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Christmas, the New Year and Hitting the Reset Button

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Christmas is right around the corner, and then a week later it will be time for the New Year celebrations! For most, the Holiday season begins on Thanksgiving and it kicks off a month of gatherings, parties and celebrations with family, friends and business associates.  For many it is truly the most wonderful time of the year, as they experience the joy that is associated with the season of giving.  While it may not be the most productive time for many businesses, it is typically the busiest for most people.

The traditional month long holiday season is filled with activities that include visiting family and friends, eating bigger meals, drinking more, exercising less, and the additional stress that comes along with added commitments.  For a lot of people the end result of the Holiday season is weight gain, and feeling drained. Unfortunately, studies have shown that most people will not lose the weight they gain over the Holidays and in fact they will repeat the process of gaining additional weight each year during this season. Without resetting your mind and body, you can easily settle into a comfort zone that unknowingly keeps you from heading in the direction you seek.

I love Christmas time and celebrating the Holidays, while also taking the time to recognize the true meaning of Christmas.  There is something about seeing the Christmas lights on homes, trees decorated, hearing Christmas songs, and gathering with friends that leads people to be kinder, more generous and polite to each other during this time of year. It’s a time we gather together and embrace our family traditions, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. It’s also a great time to be reminded we all have choices to make on what we will do, who we will be, and what future we will create.  As we mature, and certainly when we become parents, we realize that the true joy of Christmas is in giving, not receiving.

In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol, which continues to be a popular book today. The novel has never been out of print circulation, seen in countless plays, in addition to movies and shows reproducing the work in some manner. A Christmas Carol was an immediate success as Dickens’ writing vividly captured the real human emotions of suffering, separation, despair, unbreakable hope and the difficulty people have in actually changing for the better. The story accurately conveyed what has to be in place for true joy to exist in a person’s life. The positive ending of finding inner peace through a dramatic change in one’s belief system resonated immediately with its audience, as it still does today. The novel ended with the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, memorializing the secret to long lasting change. “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the past, the present, and the future. The spirits of all three shall live within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

Through his experiences that Christmas Eve, Mr. Scrooge was able to reset his life and take it in a dramatically different direction. Fortunately, most of us do not need as dramatic of a life changing reset as Ebenezer Scrooge went through to make positive changes. However, it is not uncommon for all of us to dwell on negative events in our life, stop some of the good habits we have been developing during the year, and set future goals without taking any action to achieve them. After all, goals remain only dreams if we don’t take action. The past is for learning from, not dwelling upon. It is the present we live in, and what we commit to do now that will decide our future. The actions we take do make a difference. As Charles Dickens’ novel pointed out, living abundantly is not about how many possessions you have or how much money you have in the bank, it is recognizing that you need to continue to grow and contribute to live life to its fullest. The most successful, happy people manage to keep the joys of giving and carry a grateful spirit with them year-round.

We all need a time for rest and reflection. You most likely don’t need a Scrooge intervention to reset your path to fulfillment, but I’m certain you will benefit from taking time to reset after the Holidays. Enjoy the celebrations, reflect on the past year and reset your mind and body on the goals and possibilities of a new year. After all to achieve success and reach true fulfillment, you have to answer a big question.  What kind of difference will you make in 2017?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday’s!

Peter

Are First-Time Homebuyers Back and Here to Stay?

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There were many positive headlines this month from various news outlets highlighting the continued growth in total number of real estate sales and growth in home prices. Aiding this growth is the percentage of potential buyers that will make up the next generation to influence the real estate industry and the economy – Generation Y, or the Millennials. The month of September was another solid month for real estate closings, according to the National Association of Realtors sales were up 2.8% over previous year with a total of 484K existing homes sold during the month. What drove the increase was the return of first-time homebuyers to a respectful level of 34% of all buyers being first-time purchasers during September, which is a level that has not been seen in over four years.

The three primary generations that made up over 90% of home purchases this year were the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials.  The generation segments coincide with an explosion of growth in population after World War II, from 2.8 million annual U.S. births prior to the boom, to averaging over 4 million births for the period classified as the Boomer generation. The birth decline did not begin again until 1963, when the next demographic generation, Generation X, saw a decline in population growth through new births for a period that lasted until 1977.  Now, the Millennial generation has entered the prime years for buying a home and how they educate themselves about homeownership is very important to understand as they outnumber the amount of Baby Boomers with a total estimated population of over 83 million and are far more diverse than previous generations.

