TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: February 15; 2 Tools for Online Real Estate Success; Selling Your House? 5 Reasons to do it NOW; FHA Premium Structure; Investors and Ginnie Mae; Rising Interest Rates; Homebuilders on Housing Market; Open House Flyer

“Most people diffuse their psychic energy (attention) in hundreds of random ways. Those who flow focus their psychic energy intentionally upon the task at hand. It really boils down to knowing your goal, concentrating upon it, remaining determined, and having the self-discipline to complete what you are doing.” — Dick Sutphen: Psychic researcher, hypnotist, author

TWO ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR ONLINE REAL ESTATE SUCCESS:

1. Most important tool for success online: your mind

It’s the most essential thing you need for online success. Here are some specific ways to use your mind as you approach the mess of software and vendors and consultants and platforms and so on:

1. Think about what you’re really doing online in the first place. What do you want other people to do online that helps your business?

2. Think about what other people are really doing online in the first place. What can your business do to help other people?

3. Map out the whole process, a sort of customer workflow, starting with a potential customer who has a problem and ending with you solving their problem. Bonus points if you use crayons to make your map.

4. Make a circle around the parts of this workflow that take place on platforms you don’t fully control (Facebook, Twitter, Google and so on).

5. Make a circle in a different color around all the parts of this workflow that occur on platforms that you fully control (your company website, your self-hosted blog on your own domain and so on).

Without using your mind, you’re more likely to fall victim to “shiny object syndrome” and vanity metrics. If you know about your customers, and you know about you, then you can evaluate and deploy technology.

2. Second most important tool for online success: the humble spreadsheet

If you’re going to do things online, you’ll want to observe what people are doing online. Then make some improvements to what you’re doing online. Then repeat. Unless you’re perfect.

If you’re perfect, then everything always works out the way you think it should and you’re free to avoid doing anything different. I’m not perfect, though, so I like observing.

One of the hard parts of using observations to make decisions is that there are so many platforms and ways to make observations. By this, I mean there’s no one analytics package to rule them all. And even if there were, it probably wouldn’t have the metrics that matter most to your business.

If you’ve taken advantage of the first tool for online success — your mind — then you should be able to develop a handful of metrics that really matter for your business. This is easier to do in a room that has no computers or screens in it. It’s probably even easier to do in a location that isn’t your office.

Your own spreadsheet is where you store and analyze that data. Your own spreadsheet lets you focus on your business instead of Facebook’s business or Google’s business. And hopefully, your own spreadsheet will tell you how you’re doing in terms of helping customers.

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Selling Your House? 5 Reasons To Do It NOW!

The conventional wisdom when selling a home has always been to wait until the ‘Spring Buying Season’. Over the years, that has seemed to make sense and is now accepted as a good strategy for those who want to sell their house and receive the best possible price. This real estate market has shattered many previously held beliefs. The wisdom of waiting for a spring market is another belief that is about to fall. Here are five reasons why?

1.) Interest Rates Are On the Rise

Interest rates have spiked up rather dramatically over the last ninety days and are now over 5%. Initially, an increase in rates has a positive effect on the market as it forces buyers off the fence. However, it also eats into a buyer’s purchasing power. As rates increase, the mortgage amount a buyer qualifies for decreases. This will eventually have a negative impact on prices.

2.) Your Dream Home Will Never Be Cheaper

If your family goal is to sell your current house and take advantage of the fabulous selection of properties currently available to buy the home of your dreams, DO IT NOW! Prices will continue to soften in most markets. However, if you are buying, COST should be more important than PRICE. Cost can be dramatically impacted by rising mortgage interest rates. Do the math and decide if now is the time.

3.) Buyers Are Out Early

There is mounting evidence that buyers are coming out earlier this year. A belief that now is a good time to buy coupled with the increase in interest rates has started the buying season early.

Pete Flint, CEO of Trulia:

“We’re seeing a national resurgence of buyer and seller activity on Trulia.com. In January alone, we experienced an unprecedented level of site traffic including 11 million unique visitors – which is more than 70 percent year-over-year growth. We’ve are now experiencing 100,000 property views per minute.”

