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Real Estate Brokerage

Bill seeks to overhaul credit reporting

First time buyers have been a decreasing share of the market, but this could make it slightly easier without ever having to change any lending standards.

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Amazing when you think of all the issues that can impact your credit rating, misinformation tops the list with 77% of those complaints involving incorrect information on consumers’ credit reports. Obviously this can create a lot of problems in your life but when it comes to purchasing a home, a bad credit rating (no matter who is at fault) is a real deathblow.

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Changes a-comin’

A proposed overhaul to the credit reporting system, spearheaded by Representative Maxine Waters (CA), a ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, unveiled soon-to-be introduced legislation recently that would make significant reforms aimed at bringing the “broken system” into the 21st century.

An article on Consumerist explains that the measure, entitled the “Comprehensive Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act,” aims to augment requirements on the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), and furnishers that provide information to these CRAs, to ensure consumers aren’t unfairly penalized for incorrect information or outdated debt that may appear on their reports.

End to misleading practices

According to an article on Housing Wire, the bill – among other things – calls for an end to the credit reporting agencies’ “misleading” practice of automatically converting free trial periods for many consumer reporting products and services into paid, monthly subscription services, by requiring the credit reporting agencies to provide “explicit opt-ins” at the end of trial promotions.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg as the hoped-to-passed –reform, according to the Consumerist, includes the follow provisions:

Bad Mortgages: Providing relief to millions of borrowers who were victimized by predatory mortgage lenders and servicers, by removing adverse information about these residential loans that are found to be unfair, deceptive, abusive, fraudulent or illegal.

Disputes: Establish clear standards for credit agencies and furnishers to improve the accuracy of reporting.

For the first time, consumers would have the right to appeal initial reviews of disputed items that are conducted by either credit bureaus or furnishers.

It also would require furnishers, who regularly provide information about their customers to credit bureaus, to inform their customers of this practice and to let them know the first time that they actually report negative information about a specific customer.

It also would require credit reporting agencies to establish dedicated “dispute” pages on their websites that are free of aggressive marketing of products and services.

Decreasing Time On A Report: Ending the unreasonably long time periods that most adverse information can remain on a person’s credit report, shortening such periods by three years.

Student Loans: Giving distressed private education loan borrowers the same chance to repair their credit as federal student loan borrowers, by removing adverse information when delinquent private education loan borrowers make consecutive on-time monthly payments for a certain period of time on their loans.

Medical Debt: The reform would restrict how medical debt appears on credit reports by removing paid and federal medical reports within 40 days. Consumers would also be given a 180 day grace period before medical debt can be put on a report.

A bill whose time has come

The bill will bring much-needed accountability to the credit reporting industry, which will enhance consumer and creditor confidence in the integrity of information on reports and restore fairness in the system.

#CreditBill

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

Real Estate Brokerage

4 tasks your business should consider outsourcing

(REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE) As your business becomes busier and more successful, you may find outsourcing will streamline your workflow. Let’s talk what’s best to outsource.

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Freelance worker at a laptop writing notes in a notebook, outsourcing work.

As your business grows, it becomes impossible to continue doing everything in-house. At some point, you have to think about outsourcing. The question is, which tasks do you hand off in order to maximize efficiency and leverage better talent?

The Pros of Outsourcing

Outsourcing, which is basically the act of taking a job duty or responsibility and paying someone outside of your organization to handle it on your behalf, has become more popular and practical with the rise of the internet and various freelance marketplaces. The advantages of outsourcing include:

  • Cost savings. Outsourcing is a very cost-effective decision, regardless of whether you go with an offshore agency or a local freelancer. Offshore partners can cost as much as 60% less than a similar professional in the U.S. Onshore freelancers are more expensive than offshore options. Still, they’re cheaper than hiring an employee.
  • Time savings. If you hire an outsourced partner to do 20 hours of work per week, that’s 20 hours you’re saving your team. This allows you to reallocate time to focus on the internal tasks that matter most to your organization.
  • Better talent. When you hire full-time employees, your talent pool is often restricted by location and budget. When outsourcing, you have access to more talent than you’d be able to afford when hiring.
  • Leaner business. There’s something to be said for keeping a small team with low overhead and minimal fixed costs. By outsourcing, you’re able to keep your business lean and scalable.

Outsourcing has always been a useful option, but with the current state of remote work and online freelancing, it’s now a practical choice for both small and large businesses.

4 Tasks You Should Outsource

Not all tasks are created equal. But as you consider outsourcing more of your business, here are a few to consider:

1. PPC

PPC advertising can be a significant revenue driver for businesses. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can also be a waste of money. By outsourcing to a PPC marketing agency, you can maximize ad spend and get the best possible results. They’ll charge you a fee, obviously, but the ROI of outsourced PPC almost always overperforms the ROI of in-house PPC (when there’s limited internal experience).

2. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important investment for any business. But much like PPC, it’s highly technical and requires some expertise in order to master. While you can certainly learn some of the basics, you’d be wise to outsource the overall strategy and execution to an experienced professional. (Just make sure you research your options and choose a partner that practices white hat SEO.)

3. Accounting

Is there any task more universally boring than accounting? And yet, at the same time, it’s arguably one of the most important tasks a business owner has on their plate. (If you screw up accounting, you could sink your business in a major hole.) Outsourcing to an accountant or CPA is a great option.

