Anxious About the Mortgage Process? Start Here

Let’s be frank: It’s not easy to get a home mortgage. Nor is it impossible. In fact, millions of people apply for and obtain a new mortgage every year.

If you want to get a mortgage but you’re anxious about the process, you might want to start with online research and self-education.

Online is where most people begin, according to research from the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. Researching online can help you get comfortable with the process and find professionals to contact.

Eventually, you’ll have to reach out to a live person to move forward. As Ken Pozek, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Northville, Mich., says, “You can’t figure out everything using an app.

“Until you talk to someone who’s very knowledgeable, you might forget to ask about private mortgage (insurance), homeowner association dues — there are so many little idiosyncrasies. It’s the mortgage professional’s job to walk you through that,” Pozek says.

Realtor, lender teamwork

Typically, you’ll need to choose a lender before you can start seriously shopping for a home, though it’s fine to contact a Realtor first to get a referral to a lender, says Jay Dacey, a mortgage broker for Metropolitan Financial Mortgage Co. in Minneapolis.

“Unless you’re a cash buyer, you’re going to need to get a mortgage,” Dacey says. “A good Realtor is going to want you to get preapproved before they put you in their car and take you out driving and showing you houses.”

Realtors want to help buyers get started with the mortgage process, says Amy Butterworth, associate broker at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston.

“We make sure we’re involved in the mortgage process as well, so if buyers are putting in an offer on a property, (we know) they’re ready to go from the finance standpoint as well,” she says.

The 20% down payment myth

Fearful first-timers need to let go of two common misconceptions about getting a mortgage, Dacey suggests.

The first is that you’ll have to save at least 20% of a home’s purchase price for your down payment. In fact, if your credit score is acceptable, you can get a conventional home loan with a down payment of just 5%, and the entire amount can be a gift from a family member, Dacey explains.

An FHA loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration requires just 3.5% down.

A July 2013 NAR survey of 8,767 homebuyers and sellers found that nearly 90% of buyers financed their purchase. The median down payment for first-timers was 5%.

Source: National Association of Realtors

Not everyone qualifies for help

The second misconception is that first-time buyers are automatically entitled to tap some sort of broad generic first-time homebuyer program. Assistance programs do exist, but each is unique and many are restricted to certain geographic areas, Dacey explains.

“If you’re buying a house for a special program, you’re going into it with the wrong intentions,” he says. “Find the house first, then see if there are any special programs.”

Get ready for the paperwork

First-timers also need to get ready for the lender’s inevitable onslaught of requests for financial documents. The amount of paperwork can amaze, humble and frustrate borrowers, says Ed Conarchy, a mortgage loan originator at Cherry Creek Mortgage Co. in Gurnee, Ill. A good tip is to ask for a list of all — underline that — the documents that might be necessary, and be prepared to provide them.

Comfort level to buy, own

First-timers also need to get comfortable with how much they feel they can afford to spend to buy and own a home. That amount might be less than the maximum they’re qualified to borrow, Conarchy says.

“What you can get approved for and what you’re comfortable with are usually two different things,” he says.

One reason: Home repairs and maintenance can be more costly than many new homeowners realize. That means the tradeoffs between renting and buying might not be clear without some number crunching. It’s not adequate, Conarchy suggests, just to compare monthly rent to a monthly mortgage payment.

“Don’t concentrate on just getting approved and having a mortgage salesperson tell you, ‘We can get you a mortgage and get you into that house,’” he says. “Make sure it’s going to be a fit for your personal situation.”

Copyright 2014, Bankrate Inc.

REALTORS® Running for a Cause Supports the Boston Marathon




BOSTON, April 18, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Both local and national REALTORS® joined together earlier this month to fundraise for REALTORS® running in the Boston Marathon. Representatives from the National, Massachusetts, and Greater Boston Associations of REALTORS® organized “REALTORS® Running for a Cause” on April 6 at Harpoon Brewery in Boston. The event was intended to help REALTORS® meet their fundraising goals in order to participate in the Boston Marathon on this significant year. Many of the REALTORS® were running in the 2013 Boston Marathon when tragedy struck the finish line, and have vowed to finish the race this year.

