2017 NAR Profile Can Help Agents Find Buyers And Sellers

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2017 NAR Profile Can Help Agents Find Buyers And Sellers

We have noted that The 2017 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers contains valuable information for sellers and their agents as to how buyers find the homes that they ultimately buy. The profile also contains valuable and interesting information as to how both buyers and sellers find the agents that they ultimately use. 87% of buyers used an agent in purchasing their home. That number has increased steadily since 2001 when the figure was 69%. 7% of buyers purchased directly from a builder, and 6% bought directly from an owner. Of the 87%, how did they find their agent?

Not a lot of “agent shopping” takes place among buyers. 70% interviewed only one agent, 17% interviewed two. So how do you get to be on the interview list? Referrals are far and away the dominant factor. 42% of buyers chose to work with an agent who was referred to them by a friend, neighbor, or relative (or an agent who was a friend, neighbor, or relative). 12% of buyers chose to work with someone with whom they had previously bought or sold a home. The rest of the sources are widely varied — for example, 6% of buyers made contact with their agent as a result of the agent’s name being on a “for sale” or “open house” sign.

This might seem like discouraging news for new agents. “What chance do I have of connecting with a buyer if I haven’t already built a referral base and a list of past clients?” Here, a new agent wants to remember that “friends, neighbors, or relatives” category. 42% of buyers find their agent through referrals from them. You may know a lot of people who aren’t about to sell; but some of them know people who are about to sell. Make a list and make sure your contacts know you are in the business. Not just the first month, but throughout your career.

Moreover, there are, just as there always have been, other ways of coming into contact with buyers who may choose to work with you. Some ways work better than others.

6% of buyers found the agent they used as a result of an open house. Another 9% found their agent through a web site. Interestingly, only 2% found the agent that they worked with as a result of walking into or calling an office and meeting the agent who was on duty at the time. In general, “floor time” is not very productive.

Agents who do want to get connected with buyers can prepare themselves so that a contact is more likely to lead to a relationship. 52% of buyers said that what they wanted most was “help finding the right home to purchase.” In the 2017 survey, 92% said that knowledge of the real estate market was a very important quality for an agent to have. That is, buyers want agents who have “product knowledge” — agents who know the market and the inventory. An agent who can impress a buyer with his/her knowledge of the market (not just his/her company’s listings, or the particular house he/she is holding open) is the one who stands a good chance of establishing a relationship with that buyer who walks into the open house or makes a call to the office.

Sellers are just as likely as buyers to work with an agent. 90% of sellers had their home listed on MLS. But sellers, too, don’t do much “agent shopping.” Similar to buyers, 74% interviewed only one agent; just 15% interviewed two. Again, referrals and past business relationships were the dominant sources of agent contact. 41% used an agent referred by a friend, relative, or neighbor (or an agent who fit one of those categories). 23% of sellers employed an agent with whom they had previously bought or sold a home.

Other seller contact sources drop into single digits. Interestingly, compared to buyers at 9%, only 5% of sellers found their agent through a web site. Again, there are venues that agents who lack a referral or past client list might want to think about. Open houses account for 4% of the contacts that eventuate into a working relationship with sellers. Newsletters and personal contact together account for 7%. There’s still some point to knocking on doors, sending out mailers, and dialing the phone.

Would-be listing agents would do well to note that the most important factor — 34% — in choosing a seller’s agent was reputation. Sure, it’s nice to have a track record of sales activity, but there are other aspects to reputation as well. 18 % of sellers said that honesty and trustworthiness were the most important factors in considering an agent. Things like attitude and integrity are also components of one’s reputation. Agents who want to build a business should pay attention to such things. Word gets around.

Also See: 2017 Homebuyer Survey Contains Valuable Information For Agents And Sellers

Disruption and Accelerated Change In Real Estate

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Disruption and Accelerated Change In Real Estate

In this time of celebrated disruption and accelerated change, the context for everything, including home buying and selling, is facing disruption and change, globally and locally.

Corporations and governments are struggling to anticipate impact and benefits from disruptive technology while they try to manage change on many fronts at once. How successful they are in your area and in the industries that employ you and your neighbors will determine how sustainable your community, lifestyles, and property values are.

The question that demands an answer is, “What’s that got to do with me and my real estate – my present and future home?”

The recent Toronto Global Forum — the 11th organized by the International Economic Forum of the Americas — hosted representatives from 54 countries, including 130 expert speakers and more than 2700 participants. Many were high-profile leaders from governments, academia, public and private sectors, and civil society. The Forum focused on major issues related to economic globalization with emphasis on relations between North and South American and the other continents. The three-day global conversation zeroed in on Redefining Globalization in reaction to significant political and economic volatility around the world.

Redefining globalization involves transformation of the concept to “promote an atmosphere of shared prosperity,” according to opening remarks by Louis Audet, President and CEO of Cogeco. Many Forum speakers provided insight into leaders’ responsibility to ensure the economy works globally and benefits all.

