Strengthen Your Relationships

Relationships are everything – especially if you’re a real estate agent. As an agent, it is important to expand your circle and nourish your relationships with clients. Being an active participant in your community is a great way to establish and expand your network!

JOIN A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION
Reach out to your local food bank, animal shelter, library, or the Parks and Rec department to see how you can reach out and help those in need.

SUPPORT LOCAL COMMUNITY
Attend local events to better your knowledge of the neighboring communities and businesses to become an expert in the area.

FORM OR JOIN CLUBS
Use your social media accounts to meet new people who enjoy the same hobbies and passions as you; create event pages where people can join in on the conversation.

Strengthen your network by reaching out to your local Alliance Title Rep today!

Buyers & Builders in the Real Estate World

Build it and they will come – or at least, buyers will come even before you build it.

The real estate industry is hot; but builders are having a hard time keeping up with buyer demand. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, new home sales for single-family houses plummeted 18.2%, which is the biggest decline since 2013.

While construction may have slowed down, buyers still pushed new home sales 8.2% higher than a year ago. New home sales rose 6% in the Northeast, 24.7% in the Midwest, and 23.2% in the South. The West saw sales dropping 9.3%.

So buyers are ready to make that leap and purchase a home – but what’s up with construction?

Economists are pointing to the rising costs of building materials. Materials, specifically lumber, have gone up 59% year-over-year in February.

One big thing to remember: builder optimism remains high. Economists are expecting this drop-off to be temporary and are looking to the spring months for a high rebound.

For more real estate news and insights, check out Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Speedy Tech Hacks

Technology is supposed to make things easier – but sometimes, does it feel a bit like a drag?

As a real estate agent, you’re used to working on the fly; but what about when you’re using social media, or emailing, or texting a client? Sometimes just the mundane tech stuff can bog you down.

But! We’ve got the tips for you. Check out our guide on how to be just a tad faster (and cooler!) when using your daily tech apps.

Facebook Lists

Facebook is a great tool for the real estate industry….but, you can also find yourself down the rabbit-hole hours later and wondering why you got on Facebook in the first place.

Facebook lists can organize your friends on FB – you can post updates for specific people, easily reach out to groups, and see recent activity. You could make these lists for: potential clients, past clients, and general friends.

Check out Facebook’s Help page to create your list.

Text Replacement

Sick of typing out the same “hello” messages or hashtags? Text replacement can seriously cut down on your typing and cut/paste time.

To set up a text replacement, you’ll need to create it under your “Keyboards” section in your general app in your phone. From there, you’ll tap on ‘text replacement.’ Type in your general sayings – or hashtags – and set up your text replacement! That way, whenever you go to send your email, text, or schedule your post, you can just type in your text replacement word, and your copy will automatically pull up!

Audio Messages

Audio messages might be a good option if you’re having a super busy day, but your client wants to know the latest of their transaction. Sending an audio message is more personal than a text, and is quicker than a phone call. It can be a good way to keep them in the loop, but also mentioning you’ll call them for more information at your next break in the day.

Tech is important – but keeping it quick and easy is the way to go. For more real estate tips and tricks, stop by Alliance Title’s blog.

Employee Spotlight – Carlos Vidales

Let’s give a round of applause for our newest employee spotlight, Carlos Vidales!

Carlos is Alliance’s Servicing Title Officer in our Centralized Title Services (CTS) Emerald office located in Boise, Idaho. Carlos helps resolve title issues for a successful closing; he loves that the job never has a dull moment and that every transaction has a different story and different challenges.

Of the Alliance Core Values, “Teamwork” is Carlos’s top pick. He explains, “99% of what I’ve learned over the years on this job has come from others willing to share their knowledge and experience.”

When asked whom Carlos admires, he immediately thinks of his grandfather. He continues, “He was a mild-mannered man with endless good qualities and a lively sense of humor. And he was a Monopoly Shark. That’s where I first heard the expression, ‘cash on the barrelhead’.”

Outside of the office, Carlos enjoys spending time with his family: “This year, my oldest daughter is learning to drive, and my youngest daughter is learning to walk!”

Carlos has been with Alliance Title since 2005 – and we’re extremely lucky to have him on our team!

Now that you’ve gotten to know Carlos a little more, give a shout out to Alliance Title’s CTS Emerald branch on Facebook and write them in on your next transaction! Carlos looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Carlos Vidales
Servicing Title Officer – Alliance Title CTS Boise Idaho
carlos.vidales@alliancetitle.com

Guide to Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Purchasing or selling a home can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you do it on your own.

