Posts Tagged as NAR

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The Serious Impact of Flood Insurance on Real Estate Markets

Stronger storms have taken their toll across the U.S. Yet real estate news points to a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in peril. Long-term reauthorization of the program remains in limbo, with yet another 4-week extension allotted by Congress. But this short-term fix gives little confidence to homeowners, who stand to lose access to flood insurance if the NFIP lapses.

FEMA Could Stop Selling/Renewing Policies Nationwide…
Stymying sales on properties with a flood insurance requirement to the tune of 40,000-sales/month nationwide. And though private insurers are popping-up, this option is not available in every state, limiting opportunities for Americans seeking to protect themselves from flood losses.

NAR Pushes for Five-Year Re-Authorization
A senior policy rep for the NAR is pressing for the passage of the 21st Century Flood Reform Act. The bill would provide money for helping homeowners mitigating flood risk, limit insurance rate hikes, and improve flood mapping, seen as key to success. Of the more than 180,000 Houston-area properties flooded by hurricane Harvey (10% of the property tax roll), only 15% were covered by a flood insurance policy. Many of the homes imperiled by Harvey’s historic 50-inch rainfall were outside federally-recognized flood zones, and were uncovered. Improved flood mapping would increase awareness of flood risk, alerting homeowners to the need for coverage in areas previously designated as outside flood zones.

What Will the Future Hold?
Imagine the future of markets without access to this insurance. Homeowners need confidence in the availability of flood insurance. Though a lapse in the NFIP is unlikely, and FEMA will continue to have the authorization to pay valid claims with available funds, the realty community and homeowners await upcoming NFIP real estate news. Congress has until January 19, 2018 to take its next step.

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5 Steps to Defining Your Unique Advantage

Standing out when there are so many others in the same profession is not easy. That’s why it’s crucial to find your unique advantage. Guest author John Rasiej outlines 5 steps to defining your unique advantage and making your mark.

With the number of realtors in the U.S. surpassing 1,000,000 (NAR) and further swelled by the number of real estate agents, most people are acquainted with at least one, if not several, real estate professionals. While referrals will always be a good source of prospects, most realtors realize it takes more than waiting for referrals to have a healthy business. They undertake strategies such as networking groups, business card exchanges and trade shows in hopes of standing out in a sea of realtors. But, standing out when there are so many others in the same profession is not easy. That’s why it’s crucial to find your unique advantage. Guest author John Rasiej outlines 5 steps to defining your unique advantage and making your mark.

The challenge for any business in standing out is the perception by consumers that they are all fairly similar. Many professionals fall into a trap of sounding like everyone else. It seems safer to say a lot of the same buzzwords or a cute tag-line, cite a lot of the same advantages and claim we’re better at them. Yet, to many prospects, it all sounds repetitive and unremarkable, and it leaves them wondering why to choose this particular provider over the others.

What this means is that many realtors are lost in a sea of sameness. They are in the same pool looking among many of the same prospects and hoping they will get a lucky break. That leads to more hours spent trying to land prospects, added frustration, lost opportunities and less income.

That’s why it’s crucial for a realtor to demonstrably stand out to achieve greater success. To do so becomes a matter of creating and conveying a clear impression of a unique advantage that would attract people looking for a difference-maker.

When asked what makes them special, many realtors will default to citing “great customer service” as the thing that sets them apart. As logical as that may seem, the words become meaningless when prospects hear them. The phrase ends up being dismissed for a number of reasons:

  • If everyone claims to offer it then every realtor is staking the same ground. With this claim bandied about by everyone, it loses any element of standing out from the others.
  • People will claim it whether it’s true or not. We are all aware when dealing with some businesses that such claims often turn out to be less than true. So after such a claim, it’s understandable that prospects would be skeptical and wonder, “How can I be sure?” or “Are you really any different?”
  • Today’s consumer expects good customer service, at a minimum, from any business, whether a discount store, a high-end merchandiser or a service professional, so citing it is seen as what would be expected anyway.
  • The phrase becomes subjective in terms of what each prospect considers great. To some it may be how quickly the phone is answered and promptness at appointments, others might feel it’s in only showing them the type of house in which the buyer has expressed interest, while others might feel it is having coffee and donuts in the car when the realtor picks them up to look at homes.

So if citing great customer service won’t get a realtor more visibility, how does one go about it? The answer lies into creating and conveying a clear, compelling advantage that stands out from others. Prospects will respond when they understand why doing business with a particular realtor is intrinsically better for them.

5 Steps to Defining Your Unique Advantage:

1. Understand the compelling story behind you and your business. What made you interested in homes? What made you interested in helping families? What made you interested in neighborhoods, in community, in financial security? People want someone on their side with whom they feel a connection and like to know that there’s a deeper committed purpose for you.

2. Develop a clear focus on who and what you are and who and what you are not. It’s self-defeating if you try to be all things to all people in hopes of appealing to everyone. If you have an expertise and understanding of the needs of families looking for homes right after the birth of their first child, focus on that and don’t bog down your message by also talking about helping people downsize. Rather than losing potential clients, you will gain more by becoming known and more fluent in the needs of the people you’re most naturally able to help.

3. Use inventiveness to develop some aspect of your business that’s unlike others. At some points in the process, realtors have to do many of the same tasks such as getting contracts signed, arranging inspections and so on. Yet, there can be many opportunities throughout the process that allow for something more personalized or outside the norm.

4. Look at interactions at every customer contact point and develop a buzzworthy customer experience—the kind that your customers would post to Facebook, tell their friends and remember for the next time. Ascertain what it would take to ensure this kind of experience every time.

5. Find ways to communicate that difference in ways that help ideal prospects understand the tangible benefit to them in working with you.

Best Practice: Take a look from an outsider’s perspective at the message when you talk about your business. Is it different than what another realtor could say? Even if you have a tag-line that gets smiles, is it saying anything different than what another realtor could? If your honest look leaves you sensing that other realtors could be saying the same things, make a commitment to develop an inherent difference in some aspects of your customer experience. Gain a better understanding of your ideal clients and what they appreciate, and then take steps to make those results happen for them.

It’s Time to Up Your Game. Are You Ready?

William Gibson once said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

I can’t help but think of that quote when I look at statistics on real estate marketing – particularly what buyers and sellers want and how many real estate professionals are able or willing to meet that demand. Home buyers and sellers are consumer. They, like all consumers, want accurate information immediately, in ways convenient and flexible to their ever-changing needs.

William Gibson once said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

I can’t help but think of that quote when I look at statistics on real estate marketing – particularly what buyers and sellers want and how many real estate professionals are able or willing to meet that demand. Home buyers and sellers are consumer. They, like all consumers, want accurate information immediately, in ways convenient and flexible to their ever-changing needs.

Did you know that, according to NAR:

• 92% of homebuyers used the Internet as an information source
• 73% of homeowners say they’re more likely to list with a realtor who offers video
• Only 4% of agents actually offer video as part of their marketing package to home sellers
• 75% of Internet homebuyers drove by or viewed a home they saw online
• 43% of buyers first found their home on the Internet
• 56% of home buyer prospects expect to be contacted within 30 minutes of expressing interest in a property

According to Forrester Research it is 50 times easier to achieve a page 1 ranking on Google with a video. And NPD tells us that mobile and tablet shoppers are three times as likely to view a video as laptop or desktop users.

If your response to this is “So what?” you have got to get with the program! Mobile is here. Which means your websites (agent website, single property websites, etc.) better have responsive design. Your clients—homebuyers and home sellers—want you to respond to their needs FAST. Meeting that demand requires an investment in technology, like Smart Lead Capture. And video simply must be part of your real estate marketing offering.

I’m reminded of another quote, this one from Albert Einstein: “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”

It’s time to up your game. Are you ready?

