Archive for the ‘business tips’ Category
Sunday, February 17th, 2013
Just in case you needed more reasons as to why it is advantageous to buy a home, here is an extensive list about the advantages and disadvantages of owning and renting…
- May be cheaper than a mortgage payment
- Fewer (if any) maintenance costs
- No down payment required (less deposit)
- No real estate taxes (renters insurance optional)
- Less stress (who cares, it’s not yours!)
- Freedom to move or downsize when necessary
- No risk of home price depreciation
- Some utility bills may be included
- “Free” amenities such as pool, gym, security
- Money can be used for other, more profitable investments
- Can’t be foreclosed on (but you can be kicked out at the end of your lease if the owner is foreclosed upon)
- Rental payment may exceed monthly cost of mortgage
- No ownership or wealth creation
- Payments never stop when renting
- Rent will rise over time
- Must deal with a landlord or management company
- No tax benefits
- Rules, regulations, and limitations
- More temporary, less stability
- Always at the mercy of the property owner
- Pets may not be allowed
- You can build home equity and wealth
- Status- Status-Status
- Sizable tax deductions possible
- Your space, your rules (pets welcome)
- Ability to remodel, expand, tear down
- Pride of ownership (social status, accomplishment)
- Potentially better for children, family structure
- Mortgage can improve your credit history/score
- Ability to borrow against your home (HELOC or cash-out)
- No more monthly payments once mortgage paid off
- Fixed payments (if you choose a fixed mortgage)
- Mortgages are the cheapest loans available
- No landlord
- Can exclude capital gains when you sell (partially)
- Inflation hedge
- Can rent out to others
- Can sell and use proceeds for bigger/better home
- Retirement nest egg
- It’s the American Dream!
- Home prices may lose value
- Could overpay for your property
- Obtaining a mortgage (and finding a home) is a hassle
- Not everyone qualifies for a mortgage
- You must pay taxes and homeowners insurance
- Total housing payment can be more expensive
- Mortgage payment can rise (if an ARM)
- Sizable down payment necessary
- Maintenance costs can be excessive
- Pricey HOA dues (if applicable)
- You’re “stuck” in a home (long-term commitment)
- Increased liability and responsibility
- Transactional costs of buying and selling
- Ownership is stressful!
- Taxes and insurance generally rise
- Your home can be damaged or destroyed (and not fully insured)
- Can be foreclosed on and lose your home
The preceding post was written and shared with permission by Dan Dobbs, of Capital Mortgage Services. He can be reached at DanDobbs6@gmail.com, or http://danieldobbs.org. Or call him at 949-250-3981. DRE#00986886, NMLS# 307631
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
There are times in any business where one must laugh at some of the antics that go on behind the scenes, some of the unprofessional things others in the business do and say. We have all been there, no matter in which field you work….I am sure you can conjure up a few times you were left scratching your head over something a colleague did. The real estate industry is no exception, and in fact I think there is even more room for inexcusable behavior because most agents are independent contractors and do not have anyone looking over their shoulder most of the time.
Listing agents have been made fun of in other blogs for lack of proper grammar, spelling errors, and all kinds of other things. I have to admit despite my shock at the lack of editing, I do find these blogs humorous (albeit sadly so). But there are a few things that REALLY make me question some agents’ professional goals. Here are the top 5 on my list:
1. Listing a property and being unresponsive. If you list a home, obviously the seller thought highly enough of you to give you the listing…so now you actually have to do some work! Placing a listing on the MLS is an open invitation to people to ask questions. If you are not going to make yourself available to do so, than what are you doing listing homes?! This is one of my biggest frustrations, and I have had to tell many clients, “the listing agent has not returned my calls/emails.” I had one agent just last month who didn’t respond to calls, emails and texts about a property for almost a week! My client finally then wrote an offer, only to be rejected because another had come in during the noncommunicative time. This is not right, folks.
2. Copying information from similar listings without verification. As agents are aware, when a buyer purchases a home there is a period of due diligence, where the buyer conducts inspections and investigates the property to her/his satisfaction. However, when you are inputting a listing to the MLS, it is so important to get the information right. If you find another similar property in the neighborhood and merely copy that information into your listing, you could be providing false information to buyers. Even though they have time to discover this, doesn’t it make more sense to get it right from the start, so as to avoid wasting anyone’s time, including yours and your seller’s?
