Your Listings on Zillow: How to Triple Your Views & Capture More Leads
While a great profile can be a powerful (and free) lead magnet, there is another even more powerful way to generate leads on Zillow: your listings. After all, the entire reason Zillow exists is to allow homebuyers to browse homes for sale. (more…)
The kids are headed back to the classroom and it got me thinking that a lot of adults could use some schooling as well. So much has changed in mortgage and real estate in the last few years and recent numbers from Black Knight Financial Services show evidence of housing market recovery:
- Home prices are up 5.3% year-over-year
- Prices as of June rose for the 50th consecutive month
Interest rates are still low, but a lot of young people grew up during a time of great real estate distress and haven’t experienced the strong markets that propelled the worth and wealth building of their parents. They also haven’t experienced the evolution of interest rates and how high they’ve been to know anything other than the “historic lows” we’ve had for years. They won’t last…it’s time to get schooled up on the current market and what’s involved in buying a home to make an educated decision as to whether homeownership is possible and the right decision for the long run. The GCS Title team and I work with many outstanding, experienced real estate and mortgage professionals who can “teach” you what’s involved in the process and “instruct” you on your options. We’re happy to introduce you! ~Charlie
Zillow has been busy. That makes sense – it takes a lot of research activity and media attention to create the massive online presence they have. Their latest release is a data analysis with this headline: “14% of Renters Can Afford to Buy.” It’s human nature to react to headlines, and that’s a statement that can either prompt people to say, “Maybe I can qualify to buy a home!” or “There’s more than an 80% chance I can’t qualify to buy a home.” Outside of an initial reaction to a news story, many renters really do want to know two things: Could I buy a home? Should I buy a home? It’s definitely worth finding out the answer to both of these questions.
The “could” question can easily be answered by talking to a qualified mortgage loan officer. Qualified lenders can tell you what your status is now and help you get prepared to get approved for a loan if you’re not quite ready or have some work or organizing to do with your financing. A loan officer can help you plan and give you a timeline.
The “should” question is a little more complicated. Ultimately, the individual consumer needs to decide that homeownership is for them. Realtors can provide information to help you decide if owning a home will help you move forward with your goals in the short and long term. Housing is the biggest monthly expense most of us have. Advice from a qualified mortgage loan officer and Realtor can help you figure out how to get the best return on that huge monthly investment.
The GCS Title team and I can introduce you to great people who can help you answer the “coulds” and “shoulds” of owning a home. We’re here to help! ~Charlie
I’m surprised to hear that a member of the public knows what title insurance IS, so imagine my reaction when I heard someone “got in a fight about title insurance.” A friend is on the Board of Directors of her condominium association and apparently got in quite the dustup with others on the board over whether or not they needed to buy title insurance on parking spaces the association was buying downtown Minneapolis. Luckily, she was in the majority and the association purchased policies for all of the spaces, but some common perceptions and misperceptions about title insurance came up in the “argument.” Dissenting board members argued the following things:
- Title insurance is expensive.
Well, it does cost money – but the price is nothing compared to the expense of defending yourself against a lawsuit, mechanic’s lien or another hostile claim to the ownership of and equity in your property.
- We’re buying five parking spaces, but we only need title insurance on one.
Wrong! These parking spaces are newly-constructed and the chance of mechanic’s liens popping up is higher than on a piece of property that has been built for many years. Also, every owner of each piece of property generally gets named in the types of suits that these new spaces are vulnerable to. If something went wrong, the only space protected would be the one with a policy.
- Title companies only insure things when there is no risk.
Wrong again. I could tell you so many stories….
There’s a reason lenders require title insurance policies – they need to make sure their interests are protected. Home buyers should do the same. Title insurance protects you against things you never imagined would come up. The lady that went to the mat to convince her condo board to buy title insurance was pushing to spend some of the association’s money – but the amount they paid is well worth what they’ll save if there’s a problem. Got questions? The GCS Title team and I are here – call anytime! ~Charlie
If you read the team bios at gcstitle.com, you’ll notice themes: We all appreciate how every day in this business is different, we thrive on solving problems and we love helping people – not only buyers and sellers who are going through an important transaction that they only do a handful of times in their lives, but the Realtors as well. The 2016 National Association of Realtors member profile came out recently and I noticed that the median gross income for agents with 16 years of experience or more went up $4600 last year – great news for those seasoned pros. Not so great news was the fact that NAR members with two years of experience or less fell $600. Being self-employed and working on straight commission is challenging and we understand the importance of every client and transaction to the Realtors we work with and we consistently work to help agents and loan officers to develop business instead of simply asking them for it.