Do You REALLY Know Your Customer?

The most successful real estate professionals are “people” people. Even in the modern world, where more and more of the real estate transaction takes place online, the business itself is conducted by real people, in often intense and stressful situations … Really get to know your customer, and you’ll likely get to know them again, as well as some of their friends, family or colleagues.

I had lunch with a friend last week. She and her husband are in the process of selling their home and buying another. They’re using the same real estate agent they’ve used for two other transactions in the past, and have been loyal to her. She’s done a great job and looked out for their best interests. But things have seemingly changed and they are displeased. The home they’re selling has received an offer of nearly $1.5 million. They’ve placed an offer of $2.25 million on the home they’re hoping to purchase. There is significant commission involved, and their agent doesn’t realize how close she is to losing these clients, not to mention their referral network. This got me thinking about how important it is (in any business, really) to know your customer. As a real estate professional, when relationships are critical to success, it’s even more important.

While the vast majority of homebuyers today use the internet for their search, NAR tells us that 90% of those who used the internet for their search still went on to purchase a home through an agent. “In fact, buyers who used the internet were more likely than those who did not use the internet to purchase their home through an agent,” says NAR’s most recent Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report.

The most successful real estate professionals are “people” people. Even in the modern world, where more and more of the real estate transaction takes place online, the business itself is conducted by real people, in often intense and stressful situations. And when it involves money, personal finances and the dream of homeownership, the intensity increases. A home is often a family’s biggest life purchase. Agents and brokers who can temper than intensity and really read their clients will build strong and lasting, lucrative relationships. In my friends’ case, they’ve been left feeling like their longtime agent is neglecting their best interests because she is too focused on closing the sale at all costs. In other words, she sees the carrot of commission dangling just within reach and has lost the ability to see further beyond that. It will cost her in the long run. After all, even in this online world, 54% of homebuyers find their real estate agent through a referral or as a repeat client, according to NAR.

Most real estate professionals will tout their trust worthiness. But can you back yours up? Do you know what keeps your home buyer clients up at night? Do you understand their motivations, hesitations and fears? If you do, you are steps ahead already. It takes sitting back and understanding that the experience is not about you, even though you make be doing all the hard work. It isn’t glamorous, but the results are worth it.

How can you do this? Start by paying attention – not just to what your customers are saying, but to their tone, inflection, body language and facial expressions. Pay attention to the little details. Ask questions, probe gently; get on the same page. Keep it personal and prompt, as much as possible. Remember things can come off harsher in text, so keep any potentially upsetting news to a phone call or face-to-face. Be responsive and professional, but keep an air of friendliness. You clients want and need to know that you “have their back”, so to speak. Lastly, follow up. Don’t keep your nose so close to the fence that you miss what’s happening around you and lose the chain of referral and repeat business.

Really get to know your customer, and you’ll likely get to know them again, as well as some of their friends, family or colleagues.

.REALTOR Domain Coming Soon

NAR secures new top level domain with .REALTOR.

There are approximately 22 URL suffixes [ICANN generic top-level domains (gTLDs)], and you’re no doubt familiar with several, from the most popular .com to .gov, .edu, .net, and more. In early 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers—which oversees policies dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable, and interoperable—approved an expansion of the number of top-level domains. What’s more, they decided to allow companies and organizations to create domains for their brands. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has done just that, and will be making the new .REALTOR domain available to NAR and CREA members from October 23rd, 2014.

“This is truly an exciting time for NAR members to be on the cutting edge of Internet technology. When consumers visit a .REALTOR website they will know that they have reached a source of comprehensive and accurate real estate information, NAR President Steve Brown told media.

ICANN is currently in the process of reviewing hundreds, if not thousands, of potential new gTLDs. As part of this process, NAR applied for and secured the .REALTOR domain to showcase its real estate professionals in a “crowded online space”.

The first 500,000 NAR members and 10,000 CREA members to sign up will receive their .REALTOR domain address free for the first year.