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TheNicheReport.com

Real estate agent & broker Edition

For the serious real estate professional

Issue 002/February 2012

Bravo's 'Million Dollar Listing' Josh Altman "You haven't done anything right until someone wants you dead." Page 16

8

The Power of Being Face-to-Face (on the Web) Putting your properties on video can work, if you stay focused on what you're selling

12

Make Your Office the Efficient REO Office So, you want your money back?

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CONTENTS

Issue 02

February 2012

16 Josh Altman An interview with the star of Bravo TV's Million Dollar Listing. Rick Roque

Publishers Robert Pegg robert@thenichereport.com David Pegg david@thenichereport.com MANAGING EDITOR Rick Roque Rick@thenichereport.com Associate Editor Cathy Johnson info@thenichereport.com Web COPY Editor Aileen Marshall info@thenichereport.com

8

The Power of Being Faceto-Face (on the Web)

30

Rick Grant Putting your properties on video can work, if you stay focused on what you're selling.

10

The 5 Steps to Prosecute a Successfull Lawsuit for Specific Performance

Make Your Office the Efficient REO Office Eric Lichtenheld president Integra Group Real Estate LLC So, you want your money back?

28

Who Are You? And Why? Rene Rodriguez ceo volentum Answering these simple questions could guarantee your success!

DEPARTMENTS

laine t. wagenseller wagenseller law firm The wrong response can destroy your chances for success.

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ACCOUNTING MANAGER Shawna Ingram shawna@thenichereport.com

06 14 34 38 41 42

If You Build it, Will They Come? Steve Harney www.kcmblog.com Pent-up 'emotional' demand by some categories of purchasers

note from the Editor Market conditions and analysis straight up with j predovich online lead generation Advertising rules for Real estate agents service provider classifieds

44

Advertiser DIRECTORY

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BRINGING UP THE REAR

Advertising Director Jessica Grizzle Jessica@thenichereport.com Advertising sales Heather Bopp Heather@thenichereport.com Production Manager Henry Suchman henry@thenichereport.com Production Assistant Dawn Exner dawn@thenichereport.com Cartoonist Martin Bradford COLUMNISTS & Contributing Authors Martin Andelman Karen Deis Rick Grant Steve Harney Eric Lichtenheld Jocelyn Predovich Rene Rodriguez Chaibia Sarhrou Laine T. Wagenseller TheNicheReport.com

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note from the Editor

Real estate agent & broker Edition

We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Donald Trump, as he is the face of real estate and has been over the last 25 years. There is a blueprint to his success and it is important for every brokerage firm and real estate agent to understand this. Any single individual, who is committed to the profession, can be very successful in Real Estate. Mr. Trump is a reflection of success and this is why we wanted to start the New Year with an exclusive interview with him; it was a reflection of success in our industry and for our publication. This will be a trend that you will see in each of our publications. To continue this pattern, I sat down with Josh Altman, one of the most successful real estate agents in the Los Angeles housing market. Josh joined the exclusive Hilton and Hyland team and has become one of the top agents in the United States with over $150,000,000 in listings. Josh is a consummate professional who quite simply grew his real estate business after moving to Los Angeles. A native of Massachusetts and a Syracuse University graduate, Josh was foreign to the L.A. market and had to build his business from the ground up with thousands of other agents competing in the same arena. He is a perfect example of the blueprint for success. There were no entitlements, no connections and few resources other than committing himself to hard work in doing everything he could to build his business. His accomplishments are highlighted in BRAVO TV’s hit show, Million Dollar Listing (www.bravotv.com/million-dollarlisting). Similar to Trump, his brand is impeccably professional with the finest attention to every detail of the transaction. My central aim for this publication is to provide meaningful, smart and witty commentary on industry trends and the tools that make you successful. The goal is to get the facts right and to provide useful insights as to how real estate professionals can grow their business. Whether you work in Longmeadow, Massachusetts; Tucson, Arizona; St. Louis Park, Minnesota; San Jose, California; or Manassas, Virginia – our goal is to provide a national and local perspective to your business. We will do this in a variety of ways; however one way will be to showcase various agents from around The United States and what they may (or may not) be doing to grow their business. Once again, thank you for being a part of something very unique in our industry. I encourage you to email me directly if you have ideas you want to share or comment on, or just want to talk about the housing market in your neck of the woods feel free to do so. My email: Rick@TheNicheReport.com. Thank you and I look forward to your emails!

Rick Roque Managing Editor Official

MEMBER

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February 2012


Published monthly by BODA Publishing, LLC PO Box 494, Bentonville, AR 72712 Phone: 866.964.2695 Fax: 703.991.2362 Email: info@thenichereport.com www.TheNicheReport.com

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Where are your marketing dollars landing?

This publication is intended for real estate professionals. If you are a real estate agent, broker, appraiser, title agent or other real estate professional and you do not currently receive The Niche Report, please go to www.thenichereport.com. An annual subscription is $24.99 (twelve months/twelve issues). For additional copies being mailed to the same address please call 866.964.2695 or email us at subscriptions@ thenichereport.com for multi-copy discount. Send address change requests to info@thenichereport.com. Remember to include the old address. To opt-out of receiving The Niche Report, please send your request, including name, company name, and address to opt-out@thenichereport.com.

ADVERTISEMENTS To inquire about advertising in The Niche Report, please call 866.964.2695, or send an email to ads@thenichereport.com. Visit our website, www.TheNicheReport.com to request a copy of our Media Kit.

EDITORIALS / ARTICLES To submit an article for consideration in The Niche Report, please send an email to rick@thenichereport.com or call 866.964.2695. We are interested in original writings relevant to real estate agents and brokers and other real estate professionals. If you have a comment or question about an article or editorial published in The Niche Report, or if you have a suggestion for a topic you would like to see featured in a future issue, please send an email to rick@thenichereport.com.

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The Power of Being Face-to-Face (on the Web) Putting your properties on video can work, if you stay focused on what you’re selling. By rick grant

S

ales is a contact sport and no one knows this better than the professional real estate agent. I’m not talking here about the number of contacts in your database, the number of people who know someone you know. I’m talking about face-to-face, breathing the same air, shaking hands and signing contracts contact. For as long as professional agents have been keeping the U.S. housing industry moving, that’s the way it’s been done. But there are changes on the horizon. There is a new generation of real estate buyer just coming into the market and these young buyers were raised in a different kind of community. To them, there is little difference between a face-to-face interaction and a quick text. They have a sense of always being connected to their friends and family and often get as much out of a conversation face-to-face via Skype as they do face-to-face old school. This poses both benefits and risks to modern real estate salespeople. On the one hand, online networks and the communities that have sprung up there can make it easier to contact many prospective buyers with fewer 8

February 2012

messages. On the other, this new generation of buyers is not likely to sit still for outdated marketing or sales techniques that have simply found their way to the web. No, for this group, it will take much more creativity to get your messages through.

The medium of choice for the new generation There can be no doubt that younger buyers are online. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, fully 99% of those aged 18-29 are active users of social media in the U.S. They’re followed closely by the 30-49 crowd, where 89% are active users. Of all of the Internet users, 85% regularly watch online video. These viewers typically watch more than 12 hours of video per month. Video is powerful. With the right lighting and background music, moving pictures can captivate us, shift our attitudes and even spur us to action. A good videographer can turn a quaint bungalow into a perfect hideaway, a tract house into a perfect home. Younger Americans eat up video at a furious pace. They expect to see


it on every website they visit and may click away if they do not. If you want your message to resonate with younger buyers, you need to be online and you need to send your messages out via online video. Okay, so maybe you knew that. Maybe you already know a real estate agent that walks through every new listing with a video camera. If so, you also know that those boring videos aren’t actually moving houses. So what gives? How can a medium we know to be powerful be less than satisfactory in the hands of the nation’s real estate agents? The National Association of Realtors hasn’t pointed to a single home sold with video. Could it be that video, the medium that sells everything from cars to pharmaceuticals to political candidates, can’t sell a house? Of course not. The problem is that our industry hasn’t figured out how to use video to sell yet and those that do know how to do it are selling the wrong thing.

What makes a good video While a good video may not sell a house, a poorly recorded and produced video surely will not. The real estate agent must get a few things right in order to have any hope at all of getting a prospect interested in visiting a property. The first rule relates to camera movement. When in doubt, don’t move it. Beginning videographers think that they must move the camera every time they move their eyes. That’s not the case, unless you want your viewers to feel like they’re hurtling through space and totally out of control. If the camera is moved at all, it should be slowly and in a smooth arc. The second rule relates to audio. What we hear when we watch a video has been proven to be more important to the overall experience than what we see. In fact, the pictures can be grainy, out of focus or incomplete and if the audio holds it together, the video can be compelling. Walking through a property with a handheld camera and talking about the house breaks both of these basic rules. Perhaps the biggest obstacle that real estate videographers must overcome is the camera’s natural ability to shrink large homes into what appear to be tight spaces. It has been said that the camera can add 15 pounds to a human placed in front of it. It can also peel thousands of square feet off a home because you cannot shoot the entire space at once. The place the videographer is standing never

gets on tape. But even if they get all of this right, the camera doesn’t move and the audio is warm and friendly and the video is shot in through a window to get the entire room in the shot, it still won’t be all that effective at selling the home. And do you know why? Because houses aren’t the most important thing the real estate agent is selling.

Producing video that will sell real estate The first rule of producing video that will sell real estate is to spend most of the time selling the most important product--yourself. People are searching for a new home and that’s what they end up signing a contract for, but that’s not the first thing they buy. The first time a new home prospect says “yes,” it’s about the choice of the right real estate agent. That’s why a video that sells the prospect on a relationship with you is the surest way to get video to help you sell a house. Now, you still have to do the other things right. You need to learn how to produce a good video, what threepoint lighting is and how to edit both audio and video. You need the right equipment if you want your projects to be fast and easy to produce and you’ll need to set up and promote your YouTube channel. Of course, if you don’t want to go back to college to learn how to produce good audio you can just hire a student from the local community college to do it for you. There are also plenty of affordable video production houses in any major U.S. city. Just remind whomever you hire that when it comes to video for real estate, less is more. Most of the time, the camera should be focused on you as you let your prospects know what you know about the community and its amenities. This is the face time that video offers and it can absolutely convert website visitors into people who will grow to trust you. Over time, you’ll convince a number of new prospects that you are the real estate agent who can help them find the perfect new home. Then all you have to do is invite them in and show them some video.

Rick Grant is a freelance writer and editor with over 15 years of experience writing about real estate and home finance industries. He can be reached at rick@rickgrant.net and followed on Twitter at @nyrickgrant. TheNicheReport.com

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The 5 Steps to Prosecute a Successful Lawsuit for Specific Performance The wrong response can destroy your chances for success By laine T. wagenseller

D

isputes over the purchase and sale of real estate differ from other legal disputes because the jilted party in a real estate transaction can often ask the court to actually enforce the contract. Rather than awarding money damages, a court can order parties to go through with the transaction. This is crucial when a project relies on a specific location or the land under contract is part of a bigger development project. However, an uninformed party can unintentionally impair his right to this unique remedy if not careful. Here is what it takes to prosecute a successful lawsuit for Specific Performance.

