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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Majority of Americans: Buying a Home Is a Good Decision
RISMEDIA, October 27, 2010--Despite the continuing challenges facing the U.S., nearly eight out of 10 respondents believe buying a home is a good financial decision, according to NAR's eighth annual Housing Opportunity Pulse Survey.

The survey, which measures how affordable housing issues affect consumers, also found job security concerns to be the highest in eight years of sampling, with 70 percent of Americans saying that job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem in their area; eight in 10 cite these issues as a barrier to homeownership. The telephone survey of 1,209 urban and suburban adults in the top 25 metropolitan statistical areas was conducted for NAR by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR's Housing Opportunity Program.

Some key results:

* Americans continue to believe that buying a home is a good financial decision (77 percent believe strongly or not so strongly, 68 percent strongly so).
* More than two-thirds of respondents (68 percent) say that now is a good time to buy a home.
* Job insecurity and the lack of jobs continue to be the primary obstacle to home ownership and market recovery.
* Respondents see the recession and job losses as the main reasons for the foreclosure problem, a shift from last year when they were more likely to blame homeowners who bought homes they could not afford.
* A majority of renters say that owning a home at some point in the future is either one of their highest priorities (39 percent) or a moderate priority (24 percent). Just 21 percent of renters say that owning a home is not a priority at all.
* Frustration with banks is up: now a majority worry that banks have made it too hard to qualify for a home mortgage loan.
* 51 percent of respondents say foreclosures remain a big or moderate problem in their area. While there has been a significant drop in the percentage of those surveyed who say foreclosures have increased, 51 percent say that the rate of foreclosures is about the same as it was last year.
* Most of those surveyed say that it is harder to sell a home in their neighborhood than it was a year ago.
* Looking forward, 70 percent expect real estate sales in their neighborhood to remain about the same over the next few months. A nearly identical number (69 percent), also expect home values to remain the same.
* Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) are now very concerned about the number of homes and condos for sale in their area—a number that is up 7 points from last year.
* Most respondents are more concerned about the drop in home values than they are about home costs being too high. Still, cost remains the significant barrier to many who would otherwise like to buy a home.

S&P/Case-Shiller: Home Prices Slowed in August
RISMEDIA, October 27, 2010--Data through August 2010, released by Standard & Poor's for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, a leading measure of U.S. home prices, show a deceleration in the annual growth rates in 17 of the 20 MSAs and the 10- and 20-City Composites in August compared to what was reported for July 2010.

The 10-City Composite was up 2.6% and the 20-City Composite was up 1.7% from their levels in August 2009. Home prices decreased in 15 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites in August from their July levels.

The annual returns of the 10-City and 20-City Composite Home Price Indices show increases of 2.6% and 1.7%, respectively, in August 2010 compared to the same month in 2009. In August, 12 of the 20 MSAs posted negative annual growth rates.

This is two more than what was reported in July, as Detroit and Miami posted negative annual rates in August. While still negative, three of the 20 MSAs saw improvement in year-over-year growth rates in August as compared to July. They are Charlotte, Cleveland and Las Vegas with annual growth rates of -3.4%, -0.4% and -4.5%, respectively. Annual growth rates slowed down in the three California cities, with Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco posting annual gains of +5.4%, +6.9% and +7.8%, respectively – a significant drop from the +7.5%, +9.3% and +11.2% reported for July.

As of August 2010, average home prices across the United States are back to the levels where they were in late 2003 and early 2004. Measured from June/July 2006 through August 2010, the peak-to-current declines for the 10-City Composite and 20-City Composite are -28.4% and -28.1%, respectively. The improvements from their April 2009 trough are +7.8% and +6.7%, respectively.

With August data, we find that 15 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites saw prices fall from their July values. Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Washington DC were the only five cities that recorded marginal improvements in home prices over July. The 10- and 20-City Composites were down 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively, in August versus July.

Chicago, Detroit, New York and Washington DC have all posted at least four consecutive months of positive increases in home prices; but none of the MSAs had monthly increases of greater than 1% in August. San Diego, which had posted 15 consecutive months of positive monthly change, recorded a 0.6% drop in average home prices in August. The same is true of Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle and the two Composites – they all broke their trend of several consecutive months of positive monthly gains with August's report.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have You Ever...

Have you ever found yourself being blamed by a buyer for not getting them the house because their offer was too low? Oh boy! I know it's easier said than done, but try not to be too hard on your buyer, when people are devastated, it is human nature to look for someone to blame. Let's all agree that whether we recommended an offer price or not, they will blame us in most cases for not giving them the right number. They think we have the right number, they think that is what we do and shame on us for allowing them to continue to believe it.

