Articles http://realtormag.realtor.org/articles en Staging for a Cozy, Minimalist Look http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/feature/article/2017/04/staging-for-cozy-minimalist-look <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Real estate agents often have to work with either barren rooms or sloppy, overstuffed spaces. But what’s truly attracting the most buyers right now is a deft balance of tidy austerity and a comfortable, lived-in feel. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Saturday, April 1, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/barbara-ballinger">Barbara Ballinger</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>While decluttering a listing before putting it on the market will help sellers keep their homes cleaner and get a head start on packing, this practice also helps the product that&rsquo;s for sale shine through more clearly. &ldquo;Staging isn&rsquo;t about decorating, but putting a room and its architecture in the best light,&rdquo; says Chicago-area designer and stager Paula Winter.</p> <blockquote> <p>Watch for these signs that you&rsquo;re tipping the balance too far in one direction.</p> <p><strong>Too intimate</strong>:</p> <p>Yellow; rich, dark colors; and textured or faux Tuscan-painted walls</p> <p>Elaborate window treatments</p> <p>Family photos</p> <p>Floral or oversized patterns</p> <p>Every wall covered with art</p> <p><strong>Too contrived:</strong></p> <p>Orchids or other fussy plants</p> <p>A set table</p> <p>Matching furniture sets</p> <p>Nearly empty shelves and storage</p> <p>Cookies baking in an oven during the open house</p> </blockquote> <p>But stagers also caution against stripping too much away, which can make a space feel stark and uninviting. The happy medium is instead a modern, minimalist look that permits buyers to imagine how their furnishings may fit in spatially while exuding warmth from some carefully added accessories.</p> <p>Staging, once mostly for vacant homes or high-priced listings, is now more widely used. Meridith Baer, who stages more than 140 properties a month through her eponymous California firm, says the practice can help increase the sales price and decrease the listing time for homes. The <a href="http://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/" target="_blank">Real Estate Staging Association</a> pegs the average time on the market for homes sold after staging at 21 days, an estimated 90 percent less time than unstaged properties.</p> <p>Bear in mind that different generations have slightly different design tastes and tolerance for clutter or spareness, as do buyers in different geographic markets and price points. &ldquo;Many in the greater Los Angeles area have been asking for a more minimal look, but in Orange County and Northern California, high-end properties still reflect a rich layering that shows a well-lived, well-traveled life,&rdquo; Baer says. Here are five recommendations to strike the right balance.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_AC_staging1.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 177px; float: right; margin: 3px;" />1. <strong>Set the stage</strong>. It&rsquo;s called staging for a reason. The idea is to set the mood in the same way that a theatrical backdrop does. Think of how to use furnishings and accessories to tell a story about how a buyer may live there. You want the listing to look modern and gender-neutral to show a home&rsquo;s bones, not to remind buyers of an antiseptic hospital or laboratory, says Winter. Certified stager Susan Batka of Aerie Interiors in suburban Atlanta suggests adding a few textured pillows, a rug, and maybe a large piece of modern, colorful artwork to give the space the necessary warmth so it looks alive but isn&rsquo;t overwhelming or too personalized.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_AC_staging3.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 177px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />2. <strong>Declutter. </strong>This is still the number one mantra for stagers. &ldquo;The key to the desired Zen feel is to pick interesting but fewer decorative items and keep upholstered pieces clean and lean,&rdquo; Baer says. She describes the goal as leaving &ldquo;some breathing room. Not every wall space needs art and not every surface needs accessories.&rdquo; It can be difficult to decide what to keep, but one good rule is to retain only the accessories that play up architectural features and strengths of the listing. Items that draw attention to built-in bookshelves or fireplace mantels are especially helpful. For example, Winter removes half the books on a shelf and arranges the remaining ones with turned-out spines or groups them by colors that work well with the room. She&rsquo;ll winnow down collectibles on a shelf or coffee table to three key items rather than removing everything.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_AC_staging4.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 177px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />3. <strong>Heed the size and shape of the room</strong>. You can use staging to highlight a room&rsquo;s distinct features. If it has volume due to high ceilings, Baer will use a few larger-scaled furnishings. If it&rsquo;s long and narrow, she generally fashions two seating groups, turning a rectangle into two squares. That way buyers can imagine a comfortable space where visitors can sit and converse intimately.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_AC_staging2.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 177px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />4. <strong>Retain functionality within today&rsquo;s style guidelines. </strong>Because space is highly valued, making the best use of all square footage remains a priority. Show this in listings by following the principles of cozy minimalism throughout a home. For example, in a master bedroom where buyers are looking to gain a sleep sanctuary, whittle down the furnishings to only the essential items of a comfortable bed, nightstands, and good lighting. The cozy factor can come in the form of blankets, pillows, a soft rug underfoot, and a soothing palette, says Batka. To outfit a spare room or a large landing, you might stage a workspace with a clean, modern desk and comfy upholstered chair.</p> <blockquote> <p>For more help, consider <a href="https://www.amazon.com/HOME-STAGING-Staging-Experts-Industry-ebook/dp/B01MXR6E84" target="_blank"><em>Home Staging: The Power That Sells Real Estate: 15 Home Staging Experts Share Industry Secrets</em></a> (OTB Publishing, 2016). If homeowners don&rsquo;t have au courant items, you can consider renting furnishings; some stagers keep large collections in a warehouse or storage facility. If you decide to hire a stager, know that some might charge an hourly fee, while others may charge anywhere from one-half to three-quarters of 1 percent of a home&rsquo;s listing price, which is how Refined Interior Staging Solutions&rsquo; Helen Bartlett works.</p> </blockquote> <p>5. <strong>Remember inexpensive tweaks</strong>. Good staging isn&rsquo;t about grand gestures, large furnishings, or scads of accessories. Minor fixes can help what&rsquo;s already there stand out without cluttering the space. Replace fixtures with bulbs of the same wattage and color, and hang clothing on similar hangers for a more uniform feel, says Jennifer Ames, a salesperson with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago. &ldquo;It gives buyers a good feeling as they walk through, that the sellers have cleaned and organized their homes,&rdquo; she says. But in keeping with the cozy factor, avoid overwrought perfection. &ldquo;Make anything you do look authentic, rather than contrived like putting out place settings at a table,&rdquo; says Helen Bartlett, a RESA certified stager with Refined Interior Staging Solutions in Fairway, Kan. &ldquo;Nobody lives that way.&rdquo;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Real estate agents often have to work with either barren rooms or sloppy, overstuffed spaces. But what&rsquo;s truly attracting the most buyers right now is a deft balance of tidy austerity and a comfortable, lived-in feel.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_HD_staging.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=357118">mar17_HD_staging.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_HD_staging_0.jpg?1490649888" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_HD_staging.jpg?1490649910" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/home-and-design/staging-tips">Home Staging Guide</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/home-and-design/architecture-coach/article/2012/02/staging-for-listing-photos">Staging for Listing Photos</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/home-and-design/feature/article/2014/07/dressed-sell">Dressed to Sell</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:53:50 +0000 mwhite 23010 at http://realtormag.realtor.org New Tech Tools Helping Brokers Solve Problems http://realtormag.realtor.org/for-brokers/network/article/2017/03/new-tech-tools-helping-brokers-solve-problems <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Virtual reality may be a hot topic, but there are many other cost-effective apps and platforms that will help you and your agents get the job done. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Tuesday, March 21, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/zvi-band">Zvi Band</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>The U.S. housing market is booming. The National Association of Home Builders cites 1.16 million total housing starts in 2016, which was up nearly 5 percent from 2015, and is forecasting a 10 percent increase in single-family production for 2017. What&#39;s more, existing-home sales in January reached their fastest pace in nearly a decade, according to the National Association of REALTORS&reg;.</p> <p>To deal with the surge of potential buyers, along with the tasks of attracting new sellers and managing existing leads, real estate brokerages and agents are increasingly turning to new technology.</p> <p>There has been a lot of discussion in the industry about the potential of <a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/technology/feature/article/2016/03/vr-headsets-real-estate-game-changer" target="_blank">virtual reality</a>. Sotheby&#39;s International Realty and Redfin are <a href="http://www.inman.com/2016/10/10/sothebys-beats-listing-portals-3-d/" target="_blank">harnessing the power of VR</a> to offer 3-D home tours on listing pages. While this technology offers an immersive experience to potential buyers, the cost involved in rolling it out en masse may be too great for some brokerages<em>.</em></p> <p>So, while we wait for VR to mature, here are other new technologies that can help real estate brokerages solve problems and improve services for customers.</p> <h4>Harnessing Emerging Social Media Platforms</h4> <p>We&rsquo;re in a seasonal influx where many new and existing homes are becoming available. It can be difficult for brokerages to keep agents and potential buyers informed about these new listings without the right technology.</p> <p>For years, brokerages have been leaning on social media platforms to showcase new properties and harvest new leads. Most use Facebook, but Snapchat, which has 158 million daily users, is becoming the new promotional tool of choice across a range of industries.</p> <p>Thanks to Snapchat&rsquo;s recently added video function, which rivals Facebook in terms of <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/513462/facebook-daily-video-views/" target="_blank">daily video user engagement</a>, brokerages can quickly record videos of new listings and share them instantly. This is attractive to sellers and buyers alike, with <a href="https://www.virtuets.com/45-video-marketing-statistics/" target="_blank">73 percent of homeowners</a> saying they would be more likely to list with a brokerage that offers video marketing techniques.</p> <p>Showcasing a listing on Snapchat is becoming increasingly popular in booming real estate hubs like New York and is sure to take hold across the country. A 2016 <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/05/the-real-estate-agents-selling-6-million-nyc-apartments-via-snapchat.html" target="_blank">CNBC article</a> argues that Snapchat offers potential buyers a &ldquo;behind-the-scenes&rdquo; view of properties for sale or rent and allows brokers and their agents to interact with leads through private messages to offer more information and arrange viewings.</p> <h4>Cultivating New Agents With New Technology</h4> <p>According to a recent <a href="http://rismedia.com/2017/01/15/real-estate-leaders-identify-pivotal-business-challenges-2017/#openModal" target="_blank">Imprev Thought Leader survey</a>, 85 percent of broker-owners stated that recruiting more agents&mdash;especially younger ones&mdash;was their most critical business challenge.</p> <p>To attract the best talent out there, brokerages need to harness social media channels, develop a slick online presence, and offer subscription-based lead generation tools such as <a href="http://marketing.realtor.com/" target="_blank">realtor.com&reg;</a>, <a href="http://www.zillow.com/" target="_blank">Zillow</a>, and <a href="http://zurple.com/" target="_blank">Zurple</a> to maximize sales opportunities.</p> <p>Once they have an agent on board, brokers need to provide the technology and support to cultivate relationships with agents and keep them from straying to other brokerages. The <a href="http://thepaperlessagent.com/" target="_blank">paperless</a> movement is growing, so training agents in the best programs to use is essential.</p> <p>There are also emerging technology platforms that can improve communication and company culture for remote teams. <a href="https://slack.com/" target="_blank">Slack</a> offers a range of powerful integrations and numerous bots that will allow agents anywhere to collaborate quickly and freely on their mobile device. It&rsquo;s the perfect communication tool for idea sharing. Users can tag other members, share files, and set reminders for themselves or others to follow up with leads.</p> <p>In the fast-paced world of real estate, you could lose a commission and a client by forgetting to follow up, send a document for signature, or reply to an inquiry. <a href="https://asana.com/" target="_blank">Asana</a><u>,</u> a cloud-based CRM tool that enables agents to log in remotely, can help your team stay on track. Brokerages can log in and get a bird&rsquo;s-eye view of all the live projects in action, while individual agents can set tasks for themselves or others to be completed by a certain time and then monitor the progress.</p> <h4>Using Virtual Assistants for Scheduling</h4> <p>There were roughly 2 million active real estate licensees and approximately 86,000 real estate brokerages registered in the U.S. in 2015. The <a href="https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-average-number-of-real-estate-agents-per-broker-or-brokerage-office" target="_blank">average brokerage</a> had between 20 and 25 agents that year.</p> <p>One way to help agents with tasks such as scheduling showings or client consultations is by offering or encouraging the use of virtual assistants. Advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing are leading to a number of tools that can relieve the strain of administrative work.</p> <p>Tired of playing phone or email tag with agents or clients? <a href="https://x.ai/" target="_blank">X.ai</a> is a bot that can help brokerages or individual agents arrange meetings by connecting users&rsquo; calendars and offering exact time options that fit everyone&rsquo;s schedules. The bot even takes location (in-person meeting place or conference call) and time zones into consideration. It can calculate travel time between meetings and will send reminders to both parties. The bot will even follow up if someone doesn&rsquo;t reply.</p> <p>Agents make the lion&rsquo;s share of their wages through commissions and want to work for brokerages that have the tech in place to help them make great client connections and sales. To keep surfing on top of the wave of new properties and leads, brokerages need to stay on the technological front line. Whether you want to recruit millennial talent or retain your top agents, it&rsquo;s up to brokers to keep their finger on the pulse of technological advances in the industry.</p> <hr /> <p><br /> <img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/logos/BtoB_logo_footer_080114.jpg" style="float:left; height:117px; width:150px" /><em>Broker-to-Broker is an information network that provides insights and tools with business value through timely articles, videos, Q&amp;As, and sales meeting tips for brokerage owners and managers. Get more <a href="/for-brokers/network" target="_blank">Broker-to-Broker content here</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Virtual reality may be a hot topic, but there are many other cost-effective apps and platforms that will help you and your agents get the job done.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/technology/feature/article/2017/03/how-hack-better-crm">How to Hack a Better CRM</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2017/02/tech-disruptors-will-bring-you-business">Tech Disruptors That Will Bring You Business</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/feature/article/fundamentals-from-field">Fundamentals From the Field</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2017/01/best-technology-for-your-brokerage-in-2017">Best Technology for Your Brokerage in 2017</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Network Wed, 22 Mar 2017 01:57:17 +0000 echristoffer 22991 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Starting a Brokerage: What to Do http://realtormag.realtor.org/for-brokers/network/article/2017/03/starting-brokerage-what-do <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> In part two of this three-part series on starting a brokerage, new broker-owner Nico Hohman discusses the first steps toward launching your own real estate company. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Monday, March 20, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/nico-hohman">Nico Hohman</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>&quot;Why am I starting my own brokerage?&quot; Answering that question was the most important step for me in the journey to opening a real estate company, which I explained in the first article in this series to help other real estate professionals who are contemplating forming a brokerage. Now it&rsquo;s time to focus on the &ldquo;what&rdquo; in order to point your compass in the right direction. &nbsp;</p> <h4>&ldquo;What Type of Brokerage Do I Want?&rdquo;</h4> <p>There are several layers to this question, but on a fundamental level, you need to decide what type of brokerage model is right for you. It could be an independent brokerage or a franchised model, from a low agent count to multiple offices and markets. I was able to answer this once I established my vision and mission statement for my brokerage. From those assertions, I knew that the independent brokerage model was right for me. It was important that I could establish my own culture, training programs, policies, and procedures.</p> <p>But there are benefits for going with the franchise model, including the level of trust and respect that comes with a well-recognized brand. Weighing the pros and cons of all models is important in this step, as is conducting a cost-benefit analysis of franchise fees and the services or support provided by the parent company.</p> <h4>&ldquo;What Type of Broker Do I Want to Be?&rdquo;</h4> <p>In my first article, I talked about personality types and how they played into my decision to open a brokerage. I&rsquo;m a natural teacher, mentor, and coach, and that propelled me into a management and training position before I decided to become a broker-owner. Consider your own strengths when contemplating this question. Are you going to take on an active training role or hire a trainer? Continue to sell and hire a manager? Or give up selling and focus on management, recruitment, and business growth? The answers to these questions may also inform your decision on a brokerage model.</p> <p>I know that I&rsquo;m best suited for guiding my agents so they can be the best resource possible for their clients. Plus, to grow my brokerage into the type of company I want it to be, I need to focus primarily on managing, recruiting, retaining, and training. So, think about what role best suits your personality.</p> <h4>&ldquo;What Separates My Brokerage from Other Brokerages?&rdquo;</h4> <p>I put in a lot of careful thought and analysis when I answered this question. It&rsquo;s important to point out that I looked at it from both the consumer and agent angle. What will make people want to hire my brokerage to perform real estate services for them? And what will attract agents to my brokerage?</p> <blockquote> <p><a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2016/12/starting-brokerage-why-do-it" target="_blank"><strong>Starting a Brokerage: Why Do It?</strong></a></p> </blockquote> <p>First, I considered all of the aspects of my existing business, my company vision, and myself personally that do <em>not </em>separate me from other brokerages. Then I looked at potential weaknesses in my brokerage model and vision. From there, I analyzed how I could tweak those similarities and weaknesses to make my brokerage stand out.</p> <p>My company is still less than a year old, and I have fewer than five years of experience in the real estate industry. I am still under 30 years old. On the surface, all of these realities may seem like weaknesses, but I saw them as points of separation. Being &ldquo;young&rdquo; and &ldquo;inexperienced&rdquo; has allowed me to look past the businesses that have been doing this for generations and focus on what the real estate industry will be doing tomorrow. Plus, having only a moderate level of experience, I believe, allows me to have more creativity when it comes to running my brokerage. If I had been doing the same thing for 20 years or more, it might be more difficult to adopt new business strategies.</p> <p>Another differentiation is my intense effort to make sure my agents&mdash;I call them teammates&mdash;are the best in the industry. It&rsquo;s not just something I say, but something I strive to prove. I included it as the first point in my mission statement. I&rsquo;m determined to do this by providing the best training, marketing, technology, lead generation, compensation packages, and company culture I know I can create.</p> <p>Now think about what separates you from your competition, how perceived weaknesses may actually be assets, and how you can improve upon your pre-existing skill set.</p> <h4>&ldquo;What are the Opportunities and Threats Facing My Brokerage?&rdquo;</h4> <p>Of all the questions I forced myself to answer, this one might have been the most encouraging and discouraging at the same time. I believe the opportunities to succeed within the real estate industry are great. But I also think there are several key threats facing the industry that could seriously hinder the growth potential of my brokerage.</p> <p>On the opportunities side of the equation, I believe that the real estate market is and will be in good shape for a few more years. If you are considering a significant move like opening a brokerage, it is important that you thoroughly research and analyze the economic history of your area and follow the measures economists use to make market predictions.</p> <p>For example, economists say the labor market will continue to shift toward an on-demand marketplace in the future. That means more self-employed entrepreneurs and independent contractors. That may or may not have implications for real estate. Another factor, which we&rsquo;ll likely see in the not so distant future, is that consumers will be able to purchase real estate in much the same way as a car: within a few hours and possibly with only a few clicks of a mouse. If buying and selling a home becomes as simple as buying and selling a car, what then will be the role of a brokerage? These are industry trends that must be considered when planning for the future of your company.</p> <p>Looking ahead to the last article in my three-part series, I&rsquo;m going to cover the &ldquo;how&rdquo; questions. We&rsquo;ll dig a little deeper into details for making sure everything comes together when starting a brokerage.</p> <hr /> <p><br /> <img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/logos/BtoB_logo_footer_080114.jpg" style="float:left; height:117px; width:150px" /><em>Broker-to-Broker is an information network that provides insights and tools with business value through timely articles, videos, Q&amp;As, and sales meeting tips for brokerage owners and managers. Get more <a href="/for-brokers/network" target="_blank">Broker-to-Broker content here</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>In part two of this three-part series on starting a brokerage, new broker-owner Nico Hohman discusses the first steps toward launching your own real estate company.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2016/12/starting-brokerage-why-do-it">Starting a Brokerage: Why Do It?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2017/02/advice-for-managing-older-agents">Advice for Managing Older Agents</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2017/02/keep-calm-and-manage-crisis">Keep Calm and Manage a Crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2015/10/starting-brokerage-7-questions-consider">Starting a Brokerage? 