From the moment that you drew your first square and triangle home when you were a child, you had some vision of what your ideal home would look like.
It is true that anyone can have their dream home under the right circumstances. The decision to choose new over old -or vice-versa- has a lot to do with personal choice.
Purchasing an old home gives you opportunities that new homes do not. For example:
Old homes provide character and rustic designs that new architecture simply cannot offer. Most new homes today are cookie-cutter, unless you have the cash-flow to design something exactly to your specifications.
Old homes usually come at a cheaper cost and there is room to haggle. The money saved can be put towards renovations so you can obtain the perfect mix between rustic and modern; maybe build that dream kitchen that you always wanted.
Choosing an old home also gives you the opportunity to move into an established neighborhood.
On the other hand, with old homes come old problems. Leaking pipes, worn down roofs, outdated appliances to name a few. As previously stated, the price difference between old and new can reflect these issues and provide you with the equity to get your home up to standards.
New homes give you the satisfaction that the property is yours and yours alone. There is no dealing with others’ mishaps and skewed design ideas. During the building process, you may even be able to slightly modify the building plans, depending on cost and the contractor’s stipulations.
The downside of a new home is that they are generally more expensive, the neighborhood is usually newer and its outcome is still in development, yards may be smaller and there is a risk of having to pay home-owner association fees.
Either option has its pros and cons, which will ultimately be outweighed depending on the purchaser. No matter what your ideal home is, there is an option out there; just be sure to really think about what you need your home to provide.
Be sure that the realtor you have chosen clearly knows what you are seeking and dreaming of. He will surely know of the good neighborhoods, the most character homes, the modern examples that would make the ‘Jetsons’ feel at home, or any other criteria that you require.
Communication and a clear image of what you want will make your buying decision much more exciting!
Staring out across that perfectly manicured, Miracle Grow lawn and painted white picket fence, along with a freshly skimmed pool gleaming in all of its glory is enough to leave any renter drooling. Throw in a Gold Retriever and the “Leave It To Beaver” perfect family and you have what we call the American dream.
As a renter, for far too many years, I know that there is nothing glamorous about not being able to paint the vomit green walls in the bathroom, or replace the 70s inspired rainbow colored carpet in the living room. Most of the time I was lucky enough to live below the neighbor who loved to jump rope into the wee hours of the morning, or thought that blasting death metal at 7am on a Sunday was kosher. So when do you finally scream “enough is enough!” and decide that the next move into adulthood has officially arrived. When is the right time to buy versus rent?
The housing market continues to recover and interest rates have stayed at historic lows. However, purchasing a home must be a decision made of more basis than just a recovering economy. First thing to consider is how long you will live in the home. Do not purchase if you are a commitment phob. Unlike buying a hamster, a house cannot be returned to the store or set free in the back yard. Secondly, unless Donald Trump is your Uncle, you’re going to need professional help. Make sure to find a Realtor who has your best interest at heart and a minivan with racing stripes is an added bonus when going to open houses. Lastly, what does your credit look like? Make sure that you receive a minimum of two credit reports, as your Real Estate Agent will want to secretly slap you in the face if they find out that your score is a 400.
Maybe I’m old school, but a pros and cons list can be extremely helpful in situations like this. Don’t make any impulsive buys, trust your gut and do not let market conditions or housing trends make your decision for you.
As a Real Estate Agent in a not-so-hot economy, every dollar counts. As more and more agents look for ways to increase revenue, while also cutting costs, it’s important to ask: Am I spending my marketing dollars in the right place?
According to the National Association Of Realtors, 90% of consumers are researching homes online. If you are not present for these searches, then your competition is, plain and simple. The more searches you show up for, the less serp real estate your competition owns, no pun intended. So the question you are probably asking yourself is, where the heck do I start!? Do not fear my friends, as I have compiled a list of the “must haves” when it comes to the ins and outs of online marketing.
Paid versus Organic. It’s the Cowboys versus Indians of the online world. While PPC ads are fantastic for instant serp visibility, the competitive world of real estate naturally drives the cost-per-click through the roof for most keywords! Once you run out of your paid budget for the day or month, you no longer appear for those critical searches and your competition takes the lead. The beautiful thing about ranking for keywords organically is that your ads appear 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year; it’s like the gift that keeps on giving. Another huge upside to Organic rankings, according to an article from Search Engine Watch, is that 94% of consumers click on Organic ads versus Paid!
