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5 Tech Questions that Seniors Should Ask When Interviewing a Real Estate Agent


5 Tech Questions that Seniors Should Ask When Interviewing a Real Estate Agent | Keeping Current Matters

We are pleased to have Nikki Buckelew back as our guest blogger for today’s post. Nikki has extensive experience working with seniors and is the Founder & CEO of the Senior Real Estate Institute. Enjoy! – The KCM Crew 

If you have not bought or sold a home in a few years (or maybe decades) it is likely that there are more than a few new trends in real estate that you will encounter as you begin to interview real estate agents.

One particular trend now common among many real estate brokerage firms is called the practice of “going paperless.” This can be a bit scary for some people, especially senior adults who are not accustomed to using computers in their personal or professional lives.

If you are one of the many with reservations about the paperless process, you will want to talk with your agent about any concerns or questions you have. In this article we have provided some basic information about the paperless process and some key questions to ask your real estate agent.

How your agent handles your questions may just help you determine if he or she is the right agent for you!

What does it mean to go paperless?

Going paperless simply means that instead of printing out every contract, form or disclosure for your signature, you may be asked to sign certain documents electronically.

This could mean:

  1. Typing your name into a designated field included in a form (received via email)
  2. Signing your name on a digital touchpad (laptop, netbook, smartphone, etc.)

While some have experienced this type of technology before and are perfectly willing and comfortable using it, others are not. Frankly, the first time I was asked to sign a real estate document electronically via email I was a bit perplexed and required some guidance.

If you have not been exposed to this type of technology, it can seem a little overwhelming, especially if introduced to it in the midst all of the other things going on during a move. This is why it’s important to educate yourself on the front end, mitigating potential delays, avoiding unnecessary frustration, and preventing surprises down the road.

Here are 5 simple questions you should ask before you ‘sign on the dotted line’

1. How do you typically communicate with your clients (phone, email, text, instant messaging, etc.)?

Good agents know that the best method (and frequency) of communication is the one that best serves the client, so getting this agreed upon early in the relationship is paramount — for both you and the agent.

If you want to communicate strictly by phone, be sure that you and your agent agree on the protocols for leaving and returning messages, hours of availability, and which phone numbers are best for certain times of day. Similar discussion around email, text messaging, and other modes of communication should be had as well, if that is your desired method of information delivery.

2. What method(s) do you use for getting client signatures?

The goal here is to find out your options. Many agents are still in the conversion process of going paperless and they are more than willing to use “more conventional” methods of getting signatures.

Some may be required, however, by their respective brokerage firms to utilize only paperless systems. If this is the case, ask the agent to show you examples of the types of things that may be asked of you during the course of working together.

If after a quick tutorial, you aren’t comfortable with the electronic signature process, it’s “OK” to choose an agent who can better accommodate your preferences.

3. Can you assess my devices to insure they are compatible with the systems you use?

Even if you are completely prepared to enter the paperless world with no reservations whatsoever, it can only be done if you have the right equipment. Before agreeing to a paperless process, ask the agent to do a “test run” using a non-official/non-binding document on your system to insure its functionality.

4. Will you provide technical support if I am not “techy” and need some help?

My dad (self described “non-techy” and proud of it), has a computer, printer, smart phone, email address, and wifi. He does not, however, have the faintest idea how they work or how to pull up attachments in his email.

When he decided to purchase a new home this past year using a reverse mortgage, the lender was located out of state, which meant everything was done via email — electronically. Needless to say, I was dad’s tech support in this situation. If you do not have a trusted advisor who can help you with troubleshooting potential technology issues, make sure your agent or their staff is capable, patient, and willing to personally walking you through the steps.

5. Are you flexible if I choose to use phone and paper over electronic communication and documentation?

Options are the key. While some agents are extremely flexible in how they deliver their services, others may be married to a very specific process or style. Insure the agent you are considering is willing and able to do what is right for you, based on your comfort level, knowledge, and ability.

Bottom Line

It goes without saying that it is critical to have the conversation with your real estate professional about their paperless processes and communication methods.