Millennials currently compose 35% of all homebuyers and I safely predict, from the stand point of the total number of them that percentage will increase in 2017 and beyond.  According to a recent survey published by Realtor.com, first-time buyers have increased to 52% of prospective buyers planning to buy a home in 2017.  This is up from 33% of prospective buyers that were first-time purchases when the company conducted the same survey the previous year. So, what makes this next generation of home owners different from previous generations but yet the same?

I am part of Generation X, which means I grew up with access to a computer in a classroom but the majority of learning took place from textbooks, and communication was in person or via the phone. Society and the media describes the Millennials as enthusiastic, tech-savvy, entrepreneurial and opportunistic – all good things!  Now for the negative labels: lazy, unproductive, and self-obsessed. I like the generation behind me, and hasn’t the label of being self-absorbed been a common description for everyone who is still growing up?

The ironic thing is those are the very similar descriptions that were placed on my generation.  We were the slacker generation because of the different music style, referred to as grunge or alternative rock, which was popular in the 1990’s. However, as a demographic group, Generation X became very independent and went to college at a higher percentage rate than the Baby Boomers before them.  We all age and mature, but the emotional needs of people that drive their behaviors remains the same.

So what will be different with the Millennials that will affect the housing market? They are delaying or eliminating marriage, but that is nothing new, as the average age of marriage and percentage of unmarried households has been going up since 1960. What is dramatically new is the way of communication. Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, people have been able to be connected online through a mobile device 24/7.  It has always been a critical skill in business to know how to communicate effectively with your customer. As the Millennials will continue to dominate home sale purchases, communicating effectively and expediently with them will all be about how well agents tap into technology to market and respond to them. While personal referrals are critical for an agent’s success to grow their business, the latest surveys conducted by Zillow showed that 29% of Millennials found their agent online, bypassing the personal referral process. I expect that number will increase, and the number of first-time homebuyers will continue to grow.

How do you communicate effectively with this population demographic?  It actually starts before they contact you, as they begin to research the market long before they speak with a Realtor. For starters, you need to have a mobile strategy, a video strategy, and be easily found online with your agent brand visible to them in multiple online formats. In targeting this group, just like with any marketing campaign, you should focus on the buyer’s interests.  I like what the Minneapolis Association of Realtors is doing with its first ever campaign targeting first-time homebuyers. They are creating humorous 30-second videos that will be available on social media.  You can see their ads at MatchMakersForHomes.com. This makes sense, as the Millennials consume information more and more through brief video segments.

To learn more about building your business, be sure to join the many Baby Boomers, Generation X’s, and Millennials who are all part of United Real Estate and register to attend the United Convention! Go to: Unitedpalooza.com.

Peter Giese

President & Co-Founder

United Real Estate

The Best of Bob Dylan and How Going Electric Could Be Good for Your Career

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This past week Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first musician to ever win the award.  I was not yet born when he started his journey from a controversial folk singer to a popular rock star, who plugged in an electric guitar at a folk music festival and in doing so went on to change the song writing process of popular music forever. I have to admit, I was also not old enough to remember the original releases of some of his famous songs that would blend poetry with music and lead to him receiving the Nobel Prize.  However, as a music fan I have enjoyed his songs and the first concert my wife and I saw together (over 14 years ago) was a Bob Dylan performance.  By that time his voice had faded, but the energy and passion had remained and the audience knew the words to all his hits.

I have read about the night Bob Dylan plugged in an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Music Festival and in doing so upset the purist of acoustic folk music fans, while at the same time elevating his career to superstardom. It was documented that some fans were booing him, thinking this type of innovation was not what was needed. Even at a music festival, people don’t like surprises or change.  The strange thing is people do like good surprises, who doesn’t like it when they find twenty dollars in the laundry machine, and successful people will change. Bob Dylan was right when he wrote the song The Times They Are a Changin’ in 1964. The times are always changing.

The change he made introduced an entire new audience to his music and changed the direction of popular music. It was a bold move as he expanded his audience and he was rewarded in his career and financially with now over 100 million albums sold, a Nobel Prize, and the respect from artists of all genres. A move, that some thought was crazy, paid off by embracing the inevitable change that was occurring in consumer tastes.

