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RE/MAX Launches Mortgage Franchise, Expanding Business for Local Brokers, Choices for Consumers

RE/MAX CEO, Chairman and Co-Founder Dave Liniger recently announced the launch of Motto Mortgage, an innovative mortgage brokerage franchise and the second member of the RE/MAX Holdings, Inc. family of brands.

Motto Mortgage will open mortgage franchises throughout the U.S., increasing competition in the industry and resulting in more choice and a better experience for consumers, the company states. Its loan originators will work with real estate offices so that agents can help homebuyers obtain the mortgage loans that best fit their individual needs.

“RE/MAX disrupted the real estate industry when it was created more than four decades ago. We did it by empowering real estate agents and ultimately giving consumers a better home-buying and -selling experience,” said Liniger at invitation-only gatherings of seasoned RE/MAX franchise owners in Dallas and Orlando. “The RE/MAX model remains unique and continues to thrive because we have the best agents in the business who deliver exceptional service. We are extending our core competency of franchising into the mortgage origination market by introducing Motto Mortgage.”

In an interview with RISMedia, Liniger explained that Motto Mortgage is designed to bring mortgage business back to many local markets. “The big banks were too big to fail and got bailed out by the U.S. government,” he said. “The small mortgage brokers weren’t too big to fail, so they didn’t get any of the bailouts. This consolidated the U.S. into bigger and bigger banks. We’re going to take back some of that business and put it into the hands of the local broker/owners of mortgage and real estate firms who operate in the locations where they’re making the loans.”

Liniger emphasized that Motto Mortgage is focused on the consumer. “We obsess about ways to improve the real estate experience for the consumer,” he said. “We know that independent mortgage brokers’ share of the mortgage origination market dropped significantly following the economic downturn, falling from a 15-year average of 22 percent—with a high of 35 percent in 2006—to 10 percent in 2015. Mortgage brokers bring choice and service to the consumer and Motto Mortgage will work to expand the market share of mortgage brokers and bring better mortgage choice and service to consumers as a result.

“The last 10 years has been difficult with the tightening of lending standards, but those have loosened up,” Liniger added in a press conference on the announcement. “This was more a consumer-related issue. Every survey done in our industry has shown the majority of homebuyers would like to do one-stop mortgage shopping for their convenience. We looked at these results and wondered, ‘How can we incorporate this into a real estate office?'”

Motto Mortgage will inspire new specialists to join the profession by offering them tools, resources and a built-in relationship with a real estate brokerage, including direct access to agents, the company states.

“We look forward to the return of mortgage brokers and skilled loan originators to the market,” said newly named Motto Mortgage President Ward Morrison, who has been with RE/MAX, LLC for 11 years and most recently served as vice president, Region Operations and Business Opportunities. “Our priorities will be educating, training and supporting our franchisees so that they can provide exemplary customer service to their clients.”

Pairing a Motto Mortgage franchise with a real estate brokerage means homebuyers can work with a real estate agent to find a home and with a Motto Mortgage loan originator to secure financing in offices at one location. And Motto Mortgage loan originators will not be bound to the products of one specific lender but will have access to quality loan options from various sources.

“Because choice and service matter, Motto Mortgage will offer a variety of mortgage options while promoting honesty and complete disclosure, making it extremely consumer-friendly,” said Morrison. “It’s the one-stop shop homebuyers want and the experience they will soon come to expect.”

Liniger drew a parallel between Motto Mortgage and the creation of the multiple listing service (MLS). “The MLS meant consumers didn’t have to go to 20 or 30 different brokers in town to see all the available listings. With the MLS, they had access to everything,” Liniger told RISMedia. “Now, consumers won’t have to go to 10 different banks—they’ll have easy access to wholesalers who can give them information on the best products from different companies.”

