Environment

The One Chart That Explains Why You Can’t Find a Home to Purchase

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Summer is not only the time every school age child looks forward to, it is also the traditional time of year that many families eagerly look forward to buying a new home. In fact, historical home sales data shows that the month of June is typically the busiest month for buying and selling real estate. As the school year ends, families execute plans they made in the spring to move to a new school district or buy a larger home. This year the challenge that many will face is the shortage of affordable homes available to buy.

This shortage of available housing is not a short term problem. With an ever growing population and housing construction that lags way behind the country’s population growth, the lack of available housing will continue into the foreseeable future. While news headlines have covered the annual increase in housing over the past five years, the actual data shows that the number of homes for sale is still at record lows. When you look at the actual amount of new homes being built and take into consideration the continued population growth, a clear picture comes into view of what challenges still lie ahead for potential homebuyers (refer to graph below).

Keep in mind that the “increase” in new home construction in 2016, compares to the same actual levels of new construction in 1982, when the country was in the midst of a deep recession. However, after the 1982 recession, home construction immediately and significantly rose again in 1983. There is no such increase in new homes being constructed in 2017 and the population of the country has increased by over 100 million people since 1982.

Want to know why home prices keep going up and you can’t find a home to buy? It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. There is an ever increasing demand driven by a growing population and a lack of inventory of homes for those buyers in the market to make offers on.

With the current rate and foreseeable future of new home construction remaining stagnant, this won’t be a short-term problem but rather a systematic long-term challenge for many trying to buy their first home or next home. You can expect home prices will continue to rise and affordable housing options will be in high demand driving up prices to even higher levels. The supply of new and existing homes available for sale across the country will remain very tight.

Homeownership is not just part of the American dream of freedom and independence, but also the number one way for most people to improve their long-term financial security. While it may be costly this year to buy a home, more than most likely it will be even more expensive next year. The law of supply and demand won’t change. Your best bet is to sit down and build a personal plan to achieve your family’s home ownership goals and financial needs and begin to take action to achieve those goals. On this topic, time is of the essence.

Best wishes for a fantastic, fun-filled summer and a successful home buying season!

Peter

My 7 Essential Personality Traits for Success in Selling Anything

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Companies and individuals spend a lot of money on sales training in order to increase revenue, or in the case of individuals, to grow their incomes.  Entry level sales training teaches sales people what to say or present. More advanced training teaches salespeople what to ask.  Learning to ask questions to potential clients is a better way to gain more sales than just learning what to present.  However, there is still a large gap between sales people’s incomes who participate and complete the exact same question based sales training program.  Some of this can be explained by work ethic, more successful sales people typically prepare more and work harder.  However, while you can learn how to effectively ask questions to prospective clients, there are also certain personality traits I have learned that you will need to develop in order to be in the top 1% of wage earners in your profession.

In sales, asking questions is critical to your success. You have to ask questions to identify and qualify potential clients and then ask more specific questions to help uncover their real needs. In order to provide more value to the potential client than your competitors, you must ask better questions. If you become better at asking questions and develop the following seven traits, you will outsell everyone!

Empathy – People do business with individuals they like, but they are more likely to buy from sales people who demonstrate empathy towards them.  Empathy is not sympathy.  Empathy is the ability to understand another’s situation, feelings, and motives. It is one thing to be liked, it is another to be seen as someone who can relates to a client’s specific situation and offer guidance.

Ego Drive – Top sales people learn to develop internal motivation which allows them to work hard and be seen as confident. They also know there is a line between having the ego drive necessary to succeed, and being seen as someone who is egotistical.  Egotistical is not a personality trait that is attractive. Being ego driven is a trait that lets clients know with certainty that you’re an individual who is determined to succeed and one who has enthusiasm and confidence in what they are selling. Ego drive is the motor inside every great sales person.