7 Questions to Consider</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/commercial/feature/article/2007/01/getting-started-commercial-real-estate">Getting Started in Commercial Real Estate</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Network Wed, 22 Mar 2017 01:47:52 +0000 echristoffer 22989 at http://realtormag.realtor.org 7 Factors to Consider When Choosing a CRM http://realtormag.realtor.org/technology/feature/article/2017/03/7-factors-consider-when-choosing-crm <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don’t know exactly what you want from a customer relationship management tool? Ask these questions to identify which options will address your true needs. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Monday, March 20, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/michael-antoniak">Michael Antoniak</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Choosing the right customer relationship management tool may be one of the most frustrating aspects of setting up your real estate business. Many practitioners have tried several systems but still can&rsquo;t seem to find the one that fits their needs. If it works correctly, your CRM should serve as a silent partner, providing the structure to organize and nurture your contacts and relieve you of repetitive, mundane duties so you can focus on building your business. But too often, real estate pros find that their CRM doesn&rsquo;t offer enough of the support they wanted.</p> <p>Before choosing a CRM, you have to know what you want out of it. Blindly trying out systems can quickly become a waste of time. Micah Olson, associate broker at RE/MAX Results in Orem, Utah, advises that pros pass on CRMs that aren&rsquo;t real estate&ndash;specific because they won&rsquo;t be able to address your specialized needs. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t see why anyone would want to customize a non-real estate CRM,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There are enough systems available today that are already set up for how real estate professionals work and the information they need,&rdquo; he adds.</p> <p>But Olson has learned that it&rsquo;s rare for a single CRM to have all the features and functionality a practitioner needs. So how can you find the one that comes the closest? Here are some questions to ask as you look for the CRM that will work best for you.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Is it compatible with other tools you&rsquo;re already using?</strong> Olson, who uses <a href="http://www.topproducer.com/" target="_blank">Top Producer</a>, found that he could easily integrate video service <a href="http://bombbomb.com/" target="_blank">BombBomb</a> and the <a href="https://getrileynow.com/" target="_blank">Riley lead management system</a> into his CRM. Focus particularly on a CRM that will be compatible with your lead generation tools, Olson suggests. &ldquo;Talk to your top three sources of leads and find out which CRM integrates most naturally with their system so you won&rsquo;t have to enter [customer] information manually.&rdquo;</li> <li><strong>Does it have robust automation features? </strong>A CRM&rsquo;s capacity to set up and automate routine correspondence and marketing campaigns is probably most important for real estate professionals, Olson says. He&rsquo;s created automated communication plans for a range of business opportunities, such as buyer and seller leads, new listings, valuation requests, buyers under contract, and follow-up with clients.&nbsp;&ldquo;I can even set auto emails to go out six months after doing something like a valuation request, asking a client if they would like an update,&rdquo; he says.</li> <li><strong>Does the CRM provider offer sufficient customer support?</strong> It&rsquo;s important to know that if you run into problems using your CRM, you&rsquo;ll get adequate assistance. When Joe Pryor, CRS, broker-owner of The Virtual Real Estate Team in Oklahoma City, upgraded to <a href="http://www.realtyjuggler.com/" target="_blank">RealtyJuggler</a> four years ago, one of the aspects of the CRM he appreciated most was its video tutorials and step-by-step guides on how to use its features. &ldquo;So you don&rsquo;t have a huge learning curve,&rdquo; Pryor says. And if he needed to call or email customer support, a representative was always quick to respond, he adds. &ldquo;I really appreciate how personable, available, and responsive customer support is if you have a question.&rdquo;</li> <li><strong>Does the company behind the CRM have staying power?</strong> Newer companies may be creating CRMs with more state-of-the-art features, but if they haven&rsquo;t established longevity in the market, you could be stuck looking for another CRM if they go out of business. Mary Pope-Handy, ABR, CRS, a sales associate with Sereno Group in Los Gatos, Calif., was using one CRM but the company folded. As a result, she lost all of the email records that were attached to her contact list. She wanted assurance that her next CRM provider would be around for the long haul, so she decided to use <a href="https://www.propertybase.com/" target="_blank">PropertyBase</a>, which integrates with <a href="https://www.salesforce.com/" target="_blank">SalesForce.com</a>, a longstanding company. &ldquo;SalesForce is a big platform, and it won&rsquo;t go out of business,&rdquo; Pope-Handy says.</li> <li><strong>How much time are you willing to invest in learning a CRM&rsquo;s features?</strong> &ldquo;You can find a CRM system with basic functionality that&rsquo;s easy to use&mdash;but it doesn&rsquo;t do much,&rdquo; Pope-Handy says. &ldquo;Or you can choose a system that will do whatever you want, like track referrals, but you have to be willing to invest your time to learn how to use it.&rdquo; She says her CRM can &ldquo;do anything you can imagine,&rdquo; though it took her about a month to learn how to navigate the system. So when you&rsquo;re evaluating CRMs, first look at the basic features you need, then determine how many extra features you have the patience to learn.</li> <li><strong>Will the CRM be appropriate for everyone on your team?</strong> Chris Kallin, a sales associate at Realogics Sotheby&rsquo;s International Realty in Seattle, says that when he joined the brokerage&rsquo;s four-person Seattle by Design team a year ago, each team member was using a different CRM. &ldquo;One of the first questions I asked was, &lsquo;If we are going to use a CRM, why not implement the same system for everyone?&rsquo;&rdquo; Kallin says. Over several months, he sought recommendations from other real estate professionals, researched dozens of options, and tried several before narrowing his list down to the top three, based on factors such as price, user interface, and intuitiveness of the software. User interface in particular is an overriding factor when choosing a CRM for a team, Kallin says.</li> <li><strong>Do you want your CRM to focus on sales or relationships?</strong> When you launch your CRM, what kind of information first pops up? &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s a sales funnel and weighted opportunity figures, then it&rsquo;s a sales-focused CRM, and that purports to be its primary value,&rdquo; Kallin explains. &ldquo;If it first presents you with contact records, then it&rsquo;s more people-focused.&rdquo; His team members emphasize client relationships, so they chose <a href="https://www.ixactcontact.com/" target="_blank">IXACT Contact</a> as their team CRM. Kallin especially likes a feature that includes the name of a client&rsquo;s partner or spouse in each contact entry and uses both names in automated correspondence.</li> </ol> <p>Remember that choosing a CRM is a personal decision and should reflect what you consider most important in your business, Kallin says. Once you&rsquo;ve compiled a short list of potential solutions, the best proof is in their use. &ldquo;Most CRMs offer a free trial,&rdquo; Kallin notes. &ldquo;Spend a couple of hours under the hood seeing how records are set up, what kind of action plans it provides, and how much of the work is already done for you. Then you&rsquo;ll know which one is your best choice.&rdquo;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Don&rsquo;t know exactly what you want from a customer relationship management tool? Ask these questions to identify which options will address your true needs.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_T_crm.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=181038">mar17_T_crm.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_T_crm_0.jpg?1490028102" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_T_crm.jpg?1490028121" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/technology/feature/article/2014/05/what-expect-from-crm-solution">What to Expect From a CRM Solution</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2016/05/3-ways-connect-prospects">3 Ways to Connect With Prospects</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/product-guide/marketing/article/2014/03/technological-side-building-relationships">The Technological Side to Building Relationships</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Fri, 17 Mar 2017 19:28:33 +0000 gwood 22976 at http://realtormag.realtor.org A Grander Vision for Short-Term Rentals http://realtormag.realtor.org/commercial/feature/article/2017/03/grander-vision-for-short-term-rentals <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Investors renting out property on sites such as Airbnb could generate more income by getting into the world of special-events leases. But there are a number of hurdles to clear in order to make this a winning investment strategy. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Thursday, March 16, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/pamela-dittmer-mckuen">Pamela Dittmer McKuen</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Real estate professionals have <a href="/commercial/feature/article/2014/11/vrbo-airbnb-and-you">found their place in the short-term rental trend</a>, helping investors purchase properties they can then rent out by the night to travelers using sites such as Airbnb and VRBO. But there might be another way your clients could make money off STRs&mdash;if they have the right space. It&rsquo;s an interesting twist that&rsquo;s just beginning to emerge: leasing a residence for special events.</p> <p>It might look like this: A quaint farmhouse with a picturesque barn could be the perfect venue for a country chic wedding; a historic mansion or contemporary penthouse could serve as space for corporate meetings or parties. Few have tried this investment strategy, so it can&rsquo;t be called a trend. But some practitioners say they expect interest in such an investment model to build. One agent has even tried it himself.</p> <p>Brian Copeland, CRS, GRI, a team leader at Village Real Estate Services in Nashville, Tenn., and his partner, Greg Bullard, turned their 5,200-square-foot home, which they built in 2007, into a short-term rental property when they moved to the countryside after adopting a son several years ago. Copeland discovered that the home&rsquo;s features&mdash;including antique whiskey barrel floors, 20-foot coffered ceilings, and a dramatic skyline view&mdash;appealed not only to travelers but also individuals and businesses seeking a unique event space. So he began renting the property to groups of up to 150 people for events such as weddings and corporate retreats.</p> <p>Copeland typically charged between $1,000 and $1,500 a day for special events, while his average nightly rate for individual visitors was $400. But certain issues prompted him to stop leasing for special events. Large groups are harder on a home than individual overnight guests, Copeland says, and corporate clients can be demanding about specific furniture arrangements. &ldquo;We have hardwood floors, a dining room table that seats 18, and a grand piano,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;They always want to move the furniture, so we have to bring in a crew to move everything and reset it when they leave. They tape things to the walls. We were constantly repainting the walls and refinishing the floors.&rdquo;</p> <p>Because doorknobs and toilet handles kept breaking from heavy use, Copeland installed commercial-grade replacements. &ldquo;Commercial grade is ugly, but they [can take a beating],&rdquo; he says. The hassles and upkeep became too much, and now, he and Bullard lease their home exclusively as a short-term vacation rental with a three-night minimum stay. &ldquo;We said, &lsquo;We can&rsquo;t do this anymore.&rsquo; Even a three-month renter can&rsquo;t do as much damage as a corporate retreat.&rdquo;</p> <p>Still, he says, special events can be a good income generator for investors who are looking for creative ways to build wealth. &ldquo;For someone who has the right temperament and the right property, it can be a good deal,&rdquo; he says. Help your clients explore their options with the following caveats.</p> <p><strong>Understand local zoning regulations. </strong>You and your client may already know that <a href="/news-and-commentary/commentary/article/2015/12/airbnb-crashing-neighborhood">many municipalities are cracking down on short-term rentals</a>, but there&rsquo;s more to be aware of when marketing space for special events. In addition to making sure your local ordinances don&rsquo;t make STRs impermissible, your client must also contend with zoning restrictions, stricter building codes governing commercial property, and local business ordinances, says Michael Schaffer, broker-associate at LIV Sotheby&rsquo;s International Realty in Greenwood Village, Colo. Business licenses and expensive retrofits, such as adding a sprinkler system, might also be required, he adds.</p> <p><strong>Be prepared for financing delays. </strong>Investors who plan on financing the purchase of an investment property to rent out for special events may have to jump through extra hoops to get lender approval. Bruce Ailion, CRB, CRS, a broker at RE/MAX Town &amp; Country in Woodstock, Ga., helped buyers who had trouble securing financing to buy a foreclosed clubhouse in 2011 that they wanted to use as a wedding and special-events venue. &ldquo;We looked around at probably 20 lenders,&rdquo; recalls Ailion, who is also a real estate attorney. Though it wasn&rsquo;t an STR, the lender wanted to survey the property to better understand how it would be used. An &ldquo;oddball project&rdquo; sometimes falls under more lender scrutiny, Ailion notes. His buyers ended up paying nearly double the average interest rate because of the unusual nature of the project, he says.</p> <p><strong>Know what kind of property works best. </strong>A big house with many rooms may work as a meeting space where the agenda calls for small-group sessions. But large, open spaces that can accommodate a crowd are more appropriate for festive dinner parties, galas, or corporate gatherings. &ldquo;We built our home for social reasons,&rdquo; Copeland says. &ldquo;We could clear out the living and dining rooms and seat 80 people comfortably at round tables for dinner.&rdquo; Ideally, the property will provide multiple scenic views, as well as fountains, arbors, fireplaces, or grand staircases where people can take pictures. Copeland also recommends locations near an airport to ease accessibility for out-of-town guests. His rental property is five miles from Nashville International Airport.</p> <p><strong>Keep parking in mind. </strong>Rural and suburban properties are likely to have the acreage necessary for multiple cars and delivery trucks. In the city, you may have to be more creative or limit the size of groups you&rsquo;re hosting. &ldquo;Maybe you can make some kind of partnership with a valet and a nearby church or synagogue that would like to make some extra money,&rdquo; Copeland says. But be aware of any requirements your municipality might have for commercial properties to provide their own parking.</p> <p><strong>Make sure insurance is sufficient. </strong>Traditional homeowners insurance won&rsquo;t cover all the damage and accidents that can occur when you use personal property for commercial purposes. The insurance policy you&rsquo;ll need depends on the nature of your property use. Protect yourself as well, advises Dawn Thomas, CRS, broker-associate at Golden Gate Sotheby&rsquo;s International Realty in Palo Alto, Calif., who also owns a two-bedroom rental home. She advises setting up an LLC so there won&rsquo;t be liability attached to your personal assets and consulting an attorney to draft lease agreements.</p> <p><strong>Neighborhood pushback can derail the deal.</strong> If nearby residents are opposed to residential property being used for commercial purposes in their communities, their collective voices could put an end to an investor&rsquo;s plans. Unfortunately, in that situation, there&rsquo;s not much your client can do. &ldquo;The larger the groups and higher the traffic that will be generated, the more difficult it will be to make a noncommercial property legally usable for commercial purposes,&rdquo; Schaffer says. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re fighting an uphill battle when 500 neighbors show up at a city council meeting.&rdquo; Investors should have alternate income streams, he adds, so their livelihood doesn&rsquo;t rest on making an STR work if it doesn&rsquo;t.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Investors renting out property on sites such as Airbnb could generate more income by getting into the world of special-events leases. But there are a number of hurdles to clear in order to make this a winning investment strategy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_SM_events.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=434205">mar17_SM_events.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_SM_events_0.jpg?1489681016" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_SM_events.jpg?1489681037" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/feature/article/2016/01/airbnb-factor">The Airbnb Factor </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/commercial/feature/article/2014/11/vrbo-airbnb-and-you">VRBO, Airbnb, and You </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/commentary/article/2015/12/airbnb-crashing-neighborhood">Airbnb Is Crashing the Neighborhood</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Wed, 15 Mar 2017 20:10:58 +0000 gwood 22960 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Advocating for You Each Day http://realtormag.realtor.org/news-and-commentary/nar-president/article/2017/03/advocating-for-you-each-day <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Political advocacy is one way NAR serves as your champion. We’ve got your long-term interests front and center whether we’re meeting with lawmakers or providing you with essential business resources. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/william-e-brown">William E. Brown</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Everyone needs an advocate. So do businesses, issues, and even ideas. The National Association of REALTORS&reg; is your advocate. Our association is committed to protecting and promoting the interests and well-being of REALTORS&reg;.</p> <p>Generally speaking, NAR advocacy refers to the tremendous work of the REALTOR&reg; Party. This nonpartisan and powerful alliance of REALTORS&reg; and REALTOR&reg; associations labors tirelessly to advance candidates and public policies that build strong, vibrant communities in which to do business. Given the political climate, it&rsquo;s critical that REALTORS&reg; come together and speak with one voice about the stability that a sound, dynamic real estate market brings to our cities, towns, and neighborhoods. NAR and the 
REALTOR&reg; Party are prepared and ready to fight on your behalf to safeguard policies affecting housing, homeownership, and real estate investment.</p> <p>Unquestionably, 2017 is a year of transition, and we remain focused on a range of legislative and regulatory issues from tax reform and housing finance reform to health care and flood insurance. NAR&rsquo;s lobbyists and leaders stay on top of all these and more, and with your support, the REALTOR&reg; Party will continue to take comprehensive action to champion our causes. Our <a href="/law-and-ethics/feature/article/2017/03/time-for-action">March/April issue</a> offers a preview of the key issues we&rsquo;ll be talking about when our state and local delegations visit Capitol Hill and the NAR positions and tactics on policies that matter to you.</p> <p>I also want to remind you that NAR is a multifaceted organization, and political advocacy is only one of the ways we&rsquo;re working on your behalf. The association provides a litany of resources and services, covering areas like technology, education, and research, to support your business success. I encourage even the most seasoned members to take the time to explore the many benefits of membership and keep an eye out for new ones.</p> <p>One of the core goals NAR&rsquo;s Leadership Team set for 2017 is to help members better help themselves. Your long-term financial future is a critical concern. Many REALTORS&reg; make a decent living but lack the savings to retire when they&rsquo;d like to. In fact, at least 
25 percent of Americans over age 62 lack any retirement assets, according to a <a href="http://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/millennials-saving-retirement/" target="_blank">2016 Urban Institute report</a>, and this trend is not likely to change within the next 50 years.</p> <p>NAR wants to see all of our members become and remain financially solvent and independent. In <a href="/news-and-commentary/feature/article/2017/03/what-s-your-retirement-plan">this feature</a>, you&rsquo;ll find thoughtful recommendations for long-term saving and investing tailored to practitioners at various career stages. For many of us, the key to financial security is regularly investing in&mdash;what else?&mdash;real estate. We&rsquo;re continuing to explore ways to help you get the support you need for a secure future for you and your family.&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Political advocacy is one way NAR serves as your champion. We&rsquo;ve got your long-term interests front and center whether we&rsquo;re meeting with lawmakers or providing you with essential business resources.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/nar-president/article/2017/01/change-in-air-in-2017">Change Is in the Air in 2017</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/nar-president/article/2001/08/making-difference">Making a Difference</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/nar-president/article/2016/09/actions-speak-louder-words">Actions Speak Louder Than Words</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> NAR President Fri, 10 Mar 2017 22:11:43 +0000 mbrozanic 22884 at http://realtormag.realtor.org How to Hack a Better CRM http://realtormag.realtor.org/technology/feature/article/2017/03/how-hack-better-crm <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Customer relationship management is a necessity, but many platforms fall short. These real estate pros are creating their own solutions. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/meg-white">Meg White</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>A good CRM is hard to find. Just ask Mark McPherson, who&rsquo;s tried customer relationship platforms at three different brokerages over the past two years. His prior career in corporate communications exposed him to even more of these programs. But he never found the right fit. He&rsquo;s tried Salesforce, Realty Pro, Contactually, and Boomtown, among others. &ldquo;A lot of them were so expensive or really geared toward teams,&rdquo; says McPherson, a practitioner with Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS&reg;, in Spring, Texas.</p> <p>The plethora of options speaks to a major pain point in the CRM business. There are nearly as many relationship management strategies in this industry as there are real estate professionals. McPherson believes CRM companies could address the problem with products that offer various services&mdash;such as social media management, website analytics, and lead generation&mdash;in an &agrave; la carte fashion, so users would have to pay only for what they need. &ldquo;Our business is based on being able to adapt and move fluidly,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Being able to pick and choose [features] and design your CRM in the way that&rsquo;s most conducive to how you do business. That&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s needed out there.&rdquo;</p> <p>McPherson currently uses Market Leader, mostly because it&rsquo;s supported by his brokerage and coordinates well with the office&rsquo;s Outlook email services. He pays extra to get web analytics that aren&rsquo;t included in the free version Coldwell Banker offers. But he needed to search further afield to find other business solutions he wanted. He uses Microsoft&rsquo;s OneNote app, which is included in his Office 365 subscription, to supplement Market Leader with annotations of phone conversations and interactions with clients. His OneNote videos, checklists, and comments are automatically backed up in Microsoft&rsquo;s cloud drive and accessible on the go, whether he&rsquo;s showing a home to a buyer or back in the office, pasting notes about his client&rsquo;s reactions to a listing into his Market Leader database. He uses the notes to build more robust, personalized profiles for his contacts.</p> <p>McPherson and other real estate pros say these kinds of CRM &ldquo;hacks&rdquo; are the only way they can get a high level of customization at a reasonable price. Saralyn Maurer, an agent with Realty Executives Integrity in southeastern Wisconsin, crafted her DIY solution from Google products after finding Top Producer to be cluttered and not sufficiently -mobile-friendly for her.</p> <p>She wanted something organized that had only the features she needed, but she also wanted a program that didn&rsquo;t backfire. When she was starting out in the business, she&rsquo;d send test emails from her Top Producer account to her boyfriend, and they frequently landed in his spam folder. &ldquo;That didn&rsquo;t stop until I started sending stuff through Gmail,&rdquo; she says.