Dress for Success – What to Wear

REASuiteMale.bAs a Realtor, what you choose to wear and how you present yourself to your clients will make an everlasting impression.  So with constantly changing fashion trends, how do you decide what to wear?

It’s important to always look clean, neat and professional but where you work (i.e. large city, small town) can dictate your style.  Business attire is more appropriate in larger metropolitan cities while casual attire may be more appropriate for smaller towns.  One of my favorite rules – you can never be overdressed.

Women can wear a pant suit, or skirt with a shirt or sweater and a jacket.  Men can wear a suit and jacket with a tie or dress slacks with a button down shirt.  If you chose to wear an item that is more trendy/flashy, like colorful shoes, opt for the rest of your outfit to be more conservative.  This will create a balanced look that still allows your style and personality to show through.

Pocket Listings on the Rise

Liblice Chateau HotelYou might be familiar with the term pocket listing by now since it has become more popular during this current housing market. A pocket listing, also known as a “quiet” or “off-market” listing, is a property for sale that an agent doesn’t officially list on the MLS (multiple listing service), but instead keeps in their “pocket.”

Pocket listings started several years ago as a way to market expensive homes or properties of high-profile people while staying under the radar. This allows the seller and agent to test the market’s reaction of the property sales price without the days-on-market clock ticking as it does when listed on the MLS.  The agent can also potentially reap commissions from both the buyer and the seller.

Housing inventories have remained low but pocket listings could be skewing the numbers since they are not tracked. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors said, “Statistically it appears that we are getting back to very balanced market conditions.  However, the sentiment out there is that we still have a shortage of inventory, and I think that is due to the prevalence of pocket listings in some markets.”

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Home Prices are Hot

Home prices continue to rise in what is undoubtedly a seller’s market.  According to Zillow, prices have increased so quickly that about 1,000 local housing markets have reached records in new home prices.

Real estate brokerage firm, Redfin, noted that 40% of the sellers it surveyed plan to price their homes above market value when they list during the second quarter this year.  This is a 33% increase from the start of the year.  Fannie Mae reported in April that 42%, an all-time high, of their 1,000 surveyed homeowners and renters believe that it is a good time to sell.

Home sellers are more likely to receive the asking price from the buyer that pays in all cash.  In markets with fewer cash buyers, home sellers have indicated they are willing to hold out if it doesn’t sell quickly.  For some homeowners they need to get their full asking list price in order to pay off a current mortgage.

home prices are hot

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Housing Market Thawing Slowly as Supply Increases

The Federal Reserve’s recent two-day policy meeting painted a picture of sluggish growth in the economy for the first quarter of the year, mostly attributed to colder than normal weather which hindered economic activity.  Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, commented on labor conditions being tougher in some ways now than in any other recession and stressed the Fed’s “extraordinary commitment” to aid recovery in the form of massive bond-buying and super-low interest rates for some time to come.  The economic data has not been improving as quickly as many would have hoped for but there have been some positive reports that still point to a rebound.  This should have a positive impact on the housing market.  It’s time to put the first quarter behind us now and look for signs of growth during the second quarter in jobs, home supply, and home prices.

The U.S job’s report released Friday helped paint a brighter picture for the coming months.  The economy added 192,000 new jobs during March and the unemployment rate held at 6.7 percent according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  These numbers came in around consensus but still do not point to a robust rebound.  Kathy Bostjancic, director of macroeconomic analysis at The Conference Board, said, “Undoubtedly, there was some catch up in hiring following the inclement weather this winter.  Still, the underlying hiring trend is encouraging, with more good news expected this spring and summer.”  As the employment picture brightens up, this will help strengthen the housing market as more people will look to purchase homes.

Housing supply has been on the rise since January, an important factor in getting the housing market to thaw out and eventually start booming.  The noted monthly supply in February was up slightly from January’s five month supply, citing 5.2 months of supply.  Six months of supply is considered a healthy housing market.  As more homes are built to increase inventory numbers, analysts believe this will help spur growth in the housing market.  Homeowners looking to sell their property will have an easier time looking for a new residence, which should encourage sales and purchases.

Case-Shiller Price IndexAs discussed in previous blog posts, the continued increase in home prices have made this a seller’s market, but have priced some potential buyers out of the market.  While prices have continued to grow, they are increasing at a decreasing rate (January noted a slight drop of 0.08% in the Case-Shiller 20 City Home Price Index). This points to a possible retreat in gains, reflecting a more normal range in prices over the next few months.  This will open the door to more market participants and will help get some momentum behind the housing market.

