home buying

The iPhone® Turned Ten in June and Changed How Real Estate Agents Operate

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Whether you are an AndroidTM fan or an individual like myself who could not bear to part with the iPhone, the disruptive impact that smartphones have had on many industries has been proven time and time again. Steve Jobs described the first iPhone as a “truly magical product.” Looking back, as well as into the future, it’s hard to imagine another device that will ever be more readily used each day by the majority of the population than our smartphones. In 2016, Apple® stated that the average iPhone user unlocked their phone 80 times a day and checked their phone over 150 times a day!

The mobile phone started as a way to increase communication and now the idea of owning just a “mobile phone” is considered ancient. It’s not only mobile phones that were replaced by the invention of the smartphone. Think of cameras, personal computers, GPS devices and even Apple’s own product, the iPod® – all have been replaced by smartphones. It’s not hardware makers alone that have been affected; new industries emerged and disrupted other traditional businesses with the invention of smartphone applications. You now have a computer, video camera, gaming device and movie studio in the palm of your hand. With those capabilities available on our phone, it is easy to get distracted. What are we doing when we constantly check our phones?

Yes, we still spend a lot of time talking and texting on our smartphones, but for many our phones have replaced our computers for website searches, email and have become the main vehicle for interacting on social media and with our community, in general.

A great deal of time and money has been spent by real estate brokers and agents to make their websites mobile friendly and responsive to help facilitate the interaction with buyers and sellers. This shift to mobile responsive websites was caused by the majority of real estate searches being performed on mobile devices. The amount of online research that potential home buyers and sellers conduct continues to increase each year as connectivity and the smartphone ease of use improves. Mobile search and key terms are definitely critical for an agent’s online success. But with the easy access to information and time on our hands, another search category has developed.

Home buyers and sellers are no longer looking at real estate properties, neighborhood demographics and valuation trends alone, they are researching prospective agents extensively too. Two out of three people interested in buying a home are researching prospective agents comprehensively online prior to working with them (see graph below).

It’s no longer enough for a REALTOR© to be proficient at their trade, they now need to pass the Google® test and be seen as the most competent choice online. The first step in this new process is being certain you, as a REALTOR©, dominate a consumer’s search. How do you accomplish this? First, you should own your own website domain with a personal URL and have a website with relevant content. You also need to have a professional profile on dominant national consumer real estate websites, a presence on social media (i.e., LinkedIn, Facebook) and participate on consumer review sites.

The next question to ask yourself is, have you shifted your mindset to that of a media company? The reality is that when you are being extensively searched online, you are your own brand! With the mindset of a media company, you move past checking the box and being found on the Internet or social media and move towards properly promoting and managing your brand. This means you have to develop content, distribute content and be readily seen as a market expert – you have to be someone people want to do business with. The impact of the smartphone will continue to be felt by all brands. Take this opportunity to promote your real estate brand beyond what your competition is willing to do. The rules for winning at this brand game have been already determined. You need to fully commit to the new personal promotion strategy to win.

As you finish this article, take a moment to search yourself using your smartphone and see what results appear on the first page. You would be prepared for an in-person meeting with a client – you need to be prepared for the client meetings that are happening online without you. Be certain to be Google and smartphone prepared because your customer base expects it.

Check out the United Intranet for the latest training on building your brand presence.

Peter

A Brief History of National Home Ownership Month

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June is National Home Ownership Month and if you missed it you weren’t the only one. Not only was there a lack of press coverage, there was also a large group of individuals who missed out on the opportunity to buy a home. In 2003, National Home Ownership Month was announced by President George W. Bush to promote awareness and policies to expand home ownership across the country. The awareness campaign and policies were not completely new, but rather an extension of President Bill Clinton’s National Home Ownership Day of 1995 and the Clinton 100-point action plan to increase home ownership to record levels.

Both the Democratic and Republican administrations’ plans had noble intentions, as they both recognized that home ownership is a part of the American dream. Home ownership does, in fact, promote civic responsibility and financial security for most Americans. I experienced this first-hand when I relocated my family to Dallas, Texas. We opted to rent for nearly a year while we learned more about the area. My family’s attitude towards our rental house and neighborhood were different than our current home. Our feelings toward our rental home were not bad or negative, we just did not experience the pride we feel now that we have purchased our own home.

Looking back now, we see that the President’s goal of increasing home ownership to record rates was met. However, it came at a great price as the “bubble” was created and real estate prices came crashing down shortly thereafter. The bubble bursting took most of the economy down with it which is now referred to as the “great recession.” The reality is that while most Americans dream is of owning a home, not everyone should or can afford own a home, due to all different kinds of circumstances.