The National Association of Realtors just reported that the number of house sales increased 12.9% over last month.

4.) Inventory Increases Every Spring

Every year there is an increase of inventory which comes to market as we approach the spring. Here is the number of listings available for sale in 2010.

February – 3,531,000

March – 3,626,000

April – 4,029,000

We believe there will be an increase in these numbers in 2011 as there is a pent-up selling demand created by the weak market of the last few years. You won’t have to worry about this increasing competition if you sell now.

5.) We Are in the Eye of the Foreclosure Storm

While banks are trying to rectify their foreclosure procedures, there is a large supply of discounted properties which has been delayed coming to market. This inventory will be released sometime in the next few months. Foreclosures sell on average at a 41% discount. When released they will be competing with your house for the buyers in the marketplace. If you are looking to sell in 2011, you want to sell before this inventory becomes your competition.

CNN Money quoted the leadership Of RealtyTrac on this issue:

“We’ve now seen three straight months with fewer than 300,000 properties receiving foreclosure filings, following 20 straight months where the total exceeded 300,000,” said James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac.

“Unfortunately,” he added, “This is less a sign of a robust housing recovery and more a sign that lenders have become bogged down in reviewing procedures, resubmitting paperwork and formulating legal arguments related to accusations of improper foreclosure processing.”

“We expect a spike in the first quarter,” said Rick Sharga, a RealtyTrac spokesman.

Bottom Line

These are five strong reasons to sell now instead of waiting until later in the year. Sit down with a local real estate professional today and decide the best options for you and your family.

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A Few Headliners & Other News

FHA’s New Premium Structure: “As part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the FHA capital reserves,” and to help push private money back into mortgages, the FHA came out with a new premium structure for FHA-insured mortgage loans increasing its annual mortgage insurance premium (MIP) by a quarter of a percentage point (.25) on all 30- and 15-year loans starting in mid-April. (The upfront MIP will remain unchanged at 1.0 percent.) The increase adds $30 to the average borrower’s payment and in total is estimated to add $3 billion annually to the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. It is the second increase since October.

Investors and Ginnie Mae: From an investor’s viewpoint, any investor holding Ginnie Mae securities just became much more comfortable with their holdings and with the odds of FHA-to-FHA refinancing going down. Those familiar with FHA loans realize that before October a 95% LTV 30-yr loan paid a 225 basis points up-front MIP with a 50 bps annual MIP. Now, that loan pays 100 bps up-front — but 110 bps annually. Investors believe that this change, given current rates, effectively removes any 5% and 5.5% FHA loans from being refinanced into new FHA loans.

Rising Interest Rates: The recent move up in interest rates wasn’t unexpected, as the rate markets have been technically bearish since Halloween. But what was not expected was the magnitude of the run-up. So, interestingly, many analysts believe that we have already seen the big move for rates (unless the world stops buying our debt, of course), so although rates are gradually expected to increase for much of 2011, don’t look for any big moves higher. Yesterday, on no real news, 10-year note prices drifted higher on the day and closed up 9/32s to yield 3.61%. It was a quiet session in mortgages as well, with supply around half the recent normal and MBS prices finishing the day about .125-.250 better. But, after a data-less session yesterday and a light week just past, we have had several reports today. Import Prices were +1.5% month-over-month, Export Prices +1.2%, Retail Sales were +.3%, ex-auto & gas it was +.2%, light but positive, and the Empire State Index came in at “15.43” – jump from the previous month’s. We have some minor news still to go, but after this early news we find the 10-yr at 3.63% and MBS prices worse by about .125.

Homebuilders View Of Housing Market Grim: Homebuilders are not seeing a turnaround in the housing market after the worst year for new-home sales in a half-century. The National Association of Home Builders says its index of builder sentiment for February remained unchanged for the fourth straight month at 16. Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the market. The index hasn’t been above that level since April 2006. Homebuilders are struggling to compete with millions of foreclosures that are forcing home prices down. Last year was also the worst in more than a decade for sales of existing homes.Weak sales mean fewer jobs. Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the trade group.

OPEN HOUSE FLYER EXAMPLE (Call Me to get your Open House Flyer created today!)

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