“Any time the consumer is better served with the option of one-stop shopping, it’s good for all involved,” said RISMedia President and CEO John Featherston. “RE/MAX has reduced the barriers for medium and small-sized brokers to get back into the mortgage industry. For the broker/owner who chooses to invest in this new opportunity, this enables them to be a part of the home-buying process in a much greater and more impactful way…it potentially gives them a big competitive advantage.”

“The major regional real estate firms often have their own mortgage company, and you have to have millions and millions in capital to do so,” explained Liniger. “With Motto Mortgage, we’re leveling the playing field in the mortgage industry, just like franchising did in the real estate industry. By creating this mortgage franchise, we’re giving that benefit to all companies in the market, not just the regional giant.”

On the decision to make Motto Mortgage available to all, Liniger explained, “REALTORS® are the most cooperative group of people of any industry I’ve ever been in. They’ll fight tooth-and-nail to get a listing, then open that listing up to everyone and give you half if you help sell it. We go to conventions and freely share best practices with other brokers and agents because it makes the entire industry better. As a franchisor, we’re able to give better service and product to consumers. Offering Motto Mortgage to the entire industry helps everyone. We can provide all the advantages of being large.

“We’re doing this in three phases,” Liniger added in the conference call. “The first is to RE/MAX broker/owners who are in 30 different states in the U.S. that accept the federal disclosure document for franchise sales. The second phase is being filed at this time with the states that have separate state requirements. Within 2-4 months, we will take this industry wide outside the RE/MAX organization to other competitors that we view as professional operations.”

“Each state has net worth requirements, experience requirements and more,” added Morrison on the call. “We studied each state to understand each requirement, and we’re ready to help each franchisee obtain that mortgagee license so they can operate within their state.”

Liniger concluded: “Motto Mortgage is a consumer-friendly addition to the real estate office, offering transparency and convenience. This is a value-added service that many agents will be excited to have onsite. It also gives brokers the ability to grow their business on more than one income stream.”

Motto Franchising, LLC is based in Denver, Colorado, and will now begin actively selling franchises in certain markets. Each Motto Mortgage franchise will be independently owned and operated. For more information, please email info@mottomortgage.com or visit mottomortgage.com.

RE/MAX will discuss the launch of Motto Mortgage in more detail on its third quarter earnings conference call on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

For more information on Motto Mortgage services, click here.

What’s Next? ERA’s New President Weighs In

sue_yannacconeWhen Sue Yannaccone is confronted with change, she sees opportunity. Opportunity to grow, opportunity to set new goals, opportunity to chart a new course.

As the new president and CEO of ERA Real Estate, Yannaccone thrives on change. Indeed, prior to joining ERA last summer as COO, she had cut her teeth transforming a number of leading real estate brands. Part of what drew her to ERA Real Estate was that the brand was changing, too, and in all the right ways.

“We are on the cusp of incredible transformational change, not just in our industry, but in our society as a whole, and much of that is being driven by the rapid pace of technology advances,” says Yannaccone. “It took more than 40 years to get from the first fax machine in 1964 to the debut of the iPhone in 2007, but since the early 2000s, new developments such as 3-D imagery, virtual reality, geo-targeting and social media have significantly impacted not just how we live, but how we work. The result is that in order to outpace our competitors, leading the organization through change has become imperative.”

Adoption Is Key
“Over the last five years, we’ve seen an incredible shift in how we manage our customer relationships thanks to the rise of technology,” says Yannaccone. “ERA’s end-to-end technology platform, Zap, has transformed the way our affiliated brokers and sales associates engage with today’s connected consumer. After introducing the system, we recognized that managing through change and focusing on adoption was more critical than teaching the specifics of how to use the platform.”

Generation Next
Also on the horizon is a potentially significant exit of real estate leaders and veterans from the industry as they approach retirement. With an eye on these demographics, ERA Real Estate has spent the last five years building its bench of next-generation leaders through a series of professional development courses and networking groups. Graduates of ERA Leadership Academy are out-performing their peers, and participants in the ERA Young Leaders Network are benefitting from two-day visits to top ERA companies where they can learn best practices to fuel growth in their own companies.

