Last week, I interviewed Bruce Poon Tip, founder of travel company G Adventures and author of the new book Looptail: How One Company Changed the World By Reinventing Business (Business Plus, 2013).
Tip’s book is a deeply personal story of his long journey from fired McDonald’s employee to the founder of one of the most innovative travel companies of all time. The book is a New York Times best seller and is being lauded by CEOs and business thinkers across the board. And yet, the glowing forward to the book is written by none other than the Dalai Lama. I’m not sure many books can claim both those distinctions at once.
The interview itself was so interesting and wide-ranging that I thought I would give Book Scan readers a special sneak preview of the full article, which will appear in our Last Word section at REALTOR® Magazine online. So here are two questions from the interview that have a little more to do with the new book, though it’s clear the driving force behind Tip’s success is pretty uniformly inspiring across the board. And stay tuned for the full interview on REALTOR® Mag online very soon.
What advice do you have for real estate professionals who want to tell their company’s story with authenticity?
That’s a big part of leadership, and another part of my book. I’m trying not to shamelessly promote my book [laughs], but as you know, in the book I talk about how the best leaders of our time are always the best storytellers. For me, I’m laughing because I’ve spoken at all these literary festivals, but I’ve never fancied myself a writer by any stretch. But here I am, talking to you about a book I wrote. I’ve always said I’m a good storyteller, but that doesn’t mean you can write a good book.
But as an entrepreneur you have to be able to create a story. If you are creating a movement with your business and you really believe that you can transcend what you do, and you look at business as creating a movement, and people believing what you do and coming on your side to buy your product because you stand for more than just real estate, you have to be able to build the story. You have to be able to convince people to join your movement. And business and sustainability and all the things we talk about in the book are all about looking at your business very differently. We all have at our fingertips very different tools today with which to engage customers.
How is what your company does similar to the business world inhabited by real estate professionals?
Real estate is an interesting business, because it’s like travel in that there are lots of people who run their own businesses. And they think, “How can I create something bigger than just me and a few people in my shop, or me as a lone real estate agent? How do I create that purpose in what I do?”
And that’s the best part about Looptail. There’s nothing more common than the travel tour. What I was able to do was to transcend that. There are literally millions of travel companies around the world that run tours. So the question for me is how are you able to transcend that and what can you do as a small business owner to create that purpose? And everyone can do it because the opportunities have never been greater. These are the kinds of people who can create differentiation in a business model that’s in such a crowded space. I’m just a real believer that the potential is there.
by Aaron Bosshardt
IREM Fall Leadership Conference
October 15-19, 2013
Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
This will be the fourth year in a row I have attended the IREM Fall leadership conference. Four years ago I went to the Orlando convention a new CPM, but I had more questions than a five year old on a road trip. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about property management and my company has grown accordingly. Knowledge is power and knowledge put to work is professionalism.
Normally after four years of any one venue you get a little tired and feel a little stale. But, there are three reasons I’m more excited than ever about this event.
IREM created an executive edge program this year. I’ll get one whole day to learn and network with other property management firm owners and executives. This is invaluable in a competitive field like commercial property management.
Now there is IREM’s members only Shared Interest Community. These are the LinkedIn groups by property type. We share ideas, problems, best practices and innovations on LinkedIn, but when we get together that’s when sparks fly! My only regret as the owner of a diverse firm is that I can’t get to all the different property types.
Finally, the IREM Foundation is having another super cool event “Boots and Buckles” The foundation provides scholarships for property managers to advance their education through IREM when they can’t afford to do it on their own. I know that getting a CPM isn’t cheap- but as someone who took that leap of faith in 2008 and was able to pay my own way, I can safely say that my CPM has earned me a return far greater than any other investment I’ve ever made in my career.
Did I forget to mention that the Foundation is also having a golf tournament? Oh the sacrifices I have to make in the name of professionalism and education. See you in Scottsdale!
