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4 Hours of FREE and LIVE CE!

So excited about all our upcoming CE!  Click here for four hours of FREE CE.  This is the NAR Realtor Safety class which will offer the top tips for realtor safety!  Students will learn how to assess risk in their current practice and create safety systems, scripts, and tools for listing appointments, showing property, and conducting open houses.  Protect your personal and electronic information online, in the cloud, and on social networks!  Learn easy strategies for facing potentially dangerous situations!

How to Master Social Media: The Do’s and Don’ts for Real Estate

By Geneva Ives

 

Social media isn’t going anywhere. Oh wait, yes it is… it’s going everywhere! Social media is one of the fastest and most cost effective ways to share your brand with a large audience. Data suggests that a rising number of real estate agents are leveraging the power of social media to connect with their clients and expand their professional networks.

In fact, the California Association of REALTORS® found that agents cited the following reasons for using social media in an effort to grow their real estate businesses:
– 67 percent staying in touch with clients
– 54 percent be more accessible to my clients
– 50 percent respond to clients faster
– 44 percent market my business to a younger demographic

The study also found that while 66 percent of California REALTORS® consider social media an “integral tool in a marketing plan,” a full 62 percent of respondents deem themselves social media beginners. So let’s change that, shall we? Today we’ve rounded up a handful of social media dos and don’ts for real estate that will have you socializing (and building your brand) like a pro in no time at all.

DO

Pick Your Poison
Be wary of spreading yourself too thin. There are literally hundreds of social media platforms out there. It’s better to be good at a few than to be bad at all, so choose one or two places to start and focus on posting consistently. You can always expand your presence later. Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn are great options for real estate because they have a critical mass of users and a good mind share of the general public.

Stay Positive
No one wants to follow a Negative Nancy. We all have bad days and tricky clients from time to time, but it’s important to project a positive image of yourself and your business. Instead of sharing what’s going wrong for you, focus on what’s working in your favor. Share good news, inspiring photos and helpful tips. And never miss an opportunity to publicly say ‘thank you’ via social.

Interact
Interaction is key to creating a social media personality that attracts connections and referrals. If someone tweets you, reply promptly. If you like a post, let the author know by taking the time to share it or leave a thoughtful comment. What goes around comes around in the world of social media. The more you reach out to others now, the more likely they are to reach out to you in the future.

DON’T

Only Post Listings
Many agents see Twitter and Facebook as exciting new avenues for sharing listings – and they’re right to a degree – but don’t forget the bigger picture. If you only post listings, you’re not being social, you’re being a salesman, or even worse, a bulletin board. And, like all other obvious advertising, it won’t be long before your intended audience tunes you out.

Overshare
On the other end of the social media spectrum is the agent who overshares – broadcasting every moment of his or her day, whether it’s real estate related or not. Remember that you are communicating with potential clients every time you post. The topics of your public posts, and the language you use, should be similar to what you would say in the workplace.

Give Up
Even if you follow all of these pointers, if you’re charming and consistent and you share useful content, you probably won’t gain thousands of followers in the first week. But don’t quit! Slow and steady growth builds a strong and loyal network. Review your history to see which posts on which platforms created the most engagement and tweak your future social media actions accordingly.

Geneva Ives is the marketing writer for Point2.

For more information, visit www.point2.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Home Languishing on the Market? 5 Tips to Up the Ante and Gain a Competitive Edge

By Keith Loria
For home sellers across the board, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing your house sit on the market day after day, week after week or even month after month. If your home has been languishing on the market, it may be time to up the ante. Instead of simply lowering your asking price, the following tips may just give your home the edge it needs to stand above the competition.

1. Try holding an open house on a weeknight. While house hunters typically set aside time on the weekend to house hunt, there will always be people who can’t make those Saturday and Sunday appointments. Holding an open house on a weeknight is a great way to attract this crowd. With less competition for weeknight open houses, prospective buyers will be able to spend more time imagining themselves living in your home.

