“Give me beauty in the inward soul; may the outward and the inward man be at one” – By Socrates
NEWS & HEADLINES
Believe it or not, a shutdown could be a positive for Treasuries. But in the MBS market, the FHA loan origination process, for example, may be impacted to some extent due to a shutdown. There are two important steps in the FHA loan origination process where FHA lenders have a dependency on FHA: obtaining a case number for a new FHA loan and after it closes being endorsed by FHA so that a mortgage insurance certificate can be issued. The case number for an FHA loan is obtained via FHA Connection. It is possible that FHA Connection may continue to operate even if there is a government shutdown. If that is the case, obtaining case numbers would not be a problem. (During the November 1995 shutdown, case numbers could not be obtained.) Barclays’ analysts believe that it is very likely that loans will not be endorsed and “mortgage insurance certificates will not be issued in the event of a shutdown. Lenders could continue to originate FHA eligible loans but they will need to wait to obtain an endorsement and an MI certificate. It should be noted that lenders with DE authority can potentially obtain MI certificates if FHA Connection continues to operate.” The shutdown in 1995 mainly caused a delay rather than drop in FHA loan origination, but if lenders decide to stop accepting FHA applications, it could be a problem.
Yesterday we had a very good 10-yr auction. And without any economic releases, the focus was/is indeed on the auction (supply versus demand), continued oil issues, and debt problems in Europe. So the Treasury’s $21 billion auction went well, coming in around 3.50% with a good bid-to-cover ratio. Stocks finished roughly unchanged, whereas MBS prices finished the day better between .375-.5.
We did have some news this morning. Weekly Jobless Claims came in at 397k, up 26k from a revised 371k. And the trade balance for January widened by $6 billion ($40.3 to $46.3 billion) to its highest level since last summer, viewed as putting more of a crimp in consumer spending. Less than 20% of the trade change was attributed to oil. After the news the 10-yr has improved to 3.45% and MBS prices are a shade better.
THREE STRATEGIES FOR GETTING YOUR FACEBOOK FAN PAGE
By now, if you haven’t heard of Facebook, it’s likely because you’re still busy trying to program your VCR or you have a Victrola that needs cranking. Which is to say, it’s everywhere. But how does a professional use Facebook to build their business, generate leads, and meet potential clients? First, you have to set up a fan page for your businesses or brand. After that, you have to get the word out. The page won’t do the work for you. So here are some tips on finding an audience and keeping their interest …
Give it a Proper Name: Sure, it seems easy enough but choosing a smart name might mean something entirely different to you than it does to a search engine. The best name to use, if you’d like to be found more often in searches, is the exact name of your business. Using clever phrases or your web domain may seem like a good way to separate yourself from Facebook’s 500 million active users, but more often than not it’ll make you less likely to be found by the very people you’re trying to attract.
Promote Your Page: Like anything else, if you want people to know about something, you have to tell them. So take advantage of Facebook’s widgets and badges and add links to your page on your business website, your blog, and anywhere else you can think of. The more opportunities you create to promote your page, the more likely you’ll have a burgeoning fan base before long.
Advertise: Facebook offers an advertising platform that allows you to buy a simple ad that you can target by location, age, or interests. That means, your ad appears before exactly the audience you want to attract. It’s not free, but if you’re serious about building your fan page, it’s a good way to start adding fans that aren’t in your family or social circle.
FORECAST: HOUSING WILL CONTINUE TO LAG RECOVERY
The U.S. economy is growing and employment should soon pick up steam, but housing will continue to lag behind other sectors, economists at the UCLA Anderson Forecast said in their latest report.
“Housing continues to wallow in its modern-day depression as low interest rates are being more than canceled by the glut of new product created during the bubble years of 2004-2007, the tidal wave of foreclosures, and increased credit standards being imposed by lenders,” said UCLA Anderson Forecast Senior Economist David Shulman in his forecast.
Although housing prices are down 30 percent, that would-be incentive to buyers has been offset by increased down-payment requirements, Shulman said.
Fears of “a further ratcheting down in prices, along with the shock of witnessing an unprecedented collapse in price structure, has kept buyers out of the market. Put simply, the investment value of homeownership has declined. Furthermore, the usual factors associated with housing weakness … tepid job growth and high unemployment, are suppressing demand.”
The Anderson Forecast calls for only a “modest” recovery in housing starts, which are expected to grow 12 percent this year, to 658,000. Housing starts peaked at 2.1 million in 2005, and bottomed at 554,000 in 2009.
Once the employment situation improves, housing starts should break the 1 million mark in 2012 and approach 1.5 million in 2013, with pent-up demand offsetting an expected rise in mortgage rates, the forecast said.
But a glut of housing in fringe areas will continue to keep a lid on construction of single-family homes in the “exurbs,” Shulman predicted.
The UCLA Anderson Forecast predicts real growth in GDP of 3.8 percent the first three months of this year, and 3 percent through 2013.
