Archive for the Category ◊ Jackie’s Real Estate Blogs ◊

Author: admin
• Monday, April 26th, 2010

An unexpected super surge in sales in March 2010 has many of us in the industry, and many buyers and sellers jumping for joy. As consumer confidence continues to rise, buyers and sellers continue to become more adapted to the current market, and real estate professionals continue to exude professionalism in our continually correcting market, real estate sales are abounding in a positive and promising way.

According to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, it is positively promising to see an expansive home sales rebound in nearly every corner of America. This rebound has two resounding trends: “Sales have been above year-ago levels for nine straight months, and inventory has trended down from year-ago levels for 20 months running,” he said. “The home buyer tax credit has been a resounding success as these underlying trends point to a broad stabilization in home prices. This is preserving perhaps $1 trillion in largely middle class housing wealth that may have been wiped out without the housing stimulus measure.”

This spring time sales surge has birds singing in the Real Estate industry, but behind the sunshine there is a cloud looming. What happens after the tax credit ends? According to NAR Chief Economist Yun:

“With home values stabilizing, a revival in home buying confidence will likely help the housing market get back on its feet even as the tax credit impact disappears,” Yun said.

With any luck, this statement will resonate to be true, and every home owner in even the farthest reaching corners of America will breathe a heavy sigh of relief. When looking at each region of America, the correction is resoundingly positive and numbers across the board have increased, even if only nominally. Here in the South, existing-home sales showed an increase of 7.1% for an annual level of 1.97 million in March 2010 and are 13.9% higher than in 2009. The median home value was $154,800, up 5.2% from March 2009.

With 4 days left to get contracted and benefit from the Home Buyer Tax Credit, I am gearing up for a busy week. If anyone needs help buying or selling, or just needs some positive words of wisdom about real estate…feel free to call me:)

Happy House Hunting!!!

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Author: admin
• Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

The First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit:

As the tax credit winds down, we are seeing many people who have not yet committed to a property scrambling to get in under the First Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit deadline. The tax credit is part of the Worker, Homeownership, Business Assistance Act of 2009.

As it stands, the tax credit of $8000 for 1st time home buyers, and $6500 for existing home owners who meet certain guidelines, is set to end on April 30, 2010. In order to receive the credit, there must be a binding contract in place on a property by April 30, and it must be closed on or before June 30.

In order to qualify, a “first time home buyer” must be a person who has never owned a home OR who hasn’t had an interest in a principal residence in the last 3 years, the home that is being purchased must be the purchaser’s principal residence, and there are certain income guidelines that must be met.

A survey of more than 1,500 sales agents  by Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance found a record 48.2 percent of home purchases were first-time home buyers in March. This is an almost 2% increase of over even last October (46.9%), when the original Tax Credit incentive was set to expire in November 2009. This recent almost 50% share of market activity by first time home buyers sets a record. And it’s a record that will trickle up to affect the other price points, markets, and demographics that comprise the modern Real Estate landscape.

The Extension and Expansion of the Tax Credit:

In November of 2009 the Tax Credit was extended, and expanded to encompass and benefit a broader range of home buyers and owners…

In order for a purchaser to qualify for the expanded tax credit designed for  home owners who are selling in the current marketplace, there are also income guidelines, and the home being sold must have been consecutively used for 5 of the last 8 years as the seller’s primary residence.

This expanded aspect of the tax credit will benefit those whose home may be being purchased by the first time home owners,  those who are moving move up, as well as those who may be downsizing. Essentially, if a person has had a significant amount of time in their current home, there is tremendous potential to not only make a profit on the sell, but also get that added incentive, thus creating a balanced and thriving market in varied price points, and driving more money into the economy. It’s a win/win:)

With 10 days left and counting, I have seen an increase in showings, calls, and activity across the board. Looks like I’m not the only procrastinator I know. LOL! The beauty of procrastination in this case is that the winding down of the tax credit in conjunction with the Spring boost in sales, is making for an uplifting and promising selling season! With consumer confidence raised, and happy buyers and sellers, we are currently looking at a correcting market on the upswing:)

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Author: admin
• Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

We are all guilty of alittle fence riding. Be it a car, a house, or any other major purchase, all of us can be well, indecisive.

However, now more than ever the Humpty Dumpty inside us all needs to face plant off of that wall on one side or another, and the most savvy of savvy will land on the side of the wall/fence that means making a home purchase.

