Category: Resources


#WellnessWednesday: Home Showing Safety

Safety is often the least of our concern during our lives. We take for granted the security and safety protocols we follow without even thinking about it. We lock our doors at night and we lock our cars when we leave them in a lot. But do you think about the threats that might be lurking during your daily life—especially when you work in an embroiled industry like real estate has been during the recession?

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Agents everywhere work on the road, showing homes and doing the legwork necessary to find good homes for good people. Sometimes, though, the dangers can be very real.

There’s been an email going around recently that brings up the question of agent safety, so that’s why we’ve compiled some good tips on staying safe. We don’t want to see anyone get hurt!

Tip 1: Situational Awareness

Anyone who’s been in a disempowered situation is well aware of how this one works.  Whenever you’re anywhere public, be aware of what’s going on around you. Can you answer these questions?

  • Where’s the door?
    • It’s of the utmost importance that your exit is planned if something gets dangerous. Not moving—or freezing up because you don’t know where to go—can severely impact your safety.
  • Who’s behind you?
    • It’s a bit paranoid to sit with your back to a wall or other form of block between you and the public, but at least be aware of who’s around you. While most of the people you’ll meet are normal, law-abiding folks, knowledge of threats means easier avoidance.
  • Where’s the nearest group of people?
    • Groups of people in public are lifesavers. If you’re in a home or place where there aren’t many people, do you know how long it’d take to get to a place with people?

If you can answer those questions, you’re on the right track to stay safe. Be vigilant!

Tip 2: Stay in Contact

If you’re going to show a home at any point, be sure to get on your phone and let someone know where you’re going and when they can expect to reach you. If you’re worried about a particular client or situation, ask that they call you during/after when you’re supposed to be free to keep them in the loop. Knowing that you’re looked after can deter attackers and, if the worst should happen, helps improve response time to an emergency.

Tip 3: Fight or Flight?

If you’re in a situation where you’re going to have to choose between those two things, you should generally flee. Getting into an altercation might mean you’ll win, but the cost of fighting and possibly getting hurt is higher than if you ran. If you can’t run, then by all means, take measures to ensure your safety. But if you can get away, do so. “He (or she) who runs away lives to fight a another day,” they say—and we think they’re right.

Don’t worry too hard about the dangers—keeping a few small pointers in mind like these can improve your safety just by awareness. If you’re showing a listing to someone you don’t know or trust yet, please, exercise caution. No listing is worth your life or health.


Once-Invisible Inventory Can Be Seen on Zillow

Instead of finding clever ways to chase shadow inventory, Zillow has decided to make things easy for thrill-seeking homebuyers and investors who are trying to track down unlisted, invisible inventory.

The real estate data provider announced Thursday it is now providing information on 1.2 million pre-foreclosure and foreclosed properties at no cost. The homes provided through Zillow are not yet listed and apparently, are yet to be found on any Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Before, only certain investors were privy to such information.

“For the first time, home shoppers are able to see the entire scope of housing inventory in their area, both pre-market and for-sale, side by side,” the company said in a release.

According to Zillow, 55 percent of homebuyers have considered purchasing a foreclosure, but the problem was where to find the information.

“This is another tremendous step forward in consumer empowerment. Zillow is taking information that was really only available to a select group – in this case, savvy investors – and making it more easily available to interested home buyers,” said Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s CEO. “What’s more, bringing this information to light, and taking this inventory out of the shadows, can help bring these homes to market faster than ever before.”“

The pre-market inventory includes nearly 1 million pre-foreclosure properties, or homes that have begun the foreclosure process or have been scheduled for auction.

In addition, Zillow’s inventory has more than 260,000 unlisted foreclosed properties.

Zillow will also include its own estimate of the sale price of the home if sold as a foreclosure with the percentage and dollar discount based on fair market value. Foreclosure details will also be included, such as the timeline of the foreclosure process, unpaid balance, and the lender.

Another added feature will be 147,000 Make Me Move properties. For this feature, homeowners name a price for which they might sell their home.

Users can view pre-foreclosure, foreclosed, and Make Me Move inventory by visiting Zillow.com and conducting a search using the pre-market filter. Foreclosure details are available for those who sign in.

Seattle-based Zillow is a real estate information marketplace and provides information about homes, real estate listings, rental listings, and mortgages through its mobile applications and websites.

By: Esther Cho, DSNews


3.8% Tax on Housing? Answers & Resources

Here are the 10 things you need to know about the 3.8% tax according to the National Association of Realtors(NAR):

1.) When you add up all of your income from every possible source, and that total is less than $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint tax return), you will NOT be subject to this tax.

2.) The 3.8% tax will NEVER be collected as a transfer tax on real estate of any type, so you’ll NEVER pay this tax at the time that you purchase a home or other investment property.

3.) You’ll NEVER pay this tax at settlement when you sell your home or investment property. Any capital gain you realize at settlement is just one component of that year’s gross income.

4.) If you sell your principal residence, you will still receive the full benefit of the $250,000 (single tax return)/$500,000 (married filing joint tax return) exclusion on the sale of that home. If your capital gain is greater than these amounts, then you will include any gain above these amounts as income on your Form 1040 tax return. Even then, if your total income (including this taxable portion of gain on your residence) is less than the $200,000/$250,000 amounts, you will NOT pay this tax. If your total income is more than these amounts, a formula will protect some portion of your investment.