Bill Manchenton, of Coldwell Banker in Tewksbury, MA is among the REALTORS® running. “Last year, I was on Heartbreak Hill when the explosions occurred on Boylston Street. While I was fine, my wife, son and friends were a block away when it happened. Luckily for them, they were not hurt. Two days after they reopened Boylston, our 15 year old son and I ran the last 8.06 miles to the finish line. This year, I hope to finally cross the finish line in the same day!”

To date, $12,500 was raised for REALTORS® running from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Carolina, Nevada, Washington, Texas, California, and Washington DC. The charities that they are running for include the American Medical Athletes Association, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Camp Shiver, Habitat for Humanity, Bay Cove, the Alzheimer’s Association, Boston Children’s Hospital, Medicines for Humanity, Wounded Warrior Project, the Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton, Project 351, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Donations are still being accepted, and commemorative t-shirts are available for sale as well. For more information, please visit www.realtorsrun.com.

SOURCE Greater Boston Association of REALTORS(R)

Naples sales noted in Sotheby International Realty's gains for 2013

MADISON, N.J. — Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC said its U.S.-affiliated brokers and sales professionals handled 24 percent more transaction sides in 2013 than 2012 — nearly three times better than the 9.2 percent gain in home sales sides reported for the overall market by the National Association of Realtors.

The Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s sales volume grew by 29 percent in 2013, compared to 19 percent for the overall market, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“We are very excited about this news for our brand and also enjoyed a highly successful 2013 season,” said Judy Green, president and CEO of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, with 22 offices from Marco Island to St. Petersburg and in Charlotte, N.C. “Our firm had more than $2.8 billion in sales through the end of 2013 — a 22 percent increase from the same period in 2012. As more buyers realize the advantages of living along the coast, we are uniquely positioned at the forefront of our market’s finest real estate offerings, backed by the resources of the legendary Sotheby’s brand.”

The company closed more than 3,670 transactions during 2013. Of those, 15 percent or 534 of the total transactions were for properties priced greater than $1 million. Six percent, or 214 of the total transactions, were for properties greater than $2 million.

In the Sarasota region, the firm and its associates closed the fourth highest sale of 2013 in Sarasota County, the property at 1456 Point Crisp on Siesta Key, at $5,675,000.

In the Naples region, the firm and its associates closed several notable sales in 2013, including Collier County’s highest residential sale for the year, a $30 million homesite at 2658 Gordon Drive. Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s Gary Jaarda represented the buyer in the transaction, which closed on June 24. Other significant closed transactions include properties at 3600 Nelsons Walk and 3101 Gin Lane, for $14 million and $12 million, respectively.

The Sotheby’s International Realty brand also reported growth in its global network, which encompasses 52 countries and territories worldwide. At year-end, the network totaled 700 offices, a gain of 6 percent, and more than 14,500 sales associates, up 13 percent. Sotheby’s International Realty affiliates worldwide reported 31 percent same store growth in sales volume.

Outside the United States, the Sotheby’s International Realty brand expanded its network in 2013 to provide its real estate services in: Cabarete, Dominican Republic; Swatar, Malta; Manila, Philippines; Melbourne and Gold Coast, Australia; Lugano, Switzerland; Dubai; United Arab Emirates; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Panama City, Panama. The Sotheby’s International Realty brand also added six new residential real estate firms to its network across the United States in the following markets: Claremont and Palo Alto, Calif.; Westborough, Mass.; Charlestown, R.I.; Concord, Mass.; and Durango, Colo.

In 2013, the Sotheby’s International Realty brand also won Franchise Business Review’s Best in Category for Real Estate Franchisee Satisfaction award for the sixth year in a row and ranked second overall among the Top 50 Systems across all categories with 250 or more locations.

The Sotheby’s International Realty network is poised for continued growth this year. “We look to continue our worldwide growth, most significantly in Asia with the opening of Beijing Sotheby’s International Realty slated for the first quarter of 2014,” White said.