Next up, Social media. It is an amazing tool for branding and connecting with target audiences! Yahoo Finance states that the typical age for a first time home buyer is 30 years old and research has found that the typical social media user is between the ages of 18 and 29. This is a prime space to connect with the future home buyers of the world. Facebook pay-per-click allows you to target specific demographics which serve up your ads in front of only the users you choose! For example, if you would like your ads to be seen only by men and women in their 30s who live in San Francisco and have a college degree, you can do so. This approach is far less exhausting then sitting in the local watering hole on a Thursday during happy hour holding a giant sign that reads “Everything I Touch Turns To Sold!”
The last thing that I would recommend is investing in a solid Lead Generation Service. Let’s face it; everyone would be making money if lead generation was simple. Generating leads is a difficult process and retaining leads is even more of a headache. Therefore, utilizing a lead management service can help lighten the load. The key to look for here when trying to figure out which company to go all-in-guns- blazing is to make sure that the leads you are purchasing are verified and guaranteed. I ran into my fair share of leads where some hormonal teenager, pissed off at their parents decided to search for an agent to help them utilize their piggy bank money as a down payment. Make sure to spend time researching and finding a company that is truly invested in your needs and success.
Trying to cover all digital marketing tactics in one blog posting is like trying to make it across Montana on a horse in less than 18 days. Therefore, I hope that you come back and visit Real Estate Pipeline’s Blog again real soon for further recommendations on all of your digital marketing endeavors.
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FORECLOSURES are up! Foreclosures are down! Oh my.
Numbers are fickle critters. First they will tell you one thing, then they say something different.
Take foreclosures for example. This week Reuters reported 69,000 completed foreclosures in March, 2012. Good or bad news?
That depends on what you compare it to. It is bad news because March’s numbers are more than the 66,000 in the previous month of February. So, foreclosures are up!
But those March foreclosures in 2012 were less than last March when 85,000 foreclosures were completed. It is good news because year to year, there were fewer foreclosures during the month in 2012 than during the same month of the previousÂ year. Wait, foreclosures are down!
So, how big of a problem is the foreclosure mess and is it getting better? Overall, it appears to be getting better. The total number of foreclosures during the first quarter of 2012 are fewer than in the last quarter of 2011 so it appears things are improving. But still, even with the improvements, 198,000 homes were foreclosed on in the first quarter of this year. Regardless of what it was before, nearly 200,000 lost homesÂ are aÂ lot of broken dreams. And there are more on the way.
According to RealtyTrac, there currently are more than 630,000 distressed properties owned by banks and lenders across the United States. That is aÂ 16-month supply at the current sales pace.Â RealtyTrac added that another 717,874 properties are in the foreclosure process but have not yet been repossessed.
Regardless of if foreclosures are up or down, CNN Money reported Tuesday that there have been enough of them to push home ownership rates to the lowest level in 15 years, with just 65.4 percent of Americans owning the homes they live in.
Wait! Isn’t owning your own home a big part of the American dream? Apparently,Â just something more than half of usÂ enjoy that dream these days. ApparentlyÂ the American dreamÂ for many of us is becoming aboutÂ living inÂ a great rental. Okay, but somehow that doesn’t sound quite as special.
So what do the numbers really tell us? They tell us that we still ride on a roller coaster market, with highs and lows to be found, depending on what one is looking for.Â
Optimists can opt to believe we are on the road to recovery. Pessimists have numbers they can use to argue we are still in the depths of a market crash. The realists among us are left with mixed emotions, hopefulÂ the market is on the road to recovery, while recognizing problems remain and that the road promises to be a long one.
BEWAREÂ the oil boom. Real estate prices go through the roof, pipelines begin to dot the landscape and scams, residential complaints and crime become commonplace in what were quiet communities.
Examples of the downside to booming growth currently can be seen in eastern Montana and North Dakota, areas in the middle of the biggest boom they have seen in decades.
