Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Agents Armor: Safety is a Click Away -From Scott Levitt

 Agents, how are you protecting yourself in the field? Do you ever wish you had a good back-up plan for those situations where an open house or showing doesn't feel 100% safe?

We were absolutely blown away this year at NAR 2012 in Orlando when we saw a demo of a new safety app for real estate agents called Agents Armor. Currently available for the iOS/iPhone platform, Agents Armor has an impressive array of features to protect you on the job.

Highlights include:

1. Check-in times can be set up for you whether you are showing properties to a client, going on a listing appointment, or working an open house.

2. Notifications of selected contacts via SMS/Text and email if you fail to check in, initiate your Emergency/911 button, or enter your duress code. Includes social network notifications on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. Date and time of your alert and your GPS coordinates automatically maps your location via Google Maps.

3. Automatic image capture & backup of "insurance" images such as drivers licenses, vehicles, etc.

4. Repeating "duress messages" broadcast silently when you tell the app to signal you're in trouble.

5. One-touch 911 dialing.

If you're serious about your safety, we definitely recommend you check out the Agents Armor website for videos on how the app works, as well as affordable sign-ups for individual agents (or whole brokerages!):

Scott Levitt is the President of Oakley Signs & Graphics and consultant to business owners both inside and outside the real estate industry.

Monday, October 22, 2012

GOOD News for the Housing Market is good news for all of us...

From ABC News "Realty Check 10/19/12

A new report shows a slowly healing housing market, over its darkest days but not yet completely healthy. Existing home sales– the biggest chunk of the housing market–came in as expected at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million in September, according to the National Association of Realtors.

There are some encouraging signs in today’s report. Though sales fell 1.7 percent in September compared with a month earlier, they are still up 11 percent over a year ago. Sales are affected because getting a loan remains difficult, many homeowners owe more on their home than it’s worth and there’s too tight of a supply of homes for sale.

Home prices are going up at a pre-recession pace. The national median existing-home price was $183,900 in September, up 11.3 percent from a year ago. The last time there were seven consecutive monthly year-over-year increases was from November 2005 to May 2006. Prices are going up in part because there is a shortage of homes for sale in many areas.

There is now a 5.9 month supply of homes available for sale, down from a six- month supply in August. This is the lowest inventory since March 2006.

At its worst there was more than a year’s supply of homes for sale.
If the recovery remains on the track there will be demand for new homes. We saw in data earlier this week that home builders are more confident and planning to increase construction in coming months.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Staging Mistakes

The current economy has many homeowners trying to hold on to as much equity in their home as they can. If you're trying to save money by staging your own home, real estate staging expert Debra Gould advises you tread carefully, as many staging tactics do nothing but work against you in your goal to sell faster and for more money.
"I've seen many examples of 'silly staging tricks' over the years," states Gould, owner of Toronto home staging company, Six Elements Inc. She adds, "While good for a laugh, homeowners must realize that buyers are too smart to fall for these tricks, which make it obvious they're being manipulated into thinking the sellers actually live that way."

Silly Staging Ideas Room-by-Room:

Bathroom. Tassels draped over hand towels, seashells nestled atop a stack of towels wrapped in a bow and champagne flutes on the bathtub are perhaps befitting for a honeymoon suite, but not a family home. Don't fill the bathtub with blue-tinted water and don't tie a ribbon around the toilet seat either. These have been done, but don't make the same silly mistake. Invest in new hand towels, a new shower curtain and remove personal items from countertops such as toothbrushes and makeup.

Bedroom. The casually draped throw over the foot of the bed with 'tea for two' on top has been overdone, and buyers know you don't live that way. Invest in some nice bedding, put night tables on either side of the bed and include one long dresser and a tall chest of drawers in the master bedroom. If the room seems crowded with those items, use a double bed instead of a queen or king.
Kitchen and Dining Room. Nothing screams 'staged home' like a formally set dining room. Less is more! Skip the formal setting and put a simple vase of flowers on the table instead. Clear kitchen counters of all clutter and add a simple bowl of fruit for a clean, open look.

Living Room. Displaying photos of people more attractive than family members by hanging frames with manufacturers' photos still inside, or even displaying photos of celebrities around the room, are not good ideas. Not only silly, this breaks the 'de-personalize' staging rule. Remove any photos, diplomas or similar items, as they do nothing but distract buyers. Look for some tasteful art for staging instead.

A buyer won't buy based on dining room settings or a frou-frou bathroom. After staging your home, you want a clean, de-personalized, clutter-free space. If you've done a good job, a buyer won't be able to tell it was staged at all.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where have all the sellers gone?

Things are looking up. Slowly, slowly the economic recovery is happening. In the real estate market, if you are a buyer or a seller, you are on a tight-rope of timing.

If you are buying, you better not blink when you spot a home you think could be the one. Inventory is very low and we are once again seeing multiple offers, some above asking.  The market has been impacted by the lowest sustained interest rates in history-a particular boon for qualified, first time home buyers with nothing to sell, and the ability to make an offer quickly. See it~ like it ~sold!

Sellers are still experiencing the frustration of lower than ideal values for their homes. This is making folks on the edge of wanting to list, reluctant. They keep hoping that waiting just a bit longer to list will bring the price up to acceptable levels, which is slowing the process of new properties entering the market, which creates a shortage of inventory and it goes.

In all the changes, one thing remains the same and that is the benefit of hiring a REALTOR. This professional is constantly updating his or her tool box, keeping an eye on market conditions and thinking creatively about getting you what you need as a buyer or seller.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Interested in a Career in REAL ESTATE?

LOOKING FOR A NEW CAREER? REMERICA offers 40 hours of pre-license training that is required for you to get your license from the State of Michigan.  The class prepares you to pass the
State test and offers you the opportunity to take a look at Remerica, close up, to see if we are the company for you. Call 1-800-REMERICA for more information.

Our next Class begins:
  • May 21, 2012 runs Monday*, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 10 p.m.
  • The cost is $99 and pre-payment and registration are required
  • Classes are held at 41017 ann Arbor Rd. in Plymouth, MI
  • Complete Registration by calling 1-800-REMERICA ask for Holly

Thursday, April 5, 2012

So You have Decided to Sell

You have made the decision to sell but you don't know where to begin.
It will be important to take a critical look at the condition of your home, inside and out.
Do you need to update to make the home more attractive to buyers?
  • Make a list of repairs and projects you need to complete, estimate the cost of doing it yourself or hiring it done. 
  • to get top dollar, consider Green Upgrades (energy efficient doors and windows for example) that can increase your homes value.
  • You may want to invest in a professional home inspection to have a pro spot potential trouble before your buyer does.
  • Don't forget the value of a good clean up of all unnecessary things you store in the garage, basement shed etc. Host a yard sale, get the stuff to the local Church Rummage or donate to any charity willing to take it.  Better to have the items used for good than used against YOU when you are showing your home.
A bit of work upfront, looking HONESTLY at your homes condition will help you price it right and get it sold!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Home Selling Checklist-Part one

In the next few entries we will go over a handy checklist we found at HGTV's "Front Door" Website.
Gauging your need to sell
  • Define your goals for the next 5-10 years.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of selling.
  • Figure out if you can afford to sell, move and buy a new home.
  • Calculate your home equity.
  • Research the local housing market.
  • Consider remodeling the home to fit your needs.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of renting out your home.
Do this with the help of a professional REALTOR and you will have a realistic picture before you make a move.  A REALTOR will be happy to offer help, even if you decide against selling right away. Agents work hard to develop a relationship with you so that when you are ready they will be the expert you call on to list and market your home.