Ohio Real Estate Lawyers

While Ohio real estate law does not require you to have a real estate lawyer, there are certain instances in which having a lawyer may be a good idea. When buying a property that has any common interest developments, it may be difficult for the average consumer to discern between parts of the property that are for one’s exclusive use versus parts that are for community use. Common interest developments, such as condominiums, may have ongoing litigation that may have an adverse effect on the future value of the property. A real estate lawyer can explain what the possible outcomes of ongoing litigation may be, so you can make an informed choice about whether you want to invest in the property. A real estate lawyer can also help ensure that the title to a property is good before a buyer closes on a sale.

Try and find a lawyer who is recommended by someone you trust, such as a friend or family member. Never choose a real estate lawyer simply based on the recommendation of your real estate agent. However, you may be able to find a lawyer who is also a licensed realtor.

You should ensure that the lawyer specializes in real estate law by checking with state and local bar associations and realtors’ associations. The American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL) website provides links to members by state, and has many members from Ohio.

Most lawyers will answer preliminary questions for free. Make a list of your questions and use this list to help you find a lawyer who you think will represent your interests in a competent and ethical manner. Before making a final decision, ask what the lawyer’s charges are. Some real estate lawyers will work on for a fixed fee in more straightforward cases.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Real Estate Appraisal – Bring Back the Cost Approach

In the last few years there has been a trend toward a complete discounting of the Cost Approach to value in residential appraisal. For owner occupied homes, the sole technique is now the Sales Comparison Analysis, which involves selecting and comparing individual property sales to a subject property.

Many lenders and government agencies no longer require the Cost Approach technique, even on new or nearly new construction, and appraisers are often instructed to omit it completely, or not to place any reliance on the results. When a lender does require that the Cost Approach be completed, it seems that this is only so that a proper amount of homeowner insurance can be determined. This is, of course, something critically important to the lender as well as the homeowner, but should not be the only criteria for the use of a cost-depreciation analysis.

Years ago a Cost Approach was always required for an appraisal report. The basis of this approach was the Principle of Substitution, which holds that a prudent buyer will not pay more for a home than the cost to acquire an equally desirable substitute home. Accordingly, the reproduction or replacement cost new of a home set the upper possible limit on value, particularly for an existing preowned home. So this analysis served not only as an additional means of estimating value, but also as a governor on runaway home prices.

The cost approach also served an important function as an educational tool for appraisers. To perform this approach, an appraiser had to have at least a minimal working knowledge of residential construction and to carefully observe the quality and condition of the various components of the home. Cost data services, which still exist today, provide continuously updated information on the various costs of construction involved in a home and some are quite accurate.

One service publishes a manual with a wealth of good data and information, complete with descriptions and photographs that illustrate the differences in quality and appearance for different types of homes, which is a great way for new or inexperienced appraisers to familiarize themselves with these features. In recent times I have come across reports by relatively new appraisers where no cost approach was done and it was painfully obvious that the appraiser knew very little about construction or how to evaluate the differences between their subject and the comparable sales they used in the Sales Comparison Analysis. I suspect we have a new generation of appraisers out there who have this deficiency and that's a bad sign for the future. The best appraisers know something about construction and can immediately spot differences among homes as to their quality level. This ability is also critical for the appraisal reviewer.

The Cost Approach is not without its weaknesses. The primary weakness is in the estimate of depreciation, be it physical, functional or external in nature. These things are difficult to estimate, but again, the appraiser who learns how to do this becomes more knowledgeable and competent, both in the Cost and Sales Comparison methods. Another weakness is in estimating the land value. Actual sales are often not available as a means to determine what buyers are paying for a similar lot and so market abstraction (also called extraction) is used to estimate the ratio of land value to dwelling value from market sales of already built homes. Improperly done, this technique is subject to serious errors. The general rule for the Cost Approach is that it is most accurate when the dwelling is not very old and sales of nearby similar lots are available.

I am of the opinion that the majority of foreclosures involve relatively new homes and that this is where the largest amount of lending losses occur. At least, that's how it is in my local market which has always had a lot of new construction. There are many reasons for foreclosures, but certainly one is upgrades.

Builders typically offer various home models at "base" prices and offer upgrades for both the home and the lot. Buyers can choose from a wide variety of options to enhance the home and can choose lots that are different in size or that have more trees or other desirable aspects. This is great for the buyer but can become a nightmare for the lender when a foreclosure happens because so many of those nice upgrades do not hold their value in subsequent foreclosure sales, and often do not hold their value as the distressed homeowner desperately tries to sell the home to avoid foreclosure.

The homeowner finds out they are "upside down" meaning the home cannot be sold for as much as the mortgage amount, especially when the initial down payment was very low or when financing costs were included (rolled into) the mortgage, necessitating an increase in the sale price. Another problem is inflated upgrade cost where some builders mark up the prices of upgrades well beyond normal prices that consumers pay at retail stores, even with installation added on. This is similar to what many service contractors (plumbers, car mechanics, etc.) do because they want to make a profit on the "parts" as well as the labor. The problem comes when the markup is excessive.

There is little an appraiser can do about upgrades when it can be shown that buyers often do select upgrades with their new home purchase. In the absence of current resales or foreclosures to compare with, it is not possible to estimate the resale value of upgrades, and values ​​are estimated as of a given date, not the future.

