Have You Gone Mobile Yet?

drawing home sales concept on concrete wall

In 2014, 92 percent of prospective home buyers used the Internet to locate homes on the real estate market. Fifty percent relied on mobile applications (apps) to help them find their home.

From Zillow to Google Maps, buyers are going mobile and it’s important your skills match, or exceed theirs. Maybe the real estate firm you’re employed with has an app designed to draw crowds of buyers; maybe you’re self-employed wondering how to put this tool to the best use. In truth, it’s neither here nor there because if your clients are committed to living a mobile life, you better be committed to living it, too. Even if you don’t want to.

If your employer offers a real estate app, consider yourself fortunate. You can learn the ins and outs to instruct potential clients, and dazzle them with all the ways the app will make their search for the ideal home easier. You should also be able to answer questions, give guidance on installation and encourage them to check in frequently for fresh listings.

Your listings should appear formatted, and be clean and easy-to-read. The last thing you want is a client turned off by any unnecessary difficulties in using your app, or in the time it takes to load. A big turnoff for customers is slow speed. If your app is pokey, odds are you just lost a prospect’s attention.

Google Maps is one app making it far easier to reach a listing’s address, and it also provides a satellite view of the neighborhood your buyer may be interested in. As your clients engage in their Sunday drives, scouting for homes, they can get instant information on pricing, the number of bedrooms, what type of property it is (bank-owned, etc.), and a lot of the time they are able to do the work of sifting through the listings for you, which means you spend more time showing them properties that they have a higher rate of purchasing. Also as they’re toodling along, deep in the dream of becoming a homeowner, they can access a mortgage calculator, which will provide valuable information about how much they can expect to pay in total monthly (mortgage, insurance and taxes).

By letting your clients know you are on the cutting edge and paying attention to industry trends and tools, you are also letting them know you care about them, which makes you a great reference for their family and friends, too. Consider learning to be app-savvy one step you can take toward becoming a more credible resource.

When you’re a credible resource, buyers find you.


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Get Your Prospect on the Buying Path. The New Home Buyer Checklist.

Young happy smiling family with a key of new flatTwo prospective clients stand before you, a nice couple intent on building a life. And you’re at an open house, hoping to find a buyer for your client. Maybe they’re the one?

They’re not, they tell you, and your heart sinks for a variety of reasons of which you’re all too familiar. Your buyer will be disappointed; the couple is a little crestfallen (as they love the house) and you are discouraged because you don’t want to waste your time either.

Forecast ahead and start to build a different kind of buying cycle for yourself and your business.

One that starts with the lovely couple right in front of you.

Sit them down and help them write a checklist of the things they need to do to become pre-approved prospective home buyers. Not only is this the right thing to do, getting people on track to their home purchasing dreams, but you will likely gain a future customer this way.

1. Commit to Following the Checklist

The first step to making buying a dream home a reality is the simplest: determine to have a checklist. Then make sure your would-be buyers follow it.

2. Clean up any Credit Issues

A lot of clients don’t realize what’s even on their credit report, that through ignorance they allow their financial reputation to be sullied. They might not also realize when they dispute erroneous findings, it is a fairly easy way to get these debtors off their credit report, which raises their FICO score within a few short months. There is no better time to eliminate penalties, and to ensure all old debts have been paid than during the pre-buying period. Recommend your potential buyers also refrain from opening any new credit cards until after closing on their new home.

3. Resist A “House Poor” Existence

Your clients eyes may sparkle when they tour the refurbished farmhouse with the granite countertops and travertine tile, but it’s important to get them excited about homes they can actually afford. Buyers who somehow manage to finagle their way into homes out of their price range, soon may find themselves curbside when the bank forecloses. Encourage your buyers to calculate a total mortgage payment, using a mortgage calculator. Then remind them to add in taxes, utilities and insurance for the most accurate estimate of what they can expect to pay each month.

4. Don’t Forget Loan Fees

Home buyers sometimes forget to calculate in closing fees when they’re planning for the purchase of their new home. When they find themselves ready to sign the purchase agreement, suddenly they feel helpless as they kiss visions of their new home goodbye. They haven’t saved or planned for the closing day, and so they have no choice, but to cancel the whole thing. Help your buyers forecast how much they can expect to pay out of pocket for closing costs, for appliances they may need to have installed and for any other expenses their lack of experience precludes them from realizing. First time home buyers may also qualify for financial assistance and down payment assistance.