The on-going development of the Bakken oil fields has created tens of thousands of high-paying jobs and brought hundreds of millions of dollars into the small towns scattered across the area.
Some areas in North Dakota have reportedly seen their population jump by an estimated 13 percent in one recent year. In another community in theÂ center of the boom there are stories of nine job openings for every resident looking for work.
However, there is a dark side to all of the growth. For example, according to a recent report in the Missoulian, drug related crimes in eastern Montana have more than doubled, assaults in Dickinson, ND have increased by 500 percent and residents in the small town of Sidney, Montana remain reeling after a school teacher there was kidnapped and killed. Prostitution has become a problem in communities that can’t remember the last time a hooker walked their streets and strip clubs are flourishing.
The growth also has overloaded existing housing opportunities to the point new residents are oftentimes forced to live in “man camps,” camp in parking lots or, when lucky enough, paying rent similar to what is found in large metropolitan areas. Other workers fall victim to housing scams.
Local infrastructure also is being stressed. An article in Governing reports thatÂ one North Dakota city has identified nearly $100 million in improvements needed that are related to the boom. Those improvements include a new truck bypass, fire substation, upgrading the water treatment plant and additional law enforcement and emergency responder personnel.
With up to another 30,000 workers expected to move into the area within the next few years, officials are gearing up to handle the continued stresses on their communities. This week, federal agents, sheriffs and police are meeting for two days to develop a strategy for the increased crime, the Missoulian reported. Already state and federal law enforcement agencies have hired additional personnel to address the rising crime rates.
The companies also are working to control the crime that comes with all of the new workers they are drawing onto the area. Most of them require background checks and drug checks before hiring someone.
Workers with the U.S. Geological Survey estimate the fields hold more than 4 billion barrels of crude oil and that the boom could last for another decade. it may even go on for longer than that. Oil officials say there may be as much as 20 billion barrels that can be extracted using new drilling technology. The deposit probably is the largest in the lower 48 states.
Already there are something more than 6,000 wells drilled just in North Dakota and up to another 20,000 wells could be drilled within the next couple of decades, according to this article.
The first well to tap the deposit was drilled during the 1950s. But new technology and high process for crude oil have sparked the recent drilling.
Grant Sasek works for Real EState Pipeline, on on-line lead generation service.
Some time ago we interviewed agents who have been successful working referrals from our service and compiled their suggestions and insights into a brochure we call the “Learn and Earn.” We then send that brochure to new agents who begin working with Real Estate PipelineÂ in hopes that it helps them find a higher level of success with our service.
This is my third posting of information taken from that brochure. My thought in posting it here isÂ that much of thatÂ information may be of service to all agents, regardless of how they first make contact with a potential client. Following is discussion on the emotional “triggers” people that can prompt a person to make the decision to buy.
THERE ARE SEVENÂ emotional triggers people use when making a decision. Successful sales people know how to leverage those triggers.
- The Friendship Trigger activates trust and agreement through bonding on a social level. Essentially, this is the trigger you use on your friends, family and close acquaintances.
- The Authority Trigger activates acceptance through expertise. An example: The list of multiple designations behind an agent’s name that indicate particular training or expertise.
- The Consistency Trigger is leveraged every time you follow up with a lead or schedule appointments (and keep them!) with potential customers.
- The Reciprocity Trigger is based on the idea that you use the services and businesses that your clients own or work at and they will do the same for you. This is also the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” trigger.
- The Contrast Trigger is used any time you do a side-by-side comparison of options to show that one is more attractive than the other.
- The Reason Why Trigger invokes emotional reasons to make decisions. This trigger is based on “thinking with your heart” and not your head.
- The Hope Trigger instills positive expectations by helping your client to “see the bright side,” as it were.
Â Whether you know it or not, the chances are good you use more than one of the above triggers with your potential or current clients. Know these triggers, make them your friends and get those deals done.
Recently, a client of Real Estate Pipeline called with a complaint. It seems Ryan Nager, a real estate agent in Tempe, Az, was not getting as many leads as he was hoping for. This was a problem. After all, he signed up with Real Estate Pipeline to receive leads. We needed to deliver.
We have a team made up to address these sorts of issues and they went to work to identify why Ryan was not receiving referrals at a satisfactory rate. Below is what we found.