</p> <p>She was already using several tools in the suite of free Google products, which includes an online calendar, documents and spreadsheets, data storage, and software for presentations. So when she left her sales team to become a solo practitioner, it made sense for her to use Google tools to cobble together a CRM for herself.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s how it works: When Maurer gets a new lead, she enters the information into her Google contacts. For past clients, she adds the date that they closed a deal in her contact notes, and in her calendar, adds a reminder to congratulate them on the anniversary. Also, Google has the ability to import some public data from Facebook. Using that feature, Maurer was able to automatically populate her calendar with Facebook friends&rsquo; birthdays so that she can be reminded to send out birthday wishes as they occur.</p> <p>Maurer moves contacts to different groups that she&rsquo;s created to reflect her relationship with them and their current location in the real estate process. For example, annually she creates a new group for people who have bought or sold a home with her that year. She uses the groups to send nurture emails that address the specific needs of the contacts on each list.</p> <p>After Maurer established her -Google-based CRM, Realty Executives began offering a proprietary CRM called Prime Agent. She uses the system to access marketing materials, stock photos, and templates to use in her business outreach, but she&rsquo;s sticking with her DIY CRM. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m incredibly satisfied,&rdquo; she says. While she&rsquo;s okay with the free version of Google&rsquo;s products for now, she realizes she might have to upgrade for more storage space eventually. She&rsquo;s using around 75 percent of the standard 15 GB of storage provided for the cloud drive and email. If she upgrades, the cost for 100 GB is only $2 per month.</p> <p>The low cost of a do-it-yourself CRM is certainly a driver, but for Maurer, maintaining control over client data is priceless. &ldquo;I would be very concerned with these small CRMs. If this is something I&rsquo;m paying for, and they just go under one day, what will happen to my contacts?&rdquo; she asks. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m confident that Google will always be there. They&rsquo;re too big not to be.&rdquo; She also feels her data is safer in Google&rsquo;s hands when she thinks about all the identity theft and phishing scams targeting real estate professionals.</p> <p>But managing a brokerage or a team can pose other CRM challenges. Jason Mitchell, a Scottsdale, Ariz.&ndash;based real estate pro who leads more than a dozen agents at the My Home Group brokerage, needed a technology platform through which to pass on referrals to his agents. He also wanted to provide a plug-and-play system that would automatically send texts and emails to customers as they moved through the transaction and help agents keep in touch with past clients.</p> <p>That was the motivation behind Shabang CRM, which Mitchell launched last year. After buying a license to build upon a small-business sales software package called Infusionsoft, he spent three years writing copy for more than 100 email templates, making client groups for drip campaigns, and creating referral alerts for vendors and other agents&mdash;in addition to his sizable $400,000 investment for the license and customization costs. Mitchell says the platform helped to nearly double his team sales to a $142 million volume in 2016 over the prior year.</p> <p>Now he&rsquo;s taking his uber-hack to the open market, charging a one-time signup fee of $1,897 for agents and $3,497 for teams. They charge team accounts a monthly fee of $197 per user and individual users $247. Mitchell hopes his software can succeed where many technology solutions fail: the initial setup and training. &ldquo;A lot of agents don&rsquo;t know what they have in a CRM. They don&rsquo;t use it to the full advantage because it takes too much time and effort,&rdquo; he says. Shabang offers short training videos and a dedicated support staff.</p> <p>So how can you break away from a CRM that&rsquo;s not doing your contacts justice? Experience in web design or software programming isn&rsquo;t necessary, but patience surely is. Maurer says the best way to start is by writing up a marketing plan. Then look for a communications platform that provides the tools you need to carry out your plan. She guesses that more than half the agents she knows could do what she&rsquo;s done, but drastically fewer actually will. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t like to change,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;But I always figured, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m a real estate agent and I&rsquo;m trying to save a buck. What can I do?&rsquo;&thinsp;&rdquo;</p> <hr /> <p><em>Editor&#39;s Note: This story has been updated to correct an error in our reporting of the pricing for Shabang CRM.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Customer relationship management is a necessity, but many platforms fall short. These real estate pros are creating their own solutions.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_T_CRM.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=136940">mar17_T_CRM.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_T_CRM_0.jpg?1489421180" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_T_CRM.jpg?1489421197" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/technology/feature/article/2014/05/what-expect-from-crm-solution">What to Expect From a CRM Solution</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/product-guide/applications/article/2015/08/2015-crm-solutions-whats-available">2015 CRM Solutions: What&#039;s Available</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/product-guide/applications/article/2015/08/2015-crm-solutions-whats-trending">2015 CRM Solutions: What&#039;s Trending</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Fri, 10 Mar 2017 21:55:24 +0000 mbrozanic 22882 at http://realtormag.realtor.org In The Trenches: Avoiding a Death Trap http://realtormag.realtor.org/first-person/in-trenches/article/2017/03/in-trenches-avoiding-death-trap <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A collection of stories from real estate professionals detailing crazy, funny, or poignant experiences that have happened on the job. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <!--paging_filter--><h4>Avoiding a Death Trap</h4> <p>As my buyer prepared to make an offer on a house, she consulted with her financial adviser about whether to take out a mortgage or pay cash. Pulling her credit score, her adviser discovered that, according to the credit bureau, she was dead.</p> <p>Apparently, the mortgage on her current home was still in both her and her late husband&rsquo;s names. It turns out that when she went to the bank to have his name removed from the mortgage after his death, the bank accidentally recorded both of their deaths. When she contacted the bank to fix the problem, they gave her the runaround. She was told that she would need to contact the credit bureau to fix the problem herself.</p> <p>My client decided to move forward with a cash offer, which was quickly accepted by the seller, and deal with her status with the bank after closing. She took the whole matter in stride and even joked about it. I would say the unusual foul-up made us &ldquo;die of laughter&rdquo;. . . but that seems crass. <em>&mdash;Stavrula Crafa, GRI, Future Home Realty, Tampa, Fla.</em></p> <h4>False Alarm</h4> <p>Two weeks prior to closing, the local fire department came to my seller&rsquo;s house to inspect the smoke detectors. They worked without a hitch, and my seller received a certificate of compliance. After that, I visited my client one more time before the closing to pick up some papers. As I walked through the front door, I heard a loud, piercing noise that sounded just like a smoke detector going off.</p> <p>&ldquo;Are you having a problem with any of your smoke detectors?&rdquo; I asked the seller. I dreaded the answer because we had already completed the inspection, and I wasn&rsquo;t sure what I would do if one of the alarms malfunctioned just before the buyer took possession of the house.</p> <p>&ldquo;Oh no,&rdquo; my client said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s Peter, my parrot. Ever since the firemen were here, he has been imitating the smoke detector alarm.&rdquo; <em>&mdash;Peggy Yalman, AHWD, Coldwell Banker, Concord, Mass.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>A collection of stories from real estate professionals detailing crazy, funny, or poignant experiences that have happened on the job.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_SM_trenches.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=323324">mar17_SM_trenches.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_SM_trenches_0.jpg?1489419720" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_SM_trenches.jpg?1489419741" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> In The Trenches Fri, 10 Mar 2017 22:26:56 +0000 mbrozanic 22887 at http://realtormag.realtor.org March/April 2017 Market Pulse http://realtormag.realtor.org/news-and-commentary/market-pulse/article/2017/03/marchapril-2017-market-pulse <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A glimpse at the current state of the housing market. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/lawrence-yun">Lawrence Yun</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><h4>Price Increases Are Challenging Buyers</h4> <p>As home prices and interest rates rise, more buyers, especially first-time purchasers, are under pressure. Home prices rose sharply in the last quarter of 2016, fueled by low inventories in many parts of the country, particularly in the entry-level home price range. Federal policies that restrict access to credit, including suspension of a planned reduction in FHA mortgage insurance premiums and high guarantee fees by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will add to affordability woes.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_marketplace_chart.png" style="width: 600px; height: 399px;" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>More Renters Change Their Status</h4> <p>The share of former renters who have taken the plunge into homeownership has slowly but steadily increased over the last two years. The ex-renters include first-time buyers and so-called boomerang buyers who have reentered the market. Rising rents have contributed to the increasing interest in home buying.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_marketplace_chart2.png" style="width: 600px; height: 684px;" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Source: NAR Research</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>A glimpse at the current state of the housing market.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_marketpulse.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=276888">mar17_NC_marketpulse.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_marketpulse_0.jpg?1489420723" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP__NC_marketpulse.jpg?1489420758" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Market Pulse Fri, 10 Mar 2017 22:24:02 +0000 mbrozanic 22886 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Time for Action http://realtormag.realtor.org/law-and-ethics/feature/article/2017/03/time-for-action <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> REALTORS® take their bipartisan agenda to Washington in May. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/robert-freedman">Robert Freedman</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>This year is shaping up as one of the most consequential for real estate in decades. Having open lines of communication with lawmakers and regulators will be critical, says National Association of REALTORS&reg; CEO Dale Stinton. He and Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello have spent years cultivating good working relationships with members of Congress and the regulatory agencies. In May, they&rsquo;ll join thousands of REALTORS&reg; for NAR&rsquo;s annual Capitol Hill visits, where they&rsquo;ll talk directly with lawmakers and their aides about these key issues.</p> <p><strong>Tax reform.</strong> In the U.S. House, lawmakers are considering the outlines of a &ldquo;blueprint&rdquo; to overhaul the tax code. Although the blueprint leaves the mortgage interest deduction in place, many&nbsp; homeowners would lose the incentive to take it because the proposed measures would eliminate the deduction for property taxes and nearly double the standard deduction. Only the wealthiest households would itemize, so owning would essentially be no different than renting from a tax perspective. Lawmakers are also talking about doing away with or limiting 1031 tax-deferred like-kind exchanges&mdash;which allow investors to defer paying capital gains taxes when they reinvest proceeds from a sale in a similar property. The provision has been a cornerstone of commercial real estate since&nbsp; it was written into the tax code in 1921.</p> <p><strong>Housing finance reform.</strong> The debate will be over continued federal backing of conventional loans sold to investors. Without the government guarantee, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages will likely require larger down payments and have higher interest rates, and their availability may be in jeopardy.</p> <p><strong>Health insurance reform.</strong> Efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act are underway. Small businesses and independent contractors have long faced challenges obtaining adequate coverage at affordable rates. Concerns abound about whether a replacement would ensure coverage for all at a reasonable cost.</p> <p><strong>Flood insurance reauthorization.</strong> The National Flood Insurance Program expires at the end of September. Without reauthorization, the availability of flood insurance could be disrupted, leaving thousands of transactions a day unable to close.</p> <p><strong>Deregulation.</strong> In a potentially positive change, reserve and reporting requirements constraining construction and commercial lending by community banks under Dodd-Frank, the banking reform law enacted in 2010, could ease. Rules pertaining to the environment could ease as well.</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>The event</strong></p> <p>REALTORS&reg; Legislative Meetings &amp; Expo, May 15-20</p> <p>8,000 REALTORS&reg; and association executives</p> <p>Insights about the issues, political climate</p> <p>Meetings with lawmakers to champion the REALTORS&reg; Party Agenda</p> <p><a href="http://nar.realtor/legislative"><strong>Learn more</strong></a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/2017_RL.jpg" style="width: 215px; height: 79px;" /></p> </blockquote> <p>Association leaders and staff meet regularly with lawmakers to explore policy solutions. In February, -at a federal policy conference in Washington, D.C., REALTORS&reg; shared their input on tax reform with U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chair of the House Ways &amp; Means Committee, and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), chair of the committee&rsquo;s tax policy subcommittee, Also at the forum were staff aides from the House Financial Services and Senate Banking committees, whose members are working on proposals for reforming or replacing the secondary mortgage market companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and for revamping the FHA. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re at a potential crossroads this year,&rdquo; says NAR President William E. Brown. &ldquo;Are we going to be a nation of owners or renters? Will commercial real estate stay within reach of small investors? We&rsquo;ve made a great start in our effort to educate lawmakers, but it&rsquo;s just a start. More than ever, REALTORS&reg; need to step up and stay engaged.&rdquo;</p> <h4>The stakes&nbsp;</h4> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_sears.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 236px; float: right; margin: 3px;" /><strong>Tax reform</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t seen a complete picture of the numbers under the tax reform blueprint. Lawmakers are talking about this theoretically. In reality, taxes rarely go down. They say they want to broaden the base and lower the rates, but I can see tax rates going up again after they&rsquo;ve been lowered and after we&rsquo;ve already given up the property tax deduction and allowed the mortgage interest deduction to be weakened.&rdquo;</p> <p><span class="st">&mdash;</span><em><strong>Kevin Sears&nbsp; </strong><br /> Sears Real Estate, Springfield, Mass., NAR vice president of government affairs</em></p> <p><strong><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_brown.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 236px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />1031 like-kind exchanges</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;The government thinks it&rsquo;s losing $15 billion in write-offs every year from everyone trading up, but they&rsquo;re not going to bring any of that tax revenue back if they eliminate like-kind exchanges. People will simply stop selling. You also hear the argument that it&rsquo;s a tax break for the rich, but exchange accommodators say the majority of business is from mom-and-pop owners selling four-plexes, six-plexes, or 10-unit buildings. Getting rid of 1031 exchanges isn&rsquo;t just a deferred-tax issue; it&rsquo;s about job creation. People use the provision to expand their business and upgrade their holdings so they can hire more people.&rdquo;</p> <p><span class="st">&mdash;</span><em><strong>William E. Brown</strong>&nbsp;<br /> Investment Real Estate, Oakland, Calif., NAR president</em></p> <p><strong><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_small.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 236px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Health insurance</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;There have been many years I&rsquo;ve gone without health insurance. It was pay as you go, and I know I&rsquo;m not alone in this. We&rsquo;re hanging on by the skin of our teeth, hoping we don&rsquo;t get sick or have an accident. What insurance is available is expensive. Until you get your business off the ground, you can&rsquo;t afford to pay the premiums. Meanwhile, we&rsquo;re trying to attract millennials to our profession. Our average age is [in the] mid-50s. What incentive do young people have to be the next wave of entrepreneurs in our industry if they can&rsquo;t count on having health insurance available to them at a cost they can afford?&rdquo;</p> <p><span class="st">&mdash;</span><em><strong>Brenda Small&nbsp; BPOR, GRI</strong><br /> Keller Williams Capital Properties, Washington, D.C., NAR committee liaison, Public &amp; Federal Issues</em></p> <p><strong><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_oppler.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 236px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Flood insurance</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;NAR supports reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program and reforms to encourage a more robust private coverage market. We have Chubb here in New Jersey, which tends to provide blanket policies for higher-end homes. We need to expand access to coverage and reauthorize the federal program so our buyers and homeowners can access insurance in all markets at all times.&rdquo;</p> <p><span class="st">&mdash;</span><em><strong>Charles Oppler&nbsp; AHWD</strong><br /> Prominent Properties Sotheby&rsquo;s International Realty, Franklin Lakes, N.J., REALTOR&reg; Party director</em></p> <p><strong><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_griffith.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 236px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Deregulation</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;Community banks really do serve a purpose. They&rsquo;re the lenders that do new construction for builders and buyers. They&rsquo;re the ones that lend to the mom and pops that take equity out of their homes to open storefronts. But that&rsquo;s all changed. Restrictions have become so tight, the relationships local lenders might have with people, knowing them and knowing they always pay their loans back, those are often no longer clients the bank can help because of new reserve and other requirements that were put in place.&rdquo;</p> <p><em><span class="st">&mdash;</span><strong>Carol Griffith GRI</strong><br /> Griffith Realty, Brighton, Mich., NAR committee liaison, REALTOR&reg; Party Disbursement</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>REALTORS&reg; take their bipartisan agenda to Washington in May.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_policy.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=336315">mar17_NC_policy.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_policy_0.jpg?1489508631" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_NC_policy.jpg?1489508656" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/law-and-ethics/feature/article/2016/11/we-could-lose-1031s-here-s-why-matters">We Could Lose 1031s. Here’s Why That Matters</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/daily-news/2016/12/06/lawmakers-cautious-tampering-homeownership">Lawmakers Cautious on Tampering With Homeownership</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Fri, 10 Mar 2017 22:04:46 +0000 mbrozanic 22883 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Your Free Leadership Starter Kit http://realtormag.realtor.org/news-and-commentary/your-nar/article/2017/03/your-free-leadership-starter-kit <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Check out the latest member benefits and online tools from NAR. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/carolyn-schwaar">Carolyn Schwaar</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Interested in becoming a volunteer leader at your local or state REALTOR&reg; association but not sure what the role entails? A new streamlined, free orientation course provides a comprehensive overview to give you the confidence you need to pursue a leadership role. This certificate online class, Leadership 100: On the Path to Leadership, available at the Center of REALTOR&reg; Development website, explains how associations are structured, the responsibilities of volunteer leaders, some of the important decisions you&rsquo;ll face, and the tough issues affecting associations nationwide. This hour-and-a-half online course&mdash;the first of three classes comprising the REALTOR&reg; Leadership Program&mdash;will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to be a successful volunteer leader and take your career to the next level. Learn more at <a href="http://nar.realtor/rlp">nar.realtor/rlp</a>.</p> <p><strong>Smart Growth Info on the Go</strong></p> <p><em>On Common Ground</em>, the National Association of REALTORS&reg;&rsquo; free semiannual magazine presenting a wide range of perspectives on smart growth issues, with the goal of encouraging dialogue among REALTORS&reg;, elected officials, and other interested citizens, is now available as a mobile app. Search for &ldquo;NAR On Common Ground&rdquo; in your Android or Apple store.</p> <p><strong>Your Membership Resources at Your Fingertips</strong></p> <p>Have you checked out your new personalized dashboard at the redesigned NAR Member Center, <a href="http://membercenter.nar.realtor">membercenter.nar.realtor</a>? This redesigned page reflects your engagement with the national association and features information from your state and local associations, including events. The dashboard also displays the NAR designations and certifications you&rsquo;ve earned and the committees and other groups you belong to. There&rsquo;s even an option to customize your membership card.</p> <p><strong>A Verification Tool to Keep You Safer</strong></p> <p>REALTORS&reg; have access to a new identity authentication service that can keep you safer on the job. Trust Stamp uses patented software to analyze hundreds of public records and social data to quickly provide reliable identification verification for real estate professionals when they meet new clients or other unknown individuals. The tool has the backing of the National Association of REALTORS&reg;, through an investment by its venture capital fund Second Century Ventures. &ldquo;Investing in a fast, convenient, and affordable tool like Trust Stamp to establish the identity and trustworthiness of a stranger will help REALTORS&reg; stay safe and protect clients and their home or property,&rdquo; said NAR president William E. Brown.</p> <p>Through a program built for NAR members that requires a NRDS number so they can log in, Trust Stamp provides a real estate&ndash;specific webpage and mobile app. REALTORS&reg; enter an individual&rsquo;s email address or cell phone number in the tool that then invites the person to make a Trust Stamp profile online. It takes only a few minutes for clients to create a basic profile including a photo of their driver&rsquo;s license, a selfie, and links to their Facebook profile or other social media accounts. When the process is completed, REALTORS&reg; receive notice with an individual&rsquo;s verified name, photo, and &ldquo;trustworthiness score.&rdquo;</p> <p>REALTORS&reg; can create their own Trust Stamp profiles for free and receive discounted subscriber pricing to view Trust Stamps from prospective clients thanks to NAR&rsquo;s investment in the company. Visit Trust Stamp&rsquo;s real estate&ndash;focused page at <a href="http://truststamp.net/re">truststamp.net/re.</a>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Check out the latest online member benefits and tools from NAR.