Home Appraisals Coming in Right Down the Middle

Honesty never hurt anybody.

And when it comes to your home’s value – honesty is much appreciated.

According to Quicken Loans Home Price Perceptions Index, May saw an average home appraisal that was .79% lower than the homeowner’s estimate, which reflects a narrowing gap after six months of widening.

While home values rose 3.54% year over year, the index shows that on a month-over-month basis, the Midwest was the only region with home value growth with a .47% gain.

Appraisals, as most homebuyers and sellers know, can be an emotional roller coaster; either the appraisal comes in too low or too high – but as of now, it looks like it’s meeting in the middle of buyer and seller expectations.

Bill Banfield, Quicken Loans EVP of Capital Markets, explains, “[…]appraisals are not likely to cause much of a disruption in the mortgage process. This is, however, a reminder to homeowners that they should always keep an eye on the home sales around them to get a realistic gauge of their home value before estimating what it could be.”

Real Estate Tip of the Week: How to Implement Voice Search

While we all know keywords are pivotal to help your real estate website track well on Google, it might be surprising to learn about voice searches.

With smartphones, any consumer can ask their phone a question by voice instead of typing it in. ComScore has predicted that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be via voice and 30% of searches will take place without a screen.

That’s some news.

So it’s important that you tweak your blog to work within these lines – because, after all, we don’t talk the same way as we type.

Example:

Voice search: How old is Tom Cruise?

Text search: Tom Cruise age

You’ll want to organize your website and blog posts to fit voice search as well as text search – but how?

Google’s Answer Featured Snippet

Incorporate question keyword phrases into your blog writing and website copy. Think mostly about common questions being asked in your field – “How to save for a down payment,” or “how to find a real estate agent” – and tailor your content to those questions using those specific keywords.

Putting this in place will greatly help with ranking for Google’s answer featured snippet. Voice assistants can easily pull from these to answer questions – but you’ll want to write answers that are concise and straight-to-the-point.

Your titles for these blog posts should also include keywords like “how,” “what,” and “where” so Google understands that you’re answering a question.

Get Local

With 39% of voice search queries about local business information, implementing more of your SEO voice search recognition will be key.

Make sure that your business page is current and has the correct address and contact information listed.

Stay Informed

Voice searches, while still very prevalent, are still in the works when it comes to SEO and Google rankings. As voice rankings continue to progress, monitor any new information published – Google Analytics is a great way to stay informed; it breaks down how your audience is using their mobile devices, which can show you how you need to invest when updating your SEO.

Tick Tock: Homebuyers Don’t Care About the Clock

Making a commitment is hard.

Let alone purchasing a home.

Your house will probably be the biggest purchase you will make in your lifetime (not to continue scaring you), so it would make sense for you to need time on your decision.  

According to a new study from Canadian real estate firm, Zolo, nearly 2,000 recent homebuyers said they spent an average of 124 hours – 10 days – searching for a home.

And one of their biggest regrets?

Wishing they would have taken more time to look through homes.

But if you’re currently trying to sell your home, don’t let the time frame bother you. The study also found that the more the buyer visits a home, the better odds are for it to end in a sale:

  • 10% of buyers say they viewed the home just once before submitting an offer
  • 23% viewed twice
  • 31% viewed three times
  • 20% viewed four times

Younger buyers aged 21 to 29 were the biggest group to view three to four times before making an offer, whereas buyers aged 30 to 39 viewed a property twice on average.

Homeowners Gain in First Quarter – but How Much?

It pays to be a homeowner – especially now.

According to the Home Equity Report by CoreLogic, homeowners gained $6,400 in home equity between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of this year.

That’s an equity increase of 5.6%!

Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, explains, “We expect home equity to continue increasing nationally in 2019, albeit at a slower pace than in recent years.”