Homeownership rates are now at the lowest levels in 50 years (see chart below) and there is pent up demand for affordable housing.

The term “home ownership rate” can be misleading. It is defined by the government as “the percentage of homes that are occupied by the owner.” It is not the percentage of adults that own their own home. The problem with this rate is it does not count adult individuals who are neither home owners nor are renters. Since the great recession of 2007, the group of young adults between the ages of 18-34 has increased dramatically. In fact, the individuals in this age group are opting more often to live with their parents than with a spouse, as marriage is being postponed to a later age. See chart below.

The home ownership rate alone can mislead you because if young adults don’t create a new household, then the percentage is skewed. Comparing number of actual historical households, it becomes clear that the number of young adults who are fulfilling the dream of home ownership is significantly less than the current home ownership rate states. Starting a new household is important for many factors, including the overall economic growth of the country. Owning your own home is equally important for most individuals’ financial security.

The month of May reached a new peak in the median price of homes. Unlike in 2007, this peak was not caused by government involvement but rather the laws of supply and demand.  May demonstrated a new low in listing inventory and a new record low of time on the market for a house to sell. The real estate headlines this summer will continue to highlight the shortage of affordable housing. Let’s hope by next June a plan is put into place that will spur new construction of homes that are priced to encourage more young adults to buy and afford buying their first home.

As June ends, it is the true beginning of summer.  Here’s to hoping that you have plans in place to enjoy both the benefits of home ownership, and enjoying the summer.

Peter

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

Are Your Home Buyers Looking For You On Video?

 

Vlog to gain access to a younger generation of home buyers that grew up researching and learning through videos on the internet. If you don’t have a presence on the internet, are buyers finding you?

Win three FREE nights in Austin, Texas! Share your prior experience at past conventions and your excitement for this years Unitedpalooza through a short video! Use your phone and start recording, what do you have to lose? The winner of the drawing will recieve three nights paid at The Westin Austin Downtown.

See you online,

Peter

The Challenges Facing First Time Home Buyers

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In 2013, 38 percent of home buyers were first-time buyers. Because first-time buyers can face unique challenges that other buyers may not, Supreme Lending and United Real Estate have partnered together to assist more people in achieving the dream of home ownership.

The statistics on first-time home buyers.

First-time home buyers tend to be young adults with an average age of 31. Around 56 percent of first-time buyers are married and 30 percent are single. The majority of first-time buyers, 59 percent, don’t have children. They tend to purchase homes around 1,570 square feet, and they have an average income of $64,400.

Specific challenges first-time home buyers face.

Did you know:

  • The average age range for first time home buyers is 25-35, which also happens to be the age group hardest hit by the recession. This means that they may still be building their careers or do not have the employment history that older buyers do.
  • Credit scores can also be a challenge for first-time home buyers because they may not have the long, established credit histories lender look for.
  • Down payments can be a problem for first-time home buyers. Some lenders require first-time buyers to put down 10 to 20 percent of the purchase price of the home, which can be difficult to come up with when the buyer might be just starting in their career.
  • Many buyers in this age group are also dealing with paying back substantial student loans. Having student loans can significantly impact the approval and even size of a home loan.
  • It’s their first time. Many first-time buyers are simply overwhelmed by the home buying process. This can result in them agreeing to a term or percentage without really knowing what it means for them or giving up the process entirely.

What you can do:

  • Make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Buying a home can be an emotional experience, but it is important to try to put emotions aside and focus on finding a house that has what you’re looking for AND you can afford.
  • Take ALL of the expenses into consideration when deciding on your budget. Don’t forget to add in utilities, cost of commuting, insurance and other fees.
  • Read the homeowners association contract before you put in an offer. It could have conditions that make or break your decision.
  • Ask for help! You don’t have to go through the process alone. Make sure that you choose loan officers and real estate agents who are dedicated to making the process as simple as possible.

Sources: https://www.discover.com/home-loans, http://www.realtor.org, http://blakesloanradio.com

 Questions for us?  Email info@supremelending.com or call (877)316-0296

Supreme Lending
NMLS ID #2129
14801 Quorum Drive, Ste 300
Dallas, Texas 75254
www.gregorylaywell.supremelending.com

Disclaimer

Condo Buying: Investing in a Condo Over a House

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    Lincoln Park

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When you’re determined to purchase your own home, it doesn’t have to be a single-family house. Condos make great investments and offer several advantages over other types of residences.