The Cost Approach long served as a reasonable basis for making adjustments to market sales in the Sales Comparison Analysis for individual items. If a home needed a new roof, the appraiser had a handy source for determining the cost for this. Likewise for appliances, HVAC equipment, a garage and the like. Removing the Cost Approach and the good data that comes with it forces too many appraisers to have to guess at these kinds of adjustments and the results can vary wildly from one appraiser to the next.

Long ago homes were valued only by a Cost Approach. The Sales Comparison Analysis (formerly known as the Market Approach) came later. I don't believe it is a coincidence that foreclosure rates and personal bankruptcies caused by unaffordable mortgage amounts and runaway home prices seem to have increased so much in recent years while the use of the Cost Approach has declined at the same time. Not do I believe it is a coincidence that the decrease in emphasis on cost minus depreciation began about the same time as tremendous inflows of capital into the marketplace encouraged every sort of easy money credit scheme that allowed so many people to buy homes they couldn't actually afford and that has severely damaged not only the US economy, but the entire world. Mountains of money to lend tend to push caution to the side.

I believe that the Sales Comparison Analysis is surely a good valuation technique, but its down side is that there are too many clever ways for market participants to smuggle hidden costs, fees and even fraud into sales contracts, which make their way silently into market data services and onto appraisal reports. The same can be true for unhidden costs like seller paid loan discount fees and other monies paid toward buyer closing costs. At a minimum, an accurate Cost Approach serves as a useful check on the results of even the most thorough and detailed Sales Comparison Analysis where the appraiser is carefully searching for and analyzing such things. Undesirable things can and do happen in real estate and some can slip past even the best Sales Comparison Analysis because they happen quietly and incrementally.

An example of this is what I call closing cost price compounding. A real estate agent provides a seller a pricing analysis where the agent has found 20 recent sales of similar homes in the area and averaged the prices to arrive at a figure he or she believes is correct for the home. The home is then marketed at that price. Along comes a buyer (perhaps from a higher cost market) who lacks cash, needs some assistance with his closing costs, and makes an offer at or very near the asking price. The seller counters with an offer in which he adds the amount of assistance the buyer asked for to the price.

But what if this type of assistance turns out to be normal for the area and is already reflected in the selling prices of those 20 homes used to set the asking price to begin with? The new sale closes at the upwardly adjusted price and is then used as a "comp" by other agents and by appraisers and the process continues with every repeat occurrence of the needy buyer, causing home prices to rise, affordability to lessen, creating more needy Buyers, and setting in motion a snowball effect where prices to rise eventually to the point that they exceed even cost new. This is not unlike interest compounding on your savings account. Over time your balance goes up faster and faster. Combine this with other inflationary market tendencies and you get a nasty bubble that will some day burst to the peril of us all … again.

Obviously, this could be avoided by competent sales agents who understand that those 20 sales already included heavy seller costs and inform their clients of this, but many do not and there is a built in incentive to pay prices as high as possible among people working on commission. An accurate Cost Approach would tend to catch this anomaly immediately or at least decrease its effects down the line in future sales because when home prices begin to exceed what it would cost to build an equally desirable substitute home brand new, the competent appraiser knows that something is wrong and that they need to dig deeper into the market data.

A Cost Approach is also a great lie detector for fraudulent appraisals. If an appraiser included a Cost Approach and is using a known cost source or manual that others can subscribe or view, then the estimated costs shown in the appraisal can be reproduced from that same source by someone reviewing the report. So if the appraiser has fudged on cost, that can be detected simply by examining the cost source and parameters the appraiser had described. Moreover, even if the appraiser showed the correct costs, the fraudulently inflated appraisal will exhibit inflated land value in the Cost Approach with little or no support as to where the land value estimate comes from or why it is so high. In fraudulent appraisals, the Cost Approach is "plugged in" with numbers to match the Sales Comparison Analysis. That's because an honest Cost Approach would have indicated a significantly lower value for the home.

There are other examples of how the Cost Approach could eliminate or reduce runaway home prices, and even detect fraud. I believe it is a foolish mistake to take away or encourage the disuse of any type of analysis or tool from appraisers that has a basis in market data. An analyst in any field of study should be willing and enabled to use as many ways as possible of looking at a problem. Focusing on just one method encourages tunnel vision. I say bring back the Cost Approach and let appraisers decide how useful or accurate it is on a case by case basis. It is not the end-all be-all solution but it is a valuable and worthwhile tool.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US Real Estate Predictions for 2019

Similar as to how political pundits claim that this election cycle will be the most important in a generation, this year could be the most important year in recent memory in terms of mortgage loans and the residential real estate industry at large. (And if you believe that I have some swap land in Florida I'd like to sell you). For a variety of reasons, I have decided unilaterally to keep it short and sweet this year. Hence, here are the three perennial predictions for 2019.

1. Gig Work.
At first glance, the phrase "Gig Work" seems antithetical to sound mortgage underwriting standards, but it is in fact actually very refreshing. And that is to say that as the aftermath of the 2008 crash could not be further from the subconscious, there perhaps is subprime "creep" into present underwriting standards. But this is not your Daddy's Oldsmobile underwriting standards. Meaning, that lenders today are more than willing to count part-time and intermittent work as bonifide income, even though it had been looked down upon post-2008.
According to Saideh Brown, President Emeritus of the National Council of Women at the United Nations, "Mortgage lenders are beginning to factor in gig-work for mortgage approval. This is only going to become more prevalent with the current job market. Banks are looking into all sources of income and gig-work is quickly becoming a primary source of income for millennials and must be factored in to get an emotional buy-in to homeownership from this generational block. "

Thus, the bottomline for 2019 on Prediction 1, expect creative – yet reasonable underwriting standards to become apart of normal mortgage underwriting procedures.

