What Can Agents Do to Keep Busy?
In a recent interview, I was asked to comment on real estate business during the holidays. Specifically, what can real estate agents do in order to keep busy in a traditionally slow season? When did I think the market would pick up again? To be quite frank, I wasn’t a big fan of these questions and I needed to choose my words wisely. First off, I never perceive the holidays as a “slow” season in real estate. The holidays is just one of many seasons. And, it is the responsibility of the real estate agent to adapt activities and business style from season to season.
One of the traits of a highly successful real estate agent is the ability to continuously adapt to the ever-changing marketplace. Not only does that include bending and molding work styles and activities during the holiday season, but this also includes adapting to the changing needs of the consumer.
In 2007, the market changed drastically. Due to economic changes and a national recession, borrowers started losing their homes to foreclosure or were required to sell in short sale. At that time, the National Association of Realtors® faced a serious decline in its membership. These extremely time-consuming and frustrating real estate transactions scared off thousands of Realtors®.
Author Joseph O’Neill says, “Complication represents opportunity. The more something is complicated, the more potential competitors will be deterred.” While he wasn’t speaking about the act of listing a short sale, this interesting comment is one way to approach the selection of a niche, specialized area, or unique way to create your brand in the field of real estate.
4 Real Estate Niches to Consider
Here are some things that you may want to add to your real estate bag of tricks for 2014:
- Property Management. In the past six years, millions of homeowners have become renters. Consider the steady income associated with property management as a great way to pay the bills in good and bad economic times.
- New Neighborhoods and Farm Areas. What’s the average sales price for your closings? Are there local neighborhoods that have a higher median sales price? Market in new areas where the median sales price is higher and you can increase your income for the coming year.
- Architectural Specialist. What’s popular in your part of town? Perhaps you are an expert in Craftsman style homes, Eichler homes, or even new construction. When you demonstrate expertise and build trust in a single area, buyers and sellers will keep you very busy.
- Short Sales. One out of seven homeowners still owes more on their mortgage than their home is worth. And, according to the U.S. Treasury, approximately $30 billion in home equity lines of credit (dating to 2004) is due for reset in 2014, $53 billion the following year, and (get this…) $111 billion in 2018. While definitely a diminishing niche, there will still be short sale opportunities in 2014.
How to Know When to Adapt
Without a crystal ball, it is difficult to know when to adapt your real estate plan. That’s why you need to continuously evaluate your success. If one marketing piece or prospecting style that used to be extremely successful doesn’t function any longer, it’s time to reassess and make changes accordingly.
For me, I’ve been riding a really long wave in the ocean of short sales. It has been a great ride, and I’ll probably ride it until it crashes. But, I know that it won’t last forever, and have made changes accordingly—adding new tips, tools, techniques, and market niches to my bag of tricks. That way, when the wave crashes, I probably won’t even get wet.
As to the question, “When will the market pick up again?” The market isn’t slow; it’s different. To be successful in real estate, you’ve got to work towards those differences and make them into opportunities. That’s not always easy, but it’s what makes selling real estate so much fun!
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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