Healthy Housing Market For Home Buying And Selling in Northern Virginia

The Northern Virginia real estate market continues to remain stable. Recent numbers show that houses are selling, prices are raising slightly, and inventory levels are increasing slightly. All of these numbers are at healthy levels in my opinion. 2015 Interest Rates Home Prices in the Northern Virginia Real Estate MarketThis news is making now a good time to both sell and buy a property.

One thing that has been a wild card is interest rates. Increased rates can hamper the steadiness of our market and right now they are near 2015 highs.  Over the past 3 weeks, there have only been two days where rates managed to improve even a little bit.  Four out of the past six days have seen uncommonly big moves higher.  These are the sorts of moves that we’d normally only see 2-3 times per month, so to see 4 of them in just over a week is alarming. It is definitely an area we need to pay attention to moving forward.

Going forward, I see more of the same out of our housing market. There will be a good home selection for buyers to choose from, reasonable prices and rates remaining in the 4% range. As good homes come on the market that are priced right, they are selling because there are buyers in the market looking to own. Houses that have been on the market because the owners “pushed” prices, didn’t have them in the right condition or just had bad timing (putting them on the market at the end of October) will continue to sit. Buyers want fresh listings, not old, tired listings that have been lingering on the market. Therefore, it remains critical to have your house staged, in the right condition and priced right to get it sold if you are looking to put your house on the market.

If you have any questions or concerns about your situation, feel free to call me today 703-652-5777 . I am happy to discuss how we can help you.

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

Do they really like you?

Likability is one of the critical areas for success in sales and in life.  As the saying goes, people do business with those that they know, like and trust. So the question becomes, how do you get people to like you? 

The first step is to become approachable – smile, make eye contact, extend a handshake first and introduce yourself first.

Listen more than you speak – people love the sound of their voice and to voice their opinions.  Listen, don’t interrupt and be respectful of others opinions.

Much like the sound of their voice, they love to hear their name.  Use their name – it not only will make them happy but it will reinforce and help you remember who they are when you see them later.  Remember and acknowledge dates that are important to them – birthdays, anniversaries, and birthdates of their children are just a few!

Deliver on what you promise and be true to your word.  Your reputation takes years to build and you do it one day at a time one interaction at a time.  Remember, each encounter is extremely important to the other person you are meeting with – make it count for them!

Become solution oriented for others.  Help them solve what issues they are encountering and it will endear them to you.

Be humble – don’t brag, put down or show a huge ego.  Let your actions speak for you not your words.

Respect others and be empathetic.  Don’t talk down to people or ignore their needs or wants.  You don’t always have to agree but take the time to understand where they are coming from in with their point of view.

Be happy, positive and upbeat.  Optimism goes a long way to having people like you.  Negativity, snapping at people, complaining and putting others down is ways to drive people away from you.

Act professionally in your appearance, your demeanor,  your actions and remember to be polite – it will go a long way to adding to your likability.

Be honest and show integrity.  When people lie, exaggerate or stretch the truth, people will see through this over time and you will lose credibility and in turn, it will hurt your likability factor.

Be inspirational, motivational and last but not least have a great sense of humor.  Be able to laugh and do it often.  People like to be around people who are fun.

These are just a few thoughts to help you get further in life faster.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something! 

It’s going to be a long and busy summer!

As we head into the dog days of summer, I thought you may be interested in reading about the Northern Virginia real estate market as well as some national real estate news as well.  Let’s dive right in!  The Fox Gate development at the doorsteps of Loudoun County received its’ approval to begin development.  Fox Gate is located between Pleasant Valley Road and Tall Cedars Parkway, encompasses 27 acres which will offer 1.2 million square feet of office, retail, hotel and civic space along with 110 residential units. 

Apparently Bechtel, the country’s largest contractor – the contractor building the Silver Line – is secretly looking for up to 300,000 square feet in Loudoun County.  Obviously, this is a huge home run for the area as Loudoun boasts a 26% vacancy rate on commercial properties and Fairfax County has 16% in the areas where they are searching.  Forbes ranks Bechtel as the third largest privately held company with just under $28 Billion in revenue with 52,700 employees – not too shabby!  Here is a great opportunity if you know of anyone who works there to do some relocation business.

