August 22, 2017

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Comment on The All White Room. It’s a Trap! by Boots Swikert

Styled, Staged & Sold - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 21:55

I remodeled a condo which was on the bank of Corpus Christ Bay, 9th floor, stunning sunset views, orange, pink, lavender, sea green, turquoise, sometimes purple. I told my designer I wanted to bring those colors into the rooms without anyone noticing what I had done. The ceiling was a white with a teenie bit of mint green, the walls were a white with a teenie bit of peach, a white with a teenie bit of pink. What happen was a feeling, no one could quite figure it out, how when the sun began to set, the walls picked up the subtle hues of the sunset sky and the changing greens and blues of the water. It was incredible, because the walls were all white…or were they?.

Comment on That Small Backyard Can Still Be a Selling Point by LaDeirdre McNutt

Styled, Staged & Sold - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 21:46


I hope you don’t mind but I posted this article on my Facebook page. It struck a cord with me because I never have a problem decorating my home but when it comes to the yard I’m at a total loss. Thank you for your ideas, I’m not sure how adventuous I’ll become but at least I have a start.

Dee McNutt, Realtor
JB Goodwin Realtors

Are you Using Virtual Reality to Win More Buyers and Sellers? Learn How to Get Started

Speaking of Real Estate - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 14:26

Matterport, a virtual reality company, contributed to this post to let agents and brokers know about a free e-book on using virtual reality in real estate that it’s making available.

Top real estate agents and brokers agree—virtual reality is the future of real estate. With incredible ease and accessibility, home buyers can have the immersive experience of walking through a home and its surrounding neighborhood, without leaving the comfort of their couch. Increasingly, top producers are using virtual reality to differentiate their marketing offering and really impress buyers and sellers alike.

“We win nearly every listing presentation because we come in with Matterport 3D and VR technology,” according to Matt Altman, star of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing. “If you don’t have it, you have no chance, especially in luxury. The value to us – it’s priceless.”

Matterport, a virtual reality company that works with real estate brokers and agents to increase leads and inbound interest with immersive digital experiences, has published a free e-book to help you understand the state of VR in real estate, and how to apply it to your own business. Without a doubt, letting home sellers know you can give their listing a virtual reality treatment is a way to set yourself apart. Although, as the company points out, given how quickly virtual reality is being adopted in real estate, it might not be too long before the technology is standard practice. Use it or be left behind.

You can get more information on the e-book on the company’s website. It’s called 10 Ways to Use VR to Win Listings in Real Estate. Look out for more webinars and educational programs about interactive technology in real estate from Matterport – and download this ebook today to understand specifically how to start driving leads and sales results with virtual reality.

Is $600 for Staging Worth It? A Report Says Yes

Speaking of Real Estate - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 10:20

How much sellers spend to stage their home will vary by where they are and what they have done, but generally speaking they can expect to pay $500-$600 for a few hours for a pre-photo shoot styling session and costs for other services, depending on what they want to have done.

In general, staging tends to break out into three categories: 1) The consultation, which can run between $300 and $600, depending on home size, home location, and so on, according toy Julea Joseph a stager in the Chicago area, 2) the actual staging of an occupied house, which can run between $500 and $600, and 3) the staging of the house if its vacant, which can start at  $1,800 a month per month. Vacant homes tend to cost more because furniture has tho be brought in and the house decorated from scratch and also the furniture might have to stay in there for a while.

Whatever the actual cost, it’s clear it’s not cheap, and it’s typically the seller who foots the bill. But an NAR report that just came out suggests the cost is worth it, because staged homes sell for more money on average and they spend less time on market. One reason they sell more quickly is because online pictures of staged homes attract more viewers, which in turn gets more people walking through the house itself.

The latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR looks at staging. It quotes from Joseph, who talks about what sellers get for their money, and it excerpts from NAR’s recent report, the 2017 Profile of Home Staging. The video also covers three important public policy topics:

1) NAR’s recent victory on the closing disclosure, which agents have been having trouble getting their hands on. The problem started about two years ago, when the federal government revamped federal closing rules. Since that revamping, lenders have cited privacy concerns in resisting to give agents a copy of the closing disclosure, which replaces the old HUD-1 settlement form. NAR argued that the new rules changed nothing about privacy and so agents should continue to receive closing information, as they always have. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau agreed and in a rule it published last week, confirmed that it’s customary for agents to receive a copy of the form.