2. Paint and depersonalize. If your house is full of rooms that feature bold colors and lots of “interesting” furniture, it may be time to go more neutral and basic. Hire a professional stager to furnish the home so that it appeals to a wider range of buyers. By changing up the house a little and posting new pictures online, you’ll bring in more potential buyers.

3. View your home through the eyes of a buyer. Take your iPhone—or any other video app you may have—and record yourself walking through each room of your house, taking on the role of a potential buyer. Make sure to go in every room, check out every closet and pay attention to appliances and fixtures. After, watch the tape and take an objective approach to what looks good and what doesn’t. Often times we are blinded by our love for our own home and can’t see the forest for the trees. This simple exercise is an easy way to put yourself in a potential buyer’s shoes.

4. Upgrade the kitchen or bathroom. You might not want to put any more money into a house that you hope to be out of in a month’s time, but sometimes, spending money in one of these areas will pay off in the long run. Make these rooms memorable and people will want to buy. Even if you don’t get your full investment back, if it helps you sell your home, it’s a win.

5. Review comparables. Sit down with your agent review the details regarding homes that have sold within the last three months and see if anything has changed. What may have been a fair price when you put your house up for sale, may seem overvalued now. If your price is out of line with the neighborhood comps, be ready to adjust.

For more tips on gaining a competitive edge in today’s market, contact our office today.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

5 Tips to Get a Higher Sales Price

Reports of rising home prices as the housing recovery accelerates are prompting more owners to think about jumping into the real estate market. But before they take the leap, potential home sellers need to consider how technology has changed the way homes are sold in recent years.

“Increasing prices are encouraging more homeowners to put their properties on the market,” says Brian Balduf, Chairman, VHT Studios, a leader in photography and digital marketing for homes and businesses “But if you haven’t been in the real estate market for 5 or 10 years, you may be surprised how much the home-buying experience has changed, thanks to the Internet.”

A decade ago, selling your home meant pounding a sign in the yard and having your agent mail out postcards and place newspaper ads.  But that approach is as obsolete as VCRs, pagers and cassette tapes.

Today’s buyers are focusing their searches on the web. They’re using iPads and tablets to shop and compare homes for sale, typically scanning hundreds of listings, looking for properties that catch the eye.

Grabbing the attention of these web-savvy buyers requires professional-quality photographs, publishing a video on YouTube.com and providing interactive floor plans, says VHT’s Balduf.

“Selling your home has become an online beauty contest,” Balduf says.  “Buyers are visually-oriented.  So sellers need to provide the best possible pictures of their house on the Internet to grab buyers’ attention and motivate them to set up a showing.

Balduf offered these five tips for helping sellers maximize their sales price:

Spring and early summer are the best times to sell. There tend to be more buyers when the weather is nice. Lawns and other landscaping are at their peak so your home will look its best, helping you get a higher sale price compared with listing later in the year.

Use an agent who uses professional photographer. Sellers who provide flawless, high-resolution photos in their listings can expect a sale price closer to the listing price.  Professional photos help listings get more Internet views, and they increase the perceived value of a home by nearly 13 percent. On a $250,000 home, this equates to an increase of $32,500, according to a consumer survey by VHT.

Ask your agent about posting a video of your home on YouTube. More than 80 percent of all buyers find their homes online, and 21 percent use of look for online videos.

Include floor plans in your listing. Interactive floor plans that show how rooms relate to each other are an increasingly popular marketing tool. Some brokerages have begun making them standard. The combination of floor plans and professionally-taken photos creates the ultimate shopping experience for buyers.

Clear out the clutter. Your house will show better if it’s clean and well-organized. Potential buyers are interested in buying your home, not your furnishings. So take a minimalist approach to personal items around the house, such as piles of paperwork, books, houseplants and photos.

“It’s obvious from even a cursory glance at many real estate listings that some real estate agents still tend to overlook the importance of good photographs and videos.  But home buyers don’t,” Balduf says. “Using an agent who works with professional photographer is the surest way to provide stunning, striking pictures of your home and create a great perception of your home that draws more buyers to your listing.”