Also, locally our market is seeing the same market we were in last year as far as numbers are concerned.  For the first week of July, active resales were 7,379 this year versus 7,534 last year.  We have a 2.3 month’s supply of houses for properties that went under contract the previous 30 days both this year and last.  The rental market is virtually the same with a one month supply this year and a 1.2 month supply from last year.  I have to say it to remain consistent.  If you aren’t working with investors, holding investment seminars or obtaining a designation to help investors, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.  We will discuss more reasons why later.  Houses that settled the last 30 days have a 2.7 month’s supply of houses – last year it was a 2.5 month’s supply, a difference of 300+/- houses.  I think the difference here is short sales and the changes in the bank’s stance in regards to their handling of them.  We are seeing the banks counter the prices way above what is realistic based upon market conditions, asking for interest free loans and even the requirement for sellers to bring cash to the table.  Agents need to set the expectations for our sellers so they know that these options are serious possibilities and keep these deals together.  Obviously the pricing piece can’t be overcome easily but the other two options can be discussed upfront to help keep deals together.  Additionally, Chase recently announced that they are not in the short sale business, they are in the foreclosure business so be on top of your Chase owned loans.  Distressed properties make up 15.5% of the active inventory this year versus 19.9% this year.  Foreclosures are down this year versus last year as the foreclosure process is taking longer and inventory continues to be slow to get on the market.  Buyers continue to be price sensitive and are looking for the “perfect” house so continue to encourage proper pricing, staging and even prelisting inspections to get your listings in the best light for potential buyers otherwise, they will sit on the market.  Pricing properly is even more important in the outer counties and localities as new home prices are attractive in areas closer to the beltway.  Therefore, new home sales continue to post strong numbers as their pricing is competitive today and the buyers get to select how they want their houses to be decorated.  Our friends from Van Metre will share their success with us shortly.

There have been several good articles posted recently to help buyers realize now is a good time to buy along with the Housing Secretary Shaun Donavan stating it is unlikely housing prices will drop further and a noted now was a good time to buy.  He also mentioned officials must find ways to provide access to home ownership without requiring a 20% down payment.  Additionally, Warren Buffet posted his Five Real Estate Tips which include: 1) Housing prices increase in value over time especially as the dollar becomes worth less.  2)  Buy low, prices are down due to the housing bubble and appear to be at the bottom and you can never time a market.   Also, remember, you make money when you buy – not when you sell.  3)  Don’t wait too long to take advantage of low prices – if you wait for the robins, spring will be over.  4)  Smart home ownership has 3 elements – fixed rate mortgage, affordable payments and a long term hold.  5)  Buying a dream home can be a nightmare – don’t let your eyes be bigger than your wallet – go with the fundamentals previously discussed.  And lastly, pending home sales rose strongly in May which was the first time contract activity was up over the previous year since April of 2010 and we all know the reason for that was the expiration of the tax credits.  Let’s continue this trend into the second half of the year!

The things to look out for to carry us into the second half of the year are number one, jobs.  If jobs don’t get created then consumer confidence will stay low and housing sales will suffer. Number 2 is  underwriting guidelines for mortgages cannot get stricter, they need to be relaxed as the pendulum has swung a little too far.  In 2009, 23.5% of loans were rejected, in 2010, 26.8% of loans were rejected which is not a good trend.  If underwriting continues to become more difficult home sellers and buyers will be hurt and the ones who will benefit will be investors.  Investors typically pay cash plus, if buyers can’t get loans, they become renters and the rental market becomes stronger.  Remember, you need to be working with investors. Number 3 is distressed property numbers need to remain low which may be difficult.  CoreLogic estimates that 10.9 million or 22.7% of home owners with a mortgage are underwater at the end of the first quarter – 2.4 million home owners have less than 5% equity so this puts a total of 27% of the nation’s mortgage holders at risk.  The foreclosure process is now taking an average of 400 days which is twice as long as it took in 2007 so distressed properties will be in our market for the foreseeable future.  Number 4 is rates need to remain low allowing more buyers to be able to afford homes – Leslie Wish knows all too well how an increase of 1% in rates can knock down the potential number of buyers in the buyer pool.  And lastly, number 5 you!  You have to be active in the business, speaking with people – not just emailing, blogging, texting and attending trainings – you must physically speak with people on the phone, at networking events, open houses, at the pool, at your kids or grandkids sporting events anywhere you can get belly to belly with people.  You need to make it happen by spreading the word about how market is different from what they read in the papers or see on TV.  Get busy getting busy!