2) NAR’s proposal to create a mortgage market liquidity fund. The fund is NAR’s solution to a problem Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac face. Since they were taken under conservatorship by the federal government about half a dozen years ago, they’ve been giving up larger and larger shares of their earnings to the federal treasury and now they’re on track to give up all of their earnings to the federal government by the end of the year. Why would the government take all of their earnings in this way? The answer is, lawmakers were using the gradual transfer of their earnings to spur them to enact comprehensive reform of the secondary mortgage market. As it turns out, lawmakers have had to focus on other priorities and it doesn’t look like major reform is going to happen any time soon, and yet the companies face losing all their earnings by year’s end. So, NAR’s proposed fund would create a mechanism for allowing the companies to retain part of their earnings for reserves, which would help protect taxpayers.

3) NAR’s joining a coalition in support of net neutrality. Net neutrality is the law of the land now, but the Federal Communications Commission has proposed rolling back the rules and NAR opposes that, because it wants to ensure real estate brokerages and other content providers don’t get stuck having to pay money to ensure their customers have a good experience browsing their websites. The concern is that, without net neutrality, Verizon, Comcast, and other Internet Service providers could strike deals with some content providers to give them faster Internet service while everyone else gets stuck with slow Internet service. The coalition that NAR joined could file a lawsuit to block the rollback of the rules.

Access the latest Voice for Real Estate.



Comment on The Wood Paneling Trend Is Back With a Twist by Painter pro

Styled, Staged & Sold - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 15:37

Spot on write up Melissa. Adding an accent wood wall to a room today can totally transform the space and it can be done for minimal cost. Done correctly with the right wood creates a wow factor that will increase the value of any home. It also gives you the flexibility to achieve a modern look or it can transition well with rustic styling. Nice pics as well and thanks for the insight!

Building Wealth Through Homeownership

YPN Lounge - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 17:49

John Blom

By John Blom

I’m often asked why I spend as much time as I do volunteering with the state (Washington REALTORS®) and National Association REALTORS®. There are many reasons, but perhaps the greatest is that I truly believe in the importance of  homeownership advocacy at every level. I believe in the value of owning a home, and that this opportunity should be protected and expanded.

Just before this year’s REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in D.C., I read an article in the New York Times attacking the mortgage interest deduction with the attention grabbing headline: “How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality.” Discussion of inequality has increased in recent years, and rightly so. However, to claim that homeownership is driving inequality in America could not be further from the truth.

The article cites statistics concerning how much savings wealthy individuals get from the mortgage interest deduction (MID) compared with middle class homeowners. Many moderate income earners may not even itemize their deductions, so they get no benefit from the MID. Factually, that is accurate, but it ignores the fact that people who make more than $100,000 still pay 75 percent of all the income taxes collected, according to Pew research.

There are other issues with arguments in the article and my point here is not to respond to each of them.  The greatest flaw, and this I will address, is the sweeping statement within the headline.  I would argue that promoting homeownership is one of the single greatest ways to address inequality, and government at every level should be more proactive in adapting policies that promote homeownership.

Housing expenses have increased dramatically in the last five years, both for renters and for new buyers. But for homeowners, the mortgage payment remains relatively constant, only changing in response to the cost of insurance and property taxes. As a result, individuals and families that are able to better to plan for their financial future, without concerns of “what is my rent payment going to be next year.”

@Skitterphoto, 2015. pixabay.com

A mortgage payment is also a forced savings plan. A portion of every payment goes toward equity. It might only be a small amount in the early years of the loan, but it is adding up over time. Over the first five years of a 30-year mortgage, a homeowner who began with a $200,000 loan would accumulate over $17,000 in equity. They get an additional $23,000 over the next five years. Those numbers do not even include the steady, long term growth of housing values that add further equity.

Picture the impact that can have on a person’s life. I had a client who was single mom of two boys. She had a decent job and could pay the bills, but it was clear there was not a lot of extra money. I helped her get into a small, three-bedroom home in a good school district where her payment was just a little bit more than what she was paying in rent.

Over the past four years her boys have received a good education. That education has never been disrupted because rents went up, causing them to move and change schools. As her pay has increased, the portion of her overall income that goes toward housing has declined. And, she has built up net worth without expending any more money than she was previously.

If more people could have this experience as opposed to sitting in a rental for five years with nothing to show for it but higher housing expenses, we will be moving in the right direction when it comes to equality.