2. Saved by the Millennials (again). Whaaat ??
At second glance, who isn't bored by the self-absorbed Millennials. Me for one, but not withstanding that tongue and cheek denigrative response to the flavor of the month generation – who will undoubtedly be replaced by the next off-spring of eternal hopefulless, they do at least make for good print. And here's the angle; While many are concerned if real estate is a safe bet today, then historically speaking it is – and thus, one's perspective should be long term, despite the naysayers on non-real estate appreciation for 2019.

According to Dan Green, CEO of real estate site Growella, "Rising mortgage rates aren't slowing the Millennial Generation's desire for homeownership. Pent-up demand will continue to unfurl through 2019, moving home values ​​up across all price points. Like all markets , housing is defined by supply and demand. And, so long as supply and demand remain within tolerable ranges, housing will continue to be a good investment. "

Thus, the bottomline for 2019 on Prediction 2, buy now and forever hold your peace, since interest rates are still good.

3. Home price decline.
Real estate has always been local. Hence, the adage "Location, location, location." With that in mind, there is nothing to catastrophically fret about in terms of buying a home as a primary home. If you're an investor, then pick your fights carefully, since not all markets will perform as anticipated no matter how smart you may think you are! With that in mind (again), there will be a slight degree of variability – as there sound be, since it would be insanely moronically not to expect some degree of variability. Even in the Garden of Eve, market value likely dipped in price after Adam bit into the apple.
According to Ruben Gonzales, Chief Economist at Keller Williams, "As we look toward 2019, we are anticipating home sales to decline around 2%. We're expecting it to be another slightly slower year as buyers continue to wrangle with higher mortgage rates after contending with several years of rapid price growth. "

Thus, the bottomline for 2019 on Prediction 3, proceed with caution as an investor, but as a primary homebuyer nothing should reasonable caution you from a buying decision, since home appreciation should be an afterthought, and especially so depending upon your hold period.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 Tips For Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Whether you are buying or selling a property, choosing a real estate agent may be the most important decision you make. Good real estate agents can save you a substantial amount of time and money. They can also ensure that the buying or selling process is an enjoyable and memorable experience. Here are some tips for choosing a real estate agent:

1. Ask Friends/Family for Referrals

Ask family and friends for their advice on local agents. This way you will be sure to find an agent with a good reputation.

2. Consider More than One Agency

There is an array of agents that will kill for your business. That is why you should interview as many agents as you can. Compare agents with regard to their knowledge of the area, experience and qualifications. Also, ask for references from previous clients.

3. Choose an Agent that Knows the Importance of Customer Care

While interviewing different agents you will be able to establish their level of customer care or how far they will go to satisfy the customer. Look at things like their attitude towards returning phone calls and their willingness to meet with you.

4. Choose an Agent that Handles Homes in Your Price Range

When you opt for an agent that deals with homes in your price range, you will be sure to end up with an agent that will give his or her best effort. Some agents deal only with high-end properties and are used to high commissions. They are more likely to attend to these properties first.

5. Choose an Agent that Respects Your Time Schedule

If you will not be able to view properties during office hours, you need to find an agent that is willing to do business after hours or over weekends.

6. Look for an Agent that You Can Communicate With

Communication is vital when buying or selling real estate. Make sure that you choose an agent that understands your needs and that communicates them well. You will be best off if you choose and agent that registers a high level of comfort with you or with whom you are compatible with.

7. Choose an Agent that Provides Multiple Services

It will be a bonus if you can find an agent that can handle the buying/selling process as well as other additional services like arranging property inspections or who can refer you to a trustworthy real estate attorney.

8. Choose an Agent That Can Negotiate

Negotiating skills is an essential quality of a good real estate agent. Make sure you choose and agent with impeccable and proven negotiating skills.

9. Choose an Agent with Lots of Resources

Ask agents where your property will be advertised. Make sure that the agency uses print advertising (newspaper/magazines) as well as other promotional material such as brochures. Also check if the agency makes use of the Internet for advertising their listings.

10. Follow Your Instinct

Choose an agent that makes you feel comfortable and whom you trust. You level of comfort and satisfaction will let you know if you’ve met the right agent.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Work Real Estate Internet Leads Without Going Crazy

So you've finally figured out a way to generate real estate leads through the internet?

Congratulations, you're rich!

Except for one tiny little thing, of course: actually closing your leads and generating sales.

Without a solid system, the only thing you'll be generating is a lot of work and heartache. In fact, I would say it's better to avoid online leads all together unless you're willing to invest the time upfront to set up proper systems.

What exactly do I mean by a system? A proper lead follow up system consists of three parts:

1. Customer Service / Follow Up at Internet Speed

Everything is faster on the internet. Think of the last time you shopped for anything online. Were you willing to wait even half an hour for an answer from an online store, or did you just move on until you found the answer immediately?

Online customer service is an entire article in itself, but here are the basics:

  • Make it easy for them to contact you – post your phone # prominently and use an online form – just posting your email address is worthless.
  • Respond within 5 minutes – after 30 minutes you may as well not even bother.
  • ALWAYS provide something of value in every phone call / email / tweet / note on rock thrown through their window, etc. This could be market news, useful links, answers, etc.