Now, quickly some fun stuff.  Zip Realty is no longer offering buyer rebates.  They have closed offices in 12 markets and have shed 700 agents.  They will continue to offer sellers a 1% listing credit in the 23 markets they are staying in but after posting losses of $12.9 million in ’09 and $15.5 million in ’10 they are finding it increasingly difficult to remain profitable – duh!  In addition to these losses, they will experience even more as their transactions are down 12.2% this year versus last…who could be next??  Perhaps it could be Redfin – we shall see!

Take this information and share it with your clients and demonstrate to them you are the expert in the business.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!


An Xplosive amount of information!!!!!

We recently went to the Xplodethis Conference – a quick hitting, action packed, content rich event that offered the latest in real estate technology and some of the best speakers in the industry.  Here are the notes that will be helpful to you and your business!

MRIS – 12,000 agents have not done a transaction in the last year, 13,000 have done fewer than 3 transactions – basically 40% of agents don’t do the business!  If real estate is your business, technology is your platform – you have to get on the technology bandwagon to be successful!

Mobile is where it’s at for the consumer AND agents – have data on demand in your hand!  We are still in a people business – technology only helps you communicate.  In the next 3-5 years, more searches will be done a mobile device than PC. 

Study of consumers:

  1. Last 10 years – #1 complaint is not enough or lack of communication
  2. This year – consumers feel they are MORE educated about the product than the agent

Top 5 uses of tablets

36 new tablets will be released this year in this market – top 2 – Ipad2 and Motorola Xoom

  1. Data on demand
  2. Real estate searches – has high res. photos
  3. Planning calendars/Contacts
  4. Presentations – shows content and value
  5. Video capability

Top 9 Apps

  1. – can draw a circle around where your clients want to live
  2. ReaddleDocs/PDF Expert –iPad – opens PDF files
  3. Sign my pad – iPad – signature application
  4. Karl Jeacie’s Mortgage calculator
  5. Evernote – voice audio now
  6. Dropbox
  7. Cam card
  8. Cam scanner
  9. Hootsuite – manages all posts to social media

Today’s consumer is multi-media, multi-taskers – find people who would not normally find you

  • Watch TV while surfing the we
  • Surf magazines and scan QR codes
  • On phone and laptop at same time
  • 85% of people find your website other than direct search
  • Your marketing shouldn’t cost you money, it should make you money
  • Check out Agents of Change

Let people know you are Realtor – direct FB, Twitter, Linkedin to your blog where you talk about real estate and incorporate 365 things to do in your area

Use video – neighborhood videos, personal videos of clients about neighborhoods, schools, etc.

Use location – 4square and learn how people are looking to find locations

Use Twitter – use as an educational tool to do your job better – research think tanks, follow experts, get information and share and use in your business.  Find answers for people

Blog – neighborhoods, business, and valuable content so you receive leads!!!  Work your butt off as it is not a magic pill be consistent, be persistent and don’t quit – don’t be afraid to have an opinion – find a unique place and unique vision.

Google –

  • – group resizing, renaming, add to Google maps, collage, add to Facebook, post to Youtube movies
  • – transcribes voicemail, sends text message and you can call back
  • – lets you see where someone is at all times with their permissions
  • –allows you to sync all mobile devices at one time to calendars
  • – URL shortened – similar to tiny URL – creates Analytics and QR codes automatically
  • Maps – you can send maps to their GPS or as an email look at Matt’s video on how to use this feature www.
  • – monitors the power usage at your home but needs to be compliant with power companies
  • URL – use for adding every post you put on internet
  • – monitors information on what you want to follow and helps you monitor your online reputation – yourself, your listings & share with your clients, your company, your competition
  • Add where your listing is located – Vienna, Fairfax County, VA – in MRIS to get better mojo in Google
  • – add your business address and you can get analytics from it as well

14% of people trust what you say about 91% believe what others say about you – peer recommendations are so important today – go to rate-an-agent on Google and see what happens.

Sites where agents can be rated – you are being rated so you better check out what people are saying about you

  • Homethinking
  • Incredibleagents
  • Ratemyagent
  • Mountainofagents

Need to have a plan to ask to recommend you – please go to www.blah/blah/ and ask to recommend you there…Don’t take my word for it – see what others say!


