Understanding Buying Power with Rising Mortgage Rates

In the real estate market, prices fluctuate – and mortgage rates are no different. While mortgage rates are currently lower than they were last year, many experts agree that rates might hover near 5% throughout 2019*.
And while these rates are easier to manage, it’s always key to stay educated on the programs available to buyers.

Follow these simple tips to help put money towards the mortgage down payment:

  • Transfer a fixed amount into a special savings every month
  • Pay off high interest rate credit cards
  • Lower miscellaneous expenses

With a homebuyer’s potential buying power, it’s also important to stay up-to-date with the various loan assistance programs that can help your client. When your client is ready to purchase a home, call your local Alliance Title representative for your title and escrow services!

#alliancetitle #title #escrow #realestate #mortgage #downpayment

*https://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/mortgage-rates-forecast.aspx

Real Estate Tip of the Week: How to Garner Client Reviews

As many real estate agent’s know, implementing a review for each transaction you close is not only critical – but difficult.

For the real estate industry, reviews are a great way to separate yourself from the pack. With 84% of people trusting online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, it’s essential to step up your review game and show potential clients why you’re the real estate agent to pick.

Here are some simple tips to help establish a better review platform for your brand:

Establish Your Importance

When you start working with a new client, tell them what you plan on providing for them – essentially, an outstanding and smooth experience to help them achieve their real estate goals. Point out that you aim to earn their review throughout the transaction.

Wait Until the Transaction Is Completed

While you have already mentioned reviews – you haven’t technically asked them to write one yet. Wait until your business has been completed with your client before officially asking for feedback.

Using key words and phrases when you ask for their assessment, i.e., “It would be helpful to me if you write a review about me on [this site] and/or [this site],” doesn’t make it sound as forceful. And of course – everyone wants to be helpful.  

Send an Email After Closing

After the transaction has been completed, and you’ve mentioned a review in person, give your client a week or two before reaching out to them through email (if they haven’t submitted a review during that time). Moving can be a chaotic time, so giving them a moment to settle in is considerate.

Be genuine and sincere in asking how they’re settling in – then remind them about a review. Send a direct link to the page(s) you’d like them to leave a review on.

You might even think about including links to review pages within your email signature line. A quick “Happy with my service? Leave me a review on [site]” will remind clients about submitting feedback.

Bonus Tip: Acknowledge Their Review

While you should always respond to a review – especially if there are negative ones – the client might feel a little more special if you go above and beyond to send a thank you card for their review. These might help with your future referral network!

Facebook VS. HUD: Real Estate Discrimination

Fee-fi-fo-fum – a social media giant has got some explaining to do.

Back in November, Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released a statement saying, “housing discrimination is playing out in the form of hidden online calculations that companies can use to exclude certain populations from viewing residential real estate ads online”- and which major social media app was she referring to?

Facebook, of course.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that it is charging Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act – they claim Facebook has been enabling landlords and home sellers to control who can receive real estate ads based on the user’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code.

HUD also claims that Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude neighborhoods from seeing specific real estate related advertisements.

Facebook has commented on the charge: “We’ve been working with them to address their concerns and have taken significant steps to prevent ads discrimination.” The spokesperson added that the company is “disappointed” in HUD’s decision.

Understanding TRID in Real Estate

If you’re in the middle of purchasing a home, there’s a good chance you’ve heard a couple of words thrown around that might seem new to you – TRID being one of them.

Essentially, TRID is a rule designed with consumers in mind; real estate, while exciting, can be a little puzzling when you throw in contractual documents and legal jargon. But with TRID, these things should be clearer to understand, and consumers should be given a longer period of time to read through documents before signing at the closing table.

So, what exactly is TRID?

TRID is the TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule – and yes, it is an acronym out of acronyms. TILA is the Truth in Lending Act, and RESPA is the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

This rule requires easier consumer disclosures for clients to read and to help the borrower determine whether they would like to move forward with the transaction. TRID also involves making sure that the Closing Disclosure is given early – at least three business days prior to the closing date. This way, if the consumers have any questions or concerns, the lender and / or real estate agent can help with any additional information.

