A Quick Minute of Motivation

In this motivational series, I’ll highlight how to become a Peak Performer. In today’s Peak Performer Series message I’d like to talk to you about input and output. What you put into your mind you output in your actions. Learn more about this action/reaction in my latest motivational message video.

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

August Market Update

The word on the street is prices are going to collapse…the market is overheated…a recession is coming…we are in a housing bubble. It’s mayhem if you believe everything you read and listen to what the non-experts have to say about the real estate market and the current market we are experiencing.  Quick question. Did you know that 50% of REALTORS have a second job?  Working with a true full-time professional who is up to date on the local Northern Virginia real estate market is more important today than ever before.  You need to have the guidance, advice, and experience to be guided seamlessly through the real estate transaction, so you are protected.  Don’t rely or believe everything you read on the internet.  Call me instead because here are the facts.

Prices – barring an unforeseen event, they are stable in Northern Virginia and will remain this way. Why?  Because our prices have risen only slightly each year after the Great Recession (bar a few examples/areas). We don’t have lending practices in place any longer that allow buyers to buy without strong fundamentals in place and allowing unqualified purchasers to outbid on properties at extreme prices.

The market is overheated – this is not true in all areas of Northern Virginia. Yes, there are areas of Arlington and in certain price points where inventory is extremely low that there are multiple offers but overall, we have seen this trend slow in recent months. Remember, what you read today typically happened 2-4 months ago as stats on the market don’t immediately get released and are reflective of current trends. Every market is different, and this is why you need specific advice on your property if you are selling or if you are considering purchasing a home.

A recession is coming – yes, it is true as we have been in the longest recovery in our history.  All markets are cyclical so a recession will come. What does this mean for housing? It is typically a good thing…interest rates are lowered to stimulate the economy and barring the Great Recession, since 1995 when we have had economic slowdowns, prices have appreciated 81% of the time which is the same as when we have had economic expansion. Don’t fear the word recession and real estate values.

We are in a housing bubble – not true for our area. Prices have not skyrocketed like they have in other areas of the country, as previously mentioned, our prices have only moderately increased year over year. Our inventory of resale homes is 22% below last year’s level and 33% below inventory levels two years ago. Our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country. Our salaries are stable to slightly rising meaning people have good-paying jobs.

Lastly, the interest environment we are in is making housing more affordable – rates are low and are going lower. 30-year fixed rates are in the mid to high 3’s (percent) today. There are many refinances that are taking place and there will be more to come so these people will be staying in their houses for a while and will be potential, future landlords which will keep the housing inventory tight moving forward.  This too will keep our market out of a crisis in my opinion.

Again, barring an unforeseen event, we will be in a strong real estate environment for some time here in Northern Virginia.  We actually need more houses to sell as there is pent up demand. If you are considering a move of any kind, please call me today to learn more. I can be reached at scottmacdonald@remax.net or 703-652-5777.

Is the sky falling?

Which way is up? 
There is more confusing news about the real estate market today in the
media, on social networking sites and in reports than ever before.  As many of you know, I am active in social
media and am a member of many groups on Linkedin and read postings by others on
Facebook and Twitter among other sites and no one seems to agree about the
market.  There are questions about when
and if foreclosures are going to hit the market – some say it will be a tsunami
and others not.  Some say that in regards
to prices we are going to have a double dip yet the major indexes say prices in
almost all the major markets have increased month over month and year over year
since May.  News on interest rates is
that rates are going to rise yet they continue to go down and they are at all
time lows.  It is no wonder that
consumers are confused about what to do as many Realtors have such differing
opinions on which way the market is heading.

 As a real estate
practitioner in Northern Virginia involved in the resale market with our team,
the Results Realty Group, new home sales with our Assured Sales & Assured
Lease programs, property management, mastermind groups that discuss
foreclosures and short sales, and lastly, one on ones with our highly
productive Realtors, we believe we have a robust real estate market in our
area.  Houses are selling when they are
in excellent condition, they are properly staged, offer a good location and
they are priced correctly.  We continue
to have a strong buyer base here because of historically low rates, affordable
prices but most of all they are attracted to our area for the jobs.   We have one of the lowest unemployment rates
in the country – people and companies continue to come to our area. 

There should be no Chicken Little sightings in Northern
Virginia when it comes to real estate. 
Agents who are active in the business on a daily basis, finding the
opportunities for both buyers and sellers, attending trainings to educate
themselves so they can educate their clients, and honing their craft are
experiencing their best years ever.  As
is the case in all aspects of life, when you have a positive attitude along
with a can do attitude you are more likely to get the results you are looking
for than not.  Selecting the right
Realtor today is more important now than ever before when you or someone you
know is looking to buy or sell a house.  Be
sure the right choice is made.  Get
it?  Got it?  Good! 

Now, go sell something!

A walk down memory lane…

At the recent RISMedia Leadership and Social Media Summit,
several of us discussed where we were from a technology standpoint in real
estate and discussed what the “next” big thing in real estate will be and how
it will affect our business. This got me thinking how much has changed since I
got into real estate in 1988. 

Let’s take a step back in time and see how much has changed
and how amazing it is to remember how we ever functioned without the tools we
have today.  The list is in no particular
order and none is more important than the other, but when taken on the whole,
it is amazing.  The following list has
made us more productive, efficient and in some cases even better business
people if used properly.  If you have
others, please let me know.

