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April Economic Update

April Economic Update

Let’s dive right into the market updates as of late. This economic update will be a little longer since we’ve gotten a convergence of news that is worth noting. 

Rates: It’s the second straight week of lowering rates. I’ve been paying attention to the pace that rates were rising, we were hoping for a taper and that’s exactly what we have received. It seems to have leveled off at 3.3%. Still a great rate, and the leveling off helps keep that shock out of the market. Overall, good news. Read a great article on the details HERE.

Jobless Claims: These have moved in the right direction. Jobless claims have hit a one-year low, which is huge for recovery. You may remember one of my fears is the “willfully unemployed,” but if this number continues to move in the proper direction, it means that will be less of an issue since people will be choosing to go back to work instead of stay on the subsidy. A big plus for recovery. 

Retail Sales Numbers: This topic has been pretty baked in, but we also saw a bigger than the already expected big retail sales numbers. Some are saying the spike in retail sales is because of the stimulus, but I don’t really buy that (get it?). What this is really about is the world opening back up, so people are spending again. 

In short: Jobless claims are down, retail sales are up, both key indicators for recovery. Another great article on this topic can be found HERE.

Inflation: CPI (Consumer Price Index) rose…  a lot. Sure, it’s mostly because of gasoline prices, but I won’t unpack what’s going on in oil – it’s too much and oil and real estate are only loosely correlated. However, the summary is this: it got more expensive to buy things and that, ladies and gents, is called inflation. Some are saying this is the first step of many in inflationary pressures. You can flood the market with this much easy money and not have inflation, but we said that in 2008 and we never saw inflation. We still have historic unemployment, underemployment, and a beat-up GDP, so it’s not exactly the roaring 20’s over here. Personally, I think a little inflation is a good thing, it’s another sign of recovery, but we do have to pay close attention to this one. Read an informative article on this topic HERE

Summary: More people are at work, more people are buying things, and inflation is starting to creep in. Now is when you’ll start to hear the Fed come off of that whole “no rate increase for a long time” language. They’ll start to hint at recovery and things that they’ll need to do to start to reduce the amount of stimulus they’re giving to the market. In 2008, this was the “taper” discussion. Without going too deep (too late?) they will taper off their support of the secondary mortgage market and then (maybe at the same time) start to raise rates. I am calling for a rate increase before the end of the year, but we shall see. Oh, and the market is going to go bananas today. The recovery is in full effect today, up 245 points at the time of this writing. 

That’s a lot to unpack, but I have been looking at these for a few weeks and with receiving the jobless and retail sales numbers recently, it seemed like a good time to share an update on what’s floating around in my head (so take it with a grain of salt).  

March Economic Update

March Economic Update

Those of us in the industry have been saying this market is “crazy” for a few months now, and we’re not wrong. Here is one small example of the crazy – a house in Citrus Heights, California was so popular, they had 122 offers on the home. That’s not a typo. I didn’t mean to type 12 and accidentally dropped in a second 2 and my editing team missed it. There were literally 122 people who wrote offers on that home, read more about it here

Here is the thing that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should, 121 people lost in that bidding war. That means 121 families had already thought about which kid would get which bedroom, mentally placed their furniture in the rooms, and thought about how they would set up the master bedroom. That means 121 families lost out on “their house” and this example isn’t an outlier with similar stories popping up across the nation.

A lot of emotion goes into writing an offer. One has to really feel like it’s their house, the place they want to call home. In this instance, 121 people got that taken away from them the day after presenting their offer.  

I understand the market doesn’t care. I can hear some economic folks saying “it’s just supply and demand.” I get that, I’ve been looking at the markets and more specifically the real estate market from an economic point of view for 21 years now. However, maybe because I am not an economist, I don’t just think in supply and demand, I think about the people behind those graphs.  

Normally when I am crafting this monthly Marketing Minute, I like to point out solutions and help people decipher what is going on in the market. To be honest, I think the ultra-tight inventory market is going to be our new normal for 18-24 months. I just don’t see a solution for the supply side of the problem.  

The solution seems obvious – just build new homes. I’m sorry to report the U.S. is actually slowing down building as a downside hedge for construction cost spiking and the opportunity cost of selling something cheaper today than they could in six months, an article on that is here.

What about resale you may ask? No good news for “more houses” either, that number has been down 6.6% month over month. As of the end of February, housing inventory is at a record low of 1.03 million units. That’s down a massive 29.5% and you guessed it, also a record low. 

What can slow down the craziness? Affordability. I’ll share more on this in a future Market Minute, but let’s just take a moment and honor the buyers going through what they’re going through in this market. Let’s think about those 121 people who didn’t get their house. Some of those people had to tell their kids, “Sorry, little one, we didn’t get the house.” Others had to have the same conversation with their parents and friends.  

We’ve been talking as a company about not calling it “crazy” anymore, since the word doesn’t really honor the buyer side of things right now and what they go through. Maybe we’ll call it “intense” or “requiring focus and fortitude.” I am not sure, but just labeling it “crazy” doesn’t feel fair to the 121 people who lost their dream house.

February Economic Update

February Economic Update

For this month’s Economic Update, we’re addressing a slightly different topic than the usual happenings in the residential real estate world. A recent report by the federal government on the current state and future of commercial real estate is something worth noting and paying attention to.

There is a lot in the report but the highlights are this: commercial real estate could be in for a pretty significant one-two punch, most of which has been brought on by the pandemic. 

The Jab: As people started locking themselves in their homes, they started buying online at unprecedented levels. For example, in 2020 Amazon saw a 37% increase in sales compared to 2019. While this is really good for Amazon, it is really bad for the brick-and-mortar retailers across the country. Many of them have had to shut their doors, never to open again. This sector was already slowing with 9,500 stores closing their doors in 2019, which seemed big until you saw the 2020 numbers at as many as 25,000. If you happen to be scoring at home, that’s over a 263% increase. 

The Right Cross: The whole world just got a one-year experiment in working from home, and a lot of companies discovered they could reduce one of the biggest expenses on their balance sheet – rent. Some have even realized they could eliminate it altogether. Here are just a few of those names: Google, Uber, American Express, and Apple. Additionally, more than half of Americans want to continue to work remotely, and two-thirds of the companies may renew their current work from home policies as permanent. No matter how you slice the numbers, a LOT of companies are going to be reducing their need for office space – or at a minimum not needing to add more as they grow. 

Said simply: It is going to be a very bumpy ride in commercial real estate for a while. Now, if someone could just start a several billion-dollar fund to convert all that commercial real estate to residential real estate to ease the massive inventory shortage we have on that side of the equation, that would be amazing. If anyone reading this is starting that fund… call me, I’ve got some ideas. 

Sources: 
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-19/fed-sounds-alarm-on-commercial-real-estate-business-bankruptcy
https://www.businessinsider.com/companies-asking-employees-to-work-from-home-due-to-coronavirus-2020#apple-ceo-tim-cook-said-that-it-seems-likely-that-most-employees-won’t-be-back-in-the-office-before-june-2021-in-a-december-10-employee-town-hall-meeting-2
https://moneywise.com/a/chains-closing-the-most-stores-in-2020
https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/12/23/how-has-amazon-stock-done-since-beginning-2020/
2021 Housing Market and Economic Forecast, Unfiltered

2021 Housing Market and Economic Forecast, Unfiltered

Providing a prediction for 2021’s economic outlook seems a little silly, because if anyone had a 2020 forecast, well, they were wrong. Really, really wrong. But what the heck, I’m not afraid of much, so let’s go ahead and break down what Crazy Uncle Keith thinks 2021 will hold. 

Just remember this is based on educated assumptions on my end, so if you look back in December 2021 and I got it all wrong, please accept my apologies. 

Rates will go up. This isn’t exactly going out on a limb. We hit a “record low” interest rate a record number of times in 2020, and here is a 10 year chart to prove my point: 

Source: Y Charts | https://ycharts.com 

We’re looking at a historic low, meaning we can’t go anywhere but up. This will be a headwind for residential real estate going into 2021. With that, refinance if you haven’t already because by the end of 2021 rates will be higher than they are today. 

