If you’ve been reading my Zebra Report for any time now, you know that I am passionate about the need for real estate agents to keep in touch with past, present, and potential clients.
It’s one of my mantras, and one of the best things you can do to build your business.
Often, an agent will say to me, “Denise, I think it’s great to keep in touch … but I don’t know what to say.” These are the agents who sign up for their company’s mailing systems (which, unfortunately, often include information about heart-healthy tips, auto maintenance, recipes, or tax tips … but with limited real estate information).
Stop sending this kind of stuff to your clients. Please.
Or maybe you’re one of the agents who want to keep in touch and you’re savvy enough to know that recipes and auto maintenance tips are not the way to go … but because you don’t know what to send instead, you don’t do anything, so your clients never hear from you.
If you want to propel your business, position yourself as a market expert. We talked about this extensively in this month’s EVOLVE coaching session. For those of you who don’t have the benefit of coaching with me, here are four things I think you should be sharing with clients right now.
- The expiration of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act. I talked about the Act in a previous Zebra Report. Time is ticking away, and you have clients who will be impacted by the Act.
- The $26,000,000,000 Mortgage Settlement. This is also a topic I focused on in a recent Zebra Report.
- The current housing affordability rate.
- The current lack of inventory in many markets in the United States.
Since I’ve talked about the first two points in recent Zebra Reports, let me share some thoughts about the third and fourth items – the housing affordability rate and the lack of inventory being experienced in many markets.
The most recent housing affordability numbers were released in January of this year – and the results were amazing. Did you know that housing affordability is currently at the lowest levels since the National Association of Realtors® began tracking affordability back in 1970?
The current national housing affordability index is 206.1. To put this in perspective, an index of 100 means that a median-income household as exactly the income required for qualification of a mortgage for a median-priced single-family home (assuming a 20% down payment and a ration of 25% of the household income being used for mortgage payments). So index of 200 means that a household has double the income required to purchase the same home used in the example above.
The index is obviously dependent on median home prices and the average mortgage rate. Reduced home prices and continued low mortgage rates have helped to boost the index to its current record high level.
What’s the bottom line? The current affordability index means that home ownership is available to more people than ever before – and that’s information you need to share with your clients.
The index is strongest in the Midwest (a whopping 263.9!), followed by the South (209), the West (170.2), and the Northeast (167.1).
And because the index is affected by home prices and interest rates, the affordability index (and buyer opportunities) can change quickly. Having said that, the National Association of Realtors® is predicting that the index will likely remain high throughout the rest of 2012.
The next index update is due out May 9th – so watch for that to see what kind of changes have occurred during this quarter.
LACK OF HOUSING INVENTORY
Boy, have things changed in recent months in many parts of the country! I’m hearing from my clients across the country that they are seeing a market which is definitely heating up. They report in many price points they are seeing the return of multiple offers. Funny – many of these are the same agents who told me two years ago that the “market would never come back” in their area.
MSN did a great feature on these markets, which you can find at http://realestate.msn.com/10-major-housing-markets-with-the-shortest-supply-of-homes#1.
Here are the markets where there is a lack of inventory – and that means great opportunities for sellers in those marketplaces.
- Denver, Colorado. February 2012 inventory was down a huge 42% from February 2011 levels. Average prices were up 2%.
- Portland, Oregon / Vancouver, Washington. Inventory is down 38% in these two communities. Downtown Portland condos are in particular demand. Homes are selling at or near listing prices.
- Seattle / Bellevue / Everett, Washington. The Seattle market experienced decline later than many parts of the country, and it looks like the may be recovering more quickly than most parts. Inventory is down 36% since February of last year. Multiple offers are being reported in a number of price points; prices are slowly rising.
- San Jose, California. With inventory down 36%, and the cost to rent higher than the cost to purchase this market has really heated up.
- Salt Lake City / Ogden, Utah. These communities are reporting a drop of 31% in inventory. Housing is particularly scarce in lower price points.
- Sacramento, California. Sacramento was at the hub of foreclosure activity several years ago. Now, with inventory down 30%, houses at many price points are selling briskly.
- San Francisco, California. Multiple offers are common in many price points, a reflection of inventory being down 29% over last year.
- Birmingham, Alabama. This community is seeing declining days on market, as a result of a 29% less inventory on hand.
- Memphis, Tennessee. Both high-priced and entry level homes are selling well in Memphis, which is reporting inventory down 29%.
- Richmond-Peterburg, Virginia. Low unemployment, coupled with low inventory, is moving this market. A reduction of 29% in inventory over last year is adding to the frenzy. Homes in all price levels are selling; entry-level homes are receiving multiple offers.
Of course, a lack of housing inventory isn’t always so great for buyers. These are the markets where buyers may face multiple offers, or at the very least, stiff competition for desirable homes.
If you’re working with buyers or sellers in one of these ten markets now is the time to share strategies for buying and selling with your clients.
In summary, here’s what I want you to keep in mind: position yourself as an expert by sharing real estate-related information that will benefit your clients. Not sure where to find this information? You may want to look into my Club Zebra Pro membership. Each month I provide several articles for your use in mailing to clients. And that’s not all! The Pro level of Club Zebra is packed with resources to help you build your business! Enrollment is simple … and you can cancel at any time. I encourage you to take a peek to see how Club Zebra Pro can help you build (and then sustain) a successful business!