Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What do Real Estate Agents and Olympic Athletes Have In Common?

What do Real Estate Agents and Olympic Athletes have in common?  More than you think...

Today's post was far too entertaining not to pass along - thank you to Realtor.org members blog for this article. Murray Group followers, we hope you enjoy and share!

Competing in real estate has more in common with the Olympic games than you may have guessed. Preparation and determination are key to being a successful REALTOR® in any one single sale. But to be a champion in real estate, you need to be skilled in a wide variety of events — think of real estate as a pentathlon and you’ll achieve ultimate success.

100 Meter Dash: Short Sales and Foreclosures — REALTORS® face stiff competition when handling short sales. The competition is fast with aggressive inventors and salespeople who move quickly to turn over properties and game the system. To compete in this market you need to get a good jump and sprint through the finish. Don’t come up short when faced with short sales. Keep your head up and win the race.

Marathon: Selling to Millennials and First-Time Homebuyers — Selling property to buyers new to the housing market requires you to run that extra mile for your client. Many questions basic questions about mortgages, neighborhoods and property values and assessments can come up. Remember, this is not a sprint. Take the time to answer questions and to give advice that is clear and consistent. Slow and steady will win this race. For tips on selling to new, young buyers, check out our blog posts, Who Are Gen Y and What Do They Want From Me? and 10 Tips for Selling to First-Time Homebuyers.

Synchronized Swimming: Running a Brokerage — Synchronized swimmers are judged on their ability to stay on the same page with their team, which is not so different from working as a broker. While the buyer and seller might have different goals and skill sets, everyone needs to tread water at the same pace in order to close the deal. When it’s not enough to just stay afloat, keeping the team in line is essential. If you’re interested in keeping sales in sync, you may want to be a broker.

Hurdles: Avoiding Marketing Roadblocks in Real Estate — As with hurdles in the marketplace, Olympic hurdles are minor obstacles that get in the way of a successful finish. But if you’re skilled at taking care of the automatics and avoiding pitfalls like poorly like boring email campaigns and lack of analytics, you’ll be able to focus on the big picture on the fast-track to success. Since the best way to avoid a hurdle is to practice jumping it, here are 8 Marketing Mistakes REALTORS® Should Avoid.

Boxing: Landing as Many Sales as Possible — In real estate, like Olympic boxing, it’s not always about how hard you hit, it’s how many points you can score. REALTORS® who constantly keep their client funnel active and open and don’t look for one or two big scores are more likely to win over the course of multiple rounds. One of the best ways to land multiple combinations is to diversify your punch arsenal by keeping up with real estate designations and certifications. If you have the stamina to work a constant amount of business you’ll take home real estate gold.

Do you have a favorite sports analogy when it comes to selling real estate? What gets you motivated to bring your A-game?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Will a Home Theatre Increase your Home's Selling Price?

We asked 10 area realtors and the overall concensus was this:  "You will not get more than what you pay for it, for sure."

It is a personal taste issue.

A lot of people who built home theater setups into their home during the 90s and the early 2000s built them for the big boxy projection tvs which are slowly dying off and being replaced by flat LCDs (and to an extent Plasmas).

 So the question is how big you go, when will you sell, and how much room will you leave to change.

It might increase value if you put an LCD in thats bigger than 55" and if you sell within the next 3-5 years (before 60" LCDs start selling for closer to $1,000).

Other than that, the size, style, and definition on tvs might change so much that a buyer will only see your home built setup as something they would need to take out or alter. Thus making it somewhat of a negative to your home.

Would you lower the price of your house by the amount of the system to get it sold quickly?

Concensus here was to include appliances first. Your kitchen is where the dollar for dollar upgrades hold their value. updated baths, too.  What will hold resale value is the sound system you put in. Wall mounted speakers that are not obvious and in wall speaker wiring are huge bonuses.  And stick to best known name brands like JBL, Pioneer and Bose.