3. Directing agents to a website to book an appointment. In this day and age we are so technologically savvy, and I love that, BUT…real estate is still and will always be a business about people. We are not selling widgets, we are selling more than just a home – we are selling a lifestyle. The more personable and friendly you are, the better it is for everyone. If you want to have your showings scheduled via a website, fine. But I have 2 caveats: make sure the website works properly, AND provide a phone number where the agent/consumer can reach a live individual with questions!
4. Limiting the method of communication with the listing agent. I agree that there are times when a quick question can be addressed via email, but there are times when I like to speak with the agent, so I can get a feel as to how the agent works and ask multiple questions, especially if the property is a distressed property. An agent should NEVER limit the means of communication between other agents who may have interested clients with valid questions, as this is doing a disservice to your sellers.
5. Placing viewing restrictions on the property. I understand there are times when some viewing restrictions must be imposed, such as in the case of tenants, a family with a baby or very young children, unfriendly pets or perhaps a homeowner who works at night and sleeps during the day. But if you want to get the home sold you have to coach your clients about being as flexible as possible. Putting a home on the market and telling agents it is a “drive by only, then submit offer in order to view property” is plain ridiculous and a waste of everyone’s time. Similarly, if you do not plan on letting people in the home, for pete’s sake have your sellers fill out a Instruction to Exclude the Listing from the MLS until it is ready to be viewed, and then place it live! Do what you can do to make the property as accessible as possible.
The real estate industry is not only consumer-centric, but is based on good old-fashioned principles of cooperation. If you want to represent your sellers to the best of your abilities, you and your listing need to be as accessible as possible.
Sunday, August 14th, 2011
Buyers often ask me what they can do to assure their short sale offers are accepted. While for the most part we are at the mercy of the lenders when it comes to short sales, there actually are ways to increase the likelihood of getting that priceless lender approval letter.
The simple answer is to make your offer as clean as possible. Here are some tips:
1. Do not ask for a home warranty. Most lenders will not pay for this. I always offer to buy a one year home warranty for my buyers, and this makes for one less expense to put on the HUD statement – the document by which lenders decide whether or not to approve a short sale.
2. If you have to ask the seller to pay closing costs, get creative. In short sale cases most sellers do not have the money to pay for the buyer’s closing costs (they usually can’t pay their own, thus the reason for the short sale), and most short sale lenders will not pay closing costs. Some buyers do not have the money to pay their own closing costs, so they may need to find creative ways to include this – such as writing the offer for slightly over asking price, and then asking for the closing cost credit through escrow. Make sure to discuss any alternatives with your agent and mortgage professional to find the right solution for you, as you need to be aware of any effects this may have on your mortgage, taxes, etc.
3. Offer a higher initial deposit to show you are serious. If possible, make your initial deposit appealing. Of course this depends on your budget and the price of the home you are trying to purchase, but 2% of the purchase price is usually decent. If you are purchasing a home in a higher price range you may consider 3%. Again, discuss this with your agent.
4. Find out about termite standing before writing your offer. Many lenders will not pay for termite work, and will only provide a report. But there are lenders who will offer some money toward wood destroying pest repairs. If possible, have your agent discuss with the listing agent whether he or she included termite work estimates in the estimated HUD that was delivered to the lender (if there was one), or discuss whether the agent knows if the lender will cover any of these costs. If the lender has made clear it will not cover this you may consider asking for a report only. Be careful here – I have had lenders pay for termite work, so don’t just write this one off; see what information your agent can discover.
5. Make sure your agent is constantly communicating with the listing agent. Often buyer’s agents write the offer and sit on the sidelines waiting to hear from the listing agents. I think it is important to contact the listing agent once a week to see if there has been any news on my clients’ offers. I like to do this at the end of each week, so the agent has had the work week to check on progress with the lender(s), but usually do so on Thursday or Friday morning, in case my contact reminds the agent to check for updates.
Short sales can be hard for several reasons, but from the buyer’s perspective the most common and difficult is waiting. Making your offer as clean as possible, and having your agent stay on top of progress, will hopefully make the approval period a little less painful, and make the wait well worth your while.
Thursday, May 26th, 2011
Change. It is a powerful word that conjures up a plethora of emotions, from excitement to fear. The very idea of change can make you panic or it can energize you, but you shouldn’t let your response to change prevent you from making it, as you could end up missing out on some fantastic opportunities. The fact is that the world is moving so fast, and change is always inevitable – but happiness should be your main goal.
