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March 23, 2017

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Comment on 5 Staging Props You Need to Stop Using … Now! by Kerry

Styled, Staged & Sold - Sat, 03/04/2017 - 22:27

As a buyer I have walked out of for sales with dead animal heads on the walls. Hey, some of us respect all of God’s creatures and find it horrendous.

Commercial Member Profile

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 10:00

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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.

How to Throw a Memorable Client Appreciation Event

YPN Lounge - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 21:18

Brandon Doyle

By Brandon Doyle

Clients are the cornerstone of any successful enterprise, and this is particularly true in real estate, a business where relationships are central. Demonstrating your gratitude to past and present clientele has the potential to up your referrals, expand your database, and create face-to-face time with your business’s bread and butter: people. Take a look below at some tips to keep in mind as your craft the perfect client appreciation bash.

Expand your guest list.

Don’t stop at inviting former clients to your client appreciation bash. Instead, expand your network and invite neighbors, local businesses, friends, family, associates, and the like. Doing so creates a coveted in-person opportunity to build relationships and broaden your reach.

@Conzendo, 2017. pixabay.com

Think big and explore sponsors.

Sure, you don’t want to break the bank with a client appreciation event, but consider enlisting local businesses and associates as sponsors of the event. Not only does this ease the expense of throwing a memorable party, it also creates a link between you and other entrepreneurs, effectively widening your database and sources for leads.

Reward your employees in the process.

While client appreciation events may be geared toward database building and showing gratitude for past business, if done correctly they also provide a nice venue for your employees to enjoy a morale boost, too. After all, a team that feels appreciated and validated is both loyal and eager to please again.

Use local or major events as a platform.

Whether the local high school football team made it to the championship, or Halloween is just around the corner, pairing client appreciation events with already established happenings can create a natural tie-in and boost your attendance numbers, to boot. One popular method is conducting a pie giveaway during the Thanksgiving holiday, or hosting a Super Bowl viewing party. Both ideas create a natural theme and opportunity for comradery between hosts and attendees.

Make it personal.

Invitations for client appreciation events shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. While time management demands some efficiency in regards to your invites, consider handwriting a little note here and there for clients you remember well, or for associates who you have an upcoming meeting with. Perhaps you’re sending out an invite to someone who lives on the same street as a listing you just began to publicize—a natural opportunity to make a personal connection that might benefit your business and lead to a confirmed RSVP.

Cultivating leads and relationships is just as important as the active work of helping clients buy or sell a home. Securing the future health of your business is all about what you do in the present, and providing an opportunity to show clients you’re a business that cares is an excellent start.

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.

Comment on Meet Our Bloggers by Jen

Styled, Staged & Sold - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 06:26

Very interested to be a guest blogger so I can write about how eco-conscious condos are making a big splash in Singapore’s real estate market today. Maybe you guys can also feature some of these “green” condos found at http://www.propertyreview.sg to have a glimpse of how amazing these properties are.

Comment on Mudrooms: Should You Stage One in Your Listing? by Patricia Ebrahimi

Styled, Staged & Sold - Mon, 02/27/2017 - 19:56

To your point…an owner wouldn’t stage. The lovely vacant house didn’t sell and didn’t sell. One complaint was it didn’t have a pantry or mud room. When convinced (2 months in) to stage, we outfitted a small room at the front with built-in bookcases the builder obviously had in mind as an office as a mud room and pantry (with those built-in bookcases). It sold the next day for the full $1.5 million price tag. Stage the mudroom!

Comment on My Favorite Staging Accessory: Mirrors by Krista

Styled, Staged & Sold - Mon, 02/27/2017 - 07:08

whoah this blog is excellent i love reading your articles.
Keep up the good work! You already know, many people are hunting round for this information, you could help them greatly.

Webcast Recording: Using a Reverse Mortgage to Buy a Home

Speaking of Real Estate - Fri, 02/24/2017 - 18:24

REALTOR® Magazine recently hosted a live webcast about how reverse mortgages, also known as home equity conversion mortgages (HECMs), can be used to help seniors finance the purchase of a home in addition to their traditional purpose of enabling people to borrow against the equity in a property where they already live. The program took place on Feb. 22, 2017.

