With a slowdown in global economic activity, financial market volatility and a contentious presidential campaign, commercial real estate investors have taken a step back in the early months of 2016. The U.S. economy sputtered during the first quarter of 2016, with gross domestic product advancing at a weak 1.0 percent annual rate. The... Read More
The REALTORS® Commercial Real Estate Market Trends measures quarterly activity in the commercial real estate markets, as reported in a national survey. The survey collects data from REALTORS® engaged in commercial real estate transactions. The survey is designed to provide an overview of market performance, sales and leasing transactions, along with information on current economic challenges and future expectations.Highlights
- 66 percent of REALTORS® closed a commercial sale.
- Sales volume rose 8.4 percent from a year ago.
- ... Read More
DOWNLOAD (3.22 MB)Highlights:
The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Commercial Member Profile details the business and demographic characteristics of NAR commercial members. Commercial members have expertise in the field of commercial real estate and have experience working in many property types.
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By Drew Heasley
The spring market is traditionally the hottest real estate market across the country. For my area in Pennsylvania, the busiest parts of the year are early spring and then again when school lets out. As an agent, you need make sure you and your clients are prepared for these annual peaks.Sellers
Your sellers will be asking for a lot of advice to get their home ready to list. My best suggestion for sellers is to not rush to list. You only get one first impression, so tell your clients to take the time to paint that room, replace that carpet, mulch that bed, or de-clutter that basement. Curb appeal is an obvious must-have to get top dollar in the spring. If you have a good eye, you can make these suggestions on your own. If not, the internet is full of ideas, expert landscapers, tips, and before-and-after pictures you can find with a quick search.
Pricing in the spring is also very important. If you overprice, the home may sit and you may have lost out on your best buyers. Clients are always afraid to under price the home, but in a strong real estate market, this can be a great play by creating multiple bidders. Use your local expertise and do your research. Some clients think listing in the spring is an automatic sale. While we may have the largest supply of buyers in the spring, we also have the most competition from other listings. It’s important for clients to understand upgrades that add value and upgrades that help your home sell fast. For example, a finished basement with a wet bar and walkout patio adds value. Hardwood floors, fresh paint, and granite countertops help a home sell fast. If your seller can only focus limited resources on a few areas, this is where your local knowledge will come into play. For my area, the best seller return is on kitchens and baths. Do your research, set your clients expectations realistically, and you will have their home sold in no time.Buyers
For your buyers, the best thing you can do is educate them on the local and seasonal market, and make sure you have everything prepared ahead of time. Pre-approvals and conversations with the lenders must be taken care of ahead of time. Financial information forms should be prepped, and consumer notices and other required forms signed and ready. You know you buyers’ price range, so you can run some closing costs estimates when you start your search. Have them looking at sellers disclosures for other properties they are touring so they recognize them. Go over the agreement of sale before you find a property they like. Most of this can be done with a buyer consultation and referring them to a lender you trust. They will have lots of competition so you need to have them prepared, you will have no time to deal with these things when that perfect listing comes up.
Little things will matter when making an offer, like having a larger down payment, having fewer contingencies, and being flexible on settlement date. Find out as much as you can about the sellers. In some cases, buyers have “won” a home because they wrote a personal letter to the seller saying why they loved the house or how they could see starting a family there.
Lastly, please use an escalation clause in multiple offer situations. This is another blog for another time, but if the agent calls for “best and final,” and you don’t send an escalation clause, you are not doing your clients any favors.Yourself
As an agent, you have a lot to do to get ready for the spring market. Get your systems in place — some of us rely on systems more than others, but everyone has some things they can do to prepare for what is hopefully the busy season. I like to get my signs in order, prep open house packets, update marketing, restock office supplies, update wardrobe, clean out the car, etc. But the most important thing to do to prepare as an agent for the spring market is to get business. This is a great time to find new clients and help clients who didn’t accomplish their real estate goals the year before. I like to focus on listings in the spring, they sell fast and for top dollar. Also, listings turn into buyer clients via sellers buying another home, open house leads, sign call leads, etc. There are plenty of buyers and lots of sellers out there, so go get ‘em!