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Housing Geared Up to Grow this Spring

The mercury is rising and springtime is just around the corner.  Regions hit hard by winter storms are starting to thaw and analysts are predicting the housing market will do the very same in coming months.  A tight housing supply continues to keep home prices high making this undoubtedly a seller’s market.  The overall housing market for the year is positioned for continued growth.

Housing industry and home construction real estate concept as two gears or cog wheels shaped as family residential structures as an icon of neighborhood cooperation and community network connections.Demand for housing is still strong and expected to stay this way through the spring according to some analysts.  The Conference Board, a nonprofit association of businesses, found the percentage of consumers who intend to buy a home within the next six months is the highest it has been since 2000.  One reason for this rising demand is young people who are still facing a tough job market.  A housing analyst with Moody’s Analytics predicts the economy will expand enough this year to enable these young people to move out of their parent’s home.  While they may mostly rent, a decrease in vacancy rates should put upward pressure on rental prices prompting interested home buyers who currently rent to make a real estate purchase.

The rise in home prices is great news for millions of homeowners who have been underwater on their mortgage.  Rising values should encourage owners to put their property on the market, helping to ease the tight housing supply.  CoreLogic reported almost 3.5 million homeowners were lifted out of negative equity between the end of 2012 and mid 2013.  Zillow estimated even more borrowers are back above water, citing 3.9 million homeowners.  Chief Economist Stan Humphries, of Zillow stated in a recent release, “We’ve reached an important milestone as negative equity has fallen below 20 percent nationwide, which has helped free up marginally more inventory and contribute to further stabilization of the market.”

During the past year, existing home and condo sales have increased 11 percent almost topping the highest level in four years.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicts sales will remain about the same during this year.

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Technology for Real Estate: Discover Which Companies are Tracking You on Facebook

tug of war shutterstock_63561718With free or paid apps and some websites, there’s a delicate balance between enjoying the  application  and protecting your privacy. Technology for real estate practitioners has exploded with hundreds of cool apps and devices within the last 5 years.

For most successful real estate professionals, social media is not an option; it’s a key strategic marketing tool and an efficient way to connect with your sphere of influence.  

Have you ever downloaded a free app or visited a site that offered to allow access via  your Facebook login? Happens all the time, right? Your login gives that entity access to your Facebook profile. It allows them to park inside your Facebook account, harvesting your information for years or decades, until you eject them. Years of your info can be mined and sold as the result of one login.  

Here’s a quick way to find out which apps are tracking you, what info they are collecting and how to stop them.

To see which apps are tracking you:

  1. Open your Facebook page, click on the settings icon at the top and far right of your screen. From the drop-down menu select “settings”.
  2. Locate and click the   “Apps “  icon inside the settings menu . (Usually on the left of the screen.)
  3. Notice the resulting list of apps that are “signed into your account”.
  4. At the bottom of the list notice and click the “Show All Apps” link. This will reveal the remainder of the list of apps that are tracking you.
  5. To the right of each app’s name, there is an “edit” function and an “X” mark.
  6. Click on the edit function to see what the app knows about you.  Adjacent to the “Your basic info (?) “  bullet point,  click the question mark to learn more details about data points being shared.
    •  I learned that the first app I clicked has my email address, profile picture, gender, user ID, list of friends, and “any other information which is rated public.”
    •  I noticed these statements, “ This app may post on your behalf, including status updates, photos and more. This app can also access posts in your News Feed.”
    • Check the settings for each app and modify any unwanted access by clicking the edit function to limit access or click the “X” icon to end the app’s access to your account. The app may stop working for you; so weigh your options prior to making your edits.

Hopefully this article will help users to strike the perfect  balance between enjoying your favorite apps and protecting your privacy.

For more information or detailed screen shots of the instructions above, check out a great article from Business Insider, written by Jim Edwards

Remember to Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT.

Five Top 2013 Innovations That Impact Real Estate

272F60BAE2F5E0A349E4742A1EB8One great hallmark of 2013 was rapid technological transformation. New apps and gadgets emerged in quick succession in a virtual leap frog of releases by major players.  The field of real estate is the primary beneficiary of several key advances. Here are five top 2013 innovations that impact real estate. These exciting advances flew onto our radar screens in 2013.