These are just some of the benefits you’ll enjoy when buying a condo:

  • Access to amenities. You don’t have to pay for separate memberships to a local pool or golf course. Living in a condo means that you’ll be able to use the amenities your condo community offers, such as clubhouses, pools and fitness center.
  • Low maintenance. When you live in a condo, you only have to maintain your living space. You’re not responsible for maintaining the building, grounds or common areas.
  • Financial incentives. Owning a condo gives you a chance to build equity, and you’ll also be able to use tax deductions on property taxes and mortgage interest payments.
  • A sense of community. Living in a building that has a lot of other units occupied by owners, rather than renters, means that you’ll have a good sense of community. Some of these also offer planned community events.

Need additional information on buying a condoContact United Real Estate, and follow our Facebook page.

Vacation Home Hunting? Three Tips for Purchasing Your Vacation Home

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Having a vacation home to go to on weekends saves you the hassle of booking a room when you want to get away. With more demand for these homes in recent years, it’s a good time to consider buying a vacation home.

Keep these tips in mind when you start your search:

  • Save up money. Many buyers pay for their vacation home in cash. This isn’t a requirement, but it could boost your chances of finding and buying a home more quickly.
  • Have enough for a down payment. If you can’t pay cash for a vacation home, at least have a large enough sum of money set aside for a down payment. Plan on having around 30 percent in savings for this.
  • Consider buying a foreclosure or doing a short sale. A large percentage of vacation home buyers end up saving money through short sales or foreclosure purchases. These are more complex ways of buying a home, so you’ll need the help of a good realtor if you plan on going this route.

Ready to start searching for a vacation homeContact United Real Estate, and follow us on Facebook.

Buying as a Couple? Tips for Couples Purchasing a Home

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Buying a home together as a couple is an exciting time, but don’t let it become a source of tension between you. Owning a home is a huge commitment that both of you need to be ready for.

Use the following tips for couples purchasing a home before you start looking at available properties:

  • Discuss your preferences. It’s crucial to sit down and talk about what each of you wants in a home. Discuss things like location, type of home and what local amenities you prefer being close to. When you don’t talk about these beforehand, you could find out that your preferences are drastically different.
  • Check your credit reports. You both need to check your credit reports before applying for a mortgage. Take care of any errors, and talk to a lender about which debts you should try to pay off before submitting your application. Keep in mind that lenders weigh the lower credit score more heavily.
  • Get a mortgage pre-qualification. This provides you with a rough estimate of the amount you can qualify for on a mortgage. Factor this into your budget.

Ready to begin looking for a home? Call United Real Estate and follow our Facebook page.

Insuring Your First Home? Three Important Things to Consider

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When calculating the cost of your first home, don’t forget to factor in home insurance. This insurance, which is required in order to purchase a home, provides financial coverage in case your home is damaged.

When insuring your first home, keep these tips in mind:

  • Get full coverage. Don’t attempt to save money now by skimping on coverage. Your insurance should be enough to cover the cost of having to rebuild your home. Ideally, you should get extended replacement coverage and an inflation guarantee.
  • Get liability insurance. This insurance pays for legal and medical costs that you might be faced with if someone is injured on your property. It also covers you in case someone in your family causes damage to your neighbor’s property.
  • Cover your valuables. These won’t be included on your homeowners insurance policy, so you’ll be out of luck if they’re damaged or stolen. Purchase additional coverage to make sure that you’ll have enough money to replace jewelry, antiques and other valuables in your home.

Need professional help finding and buying your first homeVisit United Real Estate to find a local agent, and follow us on Facebook.

Five Tips For Finding the Perfect Home

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Looking for your very first house can be exciting yet overwhelming. There are a lot of factors to consider before beginning your search.

The following tips on buying your first houseshould make the experience less stressful:

  • Location is everything: Look for a home that’s in a good neighborhood with decent property values. You might also want to be near good schools, your workplace and local amenities.
  • Know what you want: Write down the features you must have in a home on one list, then make other lists with features you don’t necessarily need and those you don’t want at all.
  • Gather information: Search online for information on recent home sales in your area, and look at the listing price for homes that are currently on the market. You’ll get a better idea of how much you’ll be paying that way.
  • Get a mortgage preapproval: Have a lender determine roughly how much you can afford to borrow for a mortgage.
  • Take notes: Keep track of the homes you see, and note the features each one has for the sake of comparison.

Need more advice on buying your first house? Visit United Real Estate, and stop by our Facebook page.