To pull or not to pull?

When one of the largest real estate brokerages in the U.S. announced last year it was pulling its listings from national real estate portals like and Trulia, it got the industry’s attention.

Some brokers have complained about the advertisements that third-party listing portals run next to their listings. But Minnesota-based Edina Realty Inc. was the first large brokerage to sever ties with all of them, saying the move was good for competition locally and it hoped to boost traffic to its own website.

Housing recovery hinges on mortgage supply

Markets are very quiet despite the usual first-week-of-month flood of new data. In the last week the 10-year T-note has not traded above 1.63 percent nor below 1.58 percent, and mortgages are holding just below 3.5 percent depending on borrower and property.

The November payroll survey estimate arrived with a 146,000-job gain. That’s better than forecast but garbled by Sandy, and we cannot know whether up or down. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, but may have been more distorted by Sandy than payrolls: The percent of unemployed fell because the surveyed workforce shrank.

Open Home Pro now available on iPhone

Open Home Pro — the developer of an iPad app that helps real estate agents capture and manage open house-sourced leads — has launched a iPhone version of the app today that features the near-instant ability to post and share new listings.

"We tried to think of something different (for the iPhone version of the app)," said Andrew Machado, founder and CEO of Open Home Pro.

5 tax tips for giving to charity

In a previous column we covered the tax ramifications of making holiday gifts to clients or other business associates.

Of course, you’re not limited to making gifts to people you do business with. You can also give to family, friends and charity. Gifts to family, friends and other individuals are never tax deductible. Gifts to charity can be deductible — but only if you follow the rules.

Agents with ‘cloud-based’ brokerage eXp Realty get access to meeting spaces

How can "cloud-based" real estate brokerages provide agents with a brick-and-mortar space to meet with clients or call home while on the road?

Bellingham, Wash.-based eXp Realty says it’s meeting that need by providing its brokers and agents with free access to Regus Business Lounges in more than 1,200 locations in 550 cities and 95 countries around the world.

12 fire safety tips to heed during winter

A cozy fire in the winter is something we all enjoy, but only when it’s confined to the fireplace. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that winter residential building fires result in approximately 945 deaths and 3,845 injuries each year, along with an estimated $1.7 billion in property damage.

We’re closing our homes up for the winter. We’re cooking indoors more, and using fireplaces and heaters with greater frequency. Holiday decorations are going up. The potential for a fire in your home is no joke, especially this time of year. And statistically, the peak occurrences for residential building fires in the winter comes between 5 and 8 p.m., so it doesn’t take a lot of reading between the lines to visualize the human error factors at work.

Trulia adds 3-D map view in upgraded Android apps

Real estate marketplace Trulia’s free Android phone and tablet apps now offer 3-D Google Maps display and integrate neighborhood information like crime data, school information and nearby amenities in map view.

With the update, Trulia Android app users will be able to see crime data via heat maps, school attendance boundary zones, and other information like nearby restaurants for the first time, said Steven Yarger, director of mobile at Trulia.

. … lets buyers search for ‘prelisted’ homes, a real estate transaction communication and listing platform that once focused only on distressed properties, now allows homebuyers search for properties not yet listed for sale in a multiple listing service (MLS).

About 20 percent of the 85,000 listings in the network are exclusively "prelisted" on the site by its 200,000 users, said Todd Mobraten, president and chief operating officer of

Get the upper hand on clutter

I have spent a lot of time in the past year getting rid of stuff. By stuff, I mean things that I bought or was given that I no longer use, or never used at all.

There is a lot less stuff in my home now than there was at the beginning of the year. The less I have, the more convinced I become that having less is better.

Government’s MBS purchases keep lid on mortgage rates

Mortgage rates stayed at or near record lows this week, as the Federal Reserve continued a program to buy up $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each month.

The government’s open-ended MBS purchases — part of a third round of quantitative easing ("QE3") announced by the Fed on Sept. 13 — have helped push mortgage rates into record low territory. Most members of the Fed’s Open Market Committee are expected to vote to maintain those purchases when they meet next week.

Compensating for tenant-repairman injuries

Q: When I rented the house we live in from the landlord, I agreed to do certain repairs if needed. Last week, a windstorm broke a window, and I said I’d replace it. While removing the old glass, I accidentally cut myself and had to go to the emergency room for stitches. The bill is several hundred dollars — shouldn’t the landlord pay for it? I don’t want to make a claim on my own insurance policy. –Dave R.

A: It’s not unusual for landlords to offload some repair responsibilities to tenants in single-family rentals. Several states provide for this, but require that any agreement be entered into "in good faith." This is to prevent landlords from foisting repair duties onto unwilling tenants.

3 considerations before liquidating a rental property

Q: We have a house we need to put on the market. It’s a ranch house, built in 1964, about 3,000 square feet. We don’t live in it now, but we did for 10 years. We are going over today to patch the holes and prep to paint the entire upstairs, but it needs a ton of work and it seems insurmountable. Where do we even start? We’re novices at this.

We thought maybe having a rental for extra income when we’re retired would be great. The issue is that we’re not great landlords … we just don’t know what we’re doing. We do have a standard rental agreement drawn up by our lawyer, but I think our plan now is to just get rid of it. I hesitate to sink money into it, but I know a real estate agent is going to tell us we have to. Someone may rent it in its current state, but we would take a bath if someone bought it like this.

Don’t let expertise cost you listings

Eric Berne’s "The Games People Play" has powerful implications for how you conduct your real estate business, especially when it comes to the issue of resolving conflict. The question is, "Which games are you playing?"

Berne identified three different styles in which you can approach a "transaction" (i.e., a communication between two different people.) The three different approaches are "Adult," "Parent" and "Child."

Pros’ guide to patching driveway cracks

Q: We bought our house in 1980, and it was built in 1939. I don’t know how old our concrete driveway is, but it has many cracks that weeds are growing from. Over the years the cracks have gradually gotten bigger. Money is tight and we would rather not have to replace the entire driveway. Is there a way to repair those cracks? I’m not looking for a perfect solution. Any advice you can give will be most appreciated.

A: No need to replace the driveway. Patching the cracks will slow down the deterioration and give your driveway many more years of useful life.

3 attitude adjustments everyone should make now

A friend of mine has two remarkable little girls, ages 5 and 8, and they have very different personalities. The youngest is spritely, whimsical and exuberant. The oldest is brilliant, methodical and mightily capable. She taught me how to tie a square knot. She’s wont to say things like, "Tara, I can row from this side of the bay to that one, in a boat the size of a bathtub. By myself." And she can.

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate enters Kansas

Prudential Kansas City Realty, an independently owned and operated 425-agent firm with more than $1 billion in annual sales, has reaffiliated with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, the companies announced today.

Based in Overland, Kan., the six-office brokerage will now do business as Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes. It’s the 15th brokerage to join the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate franchise network this year and the first franchisee for the brand in Kansas.