5 Reasons WHY to Sell this Spring!


*from KCM, Keeping Current Matters

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this spring makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory has declined year over year for the last 32 months and is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the average time it took to close a loan was 45 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

It’s Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings!


*from Keeping Current Matters

According to data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $2,840 this year when filing their taxes. This is down slightly from the average refund of $2,895, last year.

Tax refunds are often thought of as ‘extra money’ that can be used toward larger goals; for anyone looking to buy a home in 2018, this can be a great jump start toward a down payment!

The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state. (The refunds received for the 2017 tax year should continue to reflect these numbers as the new tax code will go into effect for 2018 tax filings.)

It's Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings! | Keeping Current Matters

Many first-time buyers believe that a 20% down payment is required to qualify for a mortgage. Programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all allow for down payments as low as 3%, with Veterans Affairs Loans allowing many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.

If you started your down payment savings with your tax refund check this year, how close would you be to a 3% down payment?

The map below shows what percentage of a 3% down payment is covered by the average tax refund by taking into account the median price of homes sold by state.

It's Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings! | Keeping Current Matters

The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership! For those in Alabama looking to purchase their first homes, their tax refund could potentially get them 69% closer to that dream!

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task. But the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you can be to make the best decision for you and your family! This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership!

How Real Estate Rookies Can Grow Their Client Base

*Article from Delta Media Group, 2/13/18

blog promo - 2.13.18

Whether you’re a new real estate agent looking to make your mark or an experienced pro aiming to expand your business, there’s never a bad time to bring new clients into the fold. The most successful agents are always finding ways to grow their client base. Let’s take a closer look at the most effective methods you can use to grow your real estate business.

Growing Your Business

When it comes to adding new clients, referrals are worth their weight in gold. Online marketing provides extensive opportunities to earn referrals, and there are also plenty of steps you can take on your day-to-day travels that will help you earn new business.

Need Referrals? It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask!

For a new agent, the thought of earning referrals may seem daunting. If potential clients don’t have much data to go on, how will you convince them that you’re the right choice for their needs? When you’re just starting out, family, friends, and professional connections can all be a great source of referrals—but only if you’re willing to ask.

Both new and experienced agents can plant the seeds for referrals simply by letting people know that you’re a real estate agent. When you meet someone new, always look for an opportunity to let them know what you do for a living. As you build your real estate business, your existing clients should become one of your best sources of referrals. Look for reasons to stay in touch, and show clients that you care even after the deal is closed.

Social Media and Online Reviews

Your favorite social media sites can be a major source of new business, especially if you’re targeting clients from the Millennial generation. Your interactions and expertise are always on display with social media, so make every conversation count. Social proof, which basically means that existing clients vouch for your business on social sites, is also a major asset.

Online reviews are another form of social proof, so make sure your business has a presence on popular review sites like Google+, Facebook Reviews and Yelp. Do your part by delivering on the needs of your clients. Be sure to ask them to leave a review when the job is done.

Staying in Touch with Potential Clients

Not every potential client you meet will need a real estate agent immediately. Persistence is a huge part of earning new business, so it’s important to stay in touch without being overbearing. Calling a few potential clients each day to chat, catch up, and remind them of your services is a great habit for staying top-of-mind. When the time comes that they need the services of a real estate agent, you want them to think of you first.

No matter how you approach the process of growing your real estate client base, remember that the job is never truly done. Make sure that your online marketing looks great, and that your clients know you’re looking for new business. The most successful real estate agents know how important it is to generate new business, and put in the work necessary each day to achieve their goals.

Bringing new clients aboard is much easier when you have a real estate marketing team that truly understands the needs of both real estate agents, and clients.

February 9 Central IL Homes Guide – Online!

Want to make a quick move to a new home?
Ready to own the new home you have always dreamed of?

You can find one of these fantastic homes right here in our February 9 Central Illinois Homes Guide! Over 570 homes and properties featured in this edition.

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Why You Need To Get Testimonials From Your Clients

Why You Need to Get Testimonials from Your Clients

When you’re considering using a business, do you put more weight on advertising, or on reviews from people who have bused their services before? Most consumers rely significantly on word-of-mouth referrals when searching for new businesses. Customer testimonials have been a popular, effective marketing tool since long before the digital age. Today, it’s easier than ever to get testimonials from your customers, integrate them with your online marketing, and reap the benefits. We’ve got more details on why testimonials are important and how you can use them to grow your business.

Why Customer Testimonials and Social Proof Are Crucial for Real Estate Business

Customer testimonials are among the oldest, most proven marketing tools. We still rely on them today because consumers of all types place significant weight on the opinion of others. In the digital age, word of mouth is synonymous with the concept of social proof, which means that consumers rely heavily on feedback from their favorite social channels when making purchasing decisions.