1. What is Specific Performance? Specific Performance asks the court to force the opposing party into a contract that binds them to actually perform the contract at issue, rather than award damages for breach of contract. In real estate litigation, a buyer can force a reluctant seller to live up to the purchase and sale agreement. 10

February 2012

2. What are the requirements for a Specific Performance lawsuit? A complaint for specific performance must allege: (a) the making of a specifically enforceable type of contract, sufficiently certain in its terms; (b) adequate consideration, and a just and reasonable contract; (c) plaintiff's performance, tender or excuse for nonperformance of the contract; (d) defendant's breach of the contract; and (e) inadequacy of a remedy at law. 3. What does this mean in plain English? Specific performance typically arises in a real estate transaction. The law considers real property to be unique and therefore a contract to purchase real property can be specifically enforced. It is presumed that monetary damages are not enough to compensate for a breach of contract to sell real property and therefore a court will force an owner to sell the property according to the contract. The terms must be certain. Essential factors include identifying: (1) the seller, (2) the buyer, (3) the price to be paid, (4) the time and manner of payment, and (5) the property to be transferred. In other words, the court must


be able to figure out what to enforce. What is "essential" depends on the circumstances of the agreement, including the agreement and its context, the subsequent conduct of the parties, the remedy sought and, quite frankly, which judge is hearing your case. In some instances, where certain terms are missing, the court will insert "reasonable terms," often based on custom in the industry. For example, when no time is specified for payment, the court may decide upon a “reasonable time.� When a manner of payment is lacking, the court will assume that the payment will be by cash or cash equivalent. However, some courts have found the lack of a time for payment in the contract to render the contract unenforceable. The buyer paid adequate consideration and the contract was just. In many cases, the payment of even $1 is adequate consideration. Moreover, where the seller enters into the contract willingly, he is often presumed to have waived any argument that the price of the deal was inadequate. Typically contracts are negotiated at arm’s length and their adequacy is not an issue. The plaintiff must have performed the agreement. A buyer who failed to deposit the purchase price in escrow by the deadline cannot then turn around and sue the seller for specific performance. In order to enforce a contract, a party must have met his obligations under the contract to show a reason why his performance is excused. The defendant must have breached the agreement. The failure to convey the property will usually constitute a breach of the purchase and sale agreement. Typically the defendant will argue that the plaintiff is the one who breached the agreement and that is why the deal was not completed. A money award must be inadequate. Again, the law presumes that real property is unique and therefore an

action to enforce the sale of a particular piece of property can typically be enforced by specific performance.

4. What happens when you win a Specific Performance lawsuit? When a party wins a Specific Performance lawsuit, the court will seek to put the parties in the position they would be in if the contract had been performed pursuant to its terms. This means the court will order the sale of the property at the price and terms agreed upon. Moreover, the victorious party will also be entitled to a judgment for the rents and profits from the time he was entitled to the conveyance under the contract. The court will consider an equitable accounting to relate the performance back to the contract date of performance. For example, if a tenant has been paying rent on a building, the buyer would be entitled to those rents during the time that the matter was tied up in litigation. Conversely, if the owner has been making payments on the mortgage, property taxes and insurance, these payments must be taken into account as well. 5. Lessons Learned When a purchase and sale deal starts to unravel, seek legal advice. While the other party may have breached the agreement, the wrong response (i.e., refusing to perform your obligations) can destroy your chances for success on a subsequent lawsuit. Proper legal advice can also help you ascertain your legal right to seek specific performance.

Laine T. Wagenseller is the founder of Wagenseller Law Firm, a real estate litigation firm in downtown Los Angeles, which represents real estate developers, business owners, property owners and investors. For more information, visit http://www.wagensellerlaw.com or contact Mr. Wagenseller at (213) 996-8338.


Make Your Office The Efficient REO Office So, You Want Your Money Back? By Eric lichtenheld

W

hen it comes to the subject of expense reimbursements, many REO brokers have horror stories about not receiving compensation for significant sums of money spent. Losses in expense reimbursements can run as high as five percent. While the percentage may sound low, the dollar amount quickly adds up. Larger brokers can submit $1 million in invoices annually, which means up to $50,000 can be lost in unreimbursed expenses. Unfortunately, it seems to be in this time of need that most people then realize the importance of putting solid systems in place for expense management. But for many brokers, without this distressing experience the realization of the value of a system to properly manage expenses would go unnoticed. There are a few things to remember and steps a broker should take to avoid their own personal finance dismays. An efficient expense management system should have three components in place: the right staff, the correct software and procedures with checks and balances. 12

February 2012

It is conceivable to manage expenses yourself if you have less than 25 assets with periodic follow-up with your certified public accountant (CPA). But, it is highly recommended that you consider dedicating resources to this process because the cost of not properly managing expense reimbursements could itself pay for a dedicated resource. If a broker is managing more than 25 assets, there should be a dedicated accounts payable person who is proficient in Excel and business accounting software such as QuickBooks. Many brokers believe they can get by with Excel alone, but specific reporting functions of accounting software are essential in assuring reimbursements have been received. Many software systems like QuickBooks can also be linked with tax programs to give monthly projections of tax liabilities, exportable data and real-time reports. Broker should adhere to four basic steps in the reimbursement process: 1. Review and approve invoices for payment; 2. Process invoices in accounts payable and upload bills to clients’ portal for reimbursement; 3. Confirm bills have been approved for payment by clients; and


4. Confirm that the checks were received from clients. In addition to an accounts payable person, a good practice is to have an accounting quality control person in place to review bills, put a PDF "reviewed by" stamp with their name, date and time on the scanned invoice and check to make sure that the invoice has been processed correctly prior to uploading the documents into the client portal. Mistakes happen, but it is important that the audit process identifies them in-house so they do not impact clients. Therefore, at least two people verify all submissions to clients and an additional person or two should be involved in reviewing major month-end packages submitted to large clients. Do not underestimate the credibility that you will gain with the client by being thorough and precise with expense submissions – which in the long run could translate into more assignments. It is important to design a procedure so that when bills are uploaded to the client portals, the information can be recorded in an Excel spreadsheet or a custom designed property database. Once a week your accounts payable person should verify that all uploaded invoices were accepted or corrected if required, and this should be done prior to close of escrow to avoid mistakes and unhappy clients. It is also imperative to have biweekly aged accounts receivable reports generated from your QuickBooks or accounting software database. To ensure proper prioritization, run two separate aged accounts receivable reports – one for open properties and one for closed properties. You should then review this report with your accounting quality control person regularly and focus on any open property reimbursement over 30 days old and all of the open reimbursements for the closed properties. It is also wise to build personal relationships between your internal accounting staff and that of your clients to resolve open reimbursements for closed properties seamlessly. Brokers should have and adhere to client-specific checklists to help keep staff aware of client approval limits, property requirements such as whether or not to keep utilities on and, importantly, how long after close of escrow expenses should be submitted for reimbursement. The easiest way to save money is to not spend money for a client that is not warranted. While this sounds obvious, it is common to turn on utilities for clients and then find out in the listing agreement that utilities will be connected by a third-party – or that no initial services should be performed and then you are paying for that expense out-of-pocket. Keep in mind that consciously or subconsciously your

team will test your reimbursement system from time to time to find out if mistakes will be detected. Hopefully they will be small and your system will have the necessary checks and balances in place to find and correct these mistakes. This is also an opportune time to give feedback to the person who made the mistake so it will not be repeated and to make any improvements to the system in place. If there are not the appropriate checks and balances in place, at least two people looking at each critical transaction, and you are a smaller REO shop, you should be that second person. Be sure to not rely on clients to do your own quality control checks. If brokers do not put their own quality control in place, clients will quickly assume that role – but not for long I assure you. Keeping a solid accounts payable department is a building block in offering a high quality REO service to your clients and will increase your overall credibility and profitability. Not only will this reduce your exposure to monetary losses, but in the long term will gain you more property assignments. Eric Lichtenheld is president of Integra Group Real Estate LLC, a brokerage firm specializing in the management, preservation and marketing of REO, HUD and distressed properties to underserved demographics in Southern Arizona. For more information, visit www.IntegraTucson.com.

How we see it

TheNicheReport.com

13


Market Conditions and Analysis

Market Conditions and Analysis By rick roque

WHAT HOUSING PROFESSIONALS SAY: HOUSING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2012 Editor’s Note: Market trends are as easy to predict as the weather. There are many variables that plague economists. I think all must be ADD as they have to focus on so many variables all at once, and yet they need to come up with a coherent explanation as to the key drivers of specific trends. Having said this, we need forecasts to plan our business. They get it wrong so many times that often it’s more important to talk to people ‘on the street’. How many homes are likely to sell in my region, city, country or town? Why will some people get the deals they will get while others will not? How can you make the mortgage process as easy as it can be so you can increase the odds of every prospect closing? Ultimately, trends are a reflection of market behavior – a fancy term for the enabling or undermining factors that motivate borrowers to move. There 14

February 2012

is no better way to get a grasp of these factors than talking to local professionals fighting this battle daily. You have to be careful who you talk to. Greater than two-thirds of Real Estate Agents fail to understand or can explain what is happening in today’s mortgage and real estate housing market. As a result, they struggle to close deals. To emphasize this importance, I have focused on the trends to watch in order to help satisfy this gap. To help present this set of housing trends to watch in 2012, I wanted to sample a series of housing professionals whose practices take them to the street. Who they are is less important than what their function is. Their experience and role in the housing market help create a picture that can better reflect what trends to expect in 2012. The rise of subprime loans will make loans easier to get; home sales, rental units and economic activity will take off and The Boston Red Sox will win in 2012. If the word on the street comes true, these will be the trends that will dominate 2012. I spoke to several people – a

Mortgage Banker, a politician, several Real Estate Agents and Brokers, and an Appraisal Management Company – and here is what they had to say.

Interest Rates Since the collapse of the market, housing experts have been saying mortgage rates would go back up to 6 or 7 percent. With continued bailouts and a foreign appetite for our debt, the Federal Government has subsidized our mortgage rates to continued record lows. The mortgage banker sees this continuing, and quite honestly, those of us at The Niche Report agree with this. Let’s face it, it is an election year, and if there is a way the Federal Government can continue to keep these rates low, they will figure it out. Rates are low and will remain low for the next 12 to 16 months. Eventually, as the economy and housing markets improve, the interest rates will creep up, but to keep the focus on 2012, it is safe to say rates will remain low. It is a buyer’s market, and all buyers who are eligible to get a mortgage should do so now over the next year.