Source: www.vht.com

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

5 Ways to Make Your Real Estate Pinterest Page Work for You

By Teele Schneider
If you’ve considered jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon, wait no more. Although Facebook is still the leading social media network with 67 percent of American Internet users, Pinterest is currently in third – and climbing. Users spend on average, an hour and 17 minutes on the social network, leading Facebook and Twitter by more than double.

So why should real estate professionals join Pinterest?

There are many valuable ways that REALTORS® can use Pinterest to help better brand themselves and help build business. Taking the time to strategize on how and what to pin can put you ahead of the pack.

Create boards. Creating a variety of boards will help keep followers interested. A few examples could include homes that you sold last year, homes that are currently for sale, interior design tips, home staging advice, landscaping trends, local attractions in your area and neighborhoods that you typically sell in. The bigger variety of boards, the better, but it’s also important to remember not to self-promote too much.

Create a video board. Videos are huge on Pinterest, but be cautious with self-promotion. Don’t use listing videos on this board, but rather if you have how-to videos of yourself, tutorials or frequently asked question videos, these can be a great source of information for followers.

Use keywords in photo descriptions. When writing a description under a pin, use keywords that people may search within Pinterest. This way, your pins will be easily found and potentially re-pinned more often. Not all of your listing posts have to include a price. Test different keywords and see what gets the most likes, re-pins and comments. Entice people to re-pin your content, as well. If they’re interested in learning more, they can be directed back to your website (see below).

Pin original content. This can be a great way to drive traffic to your website. Do you have a blog? Creating a blog post board is a great idea and pinning directly from your blog’s website using the pin it button can direct people back to your website. Want to pin a listing? Pin them directly from your website. This also has huge SEO benefits!

Be social. After all, it’s called social media for a reason. Follow people and brands that align with the content that you’re pinning. This will give you a constant feed of interesting pins and also give you great content to re-pin. Also, encourage people to comment on your photos. Ask for their opinion on a home’s interior décor or a photo of pretty landscaping.

Of all the social networks, Pinterest is one of the most fascinating. It has grown at a rate that no other social media site has seen, and people are spending much more time on it than any other social network. If you’re on Facebook and Twitter, both of these sites integrate with Pinterest easily. It’s an easy-to-use tool that can help your personal branding as well as benefit your business.

Teele Schneider is a social media specialist at HSA Home Warranty. Find out more about HSA Home warranty at www.onlinehsa.com. Visit our Facebook page for more valuable social media training videos at www.facebook.com/hsahomewarranty.

For more information on HSA Home Warranty visit www.onlinehsa.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

2013 Mid-Year Outlook: Economic Growth on the Road to ‘Normal’

By Pete Bakel
The U.S. may be well into a prolonged period of steady economic growth, but it hasn’t yet reached its full potential, according to Fannie Mae’s (FNMA/OTC) Economic & Strategic Research Group. Fiscal headwinds are expected to keep growth to below 2.0 percent for the first half of the year, with gradual strengthening in the second half of 2013 and into 2014. However, as fiscal drags wane, growth should continue to move in the positive direction amid an ongoing recovery in housing, rising household wealth, and expanded energy production.

“At the outset of the year, we forecasted that 2013 would witness sustainable but below-par growth as the economy begins its transition to more normal levels. Halfway through the year, our view is little changed,” says Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. “We expect approximately 2.1 percent growth over the course of 2013, up from the anemic pace of 1.7 percent in 2012. This is consistent with the incremental improvement seen over the past few years but still below the economy’s potential. Our forecast calls for growth to push past 2.5 percent in 2014, boosted largely by tailwinds from the strengthening housing market.”

Housing was largely positive entering the spring/summer season, with various indicators such as home prices, home sales, and homebuilding activity showing signs of long-term improvement toward normal levels. Despite rising mortgage rates during the past month, which have affected refinance originations, affordability conditions remain high and should not present a significant obstacle to potential homebuyers.

For an audio synopsis of the June 2013 Economic Outlook, listen to the podcast on the Economic & Strategic Research.

