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Homeownership

Many homebuyers don’t have a go-to real estate agent [survey]

(HOMEOWNERSHIP NEWS) A staggering 70 percent of homebuyers indicated that they had done “very little” or only “some” research prior to making their agent selection.

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Man drinking coffee looking at phone for reviews.

The market is up for grabs

Happy Grasshopper, an email marketing firm for professionals in real estate, conducted an annual survey through Survey Monkey to identify the ways that current homeowners find a real estate agent and maintain a relationship with them. The respondents ranged in age from 18-65, with a slight edge in female respondents versus male (53 percent-47 percent).

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Surprisingly, 49 percent of respondents stated they didn’t have a “go-to” real estate agent. “The study shows a large percentage of the market is up for grabs,” said Dan Stewart, CEO and co-founder of Happy Grasshopper, the company behind the research.

“Not only because many homeowners do not have a preferred agent, but also the fact that most homeowners aren’t doing heavy research before hiring one.”

A surprising missed opportunity

In fact, 70 percent of homebuyers indicated that they had done “very little” or only “some” research prior to making their selection. When it came time for a potential homebuyer to find a real estate agent, word of mouth referrals were the top-ranked source. 51 percent of homebuyers said they found their agent through a referral. Direct agent contacts were uncommon, with only 10 percent of potential homebuyers indicating that they had been contacted by an agent to become a client.

Once a homeowner selected an agent, a desire for increased communication between agent and homebuyer was a key finding. 36 percent of respondents said they wanted information about open houses and listings in their neighborhoods, even when they weren’t particularly looking to buy or sell. A similar number of respondents, at 40 percent, wanted their agent to provide knowledge about how to be a homeowner and a neighbor.

Respondents valued information about home repairs and neighborhood happenings from their agents.

Cultivating your lead

However, slightly under 20 percent say that they actually ever receive that communication. “This suggests communication initiated by an agent might be enough to turn a lead into a sale, even if it takes years before the client is ready to buy or sell,” said Stewart.

“Agents are missing opportunities to cultivate relationships with past and potential clients so when it is time to move, they know who to call.”

When it comes time for agents to call on potential clients, it’s also important to note the study found that homebuyers preferred to receive communication from the agent in the form of email. Surpassing text messages, phone, or social media communications, homebuyers favored the convenience and timeliness of emails with their desired information.

More about the survey

Nearly 5.8 million homes sold in 2015, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, only 300 U.S. homeowners were included in Happy Grasshopper’s survey. One might have expected a larger number of respondents sought out for the survey. With such a small sample size, one must hope that it is fully representative, and wonders if it is. This sample size significantly limits widespread implications of these results, but respondents still provided valuable information.

Beyond the sample size, an important fact remains: the art of prospecting is vital for an agent, and is one that must be cultivated. Reaching out to your potential clients with information that’s important to them in a way that is resonant may just win the sale for you.

#GoToAgent

Roger is a Staff Writer at The Real Daily and holds two Master's degrees, one in Education Leadership and another in Leadership Studies. In his spare time away from researching leadership retention and communication styles, he loves to watch baseball, especially the Red Sox!

Homeownership

Why realtors shouldn’t use the term ‘Starter Home’

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) You see the term in the MLS for fixer uppers, you hear it when Realtors are working with first time buyers. But the term “starter home” shouldn’t be in anyone’s vocabulary. Here’s why.

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starter homes debt existing home sales

Just words

Collins English Dictionary defines a starter home as a “small, new house which is cheap enough for people who are buying their first home to afford.” You won’t find the phrase too often outside of the real estate industry.

There isn’t much about the etymology of the phrase, but most likely, it’s a marketing ploy to get people to buy into the idea of purchasing another home in a few years.

Grind your gears

Mark Greutman, husband to Lauren Greutman, believes that the term “starter home” should bother people. The phrase implies that you will upgrade later.

Your starter home isn’t good enough for the rest of your life. And not to get into how well Americans have it, what about people who will never be able to afford anything more? Is it an insult to them?

Do you really need two living rooms?

Older generations bought one home and lived in it until they could no longer be independent. In today’s world, we buy a starter home, then upgrade to have more space, to live farther away from our neighbors, to have rooms that are only used once or twice a year, and to make sure you have a 2 or 3 car garage to hold your vehicles and more stuff, some of which isn’t taken out very often.

