Buying Is Now 33.1% Cheaper Than Renting in the US

The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 3.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 50.1% less expensive in Baton Rouge (LA), and 33.1% nationwide!

Other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Interest rates have remained low and, even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation.
  • With rents & home values moving in tandem, shifts in the ‘rent vs. buy’ decision are largely driven by changes in mortgage interest rates.
  • Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 128% increase over today’s average of 4.0%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters out there who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find your dream home.

This article was originally posted/written by Keeping Current Matters.

Building Stronger Client Relationships: 5 Ways to Get Social With It

Strong client relationships mean more referrals and loyalty when it’s time for a couple to upgrade from their starter home to a bigger one. When it comes to the basics, using social media platforms isn’t much different than social strategy and interaction in real life.

Don’t let social media scare you as a real estate agent. Use it as an opportunity to engage with area clients, neighborhoods and groups, while adding a boost to your marketing strategies and building social trust and capital.

For your marketing efforts, reaching friends of friends on social sites like Facebook will increase the number of engaged eyes on your listings and get those properties sold or rented. Each platform is different, reaching various demographics. It’s important to know what demographic and type of audience you’re trying to reach when engaging on social media platforms.

Get social with it! Target your posts wisely with these five social sharing tips to build stronger client relationships:

1. Pinterest Builds Listing Interest

Pinterest is popular for DIY crafts, recipes and fashion for a reason. The way Pinterest boards are designed grabs attention for instant inspiration, and people save pins the way they clip coupons.

On Pinterest, create a board showcasing the newest listings, or create boards for new listings in different areas. Create another board as a gallery filled with images of amazing architecture linking to an educational blog post. Talk about renovations sellers have made that may inspire loyal customers to do similar remodels, and pin the post.

Who knows? That pin could lead a friend of a friend to inquire about a listing. Curate special boards to target specific audiences, such as “My Dream Home,” “Room Decor Ideas for Kids” or “The Best Fixer-Uppers.” Keep descriptions short, and only use high-quality images. Always link back to your site.

2. Use Instagram or Snapchat for Storytelling

Instagram is a wonderful platform for sharing eye-catching images of listings with an appropriate hashtag, especially when revealing a new listing or rebuilding interest in an old one. Instagram is the place strangers go to search for specific hashtags, and that stranger is likely to directly message you with interest in a listing. One quality image has ROI power, but video tours do even more.

Instagram recently created their own “stories” function, which is very similar to Snapchat stories—and these aren’t only for angsty teens. Create quick mini-tours of listings with Instagram and Snapchat, building interest and suspense through your posts. You’ll also want to share these across Facebook and Twitter to help build a following.

Snaps on Snapchat eventually expire, and these video posts are perfect for mini-reveals of homes, such as beautiful gardens or architecture in rooms. Give a larger oversight of the home in a 15-second teaser tour, for example.

3. Show Awareness on Facebook

Social media is about sharing, and it’s wonderful to share how you respond to and support causes in your area. Show your awareness of issues on Facebook, connecting with your audience on causes you are all passionate about. Share ways your audience can help raise awareness or engage, by participating in a marathon run for breast cancer or attending a cookout benefit for autism.

Property Management, Inc. built trust in their community in Pennsylvania by showing their awareness and support of causes on Facebook. Their strategies go beyond finding the best place to work and live, because prospective buyers want to already feel like a part of the community. One of the best ways to do this is to show what you care about. Since PMI’s staff consists of largely women, PMI staff consistently shows up, such as on #WearRedDay, to “Go Red for Women.”

This is a great example of women supporting women, drawing in more prospective female buyers to engage with the agency. The staff clearly cares and didn’t only do this as a strategy.

That’s the key part. What causes do you earnestly care about and want to show awareness for? Get social with it!

4. Show Interest in Neighborhood and City Happenings

Since prospective buyers want to already feel like a part of the community, it’s also wise for real estate agencies to show interest in neighborhood and city happenings. Build specific Twitter lists to get updates from architecture firms and the local chamber of commerce, for example.

Turn around and share these updates. Visit the sites and ask questions. Provide updates and relevant information to the community about exciting projects and how it will improve lifestyle in the area. Share social events, too!

Zoom in on an odd city feature in a high-quality photo, and post it. Ask your audience on Instagram or Facebook to guess where you are, and offer an award for the correct answer. Then, provide interesting facts about the history of a property or neighborhood you’ve showcased.

