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Innovative Tech Tools for REALTORS® From the REACH Class of 2019

Jul 6, 2019 by

In real estate, and every other industry, technological change is as exciting as it is inevitable. But the number and pace of new technologies coming to market can be mind-boggling. So how do you decide what tech will best benefit your customers and provide the most value for your business?

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has done the legwork and taken the guesswork out of this challenging question. The REACH technology accelerator, developed by Second Century Ventures (SCV), NAR’s investment arm, reviews thousands of emerging technology companies and vets them for you. The result is the REACH Class of 2019—eight cutting-edge companies chosen for their potential to improve the customer experience by giving brokers and agents powerful new tools that provide quicker answers, better services, increased security and more accurate data.

REALTORS® Have First Access to REACH Technology
As an NAR member, you’re eligible to join the Insight Panel, put these new products to the test and take part in shaping the technological picture for REALTORS®. Participants choose one or more REACH company offerings to test and receive exclusive discounts in exchange for product feedback.

Sign up by July 31 to take part and impact your industry. Learn more at narreach.com/forrealtors.

REACH Class of 2019
These companies, ranging from seed stage to well-capitalized startups, rose to the top in providing solutions that help brokers and agents serve consumers’ best interests.

Two companies offer groundbreaking ways to deliver exceptional ROI for home sellers. Curbio helps homeowners unlock the full potential of their property with a “renovate now, pay when you sell” model, and Staging & Design Network offers the first online shared rental pool for home furnishings built for the real estate and home staging communities.

New, efficient and effective marketing tools allow you to better connect with customers and meet their needs. Amarki is a seamless, automated marketing platform that unifies all of your systems in one place, and Evocalize connects content with the right audience across the Facebook family of apps, generating demand when and where it’s needed. RateMyAgent‘s digital marketing tool helps consumers find trusted agents by providing verified reviews, and it allows agents to collect, share and promote customer feedback.

REConsortia uses distributed ledger technology to build transparency and simplify the referral tracking process, while Propy‘s end-to-end transaction platform helps facilitate secure, fast and simple real estate transactions entirely online.

Safety is a primary concern for REALTORS®, and Kleard not only provides tools to increase safety—like real-time verification for open houses—it also makes agents more productive through a check-in app with an integrated CRM.

Accelerating Real Estate
SCV and REACH help ensure the real estate industry is adopting and integrating new technology that supports your essential role in every transaction and maximizes value for property buyers and sellers.

REACH Commercial Coming Soon!
REACH will announce its first accelerator class focused on the commercial marketplace later this month.

About REACH and Second Century Ventures
REACH is a growth accelerator created by Second Century Ventures, the National Association of REALTORS® strategic technology investment fund, which leverages the Association’s more than 1.3 million members and an unparalleled network of executives within real estate and adjacent industries. REACH helps the most innovative new technology companies launch and accelerate in the real estate vertical. For more on REACH, and to meet the class of 2019, visit narreach.com.

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The Top Energy Efficient Home Trends That Home Buyers Want in 2019

Apr 1, 2019 by

Article Submitted by Fixr.com

As the cost of energy continues to rise, many home buyers today are looking for homes that are going to be easier and less expensive to run long term. I’ts important to know the trends to look for, whether you’re helping a seller update their home prior to selling or you want to keep an eye out for the perfect property for a buyer. Not only would following these trends allow you to better advise sellers, it also can help you ecuate buyers on to what to look for.

Each year, the home remodeling site Fixr polls industry experts and leaders in their field to help determine some of the top trends in the home improvement industry through their Energy Efficient Home Design Trends report.

Here are some of the most relevant findings to help you maximize your clients’ potential when buying or selling a home.

Energy Star Dryers

One key trend to watch for in properties is an Energy Star rated dryer. Of all the various appliances with the Energy Star label, experts felt that the dryer made the biggest change in energy usage when switching to a more efficient model. This is due in part to the fact that dryers use nearly as much electricity as central air conditioning.

Home shoppers today are focusing more on the laundry room, as well as where it’s located and what it contains more so than they ever have before. An energy efficient dryer can have a big impact on monthly energy budgets. 

Heat Pumps

When it comes to heating a home, the heat pump is the most recommended method of heating for providing consistent heat and energy savings. Heat pumps work by exchanging outside air for inside air. It extracts the heat energy from the air outside–even in cold weather–and transfers it indoors.

An electric heat pump is 50 percent more efficient that other forms of heating. It’s also the most frequently installed energy efficient heating system in homes today.