Obstacles. It is human nature to accept patterns and situations in life, and oftentimes that means putting up with things we don’t love (or even like), for fear of the unknown. Countless people go to jobs every day that they don’t enjoy. They may dream of opening a bed and breakfast, selling homemade blankets or granola bars, starting an organization to help latch-key kids have something to do after school. The reason they don’t act on their passion is because they are afraid of the unknown: what if I don’t make money for a long time? How will I finance my dream? Where do I start? How do I get my product approved by the FDA?
Baby steps. The answer to all the fear is to make a plan and then DO IT! The founders of some of the biggest companies started from their homes and garages and kitchens. They didn’t know they would end up building multi-million dollar companies, but set out doing what they were passionate about and stuck with that. Because they loved their work, good fortune came from it. I am not saying you should quit your job today and go home and start baking your famous brownies, but you need to start with generating a business plan.
Business plan. If you don’t know how to create a business plan there are websites you can visit and books you can buy to help you do so. Talk to other people in similar businesses and see what types of equipment they use, who they go to for materials. Get out there and do some research. Then, when you have compiled that and have a list of sources, create a plan and figure out what you need to start up. Do you need a patent? Trademark? What is the minimum amount of money you will need to start up? Do you have enough savings, or need a loan, or an investor? Do you need to go back to school? Speak with your accountant and figure out how you want to form your business (Corporation, LLC, partnership, etc. Each has different benefits). You can have a legal site like LegalZoom.com draft up your documents, and you can register your ficticious business name with your county.
Start now. Make time to take the steps you need to start working on your passion. It may take months, or even years, to get off the ground and get to the point where you can leave your job and start to build your passion, but you will feel good knowing that you are working toward that goal.
The most important advice to remember is to not be afraid of change…instead, embrace it!
Sunday, May 22nd, 2011
I read some great blogs this morning, and they inspired me to talk about one of my favorite things: keeping it real. With the advent of social media many people think that there is a “next great thing” that will make their business easier. Right now that thing is social media.
Social media is great – it’s fun, it’s available 24/7, it allows us to connect with industry experts and colleagues, and maybe even find new clients or customers. But it is a mere tool we have in our arsenals, not a “quick fix” that will allow us to take a day off or relax our tried an true methods of doing business. The fact is that RELATIONSHIPS cannot be trumped. We simply need to understand that our relationships with our clients, customers, colleagues and friends are the most important tool we have in our business, and in our lives. Social media cannot replace that, but it should still be a part of what you do each day.
I have blogged many times about the importance of phone calls, meetings, visits to clients. In fact, this is the aspect of my work I truly enjoy the most. Sitting down with a client or colleague for lunch or coffee is actually fun. I get to learn more about him or her, and if talk turns to business hopefully I can educate, share knowledge and answer questions. There is no substitute for one-on-one connections, in my opinion.
Many business people complain that with the advent of social media there is simply too much to do, too much to keep up with, and unfortunately I hear all the time that relationships are left out in the cold. One Realtor friend of mine recently told me that she just doesn’t have the time to connect with past clients. This should be her number one priority!
Here are a few ways to make it easier to keep in touch with people every day:
1. Schedule a time of day to connect. By this I don’t mean sit in front of your computer or phone and email someone. Spend an hour a day: call a past client, meet one for a cup of coffee, stop by their home. It doesn’t take much! If you can’t schedule a meeting every day then make a phone call and plan one. Try to plan at least one meeting a week, but still spend an hour each day calling or doing the next activity…
2. Handwritten notes. Sending an email doesn’t show much effort, but if you write a note to a client/customer it shows you care. Many people don’t understand the value of this, but trust me, people appreciate this. Try to write several notes a day. You can do so on birthdays, anniversaries, house anniversaries, holidays and just about any time. But don’t let this be a substitute to a visit or call – you need to do both.
3. Party. What better way to thank your clients than to throw a party for them? It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. You can do a dessert party, or a cocktail hour. You can have it at the beach or a park. The message is more important than the price tag. This obviously is not something you do all the time, but you can plan it and send out notices about it in advance to get people excited.