What we do as REALTOR® volunteers makes a difference. Each new person who is able to buy a house because of the work we do fighting for the mortgage interest deduction, defending the 30-year mortgage as we know it, or supporting first-time home buyer savings programs is not just another transaction for an agent somewhere, but a life that will be changed because of the opportunity.

That’s what makes the time away from my home, my family, and my business worth it.

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 johnblom@hasson.com.








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

Styled, Staged & Sold - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 12:07

Makes me want to stage my house with a teepee. The idea of “Cultural appropriation” is ridiculous.

Comment on The Best Homes for ‘Porching’ by Wonder Woman

Styled, Staged & Sold - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 14:11

The best homes for porching IMO are either true classic Southern wraparound porches or craftsman bungalow style porches! Whether you like reclining in a nice adirondack or a rocker, there’s something timeless about the design.

Social Media’s Power Is Tempered by Risk, Expert Says

Speaking of Real Estate - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 15:50

Even as organizations have embraced tweets, Facebook posts and other social media tools as central elements of their communications strategies, many are not paying enough attention to making sure the information they put out sends the message they intend. The result has been a slew of embarrassing, offensive and otherwise inappropriate information that organizations have had to remove and apologize for—problems that might have been avoided had the people who posted the material had proper training and gotten approval for the information before it went up.

That was the message Don Heider, dean of the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago and a social media ethics expert, shared with approximately 180 REALTOR® association communication staff who gathered last week in Chicago for the NAR Communication Directors Institute.

“There seems to be a lack of training and editing,” an oversight that is leading people who handle social media to sometimes post information that, while perhaps factually correct, can be taken out of context and cause offense, says Heider.

Pointing to a series of what he terms social media “epic fails,” where prominent organizations or individuals have had to retract posts and issue public apologies, Heider says people who handle social media for companies and nonprofit organizations often don’t have the life experience to know that an image they post or a comment they make may be inappropriate or even offensive.

“We live in a world now where one tweet and your life can be over,” says Heider, founder of Loyola’s Center for Digital Ethics & Policy.

Don Heider, dean of the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago, speaks during the 2017 NAR Communication Directors Institute

The challenge organizations face is that in the social media age, they often can’t risk waiting to post information, Heider says. This means that developing an effective approval system requires striking a balance between ensuring accuracy and proper context with the need to get material out as quickly as possible. “If you’re trying to get stuff out, it can’t sit on somebody’s desk for a week,” he says. “That system for editing and approvals can’t be so onerous that you never get anything out. So it has to be quick. You have to have somebody who will approve it in a timely fashion.”

Heider suggests developing a set of guidelines that govern what your organization posts on social media. In addition, make sure you have a diverse team that can evaluate information from multiple points of view to keep from inadvertently posting something that could be taken the wrong way by someone, he adds.

It’s also essential to monitor what people are saying about your organization on social media, Heider advises. “Our worst nightmare as communicators is not to be ahead of the story. We want to know as soon as possible. The most devastating cases happen when something trends and we don’t know it’s trending.”

Also be sure to have a response plan in place ahead of time so you can act if someone in your organization posts something that shouldn’t have gone out, or information from another source demands a response, Heider says. “Mistakes happen. I get that. But it’s how we respond to the mistake and how quickly we respond and how sincerely we respond,” he says. “If we don’t know about it, we can’t do any damage control.”

4 Ways to Find Off-Market Deals for Buyers

YPN Lounge - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 13:23

James Vasquez

By James Vasquez

If you’re like most real estate agents, you probably source deals for your clients who are looking for fixer uppers or rental property using only one tool, your local multiple listing service (MLS); ours is San Antonio Board of REALTORS® MLS. When I first got started in real estate seven years ago, I fell into the same mindset that most practitioners are stuck in today: That I should only use the MLS to find deals for my investment company, House Buyer San Antonio, and my investor clients.

And for a few years it was working for me, then the market shifted, and competition for “listed” properties became so fierce in my local market of San Antonio, Texas, that I was forced to make my own shift from the MLS to sourcing “off-market” deals through marketing and networking. Finally, with the laws of supply and demand working for me instead of against me, I was able to get a handle on my business and consistently find equity-rich deals for my own company and my investor clients. Here are just a few of the many ways that I have had success in finding off-market, equity-rich properties.

Send Direct Mail To Find Motivated Home Owners

Why on earth would any real estate professional want to spend the time and money that’s required to send out direct mail to find deals for their clients? Because when you market directly to home owners to find deals for your clients instead of searching a source that’s saturated (the MLS), you’ve essentially cut your competition out of the equation and simultaneously removed the commission limitations set by listing agents.

