NSDCAR REALTOR® member Michelle Harvey is the broker and owner of Harvey Homes and Property Management, founded in 2005. She has been recognized twice by the San Diego Business Journal newspaper as a “Women Who Mean Business” finalist. The native of Vista has worked in real estate since 1999, and has been a member of NSDCAR ever since. She is the author of “Home Buying Basics: Insider Tips to Purchasing a Home” (2010). Michelle and husband Jason are raising Mason, age 9. Michelle first met Jason at a math class at Palomar Community College. “He drove a 1965 Mustang, which I liked more than my 1966 Mustang,” Michelle said. She recently shared her thoughts about the real estate profession.
Gutsiest thing I ever said to anybody in real estate:
After working for over a year as a real estate assistant, I wanted to become a sales agent. During my interview with the office broker, she asked me, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” Without hesitation, I replied, “Doing your job, sitting in your chair.” Initially, the broker seemed startled, but then she invited me to join their office as a REALTOR®. Actually, I didn’t wait 10 years, but it was five years later before opening my own brokerage.
Toughest decision I had to make in real estate:
For more than 10 years, I worked both in sales and property management, managing individual homes. My management portfolio was not huge, but it was profitable. But then, about a year ago, I decided to drop property management. It wasn’t easy, but I had to be honest and admit that I could not be as effective as I wanted to be because my level of control was minimal. For example, owners would refuse to spend their money on repairs that were requested by the tenants, so then you had both sides angry at you. I am not a product of my circumstances, rather I’m a product of my decisions. To achieve your dreams in life, you need to decide on what really matters and what will last in your life and focus on that. If you’re not dreaming, you’re dying. Nobody is born great, there are only ordinary people committed to great dreams.
One of the most painful aspects of working in real estate:
It really hurts to lose a deal, especially when you’ve worked hard and tried nearly every strategy to make it work. However, I believe it hurts even more to see a client you’ve invested time and effort with decide to change their minds and leave to work with another agent. Ouch.
How to deal with failure in real estate:
Failure is not failing to reach your goal; instead, failure is not having a target. Failure is not falling down, but it’s refusing to get back up. You’re never a failure until you quit. Failure is not trying; instead, failure is failing to try. I believe that every situation in life, good or bad, has a lesson that can be learned and you can always benefit by learning from your failures, and then you need to move on. Never forget this truth: Failure probably won’t kill you. It’s not the end of the world, although sometimes it feels like it. However, sometimes, we vastly exaggerate the effects of failure. We overreact with the prospects of failing. For example, on the first day of kindergarten, imagine if I got in the wrong line or in the wrong classroom, and then I went home my mom and dad and said, “I’m a failure at education, this school thing just doesn’t work.” Of course, that example sounds crazy. Instead, you keep going. If at first you don’t succeed, it’s no big deal. You’re never a failure until you give up. Accept yourself, flaws and all. Make failure a learning experience, a teachable moment. It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.
Keys to time management in real estate:
It’s not always easy, but I home-school our son, which makes time management even more important. It’s imperative to follow a schedule, which includes school work in the morning and real estate work in the afternoons and evenings. Both my son and I have our own computers. At this age, I can give Mason a task, which he can complete on his computer, while I’m checking e-mail on my computer. We are called to be stewards of our time. We tend to live our lives by either priorities or pressures.
Keys to stress management in real estate:
I believe balance is the key to stress management. It’s easy to get busy and get overwhelmed. Work must be balanced with fun in life. Take time for inward rejuvenation and recharging. In the Air Force, they’ve mastered the art of mid-flight refueling, which is an important illustration on how to last in this profession. I’m not always successful, but I try to focus on one thing at a time (you can’t chase two rabbits at the same time). Preparation prevents pressure but procrastination produces it.
How to think the right way in real estate:
I set aside time on a regular basis for investing into the real estate business. Real estate operates on a cycle and it is important to be prepared for market changes. I need to stay current with the latest changes, stay connected with the Association and also spend time looking for new opportunities, even while I’m selling in the meantime. The battle to change unhealthy habits in your life is always a mental battle. But it starts in the mind, and it’s won or lost there. Change in your life requires new thinking. So, tell yourself the truth in order to stop defeating yourself and stop deceiving yourself. We are not a victim of our thoughts, we have a vote, we have a choice. We can exercise thought prevention.