Panelists included Scott Trembley, CEO of The Trembley Group, a real estate firm in Myrtle Beach, S.C., that handles home purchases with HECMs; and Frank McInerney, a loan specialist with Reverse Mortgage Funding in Bloomfield, N.J. Jon Boughtin of NAR Communications hosted the program.

Dream Team

Weekly Book Scan - Fri, 02/24/2017 - 16:31

Despite (or maybe due to) the solitary nature of real estate, it’s one of those industries that runs best when the lines of communication are open. That’s why you see so many mentor-mentee arrangements and cross-professional relationships. But what if you’re new to the business, or if you don’t know which broker, real estate attorney, or home inspector you can trust in your local area?

Image: Rawpixel.com, via Unsplash

Allow me to recommend Dear Real Estate Agent, There Are Answers: Six Industry Professionals Share Their Knowledge as a start. It’s an e-book featuring straightforward chapters on what agents need to know from a broker, real estate lawyer, business attorney, home inspector, mortgage advisor, and insurance professional.

Each chapter is different because they’re written by different people. The book (smartly) begins with Katherine Scarim, broker-owner of Island Bridge Realty. It’s a meaty chapter, filled with scripts, sample disclaimers, and checklists of what to do before you start working with clients. Scarim goes beyond the typical pipeline filling advice to lay out the basics not everyone thinks of immediately, but that will bite agents in the you-know-where if they don’t get it down (ensuring they understand every document they ask their clients to sign, red flags to watch for when writing an offer, how to set a marketing budget). She even covers rarer circumstances such as how to represent renters and buyers looking at new construction.

I particularly like how she lays out her brand of common sense in a way with which you just can’t argue, as in this choice quote: “Early on, I kept a cleaning caddy in my car so I could tackle anything too horrible before showings. By doing this, I avoided having to have an uncomfortable conversation, but I also devalued my time by becoming a cleaning lady instead of an agent.”

In chapter two, real estate lawyer Gregory Cohen spends a fair amount of time working to convince real estate professionals that his colleagues aren’t just there to be deal-killers. However, he does include helpful anecdotes and specific examples of deals gone awry that could really only be put back on track by attorneys. He also includes red flags to look for to ensure the lawyers in your transactions are drafting contracts that are accurate and fair to your clients. Much of his advice could be helpful to folks who have been in the business for awhile, such as this gem: “Preprinted language in contracts is a bit like background music. At a certain point you don’t hear it anymore.”

He’s also a straight shooter. I love his reply to clients who say they don’t want to pay for title insurance: “I reply I would have to charge them far more for my time to prepare a disclosure document explaining how ridiculously stupid the idea of forgoing title insurance is, than it would cost them to obtain the actual title insurance.”

Gerald Pumphrey, senior mortgage advisor for Waterstone Mortgage Corporation, tends to overuse italics, bold type, and punctuation, but he also offers concrete questions to help real estate agents qualify a prequalification (“You should never just accept a pre-approval letter and assume the loan officer did their job… A pre-approval is only as good as the loan officer issuing the letter.”) He walks readers through basic loan types and explains each step clients will typically have to follow to get from the pre-approval process all the way to closing time.

In chapter four Guy Hartman, owner of Your Inspector Guy, goes through all the elements that are typically examined in a home inspection. He offers insider tips that both buyer’s agents and listing agents can pass on to their clients to make the inspection go more smoothly. He also includes a multitude of case studies that will be helpful to read no matter where you are in the transaction. His comprehensive checklist of traits to look for in a home inspector could prove quite helpful for any real estate pro looking to create a list of recommended providers, but in general, he advises readers to “look for an inspector who can help put the inspection and inspection process in context, who can confidently explain what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how to interpret the results.”

Mark Shanz, broker-owner of Seegott Shanz Insurance, leads readers through the many types of insurance homeowners might choose, explains ways they can save on their insurance, and details possible deal killers in the binder period before the deal closes. He goes into what may very well be more detail than a real estate professional will require in day-to-day work. But just as readers might be tempted to skip forward to the last section, he addresses the considerations agents and brokers should keep in mind when shopping for E&O, auto, general liability, and umbrella insurance.

Finally, business attorney Kelly Sturmthal talks through the common the legal structures for real estate businesses and outlines the questions that should be resolved if you’re looking at creating a real estate team, for example.

