Real Estate

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

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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.

Marketing a Listing

By Suzy Lins
April 19, 2017

Don’t be a secret agent with a listing nobody knows about! As soon as you take a listing let everyone know about it. First, you need great photos of the home. Hire a professional photographer. You can hire a good photographer for about $200-300. For more photos or larger homes the price goes up. Get a video made of the listing too. Century 21 creates a video slideshow set to music for every listing that has 6 or more photos. If you have a high end listing consider getting a drone video. Keep in mind that these images are in investment in you and your business. You’ll be able to use them when you go on your next listing presentation because that would-be client will not be impressed by photos taken on your phone vertically.

Now that you have your photos, maybe a video or drone images too, this is how you get the word out.

Email blast

Send an email to your database to let them know about the listing. The email should include a great visual image of the home or an embedded video with some details and the price. Include a Call To Action (CTA) in the email like: “Call/Text me for a tour” or “Do you know someone looking in this neighborhood?”

Send an email blast like the one above to all the agents you know. Add the agents in your office to your database as well as agents you meet at Open Houses, Broker Previews, etc.  The CTA should obviously be different, something like: “Do you have a buyer looking in this neighborhood?”

Facebook
To promote your business or to create an ad on Facebook you need to have a Facebook Business Page. Use these strategies to get the word out about the listing via Facebook.

Make a JUST LISTED post on your business page. Again, use a great visual image or video of the property. Don’t stop there. After you make the post go back and BOOST it to target the specific area and demographic that you want to reach beyond your Facebook followers.

Another option is to create an ad on Facebook about the JUST LISTED property. Creating an ad from scratch, rather than boosting a post, allows you to put multiple images in the ad (carousel ad) or a video plus you can target the ad to reach a more specific demographic. Here’s an example of what I mean: You have a $2 million+ listing on a golf course – target the ad to reach people with the income level needed to buy that home who like to golf AND who are likely to move.

The great thing about advertising on Facebook is that for dollars a day you can get your listing in front of the right people. An added bonus is that you have the option for your ads to appear on Instagram too. When Facebook bought Instagram they added this option. You need to have an Instagram account in order for your ads to appear there.

Other Social Media
If you use any other social media channels for your business get it out there too.

For Instagram, place an ad discussed above or you can post an image of the property with details. Instagram does not have the ability to include a hyperlink in the posts. Instead, direct them to your Instagram profile and include a hyper link there back to the property website.

For Twitter or Google +, post about your new listing with a link back to a video of the property or a property website. At Century 21 every listing automatically gets a Unique Property Website that has a URL using the property address. If you have a YouTube channel, upload the property video and share it on your social media sites.

Meet the Neighbors

After you take the listing get out there and introduce yourself to the neighbors on either side of the home. There’s something called the 5-5-5 rule. Knock on the door of the 5 houses to left, 5 houses to the right and 5 houses across the street and let those neighbors know you just listed a house on their street. Invite them to an upcoming Open House and ask if they know of anybody who has been looking to move into that neighborhood. This is a great opportunity to ask them if they’ve considered selling their home. If so, they’re going to be watching very closely how you market their neighbor’s property.

Print Marketing
Some “old school” marketing would be a “Just Listed” postcard to people who live in that area. You can mail it but if you door drop it yourself it’s a great way to meet people in the neighborhood. You can also place an ad in the local newspaper showcasing the listing. Print marketing is expensive compared to online marketing so use it wisely.

Open House
Now that you got the word out about your new listing you need to have an Open House. Again, you need to get the word out about it. Use the same tactics listed above for an email blast, Facebook post and BOOST and a Facebook ad. Just tweak it for the Open House. Next, create an EVENT on Facebook. List the date & time of the Open House along with all the details and invite your friends. Promote the Facebook event by selecting your audience and budget and you’re good to go.

Make your Open House an event. Make sure you have a lot of signs directing people to the property. Add some balloons and include food. Invite the neighbors to the Open House. Do a give-away for a gift card for people who sign in and give you their contact info. Consider doing a Facebook LIVE video from the Open House too.

Broker Preview
Put it in your office caravan or local broker preview. At CENTURY 21 Discovery we have regular sales meetings followed by a caravan of our new listings. At our meetings the agents have an opportunity to “Pitch” a property that is not on the market yet. We also have several broker previews in our area that allow agents from any office to place their listing on the weekly caravan.

Most of these marketing strategies cost very little except time and creativity on your part. You’ll be a real estate marketing guru and your seller is going to love you! Do you have any marketing strategies to add? Please share in the comments.

 

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.

One of “Those Days” in Real Estate

By Joe Lins
February 6, 2017

Whether or not your team won the Super Bowl yesterday, today is one of “those days” in residential real estate.  It’s a day that historically the real estate market just “picks up” for the new year.  Inquiries become appointments, Sellers are ready, open houses have more traffic and Buyers are just more interested!

Real Estate Agent at an Open House

Other examples of these kind of eventful days are tax day [April 15], the day kids start summer vacation, the 4th of July and Memorial Day to name a few.  Hopefully, you have been diligently working and are already on your way to accomplishing your 2017 goals.  At CENTURY 21 Discovery we are focused on a positive attitude, accountability, listening to our Clients and understanding their goals, and continuing our education through Coaching and Learning Sessions.