Customer Service Focused – No longer can a sales person take the attitude of ‘sell them and leave them’. The entire world is connected 24 hours a day, and this ease of access to information has given rise to an abundance of customer service ranking websites.  If you mishandle a client, there is a very good chance they won’t just tell their close friends, they may also tell everyone on the Internet.

Resilience – Sales is one of the top earning professions in the world.  The rewards are great, but many enter the sales profession with great hope, only to find out that you hear a lot of no’s. Resilience is the ability to overcome obstacles for a long period of time to achieve a big goal. The top performers have developed the grit necessary to keep going past the no’s and start again with the same enthusiasm on display for each client meeting.

Seek Knowledge – People fall into two different decision making styles. They either make decisions first, and then seek affirmations, or they seek knowledge and expertise and then make a decision. If you want to break out of the decision making that has led you to fall short of your sales goals, you have to be in the latter of these two decision making styles. The people who are thriving in sales are always seeking knowledge to become better.

Process Driven – Successful companies all have a process for maximizing business systems and capabilities. The same is true of top sales people. They are process driven and build a sales process for attracting new clients.  They take each candidate through the same process that mirrors their client’s decision making cycle. What can be repeated, can be improved.

Adaptable – Successful sales people are able to work in the present and have a plan to get better tomorrow. They have managed to navigate the ever-changing business climate by acquiring the skills that allow them to adapt and grow. It’s not good enough to say you had a decent sales meeting, the top sales people document what went well and what could be improved upon after each client meeting.

No one is born having all of these traits, great sales people work to create them. Which of these traits do you have to work on to reach the top of your profession?

All the best!

Peter

Why Most Businesses and Individuals Don’t Reach Their New Year Goals

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As the New Year begins, there is never a shortage of newly developed business plans and individual resolutions that are built and created.  Each time I go online, a new social media post or article will pop up addressing the importance of goal setting, offering motivating tips and techniques on setting goals for your business, career or personal life.  In a recent google search I conducted for the term ‘goal setting’, the search produced 15.9 million results!  There is definitely not a shortage of information on how to set goals and build plans.  What there is a shortage of, is people and enterprises that actually reach their goals.

It’s not setting goals, building business plans or creating New Year’s resolutions that are the problem, it’s knowing what the real obstacles are that you are going to have to overcome that keeps people from achieving the results they desire.  Whether you are setting S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based) or B.H.A.G. (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), if you do not know what hurdles you will be encountering you won’t know the proper steps  to take to leap over them. You can do a lot of things right with regards to staying positive, taking care of your health, visualizing your success, having an accountability partner and still end up short of reaching your goals. Without conducting the proper research of the obstacles you will encounter during your journey, you will become either discouraged or unprepared to reach your desired outcome or win against your competition when you reach the difficult part of executing your plan.

It’s not only important to know what to do to reach your goals, it is equally important to know what the real obstacles will be to reach your goals that far too often are overlooked.  Not understanding the difficulties of achieving a worthwhile goal leads people to underestimate what actions are required to accomplish their goals. Most people have no challenges with dreaming big, they are challenged with understanding how much work is needed to overcome the unidentified obstacles they will encounter along their journey. However, you can overcome this universal goal setting deficiency with proper research that identifies the obstacles ahead of you and gives you insight on actions to take to overcome those challenges.

Through research you find out who and what you are competing against. What is the result that matters and what relevant skills will you need to develop to achieve the goal. It does not matter whether it is for advancing your career, launching a new business, or losing weight; proper research is the first step to get you on the right path to success to reach your goal. Research also helps you identify the pitfalls to avoid. It allows you to know what has been done before, and what the needs, rewards, trends, and new developments are. You can also discern what to learn and what to avoid. Good planning is a component of research. Sounds simple enough, but how much time do we spend researching and planning versus just having a plan. A plan and planning are two distinctly different items. Research is a part of planning that educates and provides you an organized format for both the goals you want to achieve and identifies the obstacles you will encounter along the way.

