A Quick Minute of Motivation

In this new motivational series, Scott will highlight how to become a Peak Performer.

​In today’s Peak Performer Series message we discuss the meaning of the word LOYAL. What are YOU loyal to? Your job, your family, your clients? What happens when you are not loyal? Find out more in this weeks message.

Need more motivation? Give me a call at 703-652-5777 or email at scottmacdonald@remax.net

Now go sell something!


Northern Virginia Homes For Sale – The Inventory Is Climbing!

The inventory of homes for sale in Northern Virginia is growing quickly. You need to know how to set yourself up for success in this Spring real estate market! Are you buying or selling? Contact Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777 or email scottmacdonald@remax.net for information and strategies to put yourself ahead in this housing market.

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

How Do Top Producers Create Their Success? REMAX Gateway Round Table May 2013

The Spring Real Estate Market has really taken off and as we enter the month of May, rounding out the 2nd Quarter of 2013, it’s a great time to look at the some of the best practices of a few of RE/MAX Gateway’s Top Producers and what they attribute to their success, year after year.

RE/MAX Gateway Top Producer Panel MAY 2013 Share Successful Business Techniques

RE/MAX Gateway Top Producer Panel MAY 2013 Share Successful Business Techniques

Our May 2013 Top Producer Panel consisted of Joe Doman, Bryan Felder, and Kathy Worek. These seasoned Agents offered some of their most trusted techniques and business strategies.

Joe Doman “Joe Knows”

Where is your business coming from?

Sphere, internet leads, referrals. 25 closed and pendings, just wrote 4.5 million in contracts and working them out.

4/4/4 – shoot for the numbers: reach out to sphere/internet leads/people in process, in this order

I just got off a call and overall the stats from across the country are:  38% sphere, 19% direct mail, 15% open houses and geo marketing, 9% expired(s) – especially older ones,  7% online and 12% other – like fsbo’s, sign calls and relocation(s). That does actually add up to 100.

What is different from last year to this year?

We have our WordPress site up and running, more focus, getting more things done. We are tracking of our numbers.

What has made the biggest difference in your business?

I think a combination of things like positive affirmations every morning; coaching is critical to my success – keeps me focused and on target, mindset & attitude my positive/upbeat, an assistant and time blocking.  I color code the calendar to see how I am spending my time.

What is the best piece of advice would you give the agents today?

WordPress is the wave of the future, conveying useful information via blogs and/or video and social media, and setting appropriate expectations for you clients. Google + is a good tie in with SM.  More than anything: believe in yourself.  Be unique.

What do you wish you started doing sooner rather than later?

Real Estate in general. Direct mail, I’m really particular about things that I do so it takes me forever to roll something out. I wish I had done it sooner who knows though, maybe now was the right time. (EDDM)

What do you wish you didn’t do if you had to do it all over again?

Most of the things I wish I didn’t do have nothing to do with Real Estate. Although, it’s all lead me down the path I’m on today and it’s pretty awesome.  A lot of things have made me the person I am now, they’ve built character, made me compassionate, appreciative and made me better in general.

Anything else to add that others should know?

“You can’t grow tomatoes if you plant corn.” When you plant seeds of doubt, worry, fear and failure , that’s exactly what you get. You need to plant seeds of positivity, wealth, abundance, happiness, success, greatness, love and gratitude. Don’t let your mind sabotage you; keep the course.  I have been in a position where I didn’t know where my next dollar was coming from and didn’t have one left either. You need to have faith in yourself, believe in yourself and you’ll surprise yourself.

Bryan Felder of The Virginia Realty Group

Where is your business coming from?

Everyone’s business is different – Bryan’s is business to business.  Set up 2 databases – one for business and one for clients. This system drives business to your business database from your client database.  This will get you referrals from the businesses.  Develop this piece of business.

What is different from last year to this year?

Networking with agents outside the area to get referrals for people moving to the area.  I attend seminars and set a goal for collecting cards and start to market to them with a quarterly newsletter.

What has made the biggest difference in your business?

Focus on 4 categories and go deeper with database – 37 touch points with them every year.

What is the best piece of advice would you give the agents today?

Leverage your team to gain balance – push leads, do team huddles and meetings consistently, and educate.

Do a “To Do” list every day, then set 3 goals to keep the focus and my time managed.  Keep records so you can bench mark your success.

What do you wish you started doing sooner rather than later?