Keys to success in real estate:
I try to keep an open mind and truly listen in order to make informed decisions. I also try to pay attention to the little things. Integrity shows up in the stuff that nobody sees, behind the scenes, and in the small, unseen, unspectacular choices of life where you do the right thing even though nobody’s ever going to see it. Also, I believe in giving back, not because it is a write off, but because it is important for us to share with others. Even if you don’t have a lot, give whatever you can. Anybody can be generous when they have a surplus. But, generous people give even when they don’t have a lot to give.
Keys to success in working with other real estate agents:
I try to never be rude or talk down to other agents. Treat each other with respect and as team members working towards the same goal. There is no need to establish dominance or show up another agent.
Why some real estate agents are not successful:
I’ve noticed some agents have a `know-it-all’ attitude. They’ve quit making the effort to learn new things. They don’t attend classes offered by the Association, which is unfortunate. It’s important to me to always keep learning. You don’t make decisions out of ignorance. It’s also important to continue to invest into yourself as an agent and as a business for the benefit of your clients.
A recent deal that was raised from the dead:
I was representing the seller and the buyer had a very long and expensive list of repairs after an extensive physical inspection. My seller wanted us to walk away from the deal, but I convinced her not to walk away and not to take the request for repairs personally. I also took the time to really get inside her head and also inside the buyer's head to think on how to satisfy both parties. It took about a week of negotiations to come to a mutual agreement, but the deal was saved and closed on time. My seller was very happy and so was the buyer. Sometimes, things seem impossible but by working as a team with the other agents and not as adversaries, then you can work through just about any difficult escrow problem.
How to win new clients:
Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. People can see genuineness in a person.
"Preparation prevents pressure but procrastination produces it."
Collab Center: *Preference Wizard Web Page Setup Previously, some end users with iPads could not configure their Collaboration Center site as the Preferences Wizard is turned off when viewing Paragon on an iPad. To mitigate this concern, the Collab Center Site Information content has been added to the Collab Center section of User Preferences. This allows end users to configure their Collaboration Center Site regardless of the device being used. *Map Layers Added The Collaboration Center and CollabLink applications have been enhanced to include Map Layers. These are the same map layers found in Paragon which include Parcels, County, Flood, Traffic, Area, etc. *Access Listing Details Directly from the Listing Update Notification A direct link has been added that will take the user to the Collaboration Center’s Listing Detail view from the listing summary of properties included in the client Listing Update email notifications. Closing the Listing Detail view will return the user to the Collaboration Center home page. Property History Reports Shows Reference Data When users add the listing agent and office fields to the Property History they did not have an efficient way to review additional information about the agent or office without changing to another report view. In order to promote consistency amongst report views and add quick access to pertinent information, the listing agent and office fields in the Property History report have been hyperlinked so that when a user clicks the hyperlinked listing agent or office names, the standard agent or office detail screen will display. Reorder Your Results on Google Map Report Available by popular demand, the ability to reorder listings on the Google Map Report view is included in this release. Users can now drag and drop the results in any order that they would like on the report. This will cause the report to refresh so that the numbering associated with the listing in the results and on the map will match. This enhancement alleviates the need to toggle between the Google Map report and the spreadsheet view to reorder the results because previously reordering could only be done in spreadsheet result views. Email and Print Update for Estimated Pages Per customer suggestion we’ve modified the Estimated Pages column heading to be more descriptive changing it from ‘Pages’ to ‘Est. Pages’. Rounding Listing Prices Over $1,000,000 Although infrequent, when a listing price is over $1,000,000, the listing marker on Map Searches in Paragon would usually round the price too high or too low. This has been corrected so that the rounding displays one decimal place. Precursor Performance Changes for Automatically Displaying Results on Map Search In preparation for automatically displaying results when accessing the map search (i.e., Map Boundary) in the next Paragon release, a few performance improvements have been made, thus making results return faster: · Results reflect lowest to highest system price, previously it displayed highest to lowest price. · Listing data doesn’t load until the user clicks on a cluster or listing price marker. · The number of columns returned in the results has been limited to a small few key fields. Another major improvement is that listing map results will now return 2,500 listings instead of 500. Because of the performance improvements listed above, the results return faster. Listing Activity Data Retained for 120 Days The Listing Activity displayed on the Listing Activity Report in Paragon Listing Maintenance and in the Sell Side of Collaboration Center has been refactored to retain this pertinent information for the previous 120 Days. This change promotes data accuracy and optimizes system performance. Minimum Photo Size for Listings To ensure better quality photos are added to listings, a minimum photo requirement has been implemented to prevent uploading photos that are too small alleviating accidental upload of thumbnail sized photos instead of the full photo of the listing. If a photo is too small, the user will receive an error while attempting to upload it. Minimum 640x480
Momentum for the California housing market is continuing, according to a recent housing market report from the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.). The statewide trade group said seasonally adjusted, existing home sales rose both month-to-month and year-over-year in March, plus the statewide median price accelerated to an eight-month high.
Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 423,990 units in March, said C.A.R. March’s sales figure was up 0.3 percent from the 422,910 level in February 2018 and up 1.6 percent compared with home sales in March 2017 to a revised 417,380. The year-to-year increase was slightly stronger than the six-month average sales growth of -0.1 percent recorded between September 2017 and February 2018.
Home prices maintained strong growth across California, with the statewide median price jumping 8.1 percent to reach $564,830 in March, up from a revised $522,440 in February and rising 8.9 percent from a revised $518,600 in March 2017. The March 2018 California median home price was the highest since August 2017, and the year-over-year gain was the largest since January 2016. In San Diego, by C.A.R.’s accounts, the median selling price of an existing single-family home was $625,400 in March 2018, up from $571,000 in March 2017 and $605,000 in February 2018.
The marked price increase, said C.A.R., was partly due to a shift in sales to high cost regions and robust price growth within the high cost areas, such as San Francisco, Marin San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. The year-over-year price gain has been growing at or above 7 percent for nine of the past 10 months.
The median number of days for single-family home remaining unsold on the market in California remained low at 16 days in March, compared with 23 days in March 2017 and 22 days in February 2018. In San Diego County, according to C.A.R., homes sold much faster: 12 days in March 2018, 13 days in March 2017 and 13 days in February 2018.
Mortgage rates, meanwhile, have been on the rise since breaking the 4.0 percent barrier in February. Rising mortgage rates makes the cost to borrow money to buy a home more expensive. The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.44 percent in March, up from 4.20 percent in March 2017, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable mortgage interest rate also edged higher in March to an average of 3.65 percent from 3.21 percent last March.
C.A.R. President Steve said, “Sales in the Southern California region have cooled for the past five months, even in the more affordable Riverside and San Bernardino areas.”
C.A.R. Leslie Appleton-Young, senior VP and chief economist, said. “While the decline in the number of active listings has slowed dramatically since the beginning of the year, inventory still remains tight, which is driving home prices higher. Housing demand remains strong and competition is fierce, especially in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara, where home prices are being pushed to record levels, and buyers are paying as much as 17 percent over asking price in some markets.”
C.A.R.’s data is based on information collected from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and multiple listing services statewide.
In other real estate industry news, recent news reports have featured a number of interesting statistics.
-- Home prices in San Diego rose 1.1 percent in February and were 7.6 percent higher than a year ago, according to the widely followed the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index (the report specified no dollar figure.). Across the country, prices were 0.4 percent higher in February and up 6.3 percent for the year. The index’s 20-city composite posted a 6.8 percent year-over-year gain in February while the 10-city composite rose 6.5 percent. Seattle had the biggest increase in a year at 12.7 percent.