Not only will doing so put your mind at ease regarding unfamiliar territory, but it may also provide your agent with necessary information so he or she can serve you more effectively.


 


Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 30th, 2015 11:26 AMLeave a Comment

April 29th, 2015 12:01 AM

Housing Market: Freddie Mac Remains Optimistic


Housing Market: Freddie Mac Remains Optimistic | Keeping Current Matters

The April 2015 U.S. Economic & Housing Market Outlook from Freddie Mac revealed that they are optimistic about the real estate market in 2015. As a matter of fact, the sub-title of the report was “Great Expectations”.

What made Freddie Mac so optimistic? Here are a few highlights from the report:

“For the remainder of the year we should see a resumption of solid economic growth and acceleration in housing activity. Notwithstanding a disappointing March jobs report the acceleration is already underway.”

“With spring upon us, housing markets are poised to accelerate and we expect the best year for home sales since 2007. Despite harsh winter weather to start the year, home sales through February are only off from the 2013 pace by 7,000 sales... Pending home sales were up 3.1 percent in February to the highest level since June 2013. This marked the fourth consecutive month for rising pending home sales showing positive momentum in general for the housing market.”

Their projections…

“By the end of the spring home buying season in June, we should be well above the pace of home sales for any year since 2007.”

“We are as optimistic about trends in housing markets moving forward as we have ever been since the depths of the Great Recession.”

Regarding prices…

“Due to strong growth, we are expecting house prices to increase 4.0 percent in 2015.”

But there were some warnings…

On available supply:

“With low mortgage rates, improving labor markets, and rising demand, one key issue for housing over the next two years will be the lack of supply of for-sale and for-rent homes.”

“Many metro areas that have seen robust job growth and population increases are facing shortages of available for-sale inventory.”

On interest rates:

“However, by the end of the year long-term interest rates should only increase modestly, ending the year at about 4.3 percent for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.”

Note: Freddie Mac worded this as being not that crucial. However, a 4.3% mortgage rate is about a .75 increase over current rates.

Bottom Line

Things are looking good for the real estate market. If you are thinking of selling, contact an agent to discuss how this applies to your neighborhood.


Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 29th, 2015 12:01 AMLeave a Comment

April 28th, 2015 11:58 PM

Does Homeownership Make Sense Financially?


Does Homeownership Make Financial Sense? | Keeping Current Matters

Everyone knows the social advantages of home ownership. However, some question the financial benefits of owning a home. Three recent studies shed some light on the issue.

RealtyTrac recently released a report comparing home price appreciation to wage growth over the last two years. The study revealed that home price appreciation has outpaced wage growth in 76% of U.S. housing markets during that time period. By how much? Here is a graph showing their findings:

Home Prices vs. Wages | Keeping Current Matters

And we all know the importance of home appreciation in determining the net wealth of most American families. Merrill Lynch just issued a report covering the issue. Their findings are shown here:

Average Home Equity | Keeping Current Matters

It obviously makes financial sense to be a homeowner.

But, does it make sense to buy now?

The survey company Pulsenomics just issued their findings on the cost of owning versus the cost of renting. They compared historical averages to the cost you can expect to pay today.

Buying vs. Renting | Keeping Current Matters

The cost of buying is far below historical averages. Renting is another story.


Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 28th, 2015 11:58 PMLeave a Comment

April 23rd, 2015 11:06 AM
Home Sales Skyrocketing!!

Posted: 23 Apr 2015 04:00 AM PDT

Home Sales Skyrocketing!! | Keeping Current Matters
Yesterday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Home Sales Report. The numbers shocked many analysts as they revealed a 10.4% increase over the same month last year. This is the highest number of sales since September 2013. Sales have increased year-over-year for six consecutive months and the 10.4% increase is the highest annual increase since August 2013. March's sales increase was the largest monthly increase since December 2010. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, explained:
"After a quiet start to the year, sales activity picked up greatly throughout the country in March. The combination of low interest rates and the ongoing stability in the job market is improving buyer confidence and finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years."
Here is a graph showing home sales so far this year: Existing Home Sales | Keeping Current Matters An increase in sales occurred in every region of the country even the Northeast that experienced one of their roughest winters in years: Existing Home Sales by Region | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Houses are flying off the shelves. This may be the perfect time to sell yours.

Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 23rd, 2015 11:06 AMLeave a Comment

Is Getting a Mortgage Getting Easier?

Posted: 09 Apr 2015 04:00 AM PDT

Is Getting a Mortgage Getting Easier? | Keeping Current Matters
There has been a lot of discussion about how difficult it is to get a home mortgage in this market. There is no doubt that the process is not as easy as it was eight to ten years ago and that’s probably good news. However, it does appear that availability to mortgage money is increasing with each passing day. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association publishes the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their site the index is “a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time”. As we can see from the graph below, mortgage availability has been increasing dramatically over the last six months. Mortgage Availability | Keeping Current Matters Accompanying the latest index was this comment from Mike Fratantoni, MBA's Chief Economist:
"A number of factors contributed to a loosening of credit in March: Freddie Mac's introduction of their 97 LTV program (Fannie Mae's was implemented in December) [and the] additional loosening of parameters on jumbo loan programs… Although credit remains tight by historical standards, this increase in availability, coupled with low rates and job market strength, should lead to stronger home purchase activity this spring."

Bottom Line

If you have remained on the sidelines regarding homeownership because you were concerned about your ability to qualify for a mortgage, it may be time to get into the game.

Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 17th, 2015 10:23 AMLeave a Comment

April 17th, 2015 10:17 AM
Selling Your House in 2015? Don’t Miss this Opportunity

Posted: 15 Apr 2015 04:00 AM PDT

Selling Your House in 2015? Don’t Miss this Opportunity | Keeping Current Matters
Every seller wants to get the best price for their house. We learned in high school that the best price for any item will be determined by the demand for that item relative to the supply of that item. We have reported that the inventory of houses for sale is well below normal numbers. There is historical evidence that the demand for housing is about to increase dramatically. Each year, more homes sell in May, June, July and August than any other four months of the year. Here is a graph of homes sales last year by month: 2014 Home Sales | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

You want to make sure your house is available for sale during peak selling season. If you are thinking of selling this year, contact a local real estate professional today.

Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 17th, 2015 10:17 AMLeave a Comment

Posted: 01 Apr 2015 
Industry Experts Agree: Housing Supply Too Low | Keeping Current Matters
Last week, we reported on the lack of housing supply and how that was impacting the real estate market. Today, we want to let you know what other industry experts are saying. Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac Vice President:
“It’s kind of a seesaw right now between supply and demand. One of the reasons for fewer sales is not so much a lack of demand but a lack of supply, especially in the price range the majority of buyers were looking for.”
Diana Olick, CNBC’s Realty Check:
“Total sales are still running below expectations for the year. Don't blame winter weather, though. Blame the lack of supply.”
Bill McBride, Founder of Calculated Risk:
“Inventory is still very low (down 0.5% year-over-year in February). This will be important to watch over the next month at the start of the spring buying season.”
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors:
“Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices to near unsuitable levels. Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity.”
Realtor.com
“The National Housing Trend Report shows that inventory has decreased 10.9 percent year over year.”

And some experts are actually calling it a “seller’s market”

Forbes.com
“Tight inventory is a main reason the ball is still in the sellers' court.”
Bill Banfield, VP of Quicken Loans:
“We’re a bit low on the supply-side which could force prices up for buyers, further hammering home that we’re in a seller’s market.”

Bottom Line

If you are debating putting your home on the market this year, now may be the time. The amount of buyers ready and willing to make a purchase is at the highest level in years. Contact a local professional in your area to get the process started.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 1st, 2015 11:12 AMLeave a Comment

March 30th, 2015 3:07 PM

Why You Should Sell Now!


Why You Should Sell Now! | Keeping Current Matters

As the temperature rises, buyers are coming out ready to purchase their dream home. Inventory is still below historic numbers and demand is strong. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity for you and your family.

Here are five reasons to list your home now.