Drew Heasley is an agent with Keller Williams Exton/West Chester in Pennsylvania. Connect with him on Facebook: facebook.com/chestercountyrealtor, or through his website: searchchestercountyhomes.com.
Wire fraud schemes have been a hot topic in the real estate industry lately. But one real estate pro says she’s been caught up in a different kind of nightmarish scam — one that victims can do virtually nothing to prevent.
Sue Dietz, CRS, a sales associate with RE/MAX Advantage Realty in Dubuque, Iowa, who also served as president of the East Central Iowa Association of REALTORS® in 2016, says scammers have used her identity to create fake email addresses in her name and then sent fraudulent emails offering referrals to other real estate agents. The emails also contained fake contact information for Dietz. Recipients who responded to the email were sent a Google Drive link that they were told contained listings the referred client wanted to see. However, the link, once opened, installs computer viruses that allow scammers to scrape passwords and other personal information.
The initial fraudulent email typically reads:
My name is Sue Dietz a realtor with RE/MAX ADVANTAGE REALTY in Dubuque IA, I have a client who is interested in buying a property in your area of expert, Please let me know if you’re available to help them out and I will send their contact details and the listings they are interested in.
People who receive this email are encouraged to report it as spam or a phishing attempt. The hope is that if enough people take such action, the IP address of the sender will be blocked.
Since February 2016, when the scam apparently started, nearly 4,000 practitioners nationwide — from all 50 states and Canada — who received the emails have contacted Dietz to either confirm the referral or warn her of the scam. “I’ve gotten calls at the office, on my cell phone, texts, and emails at all hours of the day and night,” she says. “There was one day I had over 100 pieces of correspondence just about these emails.”
Last year, Dietz received a threatening email from an anonymous sender accusing her of trying to steal their money, she says. She has tried to get the word out about the scam by asking every agent who contacts her about the emails to alert their local associations. She has also included a warning in her personal and business voicemail messages and on her website bio.
Dietz also recently received a fraudulent email in the name of another real estate agent, so she’s not the only one whose identity is being used in this way.
“Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible on the front end to prevent a fraudster from using your name in a scam,” says Jessica Edgerton, associate counsel for the National Association of REALTORS®. “If you are the victim of any kind of identity theft, the best course of action is to immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI, and your local authorities.” She cautions that recipients of suspicious emails appearing to come from another real estate professional should search that practitioner’s name on Google to compare their business email address and contact information to that of the sender.
“I think most people respond to the emails and say, ‘Yeah, I’ll take your referral,’” Dietz says. “All they need to do is Google me — my website is the number one result when you search my name — and they’d see I wasn’t the one who sent the email.”
If you want to keep your email more secure, Edgerton offers the following tips:
- Check your sent mail, junk mail, and email account settings regularly for anomalies. Hackers often break into an email account and modify the “email forwarding” settings to forward emails to their own account.
- Regularly purge your email of unneeded or outdated information. Save any important emails securely.
- Avoid email as a method for sending sensitive or confidential information. Instead, consider using a secure document sharing or transaction management platform.
- Use strong passwords that incorporate a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Use two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication.
- Avoid using unsecured or public Wi-Fi.
WASHINGTON (July 28, 2016) – The median annual income and number of sales transactions of National Association of Realtors® commercial members decreased slightly as the number of new commercial members significantly increased in 2015, according to the 2016 NAR Commercial Member Profile.
The number of commercial members with less than two years of experience nearly doubled to 9 percent in 2016, from 5 percent in 2015. The annual study's results represent Realtors®, members of NAR, who conduct all or part of... Read More
I would love to see a designer re-create a neutral room three different ways based on the preferences of three couples
While I agree with some of your comments (mostly the part about you get what you pay for) I think you’re way to easily “offended”. Staging sets a tone in a house. The comfy faux fur pillows, throws, and maybe rugs are to exude the feeling of comfort and coziness. I would never use dead animal parts (as you suggested), nor have I ever seen dead animal parts in my 20 years of staging. The wine thing? That’s ridiculous. There are way more important things to worry about when selling a home.