2. Use a CRM System (even if it's just an excel sheet).

37 signals, a hugely successful software company has a great saying: make half a product, not a half a ** ed product. The same goes with leads: it's better to work half your leads well, than try to work all your leads and do a half-a ** ed job of it.

To do it right, you'll need to track your leads. For no frills, make an excel sheet with their info, how / why the found you, and what you've sent them so far. Don't forget the most critical part: prioritize your leads (I can't argue with the time-tested "A, B, C" system, but feel free to get creative if you need a little flair in your CRM).

My personal favorite for real estate CRM is Highrise, by the aforementioned 37 signals (just Google "highrise, they're # 1). It's free up to 250 contacts, it's drop dead simple to use, and it plays nicely with your email.

3. Give The People What They Want.

Ask yourself why they contacted you in the first place: what do they want? Figure that out, then create or find those resources and put them all in a folder called "resources" on your computer. For example: buyer's guides, market statistical reports, recent neighborhood sales, advice articles about picking lenders, etc.

That way, every time you email a lead you can either attach something useful, or link to it in your email. It also gives you a great reason to call them, so you can ask permission before sending them an attachment.

In all honesty, there is simply no way to get the same success rates from online leads as you do from referrals and personal connections – that's simply the nature of the beast. Done properly, though, you can generate a solid amount of business without letting online lead follow up take over your life.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go research the pet weight restriction of a condo building for a random lead who just called … hey, I never said it was easy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Title Companies Vs Real Estate Lawyers

Is a real estate lawyer a better choice than a title company when it comes to selling your home? You can choose any one of the two but you should first be aware of the difference between real estate lawyers and title companies. Here is some information about both the entities and whose services can benefit you most.

Real estate lawyers

Real estate lawyers specialize in laws relating to real estate and make sure that your interests as a seller are met in the transaction. These lawyers can act as escrow agents as they can hold your earnest money, down payments as well as help you with the requisite documentation. These attorneys can also help you understand the legalities involved in the sale transaction, the offer made by the buyer and your rights as a seller.

An attorney can also handle a closing in case the lender’s lawyer doesn’t do that. Every real estate lawyer has two most important responsibilities.

• To advise on the documentation process of the transaction

• To represent you at a closing

Besides these two important services, an attorney also negotiates any modifications in the purchase contract that the seller wants to incorporate. Preparing the seller’s deed, another crucial aspect, is also taken care of by the attorney. The attorney you hire will also accompany you on your meeting with the client/buyer at the time of settlement. He/she will also advise you on the tax implications involved in your home or property sale.

Title companies

Title companies are insurance agencies that represent title insurance companies. Such companies insure titles to lenders and buyers by ensuring that a title is free from any encumbrance that can cause financial loss.

The title company assures the buyer that he/she can get his/her title on the home or property with no liens against it. The availability of a title on the particular home/property is made clear and vouched for by a title company. In the process, such an entity protects the rights and interests of both parties in question.

Usually, most title companies insure a closing with the help of a lawyer to fulfill certain requirements. Closings also depend on the area you are living in. Toronto natives can hire the services of a real estate lawyer for sale closings.

Keep the following things in mind when you sell your property:

Title companies can hold the down payment and close your home without additional costs. Also, there is a possibility that title companies may give you a discount on your title insurance if you had previously used their services to either refinance or buy your home or property. Lawyers can also close your home/property sale and hold your down payment but may charge an additional fee.

A lawyer can charge a higher fee to write a contract. In cases of simple transactions, this can complicate negotiations. But in most other property sale transactions, the services of a real estate lawyer can prove invaluable.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Buying a Property in Romania – Real Estate Law in Romania

If you are looking to buy a holiday or second home or invest in Romania, Transylvania or at the Black Sea and you are a foreign citizen/investor, there are few aspects you should know about the procedure an the costs for the acquisition of Romanian land or Romanian houses.

After 2012, foreign citizens EU citizens (non-Romanian) may purchase a home or apartment in Romania may freely buy and sell any Romanian property, without restrictions. Along with the sell price for the property, buying real estate in Romania has other costs associated with it.

If you have chosen to collaborate with a Romanian real estate agent/ broker you can expect to have an additional commission of approximately 2-4% of the price of the property. The local tax will be 2-4% of the price of the property. The signing of a contract must be witnessed by a public notary who submits it for certification by the Land Registry in charge of real estate records. The fees for the Romanian public notary is about 0.5-1% of the purchase price. You will also have to pay fees to the Land Registry (“Cartea Funciara”) to register the Transfer Deed. The Romanian Land Registry Fee for a purchase of a property will vary from 1-3% according to the length of time that the seller had owned the property and the property’s value.

The Romanian law on property states that Citizens of EU member states, legal persons incorporated in the EU member states and stateless people domiciled in an EU member state can purchase land in Romania only if the land is used for secondary residences or for secondary headquarters after a 5 (five) years term from the accession of Romania to the EU (starting with January 1st, 2012); only for the agricultural land and forest land 7 (seven) years term from the accession of Romania to the EU ( starting with January 1st, 2014).

But for the Citizens, legal persons and stateless people not from a EU member state, the Romanian legal system establishes that they can purchase land in Romania, under the conditions of international treaties between Romania and the states of origin on these persons, under a reciprocity basis.