First, we gathered up the usual suspects, looked first for the most obvious causes.
- We checked our marketing accounts, but we couldnâ€™t find anything out of the ordinary there that would be causing the problem.
- We studied the pay per click campaigns, our organic searches and our targeted marketing campaigns for an answer and found nothing.
So, back to the drawing board we went. Now we were beginning to take it on as a personal challenge. We called Ryan. When did this problem begin to occur? Has the real estate market changed? Have their been changes in Ryanâ€™s market?
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. There had been no market changes to explain it, nothing was jumping out at us as an explanation for why Ryan wasnâ€™t receiving leads. Then, at the end of the conversation Ryan commented that â€œâ€¦since the last time I added money to my account I havenâ€™t received any leads.â€
That was the lead we were looking for. We reviewed his account and there was the answer: A price filter had been added to the account. A sales rep here thought that adding a filter was a way to fine tune Ryanâ€™s account so that it wouldÂ work even better for him than it had been.
Problem was, our rep didnâ€™t understand Ryanâ€™s market and too high of a filter was placed on his account. In fact, the filter was so high it stopped any and all activity â€“ none of the referrals were getting past it.
In the end, it was an easy fix. The filter was adjusted and leads quickly began flowing again into his pipeline. Complaint solved!
Click here to read another blog about how we try to turn complaints into opportunities and here to read about mistakes agents should avoid to prevent the complaintsÂ in the first place.
At Real Estate Pipeline, complaints like the one recently filed against Wells Fargo catch our attention. We wonder why a large corporation like Wells Fargo would believe in this day and age it can get away with discriminating against a large group of Americans â€“ or how it could still think it is good business practice.
According to a prepared statement by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the alliance filed the complaint this week alleging Wells Fargo maintains and markets foreclosed properties in predominately white areas more aggressively than it does for properties in neighborhoods predominately populated by people of color.
The complaint was filed after an undercover investigation of 218 foreclosed properties owned by Wells Fargo. According to the complaint, â€œWells Fargo has engaged in a systematic practice of maintaining and marketing its foreclosed, bank-owned properties in a state of disrepair in communities of color while maintaining and marketing REO properties in predominately white communities in a far superior manner.â€
Along with other discrepancies, For Sale signs were found on properties in White neighborhoods but were oftentimes absent in neighborhoods of color. And, â€œWells Fargo properties in communities of color in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Oakland, Miami, Dallas and Washington D.C. had almost twice as much trash as those in White communities,â€ the complaint states.
Oops. Not a good way to make friends.
In a prepared statement, Shanna Smith, NFHA president and CEO, said that Wells Fargoâ€™s practices have â€œseverely damagedâ€ communities and â€œhindered this nationâ€™s efforts to promote fair housing and is in clear violation of the Fair Housing Act.â€
However, it appears Wells Fargo may not be the only company committing such sins. NFHA plans to file a similar complaint next week against another major bank.
To see what Wells Fargo had to say about the complaint, I went to its website
and checked for a news release addressing the issue. Nothing has been released.
I also searched Google for comments by a Wells Fargo official. While I found lots of articles about the complaint, none of those I scanned had any comments from Wells Fargo officials.
So, at least as far as this blog goes, Smith has the last word. â€œWe hope that Wells Fargo will take immediate action to correct the stark racial and ethnic disparities we have found in the maintenance and marketing of its foreclosed properties,â€ she said.
AT REAL ESTATE PIPELINE, complaints are viewed asÂ opportunities.
Well, weÂ believeÂ the vast majority of the time, clients who contact us with a complaint valueÂ our service and want to continueÂ working with us – they just need to have a grievance addressed.
Worse is an angryÂ client who doesn’t contact us. Our thinking is that if a client isÂ upset and doesn’t bother getting in touch with us, they probably have simply decided not to work with our companyÂ any longer.
Those folks will be taking their business elsewhere – and they will share their dissatisfaction with theirÂ friends and associates along the way.
IÂ believe the same dynamic plays out forÂ real estate agents. When a client calls with a complaint, view it as an opportunity to save that relationship and to avoid negative comments.
