Home Values are Increasing




Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like theHome Price Expectation Survey. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

The results of their latest survey

The latest survey was released last week. Here are the results:

  • Home values will appreciate by 4.3% in 2014.
  • The average annual appreciation will be 4.2% over the next 5 years
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 28% by 2018.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of over 16.8% by 2018.

Individual opinions make headlines. We believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values. 


By: KCM Blog

Home Buyers Keep a Bright Outlook for 2014

Homeowners, Buyers Maintain High Hopes in Survey


A recent survey of current and potential homeowners shows the majority have a bright outlook on the nation’s housing market and economy for 2014—which may translate to a more active market.

LendingTree released recently the results of an online survey conducted near the end of the last year. The survey collected responses from 609 individuals who either currently own a home or are considering purchasing in the next year.

According to the findings, more than two-thirds—69 percent—of respondents have a positive outlook on housing this year, and 63 percent hold a similar view for the economy at large.

With hopes this high, 71 percent of respondents said they are considering selling their home in 2014.

“As home values continue to improve across the country, sellers who have been sidelined due to low property values will start to take action in the market,” said Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree. “Although it’s unlikely that 70 percent of current homeowners will sell this year, it’s a positive sign for the housing market that more homeowners are considering the possibility of moving.”

According to the survey, 72 percent of respondents said home prices in their area increased throughout 2013, while 20 percent said values were down, and 8 percent said they were flat.

In areas where home values were said to have increased, prices rose an average of 10.2 percent; among those areas where respondents said values fell, the average decrease was believed to be 9.2 percent.

The most recent Case-Shiller home price data shows prices in the nation’s 20 biggest markets were up an average 13.6 percent year-over-year as of October.

While those kinds of gains may discourage potential homebuyers as affordability slips, they’ll be necessary to draw sellers in: Of the 71 percent of homeowners who are thinking about selling this year, 47 percent said they plan to sell if they see an increase in their home value. Only 24 percent said they would sell regardless. 


By: Tory Barringer for DS News

Tech Tip Tuesday: January 28, 2014

5 Mobile Communication Faux Pas You Should Avoid Making

text messaging in real estate

Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse any typos. 

Really? OMG.

Text messaging is now a common channel for communication. For many, it started becoming more mainstream as a younger generation took to texting as they did to rock ’n roll in the ’50s. They have a method to their madness, a language they call their own. But that language is not necessarily the language of a professional. Adopt, then adapt. Show you have adopted and can nail this medium as a professional in every way you communicate. In real estate, we are mobile communicators without a doubt. Accuracy, tone, timing and the ability to relate as much over text are very important. In fact, text is often the first contact made with a lead — why bomb your first impression? Here are five common mistakes I see every day, and ways to quickly polish your mobile reputation.

A text is NOT an email. Email is not text. 

Although it IS possible to send videos, files, photos and copy/paste links, emails, etc., into a text message, it doesn’t always mean you should. Nothing can be more frustrating on the other end of a text when information that is timely or important cannot be properly accessed because of lack of Wi-Fi, service or compatibility. If the experience for the receiver is better left in an email, send a text that says so. Be empathetic to any possible scenarios the receiver may have, and keep it efficient. Along those same lines, long texts that should be emails should be just that: emails. Take the time and courtesy to communicate the right information in the right medium.

Typos DO matter in business.

“Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse any typos.”  This is the default signature line for way too many people answering email from their phones. Why? Often this little snippet of info is the line that is seen first when scrolling through mobile email. I know you’re busy. I don’t care that you have an iPhone. I know you may be walking and texting at the same time, or that you are an awesome multitasker, but letting this line in your email be your ending salutation in a mobile email is just not professional. What else is not accurate?

You don’t have a signature on your mobile email account.

Get professional. Add a text signature. A short one. Not the five-line one you use on your email. This can be done by going into the email settings of your smartphone, where you can edit the signature line. Even if you use an app like Mailbox or Gmail, instead of the OS email, take the time to set this up. General rule of thumb: If you would do it in a regular email, do it on your mobile emails.

You assume I have you in my contact list on my phone. 