So, you've spent countless hours, gas, and resources your still paying for; completely and thoroughly did your job to the best of your ability, and in the end: Your fired!

I would like to suggest to you a sure-fire way to put your customer in the best position to get the house, not blame you if they don't, and guarantee that they will work with you no matter how many they "lose".

Coach your buyers. Coach them to understand that properties are selling for more than asking price, show them the comps to prove it. Inform them to the best of your ability about the current climate surrounding that property; are there other offers, and how they should position their offer based on their particular financing, so that if there are other offers with more appealing financing you are factoring that in. Third, and most importantly, coach them to make their "no regrets" offer. In other words, ask what they buyers are willing to pay for the property, how much is it really worth to them. When the give you that number, you need to test them to be sure it is their "no regrets" offer. The conversation will go something like this: "So John, what I hear to telling me is that $90,000 is what this home is worth to you? Ok, just to be sure, let's fast forward: we've heard back from the listing office on this property and your offer of $90,000 was beat out by another buyer who offered $91,000. Do you regret not having offered more?" If the answer is no, then that was their no regrets offer. If they hesitate, they thought it was - but it wasn't. It's important to have them feel that loss for a minute because until they do, they really don't know where their line is. You see they absolutely cannot logically blame you because they alone were responsible for making their "no regrets" offer. Now, you will have those buyers who want to be lead, but don't cave. Don't give them a number you can't deliver or you have ruined the relationship. Here's what you say when someone will not make the commitment themselves. "John, I understand that you are struggling with this, but you must understand that, to me, this house has no value because I'm not going to be living in it. My job is to help you realize what you want and coach you to get whatever that is. It's impossible for me to know what your "no regrets" offer is. So let me lead you through this exercise that will help reveal it." At this point you take them through the number game: "you've offered $90,000 and we've just found that someone beat us by $1,000. How do you feel?" We cycle through this until the customer says: "you know, I really wouldn't care if somebody wanted to pay $95,000 for it, I'd let them have it!" You've discovered their no regrets offer and if it isn't accepted the customer is much more likely to feel that it wasn't meant to be. Happy homemaking!

4 Twitter Tips that Will Keep You Texting

4 Twitter Tips that Will Keep You Texting
By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, August 24, 2010—As a real estate professional, you’re on the go all the time. As such, things like SMS text messaging have probably become second nature to you. So why not use this same technology to keep up with Twitter too.

Here are four texting tips from Twitter on how to maximize its technology and your use of SMS:

Fast Follow. Anyone in the U.S. can receive Tweets on their phone even if they haven’t signed up for Twitter. This is a simple way for people to get information they care about in real-time. For example, let’s say you want to get Tweets from New York City’s office of emergency management (@NotifyNYC). Just text ‘follow NotifyNYC’ to 40404 in the US.

Try it out the next time you see a Twitter @username at a restaurant or store, on a billboard or on TV, or if you hear one mentioned on the radio. If you want to appear in a user’s followers list or start to get followers, you’ll need to create a Twitter account. You can SMS by texting ‘signup’ to Twitter at 40404.

Fast Following without creating an account is currently available only in the U.S., but we're working with carriers to bring it to other countries.

Set SMS alerts: From your computer, wherever you see a user on, you can hover over their name or avatar, and click on the phone icon that appears in the hovercard. Whenever they tweet, you'll get it as an SMS message on your phone.

It's just as easy to set alerts from your phone. Send ‘on [username]’ or ‘off [username]’ to 40404 in the U.S.

Tell Twitter to be quiet. Turn text messages on or off by sending ‘on’ or ‘off’ to Twitter. You can also go to our settings page if you want to turn off text message updates during a certain time period.

Keep up with the latest Tweet. If you text 'Get [username]’, that user’s most recent Tweet will be sent to your phone, even if you don’t follow them. There are a bunch of other fun commands you can use with Twitter on your phone.

#1 in the D again - Crain's 2009

Door Knocking for business - Are you crazy?

I know it sounds nuts, but when we talk about door knocking we don't mean walking to each and every door in a particular neighborhood schlepping our services just hoping that someone, anyone will need our help today. So how would we efficiently use door knocking to increase our business?

If you are of the Gen X culture, you may remember a little TV show called "Bewitched". In that show, Darren & Samantha had the nosiest neighbor in the world. Her name was Gladys Kravitz. Each and every time Samantha looked out the window, Gladys was there, staring. Gladys knew everything about everyone in the neighborhood.