You can make a lot of money. You cannot make a lot of money. You can spend a lot of money. So, you need to track your numbers.  Review your P&L and check bank accounts.  Do this now – don’t wait.

 Is there anything else to add that others should know today?

Don’t grow your team too big.  Only bring on the right people at the right time.  You’ve got to have fun!  Team activities, go out with agents – do stuff outside the office.  Pick a niche.   Ask your clients, “What one thing could I improve upon that would have made your transaction smoother? What about my staff?”  There is always room for improvement and if you don’t ask you won’t know.

Kathy Worek  of Kathy Worek Group

Where is your business coming from?

Business is growing through consistency in communicating with sphere – just listed cards, constant contact advertising, company newsletters and post cards.  Four times per month is the number of contacts with sphere per month.

What is different from last year to this year?

Focus on sphere – professional marketing – client reviews online.  Use WordPress with good content and quality information.  List contractors on website and post RBI stats on the site and encourage clients to go to my site.  Focus on neighborhoods and zip codes for Trulia and Zillow.  Team rhythm is good – not as consistently as Bryan but still good.  Take your professionalism to the next level by providing your client your checklists.  Use the power of the team to leverage exposure for your clients.

What is the biggest difference in your business?

Consistency in marketing, consistent in processes has added to my business.  Getting bigger internet presence and get reviews

Best piece of advice for agents to take in.

Appreciate your clients and let them know.  Communicate your understanding of their situation.

What would I have done sooner?

Don’t be afraid to spend money on assistants – it frees up your time and allows you to get in front of clients and new business opportunities.  Trust your staff.  If you want to get to the next level – you need to hire the assistant.  Speaking of assistants, Joe does videos to train his assistants. He tells them to watch the video and ask questions after they are finished.

Get a good database management system in place early and use it to the fullest.

Be firm in your listing agreements and commissions you charge.

Budget – and stick to it!  You are running a business.

Anything else to add?

Get in front of people – be positive and optimistic.  Network.  Be nice to other agents.

Please feel free to contact me scottmacdonald@remax.net or (703) 652-5777 if you would like to attend our next RE/MAX Gateway Top Producer Round Table or if you have any comments or suggestions.

Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

Agent Success: Professional Courtesy

As the Spring market begins and Real Estate Agents are showing and listing more properties, Scott MacDonald offers a few tips and reminders when showing properties. Want to learn more about the REMAX Gateway?  or contact Scott MacDonald directly at (703) 652-5777 scottymacsblog.com

Prediction #1 Scott MacDonald TOP 10 Predictions 2013

Scott MacDonald counts down his 2013 Top 10 Predictions for Northern Virginia Real Estate PREDICTION #1 the Real Estate Market & exciting news for REMAX Gateway in 2013.

How will your year end?

As we move forward into the second half of the year fast and furious take the time to look at your business and determine what you need to do to have a successful year end. 

The first area to review would be your contacts.  How many do you have?  How often are you communicating with them?  What are you communicating to them?  Are you picking up the phone and speaking with them?  As I meet with agents regularly to conduct performance consulting with them – the most successful agents today are the ones making the calls to their database regularly and are meeting face to face with them.  Virtual contacts through Facebook, email, texts, etc. are good but you need to pick up the phone and get in front of people to get the best results. 

Are you growing your database?  Are you involved in networking groups?  Are you holding open houses?  Are you involved in community outreach programs?  Are you involved in charitable endeavors?  You need to be actively growing your contacts in order to expand and grow your business.  You can’t send our postcards, post on social media sites or advertise in print publications and expect business to come in to you – you have to go out and find it to be successful today.

Are you educating yourself?  If so, how?  What are you reading?  How often are you reading?  Do you have designations and are they applicable to today’s market?  Do you attend seminars?  Do you attend office trainings to further your education?  In order to grow, you must take the time to learn.  If you want to earn more you need to learn more – bottom line.

Are you effective on line?  Are you blogging?  Are you utilizing Google+?  What is the content you are providing on your other social media sites that engages people to read your posts and view you as a trusted resource and provider of information?  It is not the end all be all to obtaining business but it is a spoke in the wheel of your success that should not be overlooked.

You have to be better than your competition to be successful today.  You need to communicate better, you need to have better sales skills, better negotiating skills, better people skills, bottom line – you have to improve every day.  What are you going to do today to become better?  Pick a skill set and work on it!