Day Lighting for the Kitchen and Living Room

While experts agree that the best way to save money on electric bills without reducing the amount of usage is to use LED lights, there are still important things to consider when looking at a home for sale.  

Day lighting is an important component of reducing electricity. This has to do with how much natural light a room gets. The kitchen and living room are two spaces that use the most electricity. As such, it makes sense that home buyers may want to opt for homes that have sufficient natural light in these areas either through windows or skylights.

 

Tankless Water Heaters

While the heat pump is the most popular way to heat a home, a tankless water heater is the most popular method of heating water. Tankless heaters are installed inside the walls of a home, and heat the water as it’s being used. This is in contrast to a heater that is constantly maintaining the temperature of any gallons of water at a time. Households that use this method of heating water can expect to save $ 100 a year on their energy bills.

Heat pumps and tankless heaters are both popular, but hybrid heat pump hot water heaters tend not to perform as well universally. Tankless heaters can be installed in more places, and perform better in cold-weather climates in general.

Low Flow Fixtures in Full Bathrooms 

Households use a lot of water each day when they aren’t using low flow fixtures to try to restrict this usage. Experts felt the place that made the biggest difference when installing these items is in full bathrooms.

This makes sense, as the full bathroom will include a tub and shower, as well as a sink and toilet. Installing low flow fixtures in full bathrooms can help reduce the load on the water supply.

Solar Panels 

If home buyers are looking at homes with renewable energy sources, experts say that solar panels are by far the most popular method. Renewable energy is increasing everywhere, with millennial homeowners leading the biggest push into this sector. Experts also reported that millennials were the most likely to invest in cleaner energy sources, with Gen X taking second place.

Saving Energy Means Saving Money and the Environment

 

Homeowners and home buyers today are motivated to make energy-efficient changes in their homes due to the potential to save money as well as energy. More people generally aware of a need to protect the environment so it makes sense that protection coming from within the home ranks second place.

Homeowners and home buyers that want to maximize their potential in both these areas should seriously consider paying attention to these and other important trends in energy savings. While individually each of these factors may not save much, added together, they can have a significant impact on both the homeowner’s wallet, and their overall comfort inside the home.

Help your clients by pointing out these trends ,and how they can make them work to get better results for everyone involved.

To learn about the cost of household remodeling projects, visit the Cost Guides.


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RISMedia’s 2019 Power Broker Report: Pressing Pause, Finding Balance

Mar 31, 2019 by

 

Many couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Home prices were growing at the fastest pace since 2015, far outpacing wage growth, and the word “bubble” was once again making its way into media vernacular. Could the housing market really be headed for another crash less than 10 years later?

But that was 2018.

Now, with the first quarter of 2019 behind us, the outlook is quite a bit different. Sales have flattened, prices have calmed and a sense of order seems to have been restored. And, for the 49 percent of Power Brokers who describe their market as “balanced,” that’s not a bad thing.

Despite headwinds like affordability and low inventory, this year’s Top 1,000 Power Brokers still reported a collective sales volume of $ 1,424,776,652,825 for 2018, more than $ 100 billion above 2017, and representing more than 100,000 transactions over 2017, as well. See the Top 500 Power Brokers ranked by sales volume here.

NRT again captured the No. 1 ranking for sales volume, at $ 176,431,375,000, and for the first time, HomeServices of America landed at No. 1 for transactions, closing 346,629 last year. The brand has completed several high-profile purchases in recent years, including the acquisitions of Ebby Halliday REALTORS® and The Long & Foster Companies.

“I think 2019 will be a year of pause,” says Pat Riley, CEO of Allen Tate Companies. “For us, builders are still way behind demand, appreciation rates are sliding back to normalcy, days on market are increasing, boomers are squatting, and first-time homebuyers are having a tough time getting out of their leases financially. What this all adds up to is an adjusting market, which means cautious optimism and a return from a seller’s market to a balanced market.”

Riley’s comments reflect the feelings of the majority of this year’s Power Brokers, 59 percent of whom describe their confidence level as “cautiously optimistic.” While 43 percent of respondents reported their confidence level as “high” in 2018, this year, just 30 percent report such enthusiastic sentiments.

And while a shortage of inventory still ranks as the No. 1 challenge to business for Power Brokers, the percentage has dropped significantly from 71 percent of respondents last year to 49 percent of respondents this year. What’s taking inventory’s place among top broker challenges? The economy.

Ranked as a concern by just 1 percent of respondents last year, in this year’s survey, 25 percent of respondents reported economic uncertainty as the second-greatest challenge to business. While most feel that the economy and job growth are faring well, it is tainted by a degree of instability brought about by an uncertain political environment that continues to toy with consumer confidence and the stock market.