But consider this: You could pay off your starter home in 15 to 20 years, if you budget right.

You could be out from under a mortgage and have money to travel, send the kids to college, or even retire early. When you think about what led to the financial crisis in 2008, isn’t it better to have a smaller house where you can make the payments than worry about losing your house?

Be content where you are

Realtors are motivated to make sure that they have customers. If people buy one home with the intent to stay, will the market dry up? Probably not, because people move and a new generation will be ready to purchase homes for their own family.

Let’s think about that phrase, “starter home.” It fuels consumerism and discontentment. Don’t call cheaper houses starter homes, but just a home.

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Homeownership

On the fence about buying a house? Low interest rates may change your mind

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) It’s understandable to be unsure about buying a house in COVID times, but there are some good reasons to take advantage right now.

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Buying a home seems intimidating but worth it.

If you’re on the fence about buying a house in the time of COVID, perhaps this will change your mind: For the third consecutive week, interest rates are well below 3% across the board.

Fox Business reports current fixed-rate mortgages as staying below 3% this week—like the last two weeks—with 30-year rates sitting at 2.75 percent. 20- and 15-year fixed rates are rating 2.75% and 2.125%, respectively. That’s a heck of a lot lower than rates were this time last year, and while there’s an obvious culprit with egregious downsides to thank, the fact remains that a pyrrhic thanks may indeed be in order.

Even refinancing rates are substantially lower than usual. A fixed 30-year rate is right at three percent, while rates for shorter time frames are consistently holding at below 2.8%. This proves true for the 13th week in a row, so it seems like now—like 12 weeks ago—is a good time to refinance your home for a lower rate.

While these rates may differ from what you’ll receive when looking to buy, you can generally expect lower interest rates these days—even if your credit isn’t perfect. Other factors that will impact your rate include property location and value, your income, and how much you’re able to afford for the down payment. Similarly, as long as the economy is going through a rough patch, it seems fair to expect that rates will continue to err on the side of lower than average.

As someone with an interest rate over 4% on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, it’s tempting to refinance, especially given that the process for doing so is necessarily contact-free. Even if you’re fully buying a house, though, there’s some merit to entering the market now.

It’s no secret that the economy has slowed down during the pandemic. With the majority of the population hunkering down and sheltering in place, buying a home may not be the first thing that comes to mind for most. Sure, it’s a process that is rife with risk at the moment; however, if your plans for this year included moving anyway, now is a pretty good time to apply.

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Homeownership

Getting a mortgage in 2020, what’s changed?

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) In this unexpected marketplace, here’s some advice on how to get a mortgage in 2020.

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Mortgage papers held in hands with a pen, being handed to the other hands.

Mortgages are terrifying. The idea of being committed to a payment for the next 30 years is a viscerally horrifying concept—which makes it a perfect topic to visit this season. Here is what you need to know about applying for a mortgage in the tail end of 2020.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that while mortgage rates are currently low—the last 3 weeks have seen interest rates dip well below three percent—that doesn’t mean you can expect the lowest possible rate. There are a lot of factors that play into the mortgage rate you receive: Credit, location, estimated value, and even your occupation. For this reason, you should evaluate your own eligibility so you know how “safe” you are before calling your bank.

You should also know that your credit history—while always important—will play even more of a role if you plan on buying any time soon. In the absence of other economic factors, lenders are looking much more closely at debt in comparison to income, and some lenders reserve the right to ask applicants to reduce or eliminate sources of debt before granting a loan.

Another aspect of the loan application process involves extremely timely employment checks—some of which may seem invasive. It isn’t out of the ordinary for lenders to vet applicants’ job stability, including whether or not the job will subject workers to increased risk of contracting COVID; for now, at least, a higher-risk opportunity for you might lead to a more tenuous standing in lenders’ eyes.

Finally, most experts in the loan field agree that helping your loan service help you is a crucial aspect of getting information quickly and accurately—something that is of paramount importance these days. The best way to do this is simply for you to be available to the best of your ability; the quicker you can respond with the necessary information, the faster your selected lender will be able to move you through the application process and get you a quote.

Everything feels uncertain right now, and the real estate field isn’t exempt from that feeling. By following the information here, you can cut back on your own uncertainty—and, in the process, potentially score a decent rate on a mortgage.

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