5. Applaud Client Successes

Share client success stories, but not so it sounds like a gimmick for attention. Genuinely celebrate and applaud clients. For example, showcase and welcome a first-time homeowner on Possession Day, when the keys unlock the door, with a dog happily making laps around the big back yard.

Remember, don’t mention or tag clients’ names without their permission. However, sharing stories will show clients you care and follow up. The fun and heartwarming photos will inspire the audience and be personally rewarding for you.

Don’t be afraid of social media. Use it to market your listings in engaging ways that show you care about the neighborhoods, homes and your clients. Applaud client success. Give mini-tours on Instagram and sneak-peek snaps on Snapchat.

As you congratulate your clients in person and interact with the community at large, do the same online with social media platforms. By getting social with it, you’ll build stronger client relationships that are mutually rewarding.

This article was originally posted/written by RisMedia

Home Sales Expected to Soar Through 2018: What Buyers Need to Know

Andersen Ross/Getty Images

Andersen Ross/Getty Images

By now just about every would-be buyer out there knows there simply aren't enough homes for sale these days to appease the hordes of competition. But despite the shortages, rising prices, and bidding wars, more homes are expected to be sold this year than in more than a decade.

In 2017, the number of sales of existing homes (which have previously been lived in) is expected to rise about 3.5%, to 5.64 million, according to the midyear forecast from the National Association of Realtors®. The group predicts that existing-home purchases will rise an additional 2.8% in 2018, to 5.8 million.

"The combination of the stock market being at record highs, 16 million new jobs created since 2010, pent-up household formation, and rising consumer confidence are giving more households the assurance and ability to purchase a home," NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. "However, prices are still rising too fast in many areas and are outpacing incomes."

Sales of brand-new homes, which builders can't seem to put up fast enough, are expected to jump 10.7%, from 560,000 in 2016 to 620,000 this year, according to NAR. They're expected to rise an additional 8% in 2018, to 670,000 sales.

New homes are typically more expensive than existing homes, as builders must contend with shortages of land and labor, plus rising costs of materials and difficulty obtaining financing.

The price tags of all homes are expected to keep rising. NAR predicts prices will jump 5% in 2017 and an additional 3.5% in 2018.

"As a result, buyers are compromising on the number of rooms, length of a commute, or other home qualities," says Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner of®. "Meanwhile, builders are mostly building for the mid- to upper-price range. This mismatch in supply and demand is making affordability more acute for those with modest incomes."

In some white-hot markets along the coasts, prices are rising by double digits because of the dearth of homes. That's led many current homeowners who might be interested in trading up to a larger, nicer home in their area to hold off—because those homes are simply out of their price range.

Bidding wars have gotten so bad in Seattle that buyers are driving up prices 30% over asking in some cases, says local real estate broker Chris Bajuk, of HomeSmart Real Estate Associates. (Seattle prices were up 12.2% year over year in February, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Schiller report.)

"It is crazy," Bajuk says. "There's strong demand and lack of supply."

Buyers are coping by putting ever-higher percentages of their incomes toward homeownership—even when it means eating at home every night and doing without new clothes or annual beach vacations. Sometimes they're spending half of their take-home pay on housing, he says.

Others are purchasing homes farther from the city center where they work, settling for smaller homes or even purchasing residences in need of some work.

“They may need to spend more of their disposable income," Bajuk says. "Or they may need to lower their expectations on what kind of home they get."

 This article was originally posted/written by

5 Reasons You Should Sell This Summer

5 Reasons You Should Sell This Summer

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is currently at a 4.2-month supply, well under the 6-months needed for a normal housing market. This means, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market this summer.

Also, builder's confidence in the market has hit its highest mark in over 11 years. Experts are predicting that new construction of single-family homes will ramp up this summer.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Fannie Mae anticipates an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007's pace. As the market continues to strengthen, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing-time lines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to a new low of 42 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.9% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

You can also lock in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 4% right now. Rates are projected to increase in the next 12 months.

5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

This article was originally posted/written by Keeping Current Matters.

