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Op/Ed

Comparing real estate in 2006 to 2016 (make sure you’re up to speed)

The practice of real estate has changed dramatically in the last decade, but the fundamentals remain the same. Are you up to date?

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Ten years passes quickly! In 2006, the real estate market seemed to be steady if not booming. Cheery messages from brokers and NAR leaders were fast and furious. Agents just knew things would be fine and sales would come.

In the background, however, the horror of the housing and financial market crashes were taking shape. Within a few short years, the salad days of hefty retail housing sales, high commissions and move-up buyers were to be changed forever. Derivatives, extensive numbers of loans to buyers who, losing their jobs during the crash, could no longer afford the payments resulted in the bursting of the housing bubble and the wave of foreclosures during 2008 – 2012.

“Retail” real estate sales suffered as foreclosure valuations drove market pricing. Investors that had purchased many properties, leveraging each to purchase more, often lost their mortgaged properties as well.

And then we struggled even more

HUD, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as investors of the loans being foreclosed upon sold properties at prices that stunned neighbors and investors alike. New investors descended on areas, buying hordes of properties with cash, not mortgages, and renting them without much repair. After 2012, when foreclosures slowed and prices began climbing again, investors began to exit the market and some homes sat vacant.

Until 2014, the industry continued to struggle in many areas, yet some locales saw booming real estate prices and recovery. The shadow inventory of homes still ripe for foreclosure, underwater as their homes are worth less than current market value, still exists and foreclosures have ramped up again in 2016.

However, investors today are now doing a combination of buy/hold/rent and flip, making the homes more livable and revitalizing neighborhoods. New builds are slow to recover as builders find it difficult to build homes “on spec” and wait for them to sell.

Within ten years, much has changed, and not only in the type of buyer and the status of the housing market. We’ll review some changes here and how you can navigate more steadily the practice of real estate.

The MLS is ground zero

The MLS is undergoing massive change in its status as the guardian and repository of real estate data, and the primary way to let other agents know a property is on the market.
When the MLS was held in books – yes, actual paper books – agents would photo copy pages for buyers to see very minute detail (and minute photos) of houses for sale, or if a client was selling, of comparables. The electronic MLS came about prior to 2006, however some agents continued to photocopy printouts of listings for both scenarios.

Now the MLS is electronic, available (by subscription) to agents and brokers every day. However, the MLS is now not the only repository for home data on houses for sale, pending sale, or sold.

Zillow.com pulls MLS data from brokerages with whom they have agreement so the world can now see both active, pending (off market) and sold listings. The sold listings are simply noted as “off market” and carry the sold date and price. Now, consumers can check to see what has sold on their street or neighborhood and assess whether or not the Zestimate (an estimate of home value) is correct. The consumer can then decide to contact their agent, or an agent or broker advertising on the site. Agents pay for fractions of or whole zip codes to be listed as an agent (or broker) to contact regarding more information on a home, and the listing agent is also noted on the web page.

Rumors of a national MLS continue to rise.

And advertising has taken a wild turn

Advertising has completely changed, though some ad resources stay the same.

The MLS as noted above was once the primary method of advising other agents that a property had come on the market. Though some agents still use the 3P type of advertising (Put the home in the MLS to alert agents the home is available, Put a sign in the yard to alert the neighborhood and passersby the home is available, and Pray it sells), the digital age requires the agent promote the property using numerous methods and platforms.

Zillow.com negotiates with brokerages to carry their feed of properties available for sale. If the feed is not negotiated with the brokerage but an agent wants to place the home on the Zillow platform, it is considered “free” advertising. Other platforms also court brokerages to carry their listings.

Digital marketing can encompass email, landing web pages specific to the property address, advertising on Zillow and other platforms, advertising on Craigslist and more.
“Old-school” advertising does still work – whether it’s sending “just listed” postcards to neighborhood, sending handwritten notes as an introductory method to the brokerage and agent, sponsoring community activities, placing ads on restaurant placemats or on sports scoreboards and more.

Cold calling is taboo unless lists are scrubbed

Pulling a list of names from homes in the neighborhood was easy, and cold-calling homeowners to find people looking to buy or sell was scripted and productive. Then came the legislation against such activity by sales organizations – if someone’s telephone number was shown on a “do – not – call list” and was called by a salesperson looking to transact business, a hefty fine could be – and has been – assessed to the brokerage. This once relied-upon method of finding listings has nearly ceased in practice.