I think of how many people I’ve met, and businesses I have seen, that have not changed. They have stuck with the status quo and do not reach their potential, reach a larger audience, or go in the same direction where their customers are heading. In the business world this is easy to point to, as 57% of the companies on the Fortune 500 list in 1995 are no longer on the list. Just think of Blockbuster and you can get a clear idea of how competition, when properly using technology, can displace an incumbent brand. Netflix changed the customer experience making it more user- friendly, and as a company they continue to change.  They now added a streaming video service, which attacked their own original disruptive business model.

Take a look at your business and do an honest assessment of how you are keeping up with the demands of your current and future customers.  In real estate, this means embracing technology to enhance relationships, working mobile to meet the customer where they want to do business, and promoting your agent brand effectively online so potential clients see you as the right choice to assist them with the largest financial decision they will make in their lives. How do you go electric in real estate to reach a larger audience?  There is an entire new audience for you to reach who is digesting information in quick segments of video. In August 2016 alone, over 15.5 million videos were uploaded to Facebook generating over 236 billion views!

The real estate consumer’s behavior has permanently changed.  Last year 60% of people searching for real estate didn’t just look at properties online, they actively googled real estate agents to learn more about the agent they were thinking of contacting.  Those trends are not going to reverse, so plug into them by having your online profile positively positioned on all relevant websites and social media outlets.  Give it a try to go electric by plugging into an entire new generation of home buyers by filming an introductory video of your services and making it available on your website and Facebook page. It will be a good surprise to the next generation of homeowners, who don’t see many agents communicating with them how they want to be communicated with.

As for the best of Bob Dylan, here are my top three:

  • Like A Rolling Stone
  • Lay Lady Lay
  • Tangled Up in Blue

All the best, and I would love to hear about your success stories of implementing a video strategy into your businesses, and also, what are your favorite Bob Dylan songs?  I am certain we will see and hear from both of these categories at the United Real Estate convention in Austin!

Peter

Is Developing Grit The Key to Success for Your Business and Children?

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Success and fulfillment are common goals all parents have for their children, and also what all entrepreneurs have as goals for their businesses.  This summer my family relocated to Texas, with that move came the excitement of a new adventure, as well as the apprehension that comes along with change, including a new school for our children. It is certainly true that the type and quality of education for school aged children is different from state to state, city to city, and within different school districts.  We were very comfortable with the school environment we had been a part of in Florida, and wanted to replicate this experience in Texas.  Regardless of the school, there is always one child who is deemed to overachieve, and one who is categorized as not meeting their potential. I ask myself, what is one common factor that has such an important influence on an individual reaching full potential, or a business succeeding?

As the school year started, we became more excited about this fresh start for many reasons, but we were thrilled when we found out our new school is introducing a way to teach kids about grit.  Grit is a characteristic I have always firmly believed in to overcome the inevitable life challenges we all face, and thanks to the work of Psychologist Angela Duckworth, how to develop grit in children and apply it to your business is being made available to everyone.  In her famous TED talk and now best-selling book, Angela defined grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” and documented grit is a better indicator of future earnings and happiness than IQ or talent.

I am pleased my children’s school is using this research, not as another school assessment, but rather as a vehicle to build grit in the students.  The students are taught a simple way to remember the importance of building grit by using the acronym Growth, Resilience, Integrity and Tenacity.  After all, people and businesses generally won’t succeed if they don’t learn how to work hard, remain committed to their goals, persevere through struggles, and do not take short cuts.  It is these values we, as parents try to instill in our children, and it is powerful to see it supported in our new school environment.

Throughout my career, I have built several successful multi-million dollar businesses, having also conducted thousands of coaching calls with successful sales people and business owners; I know first-hand these same principals of having grit do hold true in the business world.  If it is important to instill these characteristics in your children, isn’t it equally as important to instill them in your business? The question an entrepreneur has to seek the answer to is this; how do they push themselves, making certain they have the optimism to reach their goals, knowing they will face rejection, feel uncomfortable, and receive no indication they are going to meet their desired outcome for months, years, or in some cases decades?  How do you, as an adult, become grittier to reach your goals?