By Kyle Hiscock
When people ask me what I do for a living, the easiest response is to say I’m a real estate agent. If I really wanted to get into great detail, the answer would be something along the lines of, “I’m a digital marketing company that happens to help buyers and sellers with their real estate needs.”
With more than six years of experience as a REALTOR® in Irondequoit, N.Y., I’ve watched firsthand how the real estate industry has changed significantly over the past several years. When I first started selling real estate, there was still a fair amount of value in using print media, direct mailing pieces, and other traditional advertising strategies.
Fast forward to 2017; I won’t be the first real estate agent to tell you that marketing has changed significantly. Nowadays, buyers, sellers, and other real estate professionals are heading to the internet to get their questions answered. It’s critical that when these questions are being asked, you’re the one who’s answering them.
Whether you’re found through search or through social media, you have one opportunity to “WOW” consumers or other real estate professionals and leave a great lasting impression.
So as you’re creating helpful content, what should you be focusing on? What is one of the best ways to leave a great lasting impression on buyers, sellers, or other real estate professionals? Simple…awesome graphics.
You want to be creating interesting, useful, and eye-catching real estate graphics that will actually get shared on social media.
First, think about what type of graphics work well on certain platforms. Here are some easy tips for getting started.
Why Do Certain Graphics Get Shared?
As a digital marketer, I’m constantly reviewing the content I’m putting out there and looking at how it’s performing. One of the best indicators is the total number of shares a piece of content receives. If an article I write has hundreds of shares on Pinterest, I know the graphics were a success!
Recently I wrote an article on how to use Pinterest for real estate. I included in this article a detailed infographic and a few additional graphics. The graphics have performed extremely well, why?
Simple, because the graphics were memorable! Graphics (and content) are shared on social media by people because they found the information helpful or thought others would enjoy as well. Anytime you create a memorable graphic in an article, chances are, it’s going to get shared.
I recommend trying to create graphics that’ll make people laugh, fit the topic of your content, and last but not least, are attractive and well put together!
What Type Of Graphics Should You Use On Social Media?
Graphics are typically not a one-size-fits-all marketing medium. The social media network where you’re planning to share your content should play a big role in the type of graphics you’ll want to create. If you plan on sharing your content on several different social networks, you may want to consider creating a few different types of graphics.
- Pinterest – The best graphics for Pinterest are long graphics. Graphics that perform well on Pinterest are at least 1,200 pixels long. Generally, the longer the better. A detailed infographic can sometimes be as long as 3,000 pixels or more. As for width, typically I aim for my graphics to be somewhere around 800 pixels for Pinterest.
- Facebook – On Facebook, the best graphics are wider than their length. Long graphics don’t share as well onto Facebook as they tend to get cut off in the news feed. Typically, you’ll want to shoot for graphics that are no longer than 800 pixels long.
- Twitter – There are many varying opinions whether graphics make a difference on Tweets. I’m a believer that including graphics in your Tweets can only help engagement. On Twitter, like Facebook, you’ll want to aim for wider graphics. I find that graphics that are 500 pixels or less in length share better on Twitter than long, vertical graphics.
- Google+ – On Google+, graphics that are no longer than 1,200 pixels long will share well. Infographics don’t look very good when shared into Google+ because they’re typically reduced to fit a post.
To see a real life example of the different type of graphics, check out this comprehensive guide I wrote on the steps to buying a house. You’ll notice throughout the article there are few different sized graphics. Take a look at one example infographic on the right.
How Do You Create Awesome Graphics?
Try, try, and try again! The best way to learn how to create awesome graphics that share well on a variety of social networks is to keep trying and experimenting. The first graphic you make for your Facebook post will be much worse than your fiftieth, that I promise. As you continue to try new things and sizes for your graphics, you’re going to learn quickly which type gets the most engagement from your audience.
I use Canva to create my graphics. Canva is a fantastic website that allows you to create free graphics and offers images and stock art that you can purchase for as little as $1 per image. Canva is very user-friendly and also allows you to pick the dimensions of your graphics.
As you’re creating graphics, make sure you keep in mind the rules of using stock images and the copyright laws. While there are a few websites out there that offer free graphics, I personally prefer paying a small amount per image to keep myself out of trouble.