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_YNAR.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=244110">mar17_YNAR.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_YNAR_0.jpg?1489421027" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_YNAR.jpg?1489421049" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-links"> <div class="field-label">External Links:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://ypnlounge.blogs.realtor.org/2015/03/09/its-time-for-more-female-leadership-in-real-estate" rel="nofollow">It’s Time For More Female Leadership in Real Estate</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="https://www.nar.realtor/national-leadership/leadership-opportunities" rel="nofollow">NAR Leadership Opportunities</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Your NAR Fri, 10 Mar 2017 22:31:15 +0000 mbrozanic 22888 at http://realtormag.realtor.org A Menu of Real Estate Retirement Plans http://realtormag.realtor.org/news-and-commentary/briefs/article/2017/03/menu-real-estate-retirement-plans <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Independent contractors have a wide-range of savings options. Here is a summary of four plans. Figure out which plan is best for you. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/beth-franken">Beth Franken </a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>If you become an independent contractor in real estate after a prior career or two, it&rsquo;s crucial, says Tad Cook at @Financial, to roll over a pre-existing employer-managed 401(k) into a Solo 401(k). &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t ever want you to take money out of a retirement account,&rdquo; he says, meaning before you reach retirement age. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not just the 10 percent penalty, or the tax liability you incur&mdash;it&rsquo;s the loss of the compound interest.&rdquo; If you take $10,000 out of a retirement fund at age 36, you&rsquo;ve just lost what would&rsquo;ve been $73,000 at age 70.</p> <p>You may already know about traditional and Roth IRAs, which are for both employees and the self-employed but which have lower contribution caps.</p> <p>Here are some other plans you may be less familiar with that are specifically designed for the self-employed.</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>To figure out what kind of fund is the best fit for you, ask yourself these questions:</strong></p> <p>Are you self-employed?</p> <p>Do you have employees?</p> <p>Will you contribute before or after taxes?</p> <p>Will you want to borrow from your fund?</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Solo 401(k)-Traditional</strong> (sometimes known by other names: Self-Employed 401(k); Individual 401(k); Solo(k); Single(k); Uni(k); One-participant(k):</p> <p>The Solo 401(k) is similar to an employer-managed 401(k) but is for independent contractors without employees. The advantage of this plan is that you wear two hats&mdash;employer and employee&mdash;enabling you to make contributions in both categories. This generously increases the amount you can contribute&mdash;up to $18,000 as employee ($24,000 for those over 50) and an additional 25 percent of compensation as employer, for a maximum total of $53,000. Because the contributions are tax-deductible, you create tax savings and may even drop into a lower tax bracket. Your money grows tax-deferred, so is taxed when you withdraw it. You can add a spouse, but if you hire employees, you can no longer use this plan and must convert to a regular 401(k). One of the great advantages of a Solo 401(k) is that you are allowed to borrow from your savings and then pay yourself back, with interest. When opening a plan, pay attention to the fees and shop around.</p> <p><strong>Roth Solo 401(k):</strong> For the Roth version, you put in after-tax dollars and your contribution is not tax-deductible. However, your money grows tax-free, meaning it is not taxed upon withdrawal. Like the traditional Solo 401(k)s, you can borrow from yourself but must pay yourself back.</p> <blockquote> <p>Find out what people are planning at various stages of their <a href="/news-and-commentary/feature/article/2017/03/what-s-your-retirement-plan">real estate careers</a>.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>SEP IRA:</strong> SEP is an acronym for Simplified Employee Pension, which is for a small-business owner, independent contractor, or anyone with freelance income. An advantage of a SEP IRA over a Traditional IRA is the higher contribution limit; you can contribute as much as 25 percent of your net income (up to $53,000 in 2016). Your contribution can differ from year to year, depending on how profitable your year was. Importantly, your contribution is tax-deductible. Your funds are taxed later, at withdrawal. You can open a SEP IRA at any bank or brokerage firm, and the fees are very low (as low as $10). Unlike a Solo 401(k), you cannot borrow from your SEP IRA.</p> <p><strong>SIMPLE IRA</strong> (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees): A good choice for brokers with employees. You must match your employees&rsquo; contributions, up to 3 percent of pay, and this is regardless of your cash flow. Contributions are capped at $12,500 (or $15,500 if you are over 50), and there is a stiff penalty (25 percent) for early withdrawal. There are no borrowing provisions, but the account is easy and inexpensive to set up.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p> <style type="text/css"><!--td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}--> </style> <span data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:8705,&quot;3&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:0},&quot;12&quot;:0,&quot;16&quot;:8}" data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Independent contractors have a wide-range of savings options. Here is a summary of four plans. Figure out which plan is best for you.&quot;}" style="font-size:80%;font-family:arial,sans,sans-serif;">Independent contractors have a wide-range of savings options. Here is a summary of four plans. Figure out which plan is best for you.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_rplan.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=344151">mar17_NC_rplan.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_rplan_0.jpg?1489169212" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_NC_rplan.jpg?1489169232" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/feature/article/2017/03/what-s-your-retirement-plan">What’s Your Retirement Plan?</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Briefs Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:58:20 +0000 mbrozanic 22871 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Chatbots’ Potential Beyond Lead Generation http://realtormag.realtor.org/for-brokers/network/article/2017/03/chatbots-potential-beyond-lead-generation <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Chatbots have a long way to go in real estate, but there are interesting ideas for internal use that you and your agents may find valuable for accountability. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Thursday, March 9, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/chris-rediger">Chris Rediger</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Chatbots are on the rise in real estate, promising to work for agents, brokerages, and consumers. I&rsquo;ve had an opportunity to explore the options, and I&rsquo;ve come to the realization that chatbots have great potential beyond their current application in real estate, and in ways yet to be implemented.</p> <p>I recently read an <a href="http://www.mikedp.com/articles/2017/1/31/the-problem-with-bots" target="_blank">opinion piece</a> by real estate tech guru Mike DelPrete. He referenced several sources, including my August 2016 REALTOR&reg; Magazine article, <a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/for-brokers/network/article/2016/08/can-chatbots-work-for-real-estate" target="_blank"><em>Can Chatbots Work for Real Estate?</em></a>, and raised some concerns that current chatbots appear to have more value for agents and brokerages than consumers.</p> <p>I agree with Mike that so far bots have been less than satisfying for consumer engagement. First, they&rsquo;re not as smart as they need to be. Second, they don&rsquo;t really offer anything new to the consumer. Third, they don&rsquo;t create the trust people have come to expect in an agent.</p> <p><a href="http://redefy.com" target="_blank">Redefy</a> started a journey in search of a viable chatbot for real estate lead generation, and we continue to explore new options, but what we have learned is that there are better uses for the bantering bots.</p> <h4>Caught in a whirlpool</h4> <p>We recently had the opportunity to test an artificial intelligence&ndash;powered &ldquo;real estate assistant.&rdquo; Billed as a way to answer commonly asked questions without using employee or agent resources, we were intrigued about its potential to vet leads for our call center. Imagine fielding hundreds of contacts&rsquo; queries simultaneously, impressing them with our techno power and informative answers.</p> <p>We added the bot to our website and put it to work, eagerly anticipating a flood of leads. The logic looked sound, even epic, but the results were disappointing to say the least. Here&rsquo;s what happened.</p> <p>In the first few weeks, the bot had just 18 conversations with real people (although I doubt the intentions of the alias &ldquo;Poop monster&rdquo;). Given the hundreds of thousands of users it could have engaged, site visitors simply weren&rsquo;t interested in chatting about buying or selling a home. The poor volume of engagement was surpassed only by the abysmal quality. The bot continually created an annoying vortex, circling back to the same phrases regardless of what the person asked. Here&rsquo;s one of the failed &ldquo;conversations&rdquo;:</p> <p><strong>Jo: Marc, can you please explain in further detail the &ldquo;broker co-op may apply&rdquo;?</strong></p> <p>Marc (our bot): Got it, what city are you planning on moving to?</p> <p><strong>Jo: We are selling in Raleigh&hellip;Just want a quick answer to this question.</strong></p> <p>Marc: Got it, what city are you planning on moving to?</p> <p><strong>Jo: Please see last comment.</strong></p> <p>Marc: Got it, what city are you planning on moving to?</p> <p><strong>Jo: Raleigh</strong></p> <p>Marc: And how many bedrooms will you want in your new home?</p> <p><strong>Jo: Is there a real person here?</strong></p> <p>Well, that was embarrassing. Everything about this &ldquo;conversation&rdquo; said artificial and definitely not intelligent. Our call center staff, who received documentation of the conversations, noted that not one person got to the point of giving their contact information (would you?) so they couldn&rsquo;t salvage the situation by contacting them. Documentation happened after the fact, so there was also no ability to jump in on the conversation.</p> <p>At the core of the chatbot-consumer interface is language. Given the complexities&mdash;from spelling to sentence structure to slang&mdash;it&rsquo;s a huge undertaking. Clearly, the bot we tried didn&rsquo;t understand our customers. Without a true machine-learning base, bots such as this can&rsquo;t learn anything new or adapt. Before the stream of comments starts, let me say this: I understand all products are not created equal; I&rsquo;m only relaying my direct first-hand experience.</p> <p>We know that consumers don&rsquo;t want to talk to a bot about real estate. They want to believe there&rsquo;s a real person involved in the chat that has experience with buying and selling homes in the real world. Unless a bot can pass a Turing test (the programming is human enough to fool an interrogator), it won&rsquo;t be successful. It&rsquo;s a great idea, but a lead generating chatbot done poorly can be more damaging to a brand than no technology at all.</p> <p>My company found greater success with our Alexa <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Redefy-Real-Estate-Home-Valuation/dp/B01MQVOZ9C" target="_blank">home valuation skill</a>. Everyone who uses Amazon&rsquo;s Echo or Echo Dot knows they&rsquo;re speaking to a bot. It&rsquo;s a data and action device, not an adviser, so they&rsquo;re comfortable asking what their home is worth. Once they get a valuation, they&rsquo;re given the option to speak with an agent; if they say yes, our capable call center takes over. The response has been tremendous and we&rsquo;ve put our efforts toward a similar Google Assistant app (soon to be released) instead of chatbot research for lead generation.</p> <h4>Should we give up on B2C chatbots?</h4> <p>Instead of throwing away the idea of a B2C chatbot altogether, especially for non-retail services like real estate, it&rsquo;s more practical for bot-creating companies to continue development but redirect current capabilities from critical lead generation to customer service. Again, there&rsquo;s a language issue, but the variables can be narrowed considerably. Bots connected to a brokerage CRM can employ all the existing data to provide real-time information.</p> <p>Linking chatbots to existing, ongoing services to keep clients informed creates a sense of participation, excitement, and loyalty. Money-saving apps like <a href="https://getchip.uk/" target="_blank">Chip</a> and <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/10/these-chatbots-want-to-help-you-manage-your-money/" target="_blank">Cleo</a> employ AI chatbots to update and celebrate with customers in words and emojis. It encourages interaction, but there&rsquo;s no expectation of a long, drawn-out conversation that could end in a whirlpool of misunderstanding.</p> <p>This kind of bot initiates with the customer&rsquo;s foreknowledge. No one&rsquo;s trying to fool anyone into thinking a human is making this contact; it&rsquo;s for information only and the customer deserves to know what to expect. When send out showing information via SMS or automated email, they know it&rsquo;s not the agent but it&rsquo;s so convenient they are happy to use it.</p> <p>Likewise, a service chatbot can keep home sellers informed of a new offer, or a showing, with the ability for the customer to answer certain questions quickly and with minimal language issues.</p> <p><strong>Bot: A buyer wants to see your house today at 5 p.m. Is that a good time?</strong></p> <p>Client: Yes</p> <p><strong>Bot: Great! I&rsquo;ll schedule it. Please be out of your property by 4:50 p.m. Could this be the one??</strong></p> <p><em>OR</em></p> <p><strong>Bot: A buyer wants to see your house today at 5 p.m. Is that a good time?</strong></p> <p>Client: No</p> <p><strong>Bot: Ok. Is there a better time tonight?</strong></p> <p>Client: Yes</p> <p><strong>Bot: What time?</strong></p> <p>Client: 6 p.m.</p> <p><strong>Bot: OK, we&rsquo;ll ask the buyer.</strong></p> <p><strong>Bot: Yes, 6 p.m. tonight works for the buyer. Please be out of your property at 5:50 p.m. Hope they love it!</strong></p> <p>The same tech works for home buyers, with search possibilities and more. Success with this kind of a bot comes down to knowing how the customer prefers to interact, so they need to be given a choice. Those who like bots will enjoy it. Those who don&rsquo;t may not respond, so it has to be just one of several options to communicate with clients. This is another reminder that chatbots are good only if they make the customer&rsquo;s experience better.</p> <p>If the conversation progresses to where the customer suddenly asks an off-topic question, your bot may get stuck. This is the danger of a consumer-facing bot. If you suddenly take over with a call or email, the customer is suddenly reminded that the bot is a bot and has failed. The ability to have a function set up for a human user to take over the chat, emojis and all, is a missing critical piece to existing bots, but soon to be corrected, I&rsquo;m sure.</p> <p>An indirect lead gen or service bot that could be useful is the chatbot assistant. It could help a &ldquo;stuck&rdquo; agent redirect a conversation on the fly. <a href="http://www.cogitobot.com/" target="_blank">Cogito</a>, used in the healthcare sector, analyzes customer service reps&rsquo; conversations and makes suggestions to the rep in a messaging format (such as &ldquo;you&rsquo;re talking too fast&rdquo; or &ldquo;you&rsquo;re interrupting&rdquo;). If the bot hiccups along the way, the consumer will never know.</p> <p>I haven&rsquo;t given up on a client-facing bot. I&rsquo;m just waiting for someone to get it right. There are some promising new developers I&rsquo;m watching, but I see some better uses for the technology in real estate and beyond.</p> <h4>Thinking beyond B2C</h4> <p>Here&rsquo;s where chatbots get really interesting. In addition to being Redefy&rsquo;s CTO, I also oversee operations. Managing assets starts with pulling reports and interpreting the data.</p> <p>But people, especially contractors and remote operators, can be hard to quantify when acquiring data takes an email, phone call, or in-person conversation. Do I know what our hundreds of agents are doing right this moment? Do I or my regional managers or even my brokerage managers really have time to find out if a particular agent contacted a lead today? Enter the accountability chatbot.</p> <p>This bot could send reminders that require an answer. Have you contacted John Q. yet? If yes, there&rsquo;s a trackable data point that&rsquo;s good for both manager and agent. If no (or no response), ask why (there may be a good reason and they should have the opportunity to explain); the bot could send reminders in a designated time period before the manager is notified to reassign the lead. Dropping the ball in any step of the transaction could be eliminated.</p> <p>This creates a more efficient and detail-oriented workforce. Decreasing the human capital need (such as entry-level managers) and increasing customer experience provides the best follow-up and execution possible. I always tell our managers I would rather have 10 leads with 10 listings than 100 leads with 10 listings. The latter stat makes me question the ability of our agents, while the first number makes me praise them.</p> <p>In addition, documentation of these chats creates an indisputable body of evidence. It&rsquo;s completely unemotional, doesn&rsquo;t lie, and shows no favoritism. In an era of litigation and claims of discrimination, an accountability bot can be an asset to employer, employee, and independent contractor.</p> <p>It goes well beyond real estate to almost every sector of business. Did you stock the latest shipment? Have you filed your report? From pilots to retail associates to doctors, chatbots can offer reminders, send new action points, give safety warnings, take feedback, fill out forms, and take on many other roles.</p> <p>Think of the time no longer wasted tracking down employees to see if they&rsquo;ve completed a job. Imagine the employee&rsquo;s joy at not having a manager constantly breathing down their neck. In some ways, it takes stress away from workers worrying they may forget something on the to-do list. On a more serious note, consider accidents that have happened because someone forgot a step in the routine. Perhaps I should stop right here and get on this idea before one of you does!</p> <p>Chatbots have a long way to go, and probably a longer way in real estate. The cost of programming and marketing such a feature keeps most real estate companies from designing their own. Developers are hindered by access to data beyond public records. Multiple listing services are splintered across the country, with no single point of entry. Add to that the various platform and CRMs that different brokerages use.</p> <p>Until someone creates a smarter bot with a compatible interface, B2C chatbots in real estate will take a backseat to better uses for AI chats.</p> <hr /> <p><br /> <img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/logos/BtoB_logo_footer_080114.jpg" style="float:left; height:117px; width:150px" /><em>Broker-to-Broker is an information network that provides insights and tools with business value through timely articles, videos, Q&amp;As, and sales meeting tips for brokerage owners and managers. Get more <a href="/for-brokers/network" target="_blank">Broker-to-Broker content here</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Chatbots have a long way to go in real estate, but there are interesting ideas for internal use that you and your agents may find valuable for accountability.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_BB_chatbots.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=66341">mar17_BB_chatbots.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_BB_chatbots_0.jpg?1489503628" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_BB_chatbots.jpg?1489503650" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2016/08/can-chatbots-work-for-real-estate">Can Chatbots Work for Real Estate?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2017/02/perfect-apple-innovate-tesla">Perfect Like Apple, Innovate Like Tesla</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2017/02/tech-disruptors-will-bring-you-business">Tech Disruptors That Will Bring You Business</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2017/01/video-7-gadgets-revolutionize-your-office">Video: 7 Gadgets to Revolutionize Your Office</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Network Thu, 09 Mar 2017 23:54:35 +0000 echristoffer 22875 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Help First-Time Sellers Through the Sale http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/feature/article/2017/03/help-first-time-sellers-through-sale <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Like rookie buyers, clients who are new to selling need extra hand-holding through the sales process. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/judith-crown">Judith Crown</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Even the most steely-eyed sellers can get emotional when it&rsquo;s time to list their home. It&rsquo;s the place where they raised their children, gathered friends for annual holiday parties, or painstakingly executed their design vision over many years. The longer they have stayed in a home, the greater the challenges they may face getting up-to-date on the rules and regulations governing transactions. Those who have never before sold are, indeed, in uncharted territory. Here are suggestions for working with first-time sellers who may find the financial and legal complexities, as well as the emotional terrain, especially daunting.</p> <p>First-time sellers who have never contended with buyer demands may not initially understand how neutralizing their home or adding small upgrades can make their property more competitive on the market. Using data to highlight comparable nearby homes and what they&rsquo;re selling for is a good place to start, but make sure to explain how the data supports your argument. Andy Werner, abr, e-pro, associate broker at RE/MAX Realty Group in Gaithersburg, Md., says many first-time sellers don&rsquo;t realize how minor repairs can elevate their property&rsquo;s market value. Buyers typically expect a home to be in move-in condition, so sellers who choose not to upgrade could face a $10,000 to $15,000 price reduction, he says.</p> <p>&ldquo;I tell buyers that if you don&rsquo;t fix up your house, the buyer will go around the corner and buy from someone who did&mdash;and they&rsquo;ll pay $5,000 more,&rdquo; Werner says. Such an explanation demonstrates market fundamentals to your clients and keeps them on track toward the closing table. The costs of modest repairs, such as repainting, installing carpet, and refinishing or replacing kitchen cabinetry, are often recouped at resale, Werner adds.</p> <h4>Selling After Decades of Owning</h4> <p>Some common seller issues become more difficult simply because of how long a first-time seller has lived in a home. Decluttering, for example, can be hard enough for someone who&rsquo;s been in their home only five years. Imagine how challenging it is for sellers who have lived in a home for their entire adult life.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not just emotional resistance they&rsquo;re experiencing. First-timers may simply not be aware of how clearing out personal items improves the odds of a sale. Alice Chin, psa, a broker with Keller Williams Infinity in Naperville, Ill., recommends that sellers who have never dramatically decluttered their homes before do it in stages, clearing one room at a time. Slowing down the pace can ease the mental and emotional pressure involved in getting rid of personal items, she says, and once sellers see the results in one room, it can encourage them to continue working on the rest of the house. If your client needs more convincing, ask a professional home stager to weigh in, Chin says.</p> <h4>Patience Is a Virtue</h4> <p>All sellers benefit from practicing patience while waiting for the right buyer, but this is doubly true for those who are listing a vacation home in resort areas for the first time. They face different market dynamics than if they were selling a primary residence, says McKee <a>Macdonald</a>, a broker with Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate in the ski resort town of Stowe, Vt. Many of his clients who are new to selling are shocked to learn how long it can take to sell&mdash;an average of 250 days in his market. Some properties have languished for as long as five years, he says.</p> <p>Therefore, first-time sellers require a higher degree of communication so they can be prepared for the realities of a niche market, Macdonald says. He explains that traditional marketing tactics such as open houses aren&rsquo;t always effective because the number of skiers (who are prospective buyers) in town on weekends is unpredictable. Instead, he advises his clients to consider renting out vacation properties while they wait for a buyer. After all, selling a second home often isn&rsquo;t urgent, and a seller&rsquo;s motivation can change. &ldquo;Some sellers say, &lsquo;Throw it out there. If we get the price we want, great. If not, I&rsquo;m still using it,&rsquo;&rdquo; Macdonald says.