If you’ve been wondering – or planning – on how you can go about hiring a real estate agent, Alliance Title’s Buyer-Seller Guide will provide you with some quick tips and valuable information that can help jump start your home selling or purchasing process! We’ve got your back.

Hiring a real estate agent might seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be! You want an agent that can guide you through the entire process and help you feel confident and comfortable. Check out our steps to finding a real estate agent below:

Step One: Understanding Agent Associations  

All REALTORS® and Real Estate Agents are required to be licensed by the state to represent buyers and sellers in property transfers.

A Realtor® is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, which means that he or she must uphold the standards of the association and its code of ethics.

Step Two: Following Your Requirements

You’ll want to hire an agent who is familiar with your community or the neighborhood you are wanting to move to. Think about asking these questions when looking for a real estate agent partner:

  • Do you mostly work with home buyers or sellers?
  • Are you able to be reached on various platforms – email, text messaging, etc.?
  • Are you a member of the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?
  • Are you able to provide local real estate market trends, values, and statistics?

Step Three: Know the Who’s and the What’s

  • The seller is represented by the listing agent
  • The buyer is represented by the selling agent
  • The selling agent is also referred to as the buyer’s agent

A real estate agent can guide your transaction and aid in your understanding of the real estate process. Check out Alliance Title’s Blog for more guides and tips!

Community Spotlight – Lewiston, Idaho

Adjacent to Clarkston, Washington, you’ll find the second-largest city in the northern-Idaho region – Lewiston, Idaho!

Home to the Port of Lewiston, the city of Lewiston is at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers and is the gateway to Hells Canyon Recreation Area – North America’s deepest gorge! Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or someone who likes to relax and sip on delicious wine, Lewiston has something to offer everyone.

Only a 12-minute drive from Hells Gate State Park, you’ll find our Alliance Title Lewiston branch! Our Lewiston office has a combined 90 years’ experience within the title and escrow industry – so you know you’re closing with the best team!

Brandy Charlo, Vice President and Branch Manager, explains what she believes makes her team stand out from the competition: “Everything! Even in the most stressful and busy times, this team has a can-do attitude. From our front desk staff, admin assistant, to escrow and title, and our business development representatives – this group has not let the heavy work load create negative attitudes. Everyone is willing to help when and where needed, even when it may not be their file to work on. This group of people really sets the bar and is an example of what a team is all about.”

The Lewiston team deeply cares about the community they’re centered in. They are involved in numerous community events, fundraisers, and contributions, such as: Gina Quesenberry Foundation, Jackson Baldwin Pay It Forward, Valley Boys and Girls Clubs, The Animal Shelter, Alliance Title’s Teacher of the Month Program, The Idaho Foodbank, LC Crew, Lewiston High School Athletics, and Warrior Athletics.

Alliance Title’s Lewiston Team

When it comes to their customers, the Lewiston team is extremely thankful for the wonderful clients they’ve had and will continue to have. Brandy continues, “Not every transaction can be easy, but we love it when our customers thank us for helping get them through a transaction, or when they request us again because we did such a great job. That is all we can ask for…our customers from buyers, sellers, borrowers, lenders, and real estate agents, to ask us for their transactions because – yes, it matters where you close – and that is what we do. We close real estate transactions.”

Whether you’re buying or selling commercial or residential property in Nez Perce County, the professionals at Alliance Title’s Lewiston location would be delighted to help make your next transaction a success! Give Lewiston a shout out on their Alliance Lewiston Facebook page!

Alliance Title – Lewiston Idaho Branch
1455 G St., Ste. 102, 83501
208.743.8541
lewiston@alliancetitle.com

Real Estate Agents & First-Time Buyers

Real estate agents are swooping in and being the superheroes they are towards first-time homebuyers!

The National Association of REALTORS®’ newly released 2021 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report shows younger generational groups dominating the housing market – but not only that, they’re reaching out to agents to help make their purchases and decisions.

Millennials are taking up the largest share of buyers at 37%, and even Gen Z (the youngest buying generation) is entering the market.

Younger millennials (those aged 22-30) were the most likely to reach out to a real estate agent during their home search at 91%.