Market Conditions and Analysis Rentals If you can purchase a multiunit home and manage it for rental property, it will be a renter’s market for the next 5 years and especially in 2012. The average closed FICO score for many of the investors is around 740; the average American FICO is in the mid 600’s. There is a tremendous number of people who want to buy a home who cannot; therefore, they will rent. Monthly rental rates have gone up more than 4 percent and this trend will continue throughout the year. States and cities who overbuilt condos will continue to see a high vacancy rate in these homes, and they remain a solid non-owner occupied, second property for qualified buyers, and an even better investment property to take advantage of the rental trends that have been referenced. If a buyer can purchase these with 20 or 30 percent down (or better yet, all cash), then the market is very hungry for this type of residential housing. Community construction is the new talk by builders. More and more people are renting rather than buying a home. As a result, a market is being generated that maximizes convenience, takes advantage of a growing trend to walk and save money buying gas and leverage resources in a truly “social” kind of way. There are clear lifestyle and community benefits in this trend which makes it very attractive. Building trends in this direction will take away from residential housing gains and divert the market to these trendy living arrangements. Rise of Sub Prime So what is the housing industry going to do, since home ownership has dropped 4 percent from its high

and so few people can be approved for a mortgage? With rental pricing increasing, what will eventually give? To keep the housing units steady from 2011 levels, lenders will introduce 580 FICO products, which historically have been labeled “Sub Prime” loans. With the rates as low as they are and 10 or 15 percent down, consumers will be able to qualify for a mortgage and take advantage of the benefits of home ownership in 2012. This will be a very welcomed scenario for real estate agents and brokers, and their attitudes toward consumers will likely adjust to the broadening of the market.

The Economy Will Improve It isn’t likely the economy will significantly improve; if any improvement is realized, it will not be because of anything Congress did. With little incentive for the Republicans to improve it and the Democrats gearing up to re elect President Obama, the economy is likely to hold steady or marginally improve. The economy is likely to improve slightly if only for the simple fact that Americans are very resilient, and when there is a way to make money, Americans tend to figure this out. New economies, sectors, products and companies are born during challenging economies – Groupon was founded the month Lehman Brothers collapsed and the liquidity freeze shook the U.S. markets for nearly four months. So, the economy will marginally improve despite itself and the un-businessfriendly legal/regulatory framework that exists today. Consumer confidence will remain tepid, but will also improve as this is an election year, and the rhetoric about improving the

economy on both sides will numb voters into submission.

The Economy Will Decline This is the challenge with today’s economy. It is the tale of two countries. As there are arguments to support its marginal improvement, a war with Iran, escalated market deterioration in Europe and inflationary pressures in the United States could lead to a negative slide. The fact is, our economy is fragile. Housing inventory is being reduced, demand is high, and with mortgagelending criteria so stringent, many borrowers will remain skeptical unless the employment landscape improves consumer confidence. These factors would undermine if not disrupt these favorable conditions. More Politics This is an election year. More Republican gains in Congress and/ or the White House will help turn the tide on the regulation and burdensome taxes that are constraining the economy. It is likely the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down the Obama Administration’s health insurance mandate. Even with a second term for President Obama, it is likely the Republicans will gain seats in Congress and will force the President to govern in the middle. The Federal Government in 2012 will remain in gridlock until after the election, so expect significant gains in 2013 in simplifying the tax and regulatory code and freeing up some of the burdens that are hindering the economy. Rick Roque, Managing Editor. For Comments, call me at 408.914.5895 or email me at rroque@thenichereport.com TheNicheReport.com

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2012 Interview Series

"You Haven’t Done Anything Right Until Someone Wants You Dead"

an interview with Josh Altman of BRAVO TV’s Million Dollar Listing by Rick Roque

What every Real Estate Agent needs to know about The Killer Instinct In my experience of working with sales professionals, loan officers and real estate agents are a dime a dozen. There are always excuses as to why deals don’t get done – the market, the borrower, the banks, underwriting conditions, state laws, technology, bad sales manager, companies don’t equip the loan officer with the right tools to be successful etc… The loan officers who complain to me about this will email me blaming all the above and most of all the real estate agent. The top producing loan officers, on the other hand will nod their head in agreement and close more loans. Top producers defy the odds; they are good when the market goes down and they are even better when the market goes up. Their relationships grow more solid in contracting markets while they expand during periods of economic growth. These types of sales professionals are just that – they are professionally solid, presentable and

have an attitude that will always get something done; bottom line: they are competitive and strive toward success. Without compromising one’s ethics, top producers have a killer instinct. They size up every person they meet – they calculate and gauge weaknesses in their opponents and exploit them wherever necessary to get the deal or the relationship done. They work tirelessly to serve their clients. They thrive on working on days


when they know their competition is not. They also love their trade secrets – the things they do, that they believe is at the heart of their success. They can be ruthless sales creators and for all the other sales professionals who are vying for the same deal, they are cold hearted (sales) killers. So, what can a loan officer learn from a top-producing real estate agent? We chose Josh Altman, one of America’s topproducing Real Estate Agents and coincidentally, star of the acclaimed TV series, Million Dollar Listing on the BRAVO TV network. The success of the show has increased as a result of Josh Altman’s professional demeanor whose acumen raises the bar for every real estate agent who watches. I found him alarmingly smart, quick to read an audience and on top of his game. At 32 years of age, he has mastered the ability to rise to the top. In the years to come, we will keep in touch with Josh and will reveal his recommendations for staying at the top. As for me, I have no doubt that if he maintains his sense of humor and his professional discipline, the man his peers call “the Shark” will be wildly successful. I met Josh in Los Angeles, California at one of his multimillion dollar listings for this intimate interview. Read along to gain insight on why they call him “The Shark.”

Josh: Not a bad view – huh? : No, this view is amazing. For starters, tell us a little about this house? Josh: This is my new hottest sexiest listing – in the Hollywood Hills – $6.75M, just finished this week; it is the modern, California, bachelor dream house. Open living views to the nines; infinity views and on top of Mulholland Drive where everyone wants to be.

: How did you get in touch with the family who owns the house? Josh: We were contacted because of how well known we are for high end homes in Los Angeles. : Contacted through whom? Josh: They had read about the Altman Brothers. We were the right people for this house because of our recent sales in the area and the type of homes – modern, state of the art homes, big time houses and our clientele; they wanted to get the right people – this is important in an agent – the reach. Serious money is coming from overseas these days and we have that reach. This house by the way is an entertainer's dream, we have the background in the entertainment business from the publicists, agents, artists, the actors – usually, people like this buy homes like this... : What is your network? How would you describe your reach? Do you work through your publicist (Melissa) and her relationships? Do you have other people like her? Josh: It is more about our history in the business. My brother and I have done everything from flipping homes to the mortgage business to the agent side; because of all of this in real estate, this helps in knowing people in this town. My brother was a talent agent at CAA & Hirsch and therefore we know everyone in the entertainment business in LA; the show has helped in gaining international buyers overseas : So the show was your big break? Josh: No, the show helped; I just fell into specializing in overseas buyers and it could have been in part because we work for Hilton Hyland and Real Estate – you know, they are affiliated with Christie's Great Estates. When I


list a property, it will be listed not just locally but nationally and internationally, especially these mega homes that are $20-$30M. : Where are these buyers from? Josh: Asia, Middle East, Russia – mostly are where the international money is coming from. For them it is almost half off – if they are coming over with their currency because of the devaluation of the US Dollar, there are some real deals. : Tell me how long you’ve been in business with your brother? Josh: About nine years. : How is this going? Josh: It’s great – we get along but we fight just about every day…..<Laughter> : I grew up in Vermont in a family of six boys and I wouldn't go into business with any of them! Josh: So you know the relationship. You get into a fight – and a second later, you move on. : That is amazing. Are you 50-50 partners? Josh: Yes, he is one of the only people I can really trust and never have to worry about. He is my older brother by three years and we both represent the company well. We are both good representations of one another actually. Whoever he meets with I can trust he would represent us the way I would. : Where did you grow up? Josh: Born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts. : Really, I’m from Vermont. Josh: Growing up we had a ski house in Killington, Vermont. Then I went to Syracuse, New York – I played Football there, I was a kicker. : I mean you are a big guy but…. <laughter> to play Syracuse Football – that’s impressive. You must be like five foot tall, or something… Josh: Hey, don’t knock it…..I am five foot, nine and half inches! : That half means something. Josh: Yes it does. That’s how you know I am not such a big guy when I depend upon that half inch. : Having gone to University of Hartford (Connecticut), I am also from New England. I am familiar with how impressive playing football is at Syracuse – good for you. Josh: Yes, that’s ironic. Yes, after college, I moved to Manhattan for a year and a half and then came to Los 18

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Angeles. : What year was that? Josh: 2002. : No one comes to LA and immediately makes an impact – how did you get that first deal. Josh: You need a lot of time, energy and money behind you – you need some of this to support you until you can gain traction. : Did you save money before coming out here? Josh: Yes. My brother and I put some money together; we bought our first condo – we put it on the market two months after buying it – essentially as a joke, we made some improvements on this condo in West Los Angeles and we made $200K on the deal. It was during this time that you could buy a house, paint it and then sell it and make a profit. It wasn't that we were doing anything magical or impressive – So after that – we were on to something. We just made $200K in one month. So from then, we started flipping bigger and bigger properties. At one point, we asked ourselves the question: Why do I need to break off commissions to mortgage brokers and real estate agents every time we sell a property? ….. every dollar counts during a sale, so I ended up getting my real estate license. This was in 2005. : It was good timing. Josh: Yes, I didn't realize how important the timing really was. : You wanted to control more of the process? Josh: Yes, that’s right. I wanted to understand the process most importantly. I ended up breaking records for the company I was working for, and the next thing, I was running the branch and then opening up others. I did that for three and half years – I was still flipping homes on the side, at that time, the business started to get really tough – the world started to fall apart; it was a perfect time to start learning the last part which was the real estate agency side of the business. I am a relationship builder most importantly. I love to go out – restaurants, bars, clubs – we always liked meeting people so we really got our arms around Los Angeles. So, it was easier for me than most people because of whom we knew. I am not like one of those kids who grew up here – in Los Angeles – that is a different story. I got into Hyland – both of the owners of that company – Rick Hilton, grandfather of the Hilton Hotels – I mean they are legends in real estate. : Do you see yourself establishing your own firm?


Josh: I see myself establishing a firm under them. They are like my fathers; with that said, I couldn't be happier. I have no plans to leave. The other guy is Jeff Hyland who wrote the book on Beverly Hill’s Great Estates – It is a four volume book you know – legends that I get to learn from. : What are the things they teach you? Josh: Something that is so important – is to surround themselves with professionals – just being around them, in the office meetings and listening to other people, listings in town and you know – the things going on in town, it is so important to soak up all of their knowledge; there are a lot of agents who never go into an office – they are half agents – they are less likely to truly learn and be driven by their peers. : You think going into an office is important? Josh: I’m a competitive guy; I love it – it makes me rise to the next level. That is important – working with better and more talented people. Now, when I sell a house, I can get the financing at reasonable rates and I get the highest qualities of service. : Your buyers – what are their sources for financing? Josh: I have a couple of mortgage professionals I work with – as far as mega homes, the majority is all cash buyers. If you are buying a $20M home you are writing a check for it – if a loan is taken out, it is to leverage low rates. Overseas – foreign national deals are taking a long time. They use different systems in different countries – it takes longer to trace everything. Locally – as long as you have the right documentation. The people buying homes today can afford them and should be buying them – as opposed to five or six years ago, anyone could get a house. If you can't qualify for one, you shouldn't be buying one – there is a reason for that. As far as the Altman Brothers, we have about $150M in listings, somewhere around the $20M right now up through 2011 (June) we have another $10M in escrow – we are hoping to hit $50M this year. That is on top of taking the show and flipping homes. : What were your listings last year? Josh: $40M.