Sources exist where the lists of homeowners is “scrubbed” to remove numbers that show up on the Do Not Call list. The remaining homeowners may be contacted by phone without fear of the brokerage being fined.

The takeaway

A lot has changed in the last decade, but nothing so dramatic that can’t be adapted. Some of the mechanics have changed, and approaches have shifted, but the bottom line is that even as consumers evolve, the core practice of real estate still relies on diligence, negotiation, and expertise.

#HistoryLesson

Landis is involved in consulting for and sales of residential and commercial real estate. Landis is also working on obtaining her Ohio real estate broker license. College educated with a business, sales and performing arts background, Landis brings a well rounded world view to her real estate practice.

Op/Ed

6 questions to determine if you are exhausted and feeling burnout

(EDITORIAL) Six questions can determine your feelings of workplace stress and burnout, and knowing is the first step to curing the problem.

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man laying head on computer representing burnout at work

Everyone feels the stress of the job. Even if you are one of the lucky few who holds what they deem their “dream job,” there are days where not everything is picture-perfect. With the technologically based world we live in, it’s hard to deal with being constantly attainable. After we are through putting in our hours at the office, work continues to follow us home with every email that pops up in our inbox. The stress of not allowing yourself a significant work-life balance can lead to work burnout.

Burnout causes and effects

Studies in organizational communication have examined the causes and effects of workplace burnout. The causes are divided in dimensions of emotional exhaustion, lack of personal accomplishment, and depersonalization.

With emotional exhaustion, a worker may feel fatigued, frustrated, and fed up with their work. Lack of personal accomplishment leads to feelings of failure or incapability.

Finally, depersonalization causes a worker to feel like a cog in a machine, rather than a valued employee. As a result, they may begin to dislike coworkers.

The effects of workplace burnout come in the form of physiological, attitudinal, and organizational. Physiological effects may see spikes in blood pressure and heart disease.

Attitudinal effects see reduced job satisfaction and lower commitment to the organization. And, if burnout is continuously felt with a particular job, the organizational effect could be a high turnover rate.

Ask yourself these six questions

Dr. Steve Albrecht posed six questions one must ask themselves to examine their level of workplace burnout. He suggested that the questions will determine whether one’s workplace burnout is low, medium, or high.

1. What do I like about my job?
What aspects of the job help get you out of bed in the morning? Do you feel like you are doing something you’re good at? Do you feel valued? These feelings, along with tangible aspects, such as salary and benefits, are important for anyone in any job to consider.

2. What do I hate about my job?
Consider the hours, pay, people, responsibilities, etc. Are these items helping or harming you in the workplace?

3. What do my coworkers do that makes my job easier?
Colleagues can make or break a job. Many people often find themselves in workplace cohorts, as work is their main source of socialization. Are these people beneficial in that manner, in addition to being helpful with practical application?

4. What do my coworkers do that makes my job harder?
If you’re on the outskirts of the aforementioned cohorts, that can make the workplace less enjoyable. Are the people you’re working alongside unprofessional? Do they neglect to help with tasks?

5. What does my boss do that makes my job easier?
More so than coworkers, bosses have the ability to make or break the humanistic vibe of a job. If you have a firm, but caring boss, that can make all the difference. If your boss is someone you can go to with concerns, you may be less likely to feel stress in the workplace.

6. What does my boss do that makes my job harder?
Flip everything that was said in #5. If your boss is a nightmare, that is incredibly likely to lead to feeling unappreciated and ultimately stressed out with work.

Every job is situational, but it is important to be aware of the toll that workplace burnout can take on you. Life is too short to settle. I understand that it’s easier said than done, but if you are not happy with where you’re at in your career, never stop looking for other opportunities.

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Op/Ed

5 must-do’s if you want to come across as a great communicator

(EDITORIAL) When you communicate in business, you have to change your talking style to give infor without losing engagement. Here’s how.

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Being confident during a work presentation, using tips to communicate efficiently.

Mark Zuckerberg once said, “The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook (now known as Meta), is just helping people connect and communicate more efficiently.” One of my biggest pet peeves on social media is the post that goes on and on and on. I’d like to think that I communicate fairly well, but I do tend to verge into over-communication every so often. I’m not an expert, but I have learned – and continue to learn – a few things about talking and writing to other people.