Napoleon Hill, in his bestselling book, Think and Grow Rich, wrote, “Anybody can wish for riches, and most people do, but only a few know that a definite plan, plus a burning desire for wealth, are the only dependable means of accumulating wealth.” It is human nature to want better, but why do so many people get off track? Just because you wish it, just because you want it, just because you think it doesn’t mean you will get it. You need to have a definitive process to follow that allows you to get to where you want to go.  That process includes setting goals, developing action plans and properly identifying the real obstacles you will have to overcome during the course of the year.

It’s a new year, and instead of just following the advice and expert opinions on how to set goals, positon yourself for a breakthrough year and also take the time to learn what key obstacles you will have to overcome to reach your annual goal.  In order for you to accomplish something significant in 2017, it will require a lot of work.  In fact, it will most likely take more effort than you realize.

What strategies, resources, time commitment and skills will be required for you to have the transformational year you have outlined in your annual plan?

Peter

How the Three C’s of Selling Will Boost Your Income

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The sales profession is one of the largest occupational groups in the United States. It is estimated that over 15 million people work in sales related jobs.  In the real estate industry there are currently over 1.2 million Realtors. Across all industries, sales is a very competitive occupation, and one that allows the top performers to be highly compensated.

Being in sales is very similar to running your own business and in commission based sales occupations, such as working as a real estate agent, you are in-fact running your own business.  In any entrepreneurial role you must have daily habits that will ensure you manage your time effectively.  Moving past the general sales training that is made available to all individuals in a selling occupation, there are certain skills that top performers have developed that have made them excel. Here are the three “C’s” that are not taught in sales training courses and make up the intrinsic skills that separate the top 5% of sales performers from their counterparts.

Caring – All successful sales people have come to understand that they should listen to their potential clients more and speak less when they are meeting with them.  This becomes the formula for any successful sales person in both Business to Business sales and Business to Consumer sales. It is the basis for being a highly paid advisor as opposed to a sales rep. Not only do the top sales people ask more questions of their potential clients, they listen better.  Their listening skills are superior to others who just hear but don’t really understand the needs of their buyers. The top sales people have empathy for their potential clients and are able to understand the buyer’s problems or their unmet goals.  They relate to their feelings in a way that allows them to become trusted with helping the buyer reach a new level of satisfaction by guiding them to solve their problems with the solutions they have to offer.

Candor – A top sales person will focus initially on the buyers needs and not on the services they are offering. When the buyer realizes the seller cares about their problems and why those problems matter, the sales person becomes a trusted advisor.  A trusted advisor, in comparison to someone who is just selling a product, earns the right to be straight forward and honest with the potential buyer. Top sales professionals not only ask more questions than their counterparts, they also ask better questions. More developed questions stimulate thought by the buyer of what their unmet needs or desires truly are. The top sales pros do not worry about losing rapport with a buyer, as they have established trust. When you care about your profession and develop a trusted relationship with your buyer, the ability to ask them difficult questions about why they are doing things in a certain way is earned. This honest dialogue is respected by the buyer.  The odds that the buyer will choose your services or product over a competitors greatly favors the sales person who has the ability to have candid conversations with potential buyers.

Competence – Most sales professionals know how their products or services function and how they can fit a buyer’s needs.  The difference between top sales people and others is the top performers know how their services or products solve the specific problems of the buyer they are working with today. Top sales people are not generalists, they are experts in their field. This means they know more about the future of an individual buyer’s business or investments than their client does. In order to gain this expertise, the top sales professionals spend the time necessary to study their industry and work on developing their own personal skills. This gives them more experience, which allows the top sales person to express that knowledge using a question based methodology, therefore putting the buyer’s needs at the forefront.

To boost your income and separate yourself from your competition, it is not enough to commit to only completing your company’s standard sales training or your industries continuing education requirements. The key to long lasting sales success is mastering the three C’s of selling. Be certain to commit yourself to continued learning opportunities. To learn more about boosting your income in real estate to a new level, join us at the 2017 Unitedpalooza.