These tips are critical to your success not only for the second half of the year but going forward as well.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

As we near the end of July…

As we near the end of July, I thought I would provide a little insight into our Northern Virginia real estate market.  Inventory of resale properties has been very stable throughout the late spring and into mid-summer at 7,636 houses for sale.  What has caught my attention is the number of properties that have gone under contract the previous 30 days.  At the end of May, 3,500 homes had gone under contract the previous 30 days.  Since then, that number has declined every week to where we just had 2,880 homes go under contract the last 30 days – a 17.7% decline.  Does this cause us to panic?  Probably not, we are in prime vacation season.  We had the 4th of July holiday during this timeframe as well.  Plus, sales are cyclical and summer is usually a slower time of year for us.  Nonetheless, we will continue to see if this a more serious trend as we move forward into late summer and fall.

This decline in sales has resulted in a slightly larger month’s supply of homes.  We currently have a 2.7 month’s supply of house up from the end of May’s 2.1 month’s supply.  Again, no need to panic as it is still as seller’s market.  We continue to see when sellers price their houses to sell, have it staged properly and are in the right condition they sell in a reasonable amount of time.  In fact, we have experienced several situations where homes had received multiple contracts on them. 

Distressed home sales continue to hover around the 15.5% of total inventory active and on the market for sale.  In these numbers, we have seen a slight decline in short sales and a slight increase in foreclosures.  What continues to baffle me is that distressed property sales make up 30.7% of the home sales the previous 30 days.  This tells me that people want to say they bought a short sale or foreclosure because they believe it is a “deal” when often times they are not deals at all.

Our rental market continues to be strong for landlords.  We currently have a 1 month’s supply of rentals available.  Houses that used to take weeks to rent in the past are renting in just days.  Additionally, these homes are, in most cases, renting for more money.  The market continues to be prime for investors.

Builders in the area are still selling as well.  Loudoun County along the Greenway is selling exceptionally well.  What we are seeing in the new home sales arena is that houses that are priced right – just like resales – are selling.  Overpriced builders whom have not responded to the market are languishing on the market just like the resale properties.  As mentioned in previous blogs, we are in a very price sensitive market today.

Let’s review the national real estate news, housing starts rose to a 5 month high – up 15% from May.  The FTC won’t enforce the MARS rule against Realtors who help consumers obtain short sales – this is good news as the paperwork was unnecessary and didn’t apply to Realtors. And the Helping Responsible Homeowners Act is gaining additional support.  This Act will eliminate barriers blocking millions of non-delinquent home owners from refinancing their mortgages at today’s incredibly low interest rates.  This will help stabilize neighborhoods by keeping people in their homes.

As long as interest rates remain low, foreclosures and short sales remain a low percentage of our market, we will continue to have a steady real estate market in Northern Virginia.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

What’s it all mean?

Over the last few years we have been providing you with information on the real estate market that we believe is valuable to you and helps aid you in your decision as to whether or not to buy and sell real estate.  Also, our thought is it gives you something to talk about around the office, with your neighbors or at cocktail parties! 

  • But what do all the numbers and terms mean you may ask?  Well, here is a quick guide for you going forward.  The numbers we quote are for the areas our offices conduct a majority of their business.  These areas include Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, and Fauquier Counties plus all the cities in between like Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park. 
  • Active inventory or resales are the number of houses for sale where the owners are selling their homes and not a builder. 
  • Month’s supply of houses is the absorption rate or sales of homes divided into the number of active properties on the market.  Basically, if no other houses came on the market, it would take that many months to sell all the houses that are for sale.  As a general rule, 6 months is considered to be a balanced market – neither a buyer or seller’s market.  Less than 6 months is considered to be a seller’s market and more than 6 months is a buyer’s market. 
  • Days on the market are the average number of days on the market it takes for a house to sell after going up for sale.  Again, typically the fewer the average days on market the more likely it is to be a seller’s market and the longer the average days on market is typically indicative of a buyer’s market.  In addition, the fewer the days on the market of a particular home, the more likely the sellers are to receive a full price offer or even multiple offers. 
  • This brings us to multiple offers.  It is what it says.  The owners received more than one offer to purchase the home when it was put on the market for sale.  How does this happen?   Typically it is because of high demand for an area because of the school district, location to commuter routes, shopping, etc. along with the sellers pricing the property properly, getting the home in the right condition and the staging of the house that makes this possible.
  • Distressed property inventory are houses that represent short sales and foreclosures.  A short sale is when a home owner owes more money on the house than what the house is worth and they are trying to get their lender(s) to approve a sale for less than the amount owed to them.  A foreclosure is where the owner of the house stopped making payments and the bank took the property back through a series of steps required by the state and allowed through the deed of trust.