In our point of view, a prudent investor will hire a Romanian lawyer/ a Romanian Law Office, who will liaise closely with the notary on the verification of the title, obtaining the Land Registry excerpt and the drafting of the agreement for the transfer of ownership of the real estate. This means that the Romanian lawyer will be solely acting for and is responsible to his or her client, whereas the notary will not have the same degree of responsibility to the purchaser.

Under Romanian law there are three basic rights to land and buildings such as right of ownership; usage rights as lease, usufruct, superficies; concession right. The principle of contractual liberty represents the key core of the property law in Romania.

Sometimes, an investor/purchaser can opt for closing a pre-sale agreement, by which the seller undertakes to transfer ownership to the buyer at a certain date in exchange for an agreed consideration. The content of the pre-sale contract will stipulate all commercial and legal conditions for the transfer of ownership, as conditions precedent to the final transfer of ownership. The closing of such pre-contract for purchase does not means the transfer over the property, but the stipulate binding obligations for the parties, in regard to, as example, damages or penalties set out in them, if the seller refuses to sign the final notarized deed of transfer at the agreed deadline.

The closing of the pre-sale agreement is to protect the investor/buyer from any possible purchase to other buyers and to matters regarding the fixed price and duration of a future purchase. In our point of view, it is a must that the pre-sale agreement to be concluded at a Public Notary and clearly stipulate the sale price and other clauses regarding duration of future purchase. In this case, it can be enforced in court on the buyer’s request as a deed to transfer ownership.

A sale agreement signed in Romania, according to the Romanian legislation will mandatory stipulate: obligations of the parties for the fulfillment of the sale contract, delivery and quality conditions of goods and/or services, terms, payment methods and payment guarantees, payment instruments and price insurance, contractual risk, as well as method of solving eventual litigations arising from the contract. Other required elements include the full name and identification details of the parties (for legal entities) and name of the person signing the contract (representing a legal entity).

Our team of romanian lawyers offer a wide variety of legal services in the real estate law http://www.lawyersinromania.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Positioning Strategies For Real Estate Agents

Just recently I was asked to do a talk for my good friend and co-author

of our best-selling book in Singapore titled Get Rich Now: 15

Strategies from a Self-made Millionaire, Dr Dennis Wee. (Dr Wee is one of

Singapore’s most celebrated entrepreneurs. Despite not having completed his

high school education, he managed to start and build up his own real

estate company, Dennis Wee Group, to become of Singapore’s leading real

estate companies generating S$3.8 billion worth of sales in 2006.)

He wanted me to share some marketing secrets with his real estate

agents and I was more than happy to do so because I believe there’s so much

more that agents can do to position, brand and market their services.

Sadly, most agents, whether in real estate or financial services

(insurance) or any other industries, tend to see themselves just as a

salesperson. This perception of themselves is limiting their growth and income!

By thinking that they are just salespeople, they don’t see the

possibilities of growing their careers into full-fledge businesses. There are

so much more benefits for someone to think big and build a big business,

compared to just existing, and making a living. Donald Trump said: “If

you’re going to be thinking, you might as well think big.” But that’s

another topic for another session.

Here, I’m going to show you some detailed examples of how an agent can

differentiate himself using some simple positioning and branding

strategies that I have used with other clients to great success.

Many people perceive that being an agent in any industry is like being

a salesperson. Someone who is always competing with all the other

thousands of salespeople in the industry. To a certain extend it is correct.

Those other agents are also looking for the same deals that you are. It

is a matter of who gets the deal first. So they are relentlessly going

out there to cold prospect.

Now, I am not a fan of cold prospecting. To me, cold prospecting is

like bashing your head against the wall, hoping it will crumble before you

start bleeding… most people just end up being very disappointed. Why do

you think new agents don’t last long? I strongly suspect it’s because

they realized that their heads can’t go against the wall.

But there are ways to turn the table around. In my talks I like to ask

the audience: Would you prefer to work hard and look for prospects, OR

would you prefer to let your prospects seek you out?

The answer is obvious.

But more than just having less work and an easier time, there are

deeper psychological advantages to being able to let your prospects seek you

out instead of you cold prospecting them. Simply said, when you seek

someone out, you will be open to the person’s ideas, advice, expertise.

That is the reason you seek him/her out in the first place–to get expert

advice.

There won’t be the wall of resistance you’ve grown accustomed to when

you cold prospect. In fact, now it’s them who are jumping over hoops to

seek you out in your domain. Man, it’s always exciting to talk about

this!

Believe me, it’s a whole new paradigm. Imagine you becoming a celebrity

overnight and people are just doing everything they can to get in touch

with you. Think of stars of reality shows like Survivor and American

Idol… It is that powerful!

So how can you achieve that?

Let’s look at a typical scenario:

You have probably have opened your letter box day after day only to

find it stuffed with piles of flyers from various real estate agents. Just

take a closer look. You will realize that all of them claim to be the

“specialist” in the area. Now if everyone is a specialist, then does it

matter who you call? Absolutely NOT!

“But I’m different from the rest. I have more experience, quality,

etc…” you protest.

Let me be upfront. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your

background is. If the prospects don’t recognize that straight away, you are just

like everybody else. No matter how different you think you really are.

Repeat after me: If you are like every-body else, you are a no-body.

Remember: It’s all about their perception, not yours.

So instead of being just another area specialist, be different. So far

I’ve not come across any agent who positions him/herself as the

specialist to serve “first-time home buyers”. Do you think that is powerful?

Absolutely!