The top ten states with the highest average gain:

  • Idaho – $21K
  • Nevada – $21K
  • Wyoming – $20K
  • Utah – $19K
  • New York – $17K
  • Hawaii – $16K
  • Colorado – $14K
  • Arizona – $14K
  • Massachusetts – $14K
  • South Dakota – $12K

And that’s not all.

Those who owe more on their mortgage than their home’s current value also dropped in the first quarter – these households dropped to 4.1% of all mortgaged properties.

Take the Right Picture – Your Home Will Sell Faster

Presentation matters; and when it comes to home listings, appearance matters even more.

With some buyers making offers without even setting foot in the home, it’s important that photos correctly highlight the features of the space.

Listing pictures are the first thing buyers see online – these images could potentially make or break a sale. So what photos are the best to list?

Professional photos will enhance your listings – these photographers will know how to angle photos, fix the color tones, and really enhance the feel of the home.

Homes professionally photographed with a high-performance Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera sell quicker and for thousands of dollars more than homes shot with an amateur camera – for example, homes listed between $200,000 and $1 million sold for $3,400 to $11,200 more than their list prices when professionally photographed. 

Redfin’s national photography manager, Drew Larrigan, explains: “The number one thing people get wrong with listing photography is having the mindset that anyone can do it and deliver a beautiful photo. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work you don’t see, capturing layers of High Dynamic Range (HDR) images to create one beautiful shot.”

Second Chances and Listing Your Home Right the First Time

When you list it, list it right.

At least, that’s what a new survey from Redfin is suggesting.

When it comes to listing your home for the first time, it pays to list it for the correct amount the first time, rather than initially starting with a higher price to test the waters.

Homes get 3.4 times more online views the day they are listed than they do the day the seller drops the price. Online views of the home drop significantly after the first day, with half as many visitors on the second day and a quarter as many after a week of it being listed.

Redfin Chief Economist, Daryl Fairweather, explains: “It’s critical to price your home to sell from the start; fair or not, buyers judge a home by how many days it has been on the market.”

The survey found that when a home is listed and is viewed by 100 buyers online its first day, it receives an average of just 17 views per day after 30 days on the market. The day of a price drop raises to 29 views; the day after a price drop has an average of 18 views.

Dropping the price on a home would theoretically bring in more activity, as it might become more affordable to a larger portion of home shoppers – however, it seems as though a price drop means bad news to potential homeowners.

Redfin’s advice – price right the first time.

Vacant Versus Occupied: Selling Your Home for More

Don’t place that vacant home in a corner.

A new study from Redfin found that vacant homes sell for $11,306 less and spend six more days on the market than occupied homes for sale.

Which…might be surprising.

While vacant homes allow for easier access for potential buyers to view the listing, these empty spaces seem to be a reason for buyers not to rush on placing a bid on the home. Redfin also suggests that sellers who are in a position to own a vacant home for sale might not be as motivated to receive a higher price as sellers who might need the cash from their sale in order to purchase another home.

Vacant homes, while allowing potential buyers to picture their own personal touches, might seem intimidating to buyers; clients might not be able to envision how the space could be utilized. However, if a home is still currently occupied, the sale will depend on what type of furniture is still in the home.

Redfin agent, Billie Hermerson, explains: “If a home is occupied and the furniture is up to date and fits in the space, it has a positive impact on a potential buyer’s perception of the home and they may pay more than if the home were vacant. But if a seller’s furnishings are dated, dark, or too large for the space, buyers may offer less.”

Other options include staging companies, or setting up a virtual staging online.

New Housing Law Protects Against Discrimination

A new law was put in place this past Friday (June 17th) at the U.S. House of Representatives. The Equality Act passed by a vote of 236-173; this act includes protections for LGBTQ people against discrimination in housing.

This law has been added on to current state anti-discrimination laws on a national level by providing an extra layer of support against discrimination throughout the U.S. Earlier this month, the Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2019 has also been trying to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the classes that are defended against discrimination.