: Availability is indeed key. Josh: The show has made it easier to get out there. It is a great platform for our business. I look at it like an infomercial. : Any downside to the show? Have people come away with an impression that you didn't want them to come away with? Josh: Those people, I don’t really want to be friends with anyway…..<laughter> : I love the confidence. Josh: In life, people either love you or hate you; you need to do what makes you happy and love what you do – surround yourself with good people, It doesn't matter what other people think. : That is great. Josh: The more haters in this business you have, probably the better you’re doing. There is a famous quote from a book by Bernie Brillstein: In Los Angeles, you haven't done anything good until someone wants you dead…..It is the same thing. : I love that – You are no one in Hollywood until someone wants you dead; does anyone want you dead? Josh: Well – I’m not sure. : What is your relationship with Madison (co-star of Million Dollar Listing) and Josh from the show? Josh: Our relationship is Professional – we definitely don't hang out. : So Madison has never slapped you – like he was about to on the show?! Josh: As much as Madison would like to– No. But hey, Madison has a lot of time on his hands while I am too busy selling homes. : Does Madison, from the show want you Dead? What is the deal, did you steal away his employee? Josh: She’s still my girlfriend – you'll have to watch the new season to see what happens.

Which would you rather show up in?

: The show has had a great impact on you? Are people seeing the show and then saying: Hey, if he can do that for this buyer, then he can do this for me?! Josh: Yes and No. Our business knows us and regardless we would be successful. We literally sleep with our cell phones. : I've seen that from the show! Josh: When I tell my sellers – “call the other top agents in town, at 11pm” – they won’t get a hold of them.

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: I have to know – we can break the lead story….. Josh: Yes, she’s my girlfriend – she was given an ultimatum by Madison to stop dating me and so she left him. It was really stupid. She’s on her own – she will be a force to be reckoned with. : Plus she is learning from you ...what would you say to be your main reasons for success up to this date – how old are you? Josh: Thirty-two. : In your first ten years out of college, what has been behind your success? Josh: First, being 24x7. I say that, people laugh, but it is true. Second, I would do it regardless. I love looking at real estate on my free time. : Especially if you are driving a nice car! Josh: Yes, that is definitely true! : Do you have a toy car? Josh: 1965, Shelby Cobra. It is not my everyday car it is pretty spectacular – private sale – a rebuild. : How much did you pay for the car? Josh: …..<laughter> about $60K : Ok – that isn't bad – and besides, it’s fast and unique. What is successful factor number three? Josh: Third, I'll do anything for my clients. : What is a memorable thing you’ve done for your clients? Josh: I have flown people on private jets – I've done some spectacular things – I can provide people a concierge type service when they are in town. I work with the best – contractors, builders, designers, and people outside of the business– car, restaurants, where to find a nice watch. With us – the Altman brothers, you get a first-class service. We are a high-end brand. : So, that’s your niche. Josh: We know what they want – and we get it done. : What else is key – I think in some ways you have a clear focus on what you are going after. Many companies spread themselves so thin; they are trying to get it all. Would you say your sense of clarity…..? Josh: I know many millionaire listing agents who only sell $500-$1M properties. They are making an amazing living. : Is it the same strategy behind the $500K sale versus a $15M sale? Josh: like I said when I was a place kicker in college – you kick a 20 yard field goal the same way you kick a 50 20

February 2012

yard field goal. If you start to tweak your style based on a difference in target, it will get in your head. It is the exact same thing. I guarantee it – that guy who is successful at standard properties is doing the same thing that I do at the 10M mark. I know how to deal with my audience – You need to know your client. People get that energy off of us– people love what I do. :Do you entertain your clients? Josh: Yes, I just took some clients to Las Vegas – wealthy people are great – I mean, they are knowledgeable. Someone who is buying a $20M home did something right – I can learn from that. So, I like spending time with them because I can pick their brains – geniuses in their respective business. : How do you select your deals? Sometimes you choose deals out of your comfort zone. Josh: The Altman brothers are fortunate – we can be selective. Does it fit our brand? Is it priced correctly? We can be pickier. The higher end homes – realistic sellers – these are the homes that fit our brand. Don’t get me wrong: I'll take an $800K condo – if it is priced right, I’m a business man. I'll do it. : Do you have any assistants? You can only show so many properties at one time– so, if someone hires Josh Altman, how do you scalable your efforts? Josh: I deal with people face to face; the agent needs to show the property. I have four people to help me in my back office –the paper work side rather than the showing side; I am at as many showings as I can and I always negotiate all of my own deals. Now, since the success of the show, because of our brand, I just listed a $14M home in Newport Beach who lives next to Kobe Bryant, in an area called Pelican Crest, if I get a call to show it this afternoon, obviously I won’t be able to get to it if there isn't enough lead time so I work with some select people to help me in those cases. : Do you give them a benefit should the house sell? Josh: Many times I'll bring the properties to them so we'll work out a referral situation; but through us, they are getting Hilton and Hyland which is a top brand; you are also getting Christie's Great Estates – which is the best brand out there. We had 100,000 hits per week on our website during the show which is more than the company I am with – Hilton Hyland Company gets, just on the Altman Brothers. Just putting the property on that site gets attention…. Most people have to pay $5K just to put a listing on the cover on a magazine; most real estate agents won’t do that right now given the economy; very few will do that. Because of the show, I'll get asked to place something on the magazine without having to pay for anything – That is a nice perk.


: What is the web site hit rate when the show is not going on?

month until I could get someone into the lease... : How long did it take you?

Josh: Hmmm – I believe around 20,000 hits. : That’s fantastic. How would you describe what you do differently for clients? There are a lot of real estate agents – they are a dime a dozen here. What do you do differently – is it all of the above? Josh: It is the entire package– …In LA there are all of the actors, and then there are the actors who aren't working who are also real estate agents. So, it is the hard work – it is the success rate; it is our appearance; it is our company – our affiliate, who our clients are – so it is all of that. : How do you deal with a seller who’s priced out of the market? How do you get in their head about giving them a sober view of the value of their home? Josh: We pride ourselves on being very straight forward – no bull **** agents. We have to tell them some way or another and being straight forward is the best way. They don’t like to hear that sometimes… : Yes, well there are always real estate agents who will say “yes” simply to get the listing…. Josh: Of course, you know what I say to them? Call me in six months when your listing agreement expires because your house will still be on the market; and at that point, if you want to talk real numbers I'd be more than happy to do your listing and represent you at that time. In our business it’s better to get the listing the second time around. I have a $4M house right now that was on the market for a year and a half – I got it and reduced it and put it into escrow three weeks later. : Tell me about the mistakes you've made. Josh: Where do I start?? : Not the people you've dated –just bad business decisions you've made… <Laughter> Josh: Here’s how I look at it – everything is not a mistake but a learning opportunity. : Tell me about a deal you've screwed up? Josh: Ok ok, when I first got into the business – the number one thing you never do...it was a huge lease, my client will do the lease, so I told the owner of the property to kick out the present tenant, because this guy was ready to go – the present tenant was month to month and my client was going to do it for a year and a half, he kicked out the tenant paying $36K per month and before I could get the contract, the client changed his mind – so I was on the hook for $36K per

Josh: About… took me about three weeks. : Tell me another one. Josh: hmm… : Any deal you've pushed too hard – maybe you were being too stubborn – Josh: Deals like ahh…..trying to think….the other day, I made an offer on a house for a client, in this market, I felt it was right to go in lower than the asking price to start it out – a low ball situation, the number we started at, the seller did not respond to us – they took it personally and someone else came in higher and they ended up doing the deal with them. Because we low balled them, they didn't respond. And guess what? My client would have gone higher than what the home closed at? It was just a situation that…..I always tell Sellers, always respond because you never know. Don't ever not respond to an inquiry or a lead! : What are your tips for sellers & real estate agents: Josh: One, Respond to all offers. And two, make sure your house is as non-cluttered as you can make it – get your house ready for a sell. Even if it is going to cost you $10-$15K : How much should a seller spend to prepare their home? Josh: Probably one percent; cleaned, buying different pieces of furniture; appearance is everything – you get one shot. The goal is to wow them. : For a $500,000 house - $5K. Fresh paint etc… What else do I tell Sellers? Josh: I've seen people spend as much as three to four percent. You do what you need to do to sell the house. Numbers don't lie – never go for what things are listed for but what homes have sold for in your neighborhood. A listed property is not a comp for appraisal purposes. Go off of the comped sales over the last six to twelve months – numbers don't lie. : You mentioned the mistakes you had made and you referred to the things real estate agents should never do. Josh: Yes – Always get everything in writing – I had another deal – I represented the buyer and the real estate agent told me – "ohh, yeah, I'll fix that,” told this to the buyers face, my face – the deal closed, it was never fixed. Since it wasn't in writing, it never got fixed. The response was "Ohh, you didn't have that in writing." TheNicheReport.com

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: Do you see other real estate agents tripping over themselves to do a fraction of what you are doing – Could you coach them? Josh: When I coach less experienced real estate agents – it’s more about picking up business rather than what you do with the property you are listing. Lead generation – going after expired listings is critical; it is over fifty percent of the listings out there. It expires and they list it with someone else. Get your expired listing letter and packet ready to go; it needs to be perfect and ready to go. Social Media is key; Social Media, Twitter, Facebook etc… are key – I sold $20M last year when the buyer didn't even see the property. It was almost fifty percent of my deals. Your website needs to be incredible; people go over what they see; the picture of the property is key. You have to invest in yourself and your business and your clients – I guarantee you if you aren't doing this someone else is. I have about 12,000 Twitter followers. : You have some work to do on this. Ashton Kutcher has like… Publicist: How many do you have? <laughter> : Well – you know, I have about four or 500. But I don't have a national show. Publicist: He actually started out really fast. Josh: It should double with this next season. With the Twitter thing – I am bad but I will improve on this. : Twitter is amazing – while doing this interview, I am writing a lot of what you are saying, while I am also tweeting things down into more memorable, bite sized points. It would be interesting to have you reflect on the day and in between appointments, to tweet reflections and tips that come to mind. What you can benefit from, 700,000 other real estate agents could too. Josh: Right. : Because of both – the success of the show – both real and perceived, people will hang on everything you say. The Altman script, people will follow– I am going to follow this to a T – if he can be successful on this, so can I. Josh: in my book, it will be coming out when the next season comes out… : When does the next season come out? Josh: later in the year. Late 2011; we are shooting in the fourth quarter. With the book – I am doing a lot of speaking engagements – I am the new spokesperson behind a company in Minnesota called Renters Warehouse. : It is good to know. 22