  1. Civilian Drones.  The aerial listing tour has become a reality. Visual capture of surrounding neighborhoods, parks and terrain from the sky, arrests the attention of shoppers, and multiplies the marketing appeal of virtual tours.  Drones facilitate indoor tours also; generating a virtual viewing experience that exceeds the scope of an in-person property tour.   Virtual retailers such as (Amazon) are working to perfect drones for package delivery.  Even restaurants are considering aerial squads of delivery drones.
  2. Wearable Tech Tools.– The Dick Tracy style wrist watch phone arrived.  Primarily a remote control for your cell phone,   some models have a healthy bundle of apps and capabilities.  Samsung CEO, J.K. Shin predicts their model will become “a new fashion icon around the world.”
  3. The 3-D Printer – What does the 3-D printer have to offer real estate? It could just change the housing industry forever.  Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern California, has unveiled a 3-D printer which can reportedly “build a house in 24 hours”.  It’s a giant robot whose computer –directed nozzle ejects concrete in a custom pattern, creating walls. Tradesmen then install windows, doors and other necessities.
    1. The innovation has major implications for emergency housing replacement associated with natural disasters. It has implications for affordable housing across the globe and is also being studied by NASA for extraterrestrial possibilities.
    2. The innovative KeyMe App (a 3-D printer based innovation) allows users to print out new keys in less than 30 seconds (according to their website).  Customers are advised to take photos of each of their keys. When one is lost, replace it by forwarding the image to KeyMe and a replacement is printed and delivered.   Duplicate keys are routinely printed in KeyMe kiosks. They can even be customized with various logos and images for promotional or sentimental value.   
    3. A local news broadcast recently reported that a 3-D printer has successfully printed human tissue and skin. Research teams led by Dr. Thomas Boland of the University of Texas at El Paso, expect to custom- produce organs suitable for transplant sometime in the distant future.  That has nothing to do with real estate but was just too cool to pass up.
  4. Virtual Money—Manhattan real estate broker, Bond New York, reportedly accepts Bitcoin for real estate transactions. The firm is thought to be the first in the industry to green-light the virtual currency.  
  5. The Internet of Things—The possibility of our home systems and appliances communicating with our devices is now on the horizon. Google agreed to pay $3.2 billion cash for Nest Labs, a programmable home thermostat company.

Analysts envision the possibility that in the near future; upon departing your residence you might receive a text message from your refrigerator announcing that you are low on butter and milk required by the recipe you printed from the internet last evening.  It might further advise of the nearest grocer currently stocking those items at the best price.  Future listing descriptions might detail which listings contain interactive appliances and  systems and which protocols they are compatible with. There are many other innovations that impact real estate in a profound way. Which ones grabbed your attention during the year?

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Photo Courtesy of :  Contour Crafting and MSN Innovation





The Granny Flat Revolution | Back to the Future

Granny Flat 0x600Remember the in-law suite?  The concept has been re-imagined and re-engineered and is now so cool — it’s hot. Dressed in new energy- efficient upscale designs and finishes, some look more like honeymoon suites than in-law suites.

How hot is the in-law suite movement?  A  Google search for the term returned over 86 million results in .29 seconds.  In-law suites often referred to as Granny flats, facilitate a growing trend toward multi-family households, common decades ago.

NAR’s 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers indicates “fourteen percent of recent buyers purchased a home for a multi-generational household…” This is due in part to our economic climate.  A Wall Street Journal article by Neil Shah supports a different theory. Shah maintains that the increase in foreign-born seniors relocating to the US is a big factor. Shah stated “Foreign born seniors are four times more likely to live with their children”.  Regardless of reason, the trend is global. Many extended families are capturing additional living space via additions such as granny flats; while others choose new construction with self-contained secondary living suites.

Australian designers appear to be leading the industry with modular dwellings.  Some are built as stand-alone properties while others are integrated as secondary (back yard) structures designed to complement the architecture of the primary residence. They are so advanced; think of them as in-law suites’ on steroids.

Added quarters accommodate returning graduates, retired in-laws, art, photography or yoga studios, rentals, care-givers for children or elderly parents, etc. In some communities, granny flats are evolving into stand-alone affordable housing.  Austin’s Alley Flat initiative is one such venture.