Record low rates, record low prices, record high inventory, record breaking incentives and tax breaks, and a motivation level that’s through the roof make this the best time imaginable to get off the fence and buy a house. And, it is our job as Real Estate agents, to help push you over the fence:) Not just because it’s our livelihood for now, but because making a choice to purchase a home right now could be not only the best time to buy into the American dream, but a cornerstone in a person’s wealth building strategy. Which means that you will love us for helping you make the leap, and we will continue to build a relationship with you for years to come, continue to do more business with you, and build a mutually beneficial relationship…which is a win/win for everyone involved:)

By and large, the biggest argument that I hear from my first time home buyers who are teetering on the edge of homeownership but are too timid to make the leap is the fear that homeownership comes with a huge price tag above and beyond the mortgage payment (i.e. maintenance and upkeep). Also, I hear people saying that they’d like to be debt-free otherwise before committing to such a large debt. Well. Here are my soapboxes on both of those arguments (and yes, I will recite them while helping you to the other side of the fence) lol:

You are not debt-free right now, but you have to pay rent to live somewhere. That rent could possibly be more than what you would pay to own. Living expenses for shelter are unavoidable no matter what other financial commitments you have (unless you are living with a relative rent free. This argument doesn’t go so far if that is the case). LOL!

Making a commitment to a 15 or 30 year debt for a house can be quite daunting. However, when looking at every incentive, and all of the other positive identifiers in the market right now, it makes the possibility of renting a more daunting alternative. Even with the added expense of taxes, PMI, and home owner’s insurance, with interest rates and incentives, the cost of ownership is so low, that an interest bearing savings account where one deposits the money saved per month from renting could go a long way for a person’s comfort level when dealing with the “what if this breaks” fear… Not to mention that if you qualify for the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit, you have the potential of an $8000.00 nest egg right off of the bat. And you are building an equitable return on your money when you pay for your living expenses every month pertaining to your home.

As the deadline for the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit looms, I find more and more people trying to make a commitment to become a homeowner. The time is now. Sieze the day. Take the leap. You won’t regret it :)

 

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Author: admin
• Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Alright…so in a down market everyone in the real estate industry turns into a creative marketing machine. Volume down, guard up, value added service in check, and creative marketing implementation on lock! So…what are incentives and how do they affect buyers, sellers, and home sales? Incentives are the way in which some agents are electing to get their listings noticed, some sellers are offering to entice scarce buyers, and buyers are reaping the benefits due to all of the above…

Point blank, incentives are enticements for 1 property to be chosen over another. The examples are endless: Closing Costs Paid, Furniture Provided, Discount Points Bought, Landscaping Packages, Outside Living Area Upgrades, Appliance Upgrades…the sky is the limit and the offers can get as benign or as outlandish as you can imagine.

The best incentives seem to be those attached to dollar signs for many buyers. They wanna know how much they can save, how much they can have, and what they can do with it… Buying real estate at this point can be as lucrative as a full-time job if you do it right! Obama’s gonna give ya $8k if you’ve never done it before, your closing costs can be paid which could be as much as 4.5% of the purchase price, you can go from LG to Kenmore Professional Series at no cost to you, and hell- How bout a plasma to mount over the fireplace?

The downside to incentives is that sometimes, appropriating that money to be a reduction in list price coulda been much more effective in luring buyers to the property when the listings are plentiful and the buyers are scarce. Aesthetics are key in this theory as well. A lower priced home with proper staging can lure a buyer just as effectively as a home with tons of freebies and enticements…

So, the money for the incentives might keep a listing at the bottom of the price pond, where it can be overlooked by those skimming the surface of the pond.

I’ve never had a buyer that bought a house just because they were gonna get a plasma tv thrown in…I have had many buyers buy homes that they thought were gonna build equity quickly and were great deals…and yes, I’ve even had buyers who wrote offers on the great deals and asked for the plasma to be thrown into the mix…lol. I suppose at this point in the game, the thing to bear in mind is that each and every real estate transaction will have an enticement afforded- aesthetic, monetary, geographic…but incentives can sweeten the pot. The question is, what is more effective for agents- Fire sales or incentives? What is more lucrative for buyers- lower prices or incentives? And what makes seller’s feel more enticing- bottom line pricing or built-in incentives that require higher pricing?  I need a creative marketing consensus…

 

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Author: admin
• Saturday, January 16th, 2010

So, today was disheartening. Awesome client, awesome house, awesomely excited…and the dreaded home inspection day came.
Hands down, when I talk to clients before, during, and after transactions the home inspection is the most dreaded, nerve racking, grueling experience of all when making a home purchase… and selling a home!

So here’s my wise phrase that I use: EVERYONE involved feels the same way. The agents, the seller, the buyer, heck, even the mortgage person handling the loan! Every house has something wrong with it. Even brand spankin new construction will have a flaw- human beings build homes and there is room for human error, there are cosmetics that will be affected by a house being marketed/viewed, there are hidden elements that any upstanding and competent home owner can accidentally overlook.