“If you do not think technology is affecting your business, you’re dead,” said Mark Wiseman, Senior Managing Director at BlackRock Inc., during a panel discussion titled Global Economic Outlook: The Search for Growth. “[Technology] is affecting business around the world.”

Wiseman illustrated his point by relating his recent “back to the future” experience in Beijing, China. He saw “millions of bicycles, like in Europe, but no [central depot] stand.” The bikes rent out at 15 cents per hour by using a mobile phone to unlock the lock on a wheel.

“The value in the bicycle is not in the bikes or in the value in environmental pressure off mass transit,” explained Wiseman. “The value is in data as owners know where every [bicycle] is ridden and by whom. Investors and marketers are willing to pay a lot for that data. Owners are not in the bicycle business, but in the data business.”

The Forum, a meeting of ingenious, globally-focused minds, proved that if we are not receptive as individuals, little or no progress will be made as this new industrial revolution rolls over us all.

Speaker and participant discussions at The Forum revealed 5 challenges — problems and opportunities — for corporations and governments facing technology-induced transformational change that can be mirrored in our lives:

#1. Redefining Context Jim Barber, President of UPS International, explained that UPS now has 450,000 employees and automation has not hit their sector yet. “If we rest for more than a minute, we would be dead.”

To illustrate the disruptive effect of technology, another speaker used the example of the 40,000 elevator operators in New York City who were displaced by push-button automation in 1915. Then, he posed a key question, “As corporation and political leaders, how will we treat those who will be left behind?”

How prepared are you for Automated Intelligence (AI) and machine intelligence changes in your industry and workplace?
How sustainable is your income?
How could you use your real estate as a financial partner if your income were disrupted?

#2. Redefining Risk Originally, the benefits of globalization “took for granted the world would come closer together.” The key risk for the economy was Wall Street as was evident from the financial collapse of 2008. Now, Brexit and similar geopolitical events represent risk. Many still perceive risk in an archaic way, but risk is now arising “from behavior and geopolitical reaction.” The world always faced disruption, but only in one sector at a time, like the textile revolution. Now, there is disruption in every sector at once. Unprecedented disruptions are changing the way we work, live, play, dream….

Which risks would threaten real estate ownership, either present or future, for you?

#3. Redefining Change “Change is 10X faster than in the Industrial Revolution, 300X the scale, and 3000X the impact of the industrial revolution,” reported Patricia Meredith, Fellow at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. “These trends are gaining magnitude and impact to create monumental change. Combine this with climate change…and this is a truly complex and uncertain environment.”

One suggestion for harnessing technology lies in being courageous, innovative, and curious.

If this unprecedented change is forcing corporations and governments to make decisions in spite of significant uncertainty, don’t be surprised that individuals will share the same fate.

What decisions might this change force on you?
What role or roles could your real estate play in solutions and opportunities for sustaining your chosen lifestyle?

#4. Redefining Corporate Thinking Corporate thinking is notoriously short-term while that of consumers and other investors can be the opposite. Wiseman shared a corporate decision-making study which reported that “55% of CEOs would forgo a project if it meant they would miss their quarterly stock value by 1 cent.”

The cost to society of corporate short-term thinking is estimated at a trillion dollars. A shift to long-term thinking would have significant impact.

“The issue is systemic… Short term behavior caused the economic collapse, but in the decade since, thinking is more short-term,” said Wiseman who explained that the neglected long-term thinking includes issues regarding the environment and the future of displaced employees.

Are you a short-term thinker when it comes to real estate? Real estate buyers who concentrate on the fleeting-glory of decor over the long-term benefits of location and quality of construction are short-term thinkers.

#5. Redefining Paradigms During the “Navigating a World of Disruption” panel, Jonathan Crane, Chief Commercial Officer of Ipsoft, attributed the escalated, expansive growth of mega companies like Google and Amazon to the fact that they “did not do paradigm shifts, but paradigm leaps!”

Crane’s perspective on AI is that it will remove drudgery and monotony from the workplace, but not jobs. Work and careers will be transformed, expanded, or elevated. Disagreeing with the stated figure of “47% of jobs being at risk to technology,” Crane stressed that transformation will hit 100% of jobs.

If your job were transformed by technology would you still be qualified to receive that income?
Real estate location has long been valued based on its proximity to “the best schools.” That trend continues, but now “best” means forward-thinking, technology-based education that creates valued talent. When you buy real estate — even if you don’t have school-aged children — do you seek out property near the best schools to take advantage of their market-value boost?

Holly Benson, Managing Partner, Infosys Consulting Inc. discussed the tendency to “rush to automation and deal with people later.” She shared two insights that ring true in even the most intense vortex of change:

“Never attribute to malice what can be attributed, in the full sense of the word, to ignorance.”
“Never assume that people automatically know what to do just because they have a title.”

Ongoing Resources:

In future columns, we’ll continue to explore technology, disruption, and much more to discover what this all has to do with you and your real estate – present and future.
Check out the 2016 Global Forum: “Explore New Markets At a Global Forum”

Holiday Splurges And Saves To Make Hosting Easier

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Holiday Splurges And Saves To Make Hosting Easier

If you’re hosting for the holidays, there is undoubtedly a lot to do and a lot to buy. You probably have a budget you’re looking to stick to, but then you make the mistake of wandering in to Williams Sonoma…and there goes your bottom line! There are places to save a few bucks so you can make a few worthy splurges. Here’s a guide that will help.

Splurge: Good cookware

The quality of your cookware can have a big impact on the quality of your food. If your pots and pans have seen better days, it’s a good time to splurge on a few high-end items, like this Swiss Diamond 10-piece set, made of cast aluminum with a PFOA-free nonstick coating. Consumer Reports rated the set the “best pots and pans for your holiday feasts.”

Their lab kitchen evaluated “cooking evenness and how well nonstick surfaces release fried eggs when the pan is new and then again when scratched,” along with nonstick durability and “how quickly a pot takes to bring 4 quarts of water to a near-boil. Testers measure how hot the handle gets during heating and use an instrument to access its sturdiness. A big part of nonstick’s appeal is easy cleanup, so we note how difficult it is to wash away a sticky bechamel sauce.”

The Swiss Diamond set includes 8-inch and 9-inch frypans, 1.4-quart and 2.2- quart saucepans, 3.2-quart saute pan, 8.5-quart stockpot, and glass lids.

Save: Good cookware

The Consumer Reports article shows how, with a little research, you can find high-quality products without spending high dollars. Their top choice for nonstick frying pans? This $100 Zwilling J.A. Henckels version in stainless steel with an aluminum core. But in second place: A $20 Red Copper nonstick pan from Amazon.

Splurge: Amazon Prime

This is a splurge that’s really a save, if you think about it. The service that costs $99 for a year ends up saving you money on all those last-minute gifts and things you forgot to buy and don’t have time to get to the store for because there are rooms to set up and closets to clean out and food to prepare. Amazon Prime also includes free two-day shipping on more than 50 million items, plus you get access to tons of movies, TV shows, songs, and Kindle e-books.

Save: A trip to Costco

Yes, it’s going to be crazy. Yes, you’re going to have to wait in line. But the stuff you can’t find elsewhere (or at least all in one place) will be worth it. Top of our list: Masterpiece plastic plates and Reflections Silverware. They’re nicer than your average disposable stuff and you’ll be grateful when you don’t have to do dishes 12 times a day. And don’t forget to buy lots of toilet paper, paper towels, and Chunky Artichoke & parmesan Dip (seriously, you’ll be happy you did!).

Splurge: A cleaning crew

It may feel like an extravagance to hire a cleaning crew to come before your guests arrive or after they leave – or, who are we kidding: both! But it’s an extravagance that will save you time and peace of mind, which is always important, and especially so when family is in town!


Save: Your kids

The children may think holiday breaks are for catching up on sleep or TV, but you know better, right? Homes that have to be prepared for holiday guests needs lots of hands to clean out closets and organize pantries.

Splurge: A good set of knives

Or at least one good multipurpose knife. With all that cutting and chopping you’re about to do between now and the New Year, it’s time to get a real knife. Food and Wine’s best knife is this MAC MTH-80 Professional Series 8-inch Chef’s Knife with Dimples, which is $145 on Amazon. They praise its “hard, super-sharp blade” and “simple wooden handle that’s extremely comfortable and feels secure in the hand.” Their best value knife is the Mercer Culinary Renaissance 8-Inch Forged Chef’s Knife, $38 on Amazon, if you’re only looking for a mini-splurge.


Save: Cutting board

Yes, it would be lovely to have a giant two-inch-thick butcher board (and it would make for nice Instagram pics). But you don’t have to spend gobs of money – this Walnut cutting board from Williams Sonoma is $155–399 depending on size! – to get the function you need. The Spruce broke down the best cutting boards of 2017 and found this 10.5″ by 14.5″ inch OXO Plastic board to be its best overall choice. The price: $15 at Amazon.

This plastic board from OXO “is a true workhorse,” they said. “It is just the right size—a bit larger than a piece of letter size paper – so it’s ideal for most chopping tasks. The soft, tapered handles on two edges make it easy to grip and carry from your counter to the stove, and because it can go in the dishwasher it’s ideal for cutting up raw meat and fish.” If you’d rather have wood, they have several options listed, including a $36 butcher block.

