Real Estate Tip of the Week: Keeping Up with 2020 Trends

The real estate world is constantly changing and expanding – and it’s important that you, as a real estate agent, stay at the forefront of it.

Instead of being fearful of the industry changes, embrace it! Change will always occur, but that doesn’t mean you can’t adapt. Here are some tips to ensuring your relevance in the upcoming 2020 real estate year.

Security Updates

According to Real Estate Consulting Firm, T3 Sixty, in 2018, more than 11,000 real estate data crime victims lost $150 million in total. Not good.

But – there are ways you can combat this problem. With new technology, comes new ways to hack – so it’s important that you keep your vigilance. Here are some tips:

  • Update your passwords – check out our recent blog on updating your password here.
  • Verify, verify, verify – call your client, lender, etc., when you have received an email about any updates or changes to your transaction.
  • Update your programs – make sure your computers and cell phones are on the most current update.
  • Two-Step Authentication – requiring a second form of identification can thwart potential hackers.

iBuyer Growth

Not all brokerages have implemented this feature yet – but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on. iBuyers are a quicker sale and is essentially all online. Atlanta Real Estate coach, Dr. Lee Davenport, has a great article discussing the advantages to jumping aboard the iBuyer train – and how to do it.

Referrals and Leads

The average consumer spends $10,000 on services like movers, insurance, utilities, home security, and home improvements within the first six weeks of a home purchase.

Using a third-party vendor to offer referrals for these services after your client’s transaction has been completed is predicted to go on the rise – and hey, it offers a great structure for a referral base.

These are just a few of the changes that are heading our way in the real estate world. Let’s make this a successful year – check out the rest of Alliance Title’s blog to stay in the know!

Prepping for the Final Walk-Through as a Home Buyer

Before you sign on the dotted line to purchase your home, you’ll need to complete a final walk-through as one of your last steps.

But what does this mean?

Here’s the final walk-through breakdown:

The final walk-through will usually happen before the settlement. Buyers can check on the condition of the property to double-check that any negotiated work has been completed to feel comfortable with the home’s systems.

While you’re completing your walk-through, take a peek at some of these things:

  • Test all major appliances
  • Run the heating and air conditioning
  • Turn on and off all lights
  • Open and shut all windows and doors
  • Run all the faucets and check for leaks
  • Flush all the toilets and check for leaks
  • Walk around the outside of the home to check for any obvious damage
  • Double-check that any agreed-upon repairs have been made
  • Double-check that any fixtures that are supposed to be left behind are still in place 

Once you’ve scheduled your walk-through, make sure you leave plenty of time to complete your list. This is a big purchase, so you’ll want to make sure you’re feeling confident and good-to-go come closing time.

Want more real estate guides? Stop by Alliance’s Blog for more!

Tick Tock on Winter’s Clock – Time to Buy a Home

The first day of winter is approaching, and with that, comes the best time to purchase a home!

ATTOM Data Solutions recently released their analysis of the best days of the year to buy a home. According to the research, the biggest discounts fall the day after Christmas or on New Year’s Eve.

Compared to the summer months, December can help you save BIG time.

The month of December will still have about a 1.2% premium – but the month of June usually has the highest of 7.1%.

The best days to purchase according to ATTOM researchers: Dec. 26, Dec. 31, and Dec. 4 – in that order.

Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer with ATTOM Data Solutions, explains, “While lots of folks are shopping the day-after Christmas sales or getting ready to ring in the New Year, our data shows that buyers and investors are buying homes on those days at a discount.”

So if you’re in the market to purchase a home….aim for those closing days.

Want more real estate news? Be sure to check out Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Guiding Your Clients Through the Financial Process

As a guru of the real estate world, clients will look to you for help and advice when it comes to financing a home.

While you aren’t a financial advisor, you can certainly guide them through the home buying process, and showcase different options that are available to them. You might even be able to refer them to a lender or brokerage.

Here are some of the things you can do to help:

Ask Questions

You’ll want to get a good idea of where your clients want to be in the future. Getting to know why they want to purchase a home, the type of home they’re looking for, and what they’ve done financially to prepare for this next step can be beneficial in your guidance.

Here are some questions you can ask:

  • What areas have you looked at to purchase a home?
    • Different locations can mean different options for loans.
  • How long do you see yourself staying in this home?
    • Depending on how long they see themselves living there, can greatly affect the type of loan they choose. A 15-year mortgage might make more sense than a 30-year mortgage.

Preparation

After you get a better idea of where your clients stand, you’ll want to connect them with a lender or mortgage broker.

Let them know they’ll need to prepare documents ahead of a meeting with a lender:

  • Clear idea of how much money they can put down for the down payment
  • No surprises on any existing debt – the more upfront they are, the better
  • Most recent pay stub
  • W-2s from the past two years
  • Mortgage statements for any other properties they own

Once your client has decided to go with a specific lender, it’ll be the lender’s duty to guide your clients financially.

Want more real estate tips and guides? Stop by Alliance Title’s Blog here.

Looking for a Home? Here’s How You Find a Lender

Home shopping is fun – picturing yourself and / or your family living and building your lives there can be incredibly exciting!

But, not all shopping is or will be equally as fun.

The first major step to purchasing a home is finding the right lender for you. Yes, we know the financial part isn’t the most intriguing part, but it is one of the more important parts.

Here’s how you find the right lender for you.

Types of Lenders

Traditional Bank: You’ll work with a loan officer who gets a base salary and might receive a small commission or bonus for writing your loan. Some banks might offer a discount if you have your checking or savings account set through them.

Mortgage Bank: These banks will only specialize in mortgages. The loan officer you’re assigned to will likely receive a commission along with his or her salary. These banks might keep your loan or sell it – if they sell it, they can sell the entire loan, which means you might eventually deal with an entirely new mortgage bank.

Mortgage Brokers: Brokers shop across many banks to find you the best rate – they are paid a commission known as a “yield spread premium”, which is available for you to see on your loan estimate.

Shop Around

Check to see if friends and family have any referrals for you to pass off.  

Check online to see and compare different mortgage options – but be sure to go further than just “glancing.” The rate you see online – before you apply – has not been tailored to you. Rates are influenced by your credit score and other financial factors, so until you’ve sat down with a lender, you’ll never have the full picture.

And don’t worry – your credit score won’t be hit with these multiple credit inquiries taking place. Multiple-related inquiries made within a single 14-day period count as just one for the purposes of your credit score. They know you’re not going to buy six houses!

After you’ve applied with different lenders, within three days you should get a loan estimate. After you do, compare costs and weigh your options.

Questions to Ask Your Lender

You want a lender that understands your financial situation and can find the best loan to fit your needs. Here are a few questions to ask your potential lender:

  • How much time do you need to complete the mortgage? (this is important if you’re on a tight time frame)
  • Can I lock my rate? And if so, when?
  • How much are discount points?
  • What are my options with fixed or adjustable-rate mortgages?
  • When will my monthly payment be due?
  • How much will my monthly payment be?
  • What are the closing costs associated with the mortgage?
  • Who can I contact if I have an issue?

Do your research and compare costs! By doing so, you’ll end up finding the right lender for you and your needs.

Want more real estate guides? Check out Alliance Title’s Blog here.

Home Buying Guide: How to Check out the Neighborhood

Have you just found the home of your dreams? Before you settle down, it is important that you check out the neighborhood as well – because you don’t want to be stuck with your dream home, if it comes with red flags.

Test out some of these ideas before signing on a home:

Test out the Commute

One major regret homeowner’s face: not running through daily errands or their commute to and from work. Nothing hurts like having to sit in the car for longer than you were expecting to.

Test out your commute on busy days and times (rush hour) and see how it feels. How long does it take you to get to the closest grocery store, etc.? What public transportation options are available in your area?

Try out the Weekend

Explore the area during the weekend – explore the neighborhood during the morning, afternoon, and evening. Are there huge house parties taking place? Are people out and about on walks, jogs, etc.? Can you picture yourself there?

It’s a good idea to also sample any of the local coffee shops or restaurants nearby.

Look up School Districts

Whether or not you have kids, the quality of schools in a neighborhood is critical. A better school district usually means a higher home value – and if you’re a parent, you’ll want to make sure the school district is a reputable one, and that it is a good fit for your child.

Download an App

Apps such as CrimeReports can help provide information about crime within the location or address.

Buying a home is an incredible accomplishment and a commitment – be sure you do your thorough research on the home and neighborhood before you sign.

Want more real estate news? Check out Alliance Title’s Blog here.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Understanding Google Analytics

If you’re looking to improve your site to help boost sales, find more clients, and / or improve your mobile app, then Google Analytics is where you need to start!

Google Analytics helps provide insight into some pretty awesome data – and you don’t have to be tech savvy to use it (although, it always helps!).

How to Install

It’s free! And free is always good.

You’ll need to go to the Google Analytics sign up here, and create an account. You’ll include which site(s) you want Google Analytics to keep track of your data for.

After you’ve filled in the names of your website and account, you can find the tracking ID at the bottom of the page.

If you don’t know how to read or edit HTML code, ask a knowledgeable friend or colleague to help you – you’ll need to provide them the code and access to your website. The code will need to be pasted onto every page of your website, just before the section.