5. Build Savings

Making a habit of saving for the big purchase is one of the best things you can urge your clients to do. Not only will you ease the stress of their upcoming purchase, but you may also have helped them to adhere to this habit for the rest of their lives. Homeowners average about 2.5 to 3% annually on their home’s upkeep. It is prudent to get them used to putting money away so they can afford to pay for the maintenance of their investment.

6. Know Your Financial Position

Your buyers should be intimately aware of the amount of house they can afford, and they should be prepared to walk away if necessary. They need to have their paperwork in order so they can earn that pre-approval letter. With all the financial and paperwork details handled, they will be better able to find the house that is just right for them, one they will be able to enjoy for years to come.

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Do You Really Need a Home Stager?

Home Staging, kominekIn the past, houses sold without any staging, and maybe hiring a home stager seems like an unnecessary extra step. After all, a house is going to sell eventually. Isn’t it?

Have you had these one-sided conversations with yourself recently?

If you have, you should know, thirty-four percent of all realtors use staging in homes they’re trying to sell, and that the median cost for staging homes is approximately $675. From those staging services, prospective buyers offer a 1-5 percent increase on the staged home. That means, you easily get back your investment into staging a home.

Just in case you were wondering.

Staging a home helps a buyer envision themselves in a foreign space that can easily become theirs in their mind, a place they will live for a long time. A place where they may start a family, or a home, which will allow them to provide extra space for their growing family.

People like to define the spaces they see in front of them, to learn what rooms and areas of the house would be used for. You appeal to their lifestyles and sensibilities through staging.

But where do you start and what rooms are the most import to stage?

The living room is a key focal point. When a buyer walks into the living room, they transport their family into their dream. They might see a shared haven where they will watch movies as they snuggle on the couch with their kids and spouse. You’re simply showing them what they can look forward to with a great staging job.

Next, make sure your stager hits the kitchen, as this is one of the rooms where people spend the most time. The kitchen is also associated with nourishing our families, so plenty of warm, fuzzy feelings come to the surface here. Make sure the stager puts extra effort into bringing out the best features. Play up its open qualities and clearly define work areas. Pay attention to how the primary meal preparer would be expected to go through the process of cooking a meal. Does the kitchen feel convenient and welcoming? This is the goal to shoot for.

After the living room and the kitchen are arranged and enticing, guide your stager to the bedroom and bathroom. These areas, which double as retreats encourage your potential buyer to again flip on their imagination. Can her little girl grow up in this room? Will her husband enjoy the shower each morning before work? Can he sit on the bed and read a book while the kids play nearby? Appeal to the creature comforts your buyer longs to experience so they feel at home instantly.

Once your listing is freshly staged, you can feel confident it won’t last on the market.

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Research That Neighborhood. What Your Realtor Can’t Tell You.

Suburban street in Florida seen in aerial view

It is so frustrating when you ask your realtor questions about the neighborhood of the home you’re eyeballing and you’re met with a tight-lipped response. You might feel like they aren’t being open with you; maybe they’re just interested in the sale; or worse yet, maybe they don’t give two whits about you or your family’s future.

As much as your realtor wishes they could tell you their thoughts, and even information concerning the crime rate in the area…they can’t!

Aol Real Estate explains it this way: “The government wants to make sure that home purchase decisions are based on a property’s fair market value and not factors such as race, religion or ethnicity. In other words, the law is meant to stop agents from steering clients toward or away from certain neighborhoods.”

So what else can’t your real estate agent tell you?

  1. Economic class of the neighborhood – Divulging such information might allude to the state of the neighborhood, and we’ve just learned that’s a no-no. Don’t let this deter you from doing your own research, though. Neighborhood Scout gives you a “‘description of a neighborhood’s “look, feel and character” that includes data about residents’ ages, income levels, ethnicity and other factors.”
  1. Schools – For the same reason discussing economic class is taboo, realtors also can’t provide information on the schools in the area. You might correctly, or incorrectly infer facts about the school system, which could influence your decision.
  1. Religion – Doing so indicates the racial demographics of a location and you must be presented with a generic overview of a neighborhood and its inhabitants.
  1. Crime statistics – Even though this information is deemed to be public, under the Fair Housing Act, your realtor is prohibited from talking about the crime rate. Consider using a site like Family Watchdog to discern whether your future home purchase is in an area with low crime rates.
  1. Environmental concerns – You’ll need to access a site like the EPA’s web site to determine how’s your home’s location may impact your health, or if there are any environmental initiatives scheduled to kickoff in the near future.

