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To Buy Or Not To Buy: Is Now The Time?

To Buy Or Not To Buy: Is Now The Time?

The US Census Bureau recently revealed that the US homeownership rate declined to 62.9%, the lowest level reported in 51 years of Census tracking.

This statistic does not signal impending doom. Since 2006, there has been a decline from peak ownership rates which is attributed in part to responsible lending practices and shifting demographic patterns. What is significant about this statistic is that it can give those intent on homeownership the false impression that they are fighting a losing battle.

If you’re on the non-homeowner side of this statistic, does this spell opportunity for you? With the economy and employment gaining strength, and predicted home-buying demographic shifts, homeownership may start an upward swing.

If you don’t own your own home, you know there are reasons why not. Since my work dictates I challenge the best to become better, I ask you, “How sure are you that those reasons are still valid or insurmountable?”

Repeatedly, when I speak to audiences about becoming their own futurist and creating strategies to achieve the future of their choice, I frequently meet people – individuals, couples, families, groups – who did not realize that their future could include homeownership.

Because they did not consider ownership a possibility, they gave up investigating, learning, strategizing, acting, and dreaming to make it happen. So it did not.

Ask any real estate or financial professional, and they won’t hesitate to tell you that home ownership is, rarely if ever, achieved by those who make no effort or take no action in that direction.

Any “short cuts” lie in understanding exactly what effort and action are required for the most direct path to ownership success. That’s what real estate professionals are trained to know all about. They understand how to relay that information to willing buyers and sellers.

Interview real estate professionals until you find one with the right mix of experience and determination to assist you with your ownership goals.

Listen and take notes or record when this professional explains your options and how to achieve your ownership goals. If you ask questions, you will also receive details about various ownership options, including cooperatives, condominiums, and other alternatives available in your area and price range. More questions and you’ll discover how the purchasing process works.

Consider the full range of neighborhoods and communities within your area. Prices tend to go down the further out you go from city center. With good public transit, moving to the suburbs may not require as many sacrifices as you might think.

If you’d like to own your own home, this may be the right time for action.

There are a number of ways to increase your purchasing power and bring real estate ownership within reach. The important thing is not to give up on making an effort before you have explored opportunities available to you in this real estate market:

Interest rates have not risen as dramatically as they are predicted to do in the future. Waiting until rates rise will limit the size of mortgage you qualify for. Mortgage brokers can explain how much you’ll qualify for and how you may be able to improve that level of financing. When you purchase, aim for the longest term you qualify for without seriously compromising purchasing power. That way you’ll have years at a rate you can afford while the mortgage debt is declining.

Debts can reduce the size of mortgage you qualify for, but financial professional advisers can suggest do-able debt-reduction strategies to improve borrowing power.The first step may be reducing the accumulation of new debt by ending discretionary spending like impulse shopping, eating out, and holiday travel.

The real estate you purchase may become a “financial partner” in achieving ownership. For instance, buying a one or two-unit rental income property may raise your qualifying income by some or all of the rent the rental unit or units would bring in. This financial leverage may also be possible in a non-rental property if you can prove you have boarders who will move in with you, pay rent, and share expenses.

Uncertainty abounds, but the economy continues to build momentum and job prospects continue to improve. Untapped income opportunities may exist. When was the last time you explored new employment and education opportunities with your current employer or within your community? Having a job that is “just enough” to keep you going can create inertia that defeats your belief that there’s more out there for you if you persist.

Realtytimes.com contains a rich library of articles to answer your questions and help you explore alternatives. Below are a few from my ongoing column “Decisions & Communities” that reveal the range of opportunities available to those on the path to homeownership:

As you research ownership ideas and opportunities, stay skeptical. Ask for details and persist until you understand exactly what you and others involved will be responsible for. Beware of anyone promising overnight success or cheaper-than-believable housing. Stick with professionals who have verifiable credentials and proven expertise.

Since the downturn, you’ve had years to consider homeownership. Is it time for action before rising interest rates and increasing demographic demand move real estate ownership further out of reach?

Do You Know the Real Cost of Renting vs. Buying? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Do You Know the Real Cost of Renting vs. Buying? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a close decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (30%), vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15%), the choice becomes obvious.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you could use your housing costs to own a home of your own!