First-time home buyers are inexperienced. They don’t know what to

expect, what the whole buying process is going to be like, how long will it

take, what possible hiccups might occur, etc. They are in a place where

they don’t know what they don’t know. Do you think they have different

needs/concerns compared to those who have bought a house before? Of

course! If you are able to gain their trust, do you think they will look

for someone else?

The point is this: you have the information that first-time buyers are

looking for (in fact all real estate agents should know these

information). But by letting them know that you are the expert who can guide

them through the whole process safely, will in itself, earn you a closed

deal.

You might need to make some minor changes in the way you do things,

such as explaining the buying process more thoroughly, going through the

nitty gritty details that you won’t normally need to with experienced

buyers, etc. But all these will help to cement your positioning and

branding as the expert to serve first-time buyers. And once your branding

gets out, you will be busy with so many referrals for other first-time

buyers. Is the first-time buyers market huge enough for you?

Once you have established your branding, it is easy to market your

services. You can easily get the publicity that once used to be impossible

for you. If the media wants to get an opinion on what first-time buyers

think about a new housing policy, who do they look for? They will

interview the expert (you). And after appearing in the media, you will have

gained even more credibility. Can you see how this will snowball into

your profits?

It all starts with creating a powerful positioning, branding and

marketing strategy that is suitable for you.

What other positioning can differentiate you? How about:

o The property investments expert (investors love to work with those

who understand their investing needs, someone who is not just another

agent); or

o Divorce cases specialist (they definitely have different needs as

compared to the usual buyers); or

o Downgraders or upgraders; or

o Serve only those looking for luxurious, high-end houses worth $XX

amount and above (your service must of course reflect that); and

o Many more!

As you can see, it is critical to create a powerful positioning to get

your prospects to start looking specifically for you. I assure you I’m

not an expert of the real estate industry. But I’m an expert in

positioning, branding and marketing. These same principles can be applied in

other industries, such as the financial services industry, perfectly

well.

So start positioning yourself today!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Choose the Best Realtor – How Can You Find the Best Real Estate Agent For You in Today's Market?

Real estate agents don't get enough credit for the work they put into their clients. There is a lot of potential liability in the real estate career, and true success takes sustained hard work. Many try, and few survive. A good Realtor should become your trusted advisor. By understanding and appreciating what the Realtor does for you as the client, you can guarantee a wonderful working relationship with your Realtor and ensure total success throughout your home buying process.

Always, when I say "real estate agent" I want you to think Realtor, and to consider only a Realtor to represent you in your home purchase. "Realtor" is a professional designation for a real estate agent who has made a public commitment to a high level of accountability and professionalism. A real estate agent merely signs a license; a Realtor adheres to a code of ethics.

With a Realtor, you can expect someone who has invested time, money, and energy into the real estate profession, as opposed to someone who paid a couple hundred dollars, took some classes and passed a test. Yes, a license allows one to practice in real estate in the state of issuance, but it says nothing of the agent's reputation. Most first-time homebuyers don't even know to ask, "Are you a Realtor?" or even better, to check out the agent's business card to verify their title. A Realtor can also take additional education to gain special designations, further proof of effort towards professionalism and competence. Usually, the more designations the better: few would spend the time and money on these designsations without a passion for this business and the clients they serve.

Finding the right Realtor is hardly an exact science, but a little research can go a long way. In so many cases, the best agents are not the ones you see and hear about; on the contrary, the best agents are the ones who are so good at their trade and profession they don't need to spend money on advertising. These are the agents who work primarily by referral or word of mouth and have qualified people coming to them every day. This phenomenon only happens to great agents who know their trade and have built their business over enough years for new clients to seek them out.

Referrals Rule

Many buyers start by looking at agents they have heard of. This could be the local Century 21 branch next to the coffee shop down the street, or it could be that nice old lady who walks down the block every Thursday with her funky flyers. That old lady agent is desperately hoping that her hard work pays off and that after years of delivering her funky flyer to you, one day you will pick up the phone and call her. Similarly, the local Century 21 branch is hoping that next time you get coffee, you will walk in and become their next lead (and potential client). After all, they pay good money for the visibility that has been building their brand awareness every time you passed by and saw their sign over the years.

These are some of the many examples of how agents try to get your business, but you should not concern yourself with them. You should actively seek out a Realtor. Essentially, the best agents are typically the ones who don't need to spend time cold-calling or door-knocking to get their business. Business comes to them via referrals from past clients who are satisfied with their professionalism, honesty, and results. Take the initiative and give yourself the best opportunity to win: choose your agent carefully.

Let's take a moment to clarify this issue about star agents and how they go about their business. Great agents did not get that way by sitting around waiting for business to come to them. Rather, their success is the result of years of hard work building their businesses and spheres of influence in order to get to the position where they no longer need heavy marketing. Please don't mistake an agent's aggressiveness for a bad thing. A proactive agent is a very good sign! He or she is just trying to see where you are in terms of the buying process. An agent needs to know whether you are looking to move next month, or are looking to start looking next month – there is a huge difference! Sometimes agents who don't need to advertise do so anyway in order to maintain an identity in the community. Just as choosing the best agent is not an exact science, neither is the way that great agents market and advertise themselves.
Knowing what I know, if I wanted to find the best real estate agent for my first-time purchase, I would follow two basic plans: I would ask several people I knew and trusted for Realtor recommendations, and I would scan the online community consumer blogs for highly recommended Realtors.