Â So, just how does one go about addressing a complaint? Well, for starters, DON’T:
- Be defensive or rude. Rather than spending your energy defending your practices, use it to resolve the particular issue in question.
- Take it personally. The client is upset, but more than likely they are unhappy with service they have received, not with you personally. Try to remember that.
- Blame someone else. Accept responsibility, even if it could be passed on to a colleague or policy.
Instead, what you might try toÂ DO is:
- Listen. Ask questions, make sure you understand the reason for the complaint and how the client wants it resolved. Make it clear you understand their frustration. Give them a chance to vent.
- Apologize. A sincere apology can go a long ways. Click here forÂ a good site on how to craft a successful apology.
- Offer real solutions. The best way to diffuse a complaint is to fix the source of the problem.
- Prevent the complaints in the first place. Keep channels of communications open, make sure your client understands how you operate and what they should expect from your service. Be aware of activities that seem to prompt complaints. For real estate agents, most complaints seem to have similar causes and a smart agent will tread carefully when they find themselves in certain circumstances.Â To review an earlier post on the leading causes for complaints to be filed against agents, click here.
- For more good suggestions on how to handle complaints, the following siteÂ offers a realistic five-step process for successfully handling complaints.Â Â Â
For another source of advice on how best to work with complaints, click here.Â
But what happens if a dissatisfied client takes their complaint to the public rather than to you? These circumstances can be more difficult for an agent to deal with and can potentially be more damaging to their business.
Once a complaint is out there on the Internet there is little a professional can do so the time to be proactive is before a problem escalates to that extent.
For starters, it can just be tricky finding out that InternetÂ complaints exist. Regardless of how you react to them, it is probably a good thing to check on occasion to see what’s been posted. Google your company name and visit sites where complaints oftentimes are lodged. Following are links to several locations where damaging complaints often crop up:
Â Remember, address a complaint quickly and properly and keep it between you and a client. Most of the time, you can save the client and keep the complaint from going further.
AT Real Estate Pipeline, complaints are taken very seriously. On occasion, we handle complaints from agents about a particular lead we have forwarded them. Other times, referrals contact us with complaints about the agent we connected them with.
Complaints not properly addressed can lead to formal action being taken byÂ stateÂ regulatorsÂ or negativeÂ reviews being posted on consumer sites.
It seems that much of the time, complaints are similar, oftentimesÂ caused by the same set of circumstances.
How about you?
As a real estate agent, do youÂ know what actions most commonly lead to complaints in the first place? Do you have procedures in place to avoid complaints and to address them professionally when they do arise?
Following are some of the most common complaints registered against real estate agents in North Carolina. The list was posted by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission and whileÂ the list is specific to that state, I suspect itÂ would be similar for agents in every state:
- Misrepresenting material facts. Your client needs information to make an informed decision and claims that information is incorrect is among the most common complaint lodged against an agent.
- Mishandling trust accounts. While duties within an agency can be delegated, the broker in charge – not a bookkeeper or others – has ultimate responsibility for ensuring trust accounts are managed properly.
- Disputed earnest money accounts. Many of these complaints stem from money being paid out of an account without written agreement on how that money should be distributed.
- Drafting legal papers. Remember you are a real estate professional, not an attorney. An agent can help a client fill out existing paperwork, but if complex language needs to be added to a legal document, always hire an attorney to prepare that paperwork.
- Dispute over contract acceptance. Legally, all accepted transactions involving property needs to be through written, never oral, agreements. Remember, an oral agreement is not a binding contract.
- Loan fraud. Don’t help a client with a down payment or help someone with expenses.
- Conflict of interest. If you act in the interest of one party, you cannot represent another party without their knowledge of your earlier obligations.
- Discrimination. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discriminating on the basis of race, religion, sex or a variety of other factors.
- Records Violations. Keep good records and keep them for longer than is required by your state’s law. Complaints can be filed even after your obligation to keep records has lapsed.
- Lack of communication. Keep clients informed, return their phone calls, never leave them in the dark.
Be aware that many complaints are caused by one of the above circumstances. Whenever you find yourself working in one of the above areas, tread carefully and be aware they can be a source of issues if not addressed to the clients’ satisfaction.