Aaron Bosshardt currently serves as the Chairperson of the Children’s Home Society of Mid Florida and the President of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Chapter 60. You can read the most recent coverage about him in the Gainesville Sun by clicking http://bit.ly/XybpaO
Once again the 2013 REALTORS® Conference and Expo is right around the corner. November 8-11 in San Francisco’s Moscone Center is where this year’s commercial real estate practice program is running to keep you up to date on the sector’s many trends, tools and tactics for success.
This year includes a session on auctions featuring a very unique pair of perspectives. It can pay off to go beyond the usual listings and put in the work to find jaw-dropping bargains on all kinds of commercial property in all its sectors – land, office, retail, industrial, multifamily and specialty. All find themselves on the auction block, and most are priced to move. But finding the information about auctions in the commercial sectors is comparatively more difficult than in residential real estate. Unique processes, customs and law apply, and all the complicating factors that come with commercial property transactions aren’t any less prevalent in the auction arena.
Tapped to talk about this at the Expo are Jon Hjelm , ALC and Quentin Kilian in their talk “Real Estate Auctions: The Real Deal”.
Real Estate Auctions: The Real Deal
11/09/2013 | 09:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Location: Moscone Center, Rom 305
Property packaging and target marketing are key to both sides of the auction deal table, and Jon and Quentin have been there. Don’t miss this unique and global perspective (Jon’s firm is based in Iowa and Quentin’s in Australia) at the Expo!
- Apartment construction surges across Phoenix area
- REALTORS Conference And Expo 2013: Richard Muhlebach
- “Coping with the challenges in real estate business”
- Are real estate auctioneers losing their appeal?
- Upcoming California Real Estate Tax Deed Auctions November 2013
By Charlene Storozuk, Dezigner Digz
It’s hard to believe that fall is already upon us. Summer may be over, but now is not the time to neglect a home’s exterior, especially if it’s going to soon be listed for-sale this season. Here are a few tips to help you embrace the fall season and keep your property looking its best:
· The most obvious tip: rake up leaves on a frequent basis;
· Inspect your gutters regularly and remove any leaves that get trapped;
· Carry on weeding garden beds and walkways;
· Remove all annual flowers that are no longer blooming and plants that are past their “best before” date. Dead vegetation gives the impression of a home not cared for;
· If you’re experiencing a warm, dry fall in your area, you’ll still need to irrigate your lawn (according to local by-laws of course);
· Fertilize your lawn before the ground freezes (unless you’re lucky enough to live in a year-round warm climate). This will give your grass a head start in the spring. However, check with your local garden center first to find out if this is the right course of action for your particular environment;
· Readjust the timers on outdoor lighting displays since it now gets dark earlier;
· Give your gardens some liveliness by planting fall flowers such as chrysanthemums. Choose a color that compliments the exterior of your home;
· Redesign your urns and flowers pots – it’s time for a fall theme;
· Add some vignettes. Sometimes, it’s the little things that produce the most attention. My personal favorite for generating anticipation in potential buyers is to create a simple fall vignette on the porch. Pumpkins add a punch of color and provide a warm, welcoming look when blended with something interesting like a couple of antique lanterns, for example. Be careful not to add too many items to the vignette or it will appear too cluttered.
If there’s a swing or rocking chair on the porch, add cushions with a generous amount of orange in them to tie everything together. If you pay this much attention to the exterior of your home, buyers will be anxious to see what awaits them behind the front door. The photo above was taken at the side door of a property that was never used as an entry point. Be sure when creating your vignette that you don’t block access to the front door.
These are just a few things that will help keep the exterior of your home looking terrific right through to the next season: The dreaded winter. We won’t think about that right now though!
Have I missed anything? Feel free to add your fall tips to the list!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charlene Storozuk is the owner of Dezigner Digz, a professional home staging and interior decorating company based in Burlington, Ontario. Her work is featured in the book FabJob Guide To Become A Home Stager, 2009 edition. Sheserves as regional vice-president, Canada for the Real Estate Staging Association and is a past recipient of the North American Leadership Award for her work as founder and president of the Halton & Hamilton-Wentworth RESA Chapter.
The cost of quality stock cabinets for an average-sized kitchen generally runs $8,000 to $10,000, according to consumer website Houselogic. Semi-custom cabinets would cost about twice that, the site reports, and full custom cabinets would cost even more.