We used to operate with no cell phones, but technology
stepped up and we used pagers to help keep us connected.  The pagers first buzzed then offered us
numbers to call back which we were able to do with car phones that were
attached to our consoles that took a day to install.  Luckily, technology allowed us to become
mobile with cell phones and now, we finally have smart phones.  What is next?

When we negotiated contracts it was face to face with the
sellers.  Next, we had the opportunity to
use data grams – a service that came over our thermal fax paper machines which
gave us permission to counter contracts on behalf of our clients.  Next, we were able to use fax machines, then
we progressed to scan to email, and now we use docusign and other e-signature
services.  In essence, we don’t have to
see our clients and can even be global with our business practice!

In order for clients to see properties, we used MLS cards –
postcards with a picture on the front and a very brief description on the
back.  Next, we moved up to MLS books
that allowed us to be somewhat more mobile, but the information was dated as it
took time to print and deliver.  After
this came, thermal paper and MLS printouts, dot matrix printers, online access
to MLS service with logins and now to mobile search capabilities from our smart
phones…what is around the corner?

In addition to these changes, the business itself has
changed substantially.  Some argue for
the better, some not – you decide.  At
first, it was a broker based business. 
The broker controlled the commission splits, the information made
public, advertising, etc.  We then moved
into the agent centered business where commission splits skyrocketed, the
advertising and promotion was about the agent and what they could do for the
client.  Now, we have entered the consumer
based business where everything is about the client and how we can serve the
client and provide them with as much information as quickly and efficiently as
possible.

Let’s look at access to properties.  First, it was all appointment only or agents
had to pick up the key from the listing office. 
Next we saw combo lockboxes enter the marketplace.  Then, in order to protect the sellers more,
we were issued circle keys.  When these
became easy to replicate, we move to the combo bar system, and now we utilize electronic
lockboxes of many varieties.

The controlling of Information started with the broker
controlling data to clients then agents were allowed to pass information to
clients and now information is controlled by the internet.  The internet offers virtually endless
information through blogs, websites, idx feeds, vow’s, public records and even
more sources.  It is critical for agents
to be on top of their game at all times when speaking with clients.

Wow, think about how much lead generation has changed.  It used to be we used the newspaper, cold
calling, door knocking and open houses to generate leads.  Then agents took on geographical farming to
gain recognition which lead to agents working their sphere in various ways to
obtain leads.  The onset of the internet
lead to pay per click and other pay for lead sources and this area continues to
blossom through lead generating websites.

The whole technology realm is amazing in itself.  We mentioned pager and progression to smart phones
but how about in the office and on the road? 
We have gone from office computers to personal computers to laptop,
tablets, netbooks, ipad, and mobile apps – the possibilities seem endless at
this point.

Marketing used to be almost strictly all newspaper
advertising.  Then we utilized direct
mail, billboard advertising, bench marketing, bus and car wraps and other forms
of mass advertising.   Agents have become
more practical in their spending habits by utilizing marketing to their sphere,
developing email campaigns, embracing social media outlets.

There used to be no websites then we had company websites
which paved the way for agent websites, and now we have multimedia social
interaction with our clients.

Our offices used to be brick and mortar offices often with
multiple locations.  Next came the mega
office concept where brokers consolidated into on large location.  As the market and technology  changed , offices downsized.  As more agents began to work from home,
wireless access points and wireless cards have become available, café offices
have emerged.

Initially, the way we worked was as Individual agents.  As our businesses grew, assistants became
more prevalent and more of a necessity. 
When lifestyle options and life balance became more important, buyer
agents and listing specialists lead to forming mega teams.  As technology emerge virtual assistants also
offered alternatives for agents to be more efficient.

 Our education avenues
have also changed.  We were first taught
to use the Haines directory, work expired listings and FSBO’s.  Then we took our education on the road and
obtained designations.  Next we worked on
database development, social media development. 
Our travel then gave way to on line training through RSN and other
correspondence classes.  These have lead
the way to webinars, techinars, and streaming video trainings.  Also agents have developed mastermind groups
to grow their businesses.

The agent’s compensation plans have also changed
drastically.  Initially, commission structures
started at 50/50.  Then we saw graduated
commission levels based upon production and then the 100% comp plans with a
monthly fee.  We have also seen transaction
fees become part of our compensation plans. 
There are also plans where agents are on a split until the company
reaches a level acceptable to them known as a CAP schedule and we also see
hybrid forms of these plans.

The world of financing also needs to touched upon.  It used to be 20% down loans, cash, VA loans,
and FHA low down payment loans.  In addition
to these, we had buy downs, high seller consessions and then guidelines
changed.  We had 100% loans, 80/10/10,
80/20, 80/15/5, NINA, 106%, There were COFI loans, Balloon payment loans,
interest only loans and now we have the tightest loan guidelines we have ever
seen.

The marketing of houses has also had a metamorphosis.  Initially we had simple brochures with the
exterior photo taped to the page then we had 800 call capture numbers to find
more buyers for our listings.  Next we
were able to take digital photos and create more elaborate brochures and
virtual tours.   We now market properties
through videos, dedicated listing websites, text for information technologies,
voicepad, and once again, social media outlets.

Advertising venues have also been through changes.  We used to utilize magazines, newspapers, published
articles, hosted TV and radio shows and now we have youtube channels.

Our communication with clients and other agents has also
progressed from the phone only to writing notes, then came email and IM
followed by text and coupled with Facebook messages, tweets, and even more…we
are more available today than ever before

As you notice, our business is always evolving which means
we too need to embrace change, be forward thinking and continuously move
forward if we want our business to only not survive but thrive going into the
future.  Get it?  Got it? Good!