Rest assured, even though your real estate agent must abide by these restrictions, if they are a good and caring agent they will still want to see you in the best home possible.

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Is Your Prospective Client Pitch, Perfect?

HomeBuyerWhat feels silly, but can be one of the most profitable activities you can engage in?

Did you guess the answer?

Scripting your real estate calls.

Rehearsing your pitch with a partner and role playing until you get the pitch perfect.

So many realtors let their outgoing personalities lead them, maybe reassuring themselves that they will know what to say when they meet a new client, or at the moment they want to close the sale.

Keller Williams, a notable force in the field, even offers their realtors scripts to read during key transactions, in the hopes they will practice until their selling has become a science.

The best thing about this process? It’s highly successful.

If you haven’t applied these tools, the time is now.

Envision answering questions for your client and yourself, such as what happens when the market shifts mid-deal, what is motivating my client, or how do I talk to a buyer looking to relocate?

If you are pitching a seller, you’ll be prepared to intercept questions about interest rates, cover the amount of money a seller is willing to invest in the selling process and learn how to ensure expectations on both sides of the table are clearly communicated.

Using a script can also help you mediate some of the more stressful situations that may occur in the process of buying or selling a home. How many of you have dreaded the conflict of speaking to a buyer’s agent about their client’s price, which they’ve made crystal clear is their bottom line? in a non-emotional manner, you can refer to your script and calmly explain that the offer needs to come up in order for the two of you to make your commission. Have you ever skirted this conversation and taken less than you knew you should because you were caught off-guard, and it was easier to acquiesce?

Whether you use the scripts we’ve linked here, or craft your own, it’s also worth it to pay attention to the trouble areas in your sales technique. When you do, it’s likely that you’ll have created a new client segment to pursue and that you will also have made progress toward solving some of your most pressing communication concerns.

Check out these scripts from The National Association of Realtors, and watch their videos, if you have a moment. Both illustrate an effective way to master successful scripting, which equals more sales!

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Is House Flipping Still Hot?

real estate agent handing over keys to homeDespite a recent downturn, house flipping is alive and well. 2014 stats show that 26,947 single family homes were flipped across the nation during the third quarter of 2014, accounting for four percent of all single family homes’ sales nationwide.

So even though instances of this unique element of the real estate world have decreased, flipping is still a viable place to spend your money…and to advise your clients to do the same.

It was inevitable that flippers flooded the market once they realized the jewel among the listings in their midst. And it is due to that fact, that the availability of homes to flip has grown scarcer. In the past year, homes needing greater rehab dollars and more extensive renovations have also made it harder to locate a solid flip candidate. And of course, once people get wind of a great idea, they want to give it a go. The result? A lot of armchair carpenters giving major remodeling projects their best shot, sometimes to the detriment of the result. With people snapping up flips, the prices drops, the market softens and margins shrink.

Before you get too excited, take a look at how to flip a property the legal way.

Then decide if it’s something you want to embark on. Good flippers need a qualified and well-trained team to handle the gamut of flipping issues and any other “surprises” that might crop up when the renovation gets under way. Be prepared to dig into your pocket a little deeper, and the best way to estimate your reno costs is to do your homework on the neighborhood your property is located. Compare the comps similar to yours and gather as much information as possible before you begin: can you walk the home, determine the extent of rehab needed, have your project manager assess right alongside you? If you are able to formulate an idea of costs, and balance those costs against your projected profit, you can make a more informed decision if this is the house for you to flip.

But sometimes…you have to go with your gut. Sometimes you are not allowed to set foot inside the property, and you have to roll the dice. In this scenario, get as close as you can to the property—without breaking in! Drive the area and determine if there are any trouble spots nearby that might affect the value. Check out the neighbors to assess how they take care of their yards and homes. This is a great predictor of the stability of area values.
When you have armed yourself with as much information as possible, leaping into that first flip is much more likely to result in a house that won’t flop.