Service Is a Constant
With a strong background in customer service, Yannaccone believes understanding customer needs is a critical piece of changing for the right reasons, rather than changing for the sake of change, or making changes that aren’t informed by a disciplined focus on key strategies. “How we continue to evolve the brand will rely on direct feedback from our brokers,” says Yannaccone, who will solicit input at both personal, in-market visits as well as at larger ERA events, “because at the end of the day, we want our brokers to truly believe they’re better off with us than without us.”

Fast Forward
From a leadership perspective, Yannaccone believes it’s vital to recognize that change is inevitable. One of her early mentors counseled her to always ask the question, “What’s next?”

“You can be flat-footed and simply respond to change, or you can effect change, lead the transformation and shape the future. I know where I want to be,” says Yannaccone. “I’m pretty fearless when it comes to change. In fact, I proceed as if success is inevitable.”

Under Yannaccone’s leadership, it’s evident that leading change will become the hallmark of ERA Real Estate’s success.

For more information, please visit www.era.com.

Destination: Success

michael_droegeIn the following interview, Michael Droege, co-owner and general manager of CENTURY 21 Realty Solutions, discusses recruiting, retention and more.

Years in Real Estate: 11
Region Served: Anchorage, Alaska, and surrounding area
Company Size: 5 offices, 80 agents

Century 21 credits you with recruiting high-caliber licensees to join you in Alaska. What’s your secret?
Michael Droege: We have a simple mission statement: We provide clients the highest quality service with their most valuable asset. I do the same for my agents. I help them incorporate the highest ethical standards to further their business. We also make sure we provide the essentials for effective real estate sales, such as internet connectivity, so that agents can be mobile. Perhaps the biggest change from when I took over management of the firm is that we’re creating a culture of destination by providing strong, ethical leadership to like-minded people. When I took over in 2012, there were only eight agents remaining. Today, we’re 80 strong.

What makes Century 21 such a good fit for you?
MD: Century 21 leaders and the entire executive committee provide strong, quality leadership. They all walk the walk. What I think surprises many people is the fact that Century 21 is the most technologically sound brand out there today. Our challenge is that some still have the image of Century 21 as the agents in the gold jackets, but we’re not stodgy or old-school; the franchise is forward-thinking and all about the future of real estate.

If you had to point to the one thing agents love you most for, what would it be?
MD: Credibility. I’m always honest with people even if I have to tell them something they may not want to hear. We owe our partners the truth. We just want to do what’s right by making the next right decision, the next right move. We believe in constant communication. We don’t try to be the biggest brokerage in the state. Our focus is to provide the highest quality customer service.

How do you stay out in front of the competition?
MD: By being present. This is primarily a face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball business. We encourage our agents to stay in touch with clients—pick up the phone all day long, if that’s what it takes. This is, after all, a people business. I provide an atmosphere that supports our agents’ business and helps them flourish. As an owner, I’m always mindful of the fact that we’re servants to our licensees. We’re here to serve them, and if they thrive, we thrive.

What is your six-word motto?
MD: We never trade ethics for revenue.

What are you doing to ensure a solid future?
MD: We’re looking to grow and expand the business of our present agents. We’re also starting a real estate school with the hope that we can teach new agents how to work with an ethical business model and, in that way, spread our brand with trusted REALTORS®.

For more information, please visit www.c21realtysolutionsanchorage.com or www.century21.com.

Return of Flipping Eases Affordable Housing Crunch in Some States

(TNS)—The number of flipped houses is at a six-year high. While such rapid turnover helped fuel the housing crisis a decade ago, advocates and analysts say the current wave is helping to ease a shortage of affordable housing in some parts of the country.

The resurgence of flipping, or selling a house less than a year after buying it, comes as the construction of affordable single-family houses fails to keep up with demand, as builders concentrate on multifamily housing.

