State of the industry
September marks the National Association of Realtors’ Realtor Safety month and the industry is currently introspective about the topic, sharing tips and tricks of the trade. While it is important to prevent crime against real estate professionals, preparation is the best way to fine tune the gift of instinct. For the first annual Realtor Safety Report, we have teamed up with Moby and S.A.F.E. to investigate the rise in violence against real estate professionals. The real estate industry has lost some amazing people this year, and countless others have been assaulted; in conversation with leadership at Moby, we all felt that the actual crimes are not being analyzed in depth, rather associations are limited to sharing tips on heightening Realtor awareness.
In an effort to learn more about crimes committed against real estate professionals in the past year, AGBeat teamed up with Realtor safety expert Andrew Wooten, President of S.A.F.E. who said, “The past 12 months have been the most violent I have seen in twenty-six years working in the real estate industry. We’ve seen an increase in attacks, murders and suicides.”
Given Wooten’s note that violence is on the rise, and our mutual feeling with Moby that the why is not being investigated, we dug deeper to learn whether or not the crimes against Realtors had a common theme in an effort to discover something to look out for, something for Realtors to be aware of, for hope of a safer industry.
Our research did discover these minor commonalities:
- The majority of the attacks on Realtors in 2011 occurred in the afternoons on Thursday or Friday
- Nearly 30% of attack victims are men
- Most attacks did not occur inside major metro areas
- Guns are used roughly 50% of the time in attacks
- Robbery was the intention going into the attack but frequently resulted in murder
These commonalities were not enough to determine a trend, so we analyzed age, brokerage size, how long the agent had been licensed, the average days on market and price of where they were attacked, whether they were alone or not, how many assailants there were, the unemployment rate of the area, whether they knew their attacker or not, the attackers’ intentions and more.
What we found will frustrate some people. We ultimately discovered that there is no face of a standard victim, no face of a standard attacker, and no common theme between the many attacks. Some attacks were simply robberies, some were in luxury listings, others in foreclosures, some were sexual assaults in a basement, another was a woman attacked on a front porch by a client she already knew, and another was an apparent revenge kill. The only common threads between these attacks are (1) there is no common thread, everyone is equally vulnerable and (2) many lives have been altered this year as people have lost loved ones or have been attacked.
Why are Realtors a target?
Discussing the topic with many Realtors across America, the most common answer found to the question “why do you think there is an increase in violence against Realtors?” was that average consumers believe Realtors are wealthy, therefore, they are targeted. Although most agents are barely scraping by and many are having to choose between their cell phone bill and their used Lexus payment, faces on billboards look successful, so many Realtors believe they are vulnerable because agents are depicted as rich by media, movies, and the perpetual “it’s always a good time to buy/sell” smile on many Realtor faces.
What is the answer when there is no common thread between violent attacks? What do you do when you discover agents aren’t being attacked because they’re selling foreclosures, rather all types of properties? What do you do when you learn it’s not just women that are victimized and that someone can attack you even if they don’t have a weapon?
You prepare, you fine tune your gut instinct, and you learn everything you can about keeping yourself safe. Does that mean taking karate or using a buddy system? Possibly. Arm yourself with personal safety monitoring devices, they’ve become so inexpensive. Take lessons in self defense, especially from Realtor safety experts. Everyone is vulnerable, especially in a vacant home and leaving breadcrumbs behind to show someone “who dun it” won’t cut it, so agents should all be prepared in advance and trust their gut instinct when something is off.
Full 2011 Realtor Safety Report
The report analyzes sixteen assaults, half of which occurred in June and July of 2011, and sexual assaults are separated out.
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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