Help home owners make such smart choices with stock cabinets that look like they were made to order at an astronomical price. Post to your website a free article, How to Choose Stock Kitchen Cabinets, from REALTOR® Content Resource. It’s one of five free articles now available in the October “Save Big While Boosting Home Value” article package.
You can also post to your website (or your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed; email; add to your e-newsletter; or brand, print, and hand-deliver) any of about 1,000 always-free home listing, selling, and ownership articles. Just search the REALTOR® Content Resource by keyword or topic for other content ranging from home improvement and maintenance to taxes and finance.
While you’re adding REALTOR® Content Resource materials to your marketing communications, be careful not to download photos or videos on the site. The REALTOR® Content Resource doesn’t have permission to allow others to use them, and owners of the images actively search online — and charge violators for — unauthorized uses. Learn more in the Reprint Rights Policy.
The REALTOR® Content Resource is brought to you by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. With it, you can download free homeownership content from HouseLogic to your marketing materials.
By Adam Ailion
If you are anything like me, you are tired of hearing about the latest and greatest app you have to learn how to use, or the next best service to buy. My mind is going through “technology overload,” making it difficult to stay current — and many times a good idea or service may go unnoticed.
Let me start off by saying I am frugal when it comes to spending money on tools to grow my business. It might not always be a positive trait to have, but on the plus-side, if I buy into something it has to be good — so listen up.
Last month I was at a technology summit where a real estate panelist mentioned a new service called “FiveStreet,” which was revolutionizing his business by consolidating his online prospects. I have been on the quest for something like this for more than three years, so hearing that this product is available got me a bit excited.
If your business is anything like ours, we get 15-25 inbound leads a day. It has been a constant struggle to manually input all the data, respond to all online inquiries in a timely manner, properly track them to see where they all come from, all while being able to route them to the proper team of agents. We’ve tried our hand at various CRM tools, and we boast about being equipped with tools to serve our business. But one thing I have noticed over the years is that many of the CRM software providers don’t fully communicate with the real estate syndicate websites. There is always a missing piece to the puzzle. This FiveStreet service seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle that can tie it all together.
FiveStreet screens your Gmail account for online prospect notifications, and consolidates them into one database, regardless of their source. It then pulls their phone number and e-mail address and sends them an automated e-mail/text within minutes of their request, it also researches social networks for their accounts, and easily allows you to collaborate and route the leads to other team members. Best of all, it communicates with other major e-mail providers, as well as Mailchimp, BombBomb, Contactually, and Top Producer.
This has to be one of the most useful real estate services to come across my desk in over a year. We have been using this tool for about a month and we’ve seen great success consolidating online prospects, improving response rates, and getting insight into ROI tracking for premium paid advertising on the real estate syndicated websites.
As an advocate for new innovative ideas, I urge you to look closely at this service if you are having a hard time consolidating online prospects and quickly and effectively responding to them.
Adam Ailion is a managing member of the Ailion Team at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta. Connect with Adam at www.LocationLocationLocation.com, www.facebook.com/RemaxAtlanta, @atlanta_agent, or www.linkedin.com/in/atlantaagent.
It’s that time again: the 2013 REALTORS® Conference and Expo is right around the corner. November 8-11 in Moscone Center in beautiful San Francisco is were the action is and where this year’s commercial practice program is running to keep you up to date on the commercial real estate sector’s many trends, tools and tactics for success.
We’ll be taking a look at selected speakers in the commercial track over the next few days here at The Source.
Negotiating the Commercial Lease
Monday 11/10 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Location: Moscone Center, Room 305
The esteemed Richard Muhlebach, CCIM, CPM, CRE will tackle the commercial and legal issues in the negotiation of commercial leases. A 40-year veteran of the industry with a special touch for retail and tenant representation, Richard’s decades of experience on both sides of the landlord and tenant representation picture show the way to add value to your client no matter the position you find yourself in.
