Happy Holidays?

20140309-080351.jpgIt must be the holiday season with so many gifts coming in. What else could explain good economic news combined with lower interest rates and lower oil prices? Even though the stock market is retreating, keep in mind that the Dow was below 12,000 approximately three years ago. Three years ago the unemployment rate averaged just over 8.0% and it is now just below 6.0%. Initial jobless claims were in the vicinity of 400,000 per week and now they are consistently below 300,000.

We mentioned last week that it is surprising that rates and oil prices would fall in the face of relatively good economic news. As surprising as it is–we are going to advise you not to look a proverbial gift horse in the mouth. We are going to advise you to enjoy the lower rates and lower gasoline prices for as long as they last. That might be a few days, a few weeks or a few months. Or the markets might reverse themselves by the time you read this commentary. Continue reading

Millennials – Who Are They and What Do They Want From You as a Realtor?

Millennials are one of the hot topics lately in the real estate industry. Born between 1980 and 1994 they will make up half of the nation’s workforce by 2020.  They grew up during the real estate meltdown and have developed a healthy skepticism toward the market.  Many saw their parents get divorced and are hesitant to form new households.  And, above all – they live on their smart phones, absorb information in quick bites, and value convenience over most everything else.

I believe that an educational marketing strategy is the best way to attack this segment.

Getting Ahead of the Millennial Takeover” is a 5 minute video sharing important considerations to have in mind when talking to this key demographic

Let me know what you think and any ideas that you may have for marketing strategy or tactics.  As a bonus, I’ve added a segment from NPR explaining why millennials don’t use voice mail – very interesting.

From NPR’s All Things Considered – Don’t Leave a Voicemail for Me.

Opening Your Eyes…

eyesMany sales professionals always seem to be searching for that “secret to success.” These leads many attend “Superstar” events in which the attendees get to hear from those who are very successful and are trying to impart their secrets of success. Unfortunately, at these events the speakers can’t really tell the attendees the secret. Instead, they go over a whole list of marketing activities and scripts they either use or should be using. While these are all good ideas, they don’t come close to addressing why the speakers are so successful and the attendees are not quite as successful.

Why not go out on a limb?
Isn’t that where the fruit is?
…Frank Scully

So the attendees go home and try a few of these things and some get better results and many do not. But the ones who were destined to be “Superstars” are still destined to be Superstars.” And the ones that are destined to struggle are still destined to struggle. So, what is the real difference between these two groups? Continue reading

Stocks, Bonds, and Oil

20140309-080351.jpgIt is interesting. For years we have gone through a very slow recovery from the recession. Yet the stock market has kept moving up each year for over five years with few interruptions. And now that we seem to be on the verge of gaining economic momentum, the stock market is acting like it needs to take a breather, a correction or something more severe. Why the glum news at a time we should be celebrating? There are plenty of theories. Perhaps the stock market may just need a breather which it has earned. Perhaps it is a “sell on the news” phenomenon. Other theories include the hypotheses that the markets are worried about events overseas or investors are afraid interest rates will rise soon because of the good economic news.

We have had plenty of bad spells in the past five years and the stock market seems to bounce back up each time. On the other hand, if it is a true correction, we have to say that the stock market has earned a breather after five strong years. What is also interesting is that oil prices and interest rates have fallen significantly in tandem with stocks. Lower oil prices are not typically the norm when we have a war going on in the Middle East. And rates should not be lower when the economy starts to accelerate. In this respect, lower rates could be another indication of global concerns. Continue reading

How a Great Real Estate Agent Can Help You Buy Your Next Home

I recently worked with a great real estate agent who helped one of my friends buy a home.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are a lot a good Realtors in our community.  But based on the level of service that she provided, I asked her to give me the down and dirty details on what made her different from other agents.

I’d like to share those with you, because if you are in the market to buy a home, here are some of the things you might look for when hiring a Buyer’s Agent.

  • Will they compare prices in neighboring towns, neighborhoods and subdivisions?
  • Will they honestly give you the pros and cons when you narrow it down to a few properties?
  • Will they immediately recommend properties BEFORE you find them online yourself?
  • Will they explain the purchase agreement and other documents in detail?
  • Will they preview the property BEFORE showing it to you?
  • Will they be on your side when negotiating with the seller?
  • Will they follow up with you after the sale?
  • Will they provide names and phone numbers of people they represented?

I’m sure that you probably have other questions you’d like to ask them—but these will help you start the conversation when interviewing to find a “great” real estate agent to represent you when you buy your next home.

Oh, and if you would like me to refer a couple of great agents that I have worked with in the past, please contact me.

If it is all about jobs, then…

20140309-080351.jpgFor years we have gone through a tepid recovery from a very deep recession. And all along we have indicated that we don’t recover from such an event if Americans are not working. Year after year we waited and waited. Well, the wait is over. The recovery in jobs is more than underway, it has arrived. The average of 220,000 jobs added each month thus far this year — and the unemployment rate dropping below 6.0% — is just what the doctor ordered in this regard. This is not to say that we are all the way back. Many of the jobs created have been lower paying jobs, which has held back the pace of personal income growth. In addition, the low labor participation rate tells us that if jobs keep getting created, we will have to absorb many returning to the labor market.

On the other hand, the progress we have made will cause a ripple effect throughout the economy. We are on pace to add almost 3 million jobs this year and this will increase consumer spending which will create more jobs. And some of this spending will make the real estate market stronger — whether it is the purchase of new homes or major renovation projects for existing homes. Already we are seeing the strength in car sales and home improvement projects. But the one area we have not seen strength in this year is within the real estate sector. Continue reading