With COVID drastically changing how the real estate market worked with sellers and buyers, the millennial (and Gen Z) generational group embraced virtual tours and in-home shopping; these groups of buyers are generally comfortable with researching online before they reached out to an agent.
Jessica Lautz, NAR’s Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights, explains: “[…] to see [buyers] really embrace virtual tours and virtual open houses was a given, nonetheless, real estate agents are the top information source, and the data shows these buyers ultimately used agents to purchase a home.”

These younger, first-time homebuyers still had difficulties finding the home of their dreams. NAR’s infographic report below showcases ages of buyers, and what they found to be the most burdensome when searching for a home. Most millennial buyers thought finding a property was the hardest part of their home purchasing journey, at 58%.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Extra Costs

If you’re a real estate agent, it would be in your best interest to help and guide your clients to fully understand all of the fees that are associated with owning a home, so your clients feel prepared and ready for the transaction.

A recent report from LendEDU (an online marketplace for financial products and advice), found that 55% of homeowners regret taking out a mortgage during the pandemic. Of the homeowners who are experiencing regret, 30% wish they waited to purchase a home for financial reasons and another 7% of new homeowners said they were not prepared for homeownership.

While these fees will vary from person to person and state to state, it’s important to clarify the costs on the table so they don’t feel misled.

Inspection Fees

While these aren’t required, they are highly recommended in the industry. An average inspection may cost anywhere from $300 to $500. Inspections can help uncover any problems with the home and prevent more costly repairs in the future.  

Closing Costs

Financial experts recommend setting aside 2-5% of the purchase price for closing costs, and they must be available on closing day. This fee covers a variety of things, like notary services, title company search fees, attorney expenses, real estate transfer taxes, insurance premiums, and more. These will vary by state and property.

Maintenance Costs

It is recommended to put aside 1% of a home’s value per year for any unexpected maintenance expenses. For example, a $300,000 home would mean budgeting $3,000.

Moving Costs

While this might be the last thing on your client’s mind, moving adds up too. If they’re planning to hire a moving company or renting a truck, they’ll want to allocate this into their upcoming expenses.

As a real estate agent, you’ll need to remind them to speak with their lender and bank to fully understand their financial planning. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t help guide them on some of the upcoming fees associated with purchasing a home.

For more real estate tips and tricks, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog!

Homeowner 101: How to Cut on Utility Costs

Want to be the best homeowner possible, but don’t know where to start?

Let’s take a look at your utility costs – how much are you spending? There’s always wiggle room to make adjustments in your day-to-day life to save money.

If you want to be a smart homeowner and cut down on utility costs, check out some of our tips below:

Thermostat

The tricky thermostat!
If you set your thermostat at a specific temperature and never touch it, you could be wasting a lot of money year over year.

Instead of leaving the thermostat alone for extended hours/days at a time, try to set your thermostat 5-8 degrees higher in the summer and 10-15 degrees lower in the winter, when your home will be empty for 8 hours or longer. When you get home, set the thermostat back to where you like it. This little maneuver could save you 5-15% on your yearly energy costs!

Also, it’s important to keep your heating and air conditioning unit running at its best by changing the filters regularly.

Appliances

Don’t run appliances (dishwasher, clothes dryer) during the day! If you can, run these appliances later in the evening, or before bedtime. Utility companies usually charge more for energy that’s being used during peak times – i.e., during the day.

When you run your clothes washer, be sure to use the cold water setting. Almost 90% of the energy your washing machine uses is for heating the water. Yikes!

For dishwasher tricks, try using the energy-saving cycle (if you have that option). You could also try the “air-dry/no-heat” feature, or prop the door open for air drying.

Lighting

Think about using LED lightbulbs to save money. These bulbs use less energy and last longer than other bulbs – about 80% less power and 42 times longer!

Being the best homeowner takes research, care, and experience! For more real estate tips and homeowner guides, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog!

Stop! When’s Closing Time?

Semisonic’s song, “Closing Time,” might come to mind when you are itching to close on your first-ever home and become an official homeowner:

“Closing time, open all the doors and let you out into the world”

Except – when exactly is “closing time” for the real estate world? How long can you expect your closing to take?

According to an origination report from ICE Mortgage Technology, the average time to close all transaction types averaged 58 days in December, which is an increase of 10 days when compared to the same month a year ago.

The average time to close a refinance held at 59 days month over month, and the average time to close purchase increased from 56 days in December to 57 days in January.

For more, stop by ALTA’s News Archive, here.

Check out Alliance’s Blog to further your current real estate knowledge.