  1. – search to see which site is best
  2. – aggregates all of your reviews so you can put a badge on your email, website, etc. and have people look at and review you

People want sold data from your website

302 million people are considered mobile users – more texts are sent than phone calls being made

Mobile web is growing 8 times faster than traditional web did 10 years ago.  Incorporate mobile into your listing presentation and speak about your solution to this for your clients.  Lower bounce rates and higher capture rates with mobile website.

Video optimization – video=leads=$ – video houses, your profile, and testimonials.  It’s not about what you think – it’s about what they Google!  Become a local provider of content that national companies don’t have the capability to provide.

Universal SERPs Results – 84% Informational – 18% Navigational – 8% Buy from me sell with me – do “how to” videos.  Do “Town Tours” – restaurants, schools, politicians, shopping centers, new homes, etc. and tag them properly.

Most Googled term is “how to” – how to move, how to fix a plumbing issue, how to anything and

Clients want to see video 6 times to 1 over text.

84% of rankings on Google come from Youtube videos

Keep it short – under 2 minutes, use fluid head tripods – no Blair Witch production, make it slow when panning & tilting, don’t zoom in and out, always be in focus, have external microphones, lighting – use white balance/Iris, Rule of thirds – be off to one side or the other but not in the middle.  Rotate male and female voice overs if you are going to do voice overs.  Talk about benefits and features not the layout because they can see it in the video.  Always use studio lighting to hide shadows.  Make videos about what the consumer wants!!!

RPR is for Realtors only and provides tons of content for our clients – gotta see to believe!

Tips for a better website

  • Quick to load is important
  • Don’t want to have to scroll side to side to see all of the content
  • Upper right should be content information – your contact information is preferred here with a form to contact you
  • Don’t use stock photos on your site
  • Use video or professional photographer
  • Work for the client not the commission – don’t use these things (don’t use honest, integrity, etc.)
  • Don’t use featured listings
  • No one cares what you look like – photos of you shouldn’t highlight site
  • Website shouldn’t be built to appease sellers it is used to get new clients
  • Consumer wants to search – giant section and easy to find
  • Valuation models on site too
  • How’s the market?
  • Hyper local information on site.
  • Use Madlib example on your forms
  • – thanks Eric

QR code on brochure box flyers should drop you into your mobile website

  • Have a personal website
  • Actively market your website
  • Get mobile
  • QR codes on fliers
  • Get social on your website

Use tools that work best for you – video, digital signatures, and mobile devices are extremely critical today for Realtors to use and understand – don’t forget to USE YOUR OWN BRAIN

iPad is a great tool for agents to learn AND use effectively

Marketing and prospecting in real estate – how we receive information today is different than in the past but people still want to be reached out and touched.

If you are a knucklehead in the office you are probably worse on line

Every form of marketing reaches a specific audience – know who you are trying to reach and why.

AVM’s are strictly a baseline and are still not quite there.  Let’s you know if you are in the ballpark but remember they have a huge margin of error.  Set expectations of everyone in the process that there is a margin of error.

Use RBIntel to help support your offer or make a better one!  The stats go back 5 years…

If I were starting today – where would I begin to build an online presence?

  • Make it easy to search for homes
  • Create community landing pages
  • IFrame search into your listing page
  • Need lead capture – don’t have outside links on your site
  • Get local – talk about the community
  • Create content want to share
  • Publish more
  • Measure your results
  • Do a self-audit of your website

Social Media is relational not transactional

  • Provide real time breaking news in their city
  • Things to do/events
  • Every deal in driving radius of their house
  • Automate your updates – maintenance free
  • Social commerce – groupon/living social $25 for $1,000 cash back at closing when buying or selling a house with RE/MAX Gateway
  • Social discovery – drives social commerce
  • Airbnb is the Groupon of 2011 and will create real estate liquidity – your room for rent, your basement for rent, etc.
  • Become a media star through automated messages
  • Become indispensible resource to your clients

Track your customers, leads, contacts through CRM

Leads are:

  • Bogus
  • Suspects
  • Or real prospects

CARMA – Client Acquisition Relational Management Acquisition

Initially set up as a forecasting tool for Fortune 500 companies to project earnings

Understand CRM

  • What
  • Why
  • And, then how

A good CRM system integrates MLS data and transaction data

Intangibles of success in real estate

  • Likability – can you control it?  Yes!
  • Be intentional about your actions – if your actions depended upon someone liking you or not and this determined whether or not you were able to feed your kids do you believe you control your actions
  • Perception is reality.  There is a perception of you in the marketplace and you can’t control it – craft your message you want others to believe and get the perception to the public.