Australian entrepreneurs have found great success with the back yard villa or granny flat. The Japanese version is the tiny house. The British know them as garden cottages.  In Fort Worth watch for accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

In his book, In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats: Your guide to Turning One House into Two Homes, author Michael Litchfield, explains the six types of in-law flats. The link above showcases “10 Chic Granny Flats” from Litchfield’s book, posted on spotlights 40,605 granny flat home design photos.  Most resemble upscale resort suites or pool houses with functioning kitchens and sleeping quarters.   Take a minute to scroll through. They are energy-efficient, and stylish.

Major metros around the country are amending housing ordinances, while establishing zoning and construction specs for this evolving category of dwellings. Multi-family homeowners are evaluating whether to expand current homes   or opt for custom new construction.

For 2014 and beyond expect to see more builders offering multigenerational floor plans. Consider developing a niche by focusing on multigenerational housing options. Bernice Ross with Inman News acknowledges this as a “prime opportunity in 2014”.  

Watch for self-contained granny flat modules, fabricated domestically or imported from abroad.  Check out local policy and valuation history for in-law suites. Keep a list of the best multi-family residential builders in your area. Use social media to ensure that your sphere of influence is aware of your special expertise.

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Photo Courtesy of : In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats: Your guide to Turning One House into Two Homes

Top Technology Time Savers Worth Checking Out (Part 2 of 2)

Technology for Real Estate

Technology for Real Estate

We need a license before driving a car, practicing real estate or getting married. As technology pundit David Pogue noticed, there is no official certification required to navigate a computer. So most people don’t know what they don’t know about navigating a keyboard.

This is the second in a 2 part series unveiling top time-saving tips for working smarter in cyberspace.

  • Have you ever given a slide presentation and caught the audience gazing at your slides instead of looking at you?  In PowerPoint strike the “B” key to momentarily black-out the slide. Click “B” again to restore the view of the slide. To white-out the slide, click “W”.  Hit “W” a second time to restore it.
  • Need flight status. Google is an FAA database. Go to Google type the name of the airline and the flight number to get: aircraft location, terminal, gate, and estimated landing time.
  • Want to know how long it would take to fly from point A to point B? In the Google search bar type “flight time from city X to city Y”. The resulting list will even throw in a quick overview of the range of prices.
  •  Taking a trip and need a currency conversion?  In Google search bar type “convert” then enter the currency type and amount.  Example: “Convert 5000 dollars to British pounds.”
  • To highlight a word don’t drag the cursor across it, just double click the word. Drag the cursor to highlight additional words in a continuous stream.
  • Triple click to highlight an entire paragraph. This also works in Word docs.
  • Don’t delete highlighted unwanted content, to save time just type over it or paste over it.
  •  Shutter lag is common occurrence in cameras that cost less than $1000.00.  To photograph an object in mid-motion, pre-focus on the object before it is in motion by holding the shutter button half-way down.  When the object moves, press the shutter the rest of the way down to capture the action. This addresses the delay most cameras experience between the time you press the shutter button and the time the camera actually records the image.

To see a video demo of most of these tips check out the 5 minute video. The presenter keeps it fun. Feel free to share some of your favorite keyboard time-savers as well.

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual real estate portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Remember to Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Source: TED Talks as published by Inc. Christina Desmarais.

Loan Limits Announcement Good News for Real Estate Professionals and Homebuyers

Team ApplauseOn November 26th, The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced conforming loan limits for 2014. According to a press release,  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conforming limits will remain at $417,000 for one- unit properties in most areas of the nation. For high-cost markets, one-unit property loans will remain capped at a maximum of $625,500.

FHFA’s earlier announcement signaling their intention to lower loan limits, ignited a firestorm of protests from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the California Association of Realtors (CAR) among others. CAR President Kevin Brown expressed his organization’s concern that “lowering the loan limits would have reversed the housing recovery;” in a press release from CAR he applauded the decision of Congressional lawmakers to make permanent the current loan limits of $417,000 for most markets  and $625,500 for high-cost markets.

“The 2014 loan limits are higher than 2013 HERA limits in several counties,” according to the National Mortgage Professional.  For a list of loan limits for one-unit to four-unit properties for your county, review the FHFA news release. The link  to the list is in paragraph #5.

For details on how the loan limits were calculated see pages 2-3 of the FHFA release.

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Remember to Like us on Facebook and  Follow us on Twitter.


Federal Housing Finance Agency Press Release

California Association of Realtors Press Release