While the group does its best to generalize, this book will be more useful to real estate pros working in Florida, as all of the writers work in that state. It’s not that they exclusively talk about the laws and regulations governing Florida, but that many examples the writers cite originate there. However, Shanz betrays some serious geographical blind spots when he writes that “a home 30 years or older will be a tougher sell to insurance carriers… Finding affordable coverage for an older home is one example when having an experienced, local agent that represents multiple carriers will prove crucial.” As the owner of a home that is more than 100 years old, I can tell you that when shopping for home insurance no one blinked once when I told them the age of my home (likely because I bought in the practically geriatric city of Chicago).

Aside from being your built-in business advisors, this self-published book boasts another helpful feature in that it’s easily updated to reflect the ever-changing world of real estate. Scarim noted when she sent a copy my way that since they initially published, the FHA’s national conforming loan limit rose, meaning they needed to update the text. “A publishing house would never allow for biannual changes, as it would be far too costly for them. It would be silly to be preaching to agents that they have to keep up-to-date with the industry in a stagnant book,” she wrote. “Once revised, I have the ability to have Amazon push the update to the customers who already purchased the e-book, so their version will be replaced with the new one. You have to love technology!”

Comment on Dining Rooms Are Out, Social Areas Are In by Karen Peyton

Styled, Staged & Sold - Fri, 02/24/2017 - 01:10

I think this is another trend that won’t be so trendy a couple of years from now. Buy-in of course is a matter of personal preference, floor plan, and the need for additional yet separate space. Great rooms are terrific for people without children, but no matter how hard you teach kids to levitate “them” and their stuff won’t.

Comment on 5 Staging Props You Need to Stop Using … Now! by Karen Peyton

Styled, Staged & Sold - Fri, 02/24/2017 - 00:52

Years ago, unbeknownst to me, I had a problem with number 3. The Sellers were cowboys and the “odd” object on the fireplace hearth was a skull. I put the house on tour for feedback as to why it wasn’t selling, and turns out everyone knew what is was, and said it had to go.

2016 NAR Commercial Member Profile

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 08:00

This infographic highlights findings from the 2016 NAR Commercial Member Profile.

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Comment on Master Bathroom Remodels Are Going High-Tech by Ruth R. Nero

Styled, Staged & Sold - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 02:51

These hi-tech bathrooms are really nice. But they come in a little bit pricey. Thanks for posting.

Comment on 7 Bathroom Remodeling Trends by Ruth R. Nero

Styled, Staged & Sold - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 02:49

Very good blog post. Nice and pretty. Thanks a lot for sharing your ideas.

Tips for the Spring Market

YPN Lounge - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 09:00

Drew Heasley

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.

@image4you, 2017. pixabay.com

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.

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Comment on 5 Staging Props You Need to Stop Using … Now! by Linda

Styled, Staged & Sold - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 14:50

And here I thought the article was going to be on towels tied together with silk ribbon or raffia and artificial wreaths on the front door regardless of season…

Let’s face it. Certain markets can and will tolerate certain design styles. Cabin in the mountain? I don’t imagine a seller will be turned off by fur–on or off an animal. Kid’s room? Motivational or word art is certainly appropriate and usually gender neutral. Wine on a bar? Come on, it’s a BAR, it’s not like someone is going to use it for a Smoothie Station. Personally, I try to minimize the alcohol in the same way I try to minimize or remove religious artifacts. You want to appeal to a broad base and lessen anything potentially offensive. Air mattresses? Not wonderful, but as many others have said, not everyone has the budget for anything else. Checking on them from time to time and using flattened boxes on top and with thick bedding can help to disguise the hollows. I’m also an author, so I get that the writer of the article needs content to write about, but I don’t think you can use such a broad brush when it comes to staging.

Local REALTOR® Leader Has Been Dealing With a Nightmare Email Scam for a Year

Speaking of Real Estate - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 17:03

 

Photo credit: Morguefile/Yoel

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:

“Hi,

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.

Best

Sue”

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.

Highlights: 2016 NAR Commercial Member Profile

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 10:00

This video highlights key points from the 2016 Commercial Member Profile.

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NAR Reports Significant Increase in Commercial Membership

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 10:00

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

Animals in Homes

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 04:00

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The information in this infographic is from the Remodeling Impact: Animals in Homes report.

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Comment on View the Same Property Staged 3 Different Ways by Batman

Styled, Staged & Sold - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 20:46

I would love to see a designer re-create a neutral room three different ways based on the preferences of three couples