Maine Senator, Angus King, explains: “No one should be denied access to affordable housing because of who they are. Safe and affordable housing is the basic building block for all Americans seeking to achieve economic, educational, and personal success.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit also recently ruled that landlords could be held liable for any acts of discrimination if they did not respond to harassment tenants might be facing.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Hosting a Successful Open House

With spring in full swing, open houses have been popping up around the neighborhood – and you’ve probably seen one or two as you’ve driven along your commute.

While open houses can be time consuming, they are a great way to garner potential clients and showcase your brand.

Here are some quick tips on how to throw a rewarding open house – for both you and your client!

Scheduling

Many open houses are scheduled on Sundays. While this time slot works perfectly, don’t be afraid to think outside the box to attract more attention on your listing.

Maybe your listing would fare better if it were held on a weekday during lunch hours or after work. You might have potential clients stopping by along their way home.

Marketing

How can you gather attention for the open house?

One of the best options is to use social media. Post on Instagram and Facebook about your upcoming open house – include the date, time, and location. Think about creating a Facebook Live Stream during the event; this way, viewers and those that follow your page are notified about your live stream and could stop by the open house after seeing your update.

Many real estate agents also suggest door knocking. Hold a special private open house for the neighbors of your listing – they can provide feedback on living in the area, which can help you sell the home. You can also create door hangers of your event, and hang them on the neighbor’s front door. Neighbors might also be able to get you referrals, if they know of anyone looking for a home.

Staging

Either the home is completely empty, or the sellers are still currently living within the home.

If the home is empty, you have some options. You could either hire a staging company, or you could create a virtual staging of the home. If you create a virtual staging, include the links on your social media pages, and bring your tablet to the open house to show potential buyers.

If the sellers are living in the home, give them some quick tips on tidying up and removing personal items– i.e., photographs, mail, pets, etc.

It’s also important that you set the mood for the event! Think about making cookies or warming up appetizers in the kitchen. Scents that are genuine will be seen as an extension of the home and create a warmer open house experience.

Providing Essentials

Don’t forget about that sign-in sheet! That will be vital to your potential lead list. Open Home Pro allows agents to have viewers of the open house sign in on a tablet and even asks custom questions. Their contact data can be transferred to your CRM for follow up after the event!

Reflect

After your event, it’s important that you discuss how it went with your client. Let them know of potential interest, but also be realistic. While an open house is a great way to showcase the listing and get more eyes on the home, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a sale within the day or even week.

Don’t forget to congratulate yourself after hosting a successful open house! You’re one step closer to gaining more leads and sitting at the closing table.

It’s All in the Family – Birth Order and Housing Preferences

Whether you’re a firstborn, the middle child, the baby, or an only child – you believe you’re the best, and you have your reasons.

Duh, we all do!

It’s no surprise as to how much research has been put in place for siblings, but an interesting take on favorite housing features is turning heads.  

According to the home and décor site, Apartment Therapy, it looks like your birth order might influence your housing preferences.

Licensed Psychotherapist, Ana Jovanovic, explains, “birth order plays a certain role in our upbringing, and thereby also affects the way we tend to think of ourselves and the behaviors we choose.”

What’s the breakdown here?

Oldest and Only Child: Usually, firstborns and only children are neat and orderly. They’ll notice the little details – like the crown molding or any paint chips in the home. Because they were constantly under the watchful eye of their parents, they are more likely prefer a home that offers independence and solitude.

Middle: The middle child goes with the flow and doesn’t stress too much about the little things. They’re used to the hand-me-downs, so things don’t have to be considered “perfect.” They also might be more flexible about who they live with – i.e., living with roommates.

Youngest: The baby of the family is constantly surrounded by family and thus will more likely prefer a community environment when selecting a home. The youngest enjoys being surrounded by a variety of people – condos, apartments, and townhomes would be a natural selection for a place to live.

Do you fall in line with what these findings show?