#1 On Google? A Waste of Time of worth the Time?

OK, here we go again. Three new e-mails today with the promise to get me on the first page of Google. I saw another seminar invite with the subject the same. I know the Internet is now the #1 place most BUYERS start to search for listings……. but do they REALLY search Google looking for an AGENT? I would say 100% NO.

I understand that this Internet Google “guru” is touting numbers like “95% of buyers today start their home search on the Internet” and so fourth. But the fact is, MOST of that 95% starts on the Internet alright, but that traffic and “hit number” is driven by sites like Realtor.com and homes.com for example. The buyer finds the house and calls the agent that has the listing. Investing on the enhanced listings on Realtor.com for example and having a good amount of listings to input is MY #1 source of buyers leads.

Don’t be misled. Most of those touting this Google deal have never sold real estate before. I drive traffic to my own website with my own marketing. In 2010, in Tampa Florida, one of the worst realty markets in the USA where unemployment is around 18% and over 60% of homeowners are upside down, I had 115 sales sides. NONE of that business came from Google.

I’m not saying a good position on Google will not look good on a listing presentation, but I can easily overcome such a minor obstacle in my interview process.

To learn more, visit my website at http://www.headofrealestate.com


A Word to My Friends in The Print Media

Here it comes! The doom and gloom! Sales this September, October and November are going to be WAY down from the same time period as last year! Before you report that the market is CRASHING and that real estate is getting worse, PLEASE consider the following!

The ORIGINAL end to the first time home buyer tax credit (that was also being used by non-first time buyers, thank you Mr. President) was originally supposed to end on November 30th, 2009. Needless to say, everyone was in the hunt to get the “free money” our government has been giving away to people who don’t really need it the past two years.

The bottom line is this. THE TOTAL NUMBER OF HOUSES SELLING IS ALMOST EXACTLY ON PAR WITH 2009. The volume of sales was just spread out more evenly as opposed to peaking every time the government established another extension of the tax credit. Further, prices, at least in Tampa, have remained very steady over the past year and I only see the luxury market poised to take another hit in values at some point in the future if the economy does not get any legs to her SOON.

To report a bottoming out real estate market, even though the wires will be full of such information, it will pay to do the homework and look at the entire number of sales, YEAR TO DATE from 2009 when making such comparisons. Although I love stories on real estate, sometimes all that negative press scares away the buyers and that has a huge impact on our economy nationwide.

Why should the investors make a killing while the average Joe is apprehensive to buy those great deals. I have not seen so many investors buying up real estate since the early 90’s. THEY are not impacted by the national media and are making a killing. Realtors that represent those investors are also along for the ride. But the average American needs to know, that over the course of history, buying a home is one of the best investments you can make!

A house in Tampa that was built in the 1970’s for $20,000 in now worth over $200,000 (and was worth $400,000 in 2005). A person RENTING that home paid almost the same payment except the buyer has long since paid this home off and received a great tax break while he had a mortgage. The rate was fixed for 30 years (so the payment never changed) while the renter got price hikes at every renewal. Look at that house value over time. Even with today’s value, that homeowner would tell you that buying a home in the 1970 was one of the smartest financial moves he made in his life. The SAME THING that buyers who bought in 2009 and 2010 are going to be saying in the future.

Will somebody PLEASE run a story on the long term value of real estate and the trends in has run over the last 100 years? THAT would be a great story, a feel good story that would actually HELP the situation out. After all, the media was certainly fanning the flames in 2004, 2005 and 2006 giving consumers the confidence to all walk off that cliff together. Now we need that type of reporting going the other way to ease concerns of those who bought and got burned.

To those investors who bought in 2005 for example and own a home in a community worth 50% less than what you paid for yours…… go buy two or three more of the same model NOW at 50% off and put your renters in their. Those values will rise in the future and the huge profit you make will more than offset the loss on the one you bought. Just like the stock market! You bought stock in a company you have confidence in too early and it is down 50%……. if you believe in the product, go buy more at the discount to offset your loss. THAT make perfect sense to me………..

What say you?


Listing Agent Must Accompany?

The dumbest thing I see in MLS today is “Listing Agent Must Accompany Showings” in MLS. If you are a Seller, here is a message from Vincent Arcuri: I will NOT be showing your house to my potential Buyers.

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Seller: You are asking why your Realtor attending the showings is not a good idea? I can give you a truck load of reasons why they SHOULD NOT be there but I will keep it short. #1) Nobody in real estate is ever on time. Either I will be running late because the buyer took longer than expected to look at each house or the agent meeting us there is running late so all the showings get pushed back. #2) Your Realtor wants to tell my buyer about every little detail of the house “here is the master bedroom” and “look at that chair rail” and drags what should be a regular showing into this 45 minute DRAMA of an agent trying to show off their real estate knowledge. #3) NOTE TO THOSE REALTORS: Buyers are emotional. They will not buy a house over another because yours is better built and the trusses are commercial grade. They like the pool, they like the location, they think this is the coolest house for the money? SOLD. You being there is not making one ounce of difference in the sale price or if my buyer is going to purchase the house or not. #4) When my buyer is late and you throw attitude around, it further puts your listing in the doghouse.

Locboxes today are safe, effective can be set for showings during certain hours and have the security needed to protect sellers. I set mine from 9:00AM to 8:00PM and deactivate the box at night. After each Agent that opens the box, I will get all the data on-line from MLS. I leave as much information as possible about the home IN THE HOME for any interested buyers to take with them. My listings are EASY to SHOW. That makes them SHOW MORE and the chances of a higher sales price and a faster time to sell are much better.