No stranger to the commercial program at the Expo, Rich’s recent Expo presentations have included Preparing To Lease And Represent Tenants and Renegotiating Leases And Representing Tenants In A Recession. Rich is a sharp, approachable professional with the deep experience few in this business can claim — a can’t-miss at the Expo.Related articles
The effects of the government shutdown are rippling through the real estate industry, and practitioners are feeling the pain all over the country. Most of the complaints we’re fielding are about USDA loans, which have been entirely frozen. Real estate pros are seeing deals fall apart, as the Department of Agriculture has shuttered its mortgage division during the shutdown.
But agents and brokers whose clients hold every type of loan are getting slammed. Though the FHA is still operational, it has drastically reduced its staff, causing widespread delays in the processing of FHA loans. And while the IRS is down, it can’t verify tax documents tied to conventional, FHA, or any other loans. That translates to many real estate deals being put on hold — or just disintegrating.
It’s becoming a madhouse out there for many practitioners fighting to keep deals alive as the shutdown puts a stranglehold on the market. We’ve gotten a few of their stories.
David Harman Jr., ABR, CRS, GRI
Associate broker, Century 21 Harman
Everything that was once in the former townhouse of Harman’s clients is now in Harman’s garage: furniture, memorabilia, even a refrigerator full of food. His clients were about to get approval for a USDA loan at the end of September, and they had long picked out the home of their dreams. Then the shutdown happened, the loan was stopped dead in its tracks, and Harman’s clients — a married couple with two kids of their own and three foster children — had nowhere to go. They had already told their landlord that they would be gone at the start of October, and another tenant was already moving in.
“They’re first-time home buyers. The only way they could afford a home was through the USDA program,” Harman says. “It’s just so sad because these guys were so close to getting their first home, and they were so excited.”
The Friday before the shutdown went into effect, Harman received word that the USDA needed just one final question answered before approving the loan. The next Monday, it all fell apart.
Harman offered his garage as a place to store his clients’ belongings while they were forced to move in with a relative. Even then, their family was split up.
“I guess the foster kids are back with the state,” Harman says, adding that there’s no way they would have been allowed to stay with them in their current living situation.
To make matters worse, the sellers of the home Harman’s clients were going to purchase is now threatening to sink the deal. At first, they were only allowing a one-week closing extension when they found out the buyers’ loan was backed up because of the shutdown, Harman says. Now, the sellers say they’re not even sure they want to sell anymore. Harman says he continues to try to negotiate an extension, but “we don’t know how long an extension to ask for. Is it a day? Is it a month? We don’t know.
“I try to call every day and talk to [my clients],” Harman says. “That’s all I can do is talk to them and reassure them that I’m doing everything I can. … I don’t even know if they’re going to want to buy a house anymore. It’s been such a nightmare.”
Salesperson, Coldwell Banker College Real Estate
“My clients were at the tail end of a USDA loan,” Byrum says. “They still have hope that the government will resume and they will close on their USDA loan.”
But drastic times call for drastic measures, so Byrum’s clients are starting all over again, applying for another loan as a backup plan. The clients, she says, are applying for a conventional loan this time, in hopes that it will be easier — and faster — to get while the government shutdown continues with no resolution in sight. But it’ll come with a big price.
“The conventional financing will end up costing them more each month, and now they have to use their savings for a down payment,” Byrum says. They were originally planning to use their savings to buy furniture, she adds.
“Not only that, but if they were going to go regular financing rather than USDA, there were other homes in other areas that could have been an option,” Byrum continues. “But they wanted to take advantage of the wonderful government-offered USDA financing.”
All of this has left a bad taste in Byrum’s mouth: “The government is like a common crook that pulls an unsuspecting person in with no remorse of not following through on its promise.”
Lori Young, SFR
Broker-president, Young Realty Group, Inc.
Young’s frazzled. She represents sellers in several deals that are saddled on the sidelines because the IRS is unable to verify buyers’ tax return documents to approve their loans. Many of the deals are for short sales. One is for a property that has a tax lien filed against it. Young was in the process of trying to get the IRS to issue a document of release to the seller with the tax lien. But all of that is in limbo now.
“Overall, I approached the shutdown as an issue out of the real estate professional’s control and that I will monitor daily,” Young says. “Once reopen, we will continue to push our files.