For more information, visit www.fanniemae.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Property Values Take Flight: Home Prices Soar By Over 20 Percent

Some of the housing news being kicked around recently is astounding: Home prices soaring by 20 percent or more over the past 12 months? Multiple offers? Bidding wars? All of the great news has some wondering, is another housing bubble brewing?

Experts think not. According to the business forecast aficionados at Kiplinger, there are huge differences between what we see happening today in even the hottest of real estate markets and the tulipmania of last decade. The extreme heat in today’s market is a short-term phenomenon, born of a temporary imbalance between supply and demand. Come 2014, if not sooner, the pace of price hikes will ease, as builders rush in to beef up supplies of new homes, more homeowners – reluctant to sell at a loss –are no longer underwater on their mortgages, and additional properties come through the foreclosure process.

This week’s Kiplinger Letter takes a look at the U.S. housing market, forecasts price hikes for this year and next, and explains why there’s little danger in fast-rising home prices in some parts of the country.

According to the most recent Kiplinger forecast, the pace of price hikes will ease next year as supply and demand come into better balance. The predicted national average in 2014, say 4 percent or so, is roughly half the 8.5 percent price increase likely to be racked up in this unusual year.

Then, according to Kiplinger, a gradual return to the historical norm, with average home values rising by about one percentage point more than the inflation rate each year.

Meanwhile, a closer look at the situation today is revealing. Price hikes of 15 percent -22 percent are extreme. But consider the starting point. Existing homes in Las Vegas and Phoenix, up 22 percent from early 2012 to early 2013, are still more than 40 percent below their peaks. In San Francisco, L.A., Atlanta, Detroit and others experiencing strong appreciation (16 percent or more), prices remain 17- 45 percent below their highs. Only a few major metro areas are at or close to previous peaks. Denver, for example, is there, but the Mile High City never experienced the extremes of the bubble and bust. San Jose, Calif., the heart of Silicon Valley, is 5 percent off its peak.

Homes, on the whole, remain affordable, notes Kiplinger. Only 13 percent of median family income is typically being chewed up by mortgage payments. Compare that with 24 percent in 2006.

“While the combination of rapidly rising home prices in some areas, tight inventory nation-wide and the prospect of rising interest rates certainly warrant close scrutiny, a housing bubble in the immediate future is unlikely, says Kiplinger’s Associate Editor, Gillian White. “Areas such as Phoenix and Las Vegas are seeing price spikes of over 20 percent but home values in those same areas remain more than 40 percent below their peak values and interest rates remain low in comparison with historic averages.”

“When rates do begin to rise, the climb is likely to veer more towards slow and steady rather than rapid and steep. More homeowners will make their way out of underwater mortgages, increasing inventory. And gradually rising rates will cool housing demand, providing a better market equilibrium. If the economy continues to expand, as anticipated, it will give the housing market time to work out some of the concerning patterns that have taken root and likely prevent bubbles in most markets.”

For more information, visit www.kiplinger.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Builder Confidence Hits 7-Year High, New Home Sales Rising

In continuing signs the housing market is on the upswing, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes hit a significant milestone in June, surging eight points to a reading of 52 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released this week. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

“This is the first time the HMI has been above 50 since April 2006, and surpassing this important benchmark reflects the fact that builders are seeing better market conditions as demand for new homes increases,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder and developer from Charlotte, N.C. “With the low inventory of existing homes, an increasing number of buyers are gravitating toward new homes.”

The eight-point jump in the index was the biggest one-month gain since August and September of 2002, when the HMI recorded a similar increase of eight points.

“Builders are experiencing some relief in the headwinds that are holding back a more robust recovery,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Today’s report is consistent with our forecast for a 29 percent increase in total housing starts this year, which would mark the first time since 2007 that starts have topped the 1 million mark.”

In a recent interview for RISMedia, David Schoner, a national leading expert in new-home sales and marketing, and 17-year vice president of Coldwell Banker, NRT, responsible for all New Homes Division operations, detailed the benefits of working in new home sales to agents.