From a marketing perspective, the brand’s 2013 campaign delivered more than 700 million impressions. At the core of the Sotheby’s International Realty 2013 strategy was its relationships with pre-eminent media powerhouses including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph Media Group in both the print and online arenas, developed to showcase unique properties from the brand’s worldwide network.

The most innovative aspect of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s 2013 marketing efforts was the launch of a custom iPad application that enabled its complete marketing program to be made available digitally for network members to present to consumers on listing presentations via a unique, interactive format created using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.

Last year also saw the expansion of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s series of branded websites for specialty markets with the launch of Golf and Historic. Finally, the brand was featured on the ABC Supersign located in New York City’s Times Square at 44th and Broadway for the month of December in collaboration with the New York Stock Exchange. The 15-second video highlighted its lifestyle focus and drove viewers to sothebysrealty.com for more information.

White said the Sotheby’s International Realty brand will continue looking for ways to use the latest technologies to enhance the real estate buying experience for consumers and further solidify its position as a leading luxury real estate organization.

The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 14,500 sales associates in approximately 700 offices in 52 countries and territories worldwide. Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the network’s brokers and clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.

MSBR president elect graduates MAR leadership program

Williamson graduates leadership program

Williamson graduates leadership program

Pictured from left are Charles McMillan, 2009 National Association of Realtors president; Blaine Williamson, 2014 president-elect, Mid-Shore Board of Realtors and 2014 Maryland Association of Realtors Leadership Academy graduate; Gwen Eskridge, 2014 president, MSBR and Russ Boyce, 2014 president, MAR.



Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014 6:00 am

MSBR president elect graduates MAR leadership program

EASTON — The Maryland Association of Realtors honored Blaine Williamson, of McCain-Williamson Realty in East New Market, and 19 other graduates from its Leadership Academy in ceremonies held recently in Annapolis.


The academy offers an intensive curriculum designed around developing skills in leadership, communications, strategic planning, legislative and government affairs, and community involvement. Classes are conducted through seven months and stress the value of professional and personal commitment to business, charitable and civic endeavors, according to a news release from the Mid-Shore Board of Realtors.

Williamson is the president elect of MSBR, and will serve as president in 2015.

“Today we honor you as future leaders in communities and within our Realtor organization,” 2014 MAR President Russ Boyce said. “As President of Maryland Association of Realtors, I want to encourage you to continue your professional development as you lead your associations.”

Honored guest and speaker was Charles McMillan, 2009 National Association of Realtors president who addressed the graduates and guests, according to the release.

“Being a leader is not always an easy role but when you follow your heart and lead with passion, you will always be proud of your achievements,” McMillan said. “Being a leader also means mentoring future leaders and instilling the same professional pride as you have today.”

MSBR has more than 400 Realtors and affiliate members from Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot counties. Established in 1953, its mission is to promote the preservation of the right to own, transfer and use real property and support the professional development of the membership, according to the release. The Mid-Shore Board of Realtors office is at 8615 Commerce Drive in Easton.

Follow Business Editor Bob Zimberoff on Twitter @stardem_biz

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Sotheby's International Realty reports gains in Key Performance Metrics for 2013

MADISON, N.J. — Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC said its U.S.-affiliated brokers and sales professionals handled 24 percent more transaction sides in 2013 than 2012 — nearly three times better than the 9.2 percent gain in home sales sides reported for the overall market by the National Association of Realtors.

The Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s sales volume grew by 29 percent in 2013, compared to 19 percent for the overall market, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“We are very excited about this news for our brand and also enjoyed a highly successful 2013 season,” said Judy Green, president and CEO of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, with 22 offices from Marco Island to St. Petersburg and in Charlotte, N.C. “Our firm had more than $2.8 billion in sales through the end of 2013 — a 22 percent increase from the same period in 2012. As more buyers realize the advantages of living along the coast, we are uniquely positioned at the forefront of our market’s finest real estate offerings, backed by the resources of the legendary Sotheby’s brand.”