“This is the year of uncertainty,” says Janelle Wohlfeil, manager of Real Living Kee Realty. “The inventory crisis seems to be ending, but what will the Fed do? I would not be surprised if market volume was down 15 percent or up 10 percent.”

“Governmental and economic uncertainty is a distraction to the general public,” agrees Ed Forman, president of Watson Realty Corp. “There is a huge business impact when people are uncertain and distracted from their financial goals.”

But despite this uncertainty and the challenges presented by inventory and affordability issues, Power Brokers do expect home sales to tick up in the year ahead as home prices level off and inventory gradually improves.

This is being reported even from Power Brokers in hot markets like Denver. “We are expecting a decrease in the rate of home appreciation and an increase in inventory, resulting in a more balanced market,” says Donald Sarno, CEO of Keller Williams Preferred Realty Denver North.

Power Brokers also agree that the fallout from national news will need to be balanced more than ever with the wisdom of local expertise.

“Real estate remains local,” says Robin Miller, president of Coldwell Banker RPM Group. “It is important that real estate professionals do a better job of educating buyers and sellers in their local market, especially those of us located in balanced markets. The national real estate news seems to carry the weight, which can impede a balanced market.”

What keeps Power Brokers at the top of their game, however, is their imperviousness to market conditions, political unrest and the media. As Mavera Mir, broker/owner of Realty ONE Group United, says, “Real estate happens in any kind of market. It’s up to the REALTOR® to be dictated by the market, or to dictate the market.”

Data Breakouts
Continue to next page to view more Power Broker totals for agents and offices, as well as the “State of the Market,” how Power Brokers across the U.S. view the current market conditions. Sneak peak: Some say it’s booming, while others say it’s challenged—see how the percentages shake out on Page 2.

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How Your MLS May Change in 2019

Mar 17, 2019 by

For most brokerages in America today, the MLS is what it is. Many brokers do not pay much attention to their MLS until something substantial changes that rubs them the wrong way. The truth is, staying connected to your MLS and participating in the meetings can be one of the best ways to improve the performance of your brokerage.

Get Your Vendors to Use the RESO WebAPI
RESO, or the Real Estate Standards Organization, publishes updates every year that improve data access for the technology solutions in your brokerage.

One of the most significant changes is the release of the RESO WebAPI. Today, most MLSs offer two connections for data access: the old way—RETS or Real Estate Transaction Standard—or the new way, RESO WebAPI.

The biggest advantage that moving to the RESO WebAPI will have on your business is speed. Changes in the data are transmitted to your technology vendors at the speed of the internet, rather than intervals that may be anywhere from every 15 minutes to as long as once a day. The benefit of speed means that customers will get listing alerts from you first, or your agents will be able to work with listings in your other software applications within minutes of making changes in the MLS. For example, a price change in the MLS will be available in your flyer system almost immediately.

Call all of your technology vendors and tell them to convert to the RESO WebAPI today.

Take Advantage of Software and Discounts
Many MLSs will bulk license a basic feature set of software for all agents. Sometimes, the agent has opportunities for premium upgrades, and sometimes, the brokerage can take advantage of premium upgrades. Enhanced services in transaction management from Instanet® or zipLogix® will allow you to add in your brokerage forms and add branding to the standard forms used in your area. Cloud CMA and other listing presentation tools can also have your broker branding injected along with documents that speak to your brokerage value proposition. Automated virtual tours from providers like Property Panorama can also be enhanced. Even the customer portal that agents use to send MLS listing alerts in systems like CoreLogic® Matrix or others can have custom-branded pages that promote your brokerage branding.

Call your MLS director to make sure you know of any and all of these opportunities.

Pricing May Change Due to Competition
There is an enormous trend toward consolidation and the reduction in MLS fees that has been impacting markets across the nation. For decades, Associations of REALTORS® have been making profits on the “for-profit” MLS business and paying those as dividends to the “non-profit” Association of REALTORS®. In some cases, the MLS and/or the Association has tucked away millions in reserves. Take a look at how your MLS and Association are operating to determine if you think they’re making the right decisions with pricing and reserves. As a participant in the MLS and a member of the Association, asking for a look at the P&L and/or balance sheet should not be considered irregular. 

Victor Lund is a founding partner of WAV Group, a consulting and research firm that delivers services to brokerages, Associations, MLSs and the technology firms that serve them. Research, case studies and commentary may be found at WAVGroup.com.

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