Age of Buyer Matters

Also, the condo market around Raleigh is often either young people or older people trying to downsize, so keep the buyer in mind.  Some elderly couple who can't hear well will most likely not care. A younger couple might think its the most excellent thing they have ever witnessed. All in all it won't effect the value much but may help it move. In a time when houses are sitting on the market for over a year anything which may help it move is a good idea. But remember not to spend too much money. You have to weigh it out really.
 But don't forget, quality products in speakers, wiring, and receiver will be more appealing to a buyer than something that might make them think they will need to replace it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

To The Rescue! Tips for Reviving Floors to Show Ready Condition

Agents, distribute these useful tips for cleaning floors and carpeting in your listing kits. It will help your clients prepare better for the hustle and bustle of showings and open houses!

Keeping an extra clean house is the key to a timely sell. Buyers are looking for a home that is clean and well maintained. They will certainly notice the condition of your floors and carpeting.  Unless the flooring is completely ruined - and I mean yucky beyond repair, you don't have to go all out and replace flooring to sell your home.  Just do some thorough cleaning so people can envision themselves in your home, not in your dirt!

Cleaning Floors

Carpeted Floors.   Unless your carpet appears old and worn, is full of pet soiled stains, or it is definitely an outdated style and color, you probably should do nothing more than hire a good carpet cleaner. If you do choose to replace it, do so with something inexpensive (match your house price range) in a fairly neutral color.

Hardwood Floors. You can remove surface dirt from any hardwood floor by either sweeping with a broom or vacuuming with a soft brush attachment. Be sure to go around baseboards, paying particular attention to corners.

Depending on the finish, hardwood floors may require different care and cleaning. Floors with a high sheen most likely have a polyurethane topcoat. These sealed floors can be cleaned with a minimally damp mop. Unsealed wood floors can be cleaned with mineral spirits and then waxed for a rich glow.

Repairing Water Damage. Sand the damaged area. Start with medium sand paper, and finish with fine sand paper. Vacuum the dust, and wipe the area with a dampened cloth; use mineral spirits with oil-based stains and water with latex stains.

Stain the sanded area to match the rest of the floor. Mix a few different stains to get the best color match for your floor. Be sure to only mix oil-based with oil-based and latex with latex stains. Test the colors on a piece of sanded, unstained wood that is the same type as your floor. Check while the stain is still wet - as it best replicates the polyurethane.

When the stain is dry, coat the floor with polyurethane according to manufacturer's instructions.

Cleaning Ceramic and Stone Tile. Clean tiles with a vacuum, or sweep. Tile can be mopped easily with a mild detergent mixed with water. Avoid abrasive cleaners that scratch the tile or acidic solutions that can degrade grouting. Use only enough water to remove dirt and grime, particularly if there are cracked tiles. Too much water could seep and damage the subflooring.

Repair or replace broken floor tiles, but do not spend a lot of money on anything. Remember, you are not fixing up the place for yourself. You want to move. Your goal is simply to have few negative impressions upon those who may want to purchase your property.

Cleaning Vinyl or Linoleum Flooring. This type of flooring is the easiest to clean. Vacuum or sweep, and mop with a mild detergent mixed with water. Rinse with water since detergent residue can dull the shine. As with tile, if seams are separating, water can seep to the subflooring. Remove stubborn scuffmarks with a dry eraser (like a pencil eraser) or textured mop attachment.

We hope you enjoyed today's tips.  Remember to have your clients contact The Murray Group for the best mortgage experience in the Triangle.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Update on Crisis in Colorado

Not our normal subject today - but the subject is huge, as is the shock of the ‘once again.’   There really are not words enough.  Our prayers go out to everyone affected by this horrific event.  Our hope is that no other nutcase gets the same idea and that all movie theaters will install metal detectors for the safety of everyone, everywhere.  (sad but probably needed from now on...)

UPDATE: The 3 month old child has pulled through. Six different hospitals in Denver and Aurora are packed with victims of ‘chemical exposure’ and devastating gunshot wounds, one a six year old child. The ages of persons injured are from 3 months to 31 years old it is reported.

UPDATE: Reports now are reporting not knowing whether it is 12 or 14 who have been murdered. It appears the number of deaths is 12.

Early Morning Hours July 20, 2012:
A clearly insane person with a gun (again) it is said stood up at the front of the theatre at a midnight showing of the new film “The Dark Knight Rises” and began firing into the peaceful crowd of theatre-goers.
Panic ensued, 911 was flooded with pleas for help, people in the theatre next door at first thought all the sudden screaming was in the film itself, but then realized that everyone’s life was in danger.