Although TRID might sound like a scary legal issue, it’s actually one that benefits the consumer; because lenders are required to provide the disclosure agreement before closing, it helps empower sellers and buyers to understand the entire home buying process.

Check out Alliance’s Client Resource Guide to see the full breakdown of what the TRID rule looks like on a calendar.

Employee Spotlight – Hannah Gardner

Hannah Gardner is an Escrow Assistant for Alliance Title’s Sandpoint, Idaho branch. Although she is relatively new to the industry, Hannah is a quick learner and has become a wonderful addition to the team!

Hannah helps the escrow officers in gathering information needed to complete their closings and assisting with funding their files after recording. Her favorite part about working in the industry is being the one to bring such positive news to a future homeowner. Hannah explains, “I love when I get to break the news to a first-time homebuyer that their purchase has recorded. They always sound excited and grateful; it’s good to feel like I’m a part of one of the most important moments of their lives.”

Of the Alliance Core Values, “Integrity” is Hannah’s favorite. She further illustrates, “Our clients need to know their transactions are in safe, impartial, honest hands. If you and your office have a reputation for honesty, then the rest takes care of itself. I love that many of our Alliance offices are based in smaller communities, but just remember how quickly word travels in small towns!”

When it comes to admiration, Hannah immediately thinks of her brave and wonderful grandmother. Her grandmother had escaped the bombing in England during World War II by fleeing to the United States with her family. Although she had to completely start over in a new and strange country, she still managed to graduate from college with a degree in bacteriology and managed her own jewelry shop for many years. Hannah believes “she has always been a resourceful, intelligent, and independent woman. I can only hope to be like her!”

Outside the office, you can find Hannah practicing her writing skills or falling deeper into a new book. In the summers, she likes to hike and camp in the Selkirk Range and continue her tradition of running the Bloomsday race in Spokane, Washington with her best friend.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, “well behaved women rarely make history,” helps with Hanna’s vision board: “This quote always reminds me that if you have a dream, you should chase it no matter what people tell you. Did Amelia Earhart smother her dreams of flight because she thought people would disapprove? Not at all! Of course she wound up disappearing in a flying accident, but that’s another story.”

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

Hannah Gardner – Escrow Assistant at Alliance’s Sandpoint Branch
105 Pine St., 83864
208.263.2125
Hanna.gardner@alliancetitle.com

Real Estate Tip of the Week: How to Work with Investors

Have you worked with real estate investors?

If not, then you probably should consider it.

Real estate investors usually buy and sell multiple properties within a short period of time – which would mean you could become their go-to agent when they’re looking to jump back into the market.

But what do you need to do to set yourself apart from other real estate agents and impress this potential inventor client?

Vocabulary

Investors won’t be like your “regular” clients. They’ll want to talk about things like ROI, cap rates, 1031 exchanges, cash-on-cash returns, and net present value. You’ll want to have a deeper understanding of “real estate math” when talking to these gurus.

Goals and Priorities

An investor client might already have tasks in mind for what they’d like you to do. They don’t necessarily want to be wooed with how you’d pitch properties to a traditional buyer or seller – so do away with the talk of existing paint or new backsplash colors and get down to the nitty gritty.

Are they needing to repaint rooms? Update the kitchen or bathrooms? They’ll want to know how much things will cost. Are they wanting to fix and flip? What is their overall goal here?

You’ll also want to know what their overall timeline is with properties. Are they looking at a long-term hold, or are they needing a quick sell before purchasing another one?

Research

Don’t forget – you’re the professional! Your talents and insight as a local market expert will be something of incredible value to the investor. Be familiar with the hottest neighborhoods, areas that are up-and-coming, and where the best schools and newest jobs are located.

Resources

As an agent, you probably know referrals who would be great for your investor client. If an investor is looking for painters, a tax advisor, or an overall handyman, think about putting a list together for suggestions.

Working with a real estate investor won’t be the same as your couple looking to purchase their first ever home. You’ll want to be armed with the right knowledge – and hopefully, they’ll keep coming back to you.

Abracadabra: Pinpointing the Perfect Week for Home Sellers

If you could ask a real estate genie for anything, what would it be? Help with your mortgage? A pool in your backyard?

While Alliance Title might not be a real estate genie, we can still help with some expert-driven predictions on what might lie ahead in the real estate world.