10 Crucial Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent When Selling Your Home

If you're looking to sell your home, you'll want to hire an amazing listing agent to help—and there are certain questions to ask a real estate agent to pinpoint the right professional for you. And it's smart to be picky! A great Realtor® can help sell your home fast, and for more money. Pick wrong, and your listing might languish, then the lowballing bargain hunters come circling—it's not pretty.

Not sure where to get started? You can search for agents in your area with online tools, where you can also read real estate agent reviews from previous clients. From there, you'll want to call or meet with a few you like and probe further.

Here are some questions to ask a real estate agent when selling your home.

1. What are your credentials?

At the least, your agent should have a state license and belong to the local real estate trade association, because this means your agent will have access to the multiple listing service, or MLS, and can list your home far and wide. But you might want to look further and find someone who's a member of the National Association of Realtors®, which requires additional training and adherence to a code of ethics.

2. How many sales did you close last year?

While an agent's past performance doesn’t guarantee a quick sale, a track record of success can at least give you the assurance that this professional knows what she's doing. Also inquire about the price range for the homes the agent has sold, because you ideally want someone who knows what features will be valued by buyers in your income bracket.

3. Do you specialize in this neighborhood?

Having a local expert can be a huge advantage because she'll know about any upcoming developments, plus plans for stores or other amenities that might affect the value of your home.

"You want to know that your agent understands the market for your neighborhood right now," says Ashlie Roberson, a New York City–based agent at Triplemint. She also advises sellers to inquire about the agent’s favorite places in the area.

"Your agent needs to be able to not only sell your home, but your neighborhood."

4. How do you arrive at the listing price?

Few things are as important to a seller as the money conversation, and your agent’s ability to land on a listing price that is appropriate for the market. A home that is priced too high will languish, eventually turning off potential buyers; but a home priced too low might leave money on the table. Make sure your agent is knowledgeable about the market and what other similar homes have recently sold for to help you arrive at the right price.

5. Whom will I be working with?

You want to find out if you will be working with one specific real estate agent or a member of the agent’s team. There are pros and cons for each.

"Having a team of agents makes accommodating showings easier, but specific requests made by the seller can get lost among a big team," says JoAnn Schwimmer, associate broker and certified relocation professional with DJK Residential in New York City.

6. How much will selling my home cost?

Know upfront about the costs you’ll be paying such as broker’s commission, closing fees, and anything else so you can plan accordingly—and compare from one agent to the next.

7. What is your sales plan?

An agent should have a written plan that identifies where and how she will market your home, from listing services to open houses to social media.

"Don’t let them just rely on mailers," says Roberson. She advises using an agent who has the capability to provide professional photography, a custom website, and even video, if appropriate.

"Marketing is the key to a successful sale," she says.

8. What should I do to get my house ready?

See what their advice is for necessary repairs or upgrades or what hacks they might suggest for budget-friendly but impactful improvements. Find out if they suggest staging services or just a good cleaning and declutter.

Also find out if an agent is willing to be accommodating to your schedule and what days and times she prefers to show houses.

9. How will we communicate?

If you’re a texter and your agent prefers lengthy phone calls, that could be a problem. Likewise, you might prefer the personal touch of a call over an email. Knowing the method and frequency of communication can be important.

10. How long will the process take?

While no agent can guarantee how fast the sale itself will go, they should be able to give a ballpark range on how long it will take to sell your house. The national average is 65 days, but it depends greatly on where you live.

Gilan Gertz contributed to this article.          

 This article was originally posted/written by

9 Unexpected Ways Paint Can Reboot Your Curb Appeal

Paint your concrete porch, front door, and more for uber good looks from the street.

When it’s time to amp up your curb appeal, it’s easy to reach for your landscaper’s business card while overlooking the most affordable design remedy on the planet: the humble bucket of paint.

A simple splash of color can transform your home’s exterior and reboot your front yard, so rev up your imagination and try out one (or 9!) of these creative ideas.

#1 Turn Your Front Door Into a Work of Art

Here’s a front door painted by L.A. artist Allison Cosmos, giving the focal point of this entryway a delightful touch of whimsy. While not everyone has the careful hand (and creative mind) of an artist, you can buy stencils from various online outlets, including the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, for a similar effect.

And Frank isn’t the only design genius to appreciate the stencil look. “I could see Martha Stewart doing something like this,” says Julie O’Brien, director of trade services for Urban Country Designs in Bethesda, Md. “The door will definitely stand out from the street.”