Right now, all news media are asking/begging for all who were in theatre and who are alive to please call home and let their people know they are still alive. People are screaming and crying from seeing children shot.

Parents are rushing to Gateway highschool in Aurora Colorado which is the rendezvous point of first response officers helping to process matching up people with their families.

I have to say, this is what happened after the Columbine massacre, the rendezvous at a public school, and the scene there was just horrendous as parents found out their children were either alive, or dead. Ripped our hearts heart out, beyond heartbreak.

One suspect has been apprehended, a young man (unconfirmed 24 years old) who apparently threw a gas canister before opening fire into the crowd of about 300 souls. People tried to flee, many on hands and knees, others pouring blood from mouth and wounds, and others tried to drag the wounded with them.
The suspect was found hiding in the parking lot with a rifle and hand gun, gas mask, bragging he had more explosives and gas in his home.

There is talk right now that there may be a second suspect.

Some people, meaning young people and children were dressed up with Batman t-shirts and the little Batman ears on their heads, as people have done for Pirates of the Carribean with Johnny Depp, and of course for any of the midnight cult films. Innocent. Innocent. Innocent.

But the tell about how certain adult psyches are arranged is that when something like this happens, most recently to Gabriel Giffords, and we are still not and will never be recovered from the many women shot to death in Canada, nor Cho’s murder victims at Virginia Tech, nor Columbine, nor nor nor… the tell is when there is a massacre, instead of profound compassion and outpouring of grief by the’ over the top’ gun rights crowd, braying and mocking commences about “prying my cold dead hands off my rifle’.

¡Basta! As a member of NRA off and on for decades, and supporting rifle badges for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, I despair that honest gun owners will realize and act decisively as a bloc instead of being led by those of the old cadre –the largest org of gun owners could be the heroes of the universe– if they made legislatively sure firearms never came into insane people’s possession. It is not true that this cannot be done. It can. It’s not that it’s where there’s a will there’s a way. It’s: Where there is will and conscience, there’s a way to safeguard innocent lives from being ambushed and suddenly predated upon by ‘a man with a gun’ who has no regard for human life whatsoever.

President Obama has been notified and made a statement with his wife, Michelle, about this massacre.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

See The World's Top Real Estate Markets

We thought taking a trip around the world today would be a fun idea.  Not only will the photos be great eye candy, the growth each country is seeing is interesting. 

But watch out - there is an eye-opening ending to this post - if you dare read the last  paragraphs... (we are not being sensationalists - we are simply stating some facts).

Enjoy today's "Trip Around the World" - and if you need to talk local market - drop me a line.  Would love to hear from you today!

10. Switzerland
5-year price growth: 27.5 percent

9. Malaysia
5-year price growth: 28.5 percent 

8. Norway
5-year price growth: 28.7 percent 

7. Canada
5-year price growth: 28.7 percent 

Since it's so close to home - a commentary here is welcomed:
Canada's housing market has stayed robust over the past few years, unlike its neighbor the U.S., where the housing market is still to recover from the 2008 global financial crisis. The country's most populous province Ontario, which has seen heavy investment come into condominiums, had multiple urban starts shoot up more than 50 percent in March, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The IMF warned in December that Canadian homes were overpriced on average by 10 percent .

Canada's most expensive property market, Vancouver, has also been a big draw for foreign buyers.  The average price for a residential property in Vancouver was $734,207 in December, compared with the national average of $358,261, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. 

OK - back to our trip:

6. Taiwan
5-year price growth: 30.1 percent 

5. Colombia
5-year price growth: 39.4 percent 

4. Singapore (the most expensive market in Southeast Asia - by the way...)
5-year price growth: 50.5 percent 

3. Israel
5-year price growth: 54.5 percent 

2. Hong Kong
5-year price growth: 93.7 percent 

And Number One 

1. China 
5-year price growth: 110.9 percent 

So, are you having your children learn Chinese?  Some warn it is a must these days, even more than Spanish. China is growing fast and furious - and they own a lot of it around the U.S.  Here in Cary there is a school that has a Chinese Mandarin Immersion language program.  

