Posts Tagged ‘Real Estate’

Intero Cool Apps: Search for the Perfect Home Using Trulia Apps

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Some websites that were made for real estate just know what they are doing.  Trulia.com is one such website with over 4 million real estate and rental listings nationwide and heavy traffic with over 23 million users every month.  With that reputation, it is only appropriate that Trulia has not one, but a trio of apps so you can use their services on the go.  With four to four and half stars each, these are among the top-rated real estate apps and definitely worth checking out.  The apps work for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Android Tablet, and they are all free.  Here they are:

Trulia Real Estate – Homes for Sale & Apartments for Rent

This app allows you to see photos of homes and apartments on the market and has a detailed but easy to use filtering system so you can find the listings you are looking for.  The app also offers real-time updates and alerts on your saved searches so you can stay on top of the game.  Additionally, you have access to maps with both listings and nearby restaurants, grocery stores, and other useful businesses shown.  For the listings, you can easily scroll through full-screen photos, property information, home facts, and the agent’s contact information so you can quickly jump on a property you like.  Even if you don’t like the property you’ve searched for, you can simply shake the phone to start the search over!  Check it out on Trulia’s website for more information.

Trulia Rentals – Find Homes & Apartments for Rent

This app is exactly like the Trulia Real Estate app described above, but designed specifically and only for rentals.  Check it out here.

Trulia for Agents

Agents: If you want to take your business with you on the go, this is an app you need!  It allows you to respond to leads instantly, and communicate online with prospective buyers for your listing.  You can even share listing information with your clients––and all you need is your phone to do so!  Just like the Trulia Real Estate app, you can get alerts of any new leads so you can respond immediately, you can view nearby restaurants and businesses, and you can contact other agents.  Checking into places, in much the same way as you would on Facebook, is another great feature to notify your clients of the homes you tour… and even better yet, you can send them real time photos and information.  Download the app here.


Bill Introduced To Extend Federal Mortgage Limits

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In May I sent a newsletter predicting that the government would drop the levels at which the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will insure home mortgages. This concern was spurred by a fast approaching “sunset provision” within the current law that outlines these levels. The current law is due to expire on September 30, 2011. My previous newsletter on this topic can be found here.

Senators Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Robert Menendez of New Jersey have introduced a bill which would extend the current levels at which the government insures certain mortgages through September of next year. Senate Bill 1508 proposes to extend the current law’s sunset provision for one to two years, depending on certain circumstances. This would effectively extend the current levels at which all qualified mortgages are insured during that time and it would suspend the fight to lower the levels of government backed mortgages.

The Issue

Congress is trying to reevaluate and lower these levels. Much of the country has grown politically uneasy about federally backed mortgages because this insurance tends to encourage loans that might otherwise not be made in a strictly private transaction between borrower and bank. Some contend that the present housing crises was brought on by improper lending practices, and that these practices would have been much more responsible had the federal government not insured mortgage lenders in such a broad and inclusive manner. Many in Congress argue that the solution is to drop the current levels of federally backed mortgages across the board.

However, as the deadline approaches, the fight has become uncommonly regional as Democrats and Republicans from pricier and more volatile regions have complained that the proposed drops will unfairly harm their constituents and their local housing markets. In less pricy regions, the proposed cuts will only drop the current levels by a few thousand dollars, but in more expensive regions these cuts will reduce current mortgage levels by one hundred thousand dollars or more. Northern California mortgage levels are expected to see a substantial decline in government backing. See here.

Senate Bill 1508

The result of SB 1508 would be to delay any immediate drop of insurable values for home mortgage loans. The FHA would continue to back all qualified loans at present levels. While an eventual drop still seems eminent, proponents of SB 1508 argue that more time is necessary to hatch out the right levels for each region of the country.

The National Association of Realtors generally agrees. In its Letter of Support to both Senators Isakson and Menendez, NAR warns that a hasty drop in the levels of government backed mortgages could stifle any recovery in the national housing market. The official NAR Letter of Support for SB 1508 can be found here.


Consigliere Files: FTC Will Not Enforce Some Parts of its MARS Rule on Real Estate Professionals

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In a welcome and somewhat overdue policy shift last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pledged that it will no longer hold real estate brokerages to many of the rigid requirements spelled out in its Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule published earlier this year. However, Brokerages will continue to be enjoined from making misleading statements during their agency and in their advertisements.