The answer is complex, but there are some simple steps to get started. The three key factors I have found people should immediately focus on to build grit are:

  • Have a growth mindset – Learning is not finite and your commitment to research and learning about your profession should be a daily exercise. The goals of growth for a business should be large and a belief you can improve is a must to stay on course for the long run ahead.
  • Develop a routine of daily success – In order to end right, you have to start right, and that includes what you do when you start your day. Habits determine our behaviors and you want to develop good habits, not bad ones. Developing the commitment to daily exercise will give you a great feeling of improvement and control over your future.
  • Visualize success – If you train your brain to see success each day, you will begin to see the path to success in the real world – The old adage “I’ll believe it when I see it” is fine for the naysayers, not for the people who reach the pinnacle of success and fulfillment. Prosperous, thriving people stay motivated each day by visualizing their end outcome, knowing that setbacks are not a permanent state.

To learn more about Angela Duckworth’s work check out her TED talk

To find out where you currently rank you can take the grit assessment test

Best wishes on your success and enjoy the TED talk and grit assessment.  I would love to hear your story of success!

Peter

President & Co-Founder

United Real Estate

What is EMS Express?

Our newest project coordinator, Kyle Yancik explains our newest offering:

United agents, are you looking for an easy and timely marketing service for your next listing? If you are, our new marketing service EMS Express is right for you. EMS Express is a low-cost, semi-automated option for simple and timely marketing services. EMS Express is for United Real Estate and United Country agents that already know what marketing materials they want to use for their project and don’t need a full marketing campaign. EMS Express is easy for you to use with template marketing materials ranging from postcards and brochures to media buying.

Meet the EMS team.

Meet the EMS team.

Developing marketing materials is streamlined – giving you better results, in a shorter amount of time. You receive professional looking marketing materials from
our in-house marketing firm, ultimately helping your client and you buy and sell properties faster. Take advantage of EMS Express today for your next project.
To see all the marketing materials EMS Express covers and to start your next marketing project visit http://www.enhancedmarketing.net/shop/.

Meanwhile, if you have needs that fall outside of EMS Express our full-service marketing campaigns encompass a variety of online and offline marketing media. Our dedicated team of marketers will customize a campaign to meet you and your clients’ needs.

To start your marketing project, complete our creative brief at enhancedmarketing.net/creativebrief/ and start working with your dedicated Project Manager today.  If you’re a United agent, it’s – Lauren Aleshire, if you’re with another sector of our company, we’ll assign you another project manager to help you through the process. From $30,000 full marketing campaigns to $200 postcards – we can handle us. Give us a call and we’ll help you achieve your marketing goals.

Three Common Myths About Home Buying

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During your search for a new home, you’re bound to run into a few common misconceptions about the process. Some of these involve the way credit works when you apply for a loan.

These are a few of the most common home buying myths about credit:

  • Your credit has to be in perfect shape. Lenders do use credit to make approval decisions and decisions on interest rates, but you don’t need the best score possible. You can still get a mortgage with less than stellar scores, although your interest rate will most likely be higher.
  • Lenders can share your credit information. Lenders can share this information with affiliates, but only if you’ve given them permission to do so. There are several laws that safeguard your personal credit information and prevent lenders from sharing it without your permission.
  • While there are hundreds of credit bureaus, lenders have base their decisions on the FICO scoring model. Other models such as Score X, Score + or Vantage are consumer based models that give people an idea of what their FICO score might be.

Need help shopping around for a good mortgage? Contact United Real Estate, and visit us on Facebook.

What Are Condos? Three Important Differences Between Condos and Co-Ops

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It’s common for people to confuse condos and co-ops, but there are significant differences between these two types of residences. Let’s take a look at these differences in order to answer the question “what are condos?”

Here are three ways to distinguish between condos and co-ops:

  • Condos typically cost more than co-cops, although the difference isn’t as drastic when you compare ones that are roughly the same size and have the same amenities. You do pay more in closing costs with a condo, and you have to factor in the cost of title insurance and a mortgage recording tax.
  • Co-ops generally have much tighter financial requirements than condos. You have to provide financial information on liquid assets, your income and your net worth. With a condo, you don’t have to disclose as much. You also have to come up with a higher down payment, ranging from 20 to 50 percent, for a co-op.
  • Co-ops usually have more rules and restrictions than condos, but you’re also protected under landlord-tenant laws as a co-op shareholder.

Still need more info to answer the question “what are condos”? Visit United Real Estate and stop by our Facebook page for more help!