The company closed more than 3,670 transactions during 2013. Of those, 15 percent or 534 of the total transactions were for properties priced greater than $1 million. Six percent, or 214 of the total transactions, were for properties greater than $2 million.

In the Sarasota region, the firm and its associates closed the fourth highest sale of 2013 in Sarasota County, the property at 1456 Point Crisp on Siesta Key, at $5,675,000.

In the Naples region, the firm and its associates closed several notable sales in 2013, including Collier County’s highest residential sale for the year, a $30 million homesite at 2658 Gordon Drive. Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s Gary Jaarda represented the buyer in the transaction, which closed on June 24. Other significant closed transactions include properties at 3600 Nelsons Walk and 3101 Gin Lane, for $14 million and $12 million, respectively.

The Sotheby’s International Realty brand also reported growth in its global network, which encompasses 52 countries and territories worldwide. At year-end, the network totaled 700 offices, a gain of 6 percent, and more than 14,500 sales associates, up 13 percent. Sotheby’s International Realty affiliates worldwide reported 31 percent same store growth in sales volume.

Outside the United States, the Sotheby’s International Realty brand expanded its network in 2013 to provide its real estate services in: Cabarete, Dominican Republic; Swatar, Malta; Manila, Philippines; Melbourne and Gold Coast, Australia; Lugano, Switzerland; Dubai; United Arab Emirates; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Panama City, Panama. The Sotheby’s International Realty brand also added six new residential real estate firms to its network across the United States in the following markets: Claremont and Palo Alto, Calif.; Westborough, Mass.; Charlestown, R.I.; Concord, Mass.; and Durango, Colo.

In 2013, the Sotheby’s International Realty brand also won Franchise Business Review’s Best in Category for Real Estate Franchisee Satisfaction award for the sixth year in a row and ranked second overall among the Top 50 Systems across all categories with 250 or more locations.

The Sotheby’s International Realty network is poised for continued growth this year. “We look to continue our worldwide growth, most significantly in Asia with the opening of Beijing Sotheby’s International Realty slated for the first quarter of 2014,” White said.

From a marketing perspective, the brand’s 2013 campaign delivered more than 700 million impressions. At the core of the Sotheby’s International Realty 2013 strategy was its relationships with pre-eminent media powerhouses including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph Media Group in both the print and online arenas, developed to showcase unique properties from the brand’s worldwide network.

The most innovative aspect of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s 2013 marketing efforts was the launch of a custom iPad application that enabled its complete marketing program to be made available digitally for network members to present to consumers on listing presentations via a unique, interactive format created using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.

Last year also saw the expansion of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s series of branded websites for specialty markets with the launch of Golf and Historic. Finally, the brand was featured on the ABC Supersign located in New York City’s Times Square at 44th and Broadway for the month of December in collaboration with the New York Stock Exchange. The 15-second video highlighted its lifestyle focus and drove viewers to sothebysrealty.com for more information.

White said the Sotheby’s International Realty brand will continue looking for ways to use the latest technologies to enhance the real estate buying experience for consumers and further solidify its position as a leading luxury real estate organization.

The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 14,500 sales associates in approximately 700 offices in 52 countries and territories worldwide. Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the network’s brokers and clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.

Realtor.com® March 2014 Housing Report: National Growth in Housing Inventory and Days on Market Signal Healthier …

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Realtor.com®, a leader in online real estate operated by Move, Inc. (MOVE), today released its National Housing Trend Report for March 2014. The report shows year-over-year growth in inventory and days on market, which are welcome signs for spring home buyers. Combined with modest price increases, this growth speaks to a healthier market currently than in the early home buying season in 2013.

Data from realtor.com® reveals the number of homes for sale on realtor.com® in March rose 9.5 percent above March 2013 levels, to 1,841,844 units. The median list price of $199,900 was 5.3 percent higher than it was in March of last year, and the median age of inventory increased 22.9 percent above year-ago figures, to 102 days. These trends suggest that the market is more balanced than it was in 2013, when a shortfall in available supply led to double-digit increases in home price in many markets.

Added inventory may mean more affordable prices in many markets for the first-time and move-up buyer alike. More homes on the market is a particularly good sign for first-time home buyers, for whom lack of inventory in 2013 led to intense competition and created one more barrier to home ownership. 

“Bidding wars in many markets last year frequently elevated offer prices beyond the reach of first-time buyers who could scarcely save for the down payment,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move. “While inventory is still low, the continuing annual lift in the number of homes on the market that we’ve seen over the first months of 2014 is an indicator that buying conditions this year may be notably improved from the frenzied pace of last spring.”  

While these signs are positive, home sales activity remains sluggish, and low inventories remain a significant factor in housing market health. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index for February 2014 showed a 10.5 percent decline compared to the same period in 2013, the eighth-straight month of decline for pending sales. However, the number of contracts signed has remained fairly stable over the past three months, and NAR reported that buyer traffic is showing a modest turnaround.

Key market highlights:

  • Price increases are strong in California, Nevada: While California and Nevada markets continue to figure prominently in the list of areas experiencing the largest year-over-year increases in median list prices; both Houston and Columbia, MO are new to the list, replacing Orange County, Calif. and Los Angeles.
  • Denver, Austin in the spotlight for few days on market: Denver has taken the top position for fewest days on market, unseating Oakland, Calif. for the first time since November 2013. While Austin is new to the top 10 list at just over half the national average of 102 days, the other markets have been there for many months, and are in the process of a vigorous housing recovery. The average year-over-year increase in median list price in these markets was just under 15 percent.
  • On the rise: Denver, Austin, Houston and Chicago: With declining inventories and days on market year over year, and double-digit increases in list price, these markets appear to be in a similar supply-driven adjustment process that led to rapid home price appreciation in California in 2013. However, the inventory deficits are not as large, suggesting that these markets are unlikely to experience the kind of unsustainable appreciation that occurred in California through much of last year.
  • Market volatility remains: The trend toward moderation has yet to reach a handful of markets in California, Arizona and Florida that consistently made headlines during the height of the recession. While last year, many of these markets – Stockton, Calif., Fresno, Calif., Bakersfield, Calif., Riverside, Calif. and Phoenix – experienced some of the most severe inventory shortages and soaring prices, this year these volatile markets are experiencing simultaneous surges in prices and inventory, year over year. If sellers remain too confident and raise prices too fast, then fewer transactions may take place.
  • Month-over-month inventory increases are moderating: Of the 146 markets tracked by realtor.com®, the number of markets with declining inventories year over year increased from 44 in February to 51 markets in March, reversing the steady drop in the number of markets with declining inventories that had been occurring since mid-2013. Additionally, the number of markets with increasing inventories dropped from 99 in February to 91 markets. This departure from recent trends could forecast a slowing of the inventory increases of the past several months.

Realtor.com® regularly tracks real estate data and develops monthly reports featuring the number of listings, median age of inventory and median list price across the U.S. and in specific markets, as well as providing year-over-year and month-over-month changes. These reports are the only ones pulled directly from the realtor.com® database, where 90 percent of listings are updated every 15 minutes from more than 800 MLSs. We regularly review and update historical data in order to provide the most accurate and comprehensive market information available. For more information on Move, please visit www.move.com or one of its many online real estate properties including realtor.com®.

Supporting Resources

ABOUT realtor.com®

Operated by Move, Inc. (MOVE), realtor.com® helps connect people with the content, tools and expertise they need to find their perfect home. As the official website of the National Association of REALTORS®, realtor.com® empowers consumers to make the smartest decisions when it comes to finding a home by leveraging direct connections with more than 800 MLSs to deliver the most accurate and up-to-date listing information in neighborhoods across the country, and by making timely and meaningful connections between consumers and REALTORS®. Whether through desktop, mobile, or tablet versions, realtor.com® is where home happens.

ABOUT MOVE, INC.

Move, Inc. (MOVE), a leader in online real estate, operates:  realtor.com®, the official website of the National Association of REALTORS®; Move.com, a leading destination for new homes and rental listings, moving, home and garden, and home finance; ListHub™, the leading syndicator of real estate listings; Moving.com™; SeniorHousingNet; SocialBios; Doorsteps®; TigerLead®; Top Producer® Systems and FiveStreet.  Move, Inc. is based in San Jose, California.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release may contain forward-looking statements, including information about management’s view of Move’s future expectations, plans and prospects, within the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the results of Move, its subsidiaries, divisions and concepts to be materially different from those expressed or implied in such statements. These risk factors and others are included from time to time in documents Move files with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including but not limited to, its Form 10-Ks, Form 10-Qs and Form 8-Ks. Other unknown or unpredictable factors also could have material adverse effects on Move’s future results. The forward-looking statements included in this press release are made only as of the date hereof. Move cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Finally, Move expressly disclaims any intent or obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

Local Realtor Achieves National Recognition

Susan Wirth, a REALTOR® with Prudential New Jersey Properties’ New Providence Office has been awarded the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) designation by the Seniors Real Estate Specialist Council of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR).

Susan Wirth, a longtime resident of New Providence, has her M.A. in Personnel Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, is the former owner of the very popular Plaster Fun House in Chatham/Berkeley Heights, and has worked as a Substitute Teacher for the New Providence School District before entering a career in real estate. Susan also volunteers at the SAGE Eldercare Spend-A-Day Program in Summit.

Susan joins more than 16,000 real estate professionals in North America who have earned the SRES® designation. All were required to successfully complete a comprehensive course in understanding the needs, considerations, and goals of real estate buyers and sellers aged 55 and older.

SRES Council, founded in 2007, is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing senior clients in real estate transactions. There are more than 16,000 active members of the organization worldwide.  The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

NAR and Realtor.com® Launch First Joint Campaign to Drive Consumer …




SAN JOSE, Calif., April 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Today realtor.com®, a leader in online real estate operated by Move, Inc. (NASDAQ: MOVE), and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) announced that they are reaching out to consumers like never before – with one voice.

Across advertising, advocacy, and consumer engagement, the NAR and realtor.com® are joining forces to drive consumer awareness of the value that Realtors® and realtor.com® each bring to the real estate transaction, and to educate consumers about the most important issues that could affect their ability to buy, sell or invest in real estate. 

The combined campaign launches the largest cooperative action of the two organizations to date and underscores the deep level of commitment between the NAR and realtor.com®. The collaboration will amplify the efforts of each organization by joining the previously individualized marketing campaigns into a cohesive and united front, with the goal of achieving a reach and effectiveness far broader than accomplished previously.

“When it’s time to get serious about homeownership, consumers turn to Realtors® for unparalleled expertise and support in the biggest financial decision of their lifetimes. Realtor.com provides the same trusted experience for consumers in the online research phase of their real estate search, working in tandem to provide  the most timely, comprehensive and accurate information available online,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move.  ”We are helping consumers understand that our organizations are working closely together like never before to bring the power of our trusted resources to buyers and sellers.”

The collaboration includes a significant marketing commitment from both the NAR and realtor.com® to feature realtor.com® in national television and radio advertising beginning this summer.  The alignment of creative and brand messaging is expected to amplify consumers’ awareness of the unique position of realtor.com® and Realtors® in serving consumers’ desire for timely, accurate and comprehensive information and sound, trusted advice.

“Realtor® is the most trusted brand in real estate, and realtor.com® represents the best of our profession, with a commitment to accuracy, timeliness and professionalism that no other brand can match,” said NAR President Steve Brown. “While others applaud themselves for simply talking about the issues, Realtors® actually take action to protect consumers’ interests. We invite consumers to join us in these efforts, and are excited about the opportunities ahead. Working together, Realtors® and realtor.com® will continue to make ‘home happen’ in every sense of that vision.”

About NAR

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

About realtor.com

Operated by Move, Inc., (NASDAQ: MOVE), realtor.com® helps connect people with the content, tools and expertise they need to find their perfect home. As the official website of the National Association of REALTORS®, realtor.com® empowers consumers to make the smartest decisions when it comes to finding a home by leveraging direct connections with more than 800 MLSs to deliver the most accurate and up-to-date listing information in neighborhoods across the country, and by making timely and meaningful connections between consumers and REALTORS®. Whether through desktop, mobile, or tablet versions, realtor.com® is where home happens.

About Move, Inc.

Move, Inc. (NASDAQ: MOVE), the leader in online real estate, operates:  realtor.com®, the official website of the National Association of REALTORS®; Move.com, a leading destination for new homes and rental listings, moving, home and garden, and home finance; ListHub™, the leading syndicator of real estate listings; Moving.com™; SeniorHousingNet; SocialBios; Doorsteps®; TigerLead®; Top Producer® Systems and FiveStreet.  Move, Inc. is based in San Jose, California.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release may contain forward-looking statements, including information about management’s view of Move’s future expectations, plans and prospects, within the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the results of Move, its subsidiaries, divisions and concepts to be materially different from those expressed or implied in such statements. These risk factors and others are included from time to time in documents Move files with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including but not limited to, its Form 10-Ks, Form 10-Qs and Form 8-Ks. Other unknown or unpredictable factors also could have material adverse effects on Move’s future results. The forward-looking statements included in this press release are made only as of the date hereof. Move cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Finally, Move expressly disclaims any intent or obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

Supporting Resources

SOURCE realtor.com

RELATED LINKS
http://www.realtor.com

Big brokers want NAR to require that MLSs provide data for AVMs

Big brokers would like to use multiple listing service data to create automated property valuations to sell to financial institutions, and they want the National Association of Realtors to require MLSs to help them do it.

That’s according to a letter from The Realty Alliance, a network of 60 or so large real estate brokerages that says it represents more than 100,000 Realtors nationwide and counts heavyweights such as HomeServices of America, Long Foster Real Estate and Crye-Leike Realtors as members.

NAR is set to grapple with a policy proposal stemming from that letter at its midyear conference in May in Washington, D.C..

“MLS participants are already entitled to use MLS information to broker and value real property,” NAR spokeswoman Sara Wiskerchen told Inman News. “So the issue isn’t whether participants can develop AVMs for clients or customers, but rather how MLSs deliver the information to participants to do the AVMs.”

NAR operates a money-losing subsidiary, Realtors Property Resource, whose business model depends on selling analytics based on MLS data including automated valuations to third parties such as lenders, government agencies and secondary mortgage market investors.

Although RPR has made strides in signing up new MLSs in the past year, many have opted not to feed sold listing data to the company’s database, creating coverage gaps that limit the usefulness of its products to potential analytics customers. The Realty Alliance’s program may or may not have similar issues.

NAR declined to provide the text of the policy proposal to be considered next month, saying it does not share policy language externally before it goes to committee.

In a blog post, Brian Larson, an attorney at Larson Skinner PLLC (formerly Larson/Sobotka PLLC), said he plans four other blog posts over the next couple of weeks discussing the issue, including an examination of the proposed policy language when it becomes available.

“Some of our MLS clients believe that they should not provide data feeds for these broker-owned AVMs [automated valuation models],” Larson said. “Others are fine with it, provided the broker signs a license agreement that protects the MLS and other brokers. Still others have said (while aiming a data hose in the general direction of requesting broker), ‘You want data? Here it is!’”

The Realty Alliance got the industry’s attention in October when it issued an ominous-sounding warning to MLSs concerning members’ grievances with a long list of MLS practices.

One of the items included in the list was: “Claiming that broker participants somehow do not have the right to produce and sell valuation products, when creating valuations using all MLS data is and has been a core benefit of MLS participation.”

In the letter to NAR, The Realty Alliance CEO Craig Cheatham asked NAR’s MLS Issues and Policies Committee to amend NAR’s MLS policy to make clear that MLSs must provide participant brokers with a source of MLS data — either downloads or data feeds of active, sold and off-market data — that the brokers may use to generate AVMs using software licensed from a third party in order to sell those AVMs to financial institutions in return for a fee independent of a real estate sales commission.

Cheatham makes the case that NAR’s MLS policy already permits brokers to use MLS data to create AVMs and sell AVMs in this way and, therefore, MLSs subject to the policy can’t “effectively deny” brokers the ability to use MLS data this way by refusing to allow brokers and their technology vendors to use the MLS’s virtual office website (VOW) feed to create the AVMs.

Winter blows chill through housing sales in first quarter

WATERLOO | One of the coldest winters on record appears to have put a chill on Cedar Valley residential sales numbers in the first quarter.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Board of Realtors reported 303 sales in the first quarter, from Jan. 1 to March 31. A year earlier, sales totaled 425.

The average sales price of $128,116 in the first quarter was 5 percent less than the $134,585 reported in the same period of 2013, the board said. The median sales price also dropped — by 2.6 percent, to $119,000 in 2014 from $122,100 a year earlier.

Listings averaged 72 days on the market, compared to 73 a year ago.

“We saw the statistics were not as high as we’d all like, but I think the weather had a lot to do with that,” said Gale Bonsall, a broker with Oakridge Realtors in Cedar Falls.

She noted national sales figures were down in the first quarter, as well.

The average sale price across the state was up only slightly $141,489 this year, compared to $140,751 — in February, which was the latest report from the Iowa Association of Realtors. Sales across the state also decreased, by 5.1 percent, from year to year. IAR reports 1,792 homes sold in February 2014, while 1,889 homes sold in February 2013. The statewide average number of days on the market last month was 103 days, up 1 day from the year earlier.

Again, it was the cold, said Kathy Miller, IAR president.

“The extreme cold, snow and wind that we’ve experienced this winter has definitely influenced buyers and sellers across the state,” she said. “Sellers are inclined to wait for warmer weather to list, and buyers are reluctant to move in the inclement weather we’ve experienced.”

Indeed, Bonsall said, things were looking up for area real estate agents as the seasons changed.

“Right now, there’s more buyers than listings, but as spring comes on, there will be more listings; it’s already happening,” Bonsall said.

Jason Strelow, a broker with Prudential One Realty in Waterloo, agreed.

“I think we got a little behind the 8-ball the first couple of months, but we’re going to catch up quickly,” he said. “Things have gotten busy quick. We had 23 people through a one-hour open house last Sunday; that’s a good sign. It’s also the extreme, but I did talk to some of my other agents, and they averaged six to nine people at their open houses.”

Inventory is low, particularly in the middle range, where many buyers shop, Strelow said.

“Under $275,000, we’re at a lack of inventory,” he said. “Homes over $400,000 just aren’t moving.

Home builders are busy, said Craig Fairbanks, owner of Craig Fairbanks Homes, a Cedar Falls-based builder that has the Heritage Hills Estates development going in Cedar Falls, a well as projects in Jesup, Traer and, perhaps soon, Denver.

“I’ve had interest going back to last fall,” he said. “It slowed down a little over the winter, but there’s a lot of people searching the Internet.”

Spec homes, which go up before they’re sold, are in short supply in the area, as has been the case in recent years, Strelow noted.

“They do exist; they’re just nearly as much as you’d like, but I think you’re going to see more and more getting built,” Strelow said.

Wade Foulk, owner of WW Construction in Cedar Falls, a general contractor and subcontractor on new homes, said his crews already are busy.

“I would say it’s definitely up this year,” Foulk said. “It seemed like last year there was maybe  a shortage of lots in Waterloo and Cedar Falls. The city of Cedar Falls finally got the go-ahead last fall for the first phase of the Prairie Winds addition, which is supposed to be ready in June.”

He pointed out that Skogman Homes, for which WW has done some framing, recently bought 80 acres in Waterloo for residential development.

“It’s going to be a really good year, despite the bad winter we had,” Foulk said of the building prospects.”