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Be Inspired X 10

Be Inspired X 10

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

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Sometimes you just need a dose of confidence or a boost in your motivation. Selling and buying real estate is hard. But if it is something that you love, you can’t imagine doing anything else. Still, few things can recharge your passion like a good inspiring real estate quote so we found 10 of them to keep you inspired.

10 Inspirational Real Estate Quotes

#1: “To be successful in real estate, you must always and consistently put your clients’ best interests first. When you do, your personal needs will be realized beyond your greatest expectations.” – Anthony Hitt

The best real estate agents in the business have a knack for anticipating their clients’ needs and matching those needs with the right piece of real estate. When you put your clients’ interests first, you will succeed in real estate.

#2: “Real estate is my life. It is my day job, if you will. But it consumes my nights and weekends, too.” –Ivanka Trump

Unlike most other jobs, real estate really has no set hours. You are working around the clock most days but because you love it, you don’t mind. Still, take time to recharge so that you don’t burn out.

#3: “Real estate is an imperishable asset, ever increasing in value. It is the most solid security that human ingenuity has devised. It is the basis of all security and about the only indestructible security.” – Russell Sage

Even at the height of the housing collapse, people were snatching up distressed properties and trying to turn lemons into lemonade. Real estate is an imperishable asset in times of prosperity and times of financial distress. There are always people looking for it.

#4: “The problem with real estate is that it’s local. You have to understand the local market.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Now more than ever, localizing your market is the key to building a solid real estate business. Yourwebsite content as a local expert goes a long way to showing off your local expertise. For everything real estate, start local.

#5: “I think if people are passionate about something, it could be real estate or biochemistry, and that spark gets turned on in them, everyone’s beautiful in that zone.” – Cindy Crawford

A person in love has a glow just like an expectant mother does. When you love what you do, it shows in your face, in your smile, in your demeanor. The most passionate real estate agents tend to be the most successful and attitude is at least 50% of that success.

#6: “Commercial real estate always trails residential, and as residential growth flourishes, shopping centers flourish and service the communities, and jobs come out.” – Johnny Isakson

As a residential real estate agent, you are an integral part of the success of a city or community. When you bring in families, businesses come in to serve those families. You are a crucial part of the circle of life.

#7: “You must learn that selling is not selling; it is providing and the key to providing is knowing in advance what to provide.” – Todd Duncan

Again, meeting your client’s needs will go a long way to securing your success in the real estate business.

#8: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer

Money can’t buy you love or happiness. Making a lot of money is not the definition of success. You can have a billion dollars in your bank account and be miserable. Do what you love and happiness is sure to follow.

#9: “In real estate, you make 10% of your money because you’re a genius and 90% because you catch a great wave.” – Jeff Greene

Part of being the best real estate agent is knowing your market. Still, having a little bit of luck doesn’t hurt either.

#10: “Real estate is the best investment in the world because it is the only thing they’re not making anymore.” – Will Rogers

Good News to Keep You Inspired

We hope you really enjoyed those quotes. Hopefully you can come back to this piece throughout the year to re-inspire yourself or better yet, memorize them so that you will always have them within you as a source of inspiration.

 

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5 Reasons Having Reviews Beyond Yelp is Important

5 Reasons Having Reviews Beyond Yelp is Important

Yelp may be the most well-known review site out there but it is by no means the only one. There are other review sites gaining steam and one in particular that is geared specifically toward garnering more positive reviews for real estate agents.

As we will show you below, reviews are very important to how your agency is perceived by potential clients. If you are only on Yelp and those reviews are skimpy or unflattering, you will find it very difficult to compete. Here are the top 5 reasons why:

#1: Users Only Need 3 Reviews or Less

Before people were shopping online, the only way reviews most people trusted were reviews from their friends and family. Now that the internet and sites like Yelp have come along, your agency can be reviewed by millions of people around the globe instantly.

That is an extremely important reason for maintaining positive reviews and weeding out bad ones. According to a recent study, it only takes three reviews for 40 % of users before they form an opinion about a business. That is a number that is on the rise.