February 2012

Josh: I speak at agent association(s) and at their events; conferences for new real estate agents. I love doing it. : Tricks of the trade – successful strategies? Josh: Yes – I was a speech communication(s) major at Syracuse University – so I am very comfortable speaking in front of large audiences. I just spoke to 200 Syracuse University new grads in LA – in the SU chapter last week; giving them guidance. Giving them tips on surviving in LA. : What was one of your tips? Josh: Get ready to kiss a lot of ass. : I actually have a question from a Niche Report Reader: "I have a $14.9M listing; I've had it outside of Philly – had it over a year; 22,000 square feet. Appraised at $19M; the problem is, the highest amount in that neighborhood sold is $10M – sellers are already selling below property values – how would you sell this property and to whom?" Josh: You need to market this to a very specific audience. Knowing about the house – let’s say it has an Asian theme, it is an original that has a lot of something – ask yourself, who is into that theme? Through Christie's you can identify an audience who is into that theme. The buyer probably will not be local – if only one property has sold for $10M and this is $19M; this is a $19M property in Philly – this is an international buyer or sports star. You have to call Donovan McNabb or someone who can afford that today – who is my QB by the way. You need to go to heads of businesses – read the newspaper; identify who is making money in Philly. Think out of the box. Who is the guy who just sold his business for $200M; how do you get yourself in front of him. There are no written rules on how to do it. You have to be creative and think out of the box. : … <continuing reading from the readers question>… "I've done the usual target of CEOS, sports figures; I've marketed it to top agents and Manhattan brokers." Josh: It was good to bring in the Manhattan Brokers – by the way, properties like this sit on the market eight to twelve months if not sixteen months. So setting the right expectation with the sellers is vital to your success. Also, in a property that size– you will need to spend about $20-$30K just to market and sell it. The spelling mansion – Hilton Hyland represented both sides of it, largest sale in LA history, at $85M. It was listed for one and half years – a 22 year old girl came through and bought it – from England. Trust fund child – It was listed for $150M sold for $85M. It was worth $85M – things like this, will take a while to sell – especially if it is the highest. It will take a while but will be worth it.


: The price will move it. There is always a tipping point with a price. Josh: If it is priced right, it will sell. : What are you seeing about the industry as a whole? Josh: A lot of the wealthiest people in the US live here and that reflects a bubble – I don't read the magazines that have negative articles – everyone does but I don’t; it just gets you down. How bad the economy is etc… In LA – since January 2011 to June 2011, there have been fifteen sales over $15M – the high end market is on fire right now – Jennifer Aniston's home just sold for $3500 per square foot – so the market here is on fire. I can't speak to everyone else. : What would you do if you weren't in real estate?

I have 2 dogs that I rescued that I love and go to parks. I just got a new car – I love recreational driving and the finer things in life. I like to party when I close a big deal. When Josh gets paid all my friends get paid. We like to party with the best of them. : Have you had much feedback from other real estate agents? Josh: The most important thing to me as a real estate agent are the emails I get from other real estate agents saying "Thank you for representing the real estate agent community in such a professional way." : The other guys on the show don't portray that about the industry? Especially Madison – what was up with those boxers?! Josh: He spends more time in… well, let’s just say, his attention is on himself and not on selling real estate.

Josh: Real estate. : That is a great answer. Josh: Someone asked me, “Josh, what do you do for fun?” And I said "Real Estate"….."no, flip homes;"What else other than this, "Mortgages…." : I think what they mean is, what are your hobbies? Josh: I go out all of the time; I have a very active social life. I love travelling – I like staying healthy and going to the gym.

: Thank you Josh for your insight, we’ll be looking forward to the next season of your show. Keep up the good work! For questions or comments to this article, contact Rick Roque at rick@thenichereport.com. You may also send questions to Josh Altman, at josh@hiltonhyland.com.

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The kitchen is a Chef's delight with granite countertops, top of the line Viking appliances, Sub-Zero refrigerator, 42 inch maple cabinets, ceramic floors, hearth room and more. 4 fireplaces. 6th bedroom is suitable for a study or bonus room, with separate venting system. Master suite is a private retreat with fireplace, wet-bar, jetted tub, glass block double shower, granite double bowl vanities, his and her closets. In ground custom pool with dark pebble-tech, cool decking, 3 fountains. Security system w/ 16 cameras, central vacuum, surround sound with 3 zones. Rockwood Schools!


For more information contact Keller Williams Agents:

Status: Active Type: Residential Year Built: 2001

Lynn Beebe

Erin Evans

Bedrooms: 6 Baths: 8 Total Living Area 8,300 sq. ft. Lot Size: 50,529 sq. ft. 314-503-3921 314-966-4700 LBeebe@KW.com

314-973-1150 636-534-8150 EEvans@KW.com

See Listing http://bit.ly/greystonemanor


If you build it, will they come? Pent-up 'emotional' demand by some categories of purchasers

By Steve harney

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ack in the middle of this decade, new construction sales surged as we experienced one of the hottest housing markets of the past century. It seemed that there was a buyer for any and every home built. The last three years has shown us the exact opposite. Calculated Risk reports new construction sales in 2011, 2010 and 2009 were the lowest since 1963. The question is when the demand for new construction will return. Some argue the current shadow inventory of distressed properties about to come to market throughout 2012 will push back any need for new home construction. Others look at current vacancy rates as reported by the Census Department's Housing Vacancies and Homeownership Survey and say that there is no need for large numbers of new home starts. From a pure statistical standpoint, it is difficult to logically debate these opinions. However, real estate is not always logical. 28

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I believe there is a pent-up ‘emotional’ demand by some categories of purchasers for new construction. I am not saying that we are about to return to a time where ‘whatever is built is bought’. I am saying that there is a need for certain types of homes that will satisfy specific segments of the buying public. Let’s look at three examples:

The Generation Y Buyer Many buyers are delaying a decision to purchase a home because of the volatility of the real estate market. There is no larger category exhibiting this behavior than those of Generation Y. To define this segment of the population, we go to Wikipedia: Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), Generation Next, Net Generation, or Echo Boomers, describes the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, and commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s. This group realizes now is the time to buy and that


they want a home of their own. A recent survey completed by Trulia shows people between the ages of 18-34 still believe in the concept of home ownership with 65% of those surveyed saying “their American Dream includes owning a home”. (Note: I acknowledge that a percentage of this generation is buried under student loan debt. However, I’m not sure how many over the age of thirty are in this category.) In a special report late last year by the Research Institute for Housing America titled, The Great Recession and Attitudes Toward Home-Buying, it was revealed that 59.8% of all renters between the ages of 30 and 39 believe that now is a good time to buy a home. If we consider what these buyers are truly looking for in a first home (ex. green building, FHA financing available), perhaps we can help them gain the homeownership piece of their American Dream.

The Move-Up Buyer The Research Institute report also showed that 80.1% of all current homeowners believe that now is a good time to buy a home. These potential move-up purchasers should be targeted as potential buyers. Many settled for a home that did not fulfill all their family’s needs back five or six years ago. They were priced out of the type of home they truly desired. These buyers wanted all the best of amenities, the larger closets and the modern kitchen. They may not have gotten any of this in their last purchase. With interest rates where they are now, they may be able to acquire the home of their dreams for approximately the same monthly mortgage payment they currently have. Do the math and make the results available to anyone who purchased 5 or 6 years ago. (Note: I realize that a percentage of these homes will be in a negative equity situation. However, we must not overestimate this number. According to CoreLogi,c 22.1% of all homes with a mortgage are underwater. Remember, 30% of all homes do not even have a loan on them. That means that less than 16% of the homes in the country are actually in this situation.) The Successful Business People in the Region We are constantly being told that people cannot afford to buy a home today because of the current economic

situation. There is no doubt that there are people in every state in the country that are experiencing financial difficulties. We realize that people who either have lost or are about to lose their job/business are not going to purchase a new home. But what about the business people and business owners in your region that are doing very well right now? Two restaurants down the block may have just closed their doors but what about the one around the corner that is still open. I will guess their business increased rather dramatically. What about the law firm that specializes in bankruptcies and foreclosures? They are probably having their best years in a decade. Could these business people and others like them feel they deserve all the rewards that come with success? Will they want to make a statement with a new, beautiful residence? My guess is yes. They will be ready to move into a brand new home in the best area/community in town. We must identify these potential purchasers and alert them to the tremendous opportunity that exists in residential real estate today. Some builders will curse the winds of the current housing market. Others will redirect the sails of the ship they captain and aggressively target market the buyers in their area that just need a little nudge to buy the home of their dreams.

Steve Harney has been chosen as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Leaders in Real Estate by Inman News and has appeared on Fox Business News. He is the founder and chief content provider for www.KCMblog.com.

Write for The Niche Report magazine or blog. Let your voice and knowledge be heard by writing for us. Tap into our huge audience of Real Estate agents & Brokers around the country.

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Learn more by going to www.TheNicheReport.com/ write-niche-report or call us at 866-964-2695


Who Are You? And Why? Answering these simple questions could guarantee your success!

By Rene F. Rodriguez

For those of us in the real estate business, real estate agents are a dime a dozen, but the very good ones are invaluable for every firm. The same can be said for marketing advice. This is why at The NicheReport; our focus is on the substance behind what makes every brand successful. Regardless of the industry, there are very focused and conscious reasons why certain people and their corresponding brands succeed and while others struggle. The same is true for Real Estate. Rene is a premier Mortgage and Real Estate consultant who has worked with me for nearly 10 years in helping Real Estate firms increase sales, productivity and brand identity in their local marketplace. He will be a frequent contributor and will be speaking with me at a number of real estate conferences around the country in 2012. -- Rick Roque, Managing Editor

S

eems like a simple enough question. Who am I? Well, I’m a father, son, friend, sales professional and a few other things. I’m quite sure if I were to ask you the same question, you could come up with similar answers, all of which would be perfectly valid.

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Now let me challenge you. Who are you in the business world? If you are like most people, you probably answer that question with some iteration detailing “what” you do. Something along the lines of “I’m a Real Estate Agent.” Yes, this does describe what you do and in part “who” you are. Now, here is the challenge…who cares? Why should I, or anyone else for that matter, care that you are a Real Estate Agent? Don’t take offense, I mean it literally…who really does care? There are thousands of agents out there, what makes you different? Why should anyone work with you? This is not a new question. I’m quite certain that you have heard it countless times before, so why is it that there are still so many agents who look, feel, act and talk the same? The more important question to answer is, what are the implications, not only to you, but also to the consumers when they are faced with so many similar choices? It all comes down to the psychology of decision making which in essence is a very simple psychology. We as humans need to base our decisions on perceived differences. The decision is made emotionally but rationalized logically through the differences. So, what happens when we don’t differentiate ourselves? The answer: your customer is forced to find


a differentiating factor on their own, and more often than not they will gravitate to something they can easily measure: price (aka: your commission). The harsh reality that we all have to face is that consumers have many choices, are rarely ever loyal and, if left with no other choice, will find a difference to justify their decision to work with someone. That idea is best summed up in this quote… “If you’re not different, you’d better have low prices and if you don’t have low prices, you’d better be different.”

What does it mean to be “Different”? Michael Porter of Harvard University is credited with coining the term, “competitive advantage.” He literally wrote the book “Competitive Strategy.” It is a very academic book, definitely not for the casual reader, but it lays out the essential foundation for what it means to compete in the market place. In short, he says that there are only three ways to compete in a marketplace. 1. Be the lowest-cost provider (lowest price) 2. Have a focused niche

3. Differentiate Let’s assume, for the purposes of this article, that no one reading this wants to play the price game. If you are brave enough to choose a focused niche then kudos to you, because it is not an easy choice. However, if you stick with it, that choice will pay dividends. If you are like most, you will want to go with some sort of differentiation strategy. So let’s define what differentiation means. When I’m out on the speaking circuit and I ask my audiences to define “differentiation,” the same answers always come up: “to be different,” “to stand out,” “to be unique.” These answers are all partially correct, but not complete. Here is what I mean – if my strategy is to just “be different” then I could come to work every day wearing a clown suit. I have achieved my goal of being different and standing out – but will this strategy help me sell more? Clearly not. With that in mind, here is my favorite definition of “differentiation.” “ To be able to sell your product or service, WITHOUT having to lower its price.” It doesn’t matter if you are different if you still have to


lower your price or your commission. You’d be better off not spending any time, money or energy differentiating, and focus on just being cheap. By now I’m guessing you are a bit frustrated. If so, that’s okay because these are important questions to be asking, and if you don’t go through the exercise, then you will be stuck in the commodity world forever, and who wants that?

So what’s the solution? Being different isn’t easy, especially when everyone is saying that they are different. There isn’t a simple answer to that question because the answer will be different for everyone. Maybe a better question is, how do I start creating my differentiation strategy? Before I answer that, I think it is important to clarify one more piece. There is a huge difference between true differentiation and novelty. Novelties, like cool features, are not a sustainable strategy as they will soon be replicated and most likely improved upon, rendering you once again ineffective. You need to find and create not just a competitive advantage, but a “sustainable” competitive advantage. This is a quest that all companies engage in, and some have monstrous piles of money to throw at this quest. So the real question is, how do we figure this out if we don’t have a monstrous budget? Great question! Here is what I believe to the bottom of my soul. You already have your differentiation strategy in your hands. In fact, you’ve had it all along. So where is it? Well, let’s go back to my first question, who are you? We are all in the business of influencing behavior. Whether we’re trying to influence someone to work with us, buy into our idea, or let us use his or her truck to move some furniture, we are influencing all the time. The search for the ultimate sustainable competitive advantage is driven by the knowledge that once we find it, it will allow us to affect behavior favorably in our direction. So what is this answer that you’ve had this whole time? It’s your story, your “why.” The purpose behind all that you do. Let me explain. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times, “People don’t buy based on logic, they buy based on emotion.” What that means is that the parts of our brain charged with decision making are NOT located in the logical centers, they are located deep inside the brain, just above the brain stem. This part of the brain does not have a verbal center to communicate with, which is why we have 32

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such a hard time “talking” about our feelings or describing why we love someone, or even articulating that “gut” feeling that something just isn’t right. The reason your “why” is so powerful is because it speaks directly to that part of the brain that drives decision making. Simon Sinek, in his book Start with Why (a must read), gave some incredible examples and laid out an ingeniously simple model to help us not only understand why we do what we do but also how to discover our own why. His model (see figure 1) is as he stated, “quite possibly the world’s simplest model,” and says that every company on earth knows “what” they do. Some (the good ones) know “how” they do it. The “how” is also your unique selling/value proposition. But very few can articulate “why” they do what they do. This model helps us understand why Apple, being just a computer company like Dell and Gateway, has such loyal customers and is able to out-innovate all of its competitors year after year. It also explains why people get Harley Davidson tattoos on their bodies and why Southwest Airlines is able to sustain such high profits while competitors struggle to stay alive. Let’s use this model to describe how “Dell” communicates their message, as an example. They work from the outside in, and it sounds something like this: What: We are a great computer company. How: We offer competitive pricing and made-to-order computers shipped right to your door. Why: Want to buy one? Not very compelling is it? How about a REALTOR® example? What: I’m a great Real Estate Agent. How: I specialize in this area and spend a lot on marketing. Why: Want to work with me? Still not very compelling, is it? Now let’s take a look at how Apple communicates to us. They work from the inside out


and it sounds something like this. Why: We believe in pushing the status quo in everything we do. How: The way that we do that is by making products that are beautifully designed, easy to use and user friendly. What: We happen to be a computer company. Want to buy one? Can you feel the difference? It feels different because it speaks directly to the part of our brain that drives decision-making. If you can identify your why, and reverse the order in which you communicate to the marketplace both interpersonally and in your mass media, you will immediately begin to see the power in increased sales, customer loyalty and overall personal satisfaction. Here is a simple exercise to help you get started in figuring out your why. Chose one of the options and fill in the blank. Why • I strongly believe… • I am extremely passionate about… • I have a passion for… How • I have discovered… • I am really good at… • The way that I bring that to life is… • The way that I do that is… What • I happen to be a…

WHY HOW

sure you feel very comfortable with the words you’re saying; this is, after all, your own story. This is speaking from the inside out, and it is very powerful. The message you have created is as unique as you are and once you perfect it, it will become what sets you apart in the marketplace, your real differentiator. Use it in your marketing and learn the secret that makes the most successful companies the household names they are: people don’t buy “what” you do, they buy “why” you do it.

Rene F. Rodriguez is a member of the Loan Toolbox Speaking Faculty and Chief Executive Officer of Volentum (www.volentum.com), a Management Consulting Firm that specializes in sales system creation, sales training, & change management, with significant expertise in applying brain research to improving results. He is a trusted advisor to Leadership and Business Teams in Bank of America, CocaCola, Liz Claiborne, Daimler Chrysler, Microsoft, and other major corporations. Rene’s mission is to lead the Resurgence of the Sales Professional. For more information on improving your sales process, please visit www.Volentum.com or call 612-3104010.

WHAT

How we see it

If you are having a hard time identifying your “why” don’t worry, we all do at first. It is important to remember that your “why,” as Mr. Sinek states, “is not something to be invented by looking forward, it is something that is discovered by looking backwards.” Remember to dig deep into your past to identify “why” it is you do what you do. Of all the “hows” you could have chosen, “why” did you choose that one? If you stick with it, you’ll uncover your why. Practice this until it rolls off your tongue and make TheNicheReport.com

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The Truth about FHA 203k Loans

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promise you and other real estate agents have lost numerous transactions and will continue to lose more transactions because you just don’t understand what will become your most favorite loan program. No matter how much the government drops rates, people just are not buying as expected. Try this on for size: You set out shopping for a new wardrobe, expecting to get the perfect clothes at a discounted price. You walk into store after store only to find clothing that is twenty-plus years old, worn, torn and full of holes. No matter how much the clothing is discounted, or how inexpensively you could finance your purchases, it does not matter: You are not buying this ugly clothing! You are better off to keep the clothing you have. Real estate agents are pushing worn-out, brokendown, outdated properties to an impatient generation seeking immediate gratification in a “buyer’s market.” We hear it every day from our clients, “I’ll buy if I can find 34

February 2012

the perfect house at the perfect price” (nails on a chalk board). The perfect house just does not exist, they never existed (but at least they were visually pleasing). Being a real estate agent is exhausting, and you should be exhausted. You FINALLY get a motivated AND qualified buyer. After showing them hundreds of houses, you somehow get them under contract without offending anyone. So why aren’t you celebrating? Because you know the seller is broke and will not be paying to repair any discovered issues with the property, so you cross your fingers and say a few prayers that the condition of this outdated, twenty-year-old home doesn’t require any repairs that will freak out the buyer or, worst case, eliminate it from surviving the appraisal and underwriting. Sound familiar? No wonder you’re about two problems away from re-inventing yourself in a new career. You would have to be delusional to remain hopeful under these circumstances. The problem is easy to see. We need money to revitalize, to renew our existing properties, but no one has any money. The good and bad news is that


history repeats itself. This isn’t the first time our real estate market has faced these challenges. Luckily, the government launched a program back in 1978 that solves the issues of today’s real estate market. The program I am referring to is the FHA 203k Loan Program. I am going to tell you my best-kept secrets on how this program was designed to work and how you can use this program to substantially increase your business. Finally, the truth about FHA 203k loans.

What Is the FHA 203k Program? The FHA 203k loan program provides home buyers the opportunity to buy and fix up a property, without exhausting their personal savings. Home buyers can purchase a property and include whatever costs to make required repairs or desired updates, or to fully renovate the property, all into one simple thirty-year fixed loan. ALL work starts AFTER purchasing the property, using the money set aside by the bank. Show Fewer Properties I love that house, but ____________. I’m sure you’ve heard this statement at least once or twice. I love that house, BUT the kitchen is outdated, BUT it needs another bedroom/bathroom, BUT I want a finished basement, etc. Contrary to what so many people believe about the FHA 203k loan, it is not just for repairs! This little-known program will solve any of these “buts” and more! With the exception of two ineligible repair costs, major landscaping and the installation of outdoor luxury items (pool, tennis courts), your buyer can include whatever their little heart desires into their loan. A few ideas to get your juices flowing: carpet, paint, new appliances, new kitchen, new bathrooms, new hardwood flooring, finish the basement, build an addition, build a garage, convert to handicap accessible, install security system, etc. Avoid Inspection and Appraisal Issues A buyer could be under contract on a property with every possible thing wrong with it: furnace, water heater, HVAC, roof, sewer, structural, plumbing, electrical, grading, siding, decks, windows, asbestos, lead-based paint, etc., and this property would fly through the appraisal and underwriting without any issues. When utilizing the FHA 203k loan, the lender is protected from the risk because this is a government-insured loan.

What about all the properties listed as “cash only” due to the property condition? These properties are screaming for help from FHA 203k loans (educate the listing agent).

How Much Money Is Needed? Gosh, I might just become your favorite person in 2012. Let me show you how the numbers work. You have a client buying a home at $150,000. They decide to remodel the kitchen and bathrooms. and install hardwood floors throughout, totaling $30,000 (total amount of bids), and increasing their monthly payments by roughly $150/month (roughly $25/month for every $5,000 increase in loan amount). Purchase Price: $150,000 Total Bids: $30,000 Contingency (15% of bids): $4,500 (this is for anything unforeseen) +Fees: $500 (inspections, title work, loan fees) TOTAL PROJECT COST = $185,000 Client Down Payment = 3.5% * Total Project Cost = $6,475 What if your client does not have the 3.5% minimum down payment requirement? They can receive the full amount as a gift from a family member or in the form of any city/county/state/federal down payment assistance. The borrower is not required to pay for any cost other than the typical costs associated with the home process (inspection and appraisal). Any money not used is removed from their loan amount once the project is completed.

