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Real Estate News

Homes Have Never Been More Valuable Than They Are Now

The national median home value has careened to over $200,000 for the first time, with a 7.4 percent annual gain rocketing it to a new high of $200,400, according to the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) in the June Zillow® Real Estate Market Reports. Values in 10 of the 35 major metropolitan areas assessed by Zillow are now within the $200,000 range.

Values are on a swift upswing due to low levels of supply and spiking demand. There are now 11 percent fewer homes for sale compared to one year ago, the Reports show.

“The national housing market remains red hot and shows no signs of slowing, even as some local markets like the Bay Area have noticeably cooled,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “But even in areas where the housing market has slowed, home values are at or very near peak levels, selection is limited, demand is high and competition is fierce.”

Of the markets assessed, values in 13 are still below the national median: Cleveland, Ohio ($134,600); Pittsburgh, Pa. ($137,400); Indianapolis, Ind. ($138,100); Detroit, Mich. ($141,000); St. Louis, Mo. ($148,600); Cincinnati, Ohio ($152,600); Kansas City, Mo. ($159,400); Columbus, Ohio ($162,500); San Antonio, Texas ($162,700); Charlotte, N.C. ($174,800); Houston, Texas ($178,400); Atlanta, Ga. ($179,900); and Tampa, Fla. ($185,700).

Twelve of the markets assessed, however, are far removed, with some sustaining values at least three times higher than the national median: San Jose, Calif. ($1,013,700); San Francisco, Calif., ($854,300); Los-Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif. ($609,800); San Diego, Calif. ($548,000); Seattle, Wash. ($447,100); Boston, Mass. ($427,700); New York, N.Y. ($422,300); Washington, D.C. ($382,600); Denver, Colo. ($370,000); Sacramento, Calif. ($369,200); Portland, Ore. ($367,400); and Riverside, Calif. ($328,800).

The national median rent in the Zillow Rent Index (ZRI), meanwhile, has posted an annual gain of 1.1 percent, with the median rent totaling $1,422.

“Given these high costs and high competition, the most important thing you can do is get your finances in order so you know what you can comfortably afford, and find an agent who has experience with bidding wars and will help you stand out in a competitive market, especially if you’re buying for the first time,” Gudell says.

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

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Homes Have Never Been More Valuable Than They Are Now appeared first on RISMedia.

Agent Teams: Are They for Everyone?

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Power Broker Roundtable this month discusses the advantages of and caveats about real estate agent teams.

Robert Bailey
, Broker/Owner, Bailey Properties, Santa Cruz, Calif.; Liaison for Large Residential Firm Relations, NAR

Alex Milshteyn
, Team Leader, Real Estate Associates, Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel Real Estate, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Mike McCann, Team Leader, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, Devon, Pa.
Tom Skiffington, President/CEO, RE/MAX 440, Quakertown, Pa.

Robert Bailey: Whoever first noted that “two heads are better than one” recognized that people working together can accomplish far more than a go-getter working alone. That’s the guiding principal behind the practice of agent teaming, a growing trend that’s taking root in our real estate industry dynamic. It was also a lively panel discussion at the recent NAR Broker Idea Exchange, attracting agents and brokers from all over the country for whom the concept held interest and promise—and so, today, we’ve invited two of the panel’s experienced speakers, and a third pioneer in agent teaming strategies, to share their views and tips. Alex, let’s begin with you. Are agent teams the future of real estate?

Alex Milshteyn: I don’t know if they’re the future for everyone, but for agents with more business than they can handle by themselves, teaming is a great strategy. I jumped into it 17 years ago, but my first hire wasn’t another agent, but an administrative assistant to manage the operations and paperwork so that I could be out seeing clients. Today, I have four assistants and five agents who helped us produce $76 million in business last year, but I didn’t hire my first agent until I simply had more leads and more clients than I could possibly serve alone.

Mike McCann: I’ll second that. Forming a team is a slow, steady process—kind of like building a family because, in a sense, you do become family, growing together, having each other’s backs, everyone pulling their load. Our team of 16 agents and six full-time assistants closed more than 700 transactions last year—and even some 450 during the worst of the last downturn—but only because we’re fully committed, not just to our clients and our brokerage, but to each other.