Most people will read at least through the first page of search results before selecting a business. If your positive reviews are buried beneath 3 or 4 pages of negative ones, your online reputation is going to suffer.

#2: High Star Ratings are King

Even if you have never actually gone onto a site and rated a service or product you are probably likely familiar with the star rating. It is how most review sites enable users to rate different business. The higher the star the more likely someone will choose you.

In fact if you have a four star or higher overall rating, nearly 95% of users will consider using your business over others. That is good news for a real estate agent with plenty of positive reviews. Yet if your reviews are only found on Yelp, you are not getting the full effect of your high star rating.

#3: The More Reviews the Better

One of the main reasons why you should look beyond Yelp to amass reviews of your real estate business is because the more reviews the better. The only measure other than star rating that influences users is the number of positive reviews.

Even if you have a few negative reviews if the positive ones far outweigh the negative ones, users will still consider your business. However, users do punish businesses whose reviews are older than six months. You have to stay relevant and have frequent visitors in order for reviews to be effective.

#4: Reviews Carry a Lot of Weight

Online reviews don’t carry as much weight as personal reviews but they are close. 80% of users give online reviews almost as much weight as personal reviews. That means that if all things being equal but your reviews are higher than another agent in your area, you will more than likely win that business.

#5: Fake Reviews Don’t Work Anymore

Finally a word of caution in case you are tempted after reading all of that above to go out and buy some reviews. Fake reviews do not work anymore. Users have caught on to this trick where businesses hire people to post positive reviews on review sites like Yelp and Trulia.

Today, users do not blindly trust reviews. They give them weight but take them with a grain of salt if they look suspicious. While over 90% of online shoppers use reviews to judge a business, nearly all of them assess the legitimacy of those reviews before they hand over their trust.

Let's Talk About Getting Reviews For Your Real Estate Business!

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Snapchat for Real Estate Marketing

Snapchat for Real Estate Marketing

Launched in 2011, Snapchat is the new kid on the block as far as social media platforms go.And yet it’s one of the fastest-growing, surpassing established platforms like Twitter when it comes to daily usage.

The photo and video sharing app has over 150 million active users, and about one million snaps get created every day. Its rising popularity has made it difficult for real estate agents to ignore.

  • Market penetration – Millennials dominate Snapchat, but there’s an emerging 30s to 40s demographic on the platform.

    About 14.4 percent of smartphone users 35 and up have the app installed – a market penetration of about 15 percent is generally the tipping point when a platform goes mainstream.

    What’s more is that the app is predicted to skew much older within the next two to three years. And Snapchat isn’t attracting plain Joes – the app has seen exponential growth among elite top earners age 30 to 45 on both coasts.

    So whether your target market consists of millennials or mature buyers, Snapchat helps you extend your reach.

  • Low barrier to entry – You can download the app for free, and you don’t need a pricey camera to produce content. The content doesn’t have to look polished either, so you don’t need to be exceptionally skilled at photography or filming. As a matter of fact, content that’s rough around the edges is generally viewed as more authentic and relatable.
  • Easy-to-produce content – With Snapchat, all you need is a camera phone to produce content on the fly, making it convenient for real estate agents with limited resources. Take photos or 15-second videos to showcase listed properties, neighborhoods, schools, and nearby attractions. Spice up your content by adding captions or using filters.

    Share your content with individuals via private message,or entire groups via Stories. You can determine how long the receiver of your message can view your content (from one to 10 seconds) before it gets deleted automatically.

    Any content you share on Stories will be available for 24 hours, and you’ll be able to keep track of who has viewed it.

  • Custom on-demand geofilters – This new feature works much like regular filters in that they let you add decorative overlays onto your content.The only difference is that geofilters are location-specific, and only certain geofilters are available depending on the area you’re in.

    To see which ones are available in your area, just swipe across the screen after taking a photo or video, then use them like you would an ordinary filter.

    You can also create your own geofilters for a small fee. There are two kinds – personal geofilters don’t contain logos, business names, or markers, while business geofilters promote businesses or brands.

    The former can be used for private events like birthdays or weddings, while the latter must adhere to Snapchat’s business guidelines.