Two Types of FHA 203k Loans It’s important to understand that there are two types of FHA 203k loans – the Full FHA 203k loan and the Streamline FHA 203k Loan. The Full 203k is for larger projects requiring more than $35,000 in costs or for projects that require structural repairs. A HUD consultant is required on the Full FHA 203k loan programs. The Streamline 203k is the new kid on the block brought about in December of 2005 for less extensive repairs and improvements, therefore eliminating the required HUD consultant. The maximum costs that can be included in the loan are $35,000, none of which can be structural costs. TheNicheReport.com

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straight up How Do These Appraise? When teaching live classes to real estate agents on the FHA 203k loan, the very first concern that is raised is what about the appraisal!?? Well, again you’re going to love this. When buying a home with an FHA 203k loan, only one appraisal is required, providing the “after improvements have been made” value. Additionally, there is a fudge factor with FHA 203k loans. The maximum mortgage amount is based on the lesser of 1) the as-is value + the cost of rehab work, or 2) 110 percent of the after-improved value of the property. The majority of our FHA 203k clients are establishing instant equity where organic appreciation is hard to come by. Pretty exciting stuff, since they were able to use governmentinsured money at an incredibly low interest rate. What Properties Are Eligible? There is no such thing as an FHA 203k approved property. Any single-family home, townhome or even multi-unit (up to four units) property can be financed with FHA 203k financing, so long as the buyer is buying the property as their primary residence. Condos are also eligible but must be in an FHA-approved complex and be one of no more than four units in the building. 10 Steps to the FHA 203k Loan Process 1. You educate the client on the ability to use FHA 203k loan program and refer them to an experienced FHA 203k lender 2. Borrower gets preapproved – if they are preapproved for $250,000 this must include the purchase price + costs they are rolling in 3. Shop for houses 4. Negotiate the contract – offering as-is value and selecting FHA financing 5. Inspections/gathering bids 6. Finalize bids 7. Appraisal 8. Final underwriting sign off 9. Closing (depending on the bank this will be 30-60 days after going under contract) 10. Work begins and must be completed in 6 months (with an FHA 203k Streamline) to 12 months (Full FHA 203k loan). Applying for the FHA 203k Loan Remember, this is an FHA loan, so the guidelines are 36

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just as lenient as any other FHA program. There are no income limits, you do not have to be a first-time home buyer, credit scores down to a 620 (possibly lower/varies by lender), ability to use alternative credit, debt-to-income ratios up to 50%, cosigners allowed, down payment of 3.5%, gift money/down payment assistance allowed for down payment and seller concessions up to 6%. I know you’re concerned that the interest rates are much higher. Of course this varies per lender, but over the past 12 months the rates have been anywhere from the same as a regular FHA (FHA 203b) loan to about .25% higher.

Hired Help There is no such thing as an FHA-approved contractor/handyman. The borrowers can select whomever they would like to perform the work, so long as they are experienced and insured. Problems to Avoid The most important problem to avoid is choosing an experienced FHA 203k Lender. This program wasn’t needed until now, so many lenders have chosen not to provide the FHA 203k loan, whether because they don't know how, don’t want to invest in learning how or don't want to do the extra paperwork. Either way, working with a lender who isn't experienced with FHA 203k loans is something you should avoid at all costs – the process is complex enough as it is. The formula to success is 1) selecting the right team of lenders and contractors, 2) setting realistic dates and deadlines, and 3) setting proper expectations with the home buyer. 5 Ninja Marketing Strategies 1. How to Buy and Fix Up a Property for $100 – a buyer can layer the FHA 203k loan with the HUD $100 down program. The only requirement is that the buyer is using an FHA loan to buy a HUD property as their primary residence. This is not limited to firsttime home buyers. 2. Contractors Wanted – guess who may love this program more than you and I? All of the contractors/ handymen that are out of work. Host a lunch at your office and educate every roof installer, electrician, plumber, general contractor, handyman, etc. you know. They will turn into your marketing department.


straight up 3. Remember Kiddie Condos – the rental market has been and will be amazing around college campuses. Educate the baby boomers on the possibility of co-signing for their children on a property, using the FHA 203k loan to fix it up. Not only are they able to do so with little investment, they have the opportunity to establish equity and create a monthly cash flow by renting out to other students. This is a phenomenal vehicle to help their children pay down their student loans. 4. Generating more Sellers – sellers are faced with the most common question – move or improve? In your listing presentation make sure to educate your prospective sellers on the ability to either list now and market their not-so-perfect home with an FHA 203k loan, or use the FHA 203k loan to refinance and fix up their home. This will give you a much better product to sell one or two years down the road. 5. Social Proof on Steroids – When working with your next FHA 203k home buyer make sure to gather the goods. Before and after pictures are worth some

serious cash. Seriously! You post the before and after pictures to your Facebook page, tagging your clients, and all their friends show up wanting to know how they too can buy a house and fix it up. Stop working against the market! You now have a loan program that will help you show fewer properties, avoid common issues, generate more buyers and sellers and, bottom line, make you look like a rock star to your clients. This will catch on, so get out there before your competition figures it out. If you would like more information on this program, join our weekly webinar. Jocelyn is a progressive entrepreneur who has established herself as a leader in the real estate, mortgage & technology realms. As founder & CEO of Limetree Lending Group she has created a lending company that is consistently named #1 out of all of the 100+ mortgage bankers under the Universal Lending Corporation umbrella in Colorado. If you would like more information on this program, join our weekly webinar. Contact me at jocelyn@limetreelending.com for registration details.

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online lead generation

YouTube Discover Powerful Secrets that Can Help You Sell More, Save Time and Gain Credibility Today!

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ost people in our industry love it when a prospect calls you up and practically demands to have you take care of them, no matter the costs or circumstances. What’s that? It doesn’t happen that often to you? Well, let’s just fix that today! After reading this article, you will have the knowledge and resources to position yourself as the ‘Go To’ expert in your industry, along with using the incredible power of Video Testimonials to do all of the heavy lifting and selling for you! By the time a highly targeted prospect is sitting in front of your desk or on the other end of the phone, they will be already sold on doing business with YOU, paying your PRICE, and trusting your ADVICE. How does that sound? A little too good to be true? Well, today I will introduce a tool that will help you achieve just that. The tool that I’m talking about is the all Powerful YOUTUBE!! It seems like everywhere you turn, the social buzz is all about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Did we somehow forget about the staggering power of YouTube? With almost 3 billion views per day and over 48 hours of

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video being uploaded each minute, it’s hard to ignore this growing giant. One final fact that you should take into consideration is that YouTube is the second most sought after search engine in the world, second only to its owner, Google! It would be unwise to have an online marketing campaign that does not incorporate YouTube videos as a marketing strategy. So now you might be asking, “How can I turn this ‘Giant’ into my ‘Servant’? You may have heard the expression, “people do business with people they know, like and trust….” YouTube is the most effective way to make that happen. There is something special about the connection that is made when someone sees your face, looks in your eyes, hears your voice and completely understands your words. Yes, this is very common when you conduct a one-on-one consultation with your prospects or referral partners. I’m sure that you’ve wasted countless hours in front of prospects that aren’t qualified, or that are simply price shopping you. This is definitely the traditional way to do business and ‘sell’ your services. However, this is


online lead generation definitely NOT the most productive way. Now with the awesome power of video, you have the capability to ‘Clone’ yourself and multiply your results. You can weed out the unqualified prospects, saving yourself time and money. You’ll be saving wasted hours that you would not get paid for, and you will be working primarily with qualified buyers that are eager to move forward – while at the same time building credibility, authority and trust by using video testimonials. Before we get too deep in this article, let me begin by saying that it’s impossible for me to cover all aspects of video marketing in this small space. There are entire schools dedicated to teaching video production courses. However, I will give you a solid foundation of how to get started quickly, and the most important elements that anybody can use to get maximum exposure with their YouTube videos. Also, as far as equipment… you can get started with a smart phone and basic software that’s found online (or on your personal computer). When marketing on YouTube, the most important thing is to be found and to get seen. The biggest ‘take away’ that I want you to have today is the understanding of how to properly optimize your videos so that they can be found when your prospects are looking for your content. Content is KING – and content can attract or repel your viewers. I will be going over some creative topics and ideas that can help you engage your viewers and subscribers to get them to know, like and trust you!

unbelievably underused. Let me tell you about a strategy for powerful video testimonials. What are some of the most common objections or fears that someone will have in their mind when deciding to work with you? Some objections could be your rate, or trust, or they might not believe that you have enough experience, etc. You can make a list of each one of these objections and ask your clients to address at least one of them. That way, by the time you meet the prospect, all of their objections have been addressed. This is a very powerful strategy that should not be overlooked. The same technique can be applied for Joint Venture partners, referral partners, and anyone else that you’re looking to grow your business with. Let the video testimonials do the heavy lifting of selling them on working with you, building your credibility and positioning you as the Expert Advisor and the ONLY obvious choice.

WHAT TO PUT IN MY VIDEOS If you have been in the industry for a while, then I’m sure you can find at least 10 questions that clients keep asking over and over again. I’m also sure that there are at least 10 pieces of advice that you keep offering to these clients that they never think to ask you about, but you volunteer the information. Make a video answering each one of the 10 questions and the 10 pieces of advice that you offer. Now you have 20 videos, and you know what?? In the eyes of a new prospect, you are the expert – because you answered the questions, even before they asked them!! More importantly, you answered questions that they never even thought to ask. Getting involved with the conversation that’s inside of your borrower’s head is one of the most powerful psychological techniques in marketing, and you can do it quite easily through the amazing power of video. Testimonials are HUGE, if done right! They’re also

• Optimize your Title & Channel Tags: Use the keywords that you want to be found by throughout your title, tags, and description.

CREATE YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL If you haven’t done so, go now and set up your YouTube Account. YouTube will guide you step by step through the process. A few things that I want to bring to your attention: • Optimize the name of your channel: Do a simple keyword search to see what people are looking for in your industry, for example, “home buying tips” unless you really want to brand your name, then use your REAL NAME.

• Make sure your channel is visible: This will allow your channel to be found. • Branding: I recommend that you have your channel custom designed for your branded presence. Make it memorable and outstanding!! If not, you’re going to be buried by the thousands of competitors’ channels. • Allow Comments: Let people post their comments to create engagement. • Auto Play Video: Make sure to have your featured video play automatically. That will increase the numbers of views each time someone clicks on your channel – and more views mean a higher ranking in Google. TheNicheReport.com

39


online lead generation OPTIMIZING YOUR VIDEO To make sure your videos get maximum exposure, they need to be properly optimized. The following are key points to remember: • Title: Always remember to put your primary keyword in your title. A very cool trick to make this more effective is to write your main keyword, add a colon and then rephrase it. (Example: Home Buying Tips: 10 Things to Look for When Buying A Home) • Description: Start with your URL. Make sure to include the (HTTP://). YouTube will hyperlink it for you so you get traffic to your website. Explain exactly what your video is about and put keywords throughout your description. The more content in the description, the better. • Tags: Include keywords that make sense and are most relevant to your video. • Category: This is less important, so go with anything that makes sense. I would go with ‘education’. • Post a Bulletin: Post something and include a link to the video. This will post on the homepage of all of your subscribers, bringing them back to your video, which is a very powerful way to get views and create exposure for your videos. • YouTube is a social platform: Post your video to your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Video Directories to ensure maximum exposure.

How to sell in your video… The key point in what we are talking about today is to sell your services to your viewers. Before you start selling, you need to make a compelling statement. Grabbing the viewer’s attention is 100% crucial! If you can’t keep them interested, you have little to no chance of selling them. Once they’re interested, they will stay until the end and come back for more. Having GREAT content is the key! Now that you have their interest, you can move to your ‘Call to Action’. Here are a few ideas to remember when it comes to your call to action: • Include it in your video: It’s very important to put a call to action inside your video - after all, we’re putting our efforts in those videos to get some. Your 40

February 2012

CTA should be something that tells the viewer exactly what to do next. It can be, call your phone, visit your website, or download a free report, etc. Display your website address along with your phone number at the bottom of the video. Remember this when you’re editing your video. • In the description: Include a hyperlink (by adding HTTP://) to your website. The link will turn blue, and people will be able to click on it to go directly to your website.

Sneaky Little Trick I want to leave you with a final ‘trick’ that can be powerful for you. This is a creative way to get video testimonials from your JV partners and clients. Find a cheap digital camcorder. I’ve seen them as low as $40 online. Send it through snail mail to your clients with a video of yourself asking them to please shoot a testimonial for you showing the house that you got them (or whatever outcome). Ask them to please upload their video and email it back to you. As a ‘Thank You’, they can keep the camera as a ‘Housewarming gift’ from you. That video piece will be worth a LOT more to you than the camera. You can use it in all of your marketing efforts for years to come! In conclusion, as I mentioned earlier, I’m severely limited on the amount of content that I can give you here. If you would like more training on YouTube Marketing, I have a FREE workbook with a very detailed checklist, along with step-by-step training videos that I’m offering ONLY to The Niche Report subscribers. Please visit www. cssocialmedia.com/youtube if you’re interested.

Chaibia Sarhrou is the CEO of CS Social Media, an Online & Social Media Marketing company specializing in the Mortgage and Real Estate industries. She has consulted with many top-producing agents and speaks at Real Estate and Mortgage companies to educate them on monetizing their social media efforts. Chaibia can be contacted at chaibia@ cssocialmedia.com .


Advertising Rules (Reg Z) for Real Estate Agents & Builders By karen dies

The updated Truth-In-Lending Rules apply if you quote down payments, payments, interest rates or points. But wait, there’s more! These rules apply to all forms of advertising, including email blasts, flyers that you pass out at apartment buildings, TV & radio, and direct mail! They apply to all dwelling-secured loans: single-family, condos, town homes, mobile homes, etc. Existing Advertising Disclosure Rules If your ad contains any financing info… • Dollar amount or % of down payment • Number of payments or number of years to repay the loan • Dollar amount of any payment • An interest rate or a finance charge …then you must disclose the following: • The terms of repayment over the entire life of the loan, including ARMs, Balloon payments or temporary buy downs • Dollar amount or % of down payment • The Annual Percentage Rate Updated Rate & Payment Rules In Addition to Existing Rules Effective 10-1-09, more disclosure must be included in addition to the existing rules above: • If fixed interest rate over the life of the loan, the rate and APR must be printed in the same size letters • If advertising a payment, you must include o Fact that the payment does not include taxes, mortgage or homeowners insurance

• If rate or payment is NOT fixed, (Buydown, ARM or Balloon) o Each rate or payment & time period changes for entire term of the loan o If ARM, future rate must be disclosed by adding index plus margin Size of Lettering & Placement of Disclosure – Printed Ads • APR Rate and loan term details must be printed in the same size letters (or larger) than the rate or payment being advertised • Must be printed in “close proximity to info being advertised (not buried way down at the bottom or the ad) • Cannot be obscured in any way (i.e., shading, coloration, etc) TV, Radio, Video & All Oral Disclosures Must include all the information above PLUS: • Must be clearly stated (no talking fast or low tone of voice); or • Must provide a toll free number that may be used to call for additional info For information only – it’s not comprehensive or intended as legal advice. Final Rule published in Federal Register Vol. 73, No. 147 and 12 CFR, Part 226. Written and contributed by Karen Deis of Mortgagecurrentcy. com. Provided monthly by www.mortgagecurrentcy.cominterpreting the Rules and Regulation Changes for loan officers, processors, underwriters, and owners/managers. Mortgage Talking Points TM, charts and checklists included. TheNicheReport.com

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BRINGING UP THE REAR - continued from page 46

Caucasian. I’m not saying that to be a racist, I’m saying it because the combination of all of those factors makes me rock solid sure that this guy knows a lot about real people in this country from reading about them in policy reports. Last year, President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner asked Fannie and Freddie to start doing principal reductions for homeowners underwater and at risk of foreclosure. In fact, Geithner even testified that he believed there to be a solid economic case for Fannie & Freddie to participate in the principal reduction programs, such as the new HAMP PRA. But, DeMarco said no anyway. Ed’s rationale was that principal reductions, while positive for Fannie and Freddie in the long run, would be bad for their books in the short run. This is the sort of thing that makes one long for the ghost of Lyndon Johnson to come back and kick DeMarco in the pants… you just don’t say no to both the president AND the most powerful man in the world… Timothy Geithner. Geithner can snap his fingers and Ben Bernanke starts up the printing presses from his nightstand by his bed. Even Lord Blankcheck over at Goldman Sachs takes his calls. And Vikram Pandit over at Citi? Yeah, well I heard he comes over and rubs Geithner’s feet in the evenings. I swear, that’s what I heard. Fannie & Freddie, in my way of thinking shouldn’t even be given the choice. They are both bankrupt. They’ve already been NATIONALIZED, no matter what they want to call it. For God’s sake, Fannie Mae stock is trading OTC right next to Blockbuster! And besides, Freddie and Fannie have been GSEs for years… “Government Spending Entities,” so why stop now? And, since when does Fannie Mae base decisions on whether something is prudent in the short run, or long run for that matter? Because that’s what comes to my mind when I think of the word “prudent”… Fannie Mae. Nice castle, by the way. Regardless of all of this, DeMarco wouldn’t budge. Obama does appoint the head of the FHFA, but he can’t order him to do anything. DeMarco is legally “independent,” he can’t be fired and so far refuses to step down, so at this point he’s singlehandedly preventing our government from doing something to stop foreclosures, as if congress alone wasn't enough of an obstacle in this regard. So, recently DeMarco, in his testimony to congress over the $35 million in bonuses being paid to Fannie and Freddie executives, said that executive compensation at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has been appropriate as well as necessary to prevent taxpayer losses. This is the kind of logic that’s obviously the product of a beautiful mind.

DeMarco defended the bonuses, saying that without them, there could be an exodus of talent, which could result in taxpayer losses. And I have just two things to say in response to that: 1. Fannie and Freddie have already cost the American taxpayers roughly $169 BILLION, and estimates are that we’re on our way to a $220 BILLION tab. Last quarter, they needed something like $13 BILLION alone. So, whatever talent you’ve got over there… for God’s sake, let them go. Paying bonuses at the GSEs now is like closing the door after the horses have run out and then opening it back up and shooting the horses that remain inside. 2. I’m absolutely positive that I could have saved the country a fortune here. I’d bet anything that I could have bankrupted Fannie and Freddie for a lot less than $169 BILLION. I would have been more than happy to run the two GSEs into the ground for a few hundred million. Next time, pick up the phone… I’m here to help. At this point Mr. Ed, is standing right smack in the way of programs that could at least start turning around the housing market and that is making me crazy. On this topic, DeMarco recently told Politico.com: “Sweeping plans to help homeowners ‘did not meet our responsibilities as conservator. That doesn’t mean principal forgiveness might not be appropriate… but it does not meet our mandate to return Fannie and Freddie to solvency and guard against another taxpayer bailout.” He also said that the FHFA, “has exercised its responsibilities … to not undertake certain initiatives.” Did I tell you he was an out of touch policy wonk? He was also recently quoted as saying: “Americans, whatever their political stripe is, whether they are lawmakers or businesspeople or citizens, we all are frustrated.” No, Ed… you’ve got that wrong. I’m frustrated… homeowners are frustrated. You? You are frustrating. And he also said: “We are in a set of circumstances in the housing market we have not seen since the Great Depression. It has taken a long time to get to that point, and it’s going to take a long time to recover.” And evidently, Ed is going to do everything in his unchecked power to make sure of that. Martin Andelman is a staff writer for The Niche Report. He also writes an almost daily column on ML-Implode called Mandelman Matters. He also publishes a Monthly Museletter and you can follow “Mandelman” on Twitter. Send your responses to Martin@TheNicheReport.com. TheNicheReport.com

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BRINGING UP THE REAR

Bringing Up the rear Edward DeMarco, Acting Director, Federal Housing Finance Agency BY MARTIN ANDELMAN

W

ell, I’ll tell you what… the economics profession sure has lost some points these past couple of years, wouldn’t you say? Sort of like the intelligence community did during the Bush presidency just a few years back. It pains me to see the profession relegated to being “The Pips,” to Barack Obama’s “Gladys,” if you know what I mean. We’re never even told their names anymore, all we get to know is that when the news is bad, the “economists were surprised by the numbers.” Not any of the economists that I either know personally, or frequently read, but a nameless and faceless band of economists who seem to forecast so poorly, they couldn’t even get hired as the San Diego weatherman. It’s like, “the number of jobs created last month came in lower than economists expected,” or… “Economists were surprised to learn that home prices have fallen for 70 months in a row, that water is in fact wet, and that the sky is blue. Until that news was released today, the consensus answers to those three questions was: “13”… “clean”… and “high.”" Okay, so I’m only bringing this up as a way to introduce this month’s REAR… Edward DeMarco. Ed is currently serving as “Acting Director” of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”), the independent federal

agency that placed both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship in the fall of 2008. And with a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame… he’s an economist. Prior to joining FHFA, he was COO at the OFHEO, where he provided policy advice for the FHA, before that he was Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Policy at the SSA, and before that he was the Director of the OFIP at Treasury where he oversaw analyses of public policy issues involving the GSEs… and before that he conducted economic and financial analyses of the GSEs at the GAO where he developed recommendations for improved safety and soundness related to the government’s exposure to the GSEs. Read that last line again… “he developed recommendations for improved safety and soundness related to the government’s exposure to the GSEs?” Well, did he now? Obviously, that was some absolutely crackerjack work right there. Considering that Fannie and Freddie, so far, have cost us taxpayers about $170 billion in “safety and soundness,” I’d have to say that I sleep better at night knowing that we’ve now got Ed watching out for us at FHFA. Best I can tell, Ed’s never had a job that wasn’t a wonky acronym, and since I want to give you a picture of what he looks like… hmmm… well, if Tim Geithner and Peter Orszag had a child… I mean, the man just screams - continued on page 45

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February 2012


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TNR - February 2012 Real Estate Edition