I’ve spent well over $150,000 in direct mail (letters and postcards) over the last seven years, and I can attest that there are, at any given time, only a small handful of investors who are actively sending mail to find deals. But here’s the kicker, only a very small subset of those investors are even willing to pay up to what your buyer might be willing to pay for a property, especially if your buyer is looking to build their rental portfolio, and not flip.

If you can get home owners calling you from either a post card or a letter, and you are able to make “reasonable” offers on your client’s behalf, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that sourcing deals for your client’s using direct mail is easier than you thought. Here are a few other benefits of buying directly from the home owner, on your client’s behalf:

  • You typically won’t be in multiple offer situations, even on great deals.
  • You get to decide what your commission should be, not a listing agent.
  • You get to structure the deal the way you and your cash buyer want it.
  • You can easily scale your marketing up or down depending on needed inventory.

Work Through Local Wholesalers To Source Equity-Rich Deals

Ever seen those annoying “we buy houses” signs strewn throughout your city around major intersections? Well, those are usually your local cash home buyers/wholesalers. Wholesalers typically don’t actually close on deals, they just negotiated a deal, put it under contract, and then sell that contract to another investor for a fee. Although we’re not one of those companies that claim to buy houses using handwritten signs, we do buy houses directly from home owners. Once we have the deal under contract, we start looking for a buyer that can close on the deal, that’s where you and your buyer come in.

What if you had just a couple of trustworthy wholesalers like us to go to where you could get “off-market” deals with tons of equity for your clients without all the competition that’s inherent with the MLS? What would that mean for your client that wants to build his or her rental portfolio and is looking to you to help find and purchase five houses in the next two months?

Should you decided to network through your local wholesalers/investors to find deals for your clients, you don’t need to worry about not getting a commission, because you can easily add your fee onto any sales price that you negotiate for your client; Of course, you and your client can determine the amount in your representation agreement.

@paulbr75, 2016. pixabay.com

Make Offers Directly To Expired Listings On Your Client’s Behalf

For some agents, working expired listings is the lifeblood of their business. Most agents have found that sending direct mail to expired listings or even door knocking works and can be lucrative, but it’s a lot of hard work.

What I’ve found is that many investors don’t go after expireds, for two reasons: One, they think that if the listing expired, the seller isn’t flexible; and two, that niche is over saturated with agents. Both schools of thought probably have some validity, but there are exceptions to both.

A seller that wasn’t motivated while their house was overpriced on the MLS, just might be tired of dealing with it when you call to make a cash offer for it for your client. They might be ready to trade equity for peace of mind.

Also, the expireds niche is saturated with agents, but those agents aren’t making offers, they’re trying to secure a listing. You can separate yourself from the crowd by “bringing them a buyer,” instead of trying to convince the seller that you can “find them a buyer.”

If this strategy interests you, you can use The Red X to help you locate expireds’ contact information.

Find Vacant Houses & Track Down Owners

We’ve all been driving our farm area and noticed that house with grossly overgrown grass and newspapers in the driveway. Don’t keep driving; that’s potentially the next deal for your client. Take down addresses of the abandoned looking houses that you pass by all day anyway. Then, when you get back to the office, grab the current owner’s contact information from your local county tax assessor’s office and look the owner up on the white pages or a paid service like Intelius.

Instead of going for the listing, present your client’s cash offer. Most of these types of leads won’t sell to your buyer right away, but the gold is in the follow up. Just add them to your CRM, we use Podio because it’s highly customizable, but no matter what CRM you use, follow up at least two times a month until the home owner either sells the house or asks you to stop calling.

In my seven years of experience in this area, I know that the “vacant house” home owner will eventually sell to an investor; why not your buyer?

To Sum it Up

Those that think creatively and separate themselves from crowded niches, especially in the real estate industry, will be richly rewarded. Think of the profit potential that you might achieve by sourcing, negotiating, contracting, and selling your own deals for your real estate investors.