There are certain things that will be deal breakers for different people. Home inspections are all different. There are good inspectors and bad inspectors. There are little things and big things. There are certain things that are found that would be nothing to one buyer, and everything to another. They are SUBJECTIVE in all rights of the word.

That said, there are ways to avoid the dreaded home inspection’s potential devastation…
For sellers of existing homes, have it pre-inspected by someone you know, like, and trust. If you don’t know any inspectors, handy men, or other home professionals, call an agent and get some recommendations.
For buyer’s, don’t get too excited about things that turn up on the inspection until you have done some research, talked to your agent, and/or talked to a professional who can explain things to you.

Half the battle has been fought by the time we get to the home inspection. The rest of the battlefield is the half that leads to HOME!…so put down your bludgeoning tool and take a deep breath! Short of a sink hole, tectonic plate movement, or dead bodies int he basement, almost everything is fixable :) Even if a deal falls apart due to a home inspection for one buyer, repairs can be made, and the next buyer may have a completely different outlook:)

But…for now…looks like me, the buyer, and the seller all get to go back to the drawing bored. Yippee. LOL!

 

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Author: admin
• Thursday, December 03rd, 2009

The expansion of the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit and the Expansion of the Tax Credit to include people who have lived in their primary residence for 5 consecutive years of the last 8 is a blessing that we all will benefit from.

Real estate agents all over were cringing as the November 30, 2009 deadline for the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit loomed. Sure, we all got a nice surge of activity as people scurried to get in under the umbrella, but what was to happen after the fervor died down? Agents go back to throwing darts at a wall in hopes that something sticks? Sellers go back to frantically keeping their homes clean and show-ready in hopes that a buyer would come from the sky? Buyers go back to kicking tires and climbing fences?

Obama said nope Not only did he say “Nope” but he made the impact of the tax credit on America’s real estate market more pronounced by adding/expanding the original incentive to include people who have been homeowner’s in the past.

Now, first timers, second timers, third timers whatever have until April 30, 2010 to be in a binding contract and until June 30, 2010 to close to be able to benefit from the tax credit. I love the 60 day window to close! For agents it will mean not just a last minute surge, but a steady stream for a few months of closings, improved absorption rates, and active clients And for buyers and sellers it means less time-constraint stress and smoother transactions…

The beauty of the expansion is also that where the first time home buyer tax credit heavily benefited the lower price points and mid-range pricepoints (as first timers by starter homes, those sellers move up to mid-range pricepoint homes), the expansion will have the capability to trickle up to the upper echelon pricepoints as well as movement across the board is affected. Everyone wants free money, and movement in any pricepoint at this point in slow absorption will benefit the big picture.

What I’m curious to see is how this will the correction of the market time wise. Will it make the upswing of the U-Curve more noticably pronounced? Or will it make only a slight swing? Will the confidence instilled in the players in the real estate market be contagious, and if so, how will the confidence level rising in agents, builders, professionals, and buyers and sellers affect the bigger picture?

So many questions, so many benefits, and so much excitement attached to this extension and expansion…

I suppose only time will tell the answers, but for now let’s just all ride the wave

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Author: admin
• Thursday, December 03rd, 2009

We are in a day and time where there is an actual service for Social Media Management for Busy Professionals. Seriously. If you are too busy to manage your own social media site, you can pay people to do it for you. Which kinda cracks me up, because isn’t one of the points of social media to be “in touch ” with our friends, family, and sphere of influence?

Social Media has introduced a greater level of transparency for real estate professionals. We are not the keepers of the information, and we are no longer insulated. In the same way that the internet has offered the consumer  your own outlet for real estate information and research, Social Media is offering you a true glance at your real estate professional…and a vast avenue for word of mouth reviews on the services that we provide…

It is not uncommon for consumers to look, gather info, and begin to form their own strategy for their home purchase before you ever even find us nowadays. Consumers come to professionals pre approved, informed, and prepared, and it is a product of the fallout, the crash of the market, the wake of the subprime market… Be the reason a lack of trust, an easier access to info, or just a heightened consumer awareness in scary economic times our service capabilities, demand, and needs have changed considerably…and your expectations of us have as well.

All of these windows into our professional, our personal lives, and the Real Estate Market as a whole is also changing how we sell to you. The entire methodology of real estate sales has done an about-face and is in the process of being reinvented…and by and large you the consumer are the author of the new sales methodology guide. LOL!