5.) The tax applies to other types of investment income, not just real estate. If your income is more than the $200,000/$250,000 amount, then the tax formula will be applied to capital gains, interest income, dividend income and net rents (i.e., rents after expenses).

6.) The tax goes into effect in 2013. If you have investment income in 2013, you won’t pay the 3.8% tax until you file your 2013 Form 1040 tax return in 2014. The 3.8% tax for any later year will be paid in the following calendar year when the tax returns are filed.

7.) In any particular year, if you have NO income from capital gains, rents, interest or dividends, you’ll NEVER pay this tax, even if you have millions of dollars of other types of income.

8.) The formula that determines the amount of 3.8% tax due will ALWAYS protect $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint return) of your income from any burden of the 3.8% tax. For example, if you are single and have a total of $201,000 income, the 3.8% tax would NEVER be imposed on more than $1000.

9.) It’s true that investment income from rents on an investment property could be subject to the 3.8% tax. BUT: The only rental income that would be included in your gross income and therefore possibly subject to the tax is net rental income: gross rents minus expenses like depreciation, interest, property tax, maintenance and utilities.

10.) The tax was enacted along with the health care legislation in 2010. It was added to the package just hours before the final vote and without review. NAR strongly opposed the tax at the time, and remains hopeful that it will not go into effect. The tax will no doubt be debated during the upcoming tax reform debates in 2013.

By: The KCM Crew, KCM Blog


Supply & Demand and Its Impact on Housing

For some time now, we have attempted to shed light on the fact that pricing in today’s real estate market, as it is in the markets for every other saleable item, will be determined by the concept of ‘supply and demand’.

According to dictionary.com, “the relationship between supply and demand determines the price of a commodity. This relationship is thought to be the driving force in a free market.”

In real estate, supply and demand is represented as the current month’s supply of homes for sale (the number of homes for sale divided by the number of homes sold in the previous month).

Most real estate professionals know, or at least have a good idea of, the month’s supply of inventory in their market. But why? Because of its affect on pricing moving forward.

While there is no steadfast rule that will apply to pricing in every category of housing, here is a great guideline by which to go:

– 1-4 months’ supply creates a sellers’ market where there are not enough homes to satisfy buyer demand. Appreciation is guaranteed.

– 5-6 months’ supply creates a balanced market. Historically home values appreciate at a rate a little greater than inflation.

– 7-8 months’ supply creates a buyers’ market where the number of homes for sale exceeds the demand. Depreciation follows.

When you discuss home values with either a seller or buyer, you should be prepared to show what the supply of, and demand for, homes is in the same category of home they are thinking of selling or buying. You should also be prepared to discuss any projected change in those numbers (such as a potential shadow inventory of distressed homes or a projected increase in demand because of a new plant opening).

By: The KCM Crew, KCM Blog


More Accurate Home Price Data on Tap for Florida

A new index launching in September could be the first of its kind in the nation

Florida is believed to be the first in the nation to get its own home sales price index, a labor of love for the state real estate group’s chief economist and a more accurate measure of property values in the recovering market.

The index, which is similar to the widely trusted nationwide Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller report, is scheduled to launch in September with regional and countywide information that takes into account every residential parcel in the state.

Realtors have long complained the current method of reporting monthly median homes sales prices doesn’t offer a true measure of increasing and decreasing values. The median, which means half of homes sold above the price and half below, can be greatly influenced if a large number of either distressed properties or luxury homes sell in one month.

Florida’s new index, created by the Florida Realtors, is considered a “repeat sales index” that will combine Florida Department of Revenue data with prices of individual properties sold over time. The index will be released quarterly with data going back to 1995.

“This is definitely the thing we’ve been waiting for and it will be much more reflective of what prices are doing,” said Bill Richardson, district sales manager at The Keyes Co. in Boca Raton and a past president of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches. “It’s truly something we’ve needed.”

National Association of Realtors spokesman Walter Moloney said he’s not aware of another state that has its own price index. California releases an “affordability index” that measures the percentage of all households that can afford to purchase a single-family home, but its sale prices are still reported as a median.

Similar to Case-Shiller, the Florida home price index will measure sales as compared with January 2000. But Case-Shiller’s Florida data only includes Tampa and South Florida, which combines Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

“All of the measures have strengths and weaknesses, but a repeat sales index is probably better than a median price on an aggregate basis,” Moloney said. “We’re looking at developing one on a national level but it’s not quite ready for prime time yet.”

Finding better ways to measure Florida real estate sales has been a goal of Florida Realtors Chief Economist John Tuccillo since he was hired last year to lead the group’s new data and analysis department. Tuccillo is the former chief economist for the National Association of Realtors and has led his own Sarasota-based consultant’s firm.

In January, he oversaw a statewide change in how sales and prices are reported which allows Realtors and homebuyers easier access to statistics by ZIP code.

Tuccillo said he’s not ready to release details of the index, but that he’s generally found that for the past two years prices in Florida have “essentially bottomed out.”

“As a colleague said to me, we’re now moving along a cobblestone road, flat with bumps,” Tuccillo said.

While the general public may prefer a median sales price that reports an actual dollar figure to an index, which is a mathematical calculation designed to normalize time-series data, the index is considered more accurate.

“This is really the first of its kind in the nation,” Tuccillo said about the index. “We’re pretty proud of it.”

By Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post