4. Educate continuously. This is something that you have to strive to do, every day. You are your local expert, so you need to show that to not only your clients, but the locals! If you don’t have a blog, start one. You don’t have to be a writer. You can do a video blog, interview people in your area or do a photo blog. Post calendars on your local blog to keep people informed of local events. If a client asks you a question, turn the answer into a blog. You can also create a monthly or quarterly newsletter for your past and current clients, even highlighting a different person in each one (get their permission first, of course) – this is a great way to keep people informed about the local market and get them excited to read your content. There are many sites you can go to to do so, but it is very easy to create yourself. Once you have a template made you simply have to fill it in with new stories, which of course are easy to find online and by creating your own content.
5. Social media. Yes, you should engage in social media as well as the old basic methods, but you need to do so in conjunction with them, not as a replacement. Try to limit your time spent on social media so that it doesn’t consume you. Use it to post your blogs, connect with industry experts and share area knowledge. It is a great learning tool not only for those with whom you share, but for yourself as well. I definitely do NOT advocate overlooking social media, as it is very powerful if you use it correctly.
It is much easier to keep up with your clients if you make a schedule and stick to it – but you have to keep up with it. It took me 2-3 years of blogging to really see effects, but amazing things have happened and opened up to me because I am vigilant. People start to notice that you are an expert in your field. Besides, it’s great to share with others and helps keep you on your toes too, so make it fun! Remember that nothing can replace relationship building, no matter how shiny it is or how wonderful it may seem. So, the answer is no – social media cannot ease your workload. But if used in conjunction with the above tools it can definitely make your work more fulfilling and likely more profitable.
Friday, March 4th, 2011
What kind of animal are you? I highly recommend this book, and if you would like to meet the author here is the information for Sunday’s book signing in San Diego.
Meet Stefan Swanepoel, author of Surviving Your Serengeti:
Sunday, March 6, 2011
7:00 pm ‚ 8:30 pm
Manchester Grand Hyatt
Bring your own copy of Surviving Your Serengeti or you can pick one up for $20 at this book signing. Stefan will be signing books, answering questions, and giving out ‚ÄúWhat Animal Am I?‚Äù pins. So be sure to take the quiz before coming! (Click this link to take the quiz: http://www.whatanimalami.com/)
The Manchester Grand Hyatt is in the heart of San Diego right on the waterfront. Find us just left of the check in desk in the open area by the lobby bar.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Manchester Grand Hyatt
1 Market Place
San Diego, CA 92101
Sunday, February 27th, 2011
Real estate, like any sales business, thrives on competition. But it is the nature of the competition that can give the industry a bad name. There is a time for competition, which can be healthy, and a time for colleagues to cooperate–and actually they can exist simultaneously. So whether you are “the top producer” in an area, someone who sells just a few homes a year, or somewhere in between–listen up.
Realtors are a different breed of business people. True, our business involves sales, but realistically we provide much more: we are guidance counselors, teachers and personal trainers. We don’t just hand someone an apple from the bunch and take a quarter, so to speak. Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial decisions a person makes in his or her lifetime. It is not something that typically happens quickly, and there is a lot of work involved. The Realtor who only cares about a paycheck will not last long, especially with technology driving change in our industry. We have to be smarter, more connected, better equipped to assist our clientele and each other.
In such an atmosphere there is one mantra that needs to be followed: we all need to cooperate. No kidding, you say, right? But honestly, there are many agents out there who still think it is all about themselves. Of course, we do compete with each other, but we also need to increase the trust in our industry, and that cannot be done unless we all respect each other and perform our duties in the most professional manner.
Every industry has it’s complainers, it’s sour pusses, it’s bad eggs. Look at lawyers–the general opinion seems to be that they are disliked, but if you are arrested or sued you would be calling one faster than a speeding bullet. There are many amazing lawyers out there, but the bad eggs spoil the perceptions of the industry. The same is true of real estate.
So, get out there and respect your competition. Join industry chats, follow other agents on Twitter and Facebook, read Realtor blogs, share your knowledge with other agents. Return agent phone calls and emails. It doesn’t mater how many houses you sell or how much money someone spends on marketing. If you do the best you can do with what you have and you are happy, you can only get better by cooperating with others and paying it forward.