DIY Solutions To Your Flooring Problems

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DIY Solutions To Your Flooring Problems

True story. The wood in our living room is scratched and worn, the dark tile in the kitchen imparts a sort of cave-like feel, and there’s unfinished concrete in several of the bedrooms thanks to foundation repair that was done shortly after we bought the house. We could have had the four burly men that peeled away the 10-year-old carpet to jackhammer into the floor lay it back down, but, instead, we took that opportunity to rid ourselves of the it and thanked the guys for sparing us the cost of a dumpster. The idea was to get new floors in soon after, and, well, three years later…here we are. Still considering our options.

Add to that picture a couple of bathrooms that were tiled in 2004 when textured beige-y brown tiles were popular (they were, right?), and we are facing multiple rooms that need new floors. The entire first floor needs new floors, if we’re being honest.

And while we have examined many, many (really, it seems like hundreds) of options over the last couple of years, nothing has stuck well enough to actually get to it. Part of the issue is that we don’t want to hand over the installation to someone else. While that would probably be the most practical option, it’s not the most economical, and we tend to like to do things by ourselves. You, too? Then come with us on this journey to find the best DIY solution to our (and your!) flooring dilemmas.


Painted wood

Frankly, anything that starts with “Sand surface” is an immediate turnoff. If they ever made a National Lampoon’s Renovation Vacation movie, there would undoubtedly be a scene where Chevy Chase’s Rusty Griswold lost control of the electric sander and major havoc ensued. That’s pretty much what we envision happening around here if a big, hulking sander is involved. That notwithstanding, painted wood floors do look pretty cool.


SF Gate has a good tutorial for painting heavily trafficked wood floors that involves really good preparation (so if you’re a step-skipper, maybe not for you) and high-quality primer, but, honestly, we’re skeptical about smooth floors that look like the above.

But, we’re loving the rustic beachy-ness of this look. Our shabby floors are already part of the way there, and if the dogs scratch the surface, it just adds more texture, right?


Painted tile

We first saw blogger Remington Avenue’s tutorial for painted floors in 2015, which should tell you how long we’ve been tossing around ideas for our floors. She crafted a stunning painted tile floor using chalk paint and a stencil that created a trendy Moroccan cement tile look.

Stencils have become more readily available and in greater variety since then, and her new tutorial is even more interesting because she used luster epoxy paint, like you would use to paint a garage floor. That spells greater durability, and since multiple children and multiple dogs live in this house, finishes that can’t endure kid feet and dog paws are a NO GO.


Should we do it? This would be a jackpot for that cave-like kitchen floor and beige-y brown bathroom tile floors (that look just like her “before” floors, ironically).

Floating floor

First, let’s get This Old House’s take: “It’s hard to imagine a house being cozy without the warmth of wood flooring. The quickest way to get new wood underfoot is to install a floating floor. Unlike traditional solid-wood strips, a floating floor isn’t nailed down. Instead, the planks are either glued or snapped together. The planks go down fast, over virtually any material – concrete, plywood, sheet vinyl, even ceramic tile. They have a complete tutorial here.

Now, our thoughts: The advantage to using a floating floor is that it’s definitely DIY-friendly in comparison to numerous other options because it requires no demolition under than removing baseboards – something we wouldn’t have to do if we were painting the existing surfaces, BTW. We would have to put down plywood on the concrete surfaces to make everything flush, but that’s not a big deal. The continuity that would be created by laying down one surface throughout the first floor of the house would be a dream given how broken up it currently is. The downside: it’s a pricier solution than paint, and the price, not surprisingly, goes up with the quality. Whether you are looking at using luxury vinyl planks, laminate, or engineered wood), it’s an investment.

Carpet tiles

We just haven’t been able to get rid of the idea of a soft, cushy carpeted surface in the bedrooms, but we’re not about to try to put in wall-to-wall carpet on our own. “I wouldn’t recommend any homeowner try to install their own wall-to-wall carpeting,” said Popular Mechanics. “First, just getting the carpeting into the room is a huge job. Second, precisely cutting it to size takes experience – one wrong cut can ruin the entire piece.”

The potential answer: carpet tiles. Oh, we know. We say “carpet tiles,” you say “ugly office building,” right? Fortunately, carpet tiles have come a long way in terms of design. The carpet tiles below from Flor and these that are are our favorite newer release are beautifully textured with a great neutral color palette.

The best part: they’re super easy to install. “One 3-inch-diameter dot is placed at each corner of a carpet square, with the sticky side up,” they said. “The next square is set in place tight against the first square, and then it’s pressed down onto the adhesive dots. In the end, the result is a floating floor of carpet squares all stuck together at the corners by adhesive dots.”

Actually, this may be the best part: Remember those previously mentioned kids and dogs? They make stains. Lots of stains. If one area of your wall-to-wall carpet gets stained beyond repair, you’re out of luck. If the same thing happens to a carpet tile, you rip it up and set another one down. Tempting. Very tempting.