Here is the latest is a series of occasional articles by NSDCAR members on the topic:” How to Win a New Client.” By Kevin Williamson
I enjoy training agents about how to win new clients. It’s rewarding to watch agents apply proven ideas and achieve success. So, I’m glad to share some advice to NSDCAR REALTOR® members.
Hit the streets.If you have a buyer looking for a home in a specific neighborhood it’s like finding gold on the Alaska frontier. Don’t waste any time and start immediately knocking on doors in that neighborhood. Ignore the naysayers: Door knocking is still viable for generating new leads. While out on the road, it’s likely you’ll pick up a few new listings. Create an emotional connection with a heartwarming letter (that you help write) from your buyer with folksy lines about how they’ve always dreamed of living in that special neighborhood and how previous efforts have failed to come to fruition. Make sure your leave-behind letter is branded with your contact information. Whatever you do, don’t say you have a buyer when you really don’t have one, because if you can’t deliver a real buyer then your reputation with sellers will be tarnished.
Throw a party.Before escrow closes, let your buyers know you will host for them a housewarming party at their new house with their friends and new neighbors. Calm their concerns by telling them that you will take care of all the work and pay for the catered food and refreshments. Schedule it about one month after escrow closes in order to give them time to get moved in and unpacked. Follow up with your buyers every week or so since they will be busy moving and they might forget. Get their invite list of friends, family, co-workers and new neighbors (you have now expanded your sphere of influence). Do the legwork and send invitations along with an RSVP so people can contact you. On the big day of the party, arrive early with a stack of business cards in your pocket and get ready to network, mingle and have fun. Listen with delight as your clients toot your horn and introduce you to their friends as their realtor of choice who did a great job on their behalf.
Make friends with “key connectors.”Referrals from professionals, including probate and family law attorneys, financial planners, tax advisers, and CPAs, can pay huge dividends for your real estate business. I call these people “key connectors.” Offer a free market analysis to these key connectors on any property their clients might be involved in. In turn, eagerly refer your clients to them. One way to maintain top-of-mind awareness is a monthly donut drop-off. It may take some time to get past the office gatekeepers before the opportunity comes for a face-to-face meeting with a key connector to share your unique selling proposition and what makes you stand out from your competition.
Go fishing with non-owner occupied lists.Ask your title rep or do some searching online yourself for lists of homeowners in a particular zip code who have a primary residence in another area or state. Typically, the list will include two property addresses, one physical mailing address to reach the homeowner and a site address for houses located in your target neighborhoods. In some cases, the list may include phone numbers and cell phone numbers. Many of these properties are rental properties. Then, reach out with a hand-written note to these absentee owners asking if they would be interested in selling. Provide them with a market update and the reasons why it would be advantageous to sell now. You will find that some of these individuals are tired of landlord duties and they’re thinking about selling but they could use a local contact for encouragement and motivation.
Your face on Facebook.Facebook offers some of the most cost-effective and precise demographic and behavioral targeting of any advertising median. Readers can be targeted according to a variety of segmentation variables, including interests, behaviors, and income. Facebook even has a behavioral category for people who are “likely to move” (how good is that). Facebook also has a demographic category called “first-time homebuyer.” The beauty of a Facebook ad is that you can continue to layer the targeting becoming even more precise and focused. Then, became a star by recording a short, 1-minute video featuring you and post it to your Facebook ad. Talk about yourself, current market conditions and how you’re available to answer any real estate question. This type of lead generation doesn’t cost very much, typically less than a couple of hundred dollars per month to reach tens of thousands of Facebook users.
Become a handwriting expert.In a world blurred by e-mails, texts and voicemails, a handwritten note asking for referrals is guaranteed to generate new clients and more business. Send a much-loved and appreciated handwritten note to everyone and anyone you know, including friends, business colleagues, parents of your kids’ friends and church members. Ask about their family. Perhaps enclose a $5 Starbucks gift card and ask for a face-to-face meeting. I promise that your note will be read, not discarded like junk mail. A personal note deepens a relationship every time. Ask yourself whether you feel special when someone takes the time to handwrite you a note. The gift to someone is your time, which is your most precious commodity.