If you want to take it one step further, keep in mind that cooperation is important but you also need to watch what you say–both to colleagues, clients and online. To read more about this click here: http://realestateandwomen.net/2011/02/23/the-importance-of-watching-what-you-say/
Friday, February 25th, 2011
With the world online it has become harder to uphold reputations and maintain your desired degree of professionalism…you actually have to work at keeping them in check. Clients and colleagues can check up on you in an instant, so what you say online and in person needs to be well-thought out. Realtors are no exception; in fact, they probably have to be more careful than the average person, for fear of violating a myriad of laws or regulations. For some tips on how to keep your reputation untarnished read more at http://realestateandwomen.net/2011/02/23/the-importance-of-watching-what-you-say/
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
I love being a Realtor, and I especially love using my experience and background to make a difference in helping others. Like many businesses involving sales, the hope is that when you serve people well they will remain loyal to you, but many Realtors find at least once in their careers that loyalty can fly out the window in a heartbeat. So, how do we keep clients loyal?
First of all, you have to understand that it is human nature to always look for the next best thing. Granted, many people respect loyalty–if I find a good service provider I stick with them. But there are people in every industry who are out there preying on consumers, trying to win them over. Unfortunately that is true in our industry as well. And while your clients are free to work with whomever they choose it still hurts when they choose to work with another agent or worse, when they don’t come back to you, especially if you have stayed in touch and provided great service. Here are some tools you can (and should) use to connect with your clients, keep the relationship strong, and remind them of your stellar service:
1. The good, old-fashioned phone call and visit. Despite all the online hype this is the tried and true method for keeping in touch with clients. Call your clients periodically, stop by for a visit, meet them for coffee. Stay in touch on a personal level.
2. Email. Send your clients emails of any interesting articles or blogs/summaries you may read that may pertain to their neighborhood. You can include new listings, events, or anything you like. Make sure you do this once or twice a month at least.
3. Connect with your clients via Social Media. This is another way to stay in touch. Encourage them to “like” your Facebook page so they can get all your great content sent to their Facebook news feed. If your clients are tech-savvy encourage them to follow you on Twitter and connect with them on LinkedIn. Tell them to sign up for an RSS feed of your blog.
4. Anniversary. On the anniversary of their home purchase (if you sold them a home) send them a handwritten note. I love to drop off a little basket of sweets on the first anniversary, in honor of a sweet first year of home ownership.
5. Buyer-Broker agreements. Although controversial, there is always debate over whether to use these with buyers. Some brokerages require them, so if you are in that group obviously you don’t have a choice. The fact of the matter is that a client is free to work with whomever he or she chooses, so a signature on paper won’t really save you. But there are definitely many agents who will not work with a buyer until these agreements are signed.
6. Revamp your marketing goals and campaign several times a year. Take a look at your marketing and see where you can improve. If you are trying to get listings obviously you need to have a listing presentation that stands up to the competition. If you send out marketing pieces to your past clients make sure they are hitting the mark and are consistent. If you work with buyers are you providing them with enough information from the outset? There are always new ways to spruce up your marketing arsenal, so continue to seek them.
If you have done all of those things and your client still doesn’t value you then you have to take it with a grain of salt. It is easy to beat ourselves up in these situations, but if you know you provided great service then you have to chalk it up to human nature. Stay in touch with your clients even if they seek another Realtor’s assistance. I had a client years ago who used another agent to purchase a house while she was in escrow with me on another home (by fluke she had called on the home and the agent convinced her to write an offer–yes, call it slimy tactics on behalf of the agent but the client chose to do so). She called me after the purchase and said she wished she’d worked with me instead–the other agent did not compare to me, according to her. Well, at least she realized that I provided great service. It made me feel a little better.
If you are like me the lack of loyalty will be hard to swallow, but the more you remain true to yourself and continue to provide great service to your clients, the more people will appreciate you. Work with those who truly do, and you will be a much happier person.
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
Google has been the top search engine for a long time, but may not be so for long. Qwiki has made it’s debut, and while still in it’s beta phase it promises to change the way we search for information.
Qwiki is an interactive platform, which means that it is not centered on entering search terms and then doing a lot of reading to find what you are looking for. Qwiki is visual, it speaks to you (literally), it helps us to learn, understand and connect in a whole new way. For example, if you enter in the subject matter “San Francisco,” you will be presented with a narrative, complete with photos and video, of all San Francisco has to offer. It is deep, information-rich content and it is exciting. The entire search is narrated for you. You can search for everything from “butternut squash” to “pencils” to “Santorini” (see below).
Qwiki allows you to create videos and get embed codes, which you can use on your website. It is truly the future of the internet. Soon it will be available to everyone, but if you want to sign up for Qwiki in it’s beta phase go to http://www.qwiki.com/. Qwiki, like Google, will change the way we all search, learn and do business. Here is an example of what Qwiki can do: