Home Buying: Is this the right time?

By Mariella Reyes
April 19, 2018

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ismael Chavez of TEAM Chavez Homes at CENTURY 21 Discovery to discuss if this is the right time to buy a home.

“Clients always ask me if this is a good or bad time to buy their home,” CENTURY 21 Discovery’s Real Estate agent, Ismael Chavez says. Eleven years after, buyers entering the market are still shaken up by 2008’s housing bubble. According to Chavez it’s highly unlikely another bubble will happen again because of the fixed interest rates the circumstances are different.

Ismael Chavez began his real estate career in 2007, right before the market crash. “Those were dark times for the real estate industry, but the experience made me a stronger and better REALTOR®. I care about my clients,” he says. Shortly after the housing bubble, he expanded his practice and formed his team of agents operating under the business name of TEAM ChavezHomes at CENTURY 21 Discovery located in Fullerton, CA.

Chavez is optimistic about the future of the industry.

Ismael, what are some tips you can give future home buyers and sellers?

“It’s a seller’s market; we get many buyers but we have a shortage of homes for sale. It’s a great opportunity for those who’ve been thinking of moving and selling their homes. Although there’s never a wrong time to buy, home buyers will have to be competitive and focused during their search!”

We’ve added some extra pointers for both Buyers and Sellers below.  Happy house hunting.

About the Author: Mariella Reyes, is an Independent Content Writer for TEAM ChavezHomes of CENTURY 21 Discovery.  She’s worked as a content writer and producer for brands in the industries of escrow, mobile, fashion, plastic surgery, and beauty, and was the Marketing Coordinator during her time on the Board of Directors for Lean IN Los Angeles in 2016-2017. You can contact her at: mariella.reyesm@gmail.com

 

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CENTURY 21 Rebrand

By Suzy Lins
April 14, 2018

We have been a member of the CENTURY 21® System for 32 years. In March, they introduced a complete rebrand of the 47-year-old company and we are thrilled.

The new look is modern, clean and aligns with the new mission: Defy Mediocrity and Deliver Extraordinary Experiences. This mirrors the mindset we have at CENTURY 21 Discovery that earned us our reputation of quality customer service and integrity.  We are challenging everyone in the industry to be relentless and obsessed with better because ALL our clients deserve it.

The new look was revealed several weeks ago and we just get our hot little hands on the images. I’m like a kid in a candy story and excited as we begin to unveil our brand-new look at CENTURY 21 Discovery. Stay tuned as we roll it out.

Watch this for a sneak peek of our new look!

 

About the author: Suzy Lins is the Communications Director for CENTURY 21 Discovery. For more information about CENTURY 21 Discovery you may call (714) 626-2000.

Century 21 President’s Award

By Stephanie Goedl
February 22, 2018

The CENTURY 21® System presents the prestigious President’s Award to offices, producers and teams achieving both CENTURION® level production and the Quality Service Pinnacle Award in the same year. We are honored to have received this award again in 2017. Thank you Century 21 President and CEO Nick Bailey for this recognition.

 

About the author: Stephanie Goedl is the Chief Operating Officer of CENTURY 21 Discovery. For more information about CENTURY 21 Discovery you may call (714) 626-2000.

Organization 101: How Long to Keep Financial Documents

By New American Funding*
January 29, 2018
Originally published January 15, 2018

(Photo courtesy of New American Funding)

For many of us, the new year comes with resolutions, and getting organized tends to be a popular one. Perhaps not so coincidently, January is also Get Organized Month. Whether your document clutter is in digital or paper form, organizing it so you can find what you need more easily saves time and frustration. But how long should you hold on to this information?

Here are some general guidelines for determining what to keep and what to discard.

Tax Records

Generally, the IRS has three years to request an audit, though that is not set in stone. (See the IRS guidelines here. State tax record guidelines vary by state.) For that reason, you may want to keep at least an electronic file of your final returns indefinitely. When it comes to saving and storing the documents supporting your returns, at least seven years is considered a good practice for straightforward returns. This would include W-2 and 1099 forms, as well as charitable donation receipts.