As I mentioned before, the best agents are the ones who get consistent referrals. You should be one of those referrals! You should ask everybody you trust about his or her most recent experience in real estate. Preferably, you want to ask people who bought their homes within the past year or so, though a referral to an agent someone has worked with multiple times is a good sign. Always keep an open disposition for what people are telling you. In general, we humans have an innate need to share good experiences, so you should take any recommendations with open arms and then qualify them with questions about the experience. Whenever I get a referral from a past client or good friend, I am excited! I am already going to have a more solid connection to the referral, and there is a good chance the new client and I will mesh in terms of personality.

I will ALWAYS treat clients referred to me by people I know at a higher level than online "leads" or other unknowns. Without question, the level of commitment on the part of the buyer is so much more significant when it's a referral from a good source. I don't like admitting that my initial treatment of an Internet lead compared to a referral is different, but in practice it most certainly is! I can depend on a referral; I cannot depend on an online lead. For this reason I give priority to my referrals, and reserve the best service for them. Ask around, get referrals, check out the agents' websites, pick out your favorites, and schedule a time to meet.

Before you meet a potential agent, write down your most pressing questions. This will really help with your interview. It may be necessary to let the agent know you are interviewing a few other agents. This will keep them on their best behavior and you will see the best that they can offer. Usually I dislike it when I am referred a client who is "shopping" other agents, but here's the bottom line: If I were in your position, I would want to shop around until I meet the Realtor who is going to represent me in the most important buying decision in my entire life. It is a good idea to shop around, even if it hurts the agent's feelings. The one you choose will probably forgive you.

In some cases, you may feel so strongly about a particular agent that you don't find it necessary to interview other agents. There is nothing wrong with this, so long as you feel very certain about it. It's typical to see that with a highly referred agent only one appointment is needed to see that they truly are the best fit for you. You'll probably be sold on them after that initial consultation. After all, there is a reason they are that good in the first place.

The WOW Agent

Test-drive your potential agent during the interview! You're hiring your agent primarily for their real estate expertise. Their most important assets are their local knowledge (of the market, prices and inventory), their ability to negotiate and handle contractual issues, their ability to manage emotions and surprises, and their ability to connect with you as a person and help usher you at your pace through the transaction. How do you know your Realtor's skills before you begin? Ask questions! Your agent should leave you saying "WOW!" and feeling excited about the process ahead. Keep an eye out for that "WOW" agent. You will know when you find him or her, and you will be happy you did!

I cannot tell you how many times people have come to me looking for help after they have been working with a non- "WOW" agent. Sometimes the agent's problem is a lack of knowledge, sometimes it's a lack of communication, sometimes it's an unforgivable mistake, but no matter what, if you have found yourself with an agent you thought was a "WOW" agent, and you turned out to be wrong, it's OK to move on. My only suggestion is that as soon as you realize that your agent is not a "WOW" agent, you must cut ties with that agent as soon as possible! I say this because a lot of people are generally so afraid of confrontation that they negatively affect themselves in the process by not severing the relationship with the non- "WOW" agent. Do yourself a favor. Be bold. This will help you get what you want quicker, and it will be a wake-up call of sorts to the agent.

The bottom line is simple: go with a pro. Go with someone who knows the trade, and who is aggressive and tenacious (in a good way). Go with someone who knows how to talk and negotiate. Go with someone who has it together. Go with someone you connect with on a personal level – this will help you to build trust with your agent, and trust is the most important aspect of the agent-client relationship. Once trust and respect are established, the rest will fall into place. Just make sure you have the agent who will get you what you want!

It is important to remember that no matter how you choose your agent, being a good client will pay off in the end. Being demanding or demeaning to your agent will get you nowhere. Go in with the intention of keeping your agent as a trusted advisor for anything real estate-related from that point on. A long-term relationship is better for both parties, and no agent will tolerate an extremely needy or demanding or rude client for long!

Recently, I've been planning a wedding. I made a point of asking all our vendors what an "ideal client" is for them, and how we can work best with them in their service for our wedding. This would give me the idea of ​​how to make our relationship and the task at hand as enjoyable and successful as possible. Similarly, when I work with clients who have this kind of commitment to the client / agent relationship, there is no end to what I would do for them to ensure that their experience is second to none.

Bonus: The Top Ten Traits of a Successful Client

A recent client of mine named Amanda embodies this mentality. Her purchase price was low, which meant I wouldn't get much of a commission. The job entailed many hours of work, several offers, a long short-sale escrow and a couple of delays. All this was of no concern to me because of the type of client Amanda was. The time and effort involved did not matter, because she was top-notch. I wish all my clients were like her. In fact, I have said during the course of transactions with several clients that I wished all my clients were like the one at hand. Whenever I say this, I am saying that this particular client exhibits the following qualities, and no matter the challenge at hand, I am there without question to make sure everything goes right.

1. Be reasonable! Don't get too emotional, ever. When clients get overly emotional, agents get impatient. This is a grown-up world and you need to act like an adult. I will hold your hand throughout the transaction, but irrational clients never get the best treatment.

2. Be responsive! Unanswered phone calls and ignored emails are never a good sign. This is a warning flag for an agent, signaling that you may not be as motivated as you say you are.

3. Be punctual! If I am on time, you must be on time, too. This is a simple thing, but it's surprising how many people are late to everything. This is a slap in the face and you lose points in my book if you are late to confirmed appointments. If you flake on an appointment, start looking for some other agent; I probably won't work with you any further after a stunt like that.