#2 Give Your Porch Swing a Pop of Color

So you’re looking for a way to make your front facade pop. Could the key could be your humble porch swing? It’s an unexpected spot to find a bold color, and can freshen up the look of your whole house with minimal effort.

“This yellow swing is a charmer,” says Annie Elliott, the boss of Bossy Color in Washington, D.C. The key, she says, is preparation. Take the time to sand the piece well and apply the appropriate primer. Elliott recommends Farrow & Ball’s outdoor paints and primer saying, “They last forever when applied correctly.”

#3 Create the Illusion of a Carpet on Your Steps

Is that a carpet running up a flight of exterior steps? Why no, it’s just painted to look that way using the clever application of concrete paint. “I think this is adorable,” says O’Brien. “It makes the whole first impression more interesting by drawing your eye upwards towards the house.”

Again, preparation is key to pulling off this look. Power-wash the steps and sand off any flaking paint before applying the concrete paint to ensure your work is long lasting. When using painter’s tape to create stripes, it’s best to remove it while the paint is still wet for the cleanest lines. And don’t let the tape sit too long in the sun or you’ll have gummy stripes left behind. Ick.

#4 Paint Your Porch Light



After Image: Susan Penning


Image: Susan Penning

The before image shows a porch light in distress. The after depicts a work of crafty art rendered in copper. Or copper paint, at least. Using metallic paint to restore luster to an old porch light is a terrific idea for enhancing curb appeal. “I love how this homeowner used a coppery color, which looks terrific against the teal clapboard,” says Elliott.

The vibrant, metallic fixture brightens up the entire entry, even when the light is off. For a project like this, Elliott recommends Modern Masters, a high-end brand that specializes in quality metallic paint.

#5 Jazz Up Your House Number

Image: Josh Vick

Image: Josh Vick

Don’t limit your house numbers to merely displaying your home’s address; let them tell passersby a bit about who lives there. This creative homeowner used fun accent colors and creatively arranged wood to show some personality through an otherwise perfunctory part of a home’s exterior.

The ways to inject color into your house numbers may be as numerable as the addresses in your city, but key to making the project work is proper placement. “With such a deep porch, this homeowner came up with a creative way to bring the house number front and center,” says Elliott. Be sure to pick a spot for your colorful house numbers that serves their greater purpose: getting the pizza guy to your front door with minimal confusion.

If you have your house numbers on your mailbox — or even if you don’t — consider painting the place where you get your “Bed, Bath & Beyond” coupons. Painting utilitarian objects that are seen and touched every day can change the way you feel about your home. Besides the mailbox, think about your doorknobs, handles, and hand railings.

#6 Stencil Your Concrete Porch Floor

Image: Homestead 128

Wow, check out that chic new tile painted  on the porch floor. Your neighbors will never believe it’s just paint until they step on it themselves. The homeowner who created this floor blogs as “Becky.” Becky first painted the porch floor gray and then used stencils to paint the white pattern. She used painter’s tape and a tape measure to keep the stencils straight and properly aligned. 

“This clean, geometric pattern looks like tile, and limiting the palette to two colors ensures that the floor doesn’t appear too busy,” says Elliott.

#7 Decorate Your Shutters

Shutters can be functional or decorative. And if they’re going to be decorative, why not make them seriously charming? These shutters feature Norwegian rosemaling, a decorative folk art. Fancy!

While uber-original shutters may not impress the Joneses in every middle-American subdivision, they can be the envy of the right neighborhood. If you live in a whimsical, colorful community, they could really turn the heads.

If your taste in shutter art runs more conservative, consider this bit of wisdom from Elliott: “A fresh coat of paint on faded shutters can be just the thing to brighten up the entire exterior of a house. I love deep blues and greens for shutters; they’re timeless and go with almost any material including wood, brick, and stone.”

#8 Go Bold With Accent Colors

If you have a “full light” exterior door, your door is mostly glass (now you know!). The fun thing about these doors is that the thin frame around the glass creates an opportunity to add a bold accent color without overpowering the whole front of the house. Cool, right? 

“It adds a little punch to the space,” O’Brien says. Do the same thing with your window frames by adding thin lines of color in strategic locations of space, and you’ll have a porch that says, “Didn’t see that coming, did you?”