Become a walking billboard with name badge.Wherever you go in public, wear your name badge. Let everybody know that you’re in real estate. Don’t believe the critics who say wearing name badges is too old school and too much “retail.” Whether it’s the grocery store, car wash or your kid’s youth sports practices, consumers seem to perceive people with name badges as more approachable. Watch for someone to ask you whether you work in real estate and take it from there (they’re asking you to engage in a conversation); then, have your elevator speech ready about how you love to help people find their dream home. The person who strikes up a conversation is likely to be considering buying or selling a home.
In October, the Board of Directors of the California Association of REALTORS® voted to move forward with a ballot initiative to allow those aged 55 and over to sell their home and buy another, and retain some or all their Proposition 13 property tax savings. To fund the initiative, a required additional $100 for the Issues Fund will be collected with members’ dues for 2018.
Why is this Needed?Under Proposition 13, homeowners are protected from rapidly increasing property taxes. However, seniors, who are often on a fixed income, fear they will not be able to afford a big property tax increase if they sell their existing home and buy another one, discouraging them from ever moving. As a result of this “moving penalty,” almost three-quarters of homeowners 55 and older haven’t moved since 2000. The initiative will allow them to sell their home while keeping some property tax protections, and therefore create homeownership opportunities for young families.
How do property tax assessments work now?The amount any homeowner pays in property taxes is based on the assessed value of their home at the time of purchase. Generally, Proposition 13 limits property taxes to 1 percent of the assessed value at the time of purchase even if the value of the property subsequently increases. Unfortunately, homeowners lose their Proposition 13 property tax savings when they move to another home. Under another law, Proposition 60, senior homeowners – defined as 55 years of age or older – are allowed to transfer their property tax base to another home in the same county so long as the purchase price of the replacement home is equal to, or less than, the sale price of the original residence. Under Proposition 60, a senior homeowner is limited to making only one such transfer over the course of his or her lifetime. And, if the spouse of a senior homeowner has already transferred a property tax base, that senior homeowner is disqualified from making another transfer of the tax base. Proposition 90 is an extension of the original Proposition 60 program. Proposition 90 allows senior homeowners to transfer their property tax base to a home in a different county so long as that county accepts such transfers. (At last count, only 11 counties are accepting transfers from other counties.) Propositions 60 and 90 are relatively limited. That’s where C.A.R.’s property tax base portability initiative comes in.
How will the initiative work?C.A.R.’s Portability Initiative would allow homeowners 55 years of age or older to transfer some of their Proposition 13 property tax base to a home of any price, located anywhere in the state, any number of times.
What’s next?C.A.R. is in the process of hiring a campaign firm to qualify the initiative for the November 2018 general election ballot. In the meantime, C.A.R. will be asking members to help collect signatures on petitions to qualify the initiative. You will receive more information about this effort in the coming week.
Who do I contact with additional questions?Please contact C.A.R. at email@example.com or at (916) 492-5200.