Reason for success of top 100 companies

  • Speed of implementation of systems
  • Take action

CRM is a strategy for managing a company’s interactions and engagements with customers, prospects and clients.

Today we are dealing with Social CRM – advocacy, experience, service support, marketing, PR, sales on a relational basis.

Involves technology to create the best type of CRM

  1. Organize
  2. Automate
  3. Synchronize business practices

Success marketing – putting your plan on paper

How many lead sources do you need to be intentional and direct about growing your business – 4 to 6 – these include but are not limited to your sphere, niche market, online, networking, farming, etc.  Put them in groups and market to them differently.

What data should you collect – personal profiles, demographics, and conversations.  Why?  To build the relationship!

What do you send to whom and when.  Think about this seriously.

Stop drip campaigns and create or start a two way conversation.  Send valuable content, have a call to action, and the human interaction is critical.

Communicate to connect with people, don’t talk at them!


E=Events in your life

R=Response to those events


  • Events happen to everyone
  • It’s not the events that cause you to be or feel the way you do, it’s your choice of response
  • There are always at least two responses to every event

How do we learn how to react?  Parents influence is the number one way they respond.

Nobody makes do you anything – you choose your response.  An example is “he made me so mad” – he didn’t make you mad, you chose to be mad.

Everyone has an emotional checking account – think, is there a different way to respond to events?  Our account is full at the beginning of the day and the events we encounter make us write checks for each one we have.  Think before you write you check and don’t write a $5 check for a $.50 event.   

Don’t let self-help turn into shelf help – use what you learn!

Wrap-up – get yourself a mobile device.  By 2012, more people will use mobile devices instead of personal computers.  We are in a “freeware” environment but it will become “payware”.  Data is king – provide the right tools to get the right information out clients.

In today’s ever changing real estate market, you need to stay ahead of the curve.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

What have people been asking about the market lately?

There a few topics being reported by the media recently and we have been asked about as real estate professionals as well.  One is “is there going to be a double dip in housing prices?” another is “has your market hit bottom and how can you tell?”, “where are the foreclosures?” and “what do you see is happening in the market?”

Let’s answer these one at a time.  First, is there going to be a double dip in housing prices?  The answer is yes and no.  It depends upon where you live.  If your area continues to lose jobs, houses continue to languish on the market, foreclosed properties and short sales dominate your housing sale’s landscape, yes your market has a very good chance of seeing a double dip in housing prices because, unfortunately, these are all recipes for housing price declines.  As a nation, we have seen the overall housing prices drop 33% from their highs which is even worse than the depression era when housing prices decreased 31%.  Conversely, if you have job growth, brisk housing sales, and the housing market is not riddled with distressed properties, you will see stable to increasing prices.  It is a simple formula – jobs equal a strong housing market, no jobs equals a lousy housing market and consequently price declines.

The next one is, “has your market hit bottom and how can you tell?”  This one can be answered very much like the first one.  Are jobs coming back or have layoffs stopped?  Are people moving back into your area?  Are sale signs turning to sold signs?  How are the inventory levels on houses for sale?  With this question, be sure to take careful consideration of whether the houses were removed from the market or actually sold.  How are the days on the market?  What is the month supply of houses?  If these areas mentioned are flat or decreasing, you have seen the bottom or are getting close to it.  You are almost there if you are not already.

The last one is more difficult to answer, “Where are the foreclosures?”  We have been told on numerous occasions that banks are sitting on inventory waiting to release them on the market but fail to do so because they don’t want to take the losses on their books all at one time.   We have heard stories of the foreclosure process taking in excess of 400 days in certain states and evictions in others taking up to 900 days.  There are in excess of 6.5 million people 30 days late or more on their mortgages.  We don’t know how many will cure, how many will default or even specifically where they are but it has been reported that a majority of them are in the sand states.  The sand states make up Nevada, Arizona, California, and Florida.

Most everyone you hear from in the media, speak with or read about all concur that we need the housing market to come back so the economy can recover fully.  It seems to be a growing consensus amongst our Realtors that the media needs to help grow consumer confidence in the housing market and get the economy back on track.  In one of my upcoming blogs, we will discuss mortgage reform and its impact on the housing recovery.