Bank and Credit Card Documents

In general, most ATM and credit card receipts can be thrown away as soon as they are reconciled to your monthly statement. The exceptions would be if they are needed for business or medical reimbursement reasons or to support tax deductions. Assuming you are like most people and can access old account statements online, if needed, or can request a hard copy from your bank or credit card company, keeping monthly statements for longer than a year is typically unnecessary.

Brokerage Statements and Confirmations

Quarterly brokerage statements should be kept until they can be reconciled with an annual summary. Confirmations of purchases of securities, however, need to be held until the security is sold. At that time, both the purchase and sales confirmations will be used to support either a capital gain or loss on your tax return. Once an investment position is closed out and reported to the IRS, it’s considered a best practice to keep the documentation for seven years.

Bills

In general, you can get rid of a bill once your payment has cleared. However, if you can use it to support a deduction, such as utility bills for a home office, you’ll want to hold on to it. Invoices related to larger purchases, such as a car or appliance, should be retained for as long as you own the item in case you need to file an insurance claim or your proof of purchase is required for a repair covered under a warranty.

Mortgages and Loans

Any mortgage or loan (such as student, auto, or personal) documentation should be kept at least until the loan is paid off and you’ve verified it has been updated on your credit report. After that, you may want to keep the actual document releasing you from the obligation permanently in case proof is needed that it was repaid in full.

The Essentials

There are some documents that should be safely filed away indefinitely. These include birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage licenses, life insurance policies, legal filings, and current wills. Additionally, you may want to share copies of these important documents with the person who has your power of attorney or with your executor.

Protecting Your Information

Whether the documents you’re holding on to are digital or physical, ensure their safety. For physical documents, this means having a designated place, such as a fireproof lockbox or safe deposit box, for storage. Digital files should be backed up regularly, and it may be advisable to copy important, long-term files onto an external drive and store it with physical files.

Keeping your financial and personal documents organized and periodically purging and shredding or permanently erasing those you no longer need not only helps reduce the clutter—paper and electronic—it also can also remind you how far you’ve come financially and inspire you in setting future goals.

*Article reprinted with permission from New American Funding. Licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight under the Residential Mortgage Lending Act – License #4131117 Broker Solutions Inc. dba New American Funding (NMLS #6606) Corporate Office is located at 14511 Myford Road, Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. 800.450.2010

The Brand of the Future

By Joe Lins
October 27, 2017

I recently had the opportunity to chat with new Century 21 President and CEO Nick Bailey. He shared his vision of how this iconic brand is positioning itself to be the brand of the future by being innovative and relevant.

Century 21 is preparing for the next generation of real estate to come. He challenged the brand affiliates to double transactions in the next five years all while having fun.

I’m excited about the future of Century 21 and what we’re doing. Come hang out with the cool kids to see what we’re all about.

Meet Nick and check out our conversation here.


About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services or training we provide contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

Prequalified or Preapproved: Which Is Right For You?

By Nicole Johnson of New American Funding*
September 13, 2017
Originally published on September 12, 2017

(Photo courtesy of New American Funding)

This is it. You’re ready to make the move into homeownership. From all the online searching you’ve done, you know you need to get “pre-something-ed” to prove you are a serious buyer. However, which is it: prequalified or preapproved? Both sound good, but they serve different purposes.

Getting Prequalified

When you ask a Loan Officer to perform a prequalification, you can do it online, by phone, or in person. They’ll ask you to share information, often verbally, on your credit, your income; assets (savings, investments, retirement accounts the amount of equity you have in any real estate you currently own); and the amount of debt you owe.

It’s a conversation that helps establish some financial parameters before you start looking at and making offers on homes by helping you answer two key questions:

  • What price range should I be looking in when I start my search?
  • Am I ready to do this, or do I need to save more or pay down more debt?

While the process is useful, especially for first time homebuyers, it isn’t rigorous enough to distinguish you from the other attendees at an open house or when you request a showing. The reason is that the letter is based off something akin to a “best guess” by the Loan Officer, it’s not reviewed by an Underwriter, and doesn’t address the question that matters most to sellers, Real Estate Agents, and to you: Can they/we expect to be approved for the type of mortgage needed to buy this home?  To answer that, you need to be preapproved.

Preapprovals Open More Doors

The preapproval process is like a test drive before you submit your application for a mortgage. The Loan Officer and an Underwriter will verify the facts and figures you discuss, along with your credit history. This process can also help pinpoint things you might want to improve—or errors that you’ll want to correct—before entering the formal application review process. Loan Officers will also begin looking for mortgage programs that might apply to your financial situation. The preapproval process is more rigorous than a prequalification and because it is fully underwritten, helps ensure your home buying process with go more smoothly.

In addition to ordering your credit report, Loan Officers may ask for copies of:

  • Last year’s W-2s.
  • Current pay stubs.
  • Brokerage and other savings account statements.
  • Your monthly expenses.
  • A current mortgage statement and homeowner’s policy (if applicable).

Once you are preapproved, you’ll receive a letter to share with Real Estate Agents and sellers. After you have an offer accepted on a property, you will still need to officially apply for a mortgage. That review process will involve a deeper dive into the information you’ve already provided, as well as into the specifics of the property itself. Fortunately, having a preapproval also means faster service and turn times to get you into your home sooner, so the official mortgage application is likely to be easier than with just a prequalification.

Why Bother Getting Prequalified?

The prequalification process takes very little time or effort on your part. Any cost is typically limited to that of ordering a credit report. When you already have an idea of the area where you want to look and what type of home you can afford, skipping the prequalification step can make sense. Its best use is as a preliminary step for those who need a starting point.

By comparison, for most buyers, a preapproval is a step they shouldn’t skip. Having a letter from a lender that states you are preapproved can be especially helpful in neighborhoods where the existing home inventory is tight…and when the home you are looking at is perfect. Being preapproved makes it easier for the seller to accept your offer over that of a buyer that hasn’t taken this extra step.

*Article reprinted with permission from New American Funding. Licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight under the Residential Mortgage Lending Act – License #4131117 Broker Solutions Inc. dba New American Funding (NMLS #6606) Corporate Office is located at 14511 Myford Road, Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. 800.450.2010

LinkedIn Pro Tips

By Guest Blogger
August 13, 2017
*This was originally published on the official blog of Century 21® on August 11, 2017

As the real estate industry continues to further embrace social media and technology in general, LinkedIn is quickly becoming one of the most valuable digital tools in an agent’s arsenal. LinkedIn is built for networking, and luckily for us, that’s one of the things we, as agents, do best. Here are a few “pro tips” that will help you become a LinkedIn expert in no time.

Choose the right photos.

When you are choosing a profile photo or an image to post with your content, make sure it is clear, professional, and consistent with your brand and your business.

Optimize your bio for real estate.

Once you upload your professional profile picture, it’s time to tackle your bio. Make sure this section lets prospects know who you (a real estate professional) are and what you will be sharing on LinkedIn. The bio is also a great place to let your personality shine through the screen.

Include your awards and accolades.

Don’t be afraid to exercise your bragging rights. In fact, LinkedIn has an entire profile section devoted to accomplishments. This section is where you share your awards, your brokerage’s awards, certifications, and courses.

Use media files efficiently.

When editing your profile, you can add media files as part of your page. These media files show up as actionable thumbnails which are great for displaying assets like your website. For the most clicks, put these files right below your summary section.

Publish content to generate leads.

One of the most important pieces of your LinkedIn profile is the content that you are sharing on it. Instead of going too heavy on listings, try to share articles that offer valuable real estate tips and advice from you or another reputable source.

Build your network.

Start by connecting with your network of realtors and brokers, then connect with their connections and so on. Your email contact list is also a great place to establish LinkedIn connections. If you would like to identify some more quality connections, use LinkedIn’s “Advanced Search” feature. It allows you to specify keywords and the location of where you would like to search for connections.

Implement these tips and techniques to establish connections and generate leads for your business through LinkedIn!

*Article reprinted with permission of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.

Who’s YOUR Super Squad?

By Joe Lins
June 16, 2017

Real estate agents wear a lot of different hats and manage multiple things throughout each real estate transaction. They’re kind of like a Super Hero. Successful real estate agents have a team of professionals behind them that they rely on to assist with the process. For a smooth transaction to occur a lot of behind-the-scenes activity takes place. Agents must interact with and coordinate everything from the escrow company, lender, and transaction coordinator to the termite company, painter and home inspectors to name just a few. And if a transaction runs into a snag, the agent should be able to turn to their broker or manager for guidance. Many clients are unaware of all the work that takes place on their behalf.

Our CENTURY 21 Discovery agents are fortunate to have an on-site team that they can depend on. They have full access to this team without going through a gate-keeper or being left on hold or waiting for someone to return an email. We call them our #SuperSquad.  Our agents know that at every step of the transaction we’ve got their back.  Every great real estate agent needs a #SuperSquad like this. Who’s yours?

Joe Lins

 

About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services or training we provide contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

Follow the 80/20 Rule for Success in your Real Estate Career

By Stephanie Goedl
June 8, 2017

This is video number four in our series “When Preparation Meets Opportunity.” This one covers what really IS our job as REALTORS®. A lot of people get this a little bit confused and find themselves wandering in this crazy game but I have a couple of tips to keep you on track. First remember, mornings are for creating business and afternoons are for doing business.

When you get into what your job actually is there are five items that you should spend 80% of your time focusing on and learn to master.

Prospecting and Lead Follow Up:
The first one is prospecting and lead follow-up. What category does that fall under? Easy, creating business. If you’re not doing this crucial part of your business in the morning, you won’t have any business to do in the afternoon. So make sure this is your number one priority each and every day. You wake up every day at 0…unemployed. What are you going to do every single day to get that job?

Presenting:
The second part of our job is presenting, going on those appointments. Guess what? We can’t do that without prospecting. Practice your presentation skills.

Negotiate Contracts:
The third part of our job is to negotiate contracts. Once you find yourself prospecting, you’re getting more appointments and you’ll start to negotiate more and more so that is something you definitely want to master.

Conversations with Sellers:
Number four is being able to ask for price reductions.  Sometimes that’s a difficult conversation to have with our sellers but that is a part of our job that we do need to master as well.

Qualify your Buyers:
Number five is to work with highly qualified buyers. This is something that is so important to our business. By highly qualified I mean you’ve taken the time to ask the right questions and not just pre-qualify with your lender but pre-qualified them as far as knowing what they want, their time frames, and make sure all the decision-makers are there so you don’t find yourself spinning your wheels for months at a time.

For new agents I have a tip for you, if you spend two weeks on number one, prospecting and lead follow-up, I guarantee you numbers 2-5, the presenting, negotiating, price reductions and working with highly qualified buyers are going to fall into place. You will find yourself busy, productive and successful as well.

Those 5 things that I just mentioned, that’s really where you should spend 80% of your time as agents. The rest of your time, that 20%, should be spent on administrative parts of your job: your paperwork, working with your transaction coordinator, the other agents, etc.  A lot of agents get that switched so they’ll spend 80% of time on their paperwork and let the other parts of our job fall by the wayside and then they start at Ground Zero again. Remember spend 80% of your time on the creating your business part and 20% of your time on the administrative and you will be very successful. So with that, thank you and I hope you picked up some great tips.

 

About the author: Stephanie Goedl is the Chief Operating Officer of CENTURY 21 Discovery. For more information about CENTURY 21 Discovery you may call (714) 626-2000.

The Value of a CRM

By Joe Lins
June 1, 2017

Let’s talk about the value of a CRM (Client Relation Management System) and how you can utilize it to help you have a successful real estate career. Check out this short video from our Preparation Meets Opportunity series.

Joe Lins photo

 

About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services or training we provide contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

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