#9 Paint Your Garage Door

For many homeowners, it’s not the actual front door that welcomes them home every day — it’s the roaring, often drab-looking garage door. Why not put as much thought into where you park your ride as you do into where you welcome guests?

If your pad is mostly monochromatic like this one, include your garage doors among the elements that work together to make a bright accent color really pop — even if you’re not going all the way to the fire engine-red end of the color spectrum. “I suggest painting garage doors the trim color of the house or even staining them,” says Elliott. With a little colorful coordination, you can create a look that warmly welcomes you, regardless of whether you’re stepping or driving through the threshold. 

This article was originally posted/written by houselogic.

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

Dr. Travis Bradberry shares the unique habits of some of the world's most successful people. Try them out and see where they take you.

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

Having close access to ultra-successful people can yield some pretty incredible information about who they really are, what makes them tick, and, most importantly, what makes them so successful and productive.

"Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them." - Vaibhav Shah

Kevin Kruse is one such person. He recently interviewed over 200 ultra-successful people, including 7 billionaires, 13 Olympians, and a host of accomplished entrepreneurs. One of his most revealing sources of information came from their answers to a simple open-ended question:

"What is your number one secret to productivity?"

In analyzing their responses, Kruse coded the answers to yield some fascinating suggestions. What follows are some of my favorites from Kevin's findings.

1. They focus on minutes, not hours. Most people default to hour and half-hour blocks on their calendar; highly successful people know that there are 1,440 minutes in every day and that there is nothing more valuable than time. Money can be lost and made again, but time spent can never be reclaimed. As legendary Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told Kevin, "To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute." You must master your minutes to master your life.

2. They focus on only one thing. Ultra-productive people know what their "Most Important Task" is and work on it for one to two hours each morning, without interruptions. What task will have the biggest impact on reaching your goals? What accomplishment will get you promoted at work? That's what you should dedicate your mornings to every day.

3. They don't use to-do lists. Throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out that only 41% of items on to-do lists ever get done. All those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect, which, in essence, means that uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them. Highly productive people put everything on their calendar and then work and live by that calendar.

4. They beat procrastination with time travel. Your future self can't be trusted. That's because we are time inconsistent. We buy veggies today because we think we'll eat healthy salads all week; then we throw out green rotting mush in the future. Successful people figure out what they can do now to make certain their future selves will do the right thing. Anticipate how you will self-sabotage in the future, and come up with a solution today to defeat your future self.

5. They make it home for dinner. Kevin first learned this one from Intel's Andy Grove, who said, "There is always more to be done, more that should be done, always more than can be done." Highly successful people know what they value in life. Yes, work, but also what else they value. There is no right answer, but for many, these other values include family time, exercise, and giving back. They consciously allocate their 1,440 minutes a day to each area they value (i.e., they put them on their calendar), and then they stick to that schedule.

6. They use a notebook. Richard Branson has said on more than one occasion that he wouldn't have been able to build Virgin without a simple notebook, which he takes with him wherever he goes. In one interview, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis said, "Always carry a notebook. Write everything down. That is a million dollar lesson they don't teach you in business school!" Ultra-productive people free their minds by writing everything down as the thoughts come to them.

7. They process e-mails only a few times a day. Ultra-productive people don't "check" their e-mail throughout the day. They don't respond to each vibration or ding to see who has intruded into their inbox. Instead, like everything else, they schedule time to process their e-mails quickly and efficiently. For some, that's only once a day; for others, it's morning, noon, and night.

8. They avoid meetings at all costs. When Kevin asked Mark Cuban to give his best productivity advice, he quickly responded, "Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check." Meetings are notorious time killers. They start late, have the wrong people in them, meander around their topics, and run long. You should get out of meetings whenever you can and hold fewer of them yourself. If you do run a meeting, keep it short and to the point.

9. They say "no" to almost everything. Billionaire Warren Buffet once said, "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say 'no' to almost everything." And James Altucher colorfully gave Kevin this tip: "If something is not a 'Hell Yeah!' then it's a no." Remember, you only have 1,440 minutes in a day. Don't give them away easily.

10. They follow the 80/20 rule. Known as the Pareto Principle, in most cases, 80% of results come from only 20% of activities. Ultra-productive people know which activities drive the greatest results. Focus on those and ignore the rest.