</p> <h4>Experienced Sellers Can Be Rookies</h4> <p>Even seasoned sellers can feel like newbies when market conditions have changed markedly since their last sale. A client who sold one property during a downturn may be ill-prepared for today&rsquo;s tight-inventory environment and the stress of handling multiple offers. Though it&rsquo;s a nice problem to have, it can still be overwhelming.</p> <p>Ashleigh Fredrickson, sales associate at 8Z Real Estate in Denver, says the biggest challenge for sellers of all experience levels is determining which offers stand the best chance of holding up. In a strong seller&rsquo;s market, buyers can get swept up in the heat of the moment and bid 10 percent over list price only to realize later they won&rsquo;t be able to qualify for financing, she says. So it&rsquo;s important to counsel sellers&mdash;particularly those who have never been in such a situation&mdash;that the highest bid isn&rsquo;t necessarily the best. &ldquo;You want to make sure you&rsquo;re getting the most qualified buyer so that you&rsquo;re not back out on the market again,&rdquo; Fredrickson says.</p> <p>She suggests using a spreadsheet to help sellers analyze competing bids, taking special note of any contingencies. Your clients need to understand that a higher offer with more contingencies may not be in their best interest. &ldquo;Maybe the timeline is paramount, so the seller will sacrifice a couple of thousand dollars to ensure the deal is done by a certain time,&rdquo; Fredrickson says.</p> <p>Above all, directness and thorough education are what every first-time seller needs, Macdonald adds. When a sale isn&rsquo;t going the way a seller had imagined it would, &ldquo;you need to look for&nbsp;strategies&nbsp;to offset the negatives.&rdquo; But always &ldquo;give sellers the honest truth, and don&rsquo;t sugarcoat it,&rdquo; he says.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Like rookie buyers, clients who are new to selling need extra hand-holding through the sales process.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_SM_sellers.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=342073">mar17_SM_sellers.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_SM_sellers_0.jpg?1489421302" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_SM_sellers.jpg?1489421321" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sales-and-marketing/relationship-management/article/2016/11/when-sellers-won-t-leave-during-showings">When Sellers Won’t Leave During Showings</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sales-and-marketing/feature/article/2016/07/what-sellers-need-know-about-comps">What Sellers Need to Know About Comps</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/well-being/safety/article/2016/12/10-anti-burglary-tips-for-your-sellers">10 Anti-Burglary Tips for Your Sellers</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Thu, 09 Mar 2017 22:32:20 +0000 mbrozanic 22874 at http://realtormag.realtor.org How The Housing Crisis Made Them Stronger http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/feature/article/2017/03/how-housing-crisis-made-them-stronger <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Real estate professionals describe how the housing crisis has made them better at their jobs today. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/graham-wood">Graham Wood</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Real estate goes through cyclical ups and downs, and, you would be wise to prepare for the next time your market&mdash;and your business&mdash;hits a trough. But a slowdown should never be a cause for panic, preventing you from strategizing a forward-looking path.</p> <p>Three practitioners who weathered the worst of the housing collapse in 2008 and beyond share insights about their own fortitude and business savvy that got them through the toughest times. They all reached a crossroads in their careers as the crisis unfolded, and while giving up might have been the easier choice, their persistence and flexibility enabled them to find a route back to success. Get inspired by their stories.</p> <h4>Adding Value at Low Points</h4> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_Linda_Stevenson.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 285px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Linda Stevenson chose perhaps the worst time to open a real estate brokerage. An agent in Nashville, Tenn., since 1997, she started Kijiji Realty (meaning &ldquo;small village&rdquo; in Swahili&mdash;an appreciative nod to the community of people behind every successful real estate transaction) in June 2008 as home prices nationwide were spiraling downward. Her sales business was in the middle of a months-long dry spell with no closings when she launched her company out of her home. It took her another three months to land her first sale as a broker.</p> <p>Why didn&rsquo;t Stevenson, who worked alone until hiring two agents last year, wait for a steadier market to take on such a big commitment? &ldquo;I had been wanting to [open my own brokerage] for a while, and I didn&rsquo;t want to talk myself out of it if I waited longer,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;And I told myself that if my company could survive the hard times, then I knew I&rsquo;d be here to stay.&rdquo;</p> <p>She would need to be brave as her resolve was put to the test. In 2010, Stevenson and her husband lost their own home to foreclosure and were forced to rent from one of her clients whose property wouldn&rsquo;t sell. By then, her sales volume, which was typically $1 million annually before the downturn, dropped to less than half that. She was making little money, and her saving grace was not having to pay for a physical office space. &ldquo;I told my husband that if this doesn&rsquo;t start to get better, I&rsquo;m going to have to hang up my license,&rdquo; Stevenson recalls. &ldquo;Looking back on it, I honestly don&rsquo;t even see how I made it.&rdquo;</p> <p>But a valuable lesson she learned during those dark, early days as a broker helped her refocus on a way forward. The worse the economic environment got, Stevenson says, the more she noticed buyers and sellers gravitating toward larger, more recognizable real estate brands. For her fledgling brokerage to survive, she realized she&rsquo;d need to show consumers that she provided something her competitors didn&rsquo;t. &ldquo;What do I offer that Crye-Leike or Century 21 doesn&rsquo;t?&rdquo; Stevenson says. &ldquo;I offer individual service. When you call my number, you&rsquo;ll get me, not someone&rsquo;s assistant. I will have all the information about your listing, not someone else. And I will tailor my service to your exact needs.&rdquo;</p> <p>That became her mission statement, and she followed it up with action every chance she got. In 2012, she went as far as to conduct the entire home search process by herself for one relocating buyer who was moving to Nashville from New Jersey and couldn&rsquo;t spend enough time in town looking for a condo. The buyer expected to fly in and find a home in 24 hours. &ldquo;I said, &lsquo;That&rsquo;s not going to happen,&rsquo;&rdquo; Stevenson says. &ldquo;So she gave me an escrow check and asked me to find a condo for her.&rdquo; Stevenson went on home tours for two weeks, taking detailed photos of every property to send to the buyer. They closed on a condo a couple of months later.</p> <p>Offering individualized service brought Stevenson closer to the stresses her clients endured through crises of their own and helped her soften her communication style. One seller who decided to put her home on the market after her son&rsquo;s death nearly backed out of the sale under intense emotional pressure. Stevenson offered to ease her through the process by helping her move. &ldquo;I came over and helped her pack and found her a moving company,&rdquo; Stevenson says. &ldquo;We looked through family photos and heirlooms, and I listened to her stories. It helped me learn how to deal with people a little better.&rdquo;</p> <p>The lengths she would go to for her clients started creating buzz about Stevenson&rsquo;s brokerage. And once the referrals started pouring in, she realized she had discovered her value. Last year, Stevenson and her two agents, whom she spent much of her time training, completed five and a half transaction sides. But as her agents become more equipped to serve clients, she has goals to grow her brokerage&rsquo;s production. &ldquo;I thought I was going to fail at one point just because of the market,&rdquo; Stevenson says. &ldquo;But people do business with people they like, so I see now that it was my ability to nurture relationships that kept me alive.&rdquo;</p> <h4>The Guts to Tell It Like It Was</h4> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_Joshua_Smith.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 285px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />After closing 48 transaction sides in 2005 during his first year as a real estate agent, Joshua Smith suddenly faced a crisis of confidence. By 2006, homes in the Phoenix area&mdash;one of the first cities to be dragged down in the prelude to the nationwide housing meltdown&mdash;were already stalling on the market. Soon after, nearly every seller Smith worked with was forced to either abandon the sale or lose tens&mdash;or hundreds&mdash;of thousands of dollars in a short sale because they were upside down on their mortgages.</p> <p>Smith, a sales associate with My Home Group Real Estate in Surprise, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb, worried that he wasn&rsquo;t doing enough to save his clients from heartache and financial ruin. He was feverishly studying the market and trying to offer his best advice to buyers and sellers given the deteriorating market conditions. But sellers in particular were stubborn and refused to listen. &ldquo;I had clients who had $80,000 in equity and were just chasing the ball down the hill, and they were underwater by the time they accepted an offer,&rdquo; Smith says. &ldquo;I would tell them early on to take the best offer, even if it was less than what they wanted, but they wouldn&rsquo;t do it. And then their situation just got worse.&rdquo;</p> <p>As he learned more about distressed sales as more of his clients were forced into a short sale or foreclosure, Smith decided he needed to become more direct and transparent when educating sellers about the obstacles they faced in a down market. He increased regular updates with sellers from monthly to weekly. To this day, he contacts his sellers every Tuesday to give them information on their listings, covering number of showings for the previous week versus activity at comparable homes, an update on market prices, and his written opinion on what he thinks his clients should do next. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m big on education way more than I was [at the start of my career],&rdquo; Smith says. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve learned to get crystal clear on what my clients&rsquo; goals are.&rdquo;</p> <p>He&rsquo;s also learned to be more blunt when assessing clients&rsquo; needs. Smith says he used to worry about offending sellers with his advice, particularly if their opinions on list price weren&rsquo;t aligned. But he sees now how much time and anguish he could save his clients by being up front when they want to set a list price that seems too high. His strategy is still important today, as home prices in pockets of Phoenix&rsquo;s suburbs remain 30 percent below their prerecession peak, according to data from the West Maricopa Association of REALTORS&reg;.</p> <p>Smith recently had an elderly client who wanted to move closer to her family but demanded $20,000 more for her home than buyers were willing to offer. &ldquo;I literally said to her, &lsquo;Is losing the memories you could be making with your grandkids worth this extra $20,000 or not?&rsquo;&rdquo; he recalls. In the end, Smith&rsquo;s client accepted a lower offer.</p> <p>Smith has become more proactive in helping clients avoid worst-case scenarios with their transactions. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve become more aggressive and relentless in my communication and follow-up because I had so many sellers that, if they would have priced their house correctly, they would have put a lot of equity in their pocket,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So I always tell them up front: &lsquo;You&rsquo;re the boss, and I work for you. It&rsquo;s your home, so you set the price, but it&rsquo;s my job to look out for your best interest. You may not agree with what I tell you, but I&rsquo;m still going to tell you whether you want to hear it or not.&rsquo; My job is to give them enough facts and statistics that hopefully they understand what they&rsquo;re getting into.&rdquo;</p> <h4>Staying Connected to Her Roots</h4> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_Erika_Villegas.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 285px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Villegas watched more than half of her colleagues quit the real estate office she worked at during the downturn. Out of the eight agents at Associates Real Estate in Chicago a decade ago, she&rsquo;s one of just three who remain in the business. Having started as a part-time agent in 2005, Villegas, who aspired to be a teacher, considered following her colleagues&rsquo; exit. But instead, as the housing crisis deepened in 2008, she switched brokerages and became a full-time agent.</p> <p>&ldquo;People were saying, &lsquo;Are you crazy?&rsquo;&rdquo; recalls Villegas, SFR, now one of 48 agents with ERA Mi Casa Real Estate. &ldquo;I never forgot that I got into this business to help people, doing the hard work that others aren&rsquo;t willing to do. Real estate fulfilled the same desire to serve that I had when I thought I was going to become a teacher.&rdquo;</p> <p>In foreclosure-plagued Chicago, Villegas knew she&rsquo;d have to work longer hours and make twice as many phone calls and emails to get business and help clients. Sometimes her extra work didn&rsquo;t pay off. She remembers helping a buyer who had lost her job three days before going to the closing table. Her lender performed a final job verification at closing&mdash;and the buyer&rsquo;s loan was denied. &ldquo;The buyer and seller were both devastated,&rdquo; Villegas says.</p> <p>Though that situation was beyond her control, Villegas developed a network of professionals who could help her and her clients through unexpected problems during a transaction. She discovered that a slow real estate market was the perfect time to find people such as local lenders, home stagers, and real estate attorneys who were less busy and more available to work with her. &ldquo;I was always open to building new relationships with people my brokerage hadn&rsquo;t been connected to before,&rdquo; Villegas says. &ldquo;I created a network of people who had access to things I didn&rsquo;t know about.&rdquo;</p> <p>Villegas also found that a positive attitude could make all the difference to a client struggling through fear. Even in booming markets, buyers and sellers get apprehensive about the real estate process, and Villegas says staying positive reassures her clients and boosts her confidence. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not a Debbie Downer&mdash;never have been one,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Any challenge I&rsquo;ve faced has helped build strength and given me that extra push to make it work for myself and my clients.&rdquo;</p> <p>Keeping priorities straight during rough times is an important aspect of resilience, she adds. From worries about whether a client will qualify for a mortgage to whether a property will appraise, real estate professionals need to exemplify calm and steadiness to balance their clients&rsquo; emotions. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t forget that you are the expert,&rdquo; Villegas says. &ldquo;We do this every day, and yes, every client and transaction is different, but they all have similar fears. We have to be that rock for them.&rdquo;</p> <p>That philosophy recently helped her manage the emotions of a nervous young couple who were buying their first home and needed a great deal of feedback and reassurance. Villegas had to show her clients the home they eventually bought three times before they would make an offer, and she had two additional buyer&rsquo;s consultations with them. &ldquo;They say, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m sorry, Erika, we have more questions.&rsquo; And I always say, &lsquo;Do not apologize for anything. I want to make sure you are 100 percent positive with your decision.&rsquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;When they close on a deal, I want them to know that I had their best interests at heart and that I was there educating and guiding them the entire way.&rdquo;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Real estate professionals describe how the housing crisis has made them better at their jobs today.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_SM_turnaround.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=242047">mar17_SM_turnaround.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_SM_turnaround_0.jpg?1489432677" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_SM_turnaround.jpg?1489432725" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/for-brokers/solutions/article/2016/01/making-most-circumstantial-urgency">Making the Most of Circumstantial Urgency</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/for-brokers/standouts/article/2012/09/how-rise-during-downturn">How to Rise During a Downturn</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-links"> <div class="field-label">External Links:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://speakingofrealestate.blogs.realtor.org/2015/01/29/what-will-you-need-to-cut-in-the-next-downturn/" rel="nofollow">What Will You Need to Cut in the Next Downturn?</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Thu, 09 Mar 2017 22:07:33 +0000 mbrozanic 22872 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Keep Wildlife at Bay http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/feature/article/2017/03/keep-wildlife-bay <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> When critters show up at a property unexpectedly, people tend to panic. Giving clients information well in advance about reputable removal pros will help you win fans for life. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/barbara-ballinger">Barbara Ballinger</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Everything may seem perfect for your showing: lights on, carpets clean, counters decluttered. But how would you respond if everything changed in an instant? Linda Brown, an agent with Century 21 Paramount in League City, Texas, outside Houston, was showing her buyers a 1940s house for sale when they heard a thundering noise come from the ceiling, followed by falling plaster, and the shocking sight of a family of six raccoons tumbling through the gaping hole. &ldquo;My clients dashed out without so much as a good-bye. I wondered what I should do next as the animals ran around in circles,&rdquo; Brown says.</p> <blockquote> <p>Before homeowners can take action regarding wildlife that has entered a home, they need to know what kind of critters they&rsquo;re dealing with. Sometimes people haven&rsquo;t seen an animal but have heard telltale sounds coming from walls or ceilings. We&rsquo;ve compiled a longer list of animal-specific tips online at <a href="http://realtorm.ag/wild" target="_blank">realtorm.ag/wild</a>.</p> </blockquote> <p>Fortunately, Brown, who grew up on a farm, made a smart decision fast. &ldquo;I remained calm so the animals would. I simply opened the back door and the raccoons scurried out,&rdquo; she says. When Brown called the seller, she learned the house was certified through the Texas Backyard Wildlife Habitats program, which allows homeowners to plant edible greenery that provides a source of food for wildlife. In this case, the raccoons went the next step and took up residence for winter through a vent in the attic. The seller proceeded to seal the vent, but those buyers weren&rsquo;t coming back.</p> <p>Homeowners who live in rural locations are accustomed to sharing their land with wildlife and contending with such challenges. But as more residential and commercial development encroaches upon natural habitats and food sources, people are increasingly finding themselves sharing their neighborhood with all manner of species from bats to bears. &ldquo;Wildlife animals were already living in areas before we turned them into communities and will continue to live there once the community is built,&rdquo; says Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association.</p> <p>The risks increase during colder weather when animals tend to seek indoor shelter, making residential walls, ceilings, basements, and attics especially appealing, when they can find an entry point or create one by chewing away. While there&rsquo;s no single solution to keeping out all wildlife, which varies by climate, vegetation, and topography, Kimberly Cantine, an associate broker with Coldwell Banker Village Green Realty in Woodstock, N.Y., has seen her fair share of animal intruders turning up at inconvenient moments. Once she and a buyer found a listing overrun with mice on a final walkthrough. &ldquo;A tenant had lived there with a cat and all seemed fine until the tenant left,&rdquo; she says. Cantine asked the sellers to have their pest company clean and remove all traces of the rodents. They did, and also agreed to pay for a year of regular pest-control maintenance. Thanks to Cantine&rsquo;s quick action, the closing took place on time.</p> <p>Often, the animals may just cause panic, but as with Brown, they can instantly derail a potential sale. Dislodging interlopers can also prove costly and time-consuming when homeowners have to hire professional wildlife removal experts to take charge. Also, remodeling costs to replace chewed electrical wires or holes in roofs, chimneys, and pipes can be substantial. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Many buyers and sellers look to real estate experts for help when uninvited animals show up, whether it&rsquo;s deer nibbling their hostas to death, alligators slithering onto patios for a dip in a nearby swimming pool, or squirrels using trees as trampolines to catapult themselves through an opening into an attic. Well before you get a call from a panicked client, have contact information in hand for reputable pros with expertise in specific kinds of wildlife intruders. Experts who specialize in handling raccoons may not be the right people to call for help with bats, for example.</p> <p>For insects, rodents, and other common pests, you can find licensed <a href="http://www.pestworld.org/find-local-exterminators/">experts by zip code</a> on the National Pest Management Association&rsquo;s consumer site, <a href="http://www.pestworld.org/">PestWorld.org</a>. A company&rsquo;s website should indicate what kinds of pests as well as nuisance wildlife they are equipped to manage. For certain species, such as deer, bats, or bears, a county wildlife department may be a good place to start to find a specialist skilled in entrapment and release. Homeowners should check whether a company carries liability insurance, and ask about the length of a pest-free guarantee. Linda Brown says she prefers working with a humane society for animals like raccoons or squirrels, rather than many conventional pest services, to be sure animals are not harmed as they are caught and removed using a Havahart trap or similar device. You can also refer homeowners to their local health department, which can provide information about laws regarding proper animal removal and any health issues. For instance, there are nine species of bats in New York, and the state&rsquo;s Department of Environmental Conservation requires that certain species be removed rather than exterminated.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s wise for real estate pros to take the time to learn about the most common nuisance wildlife and pest problems in their area and how to help prevent problems from developing in the first place. A pre-inspection can help alert sellers to problems before buyers step through their door. But in the event the unexpected happens, the most important caveat is sometimes the hardest to maintain: Remain calm. After all, nothing is scarier for the uninvited creatures than running into you and your client.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>When critters show up at a property unexpectedly, people tend to panic. Giving clients information well in advance about reputable removal pros will help you win fans for life.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_HD_wildlife.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=416085">mar17_HD_wildlife.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_HD_wildlife_0.jpg?1489165585" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_HD_wildlife.jpg?1489165595" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/home-and-design/feature/article/2013/01/attract-buyers-not-pests">Attract Buyers, Not Pests</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/home-and-design/feature/article/2015/09/what-lurks-outside-those-walls">What Lurks Outside Those Walls </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/home-and-design/architecture-coach/article/2012/11/spruce-up-listing-winter">Spruce Up That Listing Before Winter</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Thu, 09 Mar 2017 22:23:07 +0000 mbrozanic 22873 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Marki Lemon’s Advice: Make Your Own Lemonade http://realtormag.realtor.org/news-and-commentary/editor/article/2017/03/marki-lemon-s-advice-make-your-own-lemonade <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Despite obstacles, our guest editor never lost sight of her long-term financial goals. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/wendy-cole">Wendy Cole</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>There&rsquo;s no shortage of passion in this industry. We often hear about the extreme satisfaction REALTORS&reg; take in helping clients reach their dreams. The flip side of that is many don&rsquo;t pause to envision their own life beyond their real estate career. Our guest editor, Marki Lemons-Ryhal, is an exception.</p> <p>Lemons-Ryhal, 46, is hardly ready to wind things down. She&rsquo;s an Energizer bunny radiating positivity about the business to her 5,000 Facebook friends&mdash;Facebook&rsquo;s maximum&mdash;and to the 10,000 or so practitioners who attend her classes on topics from the REALTOR&reg; Code of Ethics to how to use Facebook Live. The backpack she carries everywhere is loaded with a telescoping tripod, microphone, and minilights so she can &ldquo;go live&rdquo; when the moment strikes her, including during her visit to our office.</p> <p>Still, from the beginning of her real estate career 17 years ago, Lemons-Ryhal had her end game in mind. &ldquo;I knew I didn&rsquo;t want to be running around in high heels selling houses when I was in my 50s,&rdquo; she says, carefully noting she&rsquo;s not judging those who enjoy that. Saving money for the future was always a priority. During the three years she had her own brokerage, 10 percent of her profits went into long-term accounts. She was also savvy with her own real estate investing, flipping 10 houses between 2003 and 2006 on the South Side of Chicago. After a series of personal setbacks in 2006 made her reevaluate her direction&mdash;her mother and grandfather died within two months of each other, she contracted pneumonia, and she found herself in a high-risk pregnancy with her second child&mdash;she got her mojo back. &ldquo;I could have left the business. But I happened to see a line in the [NAR] Member Profile that year that changed my life. It said &lsquo;Since 2003, more buyers have used the Internet as an information source than the newspaper.&rsquo; I knew then I needed to be online where the buyers and sellers were.&rdquo; Lemons soon transformed triumphantly into MarkiLemons.com, and before long, she was at the top of the social media food chain.</p> <p>Our story on <a href="/news-and-commentary/feature/article/2017/03/what-s-your-retirement-plan">retirement planning</a>, which looks at the ways that savvy practitioners are creating a comfortable long-term financial strategy, resonated strongly for Lemons-Ryhal. &ldquo;Unfortunately, many REALTORS&reg; say they don&rsquo;t see the need to plan for retirement because they think they&rsquo;ll never be able to afford to retire,&rdquo; she says with frustration. Obtaining a real estate license, she tells them, opens the door to a lot more opportunities than many realize. &ldquo;You can focus on marketing, technology, teaching, or referrals,&rdquo; she says.</p> <p>Her own retirement plan doesn&rsquo;t actually entail not working either. In another decade or so, Lemons-Ryhal envisions relocating with her husband, Stephen, to Belize, Costa Rica, or some other Central American hot spot. She won&rsquo;t just be spending time at the beach. She&rsquo;ll be amping up her referral business, helping people fulfill their own international retirement dreams.</p> <p>Good plan. What&rsquo;s yours?</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Despite obstacles, our guest editor never lost sight of her long-term financial goals.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_guested.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=388546">mar17_NC_guested.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_guested_0.jpg?1489423955" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_NC_guested.jpg?1489423976" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/first-person/street-cred/article/2014/01/baroness-hyde-park">The Baroness of Hyde Park</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-links"> <div class="field-label">External Links:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUWIPqpKw8k" rel="nofollow">Live Streaming Best Practices with Marki Lemons</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Editor Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:17:18 +0000 mbrozanic 22868 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Questions Your Accountant Wishes You’d Ask http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/sponsored/intuit/questions-your-accountant-wishes-you-d-ask <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A tax expert offers four key areas of concern in this piece from Content Sponsor Quickbooks Self-Employed. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Friday, March 10, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/janet-berry-johnson">Janet Berry-Johnson</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">As a CPA, I&rsquo;ve worked with quite a few real estate professionals over the years. I&rsquo;ve seen everything from grocery bags full of coffee-stained receipts to the worst scenario: no records at all. Few people get into the real estate business because they have a burning passion for bookkeeping. Yet, because most agents are independent contractors, it&rsquo;s absolutely essential they track income and expenses accurately.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">Sometimes, my clients think they&rsquo;re doing a good job keeping their books, but tax time tells another story. Wondering how you&rsquo;re doing? Ask yourself these questions:</span></p> <h4><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">Am I capturing all of my expenses?</span></h4> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">The real estate professionals I work with are busy developing leads into business, showing homes, and, of course, closing deals. The downside is that they often fail to capture all their expenses. At tax time, they spend hours trying to remember what they spent and track down receipts. We both know they&rsquo;re <a href="http://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/taxes/last-minute-tax-deductions-small-businesses/">missing out on deductions</a>, but we can&rsquo;t file a tax return based on estimates, so they end up losing out.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">I always recommend setting up separate business checking and credit card accounts and using them for all business-related transactions, to make tracking easier. If they don&rsquo;t want to do that, I recommend they use some sort of expense tracking software like <a href="https://selfemployed.intuit.com/nar?cid=par_nar_US_RealtorMagMar17_QBSE">QuickBooks Self-Employed</a>. With the automated expense tracking function, users can connect their bank accounts and swipe to sort business from personal spending right from their smartphone.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">Some of my clients try to recreate their expenses using bank statements when they&rsquo;re missing receipts. While this works in some circumstances, I always recommend keeping receipts to avoid raising IRS suspicions. This is especially important for meals and entertainment expenses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">If you don&rsquo;t want to deal with a mountain of receipts, use an IRS-approved app that can easily capture receipts. Snap a picture of the receipt from your phone and link it to your expenses right away. That way, every transaction is recorded, so you&rsquo;re ready to go at tax time&mdash;no shoebox or bank statement search needed.</span></p> <h4><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">How profitable were my transactions?</span></h4> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">Now this question is more for you than it is for me, but since we&rsquo;re talking about keeping better track of expenses, I want to help all real estate pros understand what a difference a good organizational structure can make in budgeting and cost-benefit analysis. You&rsquo;ve got to spend money to make money, but some take it too far, spending thousands of dollars on Facebook ads, mailings, open houses, photography, and 3-D virtual tours. Sometimes it makes sense, but if you don&rsquo;t track both your income and expenses by listing, you may be losing money without knowing it.</span></p> <h4><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">Are my mileage records accurate?</span></h4> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">Every year, I ask my clients in the real estate industry how much they drove for business. I cringe when they tell me &ldquo;just use whatever number we used last year.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s when we have a conversation about the IRS&rsquo;s strict rules for&nbsp;<a href="http://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/driver/what-is-mileage-tracking/">documentation of business mileage</a>. I used to recommend that my clients keep a paper log in the glove compartment, but now it&rsquo;s much simpler.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;"><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/preview-full-QB_SelfEmployed_Intuit_Logo_transparent340x107.png" style="width: 250px; height: 79px; margin: 6px; float: right;" />Apps like QuickBooks Self-Employed <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/quickbooks-self-employed-mile/id898076976?mt=8">automatically track your mileage&nbsp;</a>on the go. This eliminates the need to manually record every mile driven. Instead, every trip is automatically tracked as long as you have your phone in the car with you. You just need to swipe to classify the trip as business or personal once it&rsquo;s complete.</span></p> <h4><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">How can I make tax season less stressful?</span></h4> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">All of my clients are important to me, but I have to admit the ones who send me complete, organized records at tax time hold a special place in my heart. QuickBooks Self-Employed users can export and send reports that include income, mileage, meals, entertainment, and all of their other business expenses. It makes my job so much easier (and when my job is easier, my bill is lower).</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">Even if you prefer the DIY route, QuickBooks can make tax season less painful for you too. You can upgrade to connect with TurboTax and eliminate manual data entry, or use your reports to prepare a return using any tax preparation software.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:tahoma,geneva,sans-serif;">The real value for real estate professionals when it comes to tax preparation apps is the savings you&rsquo;ll realize when you have complete, accurate records at tax time. Little expenses add up to big bucks over the course of the year. The key to taking advantage of those deductions is documenting everything so you&rsquo;re prepared if the IRS comes knocking. Keep track of every expense and every mile. You&rsquo;ll sleep easy knowing you&rsquo;ll received all of the write-offs you deserve and have the evidence to back it up.</span></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>A tax expert offers four key areas of concern in this piece from Content Sponsor Quickbooks Self-Employed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_intuit.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=249648">mar17_intuit.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_intuit_0.jpg?1489096073" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_intuit.jpg?1489096092" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Sales and Marketing Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:04:32 +0000 mwhite 22866 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Rising Rates, Rising Sales http://realtormag.realtor.org/news-and-commentary/economy/article/2017/03/rising-rates-rising-sales <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> With the right mix of policies, the government can offset higher interest rates by boosting long-term growth. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/lawrence-yun">Lawrence Yun</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Interest rates are rising, but there&rsquo;s no need to panic. In the past, for each 10-basis-point increase in mortgage rates, home sales declined by around 35,000 on a national basis. Since the presidential election, mortgage interest rates have risen by 70 basis points, from an average of 3.5 percent to 4.2 percent.</p> <p>Rates are rising because faster growth is expected. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has surpassed 20,000, a record high, and the economy is expected to benefit as the federal government cuts taxes, scraps unneeded regulations, and increases spending on infrastructure and defense. Higher growth means we can say goodbye to ultralow interest rates. Look for rates to rise to just below 5 percent over the next 18 months. That&rsquo;s still low compared to historical patterns: an average of 8.9 percent in the 1970s, 12.7 percent in the 1980s, 8.1 percent in the 1990s, and 6.3 percent in the first decade of this century.</p> <p>If rising interest rates are accompanied by a strengthening labor market with higher wages, the economy will be fine. At least 2 million net new jobs are forecast for this year, and that is the reason we anticipate home sales will squeak out a modest gain over 2016. If mortgage underwriting standards normalize even modestly from excessively stringent conditions of the past few years, such as through reduced FHA insurance premiums or lower guarantee fees on loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then sales could be even better.</p> <p>Some analysts might say higher interest rates are not due to improved long-term economic prospects but to a steep increase in future budget deficits as tax revenue falls and spending increases. If that&rsquo;s the case, the economic boost will be short-lived, harming home sales in the future.</p> <p>Which will it be? The task for us is to see how federal policies affect the dynamism in the economy. Fewer regulations will likely encourage entrepreneurs to introduce new products and services. However, if the government instead emphasizes protection of existing companies, then economic growth could suffer.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nar.realtor/reports/december-2016-business-creation-index" target="_blank">NAR&rsquo;s survey of commercial members</a> fortunately indicates openings of small businesses have surpassed closings in recent months. That is a good sign, and some of those small businesses could well become the next Apple, Facebook, or Google. Let the economy work its magic.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>With the right mix of policies, the government can offset higher interest rates by boosting long-term growth.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_economy.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=110235">mar17_NC_economy.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_economy_0.jpg?1489098862" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_NC_economy.jpg?1489098880" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/economy/article/2017/01/still-room-grow">Still Room to Grow</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/economy/article/2016/11/new-agenda-for-new-president">A New Agenda for a New President</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/economy/article/2016/09/continuing-shortfall-homes">A Continuing Shortfall of Homes</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Economy Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:10:59 +0000 mbrozanic 22867 at http://realtormag.realtor.org The Winding Path to Net Zero http://realtormag.realtor.org/commercial/feature/article/2017/03/winding-path-net-zero <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> As environmentally friendly features become a mainstay of commercial property, learn what it takes to excel at selling and leasing green space. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/meg-white">Meg White</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Mel Harris will talk to anyone about being green. And, even deep in the heart of Texas, people are listening. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re starting to see more of the mindset changes,&rdquo; says Harris, CEO and founder of Elements Realty Group LLC in Fort Worth, Texas. He notes shifts are happening in his clients&rsquo; and partners&rsquo; perceptions of energy bills, the cars they drive, and their personal wellness. &ldquo;People are thinking differently today.&rdquo;</p> <p>In spreading the green gospel, Harris, GREEN, GRI, has specific strategies for specific groups. With builders, it&rsquo;s all about the bottom line. For investors, he details when they&rsquo;re likely to see a return on their money (he says green buildings may offer profits more quickly than conventional properties, thanks to higher rents and lower utility costs). Business owners looking for space want reliable stats about how much daylight and fresh air a building will provide them, their customers, and their employees. And with brokers and others in the real estate community, he loves sharing his personal experiences, from the green upgrades in his own home to the special financing options used by some of his own clients when purchasing environmentally friendly property.</p> <p>Even as green building and energy-efficiency issues are pushed aside as policy priorities in the Trump administration, momentum for state, local, and grassroots initiatives remains strong. &ldquo;Cities are very aggressive on their climate action plans,&rdquo; says Cathy Higgins, research director for the New Buildings Institute, a Portland, Ore.&ndash;based nonprofit focused on high energy performance for commercial buildings. She adds that more than 20 percent of the buildings in <a href="http://newbuildings.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/GTZ_2016_List.pdf" target="_blank">NBI&rsquo;s latest study</a> are private-sector projects, something she predicts will grow as a share over time. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re not being driven by policies. They&rsquo;re being driven by self-interest.&rdquo;</p> <p>Knowledge and ability in marketing green buildings is moving from a niche skill to a necessity among commercial real estate pros as more and more states incentivize or even mandate green construction and tenants continue to seek energy-saving building updates. Meantime, new marketing practices are sure to emerge as green building industry standard-bearers, like the U.S. Green Building Council, reimagine their data offerings through evolving technologies that improve engagement and accountability in green certification processes.</p> <p>Becoming familiar with state guidelines pertaining to green buildings in your market&mdash;and what&rsquo;s on the horizon&mdash;is essential to developing professional credibility. While New York, Washington, Massachusetts, and others are making strides in environmental requirements for commercial space, California, unsurprisingly, leads the pack, Higgins notes. California&rsquo;s stated goal is that all new construction will be net zero&mdash;meaning buildings produce as much as or more than the energy they consume&mdash;in less than two decades. And California real estate pros take heed: Half of the state&rsquo;s <em>existing</em> commercial building stock will be expected to meet the net-zero requirement by 2030 (with a 2020 goal for residential). &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be law in California. [Real estate pros] don&rsquo;t want to be chasing the train; they want to be on the train,&rdquo; Higgins says. And it&rsquo;s not just regulatory pressure for green buildings that will grow in the coming years, but demand in the marketplace. &ldquo;With this next generation of &lsquo;thought workers,&rsquo; there&rsquo;s an expectation of a green, clean environment.&rdquo;</p> <p>As a result, Higgins says demand for green commercial space is already expanding beyond California, Class A properties, and big cities. Soon this demand will affect smaller markets, more modest developments, and building Classes B and C. These considerations can help inform your marketing approach when working with prospective investors, tenants, and the community.</p> <h4>To LEED or Not to LEED</h4> <p>A common way to promote a property as green is to highlight third-party verification of its environmental friendliness. With some 89,000 projects and 14 billion square feet of LEED-certified space around the world, the U.S. Green Building Council&rsquo;s flagship Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is among the best-recognized green building programs. LEED is available to structures from single-family homes to the largest commercial complexes and can be pursued at any stage of property development or usage. USGBC looks at a wide range of factors&mdash;building materials, energy and water usage, indoor environmental quality, and sustainability&mdash;to award properties the points that will determine the overall LEED rating: Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.</p> <p>While LEED is the standard with the most name recognition, some 70 programs worldwide offer green building certification. Mahesh Ramanujam, CEO of the USGBC, has worked with outside organizations and countries to help develop other third-party verification systems. LEED heads up the pack, he says, because it&rsquo;s a holistic rating system from which most of the other standards derive. &ldquo;Everybody copies from LEED,&rdquo; he says.</p> <p>But LEED isn&rsquo;t just an award. Alexia Crowley, CCIM, a senior associate at Colliers International in Las Vegas, says it can function as a guide for how to best tackle a big project. She cites the example of 302 E. Carson in downtown Las Vegas. When it was purchased in 2006, the 1960s-era building was filled with asbestos and nearly vacant, and the new owners were tempted to level it. Instead, they used the goal of achieving LEED Gold as a road map, highlighting the key renovations that needed to be made. That commitment and the subsequent follow-through was what attracted such high-level tenants as HUD and Zappos. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a great example of what LEED certification can do,&rdquo; says Crowley.</p> <p>LEED&rsquo;s future preeminence, however, is far from a sure thing. Other certification options are already enticing building owners. Canada&rsquo;s Green Globes program is gaining traction in the United States because it&rsquo;s been shown in several studies to have similar criteria to LEED but costs less and has less stringent requirements. Officials from the International WELL Building Institute have worked closely with the USGBC and others to create a standard that is focused more on altruistic capitalism and social responsibility, two values that are particularly important to that next generation of thought workers. Both the percentage and the total square footage of LEED-certified space were down slightly for the first time in CBRE&rsquo;s third annual <a href="http://dimension.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=16f3b237348e4128abf30d0fc8651d5a" target="_blank">National Green Building Adoption Index</a>, which charts the growth of Energy Star&ndash; and LEED-certified space for the 30 largest U.S. office markets. Observers say the negligible changes are not a signal of waning interest in eco-friendly buildings but rather an indicator that owners may either be seeking alternative certification processes or forgoing formal audits altogether.</p> <p>Higgins says she&rsquo;s seen reduced interest in LEED in her research at NBI, but she attributes that to growing confidence among builders and developers&rsquo; knowledge of the underlying tenets of LEED certification. If they can incorporate energy savings and green features such as natural lighting, the actual certification process may be seen as secondary. Harris adds that certification doesn&rsquo;t necessarily signal a long-term commitment to green values from builders and property owners: &ldquo;Are they stepping up and having to perform at today&rsquo;s level, when they made LEED Silver five years ago?&rdquo;</p> <p>So how should a real estate pro navigate these concerns? Ramanujam says a newly launched USGBC platform, known as <a href="http://arcskoru.com/" target="_blank">ARC</a>, will address accountability concerns in a simple, user-friendly way. The system allows property owners and managers to submit performance data for their buildings to the USGBC every year to easily become recertified or even change the building&rsquo;s status based on new data. &ldquo;LEED has sometimes restricted people in the past,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;With ARC, all buildings can be green.&rdquo;</p> <p>ARC, which debuted last December, also offers marketing tools. Real estate professionals can compare the performance of their listings with other high-performing properties in the area, or with other buildings in the same property type across the country. &ldquo;We give you the opportunity to benchmark yourself locally, regionally, and globally,&rdquo; Ramanujam says.</p> <h4>The Power of Knowledge</h4> <p>The most straightforward way to market a green building is by promoting lower energy costs. Smart thermostats and data from utility companies make it easier to track usage data. Like homeowners, commercial tenants now regularly consider these costs, as many are involved in triple-net leases or other agreements with owners that require them to contribute to such bills.