Low inventory will persist. To say we had “low inventory” is like saying “2020 has had some challenges.” Bloomberg even reported that we might run out of homes in three months – no joke, they said that. That’s an inflammatory way to say new homes have a little over a three month supply, that’s the lowest level since 1963. If you overlay that low inventory with household formation numbers, you get a staggering graph. 

Source: Zelman & Associates | https://www.zelmanassociates.com

This is the graph I look at to gauge inventory levels. It’s not just about how many houses (supply side), but also how many households are going to be formed (demand side).  Viewed through this lens, we have had the hottest real estate market since 1989… by a long shot. That won’t change much in 2021. I think this graph will bottom and start to climb back up as inventory levels rise (see below) and rising rates will slow the formation of things a bit (see above). However, since it’s so low, it’s still going to feel like a constrained inventory market. 

Inventory will rise in 2021. This is similar to the rate thing. It has to go up because it can’t keep going down. There is some pent up demand on the listing side, which means buyers were less afraid of traipsing through strangers’ houses a few times than sellers were about having a herd of buyers meandering through their house. A lot of homeowners put their moving plans on hold.  

We were in a tight inventory market before this, and that only exacerbated the problem. Most of what I have read predicts we’ll be past the pandemic in Q3(ish) of 2021, but I’ve also read as early as Q2 and as late as Q4. As we get closer and closer to being past it, behaviors will revert to a more normal process.  

Source: McKinsey & Company | https://www.mckinsey.com

That pent up demand I talked about earlier is going to come rushing into the market while demand is high and buyers are starting to wear out. Get ready for an amazing summer in 2021. You’re going to be busy, and you’re going to have more homes to sell.  

The flight of the urbanites. There has been a lot of talk about people “fleeing the cities,” and to some degree that is true. Based on a Pew Research Center study, about 28% of people said they chose to move because they feared getting COVID-19, but let’s unpack some of those numbers. How many of those changes of address forms were permanent versus temporary?  Mostly temporary.  

Source: My Move | https://www.mymove.com 

https://www.mymove.com/moving/covid-19/coronavirus-moving-trends/

You’re reading that right: a nearly two percent increase year over year in a permanent change of address forms (what we in real estate think of as “moving”), and a nearly 27% increase in a temporary change of address forms. This is routing all my mail to my lake house because we’re going to stay there for a few months. Or, “I lost my job and have to move in with my folks for a few months” change of address.  

Have some people left the urban areas never to return? Of course they have, but what makes those downtowns special will, when the world opens back up, be special once again. You can’t go see Hamilton in the suburbs, there will still be that desire for the urban experience. I think the flight of the urbanites has been a bit overstated and those same urbanites will fly back downtown once they are able again.  

So, in summary, here are my predictions for 2021: 

  • Inventory will eventually be on the rise, and interest rates will be as well.  
  • Get ready for a busy summer, but save some of that money because the market will wane to some degree going into 2022.  
Virtual Home Selling

Virtual Home Selling

Should I sell my house right now? Can I even sell my house right now? Are there even any buyers? How do I stay safe? 

There are so many questions right now from people who are thinking about selling their house, and rightfully so. The unhelpful but truthful answer to all of these questions is… “it depends.”

 It depends because every state, county, and even some cities are all taking different approaches to how they are dealing with COVID-19. Some areas are pretty much business as normal, albeit with masks, six feet away, air hugs, and hands covered in sanitizer and gloves (that doesn’t sound very normal does it?). However, in other parts of the country real estate was deemed non-essential and you literally cannot get in to, or close on a house right now. Like always, but ever more so, you need to talk to a local real estate professional so they can help you navigate these new waters like Christopher Columbus (ok, that’s a bad example since he thought he “found” India but you get what I mean, right?).  

Let’s assume you are in a place where a real estate transaction can happen, this might actually be a really good time to sell – if you’re willing to try a new process. Inventory levels are as low as they have ever been in the history of the United States, and there are some sellers who are electing to wait to put their homes on the market which is only exacerbating the inventory issue. On top of that, there are few buyers but the ones that are in the market see this as “their time” and they are as motivated as a two-year-old asking for another piece of candy (yes, THAT relentless).  

You’ve decided you’re all in… what are the steps to the process? I’m glad you asked, they look something like this: 

Step 1: Virtual Agent Interview. We’ve got all the software we need. Heck, our dang phones have like 17 cameras on them nowadays. So, we always meet at a distance and get to know each other. There are tools like GoToMeeting and Zoom where we can take you step-by-step through the process just like we would in your kitchen. If you are even considering it, you should set up a meeting. It’s at least a reason to put on real clothes, shoot maybe even socks. If people can find the love of their life online, we can probably decide if we’d work well together on a Zoom call right? 

Step 2: Preparing the house for sale. We’ve found a professional love connection via technology and now we’re working together (yay!). How in the heck do I get my house ready for prime time? Luckily, in most areas across the country construction has been deemed essential so the cadre of professional, licensed, and insured contractors that your REALTOR® has relationships with should be able to get the work done that needs doing. Of course, it will be socially distanced construction and you might have to take a few long drives with the family for picnics and do a deep clean when they are done. However, it is possible it just takes extra coordination and communication which is what being a real estate agent is all about.  

Step 3: Pre-Inspections. We’ll also work with inspectors who can do inspections before you put the home on the market so the buyer has as much information about the home as possible without even seeing it. 

Step 4: Marketing, Marketing, Marketing. This one is more than one step. It’s a lot of steps.  Exposure of the property has always been important, but now it’s more important than ever. So let’s break this down piece by piece. 

  • Custom Marketing Plan: There is nothing “normal” about our current situation. How we market homes has to change, that is why we’ve developed a custom marketing plan to make sure buyers know your house is for sale. With everything from increased online presence, virtual showings, virtual open houses, and more, you need new tools in the new normal and we’ve got them. 
  • Maximum exposure online: Right now maximum exposure online is everything. During the first few weeks of COVID-19, the largest real estate sites saw a huge drop in buyer activity. But you know what, as people got a little less scared and a lot more bored they started looking at all the pretty houses again. The same real estate sites have seen a massive spike in buyer activity. That’s why we syndicate our listings to hundreds of websites so basically your house will be online more than that Tiger King documentary. 
  • Virtual Image Package: Ok I made this one up. I don’t think there is such a thing as a “virtual image package” but there should be and now there is. Since so much of the process will be done at a distance that old saying of “image is everything” might be true right now. That’s why we’ve got 3D home tours, virtual staging, and always use professional photographers. All of this helps the buyer get closer and closer to feeling like they’ve seen the house from their computer screen (in their daytime pajamas). 
  • Virtual Open House and Showings: Even with a Virtual Image Package (see how that just rolls off the tongue??) eventually a buyer is going to want to see the inside. That’s why we’ve developed strategies around doing Virtual Open Houses that profile the property to potential buyers and a virtual showing approach where the buyer can get a guided walkthrough of the property. 

Step 5: Offers, addendums, negotiation, and close. Your house got more eyeballs than YouTube (ok, not THAT many… they got 1.6 billion visits monthly), so now its time to get an offer in. You might be surprised to know that much of this has been done “virtually” for a long time.  Gone are the days where a buyers agent will present in the conference room to the sellers and their agent. Today, with a full suite of tools we can literally do all the paperwork remotely without missing a beat. Just adjust the font size so you can read the fine print, smush the mouse button and you’re off to the races. 

I do think you’re going to see the real estate process go more and more virtual in the coming months. Sure we will get back to shaking hands (maybe fistbumps?) and meeting in the dining room to review the process but much of this virtual process will stay even after COVID-19 is gone. 

If you’re ready, I know your NextHome agent is ready. Give them a call and they can put on their mask and gloves and get the sign in the yard with that cute orange french bulldog Luke and then lead you through the process from start to finish. 