11. They delegate almost everything. Ultra-productive people don't ask, "How can I do this task?" Instead, they ask, "How can this task get done?" They take the I out of it as much as possible. Ultra-productive people don't have control issues, and they are not micro-managers. In many cases, good enough is, well, good enough.

12. They touch things only once. How many times have you opened a piece of regular mail--a bill perhaps--and then put it down, only to deal with it again later? How often do you read an e-mail and then close it and leave it in your inbox to deal with later? Highly successful people try to "touch it once." If it takes less than five or ten minutes--whatever it is--they deal with it right then and there. It reduces stress, since it won't be in the back of their minds, and it is more efficient, since they won't have to re-read or re-evaluate the item again in the future.

13. They practice a consistent morning routine. Kevin's single greatest surprise while interviewing over 200 highly successful people was how many of them wanted to share their morning ritual with him. While he heard about a wide variety of habits, most nurtured their bodies in the morning with water, a healthy breakfast, and light exercise, and they nurtured their minds with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, or journaling.

14. Energy is everything. You can't make more minutes in the day, but you can increase your energy to increase your attention, focus, and productivity. Highly successful people don't skip meals, sleep, or breaks in the pursuit of more, more, more. Instead, they view food as fuel, sleep as recovery, and breaks as opportunities to recharge in order to get even more done.

Bringing It All Together

You might not be an entrepreneur, an Olympian, or a billionaire (or even want to be), but their secrets just might help you to get more done in less time and assist you to stop feeling so overworked and overwhelmed.

This article was originally posted/written by

10 Strangest Questions Buyers Have Ever Asked About a House

DNY59/iStock; shironosov/iStock

DNY59/iStock; shironosov/iStock

Long before home buyers decide a certain place must be theirs, it behooves them to ask a lot of questions. For example: "How's the neighborhood?" or "How old is that water heater, anyway?" Ask away! Such queries help you pare down your options, so don't be bashful; real estate agents have heard them all.

However, the adage "There's no such thing as a stupid question" isn't always true. As proof, just check out this list of the strangest questions real estate agents have ever heard about a house. Cue the “Twilight Zone” music—things are about to get very, very weird.

1. 'How do you keep alligators from coming up into the toilet?'

Michael Lyons, a real estate broker with Lyons Realty Group in Hollywood, FL, has certainly heard his share of concerns about alligators lurking in yards, ponds, and swimming pools. But sneaking into the house? Through a toilet? That left him stumped.

"I couldn't answer that question seriously," he said. "So I made up some weird solution. I told them, 'pour vinegar down the toilet once a month, they hate it.'"

This seemed to appease the buyers, who ended up purchasing the house. No word on whether or not the vinegar trick worked.

2. 'Do any swingers live in the neighborhood?'

While home buyers often have questions about the neighbors, this one was a first for Kate Julian, a real estate agent with City Chic Real Estate, in Washington, DC.

"They said they were swingers and that's something they were looking for," she said.

Unsure what to say, she countered with, "drive around the neighborhood and see." After all, aren't swingers very friendly?

3. 'Does the car in the driveway come with the house?'

Chike Uzoka, a real estate agent with Weichert in Newark, NJ, has heard of buyers asking whether many things "come with the house," from chandeliers and furniture to appliances and pool equipment. But a car?

The only way he could answer such a question was with sarcasm: “If the attorney doesn't catch it in attorney review, then yes it does!”

4. 'Is anyone buried in the backyard?'

Larry Prigal, a real estate agent with Re/Max in Gaithersburg, MD, had no reason to believe the house he was selling had any corpses stashed 6 feet under. "So I joked, 'I’m not aware of anyone buried here, but you can dig it up after you’ve settled on the property.'”

Who knows? Maybe the buyers were worried about our next point...

5. 'Are there any ghosts in the house?'

When Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 in Indianapolis, holds open houses at older homes, it's not uncommon to hear creaks or creepy noises. That prompts a superstitious few to pop the ghost question.

"I usually respond jokingly at first that there are ghosts but that they're friendly, but then immediately follow with ‘just kidding,’ because people can be really weird about those things,” Dossman said. "Cellars and basements can be especially freaky, even to me."

Nonetheless, a haunted house is, in fact, a selling point for some home buyers. Go figure.

6. 'I really like this house, but I need to pray about it. Is that OK?'