“Having had my own business for 12+ years now, I can say without hesitation that the one area I immediately outsourced was taxes! I’ve never regretted hiring a professional to take care of this tedious – yet vital – task,” entrepreneur Michelle Garret writes. “My accountant saves my money and provides peace of mind, which is priceless.”

The good news is that you can get an outsourced accounting partner fairly inexpensively. Whether you want them to do all of your daily bookkeeping or just your taxes, you should be able to find a good option.

4. Graphic Design

Graphic design is one of those tasks where there’s a huge gap between basic skills and advanced skills. In other words, anyone can learn how to use some basic graphic design tools, but it takes a seasoned and creative professional to truly master the craft. By outsourcing, you can save yourself thousands of hours of learning and advance straight to expert-level output.

Maximize Your Internal Resources

At the end of the day, outsourcing allows you to maximize your resources and do more with less. And while you shouldn’t delegate core business tasks, handing off things like copywriting, PPC, SEO, accounting, and graphic design can free you up to focus on the projects and investments that matter most.

Give it a try and see what it does for you.

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Real Estate Brokerage

Why women don’t self-promote at work as often as men

(CAREER) Being visible and owning well done work continues to be a conundrum for women in the workplace. So stand up and be heard!

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Ladies, if you recently met with your broker (or corporate) for an end-of-the-year review and you failed to share all of your successes and the ways you shined over the last year, you aren’t alone.

A recent study revealed that regardless of the situation, women do not promote themselves in the workplace as much as their male colleagues.

What is clear from the information gathered – women need to realize they are badasses in the workplace and be unwavering in their belief in themselves. And, be ready to share this information with their supervisors or clients if they wish to earn more.

The study, conducted by Christine Exley, an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and Judd Kessler, an associate professor at Wharton, found there is a broad (no pun intended) gender gap when it comes to self-promotion in the workplace.

As many raises and promotions to higher level roles are dependent upon an employee’s self-evaluation, women are more at risk of missing out on getting hired or higher earning opportunities. In real estate, this quality limits earning potential and can have rippling long-term effects.

The pair considered multiple hypotheses from whether women were less confident and men more, to whether it was a matter of taking advantage of systems where self-promotion leads to incentives, to whether a boss would eventually find out the truth about a worker’s ability.

“In every setting we explored, we observed a substantial gender gap in self-promotion: Women systematically provided less favorable assessments of their own past performance and potential future ability than equally performing men. And our various study versions revealed that this gender gap was not driven by confidence or by strategic incentives, and that it was robust both in the face of ambiguity and under increased transparency,” the pair stated.

What could be at play? If women are punished for excessive self-promotion in the workplace more than men, they are more likely to keep their successes to themselves, the researchers speculate. Prior research into self-promotion in the workplace found that excessive self-promotion suggested gender differences in backlash.

As if we were still living in the 1950s, women often face backlash for being too vocal about their abilities, and risk losing out on promotions because being visible and self-promotional goes against the idea of how a woman should behave. So, while being visible and taking ownership is the way to get ahead in the workplace, for many women the risk of backlash means they sit and remain quiet, being passed over because they fear being labeled “a bitch,” as the study found.

What Exley and Judd determined is there is the need for more research into they “why” of this conundrum.

Meanwhile, the pair’s message is this: Employers (and brokers), don’t overlook women on your team. They may not be as vocal about how good they are, but that doesn’t mean their performance is inferior. And to women out their busting ass and closing deals – take note of your accomplishments and promote your worth when in the field and in the office!

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Real Estate Brokerage

Refocusing your team before the year is over

(REAL ESTATE) It’s that time of year again – holidays distract and procrastination sets in, so here’s how to refocus your team before they are led astray by the calendar.

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This time of year is always difficult in terms of focus. We universally obsess over resolutions at the beginning of the year and try to be motivated to perfect our lives. But by the end of the year, reality has set in and we still haven’t bought a home in Belize or lost 25 lbs.

If you’re a broker or team manager and are noticing this lethargy or discouraged state with your team focus, consider stepping up as a leader to get the team to refocus.

As the seasons change, so can our moods. It can be helpful to have quarterly check-ins with your team (either one-on-one or as a group) to discuss current methods, trends, what’s expected on either side, and what can be improved. This form of open communication helps employees de-stress and may help them recharge and regain motivation.

Another communicative form can be found in surveys. Sending check-in surveys via email to your team to assess their feelings of the workload, the market, and to voice any concerns they have. It can be a great way to open the door for bigger, more important conversations. These surveys can be formatted to be answered anonymously, as well.

Be sure to always be accessible and focused yourself, as you’re setting the barometer of expectation. Allowing for this open communication can let you know what can be improved on your end, which can aid in refocusing.

Another way to bring your team focus together is by hosting a quarterly lunch for everyone. This helps your agents to bond, while also feeling like their work is being appreciated; therefore, motivating them to keep on producing well.

At the end of the day, you can’t be everyone’s friend. So if you’re observing behavior that seems to be unproductive or unfocused, don’t be afraid to speak frankly. Sometimes all it takes is for that behavior to be acknowledged to convince someone to step up their game.

Remember – each team and each manager is different. The attempt to get everyone on the same page and to continuously make strides as a team can take trial and error, but it’s something to always be cognizant of to avoid issues in the future and keep sales on track.

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