This policy change does not apply to real estate professionals who offer loan modification services.

The MARS Rule

The MARS Rule was published early this year to address widespread fraud within the loan modification industry. The rule was specifically envisioned to cover lawyers and loan negotiators who promised to renegotiate a debtor’s mortgage for an upfront fee. Often, these negotiations were half hearted and wholly unsuccessful – costing the debtor his upfront fee and inevitably leading him to bankruptcy.

The MARS Rule disallows upfront fees for loan modification services. It also requires that any servicer who touches the debtor’s loan make numerous mandatory disclosures and statements to the debtor. Servicers must allow the debtors to talk directly with their lenders. Servicers must also make multiple disclosures which generally emphasize that they are not members of any bank or the government and that they cannot guaranty the successful renegotiation of any particular loan.

Of course, the MARS Rule was originally interpreted to cover real estate agents who must negotiate with their clients’ creditors during the short sale process.

More information on the MARS Rule and its specific requirements can be found here.

The Recent Change

On July 15, 2011, the FTC voted 5-0 in favor of no longer enforcing most of the provisions of the MARS Rule against real estate professionals engaged in obtaining short sales for consumers. The stay applies only to real estate professionals who: 1) are licensed and in good standing under state licensing requirements; 2) comply with state laws governing the practices of real estate professionals; and 3) assist or attempt to assist consumers in obtaining short sales in the course of securing the sales of their homes. The stay exempts real estate professionals who meet these requirements from the obligation to make many of the mandatory disclosures required by the MARS Rule. These professionals, however, remain subject to the Rule’s ban on misrepresentations and deceptive advertisements.

Real Estate Practice

This change removes some direct liability for agents, but it should not cause day to day practices to change in any extreme way. The real estate industry’s standard forms changed in anticipation of the MARS requirements earlier this year and many prudent real estate agents have been using variations of the CAR form MARSMRN, 3/11 and its sister document CAR form MARSSN, 3/11, since the Rule’s publication.

CAR form MARSMRN, 3/11 states:
“This notice is required by the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule when the listing agent presents the lenders short sale approval letter.”

CAR form MARSSN, 3/11 states:
“This notice is required by the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule when taking a short sale listing or at the time the listing agent becomes aware that the sale will require a lender’s consent to a short sale, whichever occurs first, if the listing agent will be communicating with the short sale lender regarding their consent to a short sale.”

While the FTC’s promise of forbearance renders much of the disclosures within these forms unnecessary, I still strongly recommend that they continue to be used for the time being. It’s the clients that represent most liability faced by real estate professionals. The FTC might discontinue enforcing parts of its MARS Rule on licensed real estate professionals, but that does not mean that clients won’t file suit against brokerages when they feel that they have been ill informed about their short sale. These disclosures remain helpful when a seller files a lawsuit claiming that he did not understand what his real estate agent was doing.

Also, the FTC’s policy shift does not change its pledge to scrutinize dishonest advertisements. Any misleading advertisement, especially those that seem to evoke a dishonest suggestion about the agent’s affiliation with the lender or some government program, can still result in state and federal penalties as well as a civil lawsuit.

The FTC’s full announcement about its policy shift concerning real estate professionals can be found here.


Monday Mojo: Tell me to kiss off, but don’t blow me off

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Earlier this month my close friend, who is a VP for a company here in Silicon Valley, and I went with our families on vacation together to Maine. While on the trip, I was talking with my buddy about some of the keys to being successful in life. We decided that if you want to know one sure fire way to completely sabotage your growth and success in business it would be to blow people off.

One of the biggest things that drive successful people crazy is when people blow them off or give them the old “well…maybe” brush-off. What makes successful people successful is they are DESISIVE and they hate it when they leave someone an email or a voicemail (sometimes 2 or 3 of them) and it is like their messages vaporize into space. It is why most people have hundreds or in some cases even thousands of emails in their inboxes. These types of people don’t want to deal with situations that may be uncomfortable so they blow the sender off instead of just dealing with it. If you want to make a simple job seem a lot harder then just keep putting it off. Most people are people pleasers and they may not have the courage to deliver bad news directly. They will duck dive around the issue at hand instead of just saying NO. They will just reply with” maybe”, “I will get back to you later” or they will blow the matter off all together. I am here to tell you that procrastinating your decisions in life is a death wish for your business and relationships.