Kyle Hiscock is a Rochester, N.Y. real estate agent with RE/MAX Realty Group. He is the founder and owner of his website, Rochester Real Estate Blog, where he frequently publishes helpful real estate related content. Connect with Kyle on Twitter @KyleHiscockRE, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
At the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla. last month, I had the chance to sit down with two authors who know a ton about generating customer loyalty. One was Jason Forrest, a sales trainer and coach whom I’ve known as a regular contributor to REALTOR® Magazine over the years. He introduced me to Paul Cardis, founder of Avid Ratings, a reputation management and customer service firm for the homebuilding industry. The two co-authored a new book, Service Certainty: The Secret to Customer Loyalty (MJS Press; Dec. 15th, 2016). Here’s an edited transcript of the interview.
Tell me how the idea for this book came about.
Jason: The idea came about just like any book comes from the need to solve a problem. My primary focus was on the sales side and helping homebuilders increase their sales. The problem was, we found that by increasing their sales, their customer satisfaction will go down.
Huh, really? I guess that makes sense, though it’s certainly an unintended consequence!
Jason: Yeah, definitely. I started formulating these ideas about why this might be happening, but I didn’t actually know if they were evidence-based. So since Paul is the industry expert and the wizard behind the curtain when it comes to the research, I really wanted to work with him on this problem. I would basically run my ideas by him and say, “Hey, this is what I believe will improve customer satisfaction. Do you believe this would work too?” We worked through that and then ended up coming up with 15 best practices to make it happen and increase customer satisfaction, service certainty, and customer loyalty.
Paul: Avid’s been working with builders for 25 years measuring customer satisfaction and customer experience, and Jason here has been an amazing leader in helping our clients to change their cultures improve so it was really just a natural fit to put these two worlds together and come away with a more practical book. With more than 30,000 books on customer service out there today, we were going into very red ocean. But one point that we both agreed upon was that making customers happy in an imperfect world hadn’t been written about. And in our business in real estate and homebuilding, let’s face it: We deal with a lot of imperfections in the process, and there really wasn’t a book that was realistic. Jason and I put something together here that I think does that.
Yeah, a lot of the books I’ve read talk about how to improve customer service in a perfect world. But they often lack best practices for real-life situations.
Jason: That’s what is so great about the book. So I’m a sales guy, and the normal trend is salespeople don’t like service. Like, if you’re really great at sales you think, “I want to sell you something and move on to the next guy.” So I had to learn how to convince myself first before I could convince anyone else. What’s great about this book—and this is why it’s so small that you can read it in an hour and a half or less—is that we wrote it in a way that it’s the minimum effective dose. Think of it this way: Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and if you increase the temperature to 213, 214, or 216, it’s still boiling. So you’re wasting energy doing that. We decided to make the book super simple so it’s applicable even to the person who says, “I really don’t like customer service. I don’t want to mess with it.”
What’s a way where sales-focused folks are getting service wrong?
Paul: One of the common problems we see is people who think the solution is, “Well we’ll just go and tell our customers to give us good reviews.” They try and game the system, and they get frustrated in the gaming. That mindset is also evident when you’re thinking “Buyers are liars.” You get mad at the buyer because they’re not happy, as if they came out of the womb that way. Well no, we created them. Of course, there are some buyers—a very, very small percentage—that are just difficult people. But in general we create these difficult customers, so getting your mind right is really an awesome thing and without having your mind right, you can’t move on.
Jason: Yes. It’s also important to think about the service journey. As soon as a customer signs a contract with you, that’s the highest level of emotional engagement they’re going to have with you. Think of it like getting married. The second a person gets engaged, they’re basically saying, “O.K., that’s it. I believe we should be together for the rest of our lives.” Well when you give the girl a ring your goal is to make sure that you provide an experience that’s just as good up to the point of her saying yes to the ring. You know the couple doesn’t need nine months to plan a wedding. They could do this thing in a couple of days, right? It’s a way to put them through purgatory to make sure they don’t do anything to fall short of expectations. It’s called an engagement, but it’s really a test! In the industry, on the day of signing that contract it’s like the engagement ring. You have to get to the move-in day, which is like the wedding day. The customer can easily take the ring off and cancel the wedding any time along the way if you don’t live up to the same promise you did in the dating-to-engagement time as the engagement-to-wedding time.