Tom Skiffington: Glad you mentioned the brokerage, Mike, because the brokerage plays a big part in the success of every team. I like the team approach because teams bring together people with varying strengths that help us better serve our customers. I have several times encouraged agents to team up, but not everyone is ready to work with a team, much less to lead one. I like to be involved in the hiring of team members, for example, because of possible liabilities to the brokerage. And you have to have the policies and contracts in place to support your teams and help them grow.

AM: I understand that because, in some ways, the future of teams depends on how well brokers and states can work together to create laws that protect consumers but allow teams to work most effectively.

TS: Amen to that. I’m currently part of a task force in Pennsylvania devoted to examining the issue of agent teams and working to find solutions regarding the regulations that would be in the best interest of all parties.

RB: What makes a good team leader, and what makes a good team member?

MM: First and foremost, the leader has to be a coach and a working mentor. When I hire, I look for someone who’s fairly new, someone who has the ethics and commitment we demand, and who fits in with the team spirit. Someone I feel I can bring along to become a part of our working family so that we can all keep growing together.

AM: It’s your team of agents and admins who are helping you to build a brand, so you need to be aware of their needs and potential, and provide the support and systems necessary to help them do their best work.

MM: Every team is unique, as are the challenges and rewards they bring to their team members and brokers. It’s the synergy of the team working together that creates and sustains growth.

RB: Clearly, there are benefits to the brokerage when a team becomes successful.

TS: That’s true, but as we mentioned, not every agent is cut out for being part of a team, and not every successful agent can lead one. That’s why good brokerage leaders should strive for a balance between traditional and team models. We should be prepared to embrace the team concept, but we don’t need to cater to them exclusively. Part of being a great leader is recognizing the talents of your team and doing what it takes to help them reach and exceed their potential. And that’s true whether you lead an agency, or you lead a team within it.

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Agent Teams: Are They for Everyone? appeared first on RISMedia.

Freddie: What Feeds the Affordability Perception?

Affording a mortgage payment is possible for many prospective homeowners. Why then, by all accounts, is unaffordability plaguing the market?

Researchers at Freddie Mac offered several takes on the answer in its latest Insight, suggesting that homebuyers having a hard time finding reasonably-priced listings are perceiving homes as unaffordable—a view that appears largely based in reality, if their only options to date have been out-of-reach stock. Moreover, the high likelihood for competition (i.e., bidding wars) is off-putting, both for first-time homebuyers and for sellers again entering the market. The latter’s hesitation, notedly, is tamping down already tight inventory.

“Thanks to very low mortgage rates, monthly mortgage payments are affordable for the average household despite currently high house prices,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist at Freddie Mac. “Nevertheless, hurdles to homeownership arise from the difficulty of finding a house. The supply of homes for sale is very tight, especially starter homes, and underwriting requirements are more rigorous than they were in the past.”

Would-be homeowners are also not confident about their prospects because their incomes have stayed relatively flat compared to home prices—more evidence making the case for unaffordability, according to the researchers. Incomes have grown by an average 2.4 percent annually since 2012; prices, however, have grown an average 6 percent.

Both incomes and prices, as well, contrast sharply depending on market. In the Kansas City, Mo., metropolitan area, for instance, the current median income is enough to afford a median-priced house in almost every zip code; in the San Francisco metropolitan area, the current median income is not enough to afford a median-priced house in any zip code.

First-time homebuyers are facing additional hurdles: a lack of awareness when it comes to costs beyond a mortgage payment (e.g., homeowners insurance, property taxes), and of savings for a down payment. Obtaining a mortgage, however, is their primary roadblock, especially for those who may not have the credit scores and/or on-paper, stable earnings needed to qualify. Student loan debt obligations, too, can adversely affect their debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. One or all obstacles are—or seem—insurmountable, further fueling a sense of unaffordability.