</p> <p>Highlighting other advantages of using sustainable materials is also a smart idea. In a world of rising building costs and increasingly frequent natural disasters, Harris reminds investor clients that many green materials are likely to be more resilient and cost-effective than conventional ones. &ldquo;If I have a client with a parking lot who uses cheap topping to resurface, the same thing has to be redone every three to four years,&rdquo; he says. Having done his research. Harris can share his knowledge of a sustainable product that has already proven itself to last 10 years, saving the client several thousands of dollars.</p> <p>Harris views such due diligence as part of his value proposition as an adviser. Commercial clients should be thinking about their needs at least five years ahead, and real estate pros can help them think through critical questions. What will their expansion needs likely to be? Will they be able to raise rents enough to cover tax and facility cost increases? Will the building still be up to environmental code? &ldquo;That asset is a living asset. You build the mindset of resilience around that,&rdquo; he says.</p> <p>Real estate pros who market existing structures should also research a building&rsquo;s remodeling history so they can highlight resilient materials and processes that have been added. Higgins says any time a building owner needs to replace outdated systems, the best choice is &ldquo;not to catch up on it in a big renovation, but doing it incrementally.&rdquo; Brokers who understand how upgrades have brought listings closer to the health and environmental standards that govern new construction can use this in their marketing to differentiate existing buildings as more competitive.</p> <p>Green office buildings looking to attract tenants might want to take some cues from coworking spaces by offering large, open atriums, flexible conference rooms, and inviting communal eating quarters. Crowley uses such considerations in her marketing of green buildings. &ldquo;I always talk about location and the amenities,&rdquo; she says, whether that&rsquo;s how the building is oriented to take advantage of natural light or the bike parking out front.</p> <p>REALTOR&reg; organizations at the local, state, and national level are continuously working to balance private property rights and the free flow of business with their support for environmentally conscious policies. Whether real estate pros are lobbying a city council for green building incentives or marketing a green property to a skeptical buyer, Harris says success often depends on a single driving concept: simplicity. A major misconception about building green into a real estate marketing plan is that it requires a huge investment of time, money, and energy: &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t have to be complex. It doesn&rsquo;t have to be overly expensive if you look at the opportunities that are there and you look at [building] resilience as a big-picture concept.&rdquo;</p> <p>Crowley agrees, noting that while commercial real estate clients don&rsquo;t necessarily have to invest more money to go green, they do have to have foresight: &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t cost more to do a green build-out or new building, but you have to plan ahead.&rdquo;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>As environmentally friendly features become a mainstay of commercial property, learn what it takes to excel at selling and leasing green space.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_C_green.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=288978">mar17_C_green.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_C_green_0.jpg?1489098979" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_C_green.jpg?1489099000" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/commercial/conversations/article/2012/07/green-still-pays">Green Still Pays</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/commercial/feature/article/2009/09/build-green-your-lease">Build Green into Your Lease</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/commercial/feature/article/2009/02/green-building-takes-root">Green Building Takes Root</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:35:36 +0000 mbrozanic 22869 at http://realtormag.realtor.org We’re Ready for the Donald Trump Era http://realtormag.realtor.org/news-and-commentary/commentary/article/2017/03/we-re-ready-for-donald-trump-era <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> An uncertain political climate is no match for your resolve to help your clients achieve their dreams. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/joan-allen">Joan Allen</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>It doesn&rsquo;t matter whether you identify as a Republican, Democrat, or neither. Now that Donald Trump is president and a new Congress is in power, we all are facing unknowns. None of us is sure how this administration will handle matters of real estate, health care, employment, national security, or any other topic. Such unknowns make people feel unsettled, and as we real estate professionals know, consumer anxiety can have a trickle-down effect and dampen real estate markets.</p> <p>But a new, unpredictable political landscape is nothing we can&rsquo;t handle. Even as I read about the government&rsquo;s plans to loosen financial regulations that could ease lending standards&mdash;which may speed up financing but also could bring up some of the issues from the last housing crisis&mdash;I&rsquo;m not too worried. First, any changes that might occur in our industry likely won&rsquo;t take effect quickly. Second, remember our fortitude in volatile times. When the Great Recession began in 2007, we had no warning of how bad it would become. Record-high foreclosure levels, fewer mortgage options, and increased industry regulations through Dodd-Frank legislation hit us like a ton of bricks. The changes were fast and hard, but the skilled practitioners who were committed to fulfilling their clients&rsquo; needs figured out what to do. (Read how <a href="/sales-and-marketing/feature/article/2017/03/how-housing-crisis-made-them-stronger">three such real estate pros</a> persevered through the market crash.)</p> <p>Now we have no reason to believe we&rsquo;re heading toward that kind of downturn, but many real estate pros are still understandably anxious. As a broker, I&rsquo;m coming up on 30 years in this industry&mdash;10 of which I spent as a selling agent&mdash;and I understand the unease you might be feeling. What do you do with the stress? Exercising, staying informed, and connecting with colleagues by sharing stories, ideas, and laughter are some ways I&rsquo;ve battled anxiety in my career. But what I&rsquo;ve clung to most is having a positive attitude, and that&rsquo;s what our clients need from us right now.</p> <p>Positivity is an innate trait among the most successful agents I&rsquo;ve known. No one can take the leap into the uncertainty of this business without a confident outlook. I think back to a time when I was a single parent with three school-age children and being terrified that I had no more sales in the hopper. I&rsquo;d sold all my friends&rsquo; homes already and wasn&rsquo;t sure where to turn next. I started calling past clients to see how they were, hoping some business might crop up.&nbsp;After connecting with people who were genuinely glad to hear from me, they gave me referrals.&nbsp;It&rsquo;s a scenario every real estate pro knows, and it&rsquo;s important to remember it now. Our clients&rsquo; lives don&rsquo;t stop for recessions or election years, bad times or good times. Divorces, births, job changes, and death are all events that lead to real estate needs.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve been a leader in my Portland, Ore., market through much tumult: the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2007 financial collapse, the death of beloved agents, and office closures. I&rsquo;m here to tell you that we all can persevere through hurdles like these. Yes, we&rsquo;re creatures of habit, and disturbances to our routines can throw us for a loop and require time to regain our composure. More often than not, we come out on the other side stronger, happier, and more valuable to our clients.</p> <p>You have to be a resilient human being to work in an industry that has always demanded a certain level of flexibility. The considerable skills you have developed through the process of selling real estate will serve you well. I, too, am anxious about what our future holds, but I have real estate in my bones. To me, that means working hard and being adaptable to whatever comes my way.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>An uncertain political climate is no match for your resolve to help your clients achieve their dreams.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_climate.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=233811">mar17_NC_climate.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_climate_0.jpg?1489098740" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_NC_climate.jpg?1489098769" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/economy/article/2017/01/still-room-grow">Still Room to Grow</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sales-and-marketing/relationship-management/article/2017/01/working-through-clients-unease">Working Through Clients’ Unease</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/for-brokers/network/article/2016/12/uncertain-times-are-no-match-for-seasoned-agents">Uncertain Times Are No Match for Seasoned Agents</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Commentary Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:03:52 +0000 mbrozanic 22865 at http://realtormag.realtor.org What’s Your Retirement Plan? http://realtormag.realtor.org/news-and-commentary/feature/article/2017/03/what-s-your-retirement-plan <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Learn what people are planning at various stages of their real estate careers. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/beth-franken">Beth Franken </a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>You know how you go the extra mile for your clients&mdash;running a quick vacuum before a showing, bringing in flowers or even your own furniture to create that wow factor, wearing out your tire treads to find someone the perfect home. That&rsquo;s because you&rsquo;re taking your clients&rsquo; dreams seriously.</p> <p>But even as you help your clients with <em>their</em> plans, are you thinking about yours? What about that ultimate plan-ahead task, your own retirement? Without an employer-based 401(k) or pension set up for you, your long-term financial wellness is fully on your shoulders&mdash;and it can be a daunting responsibility.</p> <p>Financial planner Tad Cook, who specializes in serving real estate clients at @Financial in Chicago, says that a quick rule of thumb is to set aside 25 to 35 percent of your gross income for taxes; save 10 percent for retirement; and then base your working budget on the remaining 65 percent.</p> <blockquote> <p>What plans are best for real estate professionals? Take a look at <a href="/news-and-commentary/briefs/article/2017/03/menu-real-estate-retirement-plans">four retirement options</a> for independent contractors.</p> </blockquote> <p>But this is a key point to remember: Retirement plans are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. &ldquo;It really all depends on the volume of business you have and how aggressively you want to pursue a program,&rdquo; Cook says. &ldquo;We have to look at the whole financial picture&mdash;and age comes into it.&rdquo;</p> <p>Here are stories of three individuals at different ages and stages of their careers. What you learn about their situations and solutions may help you come up with your own set of strategies.</p> <h4>How to face down inflation</h4> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17Parker.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 269px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Alison Parker, 36, a newly licensed practitioner with Keller Williams in Glen Ellyn, Ill., recently had her first closing. She loves real estate, is a mother of two toddlers, and is excited about how she can blend her budding career with the rigors of motherhood. Her husband, who works in IT, has a pension and 401(k) through his company. She does not. Parker knows she should save for retirement, but at the moment, she&rsquo;s concentrating more on building her business and setting up college money for the kids.</p> <p>The plan for the kids, in fact, is pretty well developed: Alison&rsquo;s young family recently moved from Chicago to the suburbs, but instead of selling their condo when they bought their single-family home, they decided to refinance the condo on a 15-year note and turn it into a rental. It will be paid off when the kids are ready for college. The plan is to sell it at that time to generate funds for the children&rsquo;s college. At least that&rsquo;s the thinking so far.</p> <p>Cook strongly endorses the Parker family&rsquo;s decision to hold on to their first property, but instead of tapping it for college funding, that second property makes more sense as a retirement vehicle. &ldquo;Income is so much the key to retirement,&rdquo; says Cook, &ldquo;and inflation is an issue.&rdquo; Because the cost of living is always rising, you can expect living expenses to increase during your retirement. If all your assets are in a fund, you would need to take more money out to meet rising costs. &ldquo;But with a rental,&rdquo; Cook says, &ldquo;you can raise the rent every year and fight inflation.&rdquo; Cook says real estate agents who have investments in two or three homes have the easiest retirement planning, so there&rsquo;s no time like the present to get something in place. And even while many practitioners are advising clients about investment opportunities in real estate, a majority haven&rsquo;t heeded that wisdom themselves. Only about 30 percent of REALTORS&reg; currently own investment property, according to the latest Member Profile by the National Association of REALTORS&reg;.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re looking to set aside money for college, Cook says investments in a 529 college savings plan are recommended since they grow tax-free, at an average of 6 percent, which may be more favorable than real estate values, which tend to increase at an average rate of 3 percent a year. Of course, as a caveat, he adds that performance of any asset can vary. Another cautionary note from Cook: Don&rsquo;t pay for your kids&rsquo; education out of your retirement fund. &ldquo;That doesn&rsquo;t work well for anyone,&rdquo; he says. Think about it: Most kids would rather pay off their student loans than support you in your old age. And, if for some reason you do have to take funds out of a 401(k), Cook advises that you replace it as soon as possible.</p> <h4>How to sock it away</h4> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17Mattes.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 299px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Dave Mattes, 52, has been a real estate agent for most of the last 20 years, not including a five-year excursion into mortgage lending before returning to his passion. Now a sales associate at RE/MAX of Reading in Wyomissing, Pa., he and his wife Melanie, who is also an agent, are aggressively putting money into two Roth IRAs and a SEP IRA <em>.</em> &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been slow to the party, like most people, unfortunately,&rdquo; Mattes confesses. &ldquo;It is truly &lsquo;do as I say, not as I&rsquo;ve done.&rsquo; You need to be socking money away starting at age 25 and never, ever, ever stop.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Matteses may have been late starters, but they made other investments along the way, now owning eight properties, most of them in the Reading area. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s perfect for self-employed agents to acquire properties with 10 percent down,&rdquo; he says. Mattes purchased his properties with conventional 30-year mortgages, then gradually converted to 15- or 20-year notes. The properties will be paid off as the couple moves into their 60s. &ldquo;Now I&rsquo;ll have an asset sitting there that I could cash in, or will have rental income that should provide a decent quality of life.&rdquo;</p> <p>Mattes acknowledges that the advice to put money away for retirement was always out there, at the fringes of his awareness. &ldquo;You know the whole time you need to do it,&rdquo; he says. His brokerage even encouraged people to make retirement planning a priority by providing contacts and programs for agents and staff. &ldquo;Our office is very proactive about making tools available to us. They bring people in from outside&mdash;accounting firms, financial advisers. They make it easy for us to put a percentage of our income into various accounts.&rdquo;</p> <p>Mattes himself now relies on his accountant and financial planner to guide him with his savings program. &ldquo;They were referred to me by someone I trust,&rdquo; he says.</p> <p>But real estate pros should be sure they understand whose best interest their financial counselor is committed to. The Trump administration in February sought to delay the Obama-era &ldquo;fiduciary rule&rdquo; that was slated to take effect in April and would require investment advisers to disclose whether they had a commission-based payment structure that favored their own financial gain over their clients&rsquo; interests. Cook from @Financial says it&rsquo;s important to inquire about how investment advisers are paid for their work with you. &ldquo;First and foremost, ask about fees, which can involve commission, startup costs, ratios, percentages, or other management expenses,&rdquo; he says. If you&rsquo;re getting advice from stockbrokers paid on commission, their greater loyalty may be to their brokerage and its products rather than you. Independent financial planners are paid directly by clients, so their interests are not aligned with any particular investment product or brand.</p> <p>The important point, Cook says, is that the earlier you start saving, the more you earn over the long term. In fact, <em>when</em> you start saving matters more than <em>how much</em> you save, because of the power of compound interest. Mattes finds he must now put away three times as much each month as he would have if he had started years ago. &ldquo;So I&rsquo;m taking the complete opposite approach with my son, who&rsquo;s 26,&rdquo; he says. Mattes is strongly encouraging his son to start putting money away in a retirement fund&mdash;and he is matching those contributions for him.</p> <h4>How to be a serial investor</h4> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_Reuter.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 299px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Wayne Reuter, 62, and his wife, Teresa, 58, retired in 2016 and 2014 respectively, after lengthy careers. Wayne originally worked for the Union Oil Company of California, then 20 years ago joined Teresa&rsquo;s real estate business RE/MAX Excels in Geneva, Ill., and they continued to build their practice together.</p> <p>For decades, Wayne has been a religious tracker of the family&rsquo;s income and expenses. He could tell you what he made and spent in any given year, going back to the 1990s. &ldquo;In ninth grade, a Ouija board said I was going to live to 86,&rdquo; he says wryly, &ldquo;so that&rsquo;s what I&rsquo;m planning for.&rdquo;</p> <p>He and Teresa made many real estate investments, over the years. The first house they bought was in Boca Raton, Fla., in 1978. They paid $37,500 for it, and when they moved, instead of selling it, they decided to make it a rental. They finally sold the house for $185,000 in 2016&mdash;but more important than the appreciation was that in the interval, it generated more than $300,000 in income for them.</p> <p>Over the years the Reuters bought and sold about 30 other properties in Illinois, owning usually about five at a time. They bought them, rented them, managed them, paid them off, then sold them.</p> <p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re in real estate,&rdquo; Wayne says, &ldquo;you know what a good deal is.&rdquo; His advice: &ldquo;Get one investment property and see if you like being a landlord.&rdquo; Some people find it a headache, but not the Reuters. &ldquo;Managing a property and being a landlord is similar to managing people,&rdquo; he says.&nbsp;They communicated carefully with their tenants, striving for flexibility and honesty. &ldquo;And the good thing about being a landlord is that you can delegate tasks (for a fee).&rdquo;</p> <blockquote> <p>Once you have your expenses under control, <a href="/sales-and-marketing/feature/article/2017/03/how-housing-crisis-made-them-stronger">start investing in real estate</a>, says long-time real estate investor Wayne Reuter. Learn more about real estate investment strategies through NAR&rsquo;s course at <a href="http://rebac.net/investing" target="_blank">rebac.net/investing</a>.</p> </blockquote> <p>But real estate was not the Reuters&rsquo; only investment. They always saved. &ldquo;You can start with saving 1 percent of each commission in year one and increase that amount in each subsequent year, but get in the habit of saving and every year putting money into your retirement accounts.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;Not everyone has this kind of discipline, and according to Cook, age 50 seems to be the magic number that kicks people into gear. &ldquo;If a real estate professional has not done a lot of savings in their 20s, 30s, or 40s,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;then in their 50s, that&rsquo;s when people wake up to fact they need to be saving aggressively for retirement. At this point, the Solo 401(k) is often the vehicle that we use.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s because the higher contribution limits can help you do your best to make up for lost time. Or you can split your contributions between types of accounts, deductible and nondeductible. Find a certified public accountant or financial planner you trust who can advise you. The best retirement advice is to practice smart money management&mdash;the rules you&rsquo;ve always heard about. Says Reuter, &ldquo;Spend less than you make, pay off your credit card balance each month, try to keep three to six months of cash on hand for emergencies and the months you don&rsquo;t make enough, plan your taxes ahead, and make your quarterly payments. And put away 10 percent every year.&rdquo;</p> <p>And own real estate. &ldquo;Once you get your short-term expenses under control, you should have a property. There&rsquo;s nothing like having someone else to pay the mortgage.&rdquo;</p> <p>Reuter makes it sound easy, and of course it isn&rsquo;t for everyone. So if you feel overwhelmed at the prospect, it might help to remember that adage about how to get a big tree in your yard:</p> <p>The best day to plant a tree is 20 years ago. But the second-best day is today.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>You help others find their dream homes&mdash;but are you preparing for your own future?</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_retire.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=216303">mar17_NC_retire.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_NC_retire_0.jpg?1489168495" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_NC_retire.jpg?1489168522" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/news-and-commentary/briefs/article/2017/03/menu-real-estate-retirement-plans">A Menu of Real Estate Retirement Plans</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:54:48 +0000 mbrozanic 22870 at http://realtormag.realtor.org When Prospecting Is Unethical http://realtormag.realtor.org/law-and-ethics/ethics/article/2017/03/when-prospecting-unethical <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> How to be sure your business solicitations don’t violate the Code. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 15, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/bruce-aydt">Bruce Aydt</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>REALTORS&reg; should be aware that interfering with an existing relationship between an agent and a client could constitute a violation of Article 16 of the REALTORS&reg; <a href="https://www.nar.realtor/about-nar/governing-documents/the-code-of-ethics" target="_blank">Code of Ethics</a>. But there can be confusion over specific prospecting activities and tactics and whether or not they cross the line. Real estate ethics expert Bruce Aydt, ABR, CRB, senior vice president and general counsel at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Alliance Real Estate&nbsp;in&nbsp;St. Louis, untangles some of the thorny issues involving client representation and business solicitation that can lead to problems.</p> <p><strong>Question:</strong> Would I be in violation of the <a href="https://www.nar.realtor/about-nar/governing-documents/the-code-of-ethics" target="_blank">Code</a> if I sent a prospecting mailing for both buyers and sellers to a list based on specific demographics like income and ZIP code? I am buying the mailing list from a commercial mailing list company.</p> <p><strong>Answer:</strong> As long as you follow Article 16 and Article 10 of the Code, you won&rsquo;t be. First, your prospecting piece must never be discriminatory or express a preference or limitation based on the protected classes in the Code. Standard of Practice 10-3 says &ldquo;REALTORS&reg; shall not print, display or circulate any statement or advertisement with respect to selling or renting of a property that indicates any preference, limitations or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.