Virtual Home Buying

Virtual Home Buying

How in the heck am I supposed to buy a house while I am sheltering in place?? I hardly know what day it is without checking right now. Is it actually possible for me to find a house, evaluate it, write an offer, get it accepted, and close on it? Not to mention moving… is that even legal right now? 

Trust me, we hear you. It is always complicated, stressful, and a little emotional buying a house. Maybe even a little more so in this “new normal” (nothing normal about this) of COVID-19. To start with, the answer to all of the above questions is “it depends.” Super helpful, right? The thing is, every state (heck, every county) is approaching this differently. In some states it’s kind of business as nearly normal – just add in vats of hand sanitizer, masks, and 6-feet-away hellos. Others are in lockdown but real estate is deemed essential so you can still transact. And in a few, it’s been deemed non-essential and it’s literally not even possible to close on a home, not to mention see one. So… it depends. 

If you are in one of the states (counties) with the first two options, there are some real opportunities out there for buyers right now. We’ve had an inventory shortage in this country for a while now and that is only going to continue with builders slowing down building and more and more millennials entering “household formation” years (a fancy way of saying they can now afford to buy a house). For the buyer with a little creativity and willingness to take action – and the right real estate professional – this could be the time. That being said, it is stressful and a person deciding to hold off to let the dust settle could make sense. The rest of this is for the creative and willing buyer. 

Step 1: virtual buyer consultation.  It could be over Facetime, a Zoom meeting, or some other virtual conference room software. We’ve been doing things remote at NextHome since we started our company over five years ago. It’s not quite as good as meeting face-to-face but it’s really close to the same thing. I mean, if virtual happy hours are popping up around the U.S., then we can set up a virtual buyer consultation to have all your questions answered. 

Step 2: virtual property search. Now you’ve already been digging through Zillow like a detective looking for the one clue to make your case. Now you’ve got someone to send them to so you can get more information. And you’ve got a partner in detective work who will be doing some digging with you and sending you properties that fit your criteria. Think of it as your virtual property concierge who is there to assist, and sometimes lead, the property finding process. Thank the technology gods that more and more have been developed to help you know a lot about a house before you see it. I know, I know, you’re already wondering what happens when you find your dream house online for that, it’s step 3.

Step 3: video home tours. We’ve all got a camera in our pocket (along with a calculator, take that my 6th-grade math teacher who said I wouldn’t always have one handy)and it’s as easy as ever to “see” a property at a distance. Your agent can get access to the property, fire up that Facetime, Facebook video chat, Google Duo, etc. and walk you through every inch of your future home. 

 Step 4: electronically sign things. Ok, we like it, no, we love it. Now what? It’s offer writing time. The ability to sign documents at distance has been around for years on the real estate side (come on mortgage side, step your game up, because not everything can be signed digitally there). We have all the real estate contracts, addendums, forms, and such available digitally and can email them to you. Then you would need to lean forward towards the computer screen to read the small print and smush a few mouse clicks –  you’re now in offer, counteroffer, negations, and starting the closing process. You will probably have to go somewhere to sign loan documents (see above about mortgage) but in most areas, they have changed their process to allow for safe signing. Some even have a mobile notary and closing specialist who can come to you to sign everything. Easy peasy lemon squeezy (it’s actually hard hard lemon hard but our trained real estate professionals are there to help you every step of the way).

Step 5: inspections. Buying a house is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. There are lots and lots of inspections you can have done. And each of them can be completed, then the reports sent to you via email. We can even set up a virtual conference room to review the report with the inspector and the agent so you can get all your questions answered.

Step 6: transfer funds by wire. Yup, that’s right. You can move money around like a high-powered hedge fund manager. You feel pretty dang cool when you tell the closing facilitator, “I’ll have my people wire the money over.” Trust me. You do.