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and today we owe China more than a trillion dollars.  By running a gigantic trade deficit with us, China has been able to become incredibly wealthy.  We have begged them to lend us back some of the money that we have sent them and this has made them even wealthier.  Now China is gobbling up U.S. real estate and U.S. assets at an astounding pace.  In fact, some cities are in danger of becoming completely dominated by Chinese ownership.  

Some speculate that Toledo Ohio could become the first US city to be owned by the Chinese.  They have been gobbling up commercial properties there for a few years now...

In many "rust belt" areas, real estate can be had for a song, and the Chinese are taking full advantage of this.  In fact, the mayor of Toledo is encouraging it...Toledo is being promoted to Chinese investors as a "5-star logistics region".  (From Toledo it is very easy to get to Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Indianapolis.)

America was once the wealthiest nation on earth, but now we are drowning in debt and we are being sold off in chunks to the highest bidder. 

Is this the legacy that we are going to leave for future generations?

Monday, July 16, 2012

3 Top Myths About FHA Loans

Good Morning Triangle Real Estate Agents! FHA loans are especially popular with first-time buyers who don’t have much of a down payment saved up. But FHA loans are also commonly misunderstood.  Please pass this helpful article along to your buy side clients and encourage them to contact me if they have any questions.  Thank you and Happy Monday!

Myth #1: Anyone can qualify for an FHA loan.

Truth: Not everyone will qualify. Generally speaking, it’s easier to qualify for an FHA home loan than a conventional mortgage loan. But that doesn’t mean they’re available to everyone. In fact, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recently tightened up their lending standards for FHA loans. One of the changes affects people with low credit scores. If your credit score is below 580, you’ll have to make a larger down payment. If your score is way below 580, you probably won’t get approved for the loan. With good credit, you’ll still have to make a down payment of at least 3.5% to get approved. You’ll also need to document your income and expenses, to show that you can afford the monthly payments.

Myth #2: You can get an FHA loan with no money down.

Truth: In the current economy, you can’t get any kind of loan without making a down payment of some kind. The days of “easy credit” and “no money down” disappeared when the housing bubble burst. The minimum down payment for an FHA loan is currently 3.5%. And, as mentioned earlier, you’ll need a credit score of 580 or higher to qualify for the 3.5% down payment. If your score falls below that cutoff point, you’ll have to put 10% down.

Myth #3: FHA loans are safer, because the government will bail you out if you fall behind.

Truth: Wishful thinking. If you fall behind on an FHA home loan, you can be foreclosed upon — the same as any other type of loan. Remember, the FHA is not the one giving you the money. You must apply for one of these mortgages through an FHA-approved lender. The government just insures the lender against losses resulting from borrower default. So the lender can still foreclose on you, if you fail to make your payments. As an FHA borrower, you might have more workout solutions and modification options available, but that’s about it. The FHA will not “bail you out.” So make sure you buy an affordable house!

If you would like to learn more about FHA loans and how they work, contact me, Christopher Murray today.  "We do FHA loans in house and we do them well!"


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Real Estate Agents, Is Your Marketing Behind the Times?

“Is it sufficient that you have learned to drive the car, or shall we look and see what is under the hood? Most people go through life without ever knowing.”

June Singer, Ph.D., Jungian psychoanalyst (1920 - 2004) 

What challenges us? What holds us back? What brings out our resolve, our better side, our ability to endure?
There's a fine line between taking pride in a "do it yourself" attitude and knowing your limitations. For example, home ownership is one of those areas where it can be a good idea to paint your own kitchen, but a really bad idea to decide to rewire your own house. 
 So goes it in Real Estate Marketing -  it may be a "must" to do some of the marketing yourself - like attending networking events, listing appointments and Open Houses yourself.  But it may be disasterous for you to try and manage your own single property websites completely on your own.

Technology is a Must

This is vital for your business. While you might not need to know how to program your own iOS app, the generations of younger buyers coming up will have been raised on technology. They're used to hacking their own devices, personalizing everything, and expect agents who can keep up with the current forms of digital and social communication.
So which is scarier? Playing with new technology, or the idea of going out of business because clients are moving toward increasingly tech-savvy agents? 

I think we all know the answer to that one. If you want to keep playing, go where the game is and get on the field.
Start tinkering now! The Murray Group offers our agent partners free marketing support that helps you grow your business - inquire with Chris Murray today to learn more.



What is your biggest challenge when listing a new home?