Kimberly Sands, a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, in Wilmington, NC, said she gets this question (or some variation of it) a fair amount, so she wasn’t alarmed, at first.

“I thought the would-be buyer would go home and pray about it and then decide, so I said 'sure.'" That's when things got weird.

"All of the sudden she drops to her knees and starts flailing her arms and yelling at the top of her lungs: ‘Dear Jesus, please send me a sign, Jesus, a sign that I should buy this house!’ Meanwhile, I slowly started inching toward the door planning a hasty escape. I ended up waiting outside on the curb for her to come out for about 15 minutes. When she came out, she was cool, composed, and had her answer: no."

7. 'Do you think the homeowner would give me the house without a down payment?'

Taken aback, Julie McDonough, a real estate agent with AmeriSell, in Southern California, told the buyer, "I can't imagine they would."

The buyer went on to explain that he'd taken a seminar on how to get the seller to deed the buyer the property without any credit or money.

"So I asked him, ‘How is that going? Has anyone deeded you a property yet?’" McDonough recalled. "He said, ‘No, but it's a numbers game.’"

8. 'Can I come back at midnight to see how the moon here affects my soul?'

The question threw Pate Stevens for a loop, but then he figured there was no harm.

"Although a strange request, I drove over to the home at midnight to let him in,” said Stevens, a real estate agent with Nourmand & Associates, in Beverly Hills, CA.

The outcome? “He didn’t buy the house because the moon ‘didn’t feel right’ to him.”

9. 'Why is the garage unfurnished?'

Um. "Because the sellers use it for their cars, not as a living space," replied Benny Kang, a real estate agent with Uniti Realty, in Irvine, CA, to which the buyer said, "Oh, you're right."

"When I heard that question, I thought, 'This is going to be a long tour,'" Kang said.

10. 'Can we close all the blinds and doors and turn off the lights? I just need to see the space at its darkest.'

“I was pretty sure this was the end for me," said a Brooklyn real estate agent who was holding an open house. "After I said OK, I stood by the front door with my hand on the doorknob.”

Fortunately, the agent, who asked not to be identified, made it out unscathed. “[The buyer] was this eccentric guy who I later found out was the CEO of a big startup.”

This article was originally posted/written by

3 Tips to Win Over Millennial Homebuyers

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, millennials currently make up 34 percent of U.S. homebuyers—the largest share of buyers for the fourth consecutive year! NAR research also shows that while there are barriers to break through, such as student loan debt and fast-moving inventory, 94 percent of millennials want to own their own home.

While many millennials are putting home-buying off slightly longer than previous generations, their time is coming, which means you should be paying attention to this important group and learning how to best market to them—you can’t afford not to!

Here are three simple tips to help you win over millennial homebuyers:

Tip 1: Improve Your Online Presence
Millennials are part of the “Yelp generation”—even if an agent was referred to them by a friend or family member, they will still do their due diligence and look online for information. Plus, an online search is the next most popular option for finding an agent after a referral, with 34 percent of millennials finding their agent on the internet. You need to be sure that you are not only easy to find, but also putting your best foot forward when it comes to your digital presence. Testimonials from outside sources, recommendations from friends and colleagues, and a social media presence are key to winning over millennial consumers. One of the best places to start is with your free agent profile on®.

Tip 2: Share Your Knowledge
Most millennials are new to the home-buying process and want to work with a knowledgeable real estate professional that can walk them through it start to finish, highlighting next steps along the way and explaining what will be needed from them at each stage. In fact, 74 percent of millennial buyers noted that help understanding the purchase process was the most beneficial part of working with an agent.

Tip 3: Optimize for Mobile
The average person spends 90 hours per month on smartphone apps. Millennials are glued to their phone, rarely spending a minute of the day without it by their side (even in bed!). In fact, a recent survey found that 39 percent say they interact more with their smartphones than they do with their significant others, parents, friends, children or co-workers. Wow!

This article was originally posted/written by RisMedia

In It to Win It: Land Your Dream Home by Avoiding These 7 Mistakes on Your Offer



You’ve seen every house on the market and you’ve finally found the spot you can't wait to call home. In fact, you’ve mentally decorated it and planned your new life, down to the barbecues and block parties you’ll have with your awesome new neighbors. Sweet!