“There are a lot of positive things happening and new-home sales are clearly on the way back up,” he said. “When I see the limited inventory and bidding wars going on in so many markets, I think about what a great solution new homes offer. Agents are busy writing up offers, but are they actually closing deals? Buyers are getting frustrated—instead of paying top dollar and living with compromises, a new home can give them exactly what they want.”

For Mark Woodroof, partner at Houston-based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene, the inventory shortage is making new-home construction another critical profit center in the new age of real estate. “The inventory situation should not have snuck up on us,” explains Woodroof. “We were building less than 500,000 homes, when the market calls for 1.5 million a year. The new-home builders will not be able to fix this in a year, but it will be a continued growth area. There is a 30 percent increase in housing starts so far this year. However, we are adding 10,000 people a month with immigration—so new homes alone won’t get it done.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components posted gains in June. The index gauging current sales conditions increased eight points to 56, while the index measuring expectations for future sales rose nine points to 61 – its highest level since March 2006. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers rose seven points to 40.

The HMI three-month moving average was up in three of the four regions, with the Northeast and Midwest posting a one-point and three-point gain to 37 and 47, respectively. The South registered a four point gain to 46 while the West fell one point to 48.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Home Sales Rise with Strong Increases – How to Get Your Piece of the Pie

Home sales are on their way up; Existing-home sales improved in May and remain solidly above a year ago, while the median price continued to rise by double-digit rates from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the recovery is strengthening and to expect limited housing supplies for the balance of the year in much of the country. “The housing numbers are overwhelmingly positive. However, the number of available homes is unlikely to grow, despite a nice gain in May, unless new home construction ramps up quickly by an additional 50 percent,” he says. “The home price growth is too fast, and only additional supply from new homebuilding can moderate future price growth.”

Total housing inventory at the end of May rose 3.3 percent to 2.22 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.2 months in April. Listed inventory is 10.1 percent below a year ago, when there was a 6.5-month supply.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $208,000 in May, up 15.4 percent from May 2012. This marks six straight months of double-digit increases and is the strongest price gain since October 2005, which jumped a record 16.6 percent from a year earlier. The last time there were 15 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases was from March 2005 to May 2006.

Forty-five percent of all homes sold in May were on the market for less than a month.  The median time on the market is the shortest since monthly tracking began in May 2011; on an annual basis, a separate NAR survey of home buyers and sellers shows the shortest selling time was 4 weeks in both 2004 and 2005.

First-time buyers accounted for 28 percent of purchases in May, compared with 29 percent in April and 34 percent in May 2012.

All-cash sales were at 33 percent of transactions in May, up from 32 percent in April and 28 percent in May 2012. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 18 percent of homes in May; they were 19 percent in April and 17 percent in May 2012.

NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif., says market conditions today are vastly different than during the housing boom. “The boom period was marked by easy credit and overbuilding, but today we have tight mortgage credit and widespread shortages of homes for sale,” he said.

“The issue now is pent-up demand and strong growth in the number of households, with buyer traffic 29 percent above a year ago, coinciding with several years of inadequate housing construction. These conditions are contributing to sustainable price growth,” Thomas said.

With buyer traffic increasing, and prices on the rise, how can you make sure you’re getting in the game? Below are a few tips for working with buyers and sellers in this market:

1. Be sure to connect on multiple platforms – have a winning website, social media plan, and lead generation strategy.

2. Be upfront and set their expectations right from the start. Tell buyers they have to act fast, and prep sellers for multiple offer scenarios.

3.Take time to truly understand their needs and wants. This will help find a home—or a buyer for their home—faster.

4.Stay connected. Today’s buyers and sellers expect to be able to reach their agent at any time.

5.Think outside the box. Buyers are getting more creative—and more personal—when it comes to appealing to sellers. Writing personal letters to sellers are just one of the ways many buyers are making connections and seeing success.

Sources: www.realtor.com, www.houselogic.com, http://retradio.com.