 Step 7: keys, please! As an agent, this was always my favorite part of closing with a buyer.  Giving them their keys. As a real estate agent, there isn’t much more rewarding than seeing the people you’ve helped get the keys to “their home.”  It’s amazing. Now we just do it over a screen instead of in person. There are key delivery services that can have the keys brought right to you. You’ll just have to Facetime when you do it because I know your agent is going to want to see your smiling face when you get them.

 Do I write this with the thoughts that someone will buy a house without ever seeing it. No, of course not. What’s important right now is we all stay safe and we can limit the contact as much as we need to for everyone to feel safe. And we’re fully set up to take care of as much of the process virtually as we can. For some buyers, this is the right time to get bold, take action, and go find their house. And for others, they might want to hold off a few months. For both sets of buyers, we’re here to help you whenever you’re ready. 

10 (plus one) tips for working from home

10 (plus one) tips for working from home

Get a cue. In Charles Duigg’s landmark book, “The Power of Habit”, he writes about an aspect of creating new habits that often gets overlooked – the cue. No, not the pool cue, the actor’s cue. Meaning, when do you step on stage to deliver your lines? It turns out if you take a physical act the night before (or really any time before) your intended start time of the new habit, you’re significantly more likely to take action on the desired act. For example, if you plug your phone in at your desk instead of at your nightstand the act of going to plug it in somewhere else tells your brain “we mean it this time buddy” and you’re a lot more likely to start work on time. 

While you’re at it, set an alarm. I know I just told you to plug your phone in at your desk, so you might have to get one of those old school alarm clocks – but set an alarm. If you live in a house with other humans, that’s a good thing (see below), but get rolling before they do. I usually get up by six and can chew through a lot of emails, follow-up, and other items before it’s cheesy eggs and bacon time for my eight-year-old. 

What time is it? Game time. You need a schedule. You need to know what you are doing when, even more so than when you were at the office. I time block EVERYTHING. If it’s not in the calendar, it won’t happen. I schedule follow-up time, writing time, reading time (news and otherwise), lunch, and some breaks. Sure, if I have a gap I run around the house giving kisses to anyone who will let me (don’t schedule that… that’s super weird), but pretty much schedule everything else. 

Call your shot, pick your spot. Have a dedicated work location in your home, and if at all possible, don’t make it your dining room table. Even if you have to order a really small desk, with the ridiculous directions that drive you to want to smash the whole thing, and put it in a hallway if you have to. It’s crucial to have a specialized place for “work” and also, just as importantly, a place for “home.” 

Anti-social (media). There’s a good chance you found out about this piece on social media, so I am for sure biting the hand that feeds me, but here is the deal: social media is a time suck. Like big time, so turn it off. Delete the app from your phone for the day if you need to (you can always download it again later). If you have a lot of work to get done, definitely don’t open it up on your computer at your desk. Log in if you need to check-in, promote something, find that awesome meme, but then shut it back down. 

Telephone… tell-a-friend. Get an accountability buddy. Someone you can call first thing in the morning and share your goals and accomplishments for the day. Have that person keep you accountable for what you said you wanted to do that day. It’s better if you pick someone with an MMA background that induces some level of fear. Okay, that’s just what I did, doesn’t mean you have to. You get the point!

Video killed the radio star… but saves conference calls. Zoom. Google Hangouts.  GoToMeeting. Whatever you pick, pick one. Personally, I like Zoom for small groups or things I want to share on Facebook Live (amazing feature). For more dense material, I like GoToMeeting. We use both depending on the topic, need, and audience. Two people having a face-to-face conversation for two minutes or longer is 13 times more powerful than a mass email. Ninety-three percent of communication is nonverbal, you need to take advantage of face-to-face platforms to truly communicate. 

Schedule “you” time. That sounds so spa day and avocado toast to me, I know. However,  it’s ok to say to yourself, “today I am taking a long walk” or “I’m going to watch Frozen 2 (aaaaagain) this afternoon with my eight-year-old and crush the sing-along of ‘into the unknown’.” The beauty of working from home is you can do those things. Don’t abuse them or you will fail, but don’t do them out of guilt either. You deserve a break in your day. Don’t feel bad about it.  