4. Be flexible! Sometimes your wants don't quite line up with your budget, and you need to be OK with that! An irrational client is the last thing I want, a big waste of time. Really, it means that the client does not know what they truly want, or that what is affordable for them (what the buyer can actually buy) will not work.

5. Be honest and upfront! The more honest and open you are, the better I can serve you. Sometimes I go weeks with a client, only to find out about a preference, financial condition, or special need that has not been addressed. This can seriously affect the client's ability to find something that will work. Open yourself to your agent, and your agent will be better equipped to find you what you are looking for!

6. Be grateful! Show some love for your Realtor. Show that you appreciate all the time and hard work put in for your benefit. A grateful client is easier to work with and gets more appreciation than a demanding client.

7. Be respectful! This is a business, and you are dealing with a professional. Treat your agent like you would want to be treated yourself. When I am treated without respect, I have no problem moving on, letting go of a potential client. Sometimes clients seem to feel a need to act condescending or big or strong to establish control over the situation. This behavior is not conducive to a mutually healthy and beneficial business relationship.

8. Be trustworthy! I want to trust you and you should want to trust me. When both the client and the agent have a relationship built on trust, nothing can stop them. It's only when I have clients who question me as to my skill or ability that the relationship becomes distant.

9. Be prepared! Be ready to move fast! I know you are a busy person, but buying a home takes focus and commitment. I don't care if you had a busy week; we have a lot of documents to go over in a short time, and I shouldn't have to feel bad asking you to go over things you should be going over through the course of the escrow. I am bringing to your attention items and issues that will directly affect your purchase and the home you end up with. I cannot want the home more than you do, and if you aren't prepared and committed, it makes everything more difficult and stressful for me and for you.

10. BE COMMITTED! Being committed means that your heart and mind are in harmony with respect to the goal at hand. I have found that this is the number-one trait for all the buyers in my most successful and seamless transactions. When a buyer is committed, no matter the hurdle that may arise in escrow, the buyer will overcome. When the buyer is committed, the entire process is less stressful. When the buyer is committed, success is in the cards!

Bonus: Google Your Agent!

Today's online community offers an exceptional ability for any consumer to check in on the history of their service provider's reputation and work ethic: kudzu.com, yelp.com, and angieslist.com are a few stellar examples of websites geared to service providers for a specific geographic location. As time goes on, more and more of us will become connected, and this type of virtual "feedback" will become more and more pervasive.

Real estate aside, you can and should be doing this for any service provider, from your babysitter to your auto mechanic. That said, at least a nominal amount on online research should be called for to find any specific warning flags regarding the agent (s) you are considering working with. Check the agent's website and see if there are written testimonials on the site, and if these testimonials match up with what you find online. Keep in mind that there are some people who just love to file complaints, even for good service, and this can tarnish your expectations of the person you are considering working with. Please know that the online community cannot be fully regulated for accuracy, but it is typically more helpful and accurate as opposed to being burdensome and untruthful. There is no doubt that this kind of research will become more common because it is user-generated and tends to offer a comparatively unbiased opinion of a given service provider.

Choosing the right agent won't necessarily make or break your deal, but it can mean the difference between a satisfying deal and an unfulfilling one, a good deal and a not-so-good deal, a one-time transaction and a trusted advisor for life. Put simply, choosing the best agent gives you the best opportunity to realize massive success for your first home purchase. Choose wisely!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Select a Commercial Real Estate Company

Selecting a commercial real estate company can be a challenging process. You want to hire someone who is knowledgeable, skilled, experienced and can match your goals and ideals. This is easier said than done. One company may offer you some of these features while others have the remaining characteristics you desire. There is no lack of the number of commercial real estate companies out there, which claim to possess peerless knowledge and skill. So, how do you go about selecting a commercial real estate company?

The secret lies in finding a real estate company that suits your needs and criteria. Yes, there are some overlaying concerns that also need to be considered like appropriate documentation. However, when you are looking for one of the best real estate companies for your needs, you need to do more than just scratch the surface. Here are some tips outlined below that can be useful in helping you during this process.

Let’s take a look at them:

Look at their experience

Commercial real estate is a blanket term and this business can be multi-faceted and highly nuanced. Therefore, you cannot just hire any real estate company for your needs. You have to start looking for one that suits your criteria. For instance, if you are interested in buying or selling properties in strip malls or shopping districts, you shouldn’t hire a company that deals in offices and residential homes. You want someone with a background in the kind of real estate you are focused on or else the company will be of little use because they will be out of their depth.

Assess their reputation

One of the best ways of spotting the best companies is by taking a look at their reputation. How can you do that? There are certifications, customer reviews as well as awards that are readily available due to the magic of the internet and the culture of open communication. If you find a commercial real estate company that seems appealing, you can do some research and discover if they do stack up. This step can be immensely helpful in allowing you to dodge a bullet.

Go over client’s opinions

The greatest problem with reviews is that they are mostly from satisfied customers. Unhappy customers either don’t post or their reviews are removed. Therefore, it is recommended that you ask the commercial company to provide you with a list of their past clients. This allows you to do some homework of your own and identify any weaknesses or problems that a previous client encountered.

Meet the representative

Last, but very important; don’t hire a company over the internet. Always meet their representative in person and see if they understand your needs. Open communication is vital in this business and if you are not comfortable with them, there is no point in starting a relationship.

Use these pointers to pick out one of the companies for your realty requirements.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment