The United Nations has designated the first Monday each October as
World Habitat Day.
This year on Oct. 5, Habitat for Humanity is leading a global observance in Washington, D.C. and around the world, to declare that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable. The theme for World Habitat Day 2009 is “Planning Our Urban Future.”
According to the United Nations, more than 100 million people in the world today are homeless. Millions more face a severe housing problem living without adequate sanitation, with irregular or no electricity supply and without adequate security.
Worldwide, more than 2 million housing units per year are needed for the next 50 years to solve the present worldwide housing crisis. With the global population expanding, however, at the end of those 50 years, there would still be a need for another 1 billion houses. (UN-HABITAT: 2005)
Habitat for Humanity seeks to raise awareness and advocates to change the global plague of poverty housing.
By Michelle Flaherty
This week, I went on a quick trip with my fiancé to visit the site of our upcoming wedding in Marco Island, Florida. With my work week reduced to Monday and Tuesday, I went into action mode, arranged coverage for the week, and packed my laptop so I could take care of business from the beach.
Of course, as soon as our flight touched down on the Gulf coast, I transformed from a Type-A taskmaster to a Type-D sun worshiper. So how can a responsible REALTOR® relax on vacation while still keeping all balls in the air?
A few things I’ve learned:
- Don’t plan on doing nothing. Even with perfect preparation and great coverage back home, there will be loan conditions, appraisal delays, water tests, buyer’s remorse… and your clients will need you. Whenever possible, respond briefly via Blackberry. Expect that at least one transaction will require some phone time. In real estate as in life, realistic expectations help avoid disappointment.
- Don’t plan on doing too much. Just like the books you lugged home to study over Thanksgiving break in college never saw the light of day, neither will the marketing brochures and new Web site you plan to create over vacation. Relax, grab some juicy fiction, and head for the sand. No guilt allowed.
- If you’re going to do any extra work, make it market research. Here in Marco Island, I love going to open houses to see how brokers conduct themselves, picking up marketing pieces, surveying the signage, checking out what new communities are offering for amenities. The market norms of a far-away area can be ground-breakers back home!
- Be grateful. The problems that REALTORS® have with work-life balance stem from our incredible freedom, and we should never forget how lucky we are to have it.
Michelle Flaherty is an associate broker with Prudential Northeast Properties, serving Greater Portland, Maine. Visit her Web site at www.michelleflaherty.com.
By Crystal Webster
I’m in the market for a new home. Wow, I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to be on the other side of the transaction! It’s actually been a great experience to help remind me what it’s like to be the client.
I’m normally a very rational, logical person. But house hunting does crazy things to people. I’ve lost all my common business sense while searching for a home; I just want the home that “feels right.”
My biggest concern, as the buyer, is finding the PERFECT house for my family. Normally, my biggest concern, as the REALTOR®, is to remove the emotion from the transaction, crunch the numbers, and complete the contracts.
The houses I look at can have every feature I want (and even some features I didn’t know I wanted) but if the property doesn’t feel right, then it doesn’t make the “short list.” I can look at house after house, but if I can’t imagine my family sitting around the dinner table sharing a meal or playing catch in the back yard, the property is out.
This process has reminded me to keep it all in perspective and has helped me put a little of the emotion back in the job. Not everything has to be about getting the best value, room size, conveniences, amenities, and proximity to the grocery store. Just because a house is “perfect” on paper doesn’t mean it’ll be “perfect” for the individual. Try to remember that the next time you take out those clients who “just don’t seem to get it.” It might be the REALTOR® who “doesn’t seem to get it.”
I know I will.
By Susan Brown
Helping a seller get their home market-ready can be stressful. Appearance needs to be addressed. Collectibles are lovely, but don’t have the same meaning to a prospective buyer. As the listing REALTOR®, you want to ask the home owner to declutter in a diplomatic way.
1. Use a Home-Stager. We offer this service as part of our listing presentation to the sellers that are eager for suggestions.
2. The Plastic Bin Solution. When a seller has small children at home, it is frustrating having to keep everything picked up. Our solution is to use plastic bins for last-minute storage. Most buyers understand that the sellers are moving, so packing containers are not that out of the ordinary. Toss all the loose things into the bin and slide it under a bed or in a closet.
3. Creative Wording. Sometimes the seller has photographs displayed on every available surface, as well as artwork everywhere. You know this client enjoys their array experiences and wants to show it off. However, it really is overdone. To say something direct will either not be heard or will hurt feelings. So, we use the following phraseology, “Your home is lovely but could be a little intimidating for prospective buyers. They may not have the decorating skills or the accessories that you have, so that may make them feel they cannot buy the house because it will never look the same.” You’re complimenting them yet stating the need for an adjustment at the same time.
Each listing is different. What works for some won’t work for others. REALTORS® need to fine-tune their services to create a win-win for all parties.
Susan Brown is the team lead REALTOR® at Your Texas Connection with Keller Williams Realty in Kingwood, Texas. Visit her Web site: www.yourtexasconnection.com.
By Brooke Wolford
Have you ever noticed a for sale sign in a neighbors yard and wondered, “Why didn’t they use me?” Well don’t be too hard on yourself. People tend to forget that you are a REALTOR® unless you remind them. Here are some things you can do to set yourself apart from the rest.
1. Do every open house that you can. People will remember your face the more that they see you.
2. Be creative with your advertising. If you advertise in the paper do something that everyone else isn’t doing. You need to stand out from all the other ads. Congratulate a local athlete, put a spotlight on a fundraiser, or even poke fun at yourself.
3. Start a networking group in your home town. Invite neighbors, businesses and colleagues. Help other business help you, while you help them as well.
4. Plan a block party sponsored by you! Get some hot dogs, put out some games for the kids, do drawings, etc. Get to know your neighbors. They can be your biggest allies.
By Katherine Tarbox, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
In 1999, former REALTOR® magazine Senior Editor Robert Sharoff gave birth to the idea of showcasing talented real estate pros under the age of 30. Thousands of applications and hundreds of profiles later, the 30 Under 30 program is thriving. The 2010 edition will mark the 10th anniversary for this feature. REALTOR® Magazine is now accepting applications for this program.
Win a $3800 mobile office package or one of four HP mini Netbook computers.
Hewlett-Packard wants to hear how YPN members use technology to win more business, save time, and wow clients. They are running a contest for the best example of technology use of by a REALTOR®.
All entries due October 28.
The winners will be announced at the YPN Mix & Mingle Networking event at the 2009 REALTOR® Conference and Expo in San Diego on November 13.
By Jessica Hickok
Although selling real estate can be a very lucrative career, there can be some downtime when listings are hard to move, ultimately casting a negative cloud over that whole lucrative career thing.
That’s where residential property management can swoop in and save the day. Property managers typically charge a monthly management fee, which is usually a percentage of the collected monthly rents. It is also common to charge a leasing fee to the owner/investor. This leasing fee is a percentage of the first month’s rent in addition to the monthly management fee. This covers the agent’s expenses for the time it took to show the property and prepare it for lease. Not to mention, it gives you a nice profit. Of course, these fees are all agreed upon, up front, in the Property Management Agreement.
Don’t want to do property management for the long haul? Hate backed-up toilets?
No problem! Take on clients with overpriced listings. You know, the sellers that need to sell, but can’t? My company often gets phone calls from sellers who want us to rent out their property until it sells. Many times we don’t accept them because these types of properties are generally not long term.
So if you’re a little phobic of the rental property management scene, but still need a monthly paycheck, consider taking on some of the short term-rental properties mentioned. And keep in mind that a plumber is only a phone call away for the those backed-up toilets. This is a good opportunity for you to test the waters of managing rental property without a long-term commitment.
I’m excited to be co-presenting this idea with Paul Dizmang, aptly titled “8 Effortless Tips to Tackling Rental Property Management” on Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 at the NAR Annual Conference and Expo. The conference is held in San Diego this year and you won’t want to miss it. Register online for this fantastic event by going to http://www.realtor.org.com/conference, I hope to see you there!
What are your suggestions that we, as REALTORS®, can do to find that extra income while still practicing what we love?
Jessica Hickok, a self-proclaimed blogging and twittering fanatic, is with Dizmang Properties in Springfield, Mo.