New Tool Makes Working with Socially Distant Clients Easier

Unfortunately, social distancing isn’t going away any time soon. As you continue to adjust your business practices to keep clients safe, there is a new tool releasing soon that can make it easier for you to sell homes remotely.

OneHome, revealed earlier this month by CoreLogic (a real estate market data and analytics provider) is a virtual collaboration portal that “facilitates seamless interaction between agents and their clients.” Instead of relying on multiple tools to remotely guide your client through the home buying process, OneHome aims to be a “one-stop-shop.” It includes a virtual marketplace where you can directly communicate with clients, AI-enabled home search results, and access to financing, insurance, and home improvement providers all in one portal.

Some unique features that are sure to make your job much easier are the “Planner” and “PropertyFit.” Planner is a guided checklist in the form of a timeline that explains every step of the home buying transaction process - minimizing any client confusion. PropertyFit is where OneHome flexes its AI-learning muscles. It uses the client’s previous home browsing data and shows them homes that are most likely to meet their needs.

OneHome is expected to be nationally available by the end of 2020. As the real estate market continues to shift along with the pandemic, how do you plan on using new technologies with your clients?

PropertyFit Preview Image

PropertyFit uses client search data to match them with homes that meet their needs. Image from corelogic.com

If you’re not already using social media or even drones to help grow your client base, check out our continuing education courses by choosing your state below.

 


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Real Estate: Leading the Way to Economic Recovery

In the wake of a world wide pandemic and having to hit the restart button into the “new normal” we have found that the US economy is but a shadow of its former self. One bright spark in the universe of unknowns is the real estate industry. More and more U.S. states are re-opening for summer business. People will begin to go back to work and the financial landscape of the country will start to turn around.

The significant reasons why the housing market could be such a driving force is the impact it has on the local economy. Buying and selling a home goes far beyond personal growth and satisfaction, it supports our economy as a whole. According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average new home sale has a total economic impact of $88,416. Robert Dietz, Chief economist and senior VP for economics and housing policy of The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says: “Overall, the data lends evidence to the NAHB forecast that housing will be the leading sector in an eventual economic recovery.”

On a month to month basis a surge of delayed transactions can be processed as the country opens. Some people who would have, in the absence of the pandemic, closed in March, April and May are likely to close in June and July. Add to those closings the buyers who were likely to close in June or July, in the pandemic’s absence, and there is a surge above normal for summer months. According to experts, the economy will begin to recover in the second half of this year. In addition, CNBC notes: “Mortgage demand from home buyers shows unexpectedly strong and quick recovery…The quick recovery has surprised most forecasters.”

The most considerable challenge for real estate agents is not necessarily the market, but all the changes in how activities are conducted moving forward. The “new normal” for construction, remodeling and sales will result in many new or changed processes. Those who can quickly adjust, by reevaluating and tweaking procedures, will thrive. Those who are stuck with a “this is how I’ve always done it” mentality will find the “new normal” a difficult environment.

We are facing one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime rebuilding the American economy, and real estate and the housing market will play a monumental factor in how quickly we can jump-start our economy which may be sooner than we think.

 


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Uncertainty in the Real Estate Market

Harry S. Truman once said “America was not built on fear. America was built on Courage, on Imagination, and Unbeatable Determination to do the job at hand.” That statement rings true for all of us once again. We all know, that the current situation makes it extremely difficult to project the future of the economy. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, says: “The uncertainty of the crisis means forecasts of economic activity are more unclear than usual.” Analysts normally look at economic data and compare it to previous slowdowns to create their projections. This situation, as we know, is anything but normal.

Analysts must incorporate data from three different sciences into their recovery equation:

  1. Business Science– How has the economy rebounded from similar slowdowns in the past?
  2. Health Science– When will COVID-19 be under control? Will there be another flareup of the virus this fall?
  3. Social Science– After businesses are fully operational, how long will it take American consumers to return to normal consumption patterns? (Ex: going to the movies, attending a sporting event, or flying).

The challenge of accurately combining the three sciences into a single projection has created uncertainty, and it has led to a wide range of opinions on the timing of the recovery. Quarterly growth contracted significantly in the world’s second-biggest economy – China – for the first time in 28 years, skyrocketing jobless numbers in the U.S., and warnings from OPEC that demand for oil will fall to a 30-year low, have many wondering if it really will be business as usual once the coronavirus pandemic is over. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac still has hope stating, “We expect that most of the economic damage from the virus will be contained to the first half of the year. Going forward, we should see a recovery starting in the second half of 2020.”

Right now, the vast majority of economists and analysts believe a full recovery will take anywhere from 6-18 months. No one truly knows the exact timetable, but it will be coming.  A recent global poll shows that people have some serious doubts despite reassurances from many governments that we will see a quick recovery in the economy once the outbreak is under control. The majority of people in 10 out of the 15 countries surveyed say a quick economic recovery is unlikely once the lockdown from the pandemic is lifted, with this sentiment highest in hard-hit European countries.