Slow down there, dear buyer. As you know, you still have one giant hurdle to overcome: You've got to make the offer that wins the house. And in a highly competitive housing market, that can be easier said than done. Don’t blow your chances with any of these common home offer mistakes.

1. Dragging your feet

If you love a property, the worst thing you can do is wait to make an offer. Of course, you're allowed to have some feelings of uncertainty—after all, this is likely the biggest financial decision of your life. But the longer you vacillate, the greater the chances you'll set yourself up for failure.

"Time kills deals," says Andrew Sandholm of BOND New York Properties, in New York City. "Dragging your feet means you could wind up paying more in a bidding war situation or missing out on the property all together."

Not only should you be emotionally ready to pounce, but be logistically ready as well. That means pulling together all of your paperwork—bank statements, pre-approval letter, and any documents supporting proof of funds—while you're house hunting.

"Get everything ready so we can act fast when we find a home you love," Sandholm says.

2. Offering your max pre-approved amount

Today’s sellers are often besieged by multiple suitors, and the successful buyer will be one who's prepared for a bidding war. The best way to arm yourself for battle is to make sure you've got a strong financial arsenal. That means getting pre-approved (do this now, if you haven't already) to show a seller you're financially prepared to buy a home—their home.

But when you make an offer, beware of submitting a price that exactly matches the amount you were pre-approved for, says Chuck Silverston, principal at Unlimited Sotheby's International Realty in Brookline, MA.

“Many buyers come in with a pre-approval for the exact offer price, but when you’re competing against other offers, including cash offers, you want to show financial strength,” he says. “An exact pre-approval could make a listing agent nervous because not only does the buyer not have any wiggle room to negotiate, but they might no longer qualify if interest rates rise.”

"In this market I often advise buyers to look at homes under their max loan amount," echoes Denise Supplee, a Realtor® with Long and Foster Real Estate in Doylestown, PA. "When you have to bid against multiple offers, they will need some room to go up, and if they are at their maximum amount, that may not happen."

3. Using an obscure lender

Also consider using a well-known local mortgage lender or bank, suggests Realtor Megan Tolland, with Realty Executives Boston, who often sees online pre-approvals from out-of-state lenders or unknown online entities.

“Agents, and therefore sellers, are generally more comfortable with a local lender they know,” she says.

4. Lowballing

Trust your agent and bid accordingly—even if it means offering a little more than you think you could get away with. If you lowball the seller in the hope that it'll spark a negotiation, it could backfire—especially in a seller's market.

“A lowball offer that isn't backed up with math or comparable sales data is disrespectful and could turn off the seller and possibly mean you will miss out on the property completely,” Sandholm says.

5. Waiving the inspection contingency

“I don't care whether it’s new construction or even your mom’s house you’re buying from her—get it inspected,” says Joshua Jarvis of Jarvis Team Realty in Duluth, GA.

An inspection is the only way to uncover potential flaws that could cost major cash to fix. And if you waive the inspection contingency in your offer, you stand to lose your earnest money if you back out.

6. Letting outsiders sway your offer

When you're buying a home, you probably want a second opinion. And probably a third, fourth, and maybe even 10th. We totally get it. But beware of letting these people—who mean well but haven't seen the many, many other homes you've seen—influence your offer.

"The 'adviser' does what they think is best and tries to protect the buyer and usually slams the home," Jarvis says. "Unfortunately, they don't have the education in seeing the other 10 homes or understanding the market."

If you're going to rely on outside advice, Jarvis says, then ask that the person accompany you through as much of the process as possible.

7. Not selling yourself

Wait, isn’t it the seller who, you know, does the selling? It might not sound quite fair, but in a seller’s market, you want to make sure you—the buyer—look as good to the seller as that picture-perfect house looks to you, Silverston says.

And it's not just about looking good on paper. In fact, Silverston says, the offer process begins the moment the buyer steps through the door at the open house or showing.

“In today's highly competitive environment, the listing agent is trying to determine which buyer will be the easiest to deal with,” he says.

That’s why buyers should avoid pointing out defects, asking a lot of nitpicky questions, or even insulting the owner’s taste by discussing changes they want to make.

“Basically buyers who act less than enthusiastic will see themselves at a competitive disadvantage when sellers are comparing multiple offers,” he says.

And, don’t forget to help seal the deal with a love letter—a personal touch could be enough to boost you to the top in the seller’s mind.

This article was originally posted/written by