1. Know Your Audience

At a board meeting of a local non-profit, I was explaining a repair project that we had to vote on. When I got finished talking about the quotes and the insurance claim and said that we will probably come out even, the acting president looked at me and said, “why didn’t you just tell us this to start out with?” I realized I had wasted about 10 minutes because I didn’t know the audience. Definitely a case of overcommunication. All he wanted was the bottom line, but I thought the board needed to know every detail. Chalk that one up to a lesson learned. When your listener’s eyes start to glaze over, you’re probably talking too much.

2. Be Intentional – AKA Don’t Go Down Rabbit Trails

When I’m with my friends, I love just letting the conversation take us down whatever path. In business, I want brevity. I’m kind of a TL;DR person. Even though I want to make sure that people have enough information, I just want the bottom line. When you’re communicating with a co-worker or boss, don’t let your message get hijacked by taking a fork in the road. You’ll lose your audience.

3. Avoid the Obvious

I hate it when people regurgitate information or tell me what I already know. Call it mansplaining or just being thorough, but it’s annoying on the listener’s side. Give information that serves your audience, not your ego.

4. Don’t Assume

I could write a dissertation on assumptions. We all know the saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me…” When you’re communicating, find a balance between stating the obvious and assuming your listener knows what you’re talking about. The simple question, “do you need more information” can be a place where you can find out what your listener needs. But I’ve also learned to avoid assuming someone’s emotions or attitude about what you’re saying. Read their face, but know that confusion and daydreaming can look similar.

5. Good Communication Improves Productivity

When you’re an effective communicator, it directly impacts your effectiveness in the workplace. You get more done because you’re not going back and forth answering and re-answering questions and providing information. There are times when you do need to provide lengthy emails or have detailed meetings. Knowing the difference keeps you from being boring and long-winded. Take a few seconds (or even minutes) before sending that message or talking to a colleague about a project. You’ll be a better communicator.

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Op/Ed

What life-lessons college taught me both in and out of the classroom

(EDITORIAL) College teaches you some things that you will (and won’t) find in a textbook but it sure comes at a hefty price.

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People meeting with laptops in a college classroom

I walk the fence when it comes to a college education. It works for some and maybe not so much for others. It’s the whole “well-rounded” education thing that bothers me: First there’s 12 years in elementary and high school learning things that, even if you never use the information, it’s important to know. I get that.

After a lifetime of education

But when you go into college why repeat the process all over again? Why not focus on a career track? Learn and do! Get into the trenches! Where the heck are/were the survival skills you need to make it in the real world? Instead you get two more years of general education requirements! Really? And that’s going to make me a better “xx?”

I chanced upon a great editorial that touches on these same questions. And it got me to thinking: A college degree makes for a perfect world and on paper it looks good. Everyone with a framed BA or two would rule the world and help consumer trust levels, but I don’t believe it would actually make for better X’s (fill in the space with the career of your choice).

The big picture

I had a moral sense of needing to graduate so my folks, bless ‘em, would have the satisfaction of seeing their kid accomplish something they never did, but in the bigger scheme of things what was the purpose of Astronomy 101? Geology? I wanted to learn how to make movies and write scripts and I couldn’t even take a class on Film Theory until my junior year? NASA we have a problem.

Lesson Number One: What I learned fast is that college is a business. If the business can make more money in four or five years instead of one or two, of course you want to drag it out and milk it for all it’s worth. What’s the rush on graduating? Relax! Kick your feet up! That was a problem back then and I still see it as a problem now.

Fear: An incredible motivator

Instead of feeling like I was in the comfort zone of the universit,y I felt like the clock was ticking. Those first two years taught me that I needed to get out of that environment. THAT much I learned! I didn’t know what was waiting for me on the outside but some internal clock kicked in and I went from 12 hours a semester to 20 or whatever the maximum was that you could take with the Dean’s permission.

Lesson Number Two: The unknown is scary. It keeps you up at night. Ties your stomach in a knot. It almost makes you do things you might not ordinarily do. I graduated in three and half years and not four or five like many of my friends because I was scared shitless. Without even realizing it, by wanting so badly to get out of school, I was learning things that would serve me well in life: Goal setting, time management and speaking before a group.

I made a short list: a) See the world. b) Get paid to write about what I saw. c) Don’t look back. I graduated on a Friday and walked into a recruiter’s office on a Monday. I should have done that a few years earlier, but it didn’t matter. Within six months I was in Europe.

The ensuing 20+ years serving all over the world is a story for another time. I wish I would have started that odyssey a few years earlier.

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