Go find a human. We’re pack animals, tribal creatures, having spent more of our evolutionary life around a campfire than we have in front of a computer screen. Go interact with the people in your home (schedule it if you have to). Even if it’s just a quick hug, a coffee refill or a “whatcha doin’” chat while getting water, you need those interactions to keep you going. 

White noise, but the right noise. Personally, I need something playing in the background for some “noise.” Usually, it’s Bloomberg financial (super nerdy I know). Sometimes though, it’s music, and I want my music to match my mood. If it’s 6:00 a.m and I am just settling into the seat, to start it’s some kind of country playlist. As the day progresses, so does my aggression, as I move towards some good ol’ hip hop and R&B.  

Bonus Tip: 10,000 hours. Malcolm Gladwell seems pretty smart, and he says it takes 10,000 hours to master something. I don’t know about that, but I know you have to do something a lot to get good at it and it takes time. There are no shortcuts to getting good. It takes time, effort, and work. Accept the reality that if you just started working from home, you’re not going to be as good at it as you will be in a week, compared to a month, compared to a year. No shortcuts, just progress. Give yourself some grace. Start it now and get better today and into the future.  

Four Social Media Hacks to Boost Your Presence

Four Social Media Hacks to Boost Your Presence

We have all been in line at Starbucks or glancing into our back seat to see a thirteen-year-old gazing into their phone, furiously typing away with their thumbs flashing over the screen in a blur (sometimes with a wry smile or semi eye roll or fierce brow crinkle). And you probably thought, “What in the actual hell is inside that thing that is so interesting?”

The answer is: Social Media.

Why in the world would a forty-seven-year-old, self-admitted tech caveman be writing an article about social media? Shouldn’t we have some twenty-something wiz kid writing this?

Well, the truth is they could teach you more about the deep inner workings of the Facebook algorithm. By the way, Facebook is “soooooo last year” (you’ve got to read that in the annoying teenager voice). However, I am the perfect person to teach you the basics (because it’s all I know!) and what I have learned in the school of hard knocks of social media.

It is really pretty simple, so long as you keep four things in mind.

  1. Find your voice
  2. Use images
  3. Keep it real(ish)
  4. Consistency > creativity

Want to learn more? Scroll your eyes on down the page then.

Finding your voice: The point of social media is, well, to be social. Think of Facebook as a giant cocktail party where you are overhearing snippets of people’s conversations. So be interesting. Share what you are interested in (unless it’s politics, there’s enough of that already). Share parts of your day – the interesting parts, not “in line at Starbucks.” Perhaps something you learned or observed today. For example, here is the highest liked/shared item I posted on Facebook this week.

Picture1

This post beat out hot tub disco lights with my five-year-old daughter and some pretty amazing (in my opinion) motivational quotes. It was just a quick thought, expressing a feeling that we all have felt. And it resonated.

I asked a friend of mine to describe my social media voice and here is what she said: “You’re a hashtag over user, FOMO (fear of missing out) creating, swear word motivational quote using funny man that I look forward to reading.”

Start small, but let your flag fly! Pronounce to the social media world in your own little (or big) ways that you are here. And let that voice of yours shine through. There is someone right now trying to find the way to express exactly what you are going to write and it will resonate.

Use Images: For better or worse, we are visual creatures. So use pictures when you can or even when you can’t. If you look at my “cancel everything” post above, it even looks more like an image than a “post.” Try to do a quick image search to find something that adds to, expresses or brings clarity to the point you are trying to make. Sometimes people don’t want to read, they just want to look. Instagram is proof of that. Use more images to drive higher engagement.

Keep it real(ish):  I hate to break it to you, but there is nothing “real” about reality TV. A friend of mine was on House Hunters once and he was already in contract and just about closed on the house that they “decided to write an offer on” in the show. Insert surprised face here. That big “which one of the three are they going to pick?” part of the show, at least on his, was totally staged. Social media is your own little reality TV show. And it is great to share your successes and even some of the things you’re working on (without being too negative), or little random pieces of your life. But you don’t need to discuss your divorce, for example, and you don’t have to share everything. You can keep parts of yourself, to yourself for yourself.