James Vasquez is the broker-owner of Done Deal Buyers in San Antonio, Texas, a real estate company that buys houses directly from home owners. Learn more at DoneDealBuyers.com







Comment on The Best Homes for ‘Porching’ by Brett Cairns (REMAX)

Styled, Staged & Sold - Tue, 07/04/2017 - 21:11

The South Carolina porch (Palmentto Bluff) with the columns is inviting

Comment on 10 Reasons Why You Should Stage Your Next Listing by Kyle Winters

Styled, Staged & Sold - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 17:35

The article makes a really good point about how well staging works when selling a home. After all, when people are touring a house, they want to get an idea of what they can do with the rooms. By staging each room in your home, you can really get their minds invigorated and thinking about what they can possible do with your home.

2016 Q4 Commercial Real Estate Market Survey

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 12:00

Download (PDF 1.49MB)

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.

... Read More

Learn How Tax Reform Might Affect Your Business

Speaking of Real Estate - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 13:48

Note: The tax reform webcast being hosted by NAR on this topic is postponed because of a scheduling conflict. Registrations are not being taken at this time. Sorry for any inconvenience.Robert Freedman, director, multimedia communications, National Association of REALTORS®. Please email me with any questions at rfreedman@realtors.org

Health care is on top of the Senate’s agenda right now but tax reform is not far behind. The exact shape of reform won’t be known until a proposal is put forward, but lawmakers in the House several months ago released a reform concept that raises serious concerns for the real estate industry. The administration has put something out as well that, in its broad outlines, shares many of the concepts of the House plan.

NAR has ben communicating its concerns about the concepts for some time now, but it’s important for you, as a real estate professional, to have a good sense of what’s being talked about and to ask hard questions on behalf of your industry. That’s why NAR is hosting a live webcast on Wednesday, July 12, that will give you a chance to ask questions about the House and administration concepts.

In broad outline, the House concept 1) doubles the standard deduction, 2) eliminates itemized deductions except those for mortgage interest and charitable giving, and 3) lowers tax rates and increases the  number of brackets.

On the face of it, it’s good to lower rates and double the standard deduction. But for most households, those two changes, when combined with other changes that are contemplated, are not enough to offset what’s lost by the elimination of most itemized deductions. And yet most households will still end up taking the standard deduction as the better of the two choices.

Of course, any tax reform that’s proposed will be far more complicated than this simple scenario. There are many other factors included in the House concept that would come into play, but analyses NAR has had done are clear that most middle-income households will pay more taxes and receive no benefit from investing in their community as a homeowner.

What’s important is to learn about these reform concepts for yourself so you can decide what makes sense and what doesn’t. The webcast NAR is hosting is intended to help you do that. Here’s information on registering for it:

What Tax Reform Means for Real Estate
Live webcast
Wednesday, July 12, 2 p.m., Eastern time NOTE: This webcast has been postponed due to a scheduling conflict.
Evan Liddiard, NAR Senior Legislative Policy Representative
Danielle Hale, NAR Managing Director of Housing Research

2014 Q2 Commercial Real Estate Market Survey

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 09:00

The REALTORS® Commercial Real Estate Market Survey measures quarterly activity in the commercial real estate markets. The survey collects data from commercial REALTORS®. The survey is designed to provide an overview of market performance, sales and rental transactions, along with current economic challenges and future expectations.

2014.Q2 Survey Highlights
  • 64% of commercial REALTORS® closed a sale.
  • Sales volume rose 7% from a year ago.
  • Sales prices increased 3% year-over-year.
  • Cap rates averaged 8.3% during Q2.14
  • ... Read More

Developers Scramble to Catch Up With Apartment Boom

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 09:00

Developers are ramping up apartment construction across the country to cash in on rising rents.

CIB: Land that Knockout Punch

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 09:00

In this edition of the CIB, Steve talks to Marsha Petrie Sue MBA, CSP on what skills Commercial Practitioners can use to land that "knockout punch" on closing the deal as well dealing with difficult people and work situations.

NAR: Job Creation Forecast to Lift Commercial

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 09:00

With multifamily housing back on its feet, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said the more hopeful tone in Washington may pave the way for a full commercial recovery.

Commercial Real Estate Vacancies Slowly Declining, Rents Rising

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 09:00

WASHINGTON (November 26, 2012) – Most of the major commercial real estate sectors show gradually improving fundamentals and are easily absorbing the relatively small amount of new space that is coming online, with a full recovery already in the multifamily market, according to the National Association of Realtors® quarterly commercial real estate forecast.

Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist, said the market has been slowly building momentum. "Job creation is the key to... Read More

Repurposing Buildings the Right Way

realtor.org Commercial Headlines - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 09:00

Existing and historic buildings are a hot commodity in a market that's moving back to the city. But are you ready for the risks?