It is time to understand the housing market so you can intelligently discuss this with clients, acquaintances, and others you meet.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!              

Our donation dollars at work!

Our Visit to Children's Hospital 
There are times in your life when you feel fortunate and humbled at the same time.  Our visit to The National Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC was one of those occasions.  We are fortunate that our children are healthy and not undergoing treatments that many of the children at the hospital have to endure.  We are fortunate to have experienced the hospital as visitors and not as parents or friends of a patient staying at the hospital.  As a result of our contributions to the Children’s Miracle Network we were able to have a VIP tour of the hospital.  It is an amazing facility that provides unbelievable care to children for any reason regardless if they have insurance or not. 

What immediately struck me was the kindness of the staff from the valet parker to our tour guide Milton to our liaison, Kimberly Lane.  They all truly appear to love their job.  Next was the color scheme and design features of the floors we visited.  The design feature input was made by the families and children who had to have a stay at the hospital.  Bright colors, balloons, and vibrantly colored floors and walls highlighted each floor and gave the appearance of no other hospital. 

The art room is another aspect that helped bring a new appreciation of what the children who stay at the hospital have to endure make this facility a special one.  The children can do art projects  to help them escape their current situation and help aid them in their healing process.  In addition to the art room are the playrooms they make available to the children so they can seek solace and “get away” from the hospital staff in a fun environment.

The hospital rooms offer as much privacy as possible and are designed with three separate sections – medical, patient and family areas.  They are designed to make the stay more comfortable for all involved.  There are also separate “family” areas as well as laundry facilities available so parents can remain close to their children while allowing them to get some time out of the hospital room.

The wall of encouragement is what had the biggest impact on me.  The wall features photos of former patients that told their story, what impacted them most about their stay at the hospital, what the current patients can do stay positive and lastly, who is their inspiration and why.  It was a very moving experience to read how these children coped with their conditions and made their stay a success to help the others become success stories as well.

All in all, it was a great experience and one that I am proud to be a part of by contributing a portion of each sale to CMN and encouraging our agents to do the same.  We highly encourage doing all that you can by helping support us in this cause – one visit to the hospital will get you hooked.  As discussed at our Quarterly Meeting in December, all of our Chili Cook-off donations will go to support CMN as well.  As we expand offices, we will be doing soup cook-offs, barbeque cook-offs and other cooking competitions to support this cause so please let us know your thoughts on how we can make these events even better and well attended.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something – so you can make a contribution!

You’ve got to do more to get more!

Sales is a tough job, no doubt about it, especially today in real estate.  You hear, read and talk about with others that in the real estate business, it is a numbers game.  If you want more results, you have to do more activities, talk with more people, hold more open houses, make more calls, and basically, just do more to get more business.  While this is true, it is only partially true. 

You need to have quality contacts to truly have an impact on your bottom line.  You need to provide value to those you speak with and earn the business or else your bottom line won’t change.  You must engage others buy asking about them, their families, their business, etc. and take an interest in them before you talk about you – basic relationship building. 

In addition, it is not just enough to say you are in real estate and business is unbelievable, you need to have an “elevator speech” about the services you provide, the information you share, and how you are different than others in the business.  If you don’t, why would your business increase?  Holding more open houses, knocking on doors, calling more FSBO’s or expired listings won’t get it done – you need to build relationships.  You need to add value to those you speak with to earn their trust and in turn, you will get the opportunity to grow your business through referrals. 

You need to know what is impacting our business and how that is impacting both buyers and sellers today.  Yes, today because the real estate market changes virtually daily.  How are property values and why is now a good time to buy and conversely, why it is a good time to sell.  How do the low rates effect payments at loan amounts of $250,000, $300,000 or $500,000 and what is the difference if rates go up 1%?  What are house values in your neighborhood, your town, and county for all categories of houses – condos, townhouses, and single family homes?  How many properties are for sale?  What are the month’s supply of houses and what does this mean?  Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market?   What price ranges are hot, who is buying in those price ranges and why?  How is the rental market locally?  How are their prices?  What is their month’s supply?  If you had the answers to these questions, do you believe you would be perceived as an expert by those you encountered and hence, obtain more business? 