She was an annoyance, but she was also a resource. Think to yourself, right now, who in my neighborhood knows everything that's going on with everyone. Identify your Gladys and go have a conversation to catch up on the neighborhood. You see, we often forget that people don't move for money, they move for reasons and Gladys can tell you who will be the next to move. Gladys knows: who's having babies, who's been laid off, who's being relocated, who's getting divorced, who's getting married, etc. Start writing down the addresses and take note. If someone has life altering events occurring, Gladys knows. Often, it's because we have neglected to utilize our own neighborhood resources that we find ourselves staring at a competitors sign. We've all been there.

Once Gladys gives you the 411, you have a direct referral from Gladys to your neighbor in need to offer your assistance. Simply approach the neighbor and make a joke of it, yes they know Gladys too. With a roll of the eyes, simply say, "Gladys said I should come over and talk to you. You know I am a Real Estate consultant and with the new baby on the way, she said you might need my help finding a bigger place." It's as simple as that. You can both get a good laugh over Gladys and begin a business relationship if the need for your services is truly there.

Friday, October 8, 2010

For Our Clients: How To Prepare Your Home For Fire Safety

For Our Clients: How To Prepare Your Home For Fire Safety

RISMEDIA, October 8, 2010--Many people think a fire won't happen to them. But what happens if it does? And what if there are children in the home? Will they know how to react to the sound of a smoke alarm? October 3-9 is National Fire Prevention Week and what better time for parents to prepare their home and their families in case of a home fire.

"Tragically, about 436 children ages 14 and under die each year nationally in residential fires, said Allyson Fulton of Safe Kids Pennsylvania. "A properly functioning smoke alarm will cut the risk of dying in a residential fire by nearly 50 percent. Yet, smoke alarms are either not working or present in approximately 75 percent of the homes where a child has died in a residential fire."

Safe Kids Pennsylvania offers these "Tips for Parents" to prepare their home and their children in case of a residential fire.

The Right Way to Use Smoke Alarms
* Install smoke alarms in your home on every level and near each sleeping area or bedroom. Test them once a month, replace the batteries at least once a year and install new alarms every ten years. (Ten-year lithium alarms do not require battery changes each year.)

* Familiarize your child with the sound of your smoke alarm. Plan and practice several escape routes from each room of the home and identify a safe outside meeting place. Practicing an escape plan may help children, who can become frightened and confused, to escape to safety.

* Interconnect the alarms if possible so that when one sounds they all sound. If you cannot hardwire them, you can buy alarms that will broadcast a signal to each other.

* Place smoke alarms on ceilings or high on walls. Smoke rises, so alarms should be placed as high and as close to the middle of the room as possible.

* Do not place the smoke alarm on a wall that faces the outside if you live in a poorly insulated or mobile home. The temperature of the wall may vary depending upon the season and cause the alarm to malfunction.

* Place the alarm away from cooking or furnace fumes, fireplace smoke and dust. This will reduce unwanted alarms. The best location is at least three feet away from forced-air supply registers and not near windows or exterior doors since they can inhibit the alarm's ability to sense smoke.

* For the best protection against different types of fires, consider installing both ionization alarms (better at sensing flaming fires) and photoelectric alarms (better at sensing slow, smoky fires) or dual sensor alarms.

* If someone in your home is hearing-impaired, there are smoke alarms that use strobe lights.

How to Maintain Your Smoke Alarm
Most smoke alarms currently on the market are battery powered. However, 10-year lithium cell-powered smoke alarms are now available, eliminating the need to replace dead or missing batteries. Safe Kids USA offers the following guidelines for the proper maintenance of battery-powered and lithium smoke alarms:

* Test all alarms once a month. Testing is a simple process that can be done several ways. Most models have built-in test buttons that activate the alarm. For those alarms without built-in test buttons, follow the manufacturer's guidelines for testing and maintaining your smoke alarm.

* Vacuum your alarms regularly. Regular cleaning is imperative. Dirt can "confuse" the alarm and lead to false alarms or impair its functioning.

* Replace the batteries at least once a year. Even if your battery-operated alarm has never sounded, it is important to replace the batteries. In most battery-operated models, a "chirping" noise will sound for approximately 30 days when the battery needs replacing, but it is best to replace the batteries annually.

* Replace your smoke alarm, regardless of the type, at least every 10 years. Smoke alarms deteriorate over time, so they need to be replaced.

* If you have a problem with nuisance alarms, there are a few options you can try:

Vacuum the smoke alarm more often.
Move the smoke alarm farther away from the nuisance source, which is often cooking fumes.
Switch to a photoelectric unit or an ionization unit with a hush button.

10 Tips for using Social Media to Boost your Business

10 Tips for Using Social Media in Business

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer." -- Marcia Wider