If it’s a first-time text, send your contact information. People update their contacts, lose contact lists, change or upgrade phones often. If you have someone you occasionally text only a few times a year, like around the holidays or birthdays, take the time to let people know who is texting them. If it’s a first-time business text, send along your contact information as a courtesy. Nothing makes me happier than having a business contact take the time to share their information, so I don’t have to. They know I’m busy, too.

You forgot what a salutation is. “Hi.” “Hello.” “Good morning.” 

Show a person you care by addressing them, and by personalizing your salutation. Take the moment, and put it in context, set the tone. Let the receiver know they are important. It’s simple etiquette that is refreshing among my teenager’s short, quick updates.

The art of being a polished professional can be a challenge in a world of 140 characters, and status updates. The balance between being approachable, personable and professional with devices is still important in our personal relationships. Your personal brand is part of who you are and how you represent yourself, even behind screens and devices. Keep it polished. Text on.


By: Inman News 

Existing Home Sales Report: Sales Reach 7 Year High

1.27 Blog Visual 

There are many naysayers declaring that the housing market is still challenged.

Young adults are burdened with too much student debt. Interest rate increases are killing demand. Homeownership is no longer seen as part of the American Dream.

We just want to let these naysayers know three things: 13,945 houses sold yesterday, 13,945 will sell today and 13,945 will sell tomorrow. 13,945!

That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report. According to the report, there were 5.09 million homes sold in 2013. Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, almost 14,000 homes sell every day.

NAR revealed that sales had increased 9.1% as compared to 2012 and that it was the market’s strongest performance since 2006.

We realize that these numbers are below the record for homes sold during the boom. We also know that we may not see those numbers again for a long time (and that is probably a good thing). But to say that the current real estate market is challenged is totally inaccurate. We have about 14,000 pieces of evidence to prove that.

Homeownership: Why You Should Buy


1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available. 

“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”

2.) You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent. 

“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”

3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.

“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning. 

“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income…On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”

5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.

“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”

Bottom Line

We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for many social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially. 



Tech Tip Tuesday: January 21, 2014

Running an Efficient Business : Utilizing  CRMs and Going Paperless

Cloud-based real estate CRM

Want to increase productivity? Cut costs? Maximize the safety and security of your data? If so, you’ll want to learn more about two key trends that have hit the real estate industry: cloud-based real estate CRMs and running a paperless business.

Cloud computing can equal big savings

You’ve likely heard of “the cloud” by now, but if you haven’t, a simple definition of cloud computing is the ability to access applications and data via the web. Contrast this with a desktop program that cannot be accessed through the internet; instead you’d download a software application on your computer.

There are a myriad of substantial benefits to moving to the cloud. The first is cost. While there is a monthly fee associated with most cloud-based systems, there’s less of a capital investment up-front and software upgrades and customer support are usually included in the monthly fee.

I was recently speaking with an agent who insisted, over and over, that desktop systems are less expensive. Of course, her mind was focused on all of the monthly fees involved in web-based systems. As this is a common concern that comes up, I’ve done analyses in the past for some of my other customers comparing the long-term costs of cloud-based versus desktop software.

The bottom line is that you pay more long-term due to having to purchase software enhancements and customer support on a yearly basis. Upgrades and customer support is often purchased yearly and can account for 15-20% of the total cost of the software. I went through with this agent the analysis I did and we had a fairly lengthy conversation. After doing some of her own research, she eventually agreed and is now an IXACT Contact customer.

The second key benefit is data security. Data hosted on the cloud is much more secure than that hosted on your PC. When it’s hosted on the cloud, it’s protected via advanced safety and security measures far beyond what would be possible for you to do yourself. Not to mention, the data is usually backed up daily.

The third benefit, and this is a big one, is mobility. As a REALTOR® you can’t be chained down to your office computer. You need the flexibility to access your real estate database from wherever you are. This is not possible with desktop systems. Plus, if you’re in a team, you can benefit from the ability for multiple team members to collaborate with each other and work on the CRM at the same time, regardless of where they are.

As well, if you ever get a new computer, it’s often a hassle to reinstall the software on the new machine.

