By Dolores Esanu
Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few business professionals engaging in “Klout.” Klout is a program that rates your sphere of influence within the social media world, with a score of 1 being lowest and 100 being the highest. Through Klout, companies offers perks for those who attain higher scores. For example, American Airlines offers upgrades and Moo.com offers free business cards. The idea behind it is the higher your score, the more influential you are online, therefore companies give you perks in the hopes you’ll share their content or give them a plug in your social media channels.
I read an article recently about a gentlemen who was asked to put his Klout score on his resume. Is that necessary? Are his years of experience and resume not enough for the position? It makes me wonder if sooner or later, buyers and sellers will be asking for this number. Buyers are looking online for homes now more than ever. Statistics show more than 80 percent will look online before calling an agent.
Will Klout be a number that the average buyer/seller considers before hiring you? Maybe not now, there’s a possibility in the future that this number will be used as a measure of experience. Food for thought.
I know my Klout score. Do you know yours?
Dolores Esanu is a REALTOR@ and executive assistant for Trademark Real Estate in Hot Springs, Ark. Connect with her at: @doeesanu, www.trademarkrealestate.com, on LinkedIn or at email@example.com
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine
What are the two most common home features that home shoppers say they’re willing to spend extra for in order to have in a home?
Air conditioning and new kitchen appliances, according to the 2013 Home Features Survey by the National Association of REALTORS(R).
Sixty-nine percent of the buyers surveyed who did not purchase a home with air conditioning said they’d be willing to pay extra for it — on average, an extra $2,250 in order to have it, the survey found.
Home shoppers say having a home with new kitchen appliances is worth paying about $1,840 extra to have a home with it.
Air conditioning and new appliances were the most common responses in what home shoppers said they’d be willing to pay extra for. But some home shoppers showed willingness to pay higher amounts for a home with other features. For example, 42 percent of buyers said they’d be willing to pay an extra $5,020 for a home that was less than five years old. Thirty-two percent of buyers said they’d be willing to pay $5,420 extra for a home that was on the waterfront.
Buyers who did not purchase a home with a laundry room or a den/study/home office said they’d be willing to pay extra to have these: $1,590 and $1,920 extra, respectively.
And buyers said they’d also be willing to pay extra for a home with a basement and an in-law suite. Buyers said they’d be willing to pay an extra $3,200 for a home with a basement, and an average of $2,920 for a home with an in-law suite, according to the survey.
By Lynn Minnick
As a certified international property specialist (or CIPS), I was able to participate in a really fantastic webinar session offered by the National Association of REALTORS®’ Global division. The webinar was presented by NAR Director of Digital Engagement Nobu Hata, who offered very helpful ideas for developing marketing with a global customer base in mind. As a result, here are the items that I am considering implementing to attain a more global reach:
- Photos - They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case it pronounces them in all languages. Go strong with well-composed, well-lit, well-staged photos. Use a professional photographer if the situation requires it. International buyers are visual buyers, too.
- Responsive Design – Does your Web site work well on all platforms? Because it has to. With so many buyers using their mobile devices to search for homes, especially those visiting from abroad, you need to be sure your site works on phones and tablets. Take the time to check.
- Blog - Sites with blogs get 55 percent more visitors than those without. There is so much you can write about, from lifestyles to transaction guidance. Blogging just two to three times per week is enough to really boost your SEO.
- Keep it Simple and Be Easy to Find – Fancy fonts look cool, but may not display correctly for buyers coming from places where that font may not exist. Keep it simple. Make your contact information easy to find, and cross-promote your online presence in other marketing materials.
The next step is taking my pages of notes, heading into a strategy session, and building an action plan. But the best take-away from this webinar was that all of the ideas work for growing both your international and local businesses.
By Wade Corbett
How much time do you spend time researching and creating comparables for properties that you aspire to list? You then sit down with the homeowners and they have decided—in their infinite wisdom—that you should list it at a higher price than you suggested. What do you do?
