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Do People Still Use Real Estate Agents?

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Technology seems to be the heart of the real estate market.  It begs the question, do house hunters and owners selling their house still feel that they need to use a real estate agent?  Based on a recent housing consumer study completed by Harris Insights, the answer is a resounding yes.

In fact, the percentage of home buyers or sellers who used a real estate agent in a recent transaction has increased 5 percentage points from the last study three years ago and up 9 percentage points since 2001.

Many might assume that the older population of buyers and sellers are the most likely to use a real estate agent for their transaction.  After all, Gen Xers and Millennials are tech savvy and more accustomed to navigating the virtual world.  However, according to an article published by Housing Wire, “91% of those ages 18 to 34 used real estate agents in their transaction. That number is slightly higher among Gen Xers, or those ages 35 to 44 years old, at 94%…Actually, it’s the older generations that are cutting real estate agents out of the picture as just 81% of those ages 55 and older reported using a real estate agent in their transaction.”

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Real Estate Experts Provide Advice for Investors

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Real Estate is a popular investment vehicle for American investors.  In fact, 89% of investors put their money into real estate, according to a report by Better Homes and Garden Real Estate.  In a recent article published by Forbes, real estate experts provide reminders and warnings regarding real estate investments in order to help insure a profitable investment.

One real estate professional, Lee Kiser, reminds investors to study the real estate taxes of a property before making the purchase.  Its important to understand what the upcoming tax liability may be down the road, and a real estate tax professional may be able to help an investor prepare accordingly.

Shelling out the money for a professional inspection and appraisal might not be top of the list for investors, but according to Angela Yaun of the Day Realty Group, it may help save more money for the investor later.  The investor may be able to get items covered under a home warranty if they are proven to be functioning at the time of the inspection.  It can also make the buyer aware of repair expenses they should plan for later.  A professional appraisal will provide the most accurate square footage and appraised value, important facts to have on hand when the investor is looking to sell their property.

The article goes on to detail the importance of understanding Home Owners Association restrictions, obtaining a Master Land Use plan for the area surrounding the property, and getting accurate and professional estimates for repairs, holding costs and closing costs.

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Photo Credit: Antonio Carlos Cascatrina

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Tips for Protecting Real Estate Consumers from Costly Scams and Fraud

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If you were to ask a room full real estate professionals if any of their clients were victims of wire fraud during a real estate transaction, chances are there would be many who might raise their hands.  In fact, according to an article published by Realtor Mag, “The Threat of Wire Fraud is Real”, “Wire fraud topped the list as a sophisticated scam causing consumers to lose millions of dollars each year”.  As alarming as that idea may be, real estate professionals can put some simple safe guards in place to help protect their clients.

In the article, written by Erica Christoffer and Graham Wood, a number of suggestions are touched upon.  For example, “If you or your agents do engage in a wire transfer with a client, call them on the phone immediately prior to the transfer of funds so they know they’re sending money to the legitimate source.”  Additionally, make your clients aware that you do no discuss personal financial information over e-mail and review with them what your communication practices are.  Hopefully, with this mutual understanding between you and your client, if they receive questionable e-mails, a red flag will be raised immediately before any sensitive financial information is shared.

Clients should also be reminded to not only use strong passwords, but update them regularly.  Perhaps even updating a password just before any wire instructions are sent.  As a real estate professional, you should also follow these guidelines for strong and updated passwords.

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Photo Credit: Blogtrepreneur

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How Is Student Debt Affecting Real Estate Trends?

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Student debt is a thorn in the side of many college students years after they receive their diploma.  The rising cost of tuition and debates as to whether students should be responsible for paying for their college education have been hot topics for several years.   According to an article published by Bloomberg, written by Chris Bryant, “In the U.S., where aggregate student debt has surged 170 percent in a decade, recent graduates owe $34,000 on average. About 5 percent owe more than $100,000. “

This may not seem like an issue that older generations would be worried about.  Their student loans have long been paid off, they may have even helped finance their children’s college education, leaving them debt free from college loans.  However, as the article points out, this mounting debt is a factor in some negative economic trends that affect many, even older generations.

Because the generation of millennials will be dedicating funds to pay their student loans off, with salaries that have not rebounded from the 2008 recession, their focus will not be on purchasing a home.  They are struggling to set money aside for a down payment.  Missed loan payments for student loans can affect credit scores, making mortgages harder to come by.    As baby boomers look to downsize homes in retirement, it might be difficult to find buyer from the next generation who can afford to purchase it.

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Why Aren’t Homeowners Choosing to Sell?

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FotoFlexer_PhotoAccording to the latest home sales data, it’s a great time to sell a home.  Home prices have been increasing at a steady pace, there is very low inventory which means less competition for sellers and homes are selling, on average, in around 51 days or less in the fastest-selling markets.

Yet, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is reporting a 3.2 percent decrease in existing home sales in July 2016.  According to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, “Realtors are reporting diminished buyer traffic because of the scarce number of affordable homes on the market, and the lack of supply is stifling the efforts of many prospective buyers attempting to purchase while mortgage rates hover at historical lows,”.  This begs the question, why aren’t many home owners trying to sell their homes?

In an article published by The Washington Post By Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin, five reasons have been identified:

  1. Homeowners still need the space in their current home to accommodate older and younger generations moving in.
  2. Babyboomers, who have yet to retire, still want to live close to their jobs.
  3. Living in their current home is still less expensive than moving to a new, even smaller, home.
  4. Some homeowners still owe more than their house is worth, or have such little equity, they are “functionally underwater” after factoring in the cost of selling and moving.
  5. Home owners simply have not found another home that they would like to purchase and, therefore, have no incentive to sell.

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Photo Credit:  Collwyn Cleveland

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