What we do and who we know is right there for you to see, and you are online tracking our info and forming your opinions.  And we are paying attention to how you follow us, come to us, and react to us. The “call to action” sale is not for today, the “trusted professional” sale seems to be what you are after, and you don’t trust easily. Cold calls are dead, mass marketing is inefficient, inciting a sense of urgency is ineffective…making online connections, instilling trust in our professionalism and knowledge, and giving you the information is our reaction to social media and real estate transparency in today’s market…

So, where we used to brand our name and ourselves, we now brand our tech savvy, our knowledge, our relevance to you because of our expertise and professionalism not our ability to hand you information. Now that you have the knowledge, our relevance to you is our guidance, our ability to interpret the information that you have and apply it to your personal transaction, and our real life applications and experiences of the information that you have when you come to us.

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Author: admin
• Thursday, November 26th, 2009

ReBarCamp is an online webinar for real estate professionals that is truly going to drive home to those who may not be keen on the idea that print media in real estate is DEAD DEAD DEAD! The topics include risk management for social media, social media marketing, the real estate office of the future, and on and on and on…

There were 1500 participants logged at the time of this blog, and I’d love to know how many actual attendees that means, as many offices are doing Office Events that are extensively inclusive of their agents…

The use of social media to market, Webinars to coach and guide, blogs to educate, E-Blasts to announce, and online resources to present clients information is going to change the face of real estate as we know it, and make it a more sustainable, affordable, and green profession for agents, and for that I’m thankful. I also think that it will change the culture of real estate offices and professionals, as it will begin to draw a new generation of agents into the realm. The disconnect in age and culture between Real Estate professionals and online consumers is soon to close, as more and more Gen Xers, Gen Yers, and Gen Zers recognize it as a true business discipline, not some Salesman-y (is that a word lol) career with a cheesy connotation chosen by people after their “real careers.” 

Also, the new transparency in real estate professionalism will also aid in dispelling wide spread rumors and misinterpretations of real estate agency. People, consumers, and potential agents will begin to view us as valued assets not because we are the keepers of the information, but because we are the market specialists, master negotiators, facilitators and educators of the process, and the general underpinnings of the transactions’ “smoothness.” True real estate professionals do not validate themselves for the money they are earning as much through what the consumer sees, but by what we do that the consumer cannot see. The countless hours spent researching, reading, educating ourselves, sizing up info on a property, making follow up calls to the other people involved in the transaction, etc. 

So, in closing, ReBarCamp is indicative of the future of real estate for professionals and consumers. It, and other similar events and ideas, signify the growth of a changed market toward the future, due to it’s past

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Author: admin
• Thursday, November 26th, 2009

In a simpler time, you would write a note that said “Do you like me? Check yes or no…”, or make a phone call (from the now almost obsolete “home phone”) and ask someone to go to the movies…now you add people on a Social Networking Site and begin to follow their every status update, Tweet, or blog entry, and in essence, become an expert on the lives of all of your “friends.” And they you…be it business, personal, social, or otherwise…all of the world is watching…

The word of the year was recently coined to be “unfriend.” Definition: to delete someone from a social networking site. It beat out sexting, zombie bank, and 100’s of poignant terms born and bred in tech-la la land and reiterated across text lines, BBM’s, and every other text form of communication utilized by the masses.

So, in a time when freemiums, social networking, and hashtags are in the forefront of self promotion, advertising, and marketing, is unfriending the new(professional) break up?

The majority of us do not actually, intimately, or “know in person” all of our cyber friends. Come on, I have 910 facebook friends- about 100 of which I actually interact with in person on a semi-regular basis. However, when I log on if I see that I have less friends than the last time, I begin to search and try to figure out who unfriended me…was it a client? a colleague? a friend? a prospect? OMG WHERE DID YOU GO UNKNOWN UNFRIEND? lol!

And furthermore, does unfriending speak louder than Tweeting?

If we as Real Estate professionals do a bad job (not that that would happen lol), drop the ball, break a promise, don’t deliver, or make a mistake…everyone can potentially know about it nowadays. And tweets speak louder than testimonials to many…So, if we are unfriended and (text-assaulted unbeknowst to us somewhere in Cyber World to boot), the bad word of mouth and lack of exposure from that person will hurt…Not only our egos, but how we are percieved, and how we are able to utilize this beautifully crafted outlet of communication, advertising, and marketing that we have at our disposal via social networking.

Unfriending is the ultimate diss when it’s by our romantic interests, the ultimate good bye if it’s from someone from our past, the ultimate slap in the face if it’s from a real friend whom we may be fighting with, and the ultimate “you really screwed up” if it’s from our clients…

So, what do ya think? Unfriending, is it the new professional break up?

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