All the best!

Peter

Five Basic Feng Shui Tips to Apply Today

Does your home promote health, wealth and happiness?

Does your home promote health, wealth and happiness?

Feng Shui has been used for almost 3,000 years to balance the energy of spaces. To truly practice the art of Feng Shui it takes time, effort and much study. Luckily there are some simple tasks you can put into practice right away.

If you’re looking for ways to make your home more comfortable and enjoyable, take a lesson from this ancient practice to promote positive energy in your home and create an inviting space for potential buyers.

Clear the Clutter

According to Feng Shui experts, clutter blocks the flow of energy in your home and can even negatively influence your life. Begin the clearing process by moving through your house one room at a time. Set a time limit for yourself and gradually increase the amount of time you spend clearing the clutter in each space.

Fix Squeaks

This one seems like a no brainer, but many people become accustomed to the squeaks in their home and simply stop hearing them. The most important squeak to fix is the front door, as a squeaky door will promote bad energy coming and going from the house. To encourage positive energy, simply oil the door hinge and enjoy the sound of a squeak free door.

Consider Your Bed’s Position

We spend almost half of our lives sleeping, so it’s important to make sure your bed is in what’s called “commanding position.” This allows you to have protective energy behind you while you’re sleeping and maintain strong energy. Make sure your bed is as far away from the door as possible and is not directly aligned with the door. You should have a good view of the door as well.

Clean Your Windows

In Feng Shui, windows symbolize your eyes to the world. They allow you to see what’s going on outside and let the light in to our space.  To make sure your vision is clear, clean windows regularly to brighten your space and let positive energy in.

Focus on Air & Light Quality

Good Feng Shui energy calls for quality air and light. Be sure to open the windows as much as you can and invest in indoor plants to keep air fresher. Let in natural light often and ensure you have adequate lighting for your home.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to creating balance and positive energy flow in your home.

If you want to focus your energy on selling your home and are looking for expert advice, please contact our team at 855-441-6288.

Sources:

http://fengshui.about.com/

http://inhabitat.com/9-simple-tips-to-feng-shui-your-home/

Out with the Mold

We’ve got a quick guide on how to handle this homeowner nightmare without losing your cool. Depending on the severity, clean-up could range from a quick DIY cleaning, to something a professional must handle.

What it is:

Mold is a fungus that can be found both indoors and outdoors – the exact number of species is unknown but its in the range from 10,000 to 300,000 plus.

Bathroom mold

Don’t let mold take-over your home.

As you likely know, mold grows best in warm, damp and humid conditions. Mold sources include a variety of household ailments such as flooding, leaky roofs, backed-up drains, humidifiers, damp basements or crawl spaces, house plants, shower steam or leaks, and even wet clothes drying indoors. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, even dry conditions that typically do not support normal mold growth – this is why through clean-up is so essential.

Depending on your sensitivity, reactions can range from nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation to fever or lung disease. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.

The general rule is, if you can see it or smell it, it needs to go.

What to Do:

Ultimately, it is critical to remove the source of moisture first, before beginning remedial action, since mold growth will quickly return if the infected area becomes wet again. After you’ve corrected the source of the problem, arrange for removal.

If the moldy area is less than about 10 sq. ft., you can handle the job yourself by following the guidelines put out by the EPA. Guidelines for acceptable levels of mold have not been established, varying from person to person. If you are hiring a professional, be very through in your vetting process.

Porous materials such as drywall, carpet and ceiling tiles need to be cut away where the mold is growing; mold can grow inside the material, not just on the surface. Bag and dispose of any materials that have mold residue such as rags, paper or other debris.

What Not to Do:

  • Mold does not need to be tested (per the CDC); any visible mold should be eliminated
  • Do not touch mold or moldy items with bare hands
  • Do not get mold or mold spores in your eyes
  • Do not breathe in mold or mold spores
  • Do not items that can’t be cleaned – get rid of ‘em. This will likely be anything porous – carpet, wood, clothing, rags, etc.