In some states like Florida and Nevada, which have large stocks of cheap, foreclosed houses, flipping is boosting the housing supply for homeowners and for investors who want to rent out the properties. The renovated homes are helping to bring downtrodden neighborhoods back to life, while making homeownership possible for some first-time and low-income buyers.

“This flipping activity could be seen as a social good if it’s bringing houses up to standards and putting them back on the market,” says Steven Swidler, an Auburn University professor who has studied flipping.

He also warned that flipping can help drive up already-rising housing prices. “In other areas,” he says, “it could be putting it beyond the price points for affordable housing for some people. It’s all about location, location, location.”

A total of 51,434 single-family homes and condos were flipped in the second quarter of 2016, up 14 percent from the previous quarter and the highest number since 2010, according to data from ATTOM Data Solutions. The number of flippers, including individuals, amateur investors and businesses, reached 39,775, the highest level in nine years.

In Tampa, Fla., Memphis, Tenn., and Visalia, in California’s San Joaquin Valley, one in 10 homes sold in the quarter was flipped. Florida, Tennessee and Nevada are the states with the highest rates of flipping, with 7 percent or more of homes sold within a year. In many of those places, the homes being flipped are selling well below the rest of the market, a sign that they are helping to fill a shortage of affordable housing.

Nationwide, 5.5 percent of single-family homes and condos were flipped, a small increase over the second quarter of 2015, but still well below the peak in 2006, when 9 percent of sales were flips.

In some high-priced places such as New York City, housing advocates complain that flippers are reducing the supply of affordable housing and driving out low-income residents and sometimes the middle class.

But in other areas of the nation—parts of Florida that have been plagued with foreclosures, for instance—flipping can be part of the process of getting affordable housing back on the market, says Hector Sandoval, a University of Florida economist who has studied flipping in the state.

“Bringing these houses back to the market is good in general for the neighborhoods where they are located,” says Sandoval. “It increases the supply, which means prices can’t go too high, and they should be affordable, at least for the middle class.”

In Nevada, today’s flippers have found a niche fixing up foreclosed or abandoned housing that may need much work and then selling it to investors who are willing to recoup profits slowly by renting, says Swidler.

About 7 percent of sales in the state were flips in the second quarter of 2016, and the rate is about the same in Las Vegas—but today’s flippers are not the same as those who helped drive a speculative frenzy 10 years ago.

“Conditions are different now. You can’t just buy a house and expect to make a profit,” Swidler says. “In many cases (flippers) have to go in there and replace wiring, put in new refrigerators. Some of these places had holes in the walls. It took extensive work to renovate them.”

More amateurs and individual investors are flipping houses, drawn by reality television shows and a burgeoning housing market, says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM.

Nationally, home prices have been rising since 2012, and the increases are even steeper in some areas with high levels of house flipping, like Tampa and Nashville, Tenn. With housing prices rising faster than incomes in many parts of the nation, rehabbing foreclosed houses has the potential to return affordable housing at a time that it’s urgently needed.

In Florida, flipping has been revived by a steady supply of foreclosed housing and a demand for affordable housing that’s making once-marginal neighborhoods near Tampa more appealing to buyers of renovated homes, says Christopher McCarty, director of the state Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Rising rents also are encouraging small investors to buy renovated houses and rent them out, McCarty says, especially along the state’s central I-4 Corridor from Tampa to Orlando.

House prices have grown more than 19 percent in the Tampa area since 2015, to $209,000, the largest increase in Florida. The median purchase price for a flipped house was $93,000 and the median selling price was $150,000, according to ATTOM’s report.

Tennessee has the second-highest rate of house flipping, at 7.2 percent. House prices have gone up nearly 20 percent in Memphis in the last year, and nearly 7 percent in Nashville. The typical flipped house in Nashville was bought for $114,500 and sold for $175,900, well below the area’s median home price of $258,000.