“Many potential first-time borrowers are stymied by variable employment and income histories and the challenge of accumulating a down payment while simultaneously paying down their student loans,” Becketti says. “In fact, a high level of household debt, particularly student debt, poses perhaps the largest obstacle to first-time homebuyers.”

Homeownership—stripped down to just the mortgage payment—is affordable, the researchers concluded, but challenged by barriers that play a hefty role in the home-buying process.

Perception, after all, is reality.

Source: Freddie Mac

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Freddie: What Feeds the Affordability Perception? appeared first on RISMedia.

Learn How to Convert Social Traffic to Business Leads

You have a great website, social media presence and you run great ads. Then WHY are you not getting more leads? Conversion is the answer. Landing pages, squeeze pages and in-line conversion tools are the key. Learn what makes a great conversion strategy and how to build amazing conversion pages. Simply put, PNC’s latest What’s Trending Now Webinar will help you get more leads and write more business.

A Complimentary Webinar for Agents. Reserve your spot today!
When: Tuesday, August 15 or Thursday, August 17
1 Hour Duration: 9am PT / 11am CT / Noon ET


The views and opinions expressed in this presentation are those of the speaker’s and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of PNC Bank, N.A. and should not be construed as legal or professional advice.

PNC is a registered service mark of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc (“PNC”). All loans are provided by PNC Bank, National Association, a subsidiary of PNC, and are subject to credit approval and property appraisal. This information is provided for business and professional uses only and is not to be provided to a consumer or the public. This information is provided to assist real estate professionals and is not an advertisement to extend consumer credit as defined by Section 226.2 of Regulation Z. Programs, interest rates, and fees are subject to change without notice.

©2017 The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved. PNC Bank, National Association. Member FDIC.

The post Learn How to Convert Social Traffic to Business Leads appeared first on RISMedia.

Remodeling Real Estate for the Future

Most of us wake up every morning knowing what we need to do and how we’re going to get it done. But do we ever think about why we do what we do? Well, at HomeSmart International, they think about it every day. In fact, “the why” is what drives the company; it’s the reason for its creation, and the compass that guides its fast-paced growth across the country. What exactly is HomeSmart’s “why?” The success of its brokers and agents.

Founded in 2000 by Matt Widdows—a former frustrated real estate agent who developed his own systems to compete, grow and succeed—HomeSmart has grown to 13,286 agents and 123 offices nationwide with a formula that provides high-level service, support and value at the lowest possible cost to brokers and agents. The proprietary technology and end-to-end solution HomeSmart delivers at minimal cost, along with the efficiencies and profitability of a flat-fee model, has driven an increasing number of brokers across the country to join what they refer to as the “HomeSmart movement.”

“Greatness comes from setting ridiculous expectations, then finding a way to make those expectations normal and deliver on them,” says Widdows. “And sometimes you have to misbehave and go against expectations in order to improve and innovate.” This philosophy—and the ability to deliver on it—is exactly what has attracted brokers to the HomeSmart model and culture. Here, four brokers from various corners of the U.S. share their “why” for joining HomeSmart…and why they’re never looking back.

Don_Jim_MarkJim Sparkman, Mark Farrow and Don Sturgeon
Owners, HomeSmart Realty Group
Salem, Ore.

Maria Patterson: When and why did you join the HomeSmart brand?
Don Sturgeon:
We were all considering leaving our previous brokerage to start our own company. Jim stumbled upon HomeSmart, and we decided this model was the future of real estate. The 11 agents who were part of our teams came with the three of us on October 14, 2013.

MP: You grew pretty quickly right out of the gate—how did you manage that?
When the three of us joined forces, it sent ripples through the market. People didn’t know anything about HomeSmart, so there was a lot of buzz. Then, it was just a matter of going out and talking to agents who we thought would see the value of a fee-based model. All they knew prior was the traditional brokerage that offered high splits and high desk fees.

MP: As top-producing agents, why were you attracted to the HomeSmart model?
Mark Farrow:
Our agents increased their compensation by a little over 30 percent with their first transaction. With the first deal they closed, they saw a big difference.