Once the mold has been removed, continue to keep an eye on the situation. Was the source of the problem effectively corrected? If hidden mold is discovered, it is time to go back to the drawing board. Additional remediation will likely be needed. Ultimately, the only way to eliminate mold is to eliminate the moisture causing it.

Source: http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html

Fortify as You Beautify with Safety-Oriented Landscaping

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When it comes to home landscaping design, beautification is only the beginning. Judicious use of landscaping can also make your home a safer and more secure environment. Sound landscaping techniques can reduce your risk for a variety of safety and seasonal hazards. A well-maintained lawn also sends a message to criminals – specifically, that the owner is attentive to everything that goes on around the property and won’t present an easy target. It’s common sense that also has the backing of scientific research.

If you’re a safety-conscious homeowner who’s also into landscaping, here’s a list of topics for you to consider:

Lighting
Any security-oriented landscape design should make lighting a critical part of the plan. Well-lighted pathways will particularly benefit homeowners who enjoy entertaining at night, and their guests will certainly appreciate the consideration. For areas with little foot traffic, consider installing motion-activated lights as a deterrent to burglars and trespassers.

Surfaces
Paved walkways should be built with textured materials to reduce the risk of slipping. Avoid materials that are prone to crack, such as concrete, since the resulting uneven surfaces can cause a tripping hazard. As attractive as it is, leave ceramic tile for indoor use. Sturdier materials like stone, pavers or decking are better suited for outdoor structures.

Plant life
As any knowledgeable landscape designer can tell you, some forms of plant life are pretty to look at but ugly on the inside. The list of toxic or poisonous plants includes many garden staples such as oleander, rhododendron, and azalea. Homeowners with toddlers and pets who could ingest one of these plants should proceed with caution. Also be mindful of plants with thorns or spines, since they have the potential to cause injury.

Water
Although water features often bring a sense of beauty and tranquility to your landscaping design, they also come with a few safety-related downsides. Disease-carrying mosquitoes can breed in pools of standing water. (A timer-operated pump set to run at least once a day offers some protection against the insect problem.) You should also be mindful of the fact that ponds create a potential drowning hazard for small children. If you’re set on including a water feature in your landscape, consider something that’s kid-safe, like a pondless waterfall.

Fire safety
If you live in a region prone to drought or seasonal wildfires, your landscaping design should definitely take these factors into account. Start by choosing hardwood trees and fire-resistant shrubs – examples include trees such as maple, cherry and oak and shrubs such as California lilac and lemonade berry. You’ll need to trim branches regularly, especially on trees standing close to your home, garage and other structures. To prevent ground fires from climbing upward, avoid putting smaller plants underneath larger ones. Strategically positioned stone walls and brick pavers can create unobtrusive fire barriers.

Security Cameras

Many homeowners rely on security cameras to help eliminate blind spots around their property. If you go with a camera from a professional alarm monitoring company, you can also enjoy added protection against burglary, carbon monoxide leaks, fire, and other threats. Be sure to do your research to make sure you’re choosing the right kind of camera for your needs, though, as there are Wi-Fi enabled, motion-activated and CCTV cameras for home security. And if you’re worried about aesthetics, bear in mind that most of today’s cameras are compact, sleekly designed devices that have substituted wireless signals for the unsightly clutter of thick cables.

This post is brought to you by Michelle Smith, a real estate guru and freelance writer. She enjoys writing about anything and everything related to real estate and home remodeling. Michelle encourages your feedback via email.

Radon: Do you Really Need to Test for It?

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In a word, yes. Testing for radon is critical to the home buying and selling process.

According to the EPA, testing for radon is non-negotiable, estimated at causing about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. The tests are simple and inexpensive and as a homebuyer, it will give you an irreplaceable peace of mind.