Other California cities covered by the 20-city index outpaced San Diego. San Francisco was up 10.1 percent in a year and Los Angeles up 8.3 percent. All cities covered in the index experienced gains, which experts attribute to a strong economy and limited home supply. “With expectations for continued economic growth and further employment gains, the current run of rising prices is likely to continue,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
-- The San Diego County median home price soared to its highest point ever, $550,000 in March, said real estate tracker CoreLogic. Home prices increased 6.8 percent in a year, which experts attribute to a lack of homes for sale and a strong economy. The previous home peak was $545,000 in June. The San Diego region is still a cheaper option compared to Los Angeles and Orange counties, which also hit new price peaks in March.
-- Zillow’s senior economist Aaron Terrazas said a promising sign for the real estate market’s long-term health is a recent increase in home construction in many areas. “New home inventory has now been above the 300,000 threshold for two straight months, the first time in almost a decade,” he said. “In a market starving for inventory of all kinds, builders are finally putting the old adage of ‘if you build it, they will come’ to the test.”
-- Consumer confidence is near an 18-year high. Americans are satisfied about the U.S. economy, job prospects and their own finances under the Trump administration. The Conference Board said consumer confidence climbed to 128.7 in April from 127 in March, suggesting the U.S. economy remains on sound footing despite worries about trade tensions. Americans are more optimistic about their own finances and they think jobs are easy to find, the survey showed. Millions of Americans have found jobs, the unemployment rate is at a 17-year low and businesses are investing more. “Overall, confidence levels remain strong and suggest that the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace in the months ahead,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators.
Whether or not you want to believe it, REALTORS® are among favorite targets for scammers. Fraud can happen to anyone. Whether you're old or young, anyone can be scammed by a swindler. One trusting moment, one bad decision or just one second of bad luck and those hard-earned dollars are gone. Each year, thousands of people, including REALTORS®, are bilked out of billions of dollars by con artists who have no consciences. Educating yourself is the best defense against fraud, identity theft, and scams.
Recently, an Association member was contacted with a telemarketing scam (the same thing could happen to you). Remember, your greatest threat may not come from a criminal on the street, but from a scam artist sitting in a boiler room on the phone. A boiler room is a room with fraudulent phone salespeople who contact businesses with phony offers. These telemarketers use “pitch sheets,” or prepared scripts.
In this recent case, the scammer called this member to complain that their online profile was missing important contact information. The conversation between the REALTOR® and a scammer named Mark went something like this:
-- REALTOR®: “Which online profiles are missing information about myself?”
-- SCAMMER: “All of them, including Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and Realtor.com.”
-- REALTOR®: “But, I haven’t posted any profiles about myself lately.”
-- SCAMMER: “It doesn’t matter. These companies automatically prepare profiles on real estate agents, but they do a lousy job. Your phone number and e-mail address are missing. But, our company fixes and completes your online profiles so potential clients can contact you. You would be an idiot if you didn’t use us.”
-- REALTOR®: “How much does this cost?”
-- SCAMMER: “We have a special running right now. We accept credit cards or we can take the money directly from your bank account. But, the price goes up soon if you don’t accept this offer right now. We just need your credit card or bank account number to take advantage of this offer.”
Understand that the best telemarketing con artists are high-pressure, smooth talkers who are very good at separating people from their money. Among their favorite lines: “We guarantee everything;” “We are privy to inside information;” Buy now or forever lose your opportunity.”
Be aware about identity theft. This crime is rampant and threatens our nation's belief in personal privacy. It involves the theft and misuse of a consumer's name and reputation. An ID thieve will use your name, Social Security number, credit card number or some other piece of your personal information to apply for a credit card, make unauthorized purchases, gain access to your bank accounts or obtain loans under your name. Never disclose personal information and banking information to someone with whom you did not initiate contact. Avoid disclosure of key identity information, such as your driver's license number, ATM number and other key pieces of your identity.
Also be aware of Internet fraud. Many con artists use cyberspace to promote their scams. One person with a computer, modem and pseudonym can tap into the web and dangle a too‑good‑to‑be‑true, “Crimes of the Net” offer before millions as they communicate in a universe without borders.