MP: So it’s the flat fee that’s the biggest draw?
We never lead with the fees. It’s always about the level of service we provide. Agents have 24/7 access to the principal brokers, cutting-edge technology, great offices, ongoing training and continuing education, all for a low transaction fee.

MP: How do HomeSmart’s services help you and your agents become more profitable?
Jim Sparkman:
The agent services offered by HomeSmart International add a layer of service that we are physically unable to provide at this large of a brokerage without increased overhead and manpower.

DS: HomeSmart’s Centralized Services provides me with an assistant who can handle a lot of time-consuming tasks, like making cold calls to agents. This was especially important when we opened a second office in Portland where agents hadn’t heard of HomeSmart.

MP: How does HomeSmart keep you ahead of the curve in terms of technology?
HomeSmart is constantly working to stay ahead of technology. There is a real commitment by corporate to not get complacent.

JS: With the end-to-end technology that HomeSmart provides, we have a paperless platform unlike any of our competitors, and the ability to streamline the transaction. We also have online marketing tools built into the same platform.

MP: Overall, what makes HomeSmart a better choice than the traditional real estate model?
Traditional real estate companies are stuck in a paradigm and a mindset that makes it difficult for them to make the necessary adjustments. It’s hard to turn the Titanic away from an iceberg. HomeSmart has remodeled and refurbished the traditional brokerage to operate with agility.

Dean_DetonnancourtDean A. deTonnancourt
HomeSmart Professionals Real Estate
Warwick, R.I.

Maria Patterson: Tell us why you made the change to HomeSmart.
Dean deTonnancourt:
Having been in the real estate industry over 28 years now, my career satisfaction comes from sharing my experience with associates, and helping them achieve unlimited levels of sales success. HomeSmart allows me to do that. It’s a franchise that provides national support along with local flexibility.

MP: How do you overcome the common perceptions about flat-fee companies?
The perception of the flat-fee compensation model is “low fees, low service.” This is far from the truth, as we offer all of the services other companies offer, yet we remain dedicated to the associate retaining more of their hard-earned income. HomeSmart provides technology and marketing tools for our associates on a national level, and locally, we provide education, broker support and state-of-the-art facilities.

MP: Tell us about the support you receive in terms of technology.
Our sales associates have access to their own Agent Panel, which provides tools and technology that allow them to organize their transactions, as well as market themselves to the consumer in creative ways. Fully customizable individual associate websites including consumer-focused MLS searches and tracking, video marketing pieces, as well as fully customizable marketing pieces within our Design Center, are all available to our associates.

For the broker, HomeSmart provides technology that allows us to manage all details of our operation. Our Broker Panel allows us to seamlessly track our paperless transactions and ensure proper file compliance. Most traditional brokerages utilize several systems, making it time-consuming and prone to errors since the systems in most cases are not linked to each other.

MP: How do economies of scale help you grow?
The HomeSmart structure and compensation model foster organic growth. Since our associates are treated like true business professionals and retain more of their earnings, they are the voice of the company. Associates at other companies are hearing about us directly from our associates, which validates our value proposition. We find ourselves responding to inquiries almost daily.

MP: How does being part of HomeSmart allow you and your agents to be more profitable?
HomeSmart created a compensation model that rivals the competition with an affordable flat-fee plan that was not previously available in our marketplace. Our associates are not paying the high commission splits that many competitors collect, allowing them to increase their retained earnings.

MP: What is it about your brokerage that helps attract and retain agents?
I always say that “culture is not found in a company, it is found in people.” The key to a company’s long-term success is to attract great people and foster a sharing-based environment, ultimately providing mutual success.

Randy_RectorRandy Rector
HomeSmart Evergreen Realty & Associates
Irvine, Calif.

Maria Patterson: You had a large, successful firm in Orange County. Why make a change?
Randy Rector:
Back in 2010, we were about 700–750 strong. In order to grow to the next level without overhead killing us, we had to find a system. We had companies from around the nation coming in and pitching us products, but we had to somehow figure out how to integrate these products. We needed a system to make us more efficient without adding bodies, which in flat-fee models, is the death of the model itself.