If you want to make more money, be more successful, create not only better but also lasting relationships, be more respected, and downsize the amount of stress in life, find the courage to just say it like it is. Don’t avoid it. The person you are dealing with will not always like your answer, but trust me, even if your answer is NO, they will appreciate not being put through the ringer and they will respect you more for it. Tell them “yes” or tell them “no”, but do not tell them “maybe” or worse yet, don’t blow them off just because you don’t have the courage to say NO.

My message is simple this week. Be decisive and have the courage to communicate your decision. I promise it will have a huge positive impact on your life and business.


Monday Mojo: The 45 Lessons Life Taught Me

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One of the coolest things about being the author of Monday Morning MOJO is all the cool mojo I get sent back to me from people.  I usually write Monday Morning MOJO on my own, but this is one of those sent to me I needed to share with you. This is something we should all read at least once a week!

The following is written by Regina Brett. Regina is the author of God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours and a metro columnist at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio.

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and? parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry – God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, and then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone, everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.
31. However good or bad a situation is – it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come…
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.


Cool Apps: Document Scan in the Palm of Your Hand

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Real estate is an on-the-go sport, and as such, it’s nice to discover any app that could help cut down on trips to the office, Kinkos or other out-of-the-way spots just to print stuff.
 
Likewise, digital copies of anything are always better. Think easy access and never risking losing a slip of paper.
 
Enter Genius Scan. This app is strictly for iPhone and iPod Touch users, but it’s free and worth checking out if you’re on these devices at all. It turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into a pocket scanner, enabling you to quickly scan documents and email them from anywhere.
 
It enables you to create documents with multiple scans, rename and send them as PDFs.
 
Have a receipt you need to save for your tax records? Don’t risk losing it. Scan it in right at the point of sale and email it to yourself for easy access later.
 
Need to get a contract to another agent on a tight schedule? Scan it before the ink is dry and have it in their hands within minutes – seconds even. Documents are processed right on your phone, not sent through a third-party server.
 
Genius Scan automatically picks up the words on any surface – like a whiteboard, paper napkin, typed document, paper receipt. The scanner then auto-corrects the perspective. It’s super easy and fast. Welcome to the world of organized receipts and notes!


Cool Apps: Measure Your Online Klout

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If you’re using Twitter for your real estate business you’re probably constantly wondering whether what you are doing is working. Slow it down even more – how do you even figure out whether your efforts are working?
 
The end goal of course is always to build business. Twitter is great at helping agents cultivate those relationships and reputation that help to do that. But measuring your success on this platform is more than just counting followers. It’s about social influence.
 
Enter Klout – a tool that helps you measure social influence on Twitter. And what does social influence have to do with selling real estate? It all comes back to that ever-so-delicate online reputation. You need to build it. You need to maintain it.
 
Klout gives you insight as to what your influence is within your Twitter network. You may only have 50 followers, but be considered an influencer or thought leader because of the way they interact with you and your content online.
 
Klout collects data about the content you create, how people interact with that content and the size and composition of their networks. This data helps you to see the impact of your updates, links and recommendations across your network.
 
Get retweeted a lot? Klout considers that and feeds back influence measurement using that statistic. Or maybe you’re always adding links to your blog posts on Twitter but no one is clicking on them. Klout would consider that as well.
 
The service creates a Klout Score for users that can range from 0 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses more than 25 variables to measure three areas it sees as important in calculating influence: True Reach, Amplification Probability and Network Score. True Reach tells you just that – it looks at your engaged followers versus spam bots and dead accounts. Amplification Probability is the likelihood that messages will generate retweets or spark a conversation. Network Score measures the influence of your followers.
 
You can get your basic Klout score just by entering your Twitter handle at Klout.com.
 
Once you get a Klout score, you can see what kind of network you have – engaged or not engaged and whether you need to make adjustments like remove some of the spam bot accounts that are following you, or change the way you share articles and other links.
 