The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that has not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through. While some have expected more people to find themselves underwater, new research from Atom Data Solutions suggests U.S. homeowners are still four times more likely to be equity rich, than seriously underwater.

Many companies will be able to bounce back nicely. But yes, there will be some businesses that don’t survive the shutdowns. Other businesses might be operating at severely reduced capacity or will have taken on additional debt burdens and, therefore, won’t be able to bring back all of their prior workforces. Experts agree the pace of recovery, likely in the second half of the year, is uncertain because it depends on the extent of the damage in the first half such as the permanent loss of industry.

Bottom Line

“It is better to plan for the worst and be pleasantly surprised than to be caught unprepared.”

 


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Helping Home Buyers in a Seller’s Market

A seller’s market meant that current inventory is less than the number of buyers in the real estate market. For buyers, that means more than one person may be interested in a single listing. Unfortunately, this means your buyers may end up heart broken. Someone may out bid them and if they have already fallen in love with the home it will be even harder. It’s important to prepare your clients for reality versus expectations as they begin their hunt for the home of their dreams- or as close to their dreams as possible.

In a sellers’ market a buyer must change their home buying strategy to have success when many homes will have multiple offers. Time is of the essence. Multiple offers happen with more regularity in a sellers' market than a buyer's market. That's because by its very nature a seller's market is defined in part by low inventory and lots of home buyers. A beautiful home that is priced well can attract more than one offer. Remember, your client might not be the only buyer.

Preparing the Home Buying Offer in a Seller's Market

  • Price. Price is not always the most important factor. But do not offer less than list price. Realize you may need to offer more than the amount the seller is asking.
  • Earnest Money Deposit. A larger earnest money deposit might look very attractive to a seller. Your client is going to pay it anyway at closing.
  • Don't Request Favors. This is not the time to ask the seller to give you the refrigerator or washer and dryer, or part with fixtures, or paint the front door.
  • Delay Buyer PossessionIf it is customary for the seller to move at closing, give the seller a few extra days to move. Another buyer probably won't think of this maneuver, and the seller will look more kindly upon an offer that lets them move at leisure.
  • Submit Preapproval and Proof of Funds Documentation. If your preapproval letter is from an out-of-area broker or lender, get a local preapproval instead. Mortgage pre-approval goes further than prequalification because you submit all the required paperwork up front. The bank then verifies the amount you can afford to pay for your next home. It takes the guesswork out of your home search and shows sellers you can back your offer up with real money.

Be Upfront About All Expenses

In the world of real estate, referrals and repeat business drive an agent’s success over time. Make an effort to present a clear picture of all the expenses a home buyer has after purchasing a home. Go over how much property taxes and mortgage insurance are and how they’re added into the overall payment. Explain the average utilities on that home and the cost of maintenance. Having this information presented clearly allows buyers to choose a house they can truly afford, even when all the little extras are added in.

Don’t Let Impatience Wreck Their Budget

Patience can be hard to come by when you feel pressure to beat buyers to the punch. But try not to get so carried away you forget the financial goals you’re working toward. Remember, it is recommended keeping your clients mortgage payment to no more than 25% of their monthly take-home pay on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Stress the Value of Improvements

While a turnkey home is attractive to homebuyers because they can move in and not worry about doing a single thing, it isn’t always realistic for buyers on a budget. If their budget doesn’t align with their wants and needs, stress the value of buying lower and making some improvements on their own. Buyers can expect a 70 percent return on investment from improvements to the exterior of the home, such as new siding. This not only gives them something to take pride in but can also help them financially down the road.

Jump on That Seller's Market Showing

Don't let your buyer wait until the weekend to view a home in a seller's market. By the weekend, that home could be sold. Try to be one of the first showings. Sellers usually don't enjoy having buyers come through their homes at all hours of the day, so most would like to see their home sold quickly. If you write a good offer, a fast offer and a clean offer, your client’s chances of acceptance are far better than those of a buyer who is unprepared.

It’s hard to leave emotions out of the home-buying process. After all, your clients purchase a place where they’ll live out their days, raise families and have gatherings of friends and those they love. It’s an emotional decision in many ways. However, if your buyers approach purchasing a home from the emotional side of things, they won’t be as likely to make smart business decisions. Do your best to guide them toward smart choices that will protect them financially, but at the end of the day, remember that you also must deliver a house they’ll love. When you balance those two competing needs, you’ll win both as a real estate agent and as a person.

 


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A Home for the Holidays

Nothing says holidays like having your family gathered in your home while you celebrate what’s important. Around this time each year, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to list their houses. Similarly, others who already have their homes on the market remove their listings until the spring. Many sellers believe spring is the best time to put their home on the market because buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. What they don’t know is if every homeowner believes the same thing, everyone will list and buy at the same time and therefore encounter far more competition. According to NAR, the sweet spot for selling is November through January. Here are the top reasons why listing your clients house now (or keeping it on the market) may be the best choice they can make.