&rdquo;</p> <p>Though Article 16 is sometimes referred to as the &ldquo;nonsolicitation&rdquo; article, this description can be misleading. Article 16 does not prohibit all solicitations or even solicitations of other REALTORS&reg;&rsquo; clients under some circumstances. The Article provides &ldquo;REALTORS&reg; shall not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent with exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements that other REALTORS&reg; have with clients.&rdquo; Article 16 applies only to relationships with clients where the REALTOR&reg; has an exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship. If there is no exclusive relationship, Article 16 doesn&rsquo;t apply.</p> <p>Even when there are exclusive relationships between REALTORS&reg; and clients, there are some circumstances where prospecting that includes contacts with those clients is not an Article 16 violation. Standard of Practice 16-2 makes clear that &ldquo;Article 16 does not preclude REALTORS&reg; from making general announcements to prospects describing their services and the terms of their availability even though some recipients may have entered into agency agreements or other exclusive relationships with another REALTOR&reg;.&rdquo; Prospecting is not in violation so long as the mailing pieces are a general announcement of the REALTOR&reg;&rsquo;s services and terms of availability even if some of the people receiving the mailing are clients of another REALTOR&reg;.</p> <p>So, what constitutes a &ldquo;general announcement?&rdquo; Standard of Practice 16-2 says it&rsquo;s &ldquo;general&rdquo; if it is &ldquo;addressed to all prospects in a given geographical area or in a given profession, business, club, or organization, or other classification or group &hellip;&rdquo; It also doesn&rsquo;t matter what distribution method is used, whether mail, electronic, telephone canvass, or other advertising (like a billboard). When preparing a mailing to a given geographical area, like a neighborhood or subdivision, it&rsquo;s not required to be sent to every single property in the neighborhood or subdivision to be a &ldquo;general&rdquo; announcement. So, a nondiscriminatory demographic list from a commercial mailing company based on nondiscriminatory characteristics like household income would be a general classification or group. There would be no violation of Article 16 for this kind of mailing.</p> <p>Unethical solicitations are addressed in Standard of Practice 16-2. One type is telephone and personal solicitations of owners when the REALTOR&reg; has identified the owner through the MLS or a sign. The other is when the mailing is not a general mailing but a mailing or distribution where the owners have been identified through the MLS or a sign. Both of these unethical solicitations are based on the REALTOR&reg; &ldquo;targeting&rdquo; listed properties through the MLS or a real estate sign. Prospecting is not a violation of the Code if it&rsquo;s a general distribution and so long as it&rsquo;s not targeting specific prospects you know are exclusively represented.</p> <p>Have a dilemma? Send your ethics questions to <a href="mailto:ethics@realtors.org">ethics@realtors.org</a>.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>How to be sure your business solicitations don&rsquo;t violate the Code.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LE_prospects.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=72370">mar17_LE_prospects.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LE_prospects_0.jpg?1489098473" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_LE_prospects.jpg?1489098493" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/daily-news/2016/07/05/3-ethics-changes-you-need-know-about">3 Ethics Changes You Need to Know About</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/law-and-ethics/ethics/article/2016/07/6-top-ethics-issues-today">6 Top Ethics Issues Today</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Ethics Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:00:08 +0000 mbrozanic 22863 at http://realtormag.realtor.org Building Code, Permit Issues That Derail Deals http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/feature/article/2017/03/building-code-permit-issues-derail-deals <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Homeowners may need to consider a litany of codes, ordinances, and requirements both when they remodel and when they put their homes up for sale. Understanding these rules and knowing when to seek expert assistance can help you and your clients avoid surprises during an inspection or at the closing table. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wednesday, March 8, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/barbara-ballinger">Barbara Ballinger</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Late last year, Ian Katz was in a building-code bind. His buyers made an offer on what had been billed as a two-bedroom condo in New York City. Katz and the clients&rsquo; attorney realized during the due diligence period that the property was legally only a one-bedroom with bonus space. &ldquo;The second bedroom shouldn&rsquo;t have been classified as a bedroom because its window was too close to a neighboring building, yet the price reflected it being a room, so that needed to be re-evaluated,&rdquo; he says. The buyers looked to Katz, a broker with Ian K. Katz Group in New York, to help them decide what to do. There were multiple offers on the table and inventory was&mdash;and still is&mdash;very tight in the category his clients were pursuing. But they didn&rsquo;t want to feel as if they were overpaying for an improperly characterized space.</p> <p>Katz ran a new comparable analysis for similar condominiums in the area, including apartments with similar square footage but with one bedroom plus a bonus space rather than two bedrooms. In the end he says, &ldquo;we still found strong and compelling evidence to support that, even with the reduced bedroom count, the price was attractive and represented a fair deal.&rdquo;</p> <p>Perhaps equally important, Katz helped his buyers figure out whether the space fit their needs. &ldquo;Though the room in question was not legally a bedroom, it had sufficient central heat and AC, and the closet space and the proportions my clients would need in order to use it as an office and temporary guest room,&rdquo; he says. Thankfully, the appraisal supported their value assessment, and the deal closed last month.</p> <p>But not all deals can recover from building code and permit issues. Here are some concrete actions you can take to better represent your clients in these sticky situations.</p> <h4>Ask to See the Permits</h4> <p>When listing agents highlight recent updates, it&rsquo;s always smart to suggest your buyers ask to see the permit history. If the homeowners&rsquo; work crews never filed for the improvements, they may have to reapply or make changes, and that might disturb your buyers&rsquo; timetable and budget.</p> <p>&ldquo;You typically need permits to add on&mdash;or do a major renovation with mechanicals, plumbing, and electrical work&mdash;but not to change out a floor and trim,&rdquo; says Anthony Della Porter, a builder whose eponymous firm is based in Vero Beach, Fla.</p> <p>Because your role as the real estate professional is to be the source of the source, you should not attempt to verify the permits yourself. But by making sure your clients request them, you might be helping them avoid headaches.</p> <p>But just because permits exist doesn&rsquo;t mean everything&rsquo;s settled. Tell your clients to check not only that permits were secured but also that each tradesperson signed off on the work so they are classified as &ldquo;closed.&rdquo; Such due diligence isn&rsquo;t only about the paperwork, but also making sure updates are truly completed. In one transaction, real estate salesperson Kimberly Gibbs, whose firm Keller Williams Realty also is in Vero Beach, represented sellers who thought a new metal roof had been finished, but the roofer had forgotten some final steps, she says. &ldquo;When we went to sell and found the permit still open, they had to bring in a roofer to finish the job, which added $1,300,&rdquo; she says.</p> <p>In his work, Katz has found that the due diligence of reviewing local department of building records has gone from &ldquo;something on the periphery&mdash;and not always done&mdash;to an absolute necessity,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Developers and owners got careless in years past in not doing work to code or getting final sign-offs, and it fell on the current owner to correct the situation.&rdquo;</p> <h4>Stay Up-to-Date on Local Rules</h4> <p>Be diligent; building, remodeling, and zoning standards are updated regularly, and they may differ by state, city, county, and town. Each of the 90 municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., for example, has variations in their ordinances. &ldquo;Inner-ring suburbs with historic homes have different rules than newer suburbs built in the last 20 years. Some areas don&rsquo;t have local building codes at all,&rdquo; says Celeste Rueter, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of St. Louis &amp; Eastern Missouri.</p> <p>Connecticut-based architect and author Duo Dickinson advises real estate salespeople and homeowners to learn how to access their local and state codes online or make contact with someone in their area&rsquo;s building department or at a local title company. Again, you can&rsquo;t be the expert on such matters, but being aware of what&rsquo;s happening in your area will mean you&rsquo;re able to alert your clients to potential red flags that they may need to investigate.</p> <p>Gibbs agrees with checking with officials in your municipality. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no manual put out if changes are made. Usually, the best place to start is the building department in your town or county. They&rsquo;re public servants and there for residents. Don&rsquo;t be afraid to talk to them,&rdquo; she says.</p> <p>Not only do you have to stay current on changes, it&rsquo;s important to realize that rules about home updates can vary block by block. Some historic districts have strict rules about changing exterior paint palettes, doors, windows, or entryways. In other areas, homeowners may be restricted in the height of new additions or the percentage of the lot that their home takes up.</p> <p>Also, if you&rsquo;re working with sellers who are making updates prior to putting their homes on the market, make sure they&rsquo;re aware of the current permit rules. If not, work could be halted or need to be redone, which may add to expenses and drag out the transaction timeline, says Della Porter.</p> <h4>Help Clients Understand the Costs Involved</h4> <p>Zoning changes can also cause pricing problems and surprises at a hyperlocal level. In the suburb of Milburn, N.J., a steep-slope ordinance stipulating the height of homes built on property with more than a 10 percent grade was scaled back after it made it too difficult to sell empty residential lots, says Stephanie Mallios, a salesperson with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in nearby Short Hills.</p> <p>Sometimes bringing an existing building up to new, more stringent codes can be a deal-breaker. Gibbs watched buyers walk away from purchasing an older house because the extent of the improvements they wanted to make would have required bringing all plumbing and electrical work up to current codes. &ldquo;It would have been too costly. They could have left the old systems intact, but didn&rsquo;t want to,&rdquo; she says.</p> <h4>Understand New-Construction Requirements</h4> <p>Help buyers determine whether their builder is complying with the International Building Code (for multifamily buildings) or International Residential Code (for one- and two-family dwellings and townhomes up to three stories), both developed by the <a href="http://www.iccsafe.org/" target="_blank">International Code Council</a> based in Washington, D.C. Rules are revised every three years; the last set came out in 2015. States have the discretion to accept the code in its entirety, adapt rules for their state, or allow municipalities to make changes. California lets cities modify standards according to local conditions, in particular regarding energy consumption, says architect Chris S. Texter, with the Irvine, Calif.&ndash;based architecture and planning firm KTGY. Florida has a state code, which tends to be enforced in a consistent way throughout the state. In recent years, the sunshine state has enacted stricter guidelines for materials, systems, and methods so houses better withstand hurricane winds and rains.</p> <p>Some states&mdash;such as Arizona and Missouri&mdash;don&rsquo;t adopt a code and leave the decision to their cities or counties. For example, Gilbert, Ariz., is currently on the 2012 IRC code while neighboring Chandler is on the 2015 code, says Texter. Dorothy Harris, vice president of government relations for <a href="http://shop.iccsafe.org/state-and-local-codes.html" target="_blank">the International Code Council recommends checking out their website for more specific information.</a></p> <p>With such leeway, confusion and disagreements ensue. Recently, the St. Louis County Building Commission&nbsp;approved the 2015 IRC with amendments recommended by the county&rsquo;s Building Code Review Committee. The area&rsquo;s Home Builders Association supported the amendments while environmentalist groups were opposed because they thought the new rules would lower energy efficiency standards and cost homeowners more money, according to John Hickey with the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club.</p> <p>Rueter, of the Home Builders Association of St. Louis &amp; Eastern Missouri, disagrees. &ldquo;The national code model is meant to be amended to fit local needs and climate. Adopting the model code without amendments would impose an up-front cost on home buyers that would take 50-plus years to recoup through savings on energy bills.&rdquo; A County Council will make a final determination, but for now the situation is still up in the air.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Homeowners may need to consider a litany of codes, ordinances, and requirements both when they remodel and when they put their homes up for sale. Understanding these rules and knowing when to seek expert assistance can help you and your clients avoid surprises during an inspection or at the closing table.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-label">Main Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_HD_permit.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=209234">mar17_HD_permit.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-top3-lp-image"> <div class="field-label">Top 3 Article on Landing Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_top3_lp_image" width="149" height="70" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_HD_permit_0.jpg?1488995740" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-lp-mainstage-image"> <div class="field-label">Landing Page Mainstage Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_lp_mainstage_image" width="830" height="230" alt="" src="http://realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/mar17_LP_HD_permit.jpg?1488995764" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/law-and-ethics/feature/article/2016/05/avoid-unapproved-renovation-problems">Avoid Unapproved Renovation Problems</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/home-and-design/feature/article/2011/09/remodeling-don-t-forget-permit">Remodeling? Don’t Forget the Permit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/daily-news/2015/10/15/avoid-these-diy-building-code-blunders">Avoid These DIY Building Code Blunders</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/home-and-design/architecture-coach/article/2006/12/restore-rehab-renovate">Restore, Rehab, Renovate!</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Wed, 08 Mar 2017 15:22:10 +0000 mwhite 22856 at http://realtormag.realtor.org A Guide to Common Animal Intruders http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/feature/article/2017/03/guide-common-animal-intruders <div class="field field-type-text field-field-deck"> <div class="field-label">Deck:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Be ready for that panicked call from clients who suddenly find they’re sharing their home with a member of the wildlife community. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-archive-item"> <div class="field-label">Archive:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-features-checkbox"> <div class="field-label">Add to Features Package for the Month:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> off </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-mag-pub-date"><div class="field field-type-date field-field-pub-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Tuesday, March 7, 2017</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-op-author"> <div class="field-label">Author(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/author/barbara-ballinger">Barbara Ballinger</a> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Before homeowners can take action regarding wildlife that has entered a home, they need to know what kind of critters they&rsquo;re dealing with. It may be that your clients haven&rsquo;t actually seen an animal but have heard telltale sounds coming from the walls, ceilings, or attics.</p> <p>Be sure to check out <a href="/home-and-design/feature/article/2017/03/keep-wildlife-bay">the feature</a> in our March/April issue on the impact wildlife can have on your clients&rsquo; homes, as well as on real estate transactions. Here are some additional tips for identifying and dealing with some of the most common home intruders.</p> <p><strong><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_HD_bat.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 225px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Bats. </strong>Indications of a bat inside a home include noises that sound like fluttering or squeaking, most often at night and high up in a room or wall, as well as black droppings known as guano. Despite their reputation for carrying rabies, only around 1 percent actually do, according to a <a href="http://www.ucalgary.ca/news/january2011/bats" target="_blank">study by the University of Calgary</a>. However, they can easily carry other diseases, so it&rsquo;s critical to remove them promptly from a home.</p> <p>Extermination is not the best solution because bats make a valuable contribution to the ecosystem by eating flies and mosquitoes. Moreover, several species are legally protected. Adding a bat house outdoors provides an alternate place to nest, says Brian Ogle, an anthrozoology instructor at Beacon College in Leesburg, Fla. Because bats tend to reproduce in the spring, homeowners should be especially vigilant against offering entry points at that time of year. Bats are creatures of habit that roost in the same place over and over again (typically in spring or summer), so it&rsquo;s important to get them out and seal off access areas, says bat expert Neil Tregger, co-owner of Hudson Valley Wildlife Solutions in Troy, N.Y. His firm does so with one-way doors that allow bats to leave but not reenter. Homeowners should work with a specialist who knows an area&rsquo;s rules regarding proper removal, which varies by area and state.</p> <p><strong><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_HD_squirrel.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 225px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Squirrels. </strong>Squirrels are one of the most common and invasive nuisance wildlife animals nationwide. &ldquo;More people visit our website looking for a solution to squirrels than any other wildlife animal,&rdquo; says Cindy Mannes of the National Pest Management Association in Fairfax, Va. Squirrels can cause structural damage to a home; they often gnaw at framing to create holes through which they can enter. They may also chew away at wires and insulation, causing major damage that requires expensive repairs.</p> <p>Homeowners will likely have to hire a professional to humanely remove squirrels and seal access points. Homeowners should cut down tree limbs that extend within 8 to 10 feet of a roofline to discourage easy access inside.</p> <p><strong><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_HD_rodent.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 225px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Rodents, mice, and roof rats. </strong>According to the NPMA, rodents seek shelter in more than 21 million homes across the country, with the house mouse being the most common species. Some common signs of rodents include droppings, particularly near where food is stored; gnaw marks, tracks, or rub marks; and strange noises in walls, especially at night and in attics where the dark makes for a welcome environment for them to build nests. If there&rsquo;s one rodent, it&rsquo;s likely there are others, as they breed rapidly. A house mouse can have up to a dozen offspring every three weeks.</p> <p>Because rodents are known to spread more than 35 diseases, homeowners should contact a licensed pest control expert for periodic inspections, treatment, and removal if they are spotted. It can be very difficult for a typical homeowner to locate where rodents are coming into the home, where they are nesting and breeding, and the true extent of infestation. That&rsquo;s because mice can squeeze through openings as small as a dime, and rodents could be residing in more than just one location inside a home. The NPMA says experts can also help seal up entry points and suggest where to prune foliage and branches that may be good hiding spots for these creatures.</p> <p><strong><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_HD_raccoon.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 225px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Raccoons. </strong>These nocturnal animals are often found near watering areas. Evidence of their presence includes structural damage to attics&mdash;since they often try to enter a home that way&mdash;and noises at night. Raccoons are one of the most common hosts of rabies, which is why it&rsquo;s important that homeowners work with a pest control professional to remove them for good rather than do it themselves and risk being bitten, according to the NPMA.</p> <p>To keep them away, homeowners should repair damaged screens, install chimney caps, replace loose mortar and weather stripping, keep garbage cans secured and with tight-fitting lids, keep attics and basements well ventilated and dry, remove ripe fruit from trees, and keep pet food indoors to avoid attracting these critters and others.</p> <p><strong><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_HD_deer.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 225px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Deer. </strong>Deer, active in almost every region of the country, are often found in areas near water, trees, vines, shrubs, and grasses. Telltale signs are droppings that resemble a cluster of marbles and hoof prints that look like a heart with a line down the middle. They also often cause damage to property at waist height or higher. Homeowners might also notice trees with rubbed bark, since deer like to leave a scent in that manner.</p> <p>Commercial deterrents and shiny ornaments can be effective, says Brian Ogle, lead anthrozoology instructor at Beacon College. Many plants, such as hostas, will attract them, so if these appeal to you, ask your local nursery or pest exterminator what local plants they&rsquo;ve found can discourage nibbling. Homeowners should also know that some plants generally won&rsquo;t appeal to deer looking for food, such as anything that smells like rosemary, lavender, sage, or mint, says landscape designer Michael Glassman. If homeowners want to add a fence, advise them to build it tall enough since deer can leap quite high.</p> <p><strong><img alt="" src="/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_mar/mar17_HD_groundhog.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 225px; margin: 3px; float: right;" />Groundhogs. </strong>They burrow in (sometimes 5 to 6 feet down), build complex tunnels, and stay for the long haul, destroying lawns and consuming vegetation. Telltale signs include gnaw marks on plants, the lower branches of trees, wood, tubing, and wires. You may also see burrows bordered by mounds of soil.</p> <p>To remove them, New York&ndash;area licensed specialist Jason Gagadorn likes to bait a trap with Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, or apples. &ldquo;It may require multiple efforts to coax them in,&rdquo; he says. He cautions that local regulations vary regarding removal and extermination of these intruders.&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-show-author-info"> <div class="field-label">Show Author Info?:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show Author Info? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-label">Teaser:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Be ready for that panicked call from clients who suddenly find they&rsquo;re sharing their home with a member of the wildlife community.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-content"> <div class="field-label">Related Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/home-and-design/architecture-coach/article/2015/04/planning-smart-landscape">Planning a Smart Landscape</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/home-and-design/feature/article/2013/01/attract-buyers-not-pests">Attract Buyers, Not Pests</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/daily-news/2014/02/05/keep-winter-pests-where-they-belong-outside">Keep Winter Pests Where They Belong: Outside</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-mainstage-image-display2"> <div class="field-label">Mainstage Image Display on Content:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No, don't disable the "Main" image on this article </div> </div> </div> Feature Mon, 06 Mar 2017 15:39:44 +0000 mwhite 22840 at http://realtormag.realtor.org