Many agents will say, “Sure! Let’s list it at your price and we’ll see if it sells!” After all, we’re just happy to just add another listing to our portfolio, right? Many months later, the home is still on the market and the same sellers are questioning your ability to do your job. How many of us have shot ourselves in the foot this way?
Thankfully, there are some easy ways to avoid this situation:
- I don’t LIST properties, I SELL them. I frequently tell my clients that I’m not in the business of listing their home. It reflects poorly on all of us when we can’t provide the results that we promise in that first meeting. Explain to them that they are better off seeing activity than no activity. Eliminate that “negotiation cushion price” that sellers love. This is when sellers price their home significantly higher than they actually want to sell it for. I tell my sellers that they can always decline an offer that they don’t like, but they can’t decline that offer if there’s no activity on their listing. I’d rather they received five offers they didn’t like than zero offers because the price scared people away.
- We’ll do it your way, and then we’ll try my way. In some cases, I’ll meet halfway a seller who firmly believes that their home is worth significantly more than the market suggests. In these cases, I’ll offer a compromise that typically works: “Why don’t we list it at your price for a short time, and if we don’t see significant interest from buyers, we’ll reduce it to my suggested price?” This method works really well, because it gives the seller a chance to test the market at a higher price but also leaves the door open to reduce if needed. Remind the seller that your goal is to sell the house at the highest price possible.
- Turn away. Sometimes we have to turn down overpriced listings. Do you really want to put time, energy, and money into researching, measuring, taking pictures, and marketing a home that might not generate any interest? Do you really want to explain in six months why you couldn’t do your job and get a property sold?
All of these methods will make your job much easier when selling a home that might be overpriced. Of course, you’re going to have homes that sell fast and some that take time, even at the right price. The important thing is to be proactive in the beginning; that will make your job easier in the end. Always serve your clients’ best interests first, but don’t let anyone dictate to you how you should run your business.
By Mark Scheets, Guest blogger
What is an Energy Efficient Mortgage?
Energy efficient mortgages (EEMs, sometimes known as “green mortgages”) are loans that allow home owners to finance energy-efficient upgrades for their current home or in a new home purchase. The cost of the upgrades is rolled into the mortgage so that multiple loans are not needed.
An EEM allows lenders to extend borrowers’ debt-to-income qualifying ratio, which means that they may be able to take out a larger home loan than would be allowed with a traditional mortgage. With an EEM, upfront costs may be higher than with a typical home loan. The reason for this is because improvements need to be made to a home to make it “energy efficient”. Despite the upfront cost, an EEM should save home owners money in the long run through lower energy costs. In order to qualify, the energy efficient home must undergo an energy audit by an approved inspector.
3 DIFFERENT TYPES OF EEMS
A conventional EEM is the most commonly used green mortgage option. With a conventional EEM, the lender will be able to credit the borrower’s income by an amount equal to the amount of energy that will be saved with the renovations/upgrades.
For instance, if a borrower makes $75,000 per year and stands to save $2,000 a year in energy costs by upgrading their home, their income will be $77,000 for underwriting purposes. This enables the borrower to buy a more expensive home than he would otherwise be eligible for.
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) EEM:
FHA EEMs provide mortgage insurance to a borrower who is looking to purchase or refinance their home and incorporate the costs of energy efficient improvements into their mortgage. In order to qualify, the borrower must meet all the normal underwriting conditions for an FHA loan.
With an FHA EEM, the borrower can borrower the lesser of:
· The total cost of the improvements plus report and inspections; or
· The lesser 5 percent of the value of the property, 115 percent of the median area price for a single family house, or 150 percent of the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit.
In addition, the energy improvements must cost less than the total amount saved over the life of the improvements. Further, the improvements must be made after the loan closes. The funds for the improvement are put in an escrow account and released when the borrower’s loan closes.
Veterans Administration (VA) EEMs:
These green mortgages are available to veterans who qualify for financing through the VA. VA EEMs allow buyers to upgrade an existing home. Typically these loans are capped at $3,000 to 6,000 maximum.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Scheets is a writer Total Mortgage Services.