Closings and everything that goes into them is our business at GCS but we believe our role extends beyond that in the industry and beyond. We also work with our real estate and lending partners to reach out to the buying and selling public, participate in community events with Spare Key, support our veterans through organizations like the American Warrior Initiative. We believe we’re all in this together and we’re always looking for ways to support our partners and community. How can we help you? ~Charlie
Home prices are up again, though not as much as previous months. It’s funny…the real estate and lending industry trades announce things like the 5% year-over-year home appreciation gain noted in the April S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index cautiously because the April gain was less than the one in March. Here’s where you need to grab the grain of salt: The gain was 5.1% in March – so the “drop” was a whopping .1%. Here’s what the Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at the S&P Dow Jones Indices had to say: “… the greatest threat to U.S. housing may come from across the Atlantic and from the domestic political scene.” While the Brexit vote and the crazy presidential race we’re watching are important, they don’t change the fact that we all need a place to live and the biggest expense most people have each month goes to housing. SO, as industry experts and TV pundits wring their hands in print, on air and online, talk to local industry experts about what’s going on in your neighborhood, city and personal housing scenario. Ask questions…find out how you’re doing personally and if there are any adjustments that you should or could make to protect yourself or advance your goals. Checking in with experienced real estate and mortgage professionals should be part of a regular routine. The news can be really scary, but your local experts are here to interpret markets and events and can give you great advice and peace of mind.
A lot of new rules and changes have hit the real estate and mortgage industries in the last few years. Here’s a little background and an update and then we’ll get to what you really need to know.
The intent of a lot of these new regulations – and all the acronyms that go along with them like CFPB and TRID – is to educate and protect consumers. The Dodd Frank Act is responsible for a lot of changes in the way business is done going forward and there are many folks opposed to all or part of the sweeping bill. A congressman from Texas has now introduced what he calls “the Republican plan to replace Dodd-Frank and promote economic growth.” Its name is Financial CHOICE Act— complete with its own acronym that stands for “Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs.” It’s not clear if it will get anywhere – there’s no companion bill in the Senate yet or official reaction from the rest of Washington.
It’s almost impossible to keep track of everything politicians are up to with regard to real estate and mortgage regulation. For now, know this: You need to surround yourself with great professionals who are up to date on the rules, timelines and how to make the transaction go as smooth as possible for everyone involved. At GCS Title, we have an amazing team dedicated to doing just that. Meet our great people here: https://www.gcstitle.com/meet-the-team/
Whether you’re a Realtor, a loan officer, a homeowner or potential buyer, we want you to know “we get it” and we’re here to help. Call us any time! ~Charlie
The summer could be a rollercoaster based on new information from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and online real estate resource Zillow. Sales of existing homes went up 1.7% between March and April and they’re up six-percent year-over-year. Prices are higher too: NAR reports that the median home price has jumped 6.3% from April 2015, making this the 50th consecutive month of annual home price gains. So there’s the highs – the lows have to do with housing inventory. The April Zillow Real Estate Market Report shows there are 3.4% fewer homes on the market today than there were this time last year. There’s an eight-percent drop in the number of homes for sale in the entry level price range, making it even tougher for first-time home buyers than other property categories. So we’ve got a supply and demand situation that’s driving prices up. I’m not bringing this up to scare people, but rather to make them aware. These market conditions mean it’s more important than ever for consumers to make sure they’re working with experience, full-time, qualified real estate and mortgage professionals. When bidding wars are likely, top-notch representation is critical. GCS is here to help home buyers and sellers have a great experience throughout the closing process and we work with outstanding Realtors and loan officers every day. Let us know if you’d like to meet one! ~Charlie
It can be hard – and actually kind of boring – to keep up with everything lawmakers are passing that affects the real estate and mortgage industries in the interest of “protecting consumers.” The latest development out of Washington D.C. is passage of the SAFE Transitional Licensing Act that basically gives mortgage loan officers a temporary license when making a change. Those changes could be between companies or across state lines. Why should anyone who isn’t a lender in transition care? The government has spent a lot of time examining the real estate process – lending practices, settlement procedures, licensing, disclosures and marketing rules after the “real estate bubble burst” and the “mortgage meltdown.” All the new rules and scrutiny came after the waves of foreclosures and underwater properties that did in fact cause a great deal of suffering for individuals and the economy. Politicians will always be busy making laws – it’s what they do. We at GCS and the Realtors and lenders we work with also understand that consumers must be protected and empowered. Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, there are many times when real estate and mortgage professionals can be helpful – even outside the times when you’re buying, selling or refinancing. The housing and finance crises of years past have made Realtors and loan officers necessary members of your “household finance team” and they can help you stay on top of your home’s value, your credit, your ability to make a move and your options at any given time. Take advantage of their knowledge and commitment to neighborhoods, communities and your ability to build worth and wealth through homeownership! ~Charlie
Pretty much everybody wants a pat on the back, but absolutely everybody likes money in their pocket. New home price information doesn’t exactly put money in your pocket – more like in your portfolio. CoreLogic says home prices went up 2.1% between February and March and they’re up 6.7% year over year between March 2015 and 2016. Here’s what CoreLogic’s chief economist Frank Nothaft said:
“Housing helped keep U.S. economic growth afloat in the first quarter of 2016 as residential investment recorded its strongest gain since the end of 2012. Low interest rates and increased home building suggest that housing will continue to be a growth driver.”
To real estate and mortgage professionals, these numbers are encouraging for the market and business. Consumers may take them either way…renters in particular may get nervous and think homeownership is out of their reach before they’ve taken even the most preliminary steps to pursue it. Let’s work together to get the word out that while “timing is everything,” it’s also very individualized. Getting help and guidance from professional Realtors and loan officers will help determine the right time to buy a home and getting into one will help people start building equity. Their pocketbooks will appreciate it. Let’s help them get started! ~ Charlie