If you have any other questions or concerns about the numbers or the terms discussed monthly, feel free to contact me.  As Sy Sims used to say, “An educated consumer is our best customer”.

The bubble burst…Now what?

What has been the catalyst in spurring the housing bubble and subsequent burst that has left us in the mess we are in today?  Was it the run up of prices?  Was it greed?  Was it poor advice given to buyers by Realtors and lenders?  Was it lax underwriting guidelines?   Was I the government’s proclamation that everyone should be able to achieve the American Dream of home ownership?  The answer is yes to all of the above.

The housing prices escalated at ridiculous rates – far above historical percentages that had been established over decades.  Builders couldn’t build fast enough to satisfy the demand which drove up their prices.  Buyers were having a difficult time being able to purchase a home and therefore bid up the price of the home above what they were willing to pay for a house originally.  It was a stressful and fascinating time to be a Realtor.  Buyers were mad that they had to bid so high to get into a home and sellers were mad at Realtors because their neighbor’s house sold for more money than theirs did – no one was happy.  Yes, over escalating prices were one of the causes that affect us today.

The greed factor came into play with “flipping”.  Many people bought homes from builders.  In most cases, as they went through the lengthy construction phase and because of demand, prices escalated.  You could buy a house, not do anything to it other than wait until it was ready, then raise the price and sell the home for a profit – many times for tens of thousands of dollars more than their original purchase price.  It seemed as if everyone had a story of someone who did this so they tried to do the same thing.  As the saying goes, too many chefs spoil the pot – well same thing happened in the new homes arena.  As prices declined, buyers bailed and builders got left holding too much inventory.  Also, greed came into the picture with people using their homes as a piggy bank and not a savings account.  How many people do you know that refinanced not just once but many times and bought properties, fancy cars, and vacations they normally would not have been able to afford?  Greed is not good Gordon Gekko and it has affected us today.

How many inexperienced, uneducated people got into the real estate and lending business when the times were good?  Hundreds of thousands got into our businesses.  Whose interests were they looking out for in the transaction?  One guess, not the buyers – theirs.  They got into the business for what was believed to be easy money.  They gave advice that wasn’t the right advice about the market and where prices were headed.  They got people into loans that were not right for the people they gave them to and as a result, they defaulted.  Poor advice definitely contributed to people’s over exuberance in their decisions on purchasing and financing properties and it is taking its’ toll on the market today.

Was it the policies that were put into place that lead to lax underwriting guidelines a cause that lead to where we are today?  You better believe it!  These loose guidelines resulted in allowing people who should not have become home owners to become home owners.  In my opinion, this probably had the biggest impact on how everything listed above was able to occur.  What were the guidelines that were slack you ask?  Here are just a few:  debt to income ratios up to 45%, no income no asset loans, loans up to 125% of value if combined with other liens, minimum FICO scores of 620 for prime loans, 10% down payments for financing investors, interest only loans and of course the teaser rate loan products.  Without these underwriting guidelines being loosened, we wouldn’t have had the ability to do all that was stated above.

Was the government’s belief that everyone should be afforded the American Dream of Home Ownership a contributing factor?  Of course it was.  Not everyone should be a home owner.  Credit scores need to be higher to be considered prime.  People should have some skin in the game and not be allowed to finance above the sales price to get into a home.  People need to verify their employment, prove they have cash reserves, and provide tax returns, etc. in order to obtain financing – it is common sense.  The problem today is the virtually the same legislators who made these loans possible have swung the pendulum too far the other direction and are hampering our recovery efforts in the housing sector of the economy.  FHA costs have risen, talk of raising down payments to 20% are going to hurt the market, stricter ratio requirements are in place and the overall costs associated with a loan are up 8.8% over last year as reported by Bankrate.com.  These trends have to stop if we want to see true recovery in the housing market and the overall economy.

Real estate has always been the key to getting the economy out of its slump and the longer housing languishes, the longer we will be in a recession.  What we do know is that more strict underwriting guidelines are not the answer.  Responsible lending and more educated agents and lenders providing the consumer the right information are going to be part of the solution  but getting the underwriting guidelines back in line with reality is the catalyst to recovery.   Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!