Consistency is greater than creativity: Oh man, do I think I am smart! I will craft what I think will be the perfect/hilarious/most awesome post in the history of the internet. I prepare to hit the share button with glee as I am pretty sure I am going to break the internet faster than a semi-nude Kardashian. And (drum roll please)… crickets. Nobody cares. And then other times, I will just pound out a quick little thought spontaneously and it is the thing that resonates the most with people. My advice to you is: don’t try to be perfect, just be consistent. It matters more. The more you do anything, the better you get at it.

Go boldly into that dark abyss that is social media. Bring your bright light to the space so you too can be the next SnapChat/Instagram/Twitter superstar. Or at least help remind the people who already know you, like you and trust you that you are alive, in the business and there to serve them.

Maximize Your Sphere of Influence

Maximize Your Sphere of Influence

People have come up to me and said, “I really need to get a deal in the next 90 days. If I don’t, then I might have to go get a real job.”

Feel free to skip the following rant: Please, if you value your health, don’t ever say “get a real job” around me. It will take a lot of effort for me not to punch you. If people would treat THIS job like a real job by being consistent and accountable, then they would make more money, have more freedom and never have another job ever again. Make the commitment and treat this job like a real one. Geez, got me all riled up 35 words in. Now back to the lecture at hand.

After I have punched them in the face… I say, “Let’s get our timeline straight. Most escrows run about 30 days. And usually you are going to need at LEAST two to four weeks to get the client into escrow. Basically, we have 30 days to make this happen. We better get rolling!”

With a clear timeline in place, let’s see where the “now deals” are hiding. What is the shortest path to more deals? You sphere of influence, of course!

Real estate is a trust sale. Trust is transferable and it speeds up everything. I highly recommend reading “The Speed of Trust” by Stephen Covey for more details on this key takeaway.

If you want that “now deal,” you will have to roll up your sleeves, put on your rejection Kevlar body armor, and (gasp!) pick up the phone. Remember, it is all about speed right now because that dreaded “real job” is looming, just 30 days away.

Pick up the phone and call your people. Asking for a referral will be hard, but do it anyway. Or… start freshening up on your job interview skills.

All of the above is just one facet to building a long-term sustainable business from your Sphere of Influence. We discussed all the different ways to build an enduring business through the people who already know you and trust you during a recent webinar. Check out the recording below:

Getting More Listings is Easier Than You Think

Getting More Listings is Easier Than You Think

There is an old real estate adage that goes something like “Listers last.” And to some degree, it is true. Listing properties gets you more now business. You attract buyer opportunities, but you can also attract listings from the area. While it may not be super nice (or even that clever), it’s sort of true – listers do in fact last.

How do you break into that segment of the business? Or if you are already getting some listings, how do you get more?

There are people charging hundreds of dollars a month teaching this topic. It’s not possible to write one pithy blog post that clears it all up. One step would be to watch the recording from our latest webinar. (Shameless plug and I love it!)

Here is the one tidbit I have told literally thousands of real estate professionals in my career that has worked EVERY time they acted on it. Are you ready? (Insert drumroll here!)

Go on more listing presentations. Before you stop reading to drive over here and punch me in the face for being so obvious – keep reading. You’re probably sitting there thinking, “Dude, if I had more listing appointments, I wouldn’t be reading your blog right now!”

But check THIS part out: I didn’t say they had to be real listing presentations. It’s simple – when we do something a lot, we get good at it. Period. If you want to get better at your listing presentation, then go on one a week for 50 weeks. If you can’t get a real one, get a fake one. Go list your parents, best friend, worst enemy, ex-wife, whatever… just go and do it like it is real. Pull comps. Dress the part. Practice price conversation. Do it JUST like it is real.

Trust me, after you do 50 you will become damn good. Most people I have worked with never make it to 50… they get it down a lot faster than that.

One a week. Like vitamins. And you will become a master by the end of 2017. This and a lot more was covered during our latest webinar. Check out the full recording below.