“I’m not sure what is going on, but I’m lucky that my sellers and the buyers are all being patient,” she adds.
Who knows how long that patience will last, though.
Young has 16 short-sale deals on the table, and they’re all on hold “with some type of excuse blaming the shutdown,” she says. “Some are stating Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are holding up approvals, and others are stating ‘the investor’ has not approved the deal. I’m a bit concerned about my short sales, which are homestead properties that need to close by year’s end to avoid any additional tax implications.”
Young says she communicates every day with her clients and updates them on any new information she learns related to their deals. That’s what helps keep them calm. But with all these balls in the air, it seems like Young could use some calming herself.
How does she do it?
“I go to yoga class,” she says.
Marketing manager, Keller Williams Realty
By the end of October, Laura, who asked to withhold her last name, and her 8-year-old son will be couch-surfing. The single mom was in line to close on her USDA loan and move into her new home with her little boy by Oct. 20. But now that USDA loan processing has come to a halt, they’ll be making very different plans.
“Even if the government reopened tomorrow, they wouldn’t be able to process my loan until December,” Laura says. “I haven’t come up with a plan for what we’re going to do for the next couple of months.”
She had already committed to moving out of her current place by the end of October, and she doesn’t have the option of extending her stay, she says. Luckily, a few of her co-workers at her 150-person Keller Williams Realty office have offered to open up their homes to her and her son — but that comes with its own set of problems.
“Staying in someone else’s house who you’ve only known for a year, especially with an 8-year-old — it just seems like such an inconvenience to them,” Laura says. And then there’s her son, an even bigger and more important concern. “I want him to have a stable environment,” she says, “but we may have to house-hop for a while.”
Laura says that she has no family in the area. She’s even offered to pay extra to her home’s builder to move in before the loan closes, but the builder wouldn’t except the deal, she says. So until this mess can get straightened out, she’s taking it one day at a time.
“I’m very humble and resourceful — we’ll figure something out,” Laura says.
Pam Aguirre, CRS
Broker-associate, RE/MAX Legends Group
Aguirre says one of her latest listings is a “show stopper.” It’s a completely renovated three-bedroom, four-bathroom single-family home with newly redone hardwood floors, a remodeled master suite with walk-in closet, new porch, self-closing cabinets, and new finishes. It came on the market just days after the government shutdown went into effect — and Aguirre hasn’t had a single showing yet.
“I feel our marketplace has gotten very quiet” since the shutdown, Aguirre says. “I’m not surprised by the slowdown. I think consumers in general are still very uneasy about the economy, their buying power, and the possibility that a government shutdown may bring a return of what happened to the housing market in 2008.”
The slow response to Aguirre’s listing, located in the car-racing enclave of Speedway, Ind., is all the more troubling because it’s close to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a major draw for the area.
“I was tweeting about a new listing coming to Speedway last week, hoping to draw some race teams or fans in. Nothing,” Aguirre says.
She admits that because renovation work on the home is wrapping up, she hasn’t had as many listing photos to show, and that could have an effect on buyer traffic to the property. But still, most of her listings that are in good condition, as this one is, have sold within a couple weeks of coming on the market, she says.
Even for properties in poorer condition, “the phone has been ringing and there have been showings,” Aguirre says. But right now, “the phone has been very quiet.”
If the federal government fails to increase its borrowing authority prior to when the U.S. Treasury says it will run out of money to pay its bills, debt default is not necessarily the first consequence we’ll see, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. Rather, the government could decide to pay the interest on its debt, which is about three percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, and ensure that global investors of U.S. Treasury bonds are made whole. That would help protect the dollar as the world reserve currency. But to do that, the government would have to curtail spending elsewhere.
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The government spends one dollar for every 75 or 80 cents it takes in, Yun says, so, if the borrowing limit isn’t raised, “it will be a tough decision as to where the tax revenue gets spent. Does it mean that interest costs on past borrowing gets suspended? Is it the case that some people who have been relying on Social Security checks no longer gets those checks, or some of the military jets or tanks that have been purchased will not be purchased any more?”