You have to know the real estate business, the numbers and the trends.  Where is the market headed and why?  Give your opinion and be able to back it up with facts.  Watch videos, read blogs, read newsletters, network with others in our industry and absorb what they are saying and develop your conversation strategy based upon what you have learned to earn more business.

As previously mentioned, you need to increase your activities but you also need to improve the quality of your conversations.  You need to become an expert in the business.  If you only increase your activities or only gain knowledge and don’t share it with others, you won’t have the same business building results if you do them in concert with each other.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

Control your destiny or someone else will!

You are in control of yourself, your life and all that you do in it.  How do you move past the current situation you are in today?  Get educated – learn all you can about your industry or one you want be a part of and become the expert.   It doesn’t take much.  Read for one hour per day in the field you wish to learn.  One hour per day turns into one book per week.  One book per week becomes 52 in one year.  You tell me if you read 52 books on one subject and can’t become an expert, I will tell you, you are wrong.  Most people don’t read one book in a year.  Learn what you have read and apply it to the real world situations you encounter.

Those who know and do more than others in any walk of life earn more respect, get more recognition and go further in their careers.  And, guess what?  They earn more money.  If you want to change where you are in life, you need to change your attitude and regain control of your thoughts, desires and where you want to be.  As the saying goes, “if it is to be, it is up to me”.   So become positive and optimistic.  There are so many negative people in the world and there is so much negative press on the television, in newspapers, etc. and they all want company.  My advice is to avoid these people.  Look at every opportunity as a learning experience and as an opportunity.  Not a problem.  Become solution oriented and you will get results and become even more optimistic and positive.  If you smile more – this too will help you so start with this simple task!  Hang around positive forward thinking people and learn how they handle situations and remain optimistic.  It is a learned skill – teach it to yourself.

Stop blaming others, the economy, the industry you are in, the government or any other excuse.  You determine where you end up in life.  There are countless numbers of people whom have come from every walk in life with every opportunity presented to them and it is the ones who take advantage of what is presented and makes the most of the experiences that gains the most from them.

Other people get tired of hearing negative responses to everything said or about everything that happens around them.  Take the time to figure it out for yourself.  Do something about your current situation.  Don’t be a victim and become a success story and share your story with others.  Life is a contact sport, become a part of it and direct yourself to where you want to go and reap the rewards.

Again, you control your destiny.  Make the most of your time – do what makes you the most productive, consistently and you will get results.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

What’s up with Gateway? News from our Quarterly Meeting

The Lorton office is progressing quite nicely – we should be officially open the week of the 10th along with the help of the county.  Feel free to stop by anytime for a visit as we are getting settled in with the technology, and finishing touches.  Hope to see you there soon!  Since this time, we have received our Occupancy Permit – great job to Brett for seeing this difficult process all the way to fruition – it was extremely frustrating and tenuous.

We have a great opportunity to potentially sublease some of our space in Chantilly.  The landlord has a need for the space coupled with KHov’s desire to give up some space so if you see activity over the next month or so, you will know what is happening.  In addition to relinquishing some space, we will be extending our lease for an additional 10 years.

For those of you unfamiliar with the changes at RE/MAX, RE/MAX has changed their name to RE/MAX, LLC.  What does this mean to you?  It puts our Independent Contract Agreements out of date.  In addition, it refers to RSN which is now RE/MAX University, it references Web Roster which is now on Mainstreet and some other minor changes.  Therefore, we have a 3 page revised agreement that we need you to sign to bring us into compliance with the headquarter company.  Kate will be sending out the agreements for you to sign – please do so at your earliest convenience.  Thanks!

The free trip to Vegas is moving along nicely for some – not so much for others!  Joe Doman is in the point standings lead as he has participated in the most trainings, charity events, etc. so far.  You still have time to catch up as the contest doesn’t end until the end of the year.  For more details on how you can get to Vegas on us, please let me know!

Please remember to sign your paperwork on listings and buyer agreements!!  As is the case every quarter, we need to discuss paperwork.  Please be compliant so we don’t need to have this covered next meeting!

We are putting together bowling teams for RPAC for each of the offices.  Please let us know if you can make it out on the 16th of June to Bowl America at Fairfax Circle. We’d love to see you there!

Gary Plaag of Couragio Consulting helped us all tremendously with our presentations thanks to Kathy Worek giving Gary her listing presentation.  We were all amused and educated at the same time.  For more details on how Gary can help you get better results, call him at 703-858-6162.