In gathering the examples you use in this book, did you guys get them from people in the field or did you create hypothetical situations?
Paul: It’s all real stories of actual builders and clients dealing with problems, and a lot of them were pretty interesting too. One particular story that we put in there was one that I affectionately call the “Lemon Man.” We had a customer who dumped 10,000 lemons in their own front yard and let them rot. They wanted to make a statement to the world to say, “Hey, this is a terrible builder and I’m very upset!”
Wow. That’s some serious conflict there.
Jason: Oh yeah. But I think one of the coolest concepts here, which is very provocative, is that a customer sometimes needs conflict in order to generate loyalty. Say a real estate professional takes a buyer out and the buyer is completely in control the entire day. Then buyer thinks they don’t need the help. They’re asking the real estate pro, “Why am I paying you so much money?” That’s why the agent must get into position of strength; they must be in charge. Now I’m not saying you want to actually cause problems, but you do have to create conflict. You have to set clear boundaries and sometimes that creates pushback from the customer. One of the things that we found in the research is that the more the customer is in control, the worse the service scores end up being. Along those same lines, proactively bringing up the conflict and extracting the concerns increases customer loyalty too. If a buyer calls and says, “I have a concern about such-and-such,” and the agent solves the problem then it’s one point to the customer. But let’s say the agent calls the client and says, “Hey I’m curious. Has there been anything that kept you up at night about this purchase you’re about to make?” And the buyer says, “Oh actually yeah…” Well if the agent then solves that problem, that’s one point to the real estate pro. It’s about you bringing it up. You bring it up, you solve it, and you get the credit. If they bring it up and you solve it, you will get no credit.
But that’s scary. I mean, it’s a big thing for an agent to make that phone call and ask if something’s wrong.
Paul: Sure. To be transparent and to own up to problems is a very big deal, because we have all been raised in a perfection mentality. But we are in a different world now, where authenticity matters more. So when things do get screwed up, do we bury them or run away from them? Or do we run at them? That is the key here is that you’re not going to have perfection, and brokers and agents need to embrace that that’s not going to happen.
More from the Builders' Show:
Comment on The Value of Window Treatments: How to Choose Which Ones Work Best in a Home by Fifty Shades And Blinds Inc
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By John Blom
Last year I blogged about my experience as president of my local association, so it seemed right to wrap it all up with a grand finale — a seminal description of the lessons that I learned as part of that experience.
I sat down last week to write that post and ended up staring at my computer screen for 30 minutes. I tried again the next day with same results. Certainly there were plenty of lessons learned: the importance of planning, getting people on board with your vision, and dealing with a crisis, but none of those got my creative juices flowing.
Then last night it hit me — gratitude. Sustainable success can only be built on a foundation of gratitude.
The success of an organization depends on the health and happiness of its people. At their core people want and need to feel appreciated. As a leader, you can only appreciate the people around you if you recognize that their success is your success.
During difficult situations, it’s often easier to recognize the valuable contributions of those around you. Our association hired a new executive the month before my year as president began. The new AE rose to the demands we placed on her time and time again throughout last year, and I think the board members and I did a pretty good job of letting her know how much we appreciated her efforts.
I don’t say that to pat ourselves on the back. As I look back at the year, I’m not sure we would have shown that same appreciation had our previous AE still been in the position — not because she wouldn’t have done the job well, but because we’d come to expect it and perhaps take it for granted.
No one ever gets tired of being appreciated, and leaders that consistently show gratitude to those around them will establish a high level of trust and loyalty. Leading from a place of gratitude extends beyond people to situations and opportunities. Over the course of the last 18 months, my involvement with the association has opened the door to some incredible opportunities.
In part, because of my involvement with the REALTOR® Party and the relationship that allowed me to create with our local congresswoman, she shared with me her single guest ticket to last year’s State of the Union address — a truly once in a lifetime experience.
