

Census data shows that seniors, or adults age 65 and older, amount to a whopping 46.2 million U.S. citizens—and that was back in 2014. In the next two decades, research predicts that number will more than double. In other words, if you aren’t expanding your real estate expertise to include specialized work with seniors, you’re missing out on a massive market. Here are a few specific tips to keep in mind as you guide members of an aging population toward the goal of homeownership.

 1. There are a new set of factors to keep in mind.

Seniors have a different set of circumstances to consider when it comes to buying or selling a home than first-time homebuyers or a growing family might. As a senior shops or sells, he or she might be weighing matters such as a fixed retirement income, accessibility issues within a new home, or buying a home within a retirement community. Assessing a senior client’s short- and long-term goals as you spearhead a purchase or sale will not only endear you to your client, but can also help you tailor your time and efforts with efficiency.

2. Remember: location, location, location.

@qimono, ©2017. pixabay.com

Everyone knows this real estate mantra, but seniors prioritize location more than any other group, and for a host of reasons. Some seniors want to move closer to growing grandchildren; others are retired and want to take advantage of recreational opportunities; some no longer drive, so proximity to basic services is essential. No matter the reason, discuss location goals with senior clients interested in buying a new or second home. Likely, location will be at the top of their must-have list.

3. Don’t make assumptions.

Buying or selling a home later in life comes with its own unique set of factors and considerations, but it’s important not to paint your older clients with a broad brush. For instance, it’s a common misconception that elderly homebuyers are solely interested in downsizing. In fact, baby boomers frequently seek homes of a similar or larger size than the one they’re selling, oftentimes to accommodate children, grandchildren, or make room for luxuries to enjoy in retirement. The quickest way to offend your senior client is to make assumptions about their goals.

4. Adjust your communication methods.

It’s common to conduct business via e-mail and text message these days, and while plenty of seniors have become tech savvy later in life, you may have to adjust your means of communication as you pair with elderly clientele. Many prefer face-to-face meetings or phone calls, and documents that you might’ve scanned and sent via e-mail may be better presented in person. Likewise, touring a home may extend beyond a web-surfing session. While you may have to adjust your methods, seniors who rely on in-person and by-phone communication are generally quick to respond, rather than having to play e-mail tag.

A big part of growing your business and innovating is learning to cater to new markets and clientele. With that in mind, keep these simple, big-picture tips at the forefront as you build your specialty in serving seniors in their real estate endeavors.

Brandon Doyle, ABR, e-PRO, is a second-generation real estate pro with RE/MAX Results in the Twin Cities. He is also coauthor of the book M3Mindset, Methods & Metrics: Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent available now on Amazon. Learn more about Brandon at www.doylerealestateteam.com.

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YPN Members Descend on D.C.

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 15:20

For the seventh straight year, members of the National Association of REALTORS® Young Professionals Network from across North America gathered during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo on May 16 at the The Park at 14th in Washington, D.C. REALTORS® make the annual trip to take part in legislative activities and advocate for the real estate industry, public policy, and the association. They also participate in special issues forums, committee meetings, and networking events like this one. Making in-person connections is an important part of YPN, and about 200 members attended this year’s event. Read REALTOR® Magazine’s coverage from #NARLegislative:

Photos by Noah Hayes, ©2017 noahhayesphoto.com

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The Best Way to Build a Real Estate Business

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 18:46

Ryan Fitzgerald

By Ryan Fitzgerald

There are many great ways to build a real estate business. One way, is to start small and focus your efforts on hyperlocal neighborhoods or smaller cities. Here’s what I mean:

Whether you’re just starting out in real estate or you’ve been an agent for a long time, a focus on smaller, less competitive markets can be one of the best things you do for your real estate business.

It’s natural for agents to start fishing in the largest pond, or focus their attention on the most lucrative areas. Some will even want to do things just for the attention or the fame, and completely lose sight of what matters: results.

If you are chasing after the biggest fish in the sea, you are competing against many other agents to find them. If you can focus your marketing on a smaller, less competitive pond, you may have an easier time landing clients with less competition. We recently shifted our business direction to focus on these smaller ponds.

Start Smaller

Many agents in my area of North Carolina are focused on Raleigh or Cary, as they are the two most desirable real estate markets. Not nearly as many are paying attention to the homes for sale in Garner, N.C. Garner isn’t as big as Raleigh or Cary (combined population of 650,000 vs. 28,000) and the homes aren’t as desirable or priced as high. The area is still growing, and fast!

This creates significant opportunity for someone who is paying attention. You can try to attack the bigger cities of Raleigh and Cary, while competing against thousands and thousands of other real estate professionals, or you can try to attack a smaller market like Garner and compete against a much smaller pool of agents.

@paulbr75, ©2014. pixabay.com

Going Hyperlocal

No matter what market you work in, there is a good chance there’s an area or smaller city many people are overlooking. Even if it’s as small as a neighborhood, as long as you focus your attention there, you’ll have a much easier time being the local expert.

Another great market to target is one where the growth is happening. If the city is building infrastructure (schools, highways, parks, commercial developments, etc.) than you know that it’s an area worth considering focusing on.

In Raleigh, there are several areas exploding with growth. Cities like Clayton and Holly Springs have both shown big population increases in terms of percentage. Holly Springs has more than doubled in population over the last ten years and this trend is not expected to slow down anytime soon.

Some agents who live in the town of Holly Springs are focused on hyperlocal neighborhoods inside the town and they are crushing it! They have turned themselves into the neighborhood experts, so whenever anyone needs to sell (and sometimes to sell and buy) they are calling the neighborhood expert.

Predicting the Future

New construction neighborhoods are great targets.

Once a neighborhood is five to seven years old, there is a great chance the listings there will begin to pick up. The average homeowner spends five to seven years in their home before selling.

One of the best ways to become the neighborhood expert is to either start a Facebook group connecting the community, or to join a group and be constantly posting helpful information that’s town related or real estate related. If it’s a new construction community, they need someone to be a voice for the neighborhood.

It’s not going to happen overnight. Through consistent efforts, you will soon become the expert much faster than you would in a larger market.

Once you become the local expert in a smaller market, you will make some truly great money selling homes…and it’s far easier than fishing in the bigger pond.

Ryan Fitzgerald is the owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, N.C. Connect with him on Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest.