Looking Ahead: Digital Closings

  • While 80% of consumers would still prefer to close in person, 70% of consumers would like a more updated digital process when it comes to closing on a home. * Solidifi

Below is a snap shot of states that have Remote Online Notary legislation (as of October 2019)

*Map provided by ALTA

For more information on digital closings and remote online notarization visit: ALTA Digital Closings.

Alliance Title & Escrow Corp. will keep you informed as more updates become available.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Social Media Guide

Blogs and experts throw it at you all the time: social media is king!  As an example, take a look at all of the articles we’ve posted for you on the subject!

But, social media only helps you so much – if you’re not engaging with your audience, then it is almost like your social media doesn’t even exist. While it’s important to receive likes, comments, and shares, it’s also important that you reciprocate and do the same.

For 2020, set a goal to create and sustain better social media engagement! Here are some quick tips to help plan you year:

Schedule the Time

To boost your business on social media, you’ll have to treat the time you spend on apps as though you’re on the clock. Set and schedule time each day to craft and post genuine responses.

If someone has left a comment on your post, respond! If someone has messaged you with a question or a comment, respond! If you see something you like that a fellow real estate agent has posted, reply or even share it to your own page!

Get Creative

Social media allows you to have fun and be creative – so why not use those filters, gifs, or stickers?

Instagram is a great social media platform to inspire creativity! They have “poll” features that can allow your followers to ask questions (i.e., “how are mortgage rates looking these days?”), you can go live when at an open house, or you can post a countdown to your Stories!

Don’t Always Promote Your Brand

Audiences will grow tired if you’re constantly advertising yourself to be their next real estate agent. You have to show them the why – and the best way to do that, is to show them who you are.

How can you do this?

Think about posting:

  • Behind-the-scenes (i.e., setting up an open house, grabbing lunch at a new restaurant, networking events)
  • A hobby you enjoy participating in (hiking, painting, cooking, etc.)
  • Your family, friends, or your cute doggy!

Engage, Engage, Engage

Don’t forget – the best way to improve your business social media game is to ENGAGE.

  • Comment on posts
  • Reply to comments / questions
  • Participate in conversations
  • Share articles / posts that are relevant to your market

Another tidbit to not forget: social media is FUN, so don’t forget to enjoy it too.

For more real estate tips and tricks, check out Alliance Title’s Blog.

How Much Equity have Homeowners Seen?

Homeowners, rejoice!

Those who have purchased homes in 2012 (the year prices reached their lowest point following the Great Recession) have earned a total of $203 billion in home equity!

That’s a big chunk of change.

On average, the typical homeowner earned $141,000 in home equity individually.

This Redfin analysis shows that an average home that sold in 2012 has increased $110,000 in value – with Tacoma, Washington and Virginia Beach, Virginia having the biggest percent increases in home equity.

Looks like homebuyers are able to eat their cake and have it too! Experts will be studying the housing market closely as we enter into the winter season.

If you’re wanting more real estate updates, check out Alliance Title’s Blog to stay in the loop!

Employee spotlight – Liliana Soto

We’ve got a new super star – Liliana Soto! Liliana is our Escrow Assistant located in Nampa, Idaho. Having been with Alliance for a year and six months, Liliana is a confident and wonderful employee to have on the team.

Liliana truly loves how rewarding her job is. She explains, “We are a part of someone else’s journey – whether it is buying a new home, buying their second home, selling, or even refinancing, we get to be a part of it and it is amazing when you get to call your customers and let them know ‘we’re recorded’ – and then hear the excitement and happiness in their voice.”

Of the Alliance Core Values, “Teamwork” is Liliana’s top choice. “I have an amazing team, and I am so thankful I get to work with such amazing people who are so knowledgeable and helpful.”

Outside of the office, Liliana enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her cute pups. She also likes to go on walks, go shopping, or take fun trips.

When asked whom she admires, Liliana thinks of her parents. She explains, “I admire my parents for pushing me to do better, to work hard, and to be independent.”

Liliana’s favorite quote, “the comeback is always stronger than the setback,” is something she tries to remind herself of. Liliana further explains, “This is my favorite quote because it’s a reminder that no matter what you go through, you will get through it as a better and stronger person.”

Now that you’ve gotten to know Liliana a little more, stop by Alliance Title’s Nampa branch and write them in on your next transaction! Liliana looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Liliana Soto – Escrow Officer at Alliance’s Nampa Branch
1005 W Sanetta St., 83651
208.465.6600
Liliana.soto@alliancetitle.com

Employee Spotlight – Nicole Schwarz

A round of applause for our newest employee spotlight – Title Assistant in our Idaho Falls branch, Nicole Schwarz!

Having been with Alliance for a year, Nicole has recently made the transition from the Escrow Department to Title; she assists with policy production, recordings, and new order set-ups, as well as covering the Escrow Department when needed.

Nicole loves building relationships with customers and her teammates. Of the Alliance Core Values, “Trust & Respect” is her go-to. Nicole explains, “Everything begins here. Without these values, we wouldn’t have any of the other core values to offer our customers.”

After working hard in the office, Nicole enjoys spending some quality time with her family.

When asked whom she admires, Nicole can think of no one else but her grandmother. Nicole illustrates, “Not only is she the heart of our entire family, but she has worked tirelessly all of her life – doing her part to make the world a better place. Starting from her career in Social Work, to raising her children and then spending countless hours watching her grandchildren and great grandchildren, my grandmother is selfless. She has also spent her life volunteering in many areas, including the Idaho Falls Food Bank and the Girl Scout program. I not only admire her, but I think of her as my hero!”

Nicole’s favorite quote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better,” by Maya Angelou, is something she tries to live by. Nicole further explains, “This is my favorite quote because I think it should apply to everything in life. As you learn new things and mature, you should not only do better, but act better and treat people better.”

Now that you’ve gotten to know Nicole a little more, stop by Alliance Title’s Idaho Falls branch and write them in on your next transaction! Nicole looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Nicole Schwarz – Title Assistant at Alliance’s Idaho Falls Branch
3420 S Woodruff Ave., 83404
208.524.5660
nicole.schwarz@alliancetitle.com

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: Hello from the Other Side

While Adele can get away with calling a thousand times…as a real estate agent, you probably can’t.

We all may panic a little when we see our phone ringing – especially if it’s your great aunt calling – but prospecting on the phone can still be a great way to garner clients.

Maybe just use a more modern script and have a clearer vision of what you have in mind.

What makes calling potential clients so scary is the idea of you interrupting their day; the goal of calling should be allowing clients to come to you at their convenience.

How do we set that up?

For starters, do NOT call cold. This is almost never received well. The only time you should “call cold” is when you’ve had some sort of introduction – calling a friend of your client after your client gave you their information, as an example.

Instead, think about setting up a sign-up sheet with the option to leave an email address at your next open house. After the event, email those who left their information! Thank them for attending your open house and let them know you’ll be calling them. Those that will want to talk to you will answer. Those that don’t, won’t.

When you are on the phone, don’t jump into the sale. Understand the aspirations they have in terms of goals for homeownership – then you can come in and talk about what you have to offer.

Calling to acquire clients and schedule appointments shouldn’t be intimidating – you just have to know how to approach the call.

And – maybe don’t call a thousand times.

That’s Life: The Path of Your Title and Escrow Transaction

Let’s face it – insurance talk isn’t really the most exciting of discussions. But that doesn’t make it any less important.

When you’re in the final stages of purchasing your home, you’ll get down to the nitty gritty aspects of your title and escrow process. But what does it look like, exactly?

Alliance Title’s Buyer-Seller Guide is available for your use, and breaks down all of the people and steps that will take place during your closing – but as a quick reference, the path that your title and escrow transaction will take is shown for you below!

While these steps might seem tedious, they’re incredibly important to help guarantee the ownership of your new home!

Relief for Real Estate in Rural Towns

Rural towns haven’t been so rural.

Prisons and military bases are usually located outside smaller towns – typically becoming the biggest employers and economic drivers in the area. While a growing job force is always welcome, it has induced a negative side effect towards real estate in these smaller farming towns.

Counting towards an area’s population, prisons and military bases put these communities over the threshold of eligibility for federal Rural Housing Service (RHS) programs. Essentially, towns with a population greater than 35,000 aren’t considered rural under these guidelines.

However, this regulation seems to be changing.

The U.S. Congress recently passed a big farm bill that only counts a portion of a prison or a military base population against the area’s populace total.

Why does this matter? Well, rural towns can now access RHS programs – programs which provide safe and affordable mortgages for these communities.

These programs are underwritten using specialized data that recognizes particular characteristics of rural towns and properties – such as the absence of various public services.

While this is a huge win for rural towns and the real estate market, this bill won’t be enacted until 2030.

The National Association of Realtors® is optimistic in supporting this bill and is eager to see a swift change in finance affordability in these areas.

Tip of the Week: It’s All in the Title

Being a real estate agent means you’re juggling many different talents – a few of them you might recognize: staying on top of emails and phone calls, being a great seller, and maybe the most intimating one, a convincing writer.

While those are only just a few of the many things a real estate agent does, writing real estate listing descriptions can – at times – be the most frustrating. How do you persuade potential homebuyers to click on your listing when it’s crowded among many others that look the same?

It’s important that your listings catch a home-shopper’s attention. Here are some fool-proof tips to help set your descriptions apart from the crowd:

Headline / Title

Future homebuyers are scrolling through endless amounts of listings and titles – you want your headline to pop out from the page and grab their attention.

Keep it short and sweet; five to seven words can be a good goal to keep in mind. Using descriptive and emotional words will resonate with the buyer, and hopefully, evoke some sort of response. Some of the better real estate keywords will fall under aesthetics – exposed brick, frameless shower, subway tile – are all good examples.

Topic Sentence

Don’t dance around what you’re trying to get at here – get straight to the point. A reader will ask, why am I reading this? Why should I continue reading this?

Tell them why they’ll love the house to draw them in. Something like: “This cozy bungalow nestled in the foothills will give you seclusion and peace after your long work day” can evoke both an emotional pull and get them to reading.

Highlight Features

This is where you’ll want to highlight the home’s primary features. Primary features include: number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, lot size, location, recent renovations, and unique characteristics.

Give these features captivating descriptions to have the buyer envision their home memories being built there. Don’t be afraid to use a thesaurus!

Call to Action

At the end of your listing, you’ll want to include an urgent call to action to get the homebuyer to make a move. Give them direction on whom to get in touch with!

Listing descriptions are important – don’t let yours get bogged down with other boring ones.

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