MP: So how did you find out about HomeSmart?
We were at the National Association of REALTORS® conference in Anaheim and HomeSmart also had a booth. We met Matt and the next week, he called and said he’d like to come out and talk with us. What caught my attention about HomeSmart was that they had some real high-level technology—exactly what we had tried to build in 2009. We needed to find a way to streamline our back office and make us more efficient. From a cost and compliance standpoint, you have to make sure you have oversight on agents as you grow and multiply offices. In January 2012, we went to see Matt, and we were blown away by what he created that allowed him to run 3,600 agents with no staff. We joined in October 2012.

MP: How did that change the course for your company?
Being part of HomeSmart has made us more efficient, so we are able to serve our agents better. We went from 750 to 1,150 agents and ranked in RISMedia’s Power Broker Report Top 500 with the same two admins processing the transactions. And we are in compliance with the Board of Real Estate. They looked at our software and said, “This is perfect. We’ve seen every major and small brand, and none have this.”

MP: How did becoming part of HomeSmart help you attract agents?
In a flat-fee model, the core of the business is recruiting. HomeSmart’s Centralized Services allows us to pay a small fee and receive a myriad of services, from email marketing to a dedicated person making 100, 200, 300 calls a week. I don’t care what brand you are; it’s really hard to grow a brokerage and wear all the hats—recruiter, motivator, trainer, compliance officer. I can take that off my plate and concentrate on my agents, because all of this is being done for me.

MP: What makes HomeSmart stand out the most?
Hands down, it’s the proprietary software—no one in the nation can touch it. If you’re looking to scale your business, the tools, the ability for it all to be in one system and the support we get from HomeSmart corporate is bar none.

Roger_AbeRoger Lee and Abe Hamideh
HomeSmart Realty West
Carlsbad, Calif.

Maria Patterson: When did you first learn about HomeSmart?
Roger Lee:
Abe and I were flipping properties, and while it was fun, it wasn’t creating a future for us. A recruiter from HomeSmart called us one day and enticed us to go to Arizona to look at the systems and technology. We definitely thought this model could work in San Diego.

HomeSmart is a well-oiled machine that lets franchisees scale up without having to accumulate more manpower.

MP: You grew your agent count really quickly that first year—what was your secret?
To make it within the first year, we knew exactly how many agents we needed to have to get out of the red, and we had to do it quickly. The systems in place allowed us to focus on recruiting and building the company. We currently have 548 agents and three offices.

Abe Hamideh: It was an easy sale. Because of all the systems, marketing tools and support HomeSmart offers, we had all this firepower and agents were amazed. They had never heard about HomeSmart, and when they saw what we had, they thought it was too good to be true. But they soon realized it was the real deal.

RL: In addition to the maximum commission fee plans, we have the biggest value proposition they’ve ever seen from any other real estate company they’ve worked for.

MP: So it’s more than the flat-fee model that attracts agents…
A lot of agents come to us because they’re attracted to the flat-fee model. But then they see our value proposition, and then they start telling their friends. We often get three to five agents from the same office.

RL: Besides the maximum commission, they get a fully staffed office, conference rooms to meet with clients, and broker support. They see the technology package, a full CRM, and marketing tools like YouTube videos for listings and a full-on printed listing presentation. Most agents have to shop around to get tools. We give them everything all in one shot.

MP: How does the HomeSmart system pave the way for easy growth?
[At press time], we have 548 agents and 13 people on staff. We could go to 700 or 800 agents and not have the need to add another person. In less than five years, we’ve grown to be ranked in RISMedia’s Power Broker Report. The HomeSmart system enabled that.

MP: Please describe your recruiting strategy.
Our own agents help us so much in that department. They’re our biggest endorsement. We’ve already hit the 100 mark on boomerang agents—agents who thought the grass was greener somewhere else and then came back to us. They become our biggest cheerleaders and recruiters.

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

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.


The post Remodeling Real Estate for the Future appeared first on RISMedia.

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©2017 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.  Roanoke, VA  Licensed in Virginia.

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