  • Reading Reviews – When was the last time you bought a new product from a major online retailer without checking the reviews first? Whether you’re shopping for a new home or a new washing machine, there’s a good chance you’ll want to see feedback from shoppers who have been in your shoes before. Consumers place significant weight on the opinions of other consumers, so earning positive reviews is a great way to grow your business online.
  • Social Proof – Your social media pages aren’t just a place for you to talk about your business. They’re also a great place to get customers talking about you! Visit the social page of any brand that maintains an active presence, and you’re likely to find a wealth of customer testimonials. Many consumers, especially from younger generations, rely heavily on social customer testimonials when making purchasing decisions.
  • Names and Faces – An anonymous quote has value, but your audience is more likely to trust a testimonial that comes with a name and face attached. They want to know that the testimonial came from a real person which is another reason why social and video testimonials have so much marketing value.
  • Connecting with Current Customers – In addition to the potential marketing benefits for new customers, asking your current customers for testimonials is a great way to keep those relationships strong. Customers value the opportunity to provide feedback for their peers, and will often jump at the chance if you’re willing to ask.
  • A Reliable Source of Referrals – Word-of-mouth referrals are more valuable than ever in the marketing world, so making it easy to find customer testimonials is a great way to earn more referrals for your real estate business. Your testimonials are working to grow your business, whenever someone visits your website, reads a review, or engages with your social presence.

Earning customer testimonials is often easier than you might think because in many cases all you really have to do is ask. Maintaining an active online marketing presence is also crucial because it allows customers to leave testimonials at their own leisure. By encouraging customers to provide testimonials, you’re showing that you value their feedback while also earning a powerful marketing tool for your real estate business.

The Downside of Zillow

*From Sarah D’Hondt via lightersideofrealestate.com

Let me just go ahead and say it bluntly: stop listening to Zillow.

Zillow itself even encourages buyers, sellers and homeowners to conduct other research such as “getting a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent” and “getting an appraisal from a professional appraiser.”

Sure, Zillow’s Zestimates® are quick, easy, and free. The point? Just let a local real estate professional (who will actually see your home’s unique features in person) determine its fair market value.

Let’s dive in a bit further, shall we?

First, I don’t believe that Zillow is inherently evil. In other words, they don’t set out to intentionally mislead the general public. In fact, they do have their positive points. Nevertheless, what is the net effect when buyers and sellers use Zillow? They often get inaccurate information, rely on it (even swear by it), thus causing migraines for REALTORS and agents everywhere.

See, for those of you not working in the real estate industry, you assume that Zillow is a trusted resource to find out what your property is worth. You assume the information is factual, based on homes that have sold in your area (also known as comparables or “comps”), and therefore are to be considered true market value. I’m here to explain to you why this website is feeding you misinformation and why it should not be trusted.

To put it simply…

The fine folks at Zillow don’t have the slightest clue about your market. There are approximately 43,000 zip codes in the United States, and each one has variables that affect property values, such as: school district, knowledge of declining or flourishing areas, property taxes, proximity to interstates, hospitals, attractions and shopping, and bodies of water to name a few.

Let’s pretend that you live in a 3 bedroom, brick ranch with a basement in “Perfect Town, USA”. When you plug your address into the search bar on Zillow, you will see a bunch of dots near your home. Those dots represent other homes that have sold, have foreclosed, or that are for sale or for rent. When you click on the dots, it will show you what the home sold for and the dot on your own home is just an average (also known as a “Zestimate”) of what all the others sold for, regardless of how it compares to yours.

Let’s say that half of those homes are colonials, are vinyl sided and not made of brick, don’t have a basement, or have 4 bedrooms or more, or are on the water, while yours is across the street from the water. Those are huge differences in the world of real estate, and especially to the appraiser who will seal the fate of what your home will inevitably sell for.

Zillow does not account for the condition of your home.

Your home may have been recently remodeled and has as updated kitchen and bathrooms, a new roof, new windows, new furnace, etc… and some of the homes being used as comps are stuck in the 1980’s.

It could also be the opposite and you may see an inflated value put on your home because others in the area have sold for more because they are new construction or have been renovated. Just because your neighbors’ homes sold for $500K doesn’t mean yours will too.

Appraisers need to compare apples to apples, so unless you live in a neighborhood where all the homes are identical cookie cutter houses, don’t ever expect to sell for what your neighbors sold for. Values change with every season, and the only true indicator of what your home is worth is the buyer. A REALTOR can run a thorough comparative market analysis (CMA) for you and give you a pretty accurate value and suggested listing price, but what a buyer is willing to offer you is ultimately what your home is worth.

What a buyer is willing to pay is based on many variables too, including the location, the updates and amenities your house includes and how much competition you have. If you live in an area where it’s a sellers’ market, it means you have little competition and more buyers in the area than homes for sale. This is when you want to list your home, and can expect top dollar, as indicated by the buyer!

This doesn’t mean you ask an outrageous amount, because anything over-priced will not sell. If you live in an area that is a buyer’s market, then you need to compete with many other homes for sale and can expect your home to sit on the market longer. No matter what city you live in or how the market is in your area, one thing remains the same:

Zillow is not correct and you need to call your REALTOR today to find out the value of your home! It takes a few minutes, it’s FREE and, most importantly, it will be accurate!