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5 Tips for Selling Your Home, Quickly

Wippe mit einem Haus auf der einen und Stapeln mit Münzen auf der anderen Seite.

It’s a seller’s market right now. Put your home on the market, it’s time for a change! You’ve been thinking about it for a while now, it’s time to hire a real estate agent and move on into the home of your dreams. Selling your home is an emotional process, from time to time you will find yourself with mixed feelings. When these feelings come up just picture yourself in the home you’ve been dreaming about for a while and know this is the right decision for you.

To get your home “sale” ready, there are steps you can take that will make the process go much smoother. With these easy to implement tips, buyers will fall in love with your home fast!

5 Tips for Selling Your Home, Quickly

Show the Flow: Creating a space that flows well is important to new homeowners coming in to look at your home. Create a space that allows them to move about the house with ease, remove furniture that blocks walkways and small hallways. Open up the space so the buyer can see their belongings in the space, instead of restricting their viewpoint to how you wanted to decorate it.

Clear the Clutter: A clutter-free environment is essential in allowing the homeowner to envision the home as their own. Too much clutter causes confusion in the buying process which only leads to mixed emotions from the buyer. A confused buyer will not make a purchasing decision quickly. Take some time to clear the clutter in the house, clean up the garage, closets and living areas. Present a neat and clean home that allows a future homebuyer to envision their belongings in the home. When a buyer can see their stuff in the home, the sale moves along much faster.

Storage Space is Sexy: Homebuyers love to see that a home has plenty of storage, especially if they have children. Showing off an organized pantry, plenty of closet space and organized shelving structures that make it easy to

Show off the TLC: You’ve loved your home for a number of years; there has been plenty of upgrades and care you’ve given to the property, so when selling your home let that TLC shine through! Homebuyers want to see the TLC that has gone into the property. Be proud and discuss the ways you’ve loved your property and the upgrades you’ve given it. This lets the future homebuyer know that everything has been taken care of and kept up-to-date.

Give the Outside a Makeover: Spruce up the landscape – plant a few new flowers and mow the lawn, give the front entrance a redo – a friendly front door and fresh coat of paint goes a long way when future buyers walk up to the entrance of your home, a few hung plants makes a nice welcoming entryway too. Home buyers love to take a stroll through the neighborhood in the evening to see what kind of place they may be moving to after dark, it’s a good idea to add some “mood” lighting to the entry way giving your home a nice glow when they drive by.

With these easy-to-implement tips for selling your home, you’ll find the home buyer who wants to make this home the one of their dreams in no time! Enjoy the process and ask your real estate agent for other tips and ideas on how to make your home “Sale Ready”.

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Agent Spotlight – Carol Shepherd

Name: Carol Shepherdcarol shepherd

Business Name: CG Shepherd Realty, LLC

City, State: Grantham, NH

Specialty: Residential Homes, Condos and Waterfront Property

  • When did you start working in the field?
  • What made you decide you wanted to pursue this career path?
    I lived in a starting community known as Eastman and my husband was a builder, so it was great to be a part of this community’s growth. At a time in my life when I was settled down and raising my boys, a career in real estate provided a way for me to help people through one of the most significant decisions and transactions of their lives.
  • Who/what was the biggest influence when you were starting on this path? My husband, Ron, and his expertise in the industry.
  • What is the favorite aspect of your career? Working with buyers and sellers and knowing the local communities and inventory on the market really well to help my clients make wise decisions.
  • What sets you apart from others in your field?
    The ability to listen to buyers and know what they are looking for in a home.
  • What are your 2015 Goals?
    Do more on Twitter.
  • Please provide your Social Media Links and Website Links and send a picture with your completed Spotlight:
    Website: http://sheprealty.com
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShepRealty
    Twitter: @CarolShepRealty
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolshepherdrealty/
  • Additional Comments:
    I List! I Market! I Sell!
    I’m with my clients every step of the way, helping them understand the process and helping the transaction to go as smoothly as possible.
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3 Tips for Finding the Right Real Estate Agent for You

Accommodation broker giving home key to family

You’ve painted the walls, cleaned up the yard and hired a house cleaner to come in for a deep clean. It’s time for the sign “For Sale” to go up in the front yard right? Independently selling your home can be rewarding and challenging. Rewarding in the sense of accomplishment, challenging because this isn’t what you do daily – the market changes, trends rise and fall and what buyers are looking for varies depending on the area in which you are selling your home.

There are ways to simplify the process of selling your home, and most of the time selling a home requires more than adding some paint to the walls and cutting the grass. Often times a home requires a bit of staging to be ready for that impressive open house, cookies are a great addition the day of showing, however if the rest of the house doesn’t look like a place to call home, it won’t matter how delicious the baked cookies smell – the open house may not be a success.

3 Tips for Finding the Right Real Estate Agent for You

New Perspective: When searching for the right real estate agent to work with you during this process, that from time to time can be emotional, it’s important you like the person with whom you choose to work with. A real estate agent will be able to come in and provide a new perspective as to how the staging of the house can work quickly in the process of selling your home, however if you don’t like the ideas and the new perspective the agent brings, it will make the process flow go slower rather than speed it up.

Interview: We all know what it is like to interview for a new position. Finding the right real estate agent to work with is no different, than let’s say hiring a new person for a job. Make a list of questions that you feel are important to know about the agent, this way you are prepared when speaking with them. Call a few agents and have your first interview over the phone. Once you’ve narrowed your choices, make an appointment to meet them face-to-face, this will allow you to see their body language to help you decide if they are the right one for you. It’s a good idea to host this interview at your home, so they can look around at the property and you can see if their ideas and plan for the sale matches what you vision.

Use a Directory: Why spend countless hours searching online to sift through hundreds of agent profiles, websites and reviews when you could use a directory that has done some of the vetting for you. Directories like realestateagent.com, provides a searchable feature that helps you in finding the agent that is the best fit for you. Simply put, homeowners can use one site to search for agents in their zip code, call them and interview them which simplifies the searching process for finding a good agent. In a directory they are in one spot, leaving you more time to pack boxes, and find your new home!

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and emotional during this process. A real estate agent will help take the additional stress off during this process. When selling your home, allow the emotions to come and go they are normal. Lean on your real estate agent to help you make decisions about getting buyers into your home, staging the home and making some of the tough decisions during this process. It is a process, enjoy the journey of giving your home to a new family who will love and nurture it.

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Agent Spotlight – Andrea Williams

Name: Andrea WilliamsAndrea Williams

Business Name: Success Realty

City, State: Camp Springs MD

Specialty: Rentals, Home Buyers and Sellers

∙         When did you start working in the field? In April 2005

∙         What made you decide you wanted to pursue this career path?  I always wanted to help people and saw the need to education people in home ownership.  Many people don’t realize the benefit in owning their own home… As an agent I represent the clients to ensure that they have the best most update information in the market to help them make the best choice for their family needs.

∙         Who/what was the biggest influence when you were starting on this path?  My Manager  Mrs. Marie Hardin, she is a teacher, a mentor and a person that lives by example.  She taught me that you must always be honest and have integrity with all dealings as those are the keys to be a successfully real estate agent.

∙         What is the favorite aspect of your career? Helping families find their new home… Helping both Buyers and Sellers through the emotional roller coaster of  buying/selling a home. They need someone who will help them to remember what items are  important.  For the buyer Wants Vs Needs…  and for the  Sellers it is helping them through the process of the home they lived in is no longer their home, but an house that they need to sell in order to move to then next stage in their lives.

∙         What sets you apart from others in your field? I am a realty who truly cares about the buyers and sellers that I are in my care.   I ensure that they questions are answered in a timely fashion. I go the extra mile to ensure that the property be it for sale or purchase is in the best condition for them to receive  the best price.  In fact, one time, in order to ensure that a short sale past inspection my husband and I went to the property and painted it ourselves.  This is the kind of realtor I am I work for the people in my care.

∙         What are your 2015 Goals? To assist as many people as I can to be in their new home in the time frame they want to be in their new home, whether it is a rental, purchase or sell.

∙         Please provide your Social Media Links and Website Links and send a picture with your completed Spotlight: Website: callandreaforhomes.com  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UpperMarlboroHomes

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