The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.), one of the largest real estate trade organizations in the U.S. with more than 190,000 members, recently undertook a high-visibility campaign against proposed tax reform under consideration by members of Congress. All Association members are encouraged to participate in C.A.R.’s Call to Action. For information, visit www.car.org. C.A.R.’s anti-tax reform campaign gained traction this past week with the purchase of full-page newspaper ads in several of California’s major daily newspapers and national publications, including the San Diego Union-Tribune, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, Bakersfield Californian, Sacramento Bee, Modest Bee and Fresno Bee, as well as The Wall Street Journal’s D.C. edition and Politico’s print edition. The newspaper ads, dated Nov. 14, were formatted as an open letter to President Trump and California’s Congressional Delegation and signed by C.A.R. President Steve White. The full-page newspaper ad stated: “Congress is considering legislation that would punish homeowners, eliminate the financial benefits for homebuyers and leave hundreds of thousands of people across California much worse off than they are today. If the goal of tax reform is to help middle-class Americans keep more of their hard-earned money, this proposal fails miserably. Tax reform shouldn’t hurt Californians, but the House of Representatives proposal does, in a big way. It eliminates important incentives that help first-time homebuyers by capping the Mortgage Interest Deduction, limiting property tax deductibility and changing capital gains exemptions. From theOregon border south to San Diego, working Californians take a beating.” The ad featured a question followed by a response: “How could any member of the California Delegation think this plan is good for the Golden State? The average California house costs two-and-a-half times the national average and housing supply projections show the state will be nearly 3 million houses short by 2020. Only 32 percent of California families are able to purchase a median-priced home. With homeownership already a stretch, or out of reach altogether for so many Californians, now is NOT the time to make owning a home more difficult.” The ad can be viewed by clicking this link, http://www.car.org/aboutus/mediacenter/newsreleases/2017releases/taxreformopenletterad. The ad did not include details from a C.A.R. press release about provisions in the House bill, such as: lowering the mortgage interest deduction cap from $1 million to $500,000; eliminating the mortgage interest deduction on second homes; eliminating moving expenses; eliminating state and local income tax deductions; capping property tax deductions at $10,000; and, extending the capital gains exclusion qualification period from two years to five years. Other features of the House bill included doubling of the standard deduction for couples from $12,700 to $24,000 per family, increasing the child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600 per child and lowing inheritance taxes on large estates. Popular 401(k) retirement savings plans used by many Americans would be unchanged. . According a C.A.R. press release, the Senate bill retains the $1 million mortgage interest deduction but completely eliminates the ability to deduct state and local income taxes, including eliminating property tax deductions. It also contains many of the real estate provisions in the House bill. Also this past week, C.A.R. was joined by members of California’s homebuilding and housing community, including the California Building Industry Association and the California Housing Consortium, in calling attention to the proposed tax reform’s numerous disincentives to homeownership. In a related development, the Orange County Register newspaper this past week published an opinion column by Diane Harkey, chair of the California State Board of Equalization and California’s highest ranking Republican. Harkey wrote in her op/ed: “Unfortunately, the Republican plan in D.C. is mimicking the California model by penalizing professionals, businesses and home ownership for those of us in states with an already high cost of living. It encourages retooling of industries and skewing tax refunds toward less-populated, smaller states with a lower cost of living. The plan reduces tax rates by eliminating worthy incentives to home ownership, which is for most Americans their largest investment and pathway to financial security. “Reductions in corporate tax rates and repatriation of offshore dollars are worthy goals that will stimulate job growth, but our politicians in D.C. seem to be getting lost in ideological warfare to prove that they are not robbing the poor. Transferring benefits to beleaguered states attempting to rekindle manufacturing jobs and allowing ‘refunds’ for taxes that many did not pay is not tax reform. “Elimination of the State and Local Tax deduction will harm the people of California who have worked hard to save and build equity in their homes and communities. Estimates are that property values will drop precipitously, affecting all as the market readjusts. While our state income tax is the highest in the nation, we do thanks to Proposition 13 have the benefit of relatively low property taxes. If property values and assessments drop, communities will be impacted, prodding our legislature to fill the gap by demanding higher property taxes, or local debt to fill the voids. I can envision a spiral effect and blame that will be laid on the doorstep of Republicans in D.C. and those who support them.” Here is a link to Harkey’s op/ed: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/14/california-republicans-in-congress-should-remember-the-no-new-tax-pledge/ On Thursday, Nov. 16, the House of Representatives passed its version of the tax reform bill. The bill, called the Tax Cuts and Job Act, passed 227-205, with every Democrat and 13 Republican members voting no. The House version would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and reduce the number of tax brackets from even to four. It would also recalibrate the tax code to work in similar ways as an international system already used by foreign nations across the globe. House passage is just one step, however. The Senate Finance Committee is working on a separate measure that could be brought to a vote within two weeks. Here is C.A.R.’s statement in response to the House tax bill that passed: “We are disappointed with today’s passage of H.R. 1, the so-called Tax Cut and Jobs Act,” said C.A.R. President Steve White. “This bill is simply a direct attack on California housing and homeownership. Eliminating the incentive for people to buy homes and raising taxes on hundreds of thousands of California homeowners only puts the American dream further out of reach. We support fiscally responsible tax reform but lowering corporate taxes on the backs of middle-class families would be catastrophic. C.A.R. thanks the many courageous California Congressional members who believed their constituents deserved better and voted to do the right thing by opposing the bill.”