What Can You Track?

Here are a few things Google Analytics will organize for you:

  • Location: identify the geographical location of your site visitors
  • Traffic Source: identify what websites send traffic to your site
  • Content: Sort through the most popular blog posts and pages of your site
  • Devices: see whether visitors use a mobile device or a computer more when accessing your site

Review Overview Report

The overview report is important to look at to track your traffic. Go to “Insights > Reports” to open the reports page in your dashboard.

Here are the things to look at in this report:

  • Sessions: see what a visitor does in a single visit – like browse multiple pages, purchase products, etc.
  • Users: the number of visitors who arrived at your site during a selected date range
  • Page Views: the total number of pages viewed
  • Bounce Rate: the percentage of visitors who leave your site after just viewing one page

Want a More In-depth Look?

Google Analytics has A LOT to offer. It can seem overwhelming at first, but there are plenty of user-friendly guides that can help you sort through the fluff of things you really want to be looking at. Check out Moz’s Guide here as one of the many great guide examples.

Looking for more real estate tips and guides? Follow Alliance Title’s Blog for more.

Homebuyers and their First-Time Home Preferences

Generational trends prove to be different when it comes to purchasing a home for the first time. A survey from Clovered, a home insurance company, found that Millennials wanted more from their first home compared to Baby Boomers or Gen Xers.

With the length of staying put in your home increasing, Millennials might consider their first home to be their forever home. Clovered’s survey shows some interesting differences between the generations – that raises interesting questions on how a “starter home” might be changing for new homeowners.

Ideal Size:

Baby Boomers Generation X Millennials
2,949 sq. ft. 3,311 sq. ft. 3,320 sq. ft.

Ideal Style:

Baby Boomers Generation X Millennials
Other (32%) Ranch (12%) Ranch (15%) Other (14%) Modern (20%) Other (18%)

Location:

Infographic provided by Clovered

Want more real estate news? Check out the rest of Alliance Title’s blog here.

Real Estate Cyber Security: Update Your Password

Cyber security is incredibly important within the real estate industry.

But we get it – updating your passwords can be a downer! Especially if you currently utilize the myth of believing random character passwords are the best way to prevent hackers.

Today’s cyber security advice definitely takes a more user-friendly turn.

Cyber Security Experts are now recommending easy-to-remember phrases as passwords, rather than ones filled with random characters. The old advice of using complicated passwords came from a time when people just had fewer passwords to remember.

In reality, those types of passwords aren’t making you any less vulnerable to security breaches, and they’re ultimately frustrating you.

So, how can you make a strong – but easy – password? Check out our tips below:

Different Passwords for Different Accounts

We all have dozens of online accounts that are protected by passwords – this should also mean that each account has a different password.

Repeating passwords is a BIG no-no. If one password is compromised, then your other accounts will be exposed to hackers.

Think of Phrases

Instead of a simple word as your password, think about using phrases instead. Use your favorite book, TV show, or even an inside-joke you have with a friend or family member.

This simple switch will make it easier for you to remember AND will be unique enough to prevent cyber-attacks.

Keep Your Passwords Organized

Okay, so you have a different password for each of your accounts – how do you remember all of them?

We know that writing down passwords is a bad idea, and unfortunately, this is still relevant today. Luckily, there are an array of apps that can help organize all of your passwords. Check out this list of Password Managers to help you decide which best fits your needs.

Enable Two-Step Verification

After you’ve confirmed your password for your account, enable two-step verification (if the account has it available).

With two-step verification, you’ll have to confirm your identity before accessing the account. This is usually done by texting a code to your phone.

We know, we know – passwords can be annoying to deal with. But, if you take a moment to properly protect your account, it can save you a great deal of trouble in the future.

For more real estate tips, follow Alliance Title’s Blog here.

Home Buying Power: Where Are We Currently?

Sometimes it’s in the buyer’s hands, and sometimes it’s in the seller’s hands – but where is the real estate market now?

With low mortgage rates – buying power has increased by 6%. This helped boost contract signings by 1.5% in September, with contract signings up overall 3.9% year over year.

Experts aren’t expecting interest rates to make any sizeable changes, so they believe the median price of homes will have to be the key to changing housing affordability in the future. The median price of homes is also greatly affected by the shortage of homes available.

Lawrence Yun, the National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist, believes that other ideas will need to be pushed to help increase inventory – such as “a greater use of modular, factory-constructed homes, converting old shopping malls or vacant office space into condos, and permitting more accessory dwelling units.”

Check out the NAR’s Infographic on home sales below:

From the National Association of REALTORS®

For more real estate news, check out the rest of Alliance Title’s blog.