1. Demand is Strong

Foot traffic refers to the number of people out actually physically looking at homes right now. The latest foot traffic numbers show that there are more prospective purchasers currently looking at homes than at any other time in the last 12 months which includes last spring’s buyers’ market. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now!

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply just dropped to 4.6 months, which is under the 6 months’ supply that is needed for a normal housing market. This means, in many areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

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. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future.

Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference).

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

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the housing market in recent times has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler.

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

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 19.3% from now to 2019. 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. You can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate under 4% right now. Rates are projected to increase by about three quarters of a percent by the end of 2015.

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 back 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.


Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on March 30th, 2015 3:07 PMLeave a Comment

NAR'S Existing Home Sales Report [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights of the Report:

  • Existing Home Sales are up 4.7% from sales last year, and up 1.2% month-over-month
  • The Percentage of First-Time Homebuyers increased for the first time since November when it climbed to 29%
  • The Median Home Price is up 7.5% over last year marking the 36th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on March 27th, 2015 11:14 AMLeave a Comment

March 25th, 2015 4:08 PM
5 Demands to Make on Your Listing Agent

Posted: 24 Mar 2015 04:00 AM PDT

5 Demands to Make on Your Listing Agent | Keeping Current Matters
The busy spring real estate season is here. Are you thinking of selling your house? Are you dreading having to deal with strangers walking through the house? Are you concerned about getting the paperwork correct? Hiring a professional real estate agent can take away most of the challenges of selling. A great agent is always worth more than the commission they charge just like a great doctor or great accountant. You want to deal with one of the best agents in your marketplace. To do this, you must be able to distinguish the average agent from the great one. Here are the top 5 demands to make of your Real Estate Agent when selling your house:

1. Tell the truth about the price

Too many agents just take the listing at any price and then try to the ‘work the seller’ for a price correction later. Demand that the agent prove to you that they have a belief in the price they are suggesting. Make them show you their plan to sell the house at that price – TWICE! Every house in today’s market must be sold two times – first to a buyer and then to the bank. The second sale may be more difficult than the first. The residential appraisal process has gotten tougher. A survey showed that there was a challenge with the appraisal on 24% of all residential real estate transactions. It has become more difficult to get the banks to agree on the contract price. A red flag should be raised if your agent is not discussing this with you at the time of the listing.

2. Understand the timetable with which your family is dealing

You will be moving your family to a new home. Whether the move revolves around the start of a new school year or the start of a new job, you will be trying to put the move to a plan. This can be very emotionally draining. Demand from your agent an appreciation for the timetables you are setting. Your agent cannot pick the exact date of your move, but they should exert any influence they can, to make it work.

3. Remove as many of the challenges as possible

It is imperative that your agent knows how to handle the challenges that will arise. An agent’s ability to negotiate is critical in this market.
Remember: If you have an agent who was weak negotiating with you on the parts of the listing contract that were most important to them and their family (commission, length, etc.), don’t expect them to turn into a super hero when they are negotiating for you and your family with the buyer.

4. Help with the relocation

If you haven’t yet picked your new home, make sure the agent is capable and willing to help you. The coordination of the move is crucial. You don’t want to be without a roof over your head the night of the closing. Likewise, you don’t want to end up paying two housing expenses (whether it is rent or mortgage). You should, in most cases, be able to close on your current home and immediately move into your new residence.

5. Get the house SOLD!

There is a reason you are putting yourself and your family through the process of moving. You are moving on with your life in some way. The reason is important or you wouldn’t be dealing with the headaches and challenges that come along with selling. Do not allow your agent to forget these motivations. Constantly remind them that selling the house is why you hired them. Make sure that they don’t worry about your feelings more than they worry about your family. If they discover something needs to be done to attain your goal (i.e. price correction, repair, removing clutter), insist they have the courage to inform you.

Good agents know how to deliver good news. Great agents know how to deliver tough news. In today’s market, YOU NEED A GREAT AGENT!


Posted in:General
Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on March 25th, 2015 4:08 PMLeave a Comment

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