During the NAR Leadership Summit in the summer of 2015, I got to see the San Francisco Giants, who I’ve cheered for since I was 5 year old, play the Chicago Cubs at historic Wrigley Field (that experience might have been better if the Cubs hadn’t swept the Giants in that series).
But, being involved in leadership has also had its costs: business opportunities lost because of travel, bedtime stories with my kids missed due to meetings, and the extra stress of trying to do what’s best for our association’s members, our clients, and our communities.
It’s easy to be grateful for the fun times and good experiences, but finding gratitude in those challenging times is important as well. Of course you won’t be grateful for missing bedtime with your kids (unless your kid is a 2-year-old going through a brief stage in which every bed time is a 60-minute World War II reenactment). Rather than feel resentment or frustration in those challenges, be grateful for the opportunity to make a difference.
Leadership skills can be learned and developed. But, gratitude is the multiplier that can take those skills and propel you to heights far beyond your expectations. As leader in your association and your community, be thankful for the people you have around you, the opportunities with which you are presented, and the challenges that you will overcome — then there is no limit to what you can achieve.
John Blom is a broker for the Hasson Company REALTORS® working in the Portland/SW Washington market. He is the immediate past-president for the Clark County Association of REALTORS®. You can find him on Twitter: @johndblom, LinkedIn, on his website johnblomhomes.com, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to this special edition of Commercial Connections, with highlights from the commercial perspective and activities during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. While it’s a condensed glimpse of what happened during the week, the important conversations had by your commercial real estate colleagues involved at the national level has great importance and long-lasting impact. Thanks to the many members and staff who contributed photos and quotes used in this publication.
We encourage you to dig deeper, attend future meetings and help continue to... Read More
The retirement boom is on for baby boomers so expect a lot of downsizing in the years ahead as older homeowners replace their suburban house with a condo. Now, how do you respond if you have clients who want to use a reverse mortgage to buy their new place?
It’s not your job to be a financial advisor, but it doesn’t hurt to know how reverse mortgages for purchase work. That way, if a client wants to go this route, you will at least understand the mechanics of these mortgage loans.
In a revese mortgage for purchase, buyers put up sizable down payments and in return get to have their monthly mortgage payments come out of the reverse mortgage rather than their pocket. That keeps their money free for spending on other things. Of course, when they go to sell the house or refinance the mortgage, the amount of the mortgage they’ve used to make their payments is a negative against their equity.
These mortgages remain a small part of the market, but as young boomers retire, many of them might find the option attractive. To help you at least understand how these mortgages work, REALTOR® Magazine is hosting a live webcast on Feb. 22 with a real estate pro and a lender who do a lot of these reverse mortgage transactions, which are backed by the FHA, by the way. If you watch the webcast, you can ask them questions while it’s going on.
A summary of the upcoming webcast is a top story in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video. The video also looks at how the confirmation of Ben Carson to be HUD secretary is going. The video excerpts from his testimony before the Senate Financial Services committee at which he said all Americans should have an opportunity to own a home and that the federal government should maintain a role in the secondary mortgage market even while it encourages private-sector alternatives. He also said the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage plays a key role in healthy housing markets.
The video also looks at the Trump Administration’s suspension of a planned FHA mortgage insurance premium reduction. The suspension was issued before the reduction took effect, so no one’s insurance premium will go up as a result. But NAR would like to see the reduction put back on the books, because an estimated 40,000 households would be able to buy that otherwise couldn’t.
Another segment looks at last year’s final existing-home sales number. It was 5.45 million, a 10-year high. Expect even more sales this year, but there are two negatives in the market: persistent inventory shortages in many parts of the country and the likelihood of higher mortgage interest rates. Even so, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun expects home sales to rise by 2 percent this year.
Hi Cara – That photo is from Houzz.com. They have so many examples of beautiful farmhouse kitchens, along with links to where you can get the products pictured too!
The kitchen pendants are from Uttermost Lighting. Here is a link:
I just submitted a question to the designer, Gardener Homes, about the chandelier — I’ll let you know when I find out! Thanks for reading!