Researchers have found that the best week to put a home on the market is March 31st to April 6th. They studied the 50 largest real estate markets in the nation over the past three years to determine this very specific week.

During this magical week, homes – on average – are listed for 6% more than at the beginning of the year. This equals to an extra $17,000. These homes listed not only accumulate 14% more views on realtor.com, but they also sell six days faster.

Because home prices tend to peak around June, this week might be the best time to face less competition and receive the best bang for your buck.

Meet our Rigby, ID Branch

Nestled between Idaho Falls and Rexburg sits the charming little town of Rigby, Idaho. Sitting in the northeast portion of the Snake River Plain, the town is just a stone’s throw away from Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons.

Alliance Title’s Rigby branch feels “at home” in this friendly community. With the combined work experience of our employees at this office – Vice President and Branch Manager, Jennifer Landon, with 24 years, Title officer, Kathlean Brown, with 18 years, and Escrow Officers, Miriam Mendoza, and Brandi Whitmill, with seven and four years of experience –  comes a combined total of 53 years! 

Jennifer explains, “Alliance Rigby is known for providing accurate, timely service with a friendly smile. We always receive comments about the fun vibe and feel in our office when customers come in. We have a beautiful building and location that welcomes everyone doing business with us ‘home.’”

The Rigby team is committed to serving the needs of the community. They have donated large amounts of food and funds during Alliance’s companywide campaign, Closing the Hunger Gap, as well as having collected for their “Food for Fido” campaign that aids in local vet clinics. Jennifer is also involved in the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce.

When they aren’t working hard or volunteering around the town, the Rigby branch knows how to have fun! They all enjoy being active in the great outdoors with their families, or taking time to relax in the hobbies they love; Jennifer rides motorcycles, Miriam likes kickboxing, Brandi enjoys gardening, and Kathlean plays bass in a band.

To the team in Rigby, providing title and escrow service isn’t just a job – they help families and friends establish memories in their new homes. Jennifer further illustrates, “What we all love about our customers is that they are our neighbors and friends. We enjoy seeing the dream of homeownership come true and take pride in creating that outstanding customer service in our community.”

Whether you’re buying or selling commercial or residential property in Jefferson County, the professionals at Alliance Title’s Rigby location are delighted to help make your next transaction a success!

Alliance Title – Rigby
581 Rigby Lake Dr., 83442
208.745.9495

Press Zero to Talk to a Human: Online Lender Applications

With technology comes great responsibility – responsibility with keeping the communication lines open between actual people, of course.

The 2019 Borrower Insights Survey from Ellie Mae shows that even though clients are expecting service to be performed online, they’re still wanting more communication throughout the loan origination process – probably because loans can be intimidating and confusing.

50% of borrowers said they chose their lender based on whether or not there was an online application or portal. 47% made their decision after seeing an online portal for uploading documents. A vast majority of survey recipients wanted lenders to have electronic options available.

The top three reasons for wanting an online portal included a faster closing (66%), an easy-to-understand application form (61%), and information that would be readily available (54%).

While online portals are important for clients, they’re still wanting access to various options for communicating throughout the process. Having direct communication can be incredibly important to younger borrowers and first-time mortgage applicants – as it is their first time entering the real estate market journey.

Joe Tyrell, Executive Vice President of Technology and Corporate Strategy for Ellie Mae, noted that because “borrowers use an average of more than five different methods of communication throughout the origination process,” it’s important that each lender utilize and incorporate various approaches for each borrower to fit each individual’s needs.

As the real estate market heads into spring 2019, we’ll have to keep an eye on how lenders are accommodating consumers.

New Tools for Your Success

Closing transactions means converting your list of prospects into clients. Alliance Title’s tools have received an upgrade to provide a better user experience with mobile friendly responsive technology. Grow your business and confidence with our new tools.

Net Sheet

Calculate an estimate* of costs for buyers and sellers with our easy-to-use form.

Lender Closing Cost Calculator

Utilize this straightforward cost calculator to quote* title and escrow fees for your buyer or seller.

These new updates will better serve you and your needs. Try our upgraded tools today, or pair up with your local Alliance Title representative to access these tools for your success!

*These costs are only an estimate