Happy Easter Weekend!  Loan Questions?  Have your “Peeps” call me & lets get them into a home today!

 

“The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers.” — Deepak Chopra: Speaker and writer on spirituality and mind-body topics

 

FORECLOSURES: BRINGING CLARITY TO THE CONFUSION

Headlines created by the numerous foreclosure reports often contradict each other. One headline announces foreclosures are rising while the next talks about the decrease in foreclosure numbers. This has led to tremendous confusion regarding the issue. Let’s bring some clarity to the data. There are five individual stages of the foreclosure process that are reported:

1.) 90+ Day Delinquencies

Once a homeowner falls three months behind on their payments, most financial institutions count them in their foreclosure numbers. Why? Less than 2% of those who fall that far behind ever catch up in their payments. The other 98% will end up as a distressed property (foreclosure or short sale). Homeowners in this category don’t always receive a foreclosure notice immediately. In some cases, homeowners who have not paid their mortgage in 12 months have not yet received a notice of foreclosure.

2.) Homes in the foreclosure process

These homes have received a formal notice which officially starts the foreclosure process. In different states, because of court procedures, it takes varying time frames to complete this process.

3.) Homes repossessed by the bank

These homes have finished the foreclosure process and are now owned by the bank. These homes are known as REOs (Real Estate Owned).

4.) REOs placed on the market

These are the REOs that banks bring to market. Many come to market quickly. Others must be refurbished before being put up for sale.

5.) REOs Sold

Obviously, these are the REOs that actually sell.

This seems very straight forward. Why is there so much confusion?

Here’s an example. Just a few weeks ago the major daily newspaper on Long Island, NY had a headline that announced delinquencies were up to over 10% of all homes. One-in-ten homes on Long Island were 90+ days delinquent. That was a major increase from the year before. Exactly seven days later, the same newspaper headlined a story that foreclosures on Long Island were down dramatically. That seems a contradiction. Though both headlines were accurate, they led to confusion.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the data. Yes, the percentage of homes being foreclosed on has decreased. Why? The court systems in NY are now taking almost a year to process a foreclosure. There are not less homes eligible for foreclosure. They are just caught in a slow moving pipeline. Likewise, there are not a growing number of delinquencies. These homes are just not working their way through the process. The delinquency numbers would be much lower if there wasn’t a logjam in the court systems.

Bottom Line

To truly understand the distressed property situation in your market and what impact it may have on prices, contact a local real estate professional. They should be able to simply and effectively explain with the use of strong visuals (charts & graphs) what is happening in your area and how it impacts you.


HAS HOUSING REACHED A ‘RECOVERY PATH’?

Sales of existing homes rose slightly in March, marking the sixth consecutive monthly rise for existing home sales in the last eight months, the National Association of REALTORS reported Wednesday.

“We’re clearly on a recovery path,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Existing home sales rose 3.7 percent in March from February, as distressed sales, such as those in foreclosure, continued to make up a big bulk of home sales (40 percent of all purchases).

“At this point, we’re likely to see a steady improvement in sales,” says economist Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.

So just in time for the spring buying season, here’s what economists have to say about who’s buying and currently driving the market:

Investors: All-cash deals last month made up a record number of sales, accounting for 35 percent of all resold homes. Investors continue to make up a big part of those cash deals. Investors are buying distressed homes and flipping them for a slight profit or turning them into rentals, says Patrick Newport, economist at IHS Global Insight.

Luxury consumers: Some real estate professionals are reporting a pick up in luxury markets in some cities too. “The confidence is back in the market,” says Neil Palmer, CEO at Christie’s International Real Estate.

Foreign buyers: Coastal markets, in particular, are seeing a surge of foreign buyers, such as in New York, Palm Beach, Fla., and San Francisco, AOL Real Estate news reports.

Traditional buyers: Traditional buyers are also re-emerging. Mortgage applications to buy homes rose 10 percent over a seven-week period, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s most recent report. “This pickup in demand should show up in improved existing home sales in April and May, unless lending conditions tighten,” Newport says.

The market is making “slow, steady progress” and demand in housing is rising even with higher mortgage rates “so that’s encouraging,” Pierre Ellis, an economist at Decision Economics in New York, told The New York Times.

“It’s the new financial psychology,” says Jarvis Slade Jr., Christie’s managing director for the Americas. “We’ve had two years of hesitation, the sellers are realistic, the buyers confident and cautious, but Americans are starting to feel better.”


 5 CRAIGSLIST TIPS TO GENERATE FREE REAL ESTATE LEADS

Are you using Craigslist as a part of your lead generation and conversion system? If not, there’s no better time to start than now.

A webinar with Josh Schoenly of ReTechulous.com. Schoenly also manages a real estate brokerage office in Mechanicsville, Pa., and is a self-proclaimed “lead generation junkie.” One of the best lead generation tools for his business is Craigslist.

Many agents use Craigslist, yet very few systematically generate and convert leads from this highly visited site. Schoenly says most agents fail in this attempt because they don’t understand the dynamics of online lead generation. Also, they don’t know how to make their ads stand out from the competition.

If you want to generate more leads from working with Craigslist, the first step is to avoid these five most common mistakes:

1. Posting at the wrong time of day

Have you ever given any thought to the best time of day to post on Craigslist? Schoenly cites research that shows people visit Craigslist in the morning between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., just before they begin work. They also visit Craigslist around lunchtime.

Nighttime visits to Craigslist peak at different times depending upon the season. In the wintertime, it’s usually after dinner, from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. In the summertime, it’s more likely to be later, usually between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Rather than flooding Craigslist with a lot of ads, Schoenly recommends posting one or two strategic ads at the peak times of day.

2. Writing boring headlines and boring ads

A major challenge on Craigslist is how to make your ad stand out. In order to “cut through the clutter,” Schoenly recommends making your ads intriguing.

For example, most agents write ads like this: “123 Lakeview Terrace $605,000: 4 bedroom, 3 bath, with breathtaking lake view. Updated kitchen with granite countertops, new appliances, two offices, master suite with double walk-in closets.”

The ad above is completely feature based. To have more people click to view your ads, write an ad with an attention-grabbing headline and intriguing text. Here’s an example that cuts through the clutter to capture the reader’s attention: “$206,900. LAKE it? You’ll LOVE it! (Can you believe the price on this gem?) Click here to see other JUICY deals like this one in the Houston area. INCLUDES FORECLOSURES.”

3. No call to action

The boring ad in the example above also has another major mistake. There is no call to action.

In contrast, the “LAKE it” ad has a clear call to action for the reader to “see other JUICY deals.” Everyone wants a great deal. This ad taps into that emotion, especially because the list includes foreclosure properties.

4. No lead capture trap

There is little point in spending money on Web advertising unless you have a lead capture strategy. A major mistake most advertisers make is driving consumers to a branded website. A branded website is your primary website that has all of your normal listing information and other resources.

What works best is a simple unbranded website devoted exclusively to the property you are marketing. (Please note you must still follow your state, local and MLS rules in terms of what you post on these sites regarding the fact that you are an agent.)

Schoenly’s unbranded website normally converts 15 percent to 35 percent of the people who visit it into actual leads. This type of page is often called a “squeeze page.” In contrast, when he used a branded website, the conversion rate was only a pitiful 1 percent.

Here’s what Schoenly uses for one of his most effective squeeze pages: The headline, “Free weekly list of foreclosure and bank-owned properties.”

Beneath the headline is a picture of a house with a foreclosure sign in front of it. Next to the picture, there is a bright green arrow pointing to the box where the reader can enter their email address. Directly below there is another box that states, “Phone number: We’ll Call You and Tell You about the Hot Buys We Know about Right Now.” The final box says, “Get the Weekly List and See Local Foreclosures Now.”

For this to work in your business, you must be willing to compile and maintain an up-to-date foreclosure list. You must also be willing to respond quickly with a return phone call when someone decides to use the telephone option. Finally, you will also need an “autoresponder” system that automatically sends out the list to anyone who clicks on the link.

5. No consistency

The biggest mistake that agents make when using Craigslist is a lack of consistency. Schoenly suggests setting up a recurring appointment with yourself so that you always remember to do your posts three times per day.

Avoid being “flagged”

Craigslist and its community are very vigilant about ads that don’t meet the site’s criteria. Triggers that can cause your ads to be “flagged” (i.e., that will cause your ads to be removed), include being overly “sales-y,” overhyping, using all caps, posting ads in the wrong categories or posting the same ads multiple times in a short period of time, and using the word “free.”

You can be flagged if two or more people report your ads. It could be market competitors seek to remove your ads from the site. If this does happen, Schoenly’s recommendation is to post your ads at night. Most ad “snipers” hang out at the office during the day, and that’s when they’re most likely to be online.

Consequently, to succeed on Craigslist, post at the busiest times of days, write intriguing headlines and ad copy, include a call to action, use a lead capture or squeeze page, and be consistent. These five simple steps work for Schoenly and they can work for you as well.


Top Twitter Tips for Real Estate Agents

There’s some overlap in ideas but hopefully some good tidbits you have yet to consider. We’ll assume you’re already sold on Twitter but here’s some tips to help step up your game.

Customize Everything

Twitter makes it really easy to customize your profile with your company logo and an image of yourself-so take advantage of that! It just takes a few seconds and it will mean a world of difference in getting prospective customers to click “follow.”

Network Locally

It’s fun to have a big audience and befriend agents across the country, but don’t forget the purpose of your marketing. Your goal is to sell more homes so it does not really matter if Ted in England is following you, unless of course he has friends in your area. Do local searches to begin the conversation with other real estate professionals and consumers.

Do Some Automation

Many real estate agents hesitate to get involved with social networking because it can all become overwhelming. I know the feeling! The nice thing about Twitter is all the applications that you can use to automate certain functions. EasyTweets alerts you any time someone uses one of your target keywords. For instance, it would send you an email when someone says “I’m buying a home in Kansas City. Know any agents?” Boom, you’re in! Some other great tools to look into are TweetBacks, TwitterFon, and Twitterfeed.

Keep the User in Mind

It’s tempting to stuff your feed constantly with keyword heavy tweets and follow everybody under the sun, hoping they will follow you back. Like any marketing tactic, don’t forget about the real goal and what effect your actions will have on your prospective customers.

Hopefully this post will encourage you to join Twitter if you haven’t already or take it to the next level if you’re already tweeting.

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