How bad is housing affordability? The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) recently reported that home affordability statewide has dropped to its lowest level in a decade, and it’s worse in San Diego County. The 10-year low in purchasing power was blamed on tight housing inventory that has pushed home prices higher. In the third quarter of this year, C.A.R. said only 28 percent of California households could afford the state's $555,680 median-priced home, compared to 29 percent in the second quarter and 31 percent in the third quarter a year ago. In San Diego County, only 26 percent of households could afford to purchase a median-priced home, which remained unchanged from 2016. C.A.R. said it was the 18th consecutive quarter for its statewide Housing Affordability Index (HAI) index to be below 40 percent, and the lowest since the third quarter of 2015. California's housing affordability index hit a peak of 56 percent in the first quarter of 2012. C.A.R.’s HAI measures the percentage of all households that can afford to purchase a median-priced, single-family home in California. The index is considered the most fundamental measure of housing well-being for home buyers in the state. To afford the statewide median-priced single family home of $555,680, a household would need to earn $112,100 annually to make the necessary $2,800 monthly payments, according to C.A.R. The payment includes principal, interest, and taxes on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 4.16 percent. The effective interest rate in the second quarter 2017 was 4.09 percent and 3.76 percent in the third quarter of 2016. The C.A.R. report also said that the affordability of condominiums and townhomes also dipped slightly from 39 percent during the second quarter of 2017 to 38 percent during the third quarter of 2017. To qualify for the purchase of a $440,000 median-priced condominium or townhome, a California resident would need to earn $88,770 to make monthly payments of $2,200. Meanwhile, in other recent real estate news, while affordability has been a long problem in San Diego and the rest of California, Zillow reports the rate of homeownership is still increasing. “Housing costs are rising, competition among buyers is fierce and the number of homes actually available to buy is at historic lows, and still, the U.S. homeownership rate is on the rise, climbing for the second straight quarter to its highest level since 2014 and proving American home buyers are nothing if not tenacious and resourceful,” said Dr. Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist. Also on the bright side, the San Diego real estate market was the fourth “hottest” in the country in October, based on views of online sales listings. The website Realtor.com, the consumer website of the National Association of REALTORS®, reports a typical San Diego property was on the market for just 40 days in October, compared to the national median of 73 days. The only markets hotter than San Diego were also in California, including San Jose-Silicon Valley, Vallejo-Fairfield and San Francisco-Oakland. Regarding home prices, San Diego had the third highest annual home price increase in the nation in August, a distinction not reached since 2014, according to a leading real estate index. San Diego County’s home prices have risen 7.8 percent from August of last year and .09 percent between July and August said Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. Only Seattle and Las Vegas had bigger increases in the 20-city index. In the last two years, the San Diego region has averaged around 10th place in the S&P index, making August’s jump noteworthy. San Diego’s yearly increases outpaced the nationwide gain of 6.1 percent and the rest of California. Seattle had the biggest yearly increase at 13.2 percent, followed by Las Vegas at 8.6 percent. Los Angeles and San Francisco had 6.1 percent increases. The lowest increases were in Chicago at 3.7 percent and Washington, D.C., at 3.4 percent. The indices were created by taking the price of homes in those cities in January 2000, assigning them a value of 100, and tracking their subsequent rise and fall. In August, San Diego’s mark was at 245.55, representing a home value increase of nearly two and a half times over nearly 18 years. Prices have risen at a greater rate only in Los Angeles. Trending nationally, unemployment is continuing to fall, despite the impact in September of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on depressed payrolls in Texas and Florida. The nation’s jobless rate fell a notch further in October to a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. The unemployment figure has fallen sharply this year from 4.8 percent in January, suggesting the long-term expansion in the labor market remains solid under the Trump administration. Taking the last three months together, employers added on average 162,000 jobs a month. That is down slightly from last year and the first half of this year, but still well above what’s needed to absorb the natural increase in the workforce population, the government said.