Should the government decide to pay bills other than interest obligations, we can expect interest rates on Treasury bonds to rise as investors look for more return to compensate for the increased risk of their not getting paid. And if that happens, mortgage rates will rise, because mortgage rates follow Treasury rates.
Yun says home sales can be expected to drop by 350,000 to 450,000 units for each 100 basis-point rise in mortgage rates.
It’s possibe global investors will not over-react, at least in the short term, should the U.S. choose not to make its interest payments. “I believe that the global investors recognize that the U.S. will come through at the end, even if it’s a delay for a couple of weeks or even in a worst-case scenario of a few months. . . . Therefore, I don’t believe there will be immediate bond market panic.”
Even so, since the economy remains weak, with tepid employment growth, any impact on interest rates would be a problem. “You are in a situation in which the economy is at a tipping point, with rising rates, and that’s certainly not a good combination,” Yun says.
In the four-minute video above, Yun talks abut the looming debt crisis with REALTOR® Magazine.
Everyone’s got their game face on as the NFL and NHL seasons get underway, and while sports fans are rooting for the home team, real estate companies are making plays to the home buyers in the crowds. Next up to score: realtor.com®.
NAR’s official listing Web site, which is operated by Move, Inc., announced that it has inked a deal to become the “category exclusive” sponsor of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. That grants realtor.com® big ad displays at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., the Sharks’ home stadium, as well as exposure in regional and national television and radio broadcasts of Sharks games. Realtor.com® will also develop giveaways to Sharks fans, co-branded items with the team, and new campaigns that spotlight its mobile apps.
“We continue to look for ways to connect with on-the-go, busy consumers to provide a personalized and powerful real estate experience on their mobile devices,” says Barbara O’Connor, chief marketing officer of Move. “Our agreement with the San Jose Sharks aligns perfectly with the audience we want to reach.” The deal also holds an element of neighbors helping neighbors: The Sharks’ stadium, after all, is only two blocks away from the realtor.com® headquarters, O’Connor notes.
The realtor.com® team will also take part in meet-and-greets with Sharks fans at Sharks Street Rallies, the first of which was held at the team’s season opener last Thursday. (The Sharks, by the way, trounced the Vancouver Canucks to win their season opener, then went on to beat the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.)
“We strive to form alliances with dependable, forward-thinking companies that care greatly about their customers the way that we care about our fans, and realtor.com® demonstrates that,” says John Tortora, chief operating officer of Sharks Sports & Entertainment. “We are pleased to name realtor.com(R) as an official sponsor, as they are an ideal affiliate that offers a robust database and intuitive mobile apps that give users an interactive and seamless home-searching experience.”
Realtor.com® maintains relationships with more than 800 MLSs, allowing consumers to search 98 percent of homes for sale through its database. Ninety percent of its listings are updated every 15 minutes.
O’Connor says that the Sharks deal allows realtor.com® to demonstrate that its service is available to home buyers and sellers everywhere they go.
“When people are in the process of trying to buy or sell a home, it permeates all areas of their lives — they think about the housing decision day and night,” she says. “They also search for homes while at home, and while standing in line for coffee or groceries. Sponsoring the San Jose Sharks is our opportunity to remind people that realtor.com® mobile apps make it easy to stay on top of their home or rental decision no matter where they are or what they are doing.”
But let’s get down to it: Does realtor.com® expect the Sharks to go all the way to NHL glory this season? “When it comes to deep insights or predictions, we stick with what we know best: real estate,” O’Connor says. “Obviously, the San Jose Sharks were very successful last year, and we’re hoping they come back even stronger this year. With our new sponsorship, the Sharks can anticipate some big support from Move employees who will be cheering them every step of the way.”
The Sharks-realtor.com® deal comes on the heels of a slew of real estate sponsorships with NFL teams. One of 16 NFL teams sporting ad deals with real estate companies, the New York Jets announced last month that it named New Jersey-based Weichert, REALTORS® as its official real estate sponsor. Check out all the goodies that deal offers.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized a portion of the deal between realtor.com® and the San Jose Sharks. The deal does not include realtor.com® radio and television ads.