As of today there are 32 NFL Teams whose goal is to win the Super Bowl in 2018 and only one will hold the trophy at the end of the game.  They have already begun the preparation. Are you prepared? I invite you to take a closer look at what we are all about at CENTURY 21 Discovery and how we can assist you in achieving your goals in 2017.

JoeLins

 

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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

What Drives Mortgage Rates?

By Chris Smith
September 27, 2016

There are many things that drive mortgage rates available to Buyers. Some things are out of your control: National Employment Patterns, the Stock Market, actions of the Federal Reserve, natural disasters and geopolitical or global events.

Let’s focus on the things you CAN control to get the mortgage rate that fits your budget and allows you to get into that home you want.

what-drives-mortgage-rates

Credit Score
The better your credit score the lower your interest rate. Having a high credit score makes you a more favorable borrower in the eyes of the lender. First, find out what your credit score is. Then try improving your credit score before you start the loan application process. Talk to your loan consultant on ways you can improve your score.

Down Payment
There are a lot of low down payment options for borrowers. What you may not know is that if you increase your down payment on the home you are buying you can secure a lower interest rate. This can ultimately save you more money over the life of the loan.

Size of the Loan
The amount of money you borrow can impact the interest rate.  A larger loan amount will usually have a higher interest rate. The reason for this is because paying back a larger loan amount will likely take long and there is more at stake for the lending organization.

Type of Property and Occupancy
Loan pricing is slightly lower for single family homes compared to condominiums. Owner occupied loans also have lower rates than non-owner or investment properties.

The best way to understand all your options regarding interest rates is to talk to a loan consultant BEFORE you start your home search.

chrissmith2014

 

About the Author: Chris Smith is a Senior Mortgage Consultant (NMLS  #253394) with New American Funding. For more information about home financing you may contact him at 714.401.5921. 

Best Practices for Real Estate Brokers and Agents

By Joe Lins
August 24, 2016

I had the opportunity to sit down with Laurie Popp of Century 21® to discuss best practices I use within my real estate business at CENTURY 21 Discovery. We discussed advice for brokers and managers, creating the type of office culture that allows the agents to succeed and advice to agents just starting out in the business.

Brokers and managers need to be available to their agents. We need to communicate with them how they want to be communicated with (email, text, voice mail, in person). Get back to them right away. We need to set a good example as their leader. This is what the consumer wants and the agents need to learn to have a quick response time.

I’ve been accused of being “Old School” and I think that’s a compliment. Our office culture mixes the old with the new. We take advantage of the tools and technology Century 21 has to offer and we teach our agents how to use these tools. It’s not just about who has the latest technology. We also teach them the good old-fashioned skill sets they need to have in this business: negotiating, time management, preparation, etc.

My advice to new agents is to invest in yourself. Hone your leadership skills and have passion for what you do. Most importantly, be ethical and moral. I don’t believe that real estate agents are going to go away. It’s not a common purchase. It’s not buying an airline ticket or a pair of shoes online. It’s a lengthy process and a good agent is needed to help the consumer navigate the process.

JoeLins

 

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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

Last-Minute Open House Cleaning Tips

By Guest Blogger
July 14, 2016
This was originally published on the official blog of Century 21® on February 19, 2016

Your open house is almost underway! You’ve already made sure your home is warm and inviting and you’ve taken time to carefully stage it. Now, here are some last minute cleaning tips to quickly spruce up any areas you may have missed.

OpenHouseCleaningTips

Prep for Pets
You may be ready for your open house, but your four legged friends might have other ideas. Perform a last minute inspection of any areas your pets frequent to make sure they haven’t left an unpleasant surprise somewhere in your home. Also, pet hair has a way of showing up unexpectedly. Vacuum carpets and sweep any floors with a rubber broom to clean up debris that may have gathered since your last cleaning.

Check Your Entryway
Although you may have painted your front door and meticulously cleaned your home’s entryway in the days before your open house, recheck it on open house day. Be sure to check for marks on your door, damaged plants, disheveled door mats, and unexpected messiness that may have accumulated in front of your home since you last inspected it.

Clean Up After Kids
If children happen to be in your home during the hours leading up to your open house, you may want to check for additional messes before potential buyers arrive. Look at your lower windows for finger smudges, which can be cleaned quickly with a cleaning agent and microfiber cloth. Also check your doorway for dirt, and look at the lower part of your walls for crayon streaks or other stains.

Ready Your Refrigerator
While easy to overlook, the inside of your refrigerator should be as neat and clean as the rest of your kitchen. Make sure it isn’t full of half consumed food or overstocked to the point where it looks cluttered. Additionally, any fridge magnets should be removed to further depersonalize your home for potential buyers.

Care for Your Lawn
Last minute removal of lawn debris can make your home more appealing and may attract more buyers. Depending on the season, eradicate lawn clutter with a leaf blower, a rake or a snow blower. If you’re too busy for exterior home cleaning, consider hiring someone to do it for you, so you can focus on the interior of your home.

These last minute cleaning tips may help your home shine brighter on open house day.

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