Now, go sell something!


Who really knows if the price is right?


If you follow real estate at all, you know that there are 3 pricing indexes that get quoted fairly regularly – S&P Case Shiller, FHFA, and Corelogic HPI.  Are they good for tracking home prices as a buyer or seller?  My belief is no – a professional Realtor is your best option.  All of these indices are flawed from what they track, to the timeframe in which they use to track data, to what their data sources encompass, to how much weight is given to price points and to what areas are used to gain their pricing policies.  Why is this important to know you may ask?  Well, it is where your clients, sphere, and potential clients hear in the media about housing prices.  You need to be able to speak intelligently about them and convey the true story about housing prices.  By doing so, you will position yourself as a trusted resource in real estate by providing value to those whom you know.  Now, let’s take a closer look at each pricing model so you can give the right advice when you are helping a client buy or sell a house.

Here is what you may not realize about the S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index:

  • The index was developed for Wall Street to hedge the housing market, not as a monthly consumer metric
  • Based on a 3 month moving window of closed sales which washes out the annual seasons in housing
  • Lags contract signing dates by 5-7 months
    • Translation:  Q1 2011 report = Q3 2010 Contracts
    • Based on prices, not sales activity where sales activity may be trending
    • Comprised on single family sales only.  Excludes: condos, co-ops and new development sales
    • Only represents 20 cities nationwide
    • Washington DC covers a large area of which includes:
      • Calvert, MD
      • Charles, MD;
      • Frederick, MD
      • Clarke, VA
      • But these areas also included:
        • Warren, VA
        • Jefferson, WV

This is NOT what most readers of the Washington, DC data understand the coverage area to be.

The CSI reported with a two-month lag and is based on three months of data.

  • For example, data released in January 2011 was for the three months ended November 2010 (November, October, and September 2010).

 Understanding the FHFA HPI:

  • The House Price Index is based on transactions involving conforming, conventional mortgages purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac – only. All mortgage transactions on single-family properties are included – refinances included but no condos, coops or multifamily are considered.
  • Conventional mortgages are those that are neither insured nor guaranteed by the FHA, VA or other federal government entities.
  • The HPI is a weighted, repeat-sales index, meaning that it measures average price changes in repeat sales or refinancing on the same properties.
  • A full release is provided every three months – not exactly timely.
  • The HPI includes indexes for all nine Census Divisions, the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The best of the rest – CoreLogic.

The CoreLogic HPI provides a multi-tier market evaluation based on price, time between sales, property type, loan type (conforming vs. nonconforming), and distressed sales.  The CoreLogic HPI is a repeat-sales index that tracks increases and decreases in sales prices for the same homes over time, which provides a more accurate “constant-quality” view of pricing trends than basing analysis on all home sales. The CoreLogic HPI provides the most comprehensive set of a monthly home price indices and median sales prices available covering

  • 6,507 ZIP codes -  58 percent of total U.S. population
  • 611 Core Based Statistical Areas -  86 percent of total U.S. population
  • 1,119 counties -  83 percent of total U.S. population and
  • Located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

 The CoreLogic HPI is published on approximately a 5 week lag from the end of the data collection period.

How does the FHFA HPI differ from the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price indexes?

  • The S&P/Case-Shiller indexes only use purchase prices in index calibration, while the all-transactions FHFA HPI also includes refinance appraisals.
  • FHFA’s valuation data are derived from conforming, conventional mortgages provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The S&P/Case-Shiller indexes use information obtained from county assessor and recorder offices.
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller indexes are value-weighted, meaning that price trends for more expensive homes have greater influence on estimated price changes than other homes. FHA’s index weights price trends equally for all properties.
  • The geographic coverage of the indexes differs. The S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, for example, does not have valuation data from 13 states. FHA’s U.S. index is calculated using data from all states.

As you can see, it is nowhere near how we value properties but it is where most of Americans get the idea of housing values.  We have more accurate, up-to-date information that we can provide clients.  Let your clients know why these indexes are made available – CSI, for Wall Street and hedge funds;  FHFA HPI, to track valuations on Freddie and Fannie products to assess risk;  and lastly, CoreLogic’s HPI, for banks to assess risk when lending money.  None of them are used to determine the value of a home when selling or buying – let others know the facts and become a source for valuable real estate information.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!