5 great reasons to tell your clients not to wait:

  1. Buyers at this time of year are serious. Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now. At this time of year, purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. Your client and their family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere lookers. The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.
  2. The stage is set. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays. There is something about lights, bulbs and ornaments that make you want to cozy up and stay awhile.
  3. Prices are at a sweet spot. Over the past few months we’ve seen the supply of homes for sale decreasing year-over-year. Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year according to Corelogic. If your clients are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind up costing them more in both down payment and mortgage payment if they wait.
  4. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop during the holidays. Buyers who were unable to find their dream homes during the busy spring and summer months are still searching, and your client's home may be the answer. According to NAR, the median days on the market for a listing was only 33 days last month!
  5. Competition is low. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge and reach new heights in 2020, which will lessen the demand for their house next year. Temperatures aren’t the only thing that heats up in the spring – so do listings! In 2018, listings increased from December to May. Don’t wait for these listings and the competition that comes with them to come to the market before your clients decide to list their house.

Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all believe homes sales will increase steadily over the next year. Real estate is impacted by the economy (and the consumer’s belief in the strength of the economy). The fact that most economic experts are calling for the recovery to continue through 2020 means the housing market will also remain strong for the foreseeable future. If you have a homeowner who has considered selling their house recently, let them know that now may be the best time to put it on the market.

 


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Falling in Love with Your Open Houses this Autumn

The beginning of autumn is like a breath of fresh air--a bit of relief from the offensive summer heat is more than welcome at this time of year. Real estate professionals can capitalize on buyers' eagerness to enjoy fall by bringing the best of the season into their open houses. By using the weather to your advantage and creating some seasonal charm, your open houses will be a hit!

Potential home buyers are likely to purchase a home before the holiday season gets in full swing--this means they will be more serious and ready to make an offer as soon as they find the right fit.  Here are some tips to planning a sensational autumn open house.

Up the Curb Appeal

Set the tone the second interested buyers walk up with a festive fall wreath and doormat. It’s an easy way to add color and style to the front entry, which is great for curb appeal. A doormat invites people in and can add a touch of personality. Bonus: the doormat can also help keep the floors clean.

Focus on Lighting

Lighting can be just as important during an open house as it is in your real estate photographs. Make sure any exterior lighting is working properly and utilize a mix of lamps and ceiling lights to create the perfect ambiance. Don’t go overboard with scented candles or similar items--some viewers may be allergic to the smell. To play it safe, look into electric candles or other lighting sources that can make your property glow without upsetting potential buyers.

Serve Seasonal Refreshments

Providing refreshments for an open house is an excellent, low cost way to incorporate fall touches into your open house. Think about pairing warm cookies with FAQ sheets on the neighborhood or hot cocoa next to a printed floor plan. This personal touch, while small, can make a big impact. Potential buyers will feel comfortable in the space and leave with all the information they need.

Add Autumn-Inspired Elements to the Decor

Continue the autumn theme throughout the house by adding touches of seasonal decor: fall-colored throw blankets and pillows on the couch, a pumpkin cookie jar and apple-cinnamon potpourri in the guest bathroom.

Open Up the Windows

Now is the best time of year when you can open the windows and let the crisp, clean air inside. If you have a fantastic view or outdoor living space, opening the doors and windows can also call attention to the features.

Hosting a memorable fall open house will rely on your ability to make potential buyers feel at home in the space. Create a cozy atmosphere by relying on little fall touches. Keep the inside of the property warm and incorporate subtle fall decor. To make the house even cozier, you can leave out a few fall activities for kids like coloring pages or word puzzles. Between the activities, the warmer temperatures, and any other fall touches, potential buyers will fall in love with the property.

 


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According to New Survey Homebuyers, Now’s a Good Time to Buy

Good Time to Buy a Home

It’s a good time to buy a home, according to research from the National Association of Realtors. 65 percent of people echoed this sentiment in the Housing Opportunities and Market Experience, or HOME, report.  This enthusiasm is the highest it’s been since the second quarter of 2018.

Older boomers and those from the silent generation are the most optimistic, 75 percent said now is a good time. Just 51 percent of Millenials agreed. Home owners are more likely than renters to say that now is a good time to buy.

Good Time to Sell a Home

Even more people say it’s a good time to sell - 69 percent according to the HOME report. Earners who make $100,000 or more, people living in the West and Young Boomers were most likely to respond this way.

Feelings about the Economy

Sentiments about the American economy are mixed. Half of Gen-Xer’s say the economy is improving. And 53 percent of all groups say the economy is getting better. Rural Americans are more likely to say the economy is improving compared to Americans in urban areas.

Data Snapshot

Home Sales: The National Association of Realtors reported that February 2019’s existing-home sales gained their largest month-over-month gain since December 2015. Sales increased 11.8 percent from January.

Mortgage Rates: Mortgage rates have fallen or remained steady across the board, as of data from March 21, 2019. 30-year fixed rates fell 0.4 points 15-year fixed rates dropped 0.5 points, and 4-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages were unchanged.

 


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