There’s really no point in continuing to spend time on Twitter if you have no idea whether you’re heading in the right direction, building your reputation and increasing your sphere of influence. Give Klout a try and see where you stand.


The benefits of being an Intero agent

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Just recently I went to a seminar – a Mike Ferry Seminar.  I don’t usually attend seminars, it’s just not my thing.

Gino encouraged me to go and I thought – it can’t hurt.

My first day of the seminar the room was full of people, something like 4200 attendees. And wouldn’t you know it Gino had arranged for Intero to have front row seats reserved with our names on them.

So where everyone else had to stand in very long lines to get whatever seat was left in the room. We had the front row. Nice!!

Everywhere I went, people would say “Are you with that group that sits up front? You sure are lucky.”

We had bracelets to let us into the class every day.  I put mine on loose because it was a nuisance. On the second day, I lost it.

I thought, no problem they will just give me another and marched right up to customer service. They said “Sorry we just can’t help you, the cost for an additional bracelet will be $250.”  I turned around and just figured it’s time go home. Oh well.

I texted Gino and he came out of the seminar and went directly to Matt Ferry. Matt turned around to customer service and said “this is one of Gino’s people – you can give her another bracelet.”

So I was able to get in and attend the rest of the awesome seminar.

Thank you Gino – I am glad to be one of your “People.”


Monday Mojo: Make Them Proud

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Don’t we all love a three day weekend?!

But don’t forget why we have this three day weekend. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, over 140 years ago. Today, Memorial Day, we all need to pay respect, honor, and remember those who died defending us. Think about it, they died so we could have the life and opportunities we have today.

So, today as we remember those who gave up their lives so we could have ours, here is the question we need to ask ourselves: would those who’ve died so we could live, say it was all worthwhile if they were to be with you today, to see how you are living your life and to see how you are making a difference?

Don’t let them down. Make them proud of what you do and the difference you are making in this life. Make the most of it. They gave their lives so we could too!

So, when things aren’t going our way, when we are tired, and when the going gets tough, close your eyes and think of them. Ask yourself, what advice would they give me? Would they think it is so tough? Would they tell you to give up, hit the snooze bar and stay in bed a little longer and make excuses? Is that what they would have done? I don’t think so. What do you think? I’m sure they would gladly trade places with you!

We owe them giving it our ABSOLUTE BEST!!!!!!!

Click here to watch this moving Memorial Day Tribute:


Thursday Thoughts: Leadership Requires Sacrifice

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Next Monday is Memorial Day. Most of us will celebrate at backyard barbeques, in the company of friends and family, enjoying the fruits of our hard work.

But what are we celebrating?

We are celebrating – indeed, we are honoring – the courage of those who do what must be done, who bear the load for others so that they may be free to live their lives.

On Memorial Day we bear witness to the leadership demonstrated by the members of the armed forces – those who sacrifice so we don’t have to.

General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led America’s combat forces to victory in the first Gulf War, understands this sacrifice that comes with leadership.

In a speech about leadership to several hundred real estate executives assembled for a conference he posed the question, “Why do the troops go? Why do their families let them go?

His answer: They go because their country asks them to.

Schwarzkopf continued, “As I speak to you right now, somewhere in this great nation, servicemen and women are saying goodbye to their families as they go off to war. I know what it’s like. Think of the anxiety of a family that is saying goodbye to a loved one with absolutely no idea when they will see them again or worse yet if they will ever see them again alive.”

The general defines leadership as the ability to inspire people to willingly do that which they wouldn’t ordinarily do. He distinguishes managers from leaders: whereas managers oversee processes, systems or equipment, leaders lead people who have their own dreams and ambitions.

Sounding like a preacher delivering a Sunday morning sermon, Schwarzkopf emphatically stated: “Leadership involves a sense of duty. Leadership involves a value system. Leadership involves ethics. Leadership certainly involves integrity.”

So, as you enjoy our American freedoms this Memorial Day, join me in reflecting on the model of sacrifice and leadership embodied in the men and women of our Armed Forces.

Think, too, how you might apply that model to inspire others around you to higher ideals – those places they might not otherwise go.