Quick Overview

Radon is a gas that can’t be seen, smelled or tasted – but its’ estimated to cause thousands of deaths per year. Breathing air with randon can cause lung cancer and the Surgeon General estimates that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., with smoking causing the most cases.

Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil rock and water and permeates the air you breathe. The gas gets into your home through cracks in solid floors, construction joints, cracks in walls, gaps in suspended floors, gaps around service pipes, cavities inside walls and through the water supply. It can be found in all types of buildings but homes are the most worrisome, as you spend the most time there.

Ultimately, home repairs will need to be made if your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter or pCi/L or higher.  Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be more easily reduced.

Testing

You can test your home through a ‘DIY’ kit but if you are selling your home, you’ll likely want a qualified tester to do the testing and provide recommendations for you. A list of qualified testers is available by contacting your state radon office.

As a home seller, there are many ways to mitigate radon that has already managed its’ way into your house. Sometimes solutions are as simple as adding a vent fan or better sealing of foundation cracks. Newer homes are often built with radon resisting features.  A full list of solutions are available from the EPA here.

The home buying and selling process is full of nuances, to get assistance with the process or advice on your situation, contact us. We’re happy to help.

5 Easy Steps to a DIY Home Energy Audit

  • Making sure your home is well insulated can make your home more efficient - and decrease your energy costs.

    Making sure your home is well insulated can make your home more efficient - and decrease your energy costs.

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Making energy-efficient upgrades to your home is a great way to add value, but you should figure out what changes are actually necessary before you make any significant improvements. A home energy audit can give you an idea of what improvements can give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Follow these steps to conduct your own energy audit:

  1. Check for air leaks. Inspect your home for air leaks, which can waste up to 10 percent of your home’s energy. Seal any obvious leaks, such as those around windows or baseboards, with caulk or weather stripping to ensure your hot and cold air isn’t just blowing outside.
  2. Perform a pressurization test. Not every leak will be easy to find. For the smaller energy-wasters you’ll need to conduct a pressurization test.
  3. Examine your insulation. Since heating and cooling your home represents more than half of your energy expenses, adding insulation can provide a nice return on investment. Check to see whether you have adequate insulation by using a thermographic leak detector. The detector uses colors to show hot or cold spots in your home. Any irregularities could mean there’s not enough insulation.
  4. Inspect your ductwork. Make sure your heating and cooling is moving through your system as efficiently as possible. Inspect your ductwork for dirt streaks, which can be a sign of air leaks. Seal obvious problem areas with duct mastic or invest in a professional to examine the ducts more thoroughly.
  5.  Think about replacing your appliances. Calculate the energy consumption of your appliances and compare them with newer models. You may be able to save on energy costs by upgrading.

Get Your House Ready for Fall

  • fall house

    fall house

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It’s the perfect time of year to take care of a few little projects at your house – before the cold weather arrives.

1. Clean out your gutters
Remove leaves and other debris from your drainpipe and gutters to prevent clogging and other future damage. If left untreated, clogged gutters and drains can form ice dams that prevent your drainage systems from working properly and possibly even leaks into your home.

2. Freshen your filters
Clean or replace your furnace filters to prevent unwanted pollen and debris from polluting your air. Sediment build-up can cause your system to work less efficiently or potentially become a fire hazard.

3. Clean your chimney
Keep your family safe by checking your fireplace for soot or creosote build-up. Discard old ashes and ensure the damper is open to allow air to freely move through the chimney. Even better, do a chimney sweep or hire someone to make sure your chimney is clean.

4. Get your light right
With less and less daylight, make sure you protect your family’s safety with lighting. Since outdoor lights are generally left on for an extended period of time, make sure to buy energy-saver products. For even more energy efficiency, look for products that come with automatic shut-offs and motion sensors.

Thinking about putting your house on the market in the next spring? Take pictures now. Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year and this will help you ensure you are prepared whenever you are ready to sell your home.