That growth should drive payroll employment to increase to a pace of 1.9 million in 2011, 2.6 million in 2012 and 3 million in 2013, Shulman said. But because so many jobs were lost during the recession, employment still won’t have bounced back to the peak level reached in first-quarter 2008.
The forecast predicts unemployment will rise modestly in the second quarter before beginning to decline, and will not fall below 8 percent until the end of 2013.
State and local governments, struggling under the weight of pension and health benefits, will continue to lay off or furlough employees and seek pay cuts, Shulman said.
Texas and California, he noted, used to have very similar unemployment rates. At the end of 2010, however, California’s unemployment rate was 12.5 percent — 4.2 percentage points higher than the 8.3 percent unemployment rate in Texas.
Nickelsburg expects California’s growth will “run slightly hotter” than the U.S. overall, thanks to increased international trade and business investment in equipment and software.
To get back to pre-recession unemployment levels, California not only has to regenerate the 1.3 million jobs lost during the recession, but generate additional jobs to accommodate the growing workforce.
The implosion of the housing market left California with at least 350,000 job seekers who won’t be able to find work in the fields they’d been employed in, Nickelsburg wrote.
California may be losing jobs to Texas, he theorized, although the state continues to attract more venture capital.
RANKING YOUR REAL ESTATE CLIENTS
Social media marketing gurus tout how they have thousands of Facebook friends or Twitter followers. While this may be a great approach for Internet marketers, it may not be a wise approach for Realtors.
When Realtors brag about how many friends they have on Facebook or how many followers they have on Twitter, they may be missing what really matters. What matters is not the size of your database, but the quality of people in your database.
Fast-forward to today. Take a look at your Facebook friend list, your LinkedIn account and your Twitter account. Of those people, how many of them would you recognize if you were to bump into them on the street?
If you don’t know who they are, do you really expect them to trust you and to refer business to you? In other words, would you be better off with 200 people that you interacted with on a regular basis and that you know, or with 2,000 Facebook friends, most of whom you have no idea about who they are?
Time to cull your database
If you’re like most agents, you probably will feel uncomfortable “unfriending” or “unfollowing” people on social media. There’s another approach that will achieve the same result without offending anyone.
It’s one thing to have a large following on your blog or for your e-mail newsletter. In fact, it’s highly desirable to grow this list as long as everyone on it has agreed to opt in to it.
On the other hand, if you have a friend or follower feed that is packed with communications from people who you don’t know and don’t care about, start separating the chaff from the best potential referral sources.
Ultimately, the best way to build your business is to be in regular contact with members of your A-list and B-list who know you, interact with you, and who trust you to represent them when they are ready to list or sell their home.
JUDGING AN AGENT’S LISTING PRESENTATION
One of the primary questions asked of real estate agents is “Why would I list my home with you?”. 90% of them give the same exact basic answers.
They discuss the 50 websites they have access to, brag about their (or their company’s) market share, and present a standard marketing plan sprinkled with print media and open houses. Shockingly, these agents are puzzled when home sellers choose the agent with the lowest commission or the one who promises a higher sales price. When every offer is basically the same, wouldn’t you pick the one that puts the most money in your pocket?
In today’s world, where only 10% of the available inventory is going to sell this month, you need more than a listing agent – you need a LEADER. As far as I am concerned, there are three components to leadership:
An agent must prove themselves as well versed in many areas in order to ask someone to follow them. Market trends like those discussed in this blog daily, interest rate movements, the changing mortgage landscape, knowledge of your competition (the other homes for sale that are also trying to lure any potential buyers), and being a raving fan of the community are some of the components that make an expert. Additionally, experts have others in their sphere of influence who are experts in other disciplines- mortgage, taxation, estate planning and more
2. Listening Skills
How can anyone help anyone if they don’t take the time to LISTEN? They need to understand your needs. What’s more important…price or timing? Why are you moving? Where are you going to begin the next chapter of your life? What are the reasons you bought your home (because it might give a clue to your eventual purchaser)? Great agents ask a lot of questions. If you find yourself asking more questions than the agent, you have not found a leader. Leaders listen so they can help their followers get the result that the followers desire. It’s called Servant Leadership.
Once you are comfortable that an agent knows their stuff and that they care more about your result than their pay check, you need an agent who has unique solutions to the problem. Simply stated: How can they get your house to stand out with all this inventory? An agent’s marketing plan is what ultimatelyattracts potential buyers and, if your agent is just putting you in with all the clutter of the big websites on the Internet, you are doomed for disappointment. Single property websites, text messaging, QR codes as well as geographic, cultural and employment marketing strategies are crucial. Unique Open Houses that incorporate potential repairs, renovations or upgrades with the FHA’s 203K loan could be important as well. Or, you can also try anything else that’s “outside the box”.
As a consumer, it’s okay to follow when you find a true leader- one who is a creative, serving expert. Take it from me…they are rare. However, when you find one, they are worth their weight in gold.