EGO should be left out of the process and that is what some agents are trying to do when showing up for every showing. Some top producers not have their assistants show up for them! AS IF! Who do WE as AGENTS make the home selling process so difficult on each other! We talk about the banks and how horrible they handle the short sales and REO’s and we do no better as a group.

Making listing difficult to show is a mistake and is not the best representation for your seller or buyers in the marketplace. We can do better.


Exit Convention in Washington D.C.

Just got back from a week of fun and learning at the Exit Realty Convention in Washington D.C. and I am just blown away by the entire organization. From the regional owners to the trainers to the Brokers and agents to management and staff.  I spent about 18 years with ERA and went to many a convention, but never have I experienced the overwhelming SUPPORT the Exit organization gives to its membership!

I learned more in 6 days than I have in the past 6 YEARS! Exit Realty really cares about US and my move to Exit was the best decision I could have made for my family…… for my retirement!

I am just blown away by the Forbes family, by the support I get from them, all the way to the top of the food chain in Exit.  I feel part of the family, like I belong.  That is how Exit treats their agents

That was before they rolled out the red carpet for ALL of us in Washington D.C.  Steve Morris is a first class of a man and a GREAT leader and a great motivator.  I could not believe the access we all had at the convention.  The breakout sessions were the best I have ever been to and a special call out to Valerie Reyes who just blew the crowd away with her “Summit” session.

If you are burned out with the same old same old, give Exit a look!  My Team was #1 worldwide with ERA in 2008, like #4 or 5 the year before.  I was never treated like anything other than another number, another fool that paid them $30,000 to $40,000 a year in franchise fees and nobody knows your name!

Moving to Exit was the best decision I have EVER made and as I watched Steve Morris hand out a $100,000 check (like they do every year) to the lucky guy whose name was randomly pulled out of a barrel, I thought to myself, “wow, it’s nice to belong to a company that actually gives something back to the agents that made the company what it is.”

To learn more about Exit Realty, visit my website at http://www.headofrealestate.com

Take Advantage

Say you purchased your home 5-10 years ago. How can you benefit from all of the real estate rise and fall. As of today, interest rates are VERY LOW! Why is everyone not refinancing those 30 year notes into 15 year notes! The amount of interest you pay between a 15 year and a 30 year is a HUGE amount! On a $200,000 mortgage, you will pay only $500 more a month on average. OR, you can pay an extra $234,000 in payments on that extra 15 years! The $500 extra per month on the 15 year note is $90,000. The difference is $144,000. Do yourself a favor, meet with a reputable mortgage lender and do the math. See if it makes sense to you. Rates may never be this low again! The real estate bust could be a huge benefit to your family. What do they say about making lemonade?

Property Taxes in Florida

Today in the Tampa Tribune, I read a new proposal by the State that would increase the sales tax by .01 in 2009 and would decrease property taxes by 25%. This new tax would replace the school portion of the property tax. I still say this is not enough. Again, it helps all homeowners, but the property owners, more specifically, the homestead property owners need real relief. Amendment 1 did little to help those that needed relief the most, those who purchased a house in 2004, 2005 and 2006. A better option would be an increase in sales tax by .02 and reduce property taxes by 50%. Get the insurance industry in line and reduce insurance rates in Florida and we are looking at a heathy recovery in Florida. I still wonder what our politicians did with all of the unexpected and unbudgeted hundreds of millions of dollars that came in off of the reassessment of property taxes on sales from 2004-2006. SPENT! Like drunken sailors at a bachelor party, our politicians are good a spending! How about that little thing called a budget! As in stay in it and stop spending the overages. Use the overage for a hurricane relief fund, show it to the insurance companies and cut a deal that would give Floridians some REAL relief!

State of Real Estate / Short Sales

While getting up at 5:00 A.M. everyday and sometimes working until the wee hours of the morning with my staff, I wonder out loud “what is the loss mitigation world possibly thinking?” We work, we obtain offers on those homes, I keep seeing report after report on how slow the market is nationally, and Florida is no different. Yet as I come into the office this Monday morning with 5 offers sitting on my fax machine….. SHORT SALE OFFERS, market value offers that have little chance of acceptance? Little to none. WHY? GREED! Greed caused this mess and just maybe, greed can save us! Because the lien holders are in complete disarray, as evidenced by the way they amateurishly handle offers. By the time the offer is finally assigned to a loss mitigator, the buyer has grown impatient and walked away (weeks without word from lenders). At some point, the inventory will overwhelm those once great Mortgage Giants. Whoever takes over those companies will have the displeasure of selling those properties for far less than offers that are on the table today. The halfassed way the mortgage industry ran files through in 2005 and 2006 is about as fast as they should be selling that bad debt in 2008. They did it backwards then, rubber stamping approvals to anyone breathing and now they deny Contracts that should be rubber stamped to the closing table. Has anyone noticed that there is more supply than demand? I say to all of the mortgage holders in the USA, “you are holding on too tight”. They caused the slowdown, they are hindering the recovery! Get some decision makers involved! The process is too slow and it’s going to kill the US economy if allowed to continue!

Further, anyone having difficulty paying their mortgage should have the option to refinance at CURRENT VALUE! If this will make the home affordable to them and save them from foreclosure, why not? You are offering that exact same house, for the exact same discount to an investor, why not let the current property owner keep it if they can. Further, they should adjust the rate to today’s lower numbers. This will give the mortgage company a chance to make up lost revenue (Greed) over time and minimize loss. Ever heard of a “WIN / WIN” for everybody? Work with those people and try and save some homes from foreclosure proceedings and try NOT to remove families from their homes. COMMON SENSE!