And, let’s not forget about commitment. Using a cloud-based real estate CRM means you purchase a monthly subscription that can often be cancelled at any time. This means that you’re avoiding the risk involved in purchasing a software upfront just to find out that it’s not working for you.

Want to run a more efficient business? Consider going paperless.

Just like moving to the cloud can help you streamline your business and become more efficient, the same can be said about making the commitment to go paperless. And a paperless office is a whole lot easier and more convenient than having to manage stacks of binders, paper, and file folders.

If you think about it, it’s also quite easy to have files, filled with confidential client information, get misplaced or be stolen. Perhaps that’s why Realtors across the country have decided to take advantage of the great technology that’s out there, streamline their business, and run a paperless office.

Technologies like real estate CRM that allow you to consolidate your database, manage your transactions, and store data in the cloud, and tools that let you do everything from signing documents online to creating and sending forms via the web help big time when it comes to organization and productivity.

My advice is to do what you can to learn and explore the technology that’s available and see if, and how, you can make it work for you. Running a paperless office and moving to the cloud are two fairly easy things you can do, as a Realtor, to improve your business in 2014. 


By: Matthew Collis of Geek Estate Blog


Hillsborough Title's Very Own Beth Cromwell is Quoted in Today's Paper


This house in New Port Richey sat on the market for 37 months before the lender finally accepted a short-sale offer. With the expiration of the mortgage forgiveness tax break, a short sale of $100,000 less than the homeowner’s mortgage debt could, in a 25 percent tax bracket, mean a $25,000 surprise in taxes.

It’s deja vu all over again for struggling Florida homeowners: The massive tax break that saved them tens of thousands of dollars has once again expired.

Underwater homeowners whose lenders let them sell their home for less than they owed have not had to pay taxes on that debt thanks to a law passed shortly after the housing bubble burst.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act has been extended twice since 2007, including last year. But its expiration Dec. 31 could mean a rude awakening for homeowners come tax time.

Florida houses more than 1 million of the 6 million underwater mortgages nationwide. Even with rising home prices, about 30 percent of Tampa Bay’s 600,000 outstanding loans remain underwater.

Those homeowners, many of whom bought at inflated prices during the housing boom, could ask the bank for a short sale that would let them move and dodge their debt.

But even if the bank forgave the debt, they would still be responsible for paying taxes on what is effectively an increase in their income. A short sale of $100,000 less than the homeowner’s mortgage debt could, in a 25 percent tax bracket, mean a $25,000 surprise in taxes.

“These are clients with true hardships who still don’t have jobs, still aren’t able to find work,” said Beth Cromwell, a short-sale processor for Hillsborough Title. “They’re running out of options.”

And it’s not just short sellers. Foreclosed homeowners would owe taxes on what they failed to pay on their mortgage. Even homeowners offered mortgage help, like loan modifications or principal forgiveness, would be on the hook for taxes on what was cut.

Lawmakers could discuss an extension this month alongside dozens of other expired tax breaks. Pending bills now in Congress would extend the tax break through 2015.

Realtors short-sold 6,700 Tampa Bay homes, townhomes and condos last year, listing data show, and more than 1,500 are now listed for short sale.

Up to $2 million of a homeowner’s forgiven debt qualifies for the tax break. The extension last year saved taxpayers across the country $1.3 billion, federal data show.

Housing advocates said the expired tax break will hurt those least able to afford more in taxes. Agents for some distressed homeowners attempted to rush through short sales last year to dodge the “phantom income” tax bill.

Many distressed homeowners can dodge the mortgage debt taxes if they prove to the IRS they are insolvent, owing more in debts than what they own in assets. That can be a saving grace for short sellers today who are in deep financial trouble.

“Most people who are doing (short sales) now aren’t the strategic defaulters,” said Keller Williams agent Steve Capen. “They have true hardships, and they usually will be insolvent at the time of closing.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and 41 other attorneys general last month called on lawmakers to extend the relief, saying that, even with improvements to home prices and equity, “we are still not where we need to be.”

“This relief is crucial to both the homeowners struggling to regain their financial footing and to the battered housing market whose recovery is slow and still uncertain,” they wrote.  

 By: Drew Harwell of the Tampa Bay Times