Rae Sovereign, an affordable housing activist in East Nashville, said the city is facing an affordability crisis as developers tear down houses to build new rentals. Flippers have played a generally positive role, she says, fixing up battered and sometimes foreclosed homes.

“I don’t have a problem with people who want to fix up a house for a profit but still make it affordable,” she says.

Rae says a flipper bought her house for about $40,000, gutted it and rebuilt the interior, then sold it to her for $131,000 six years ago. Today she thinks it’s worth about $235,000.

©2016 Stateline.org
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Four Ways Millennials Are Changing the Real Estate Industry

Millennials have grown to represent 32 percent of homebuyers, which is the largest portion of the home-buying market. According to millennial Austin Hale, product manager for real estate investment software company Realeflow, “Millennials present an entirely new dynamic in the real estate market. [They’re] much more likely to rent, to congregate in urban areas, and to be cautious when taking on debt.”

The purchasing and lifestyle habits of millennials shape the economy and affect everything from the energy market to how TV is made. Real estate professionals need to understand the effect millennials have on the real estate market, so here are four things to know about millennial homebuyers.

  1. Millennials Prefer to Rent

The millennial generation favors renting over buying property for a number of reasons. They wait to commit to homes; desire to live in trendier, more expensive areas; or want the freedom to pick up and go with relative ease. A survey found that 10 percent of millennials don’t feel ready to manage a property and prefer having a landlord to take care of maintenance issues.

Effects on the Real Estate Industry: Millennials may start investing in home equity as they get older, but rising debt and delayed life events make it more difficult for them to settle down and invest in property. As a result, millennials look to lower barriers to entry into real estate, including buying rental units and condos they can rent out if they move away.

  1. Millennials Search for Themselves

Millennials are tech-savvy and more likely to look for housing online than through an agent—50 percent of millennials found homes using the internet compared with 31 percent who found homes using an agent. Almost all millennials still use a real estate agent or broker to purchase a home, but they prioritize those with websites that include photos, interactive maps, and detailed home information.

Effects on the Real Estate Industry: Real estate professionals need to have websites that include many high-quality photos—as exemplified by successful home-searching sites such as Hubzu and Trulia. Real estate companies with weak online presences are less likely to be successful with the millennial generation. It’s also valuable to have a strong presence on social media that shows you’re engaged and able to speak their language.

  1. Millennials Seek Out Small, Efficient Spaces

Many millennials like the ideals of minimalist living—fewer possessions and smaller spaces—because it provides them with the flexibility and financial stability they crave. Similarly, they also value energy-efficient appliances to help keep their bills and carbon footprints low. Millennials are comfortable in small spaces because they see their living quarters as a home base, not necessarily where they want to spend all their time.

Effects on the Real Estate Industry: Real estate agents must be familiar with smaller floor plans and understand the benefits of limited living spaces. The more multi-functional and environmentally friendly a space is, the more likely it is to appeal to millennials. The industry will need to keep increasing its green home and energy-efficient property offerings.

  1. Millennials Don’t Shop Around for Real Estate Agents

Working with real estate agents is a new venture for many millennials, 23 percent of whom are unaware that they can negotiate a real estate agent’s commission and fees. Nearly half of millennials find their real estate agent through a friend, neighbor, or relative, and 72 percent of millennial sellers only contact one agent.

Effects on the Real Estate Industry: Millennials cite honesty, trustworthiness, and reputation as the three most important qualities in a professional real estate agent. As 68 percent of millennials who use a real estate agent interview only one agent, they are often willing to stick with an agent they trust, even if there are cheaper options out there. That means agents must work hard to ensure solid referrals from clients.

Millennials have just begun to shape the housing market. As their incomes increase with age and they start wanting to settle down, they’ll continue to effect change. If the real estate industry can understand their needs and innovate where necessary, it may be able to convince millennials to give up renting and move into the comfort of their own home.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends.

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©2015 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently owned and operated franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.®  Equal Housing Opportunity.  Licensed in Virginia.

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