Earlier this year, the National Association of REALTORS® warned its members of a new rip-off that targeted online leads, which are the lifeblood of many real estate businesses. This scam began with an e-mail to a REALTOR® offering an online lead from platforms such as Realtor.com and Zillow, which have been successful in generating potential clients with ZIP code-targeted aids and preferred placement on their sites.
But, this scheme offered one pre-qualified leads as a trial for Realtor.com’s lead generation service. To receive the lead’s full contact information, which reportedly included a phone number and e-mail address, it would cost the agent $10.
Once the victim paid the money, then they received a one-sentence follow-up e-mail from the “lead” who said they were away for a few days and would contact the agent when they’re back in town. Unfortunately, when the victim, excited about a potential million-dollar sale, researched the name of the buyer, they noticed the same name all over the Internet listed as many other agents’ “exclusive” client. In fact, the lead’s preferred area, price range and specific listing address varied based on who the scammer was targeting. Simply put, the scammer had impersonated Realtor.com’s administration and sent the name and details of the lead to hundreds of real estate agents.
Realtor.com confirmed that they never request payment simultaneously with the delivery of a lead. To check on a lead, agents can quickly log in to realtor.com and see their leads in the Dashboard, under Contacts (for agents) or Performance/Leads (all customers).
Remember, scams succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it. Scammers are getting smarter and taking advantage of new technology and new products or services to create believable stories that will convince you to give them your money or personal information. Be wary of claims that promise immediate, effortless and “guaranteed” results. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
By Michael Simpson
In the commercial real estate industry, both buyers and sellers are currently enjoying favorable market conditions. Whether it’s industrial space, office product or the retail sector, the basic fundamentals, such as a diversified economy, low vacancy and growing number of start-ups, all continue to point to consistent growth in the future.
As I discussed recently with NSDCAR members, I’m seeing sellers receiving multiple offers with bidding frenzies. I’m seeing buyers attracted to available properties with low cap rates and seizing historically low interest rates. Indeed, in its 2018 Investors Intentions Survey, CBRE Group listed San Diego as the nation’s 11th most favorable metropolitan market for commercial investors, which was a six-spot improvement from 2017.
If a slowdown is on the horizon, it will probably occur because of rising interest rates, slowing NOI (net operating income) growth, pressure on capitalization rates, fewer loan maturities and historical real estate cycles (we may be overdue for a small bump).
However, at the same time, I believe the future is bright because of continued economic growth nationwide, large amounts of investment capital looking for a home and recent favorable tax reform. Other positive signs include increasing number of building permits, initial claims for unemployment insurance are dropping, help-wanted advertising is up and consumer-confidence metrics are rising.
As I also emphasized recently at my NSDCAR class, I believe that opportunities abound for residential real estate professionals to expand into the commercial sector. You may have heard that residential agents cannot succeed in commercial real estate. I strongly disagree.
There’s nothing holding back a residential agent from also working in the commercial sector (I call it “resimercial”). At the very least, residential agents should have a working knowledge of the commercial sector so they can communicate with clients interested in investment property.
For example, do you know about the impact of rent on value (income approach) and calculating cap rates or gross rent multipliers? Can you easily discuss return on investment, vacancy costs and expense factors? If you don’t, then your investor client may go to someone else.
When I talk to potential investors, I ask a series of qualifying questions to determine their level of experience. Among the questions:
- What’s your risk tolerance? Do you want to buy and hold, or do you have an exit strategy?
-- Do you have a certain split requirement?
-- Are you looking for a property with upside potential, a value-play or do you prefer something plain vanilla?
-- Do you want a turnkey property with high occupancy, long leases and low management costs, or are you looking for a fixer-upper to add more value and later increase the rents?
-- Are you looking to invest horizontally or are you looking to invest vertically?
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com with your questions.
Michael Simpson is founder and senior instruction of the National Commercial Real Estate Association, a company offers commercial-investment real estate training solutions and consulting. He is a past director for the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) and THE Pacific West Association of REALTORS®. His certifications include National Commercial Real Estate Advisor (NCREA), Certified Real Estate Investment Consultant (C.I.C.) and Real Estate Investment Planning Specialist.