    Branded geofilters are a great marketing tool that helps you go hyper-local with your content. They’re also fantastic when it comes to real estate events like open houses and association meetings. Just make sure attendees know your geofilter exists, and encourage them to use it during or after the event.

  • Memories – The app is known for the ethereal quality it gives your content, which gets deleted after a brief period. However, this shouldn’t discourage real estate marketers from producing substantial content.

    The Memories feature lets you collect your snaps, bring them together to create an album, and save them for others to view. This allows real estate marketers to tell better, longer-lasting stories that revolve around a specific property or neighborhood.

    But even without this feature, users can take screenshots of snaps or messages they receive for future reference.

  • Online engagement – The average Snapchat user spends about 25 to 30 minutes on the app every day. Over 25 percent of users spend just as much time messaging friends and poring over media content through Live Stories and Discover.

    Compared with Twitter, it’s five times more effective at getting people to spend time on the platform on a per-user basis. On average, Live Stories attracts over 20 million people each day.

    This means that even app users with few contacts can expect a high level of online engagement, granted they respond to messages and produce content on a regular basis.

  • GhostCodes – You can increase your followers by going to the app’s Add Friends section, which lets you look people up via username, Snapcode, your address book, or a nearby location.

    GhostCodes, a separate app, lets you discover Snapchat users who are listed under specific categories. This allows for a more targeted way of adding people. It helps you grow your following, since you won’t have to rely solely on your address book or people you already know.

    The app also makes it easy for others to find you and your real estate company. Just be sure to list your interests and to categorize your snaps so that GhostCodes can place you in one of the available categories for Snapchat users to hone in on.

    The connections you make on this platform can help you build a solid referral network and meet new clients.

  • Personal branding – By using this app, you’ll be able to show people who you are and how you work as a real estate professional. Snapchat lets users see you in real life situations, which makes you come off as authentic to potential clients in ways that paid advertising can’t accomplish.

    While some agents make sure that their content revolves strictly around their profession, there are those who share a few snaps that aren’t related to real estate to show themselves in genuine, unguarded moments.

    Using Snapchat also gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of different property types, neighborhoods, real estate practices, and the industry at large.The platform can give you exposure as a trusted expert in your area.

Real estate and Snapchat are a match made in heaven – the former is a highly visual industry, while the latter does a good job of showcasing photos and videos. The app’s real-time functionality creates a sense of being in the here and now, which allows for authenticity and better engagement.

Snapchat can be incorporated successfully into your existing social media strategy as long as you produce the right content. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the app, and don’t shy away from asking followers what they’d like to see from you.

The Worst Real Estate Advice Your Clients Hear

The Worst Real Estate Advice Your Clients Hear

As a real estate professional, you sometimes have to compete with well-intentioned friends and family members offering your clients some not-so-great advice from the sidelines. Most of that advice tends to be aimed at the pricing of the home, which may hinder your client discussions.

Realtor.com® recently highlighted some of the worst of that advice that real estate professionals say their clients download (5)recite to them, including:

  • “Price the house based on what you paid, plus a little extra for profit.”
  • “Price the house based on what you feel is right.”
  • “Add the cost of renovations you’ve made to your price.”

Sound familiar? It’s important that you set your clients straight and let them know that pricing a property shouldn’t be based on what their gut says or what they think it should be. A home’s list price should come from comps and square footage. You may need to step back and carefully explain to your clients the importance of comps and why real estate professionals use them — before just jumping right in to comp review mode and the price.

Also, beware that home owners may sometimes hear advice to price their home higher, despite what the comps say. For example, they may hear:

  • “Price your home high because buyers will come in low.”
  • “‘Not in a hurry to sell? Price the home high’”

Explain to them the dangers of pricing too high. “If a home is substantially overpriced, it’ll end up sitting on the market for a long time,” says Bill Golden with RE/MAX Metro Atlanta Cityside. If the house lingers on the market, buyers often start making low-ball offers. “In the end, these homes almost always sell for less than if they had priced it right to begin with.”

Indeed, Tracey Hampson, a real estate professional in California, says “if a home is priced correctly, you will get full-price offers and even over-asking-price offers.”

Source: “The Very Worst Home-Pricing Advice You’ll Ever Hear (and Why),” realtor.com® (July 21, 2016)

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