Inman Real Estate News for Realtors and Brokers 2021-01-23T13:17:46Z WordPress Stacey Soleil <![CDATA[Recovering from COVID-19? 10 tips for returning to work]]> 2021-01-23T00:28:21Z 2021-01-24T10:00:31Z Take the time to thank your body daily for working hard to fight off the virus, and adopt these workflow strategies to improve your productivity and post-COVID sluggishness.

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Here we are at the one-year mark of the global pandemic, and what once felt distant and “thankfully not happening to me” is now touching approximately 1 in every 5 Americans.

If you’re like me, and have been affected by the virus personally (you can follow my COVID-19 journey here), you know firsthand how the workflow struggles can vary greatly day to day during your recovery.

This uncertainty and stress can generate a ton of anxiety for any real estate professional, especially if you’re typically the driven, go-to person everyone counts on for answers and results. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the of the most commonly reported long-term effects of COVID-19 are unrelenting brain fog, fatigue, muscle soreness, headaches, anxiety and depression.

Now, you may be reading this article thinking, “Wait, brain fog and fatigue? Isn’t that something all of us deal with late afternoon or after a virtual meeting or Zoom training?” Although that’s certainly true to a certain degree, for those of us recovering from the novel coronavirus, this type of late-day sluggishness can actually persist all day long.

Medical professionals are still discovering the ins and outs of the virus, new findings tend to pop up daily. However, one of the biggest questions presented by those affected by the virus is: Why does COVID-19 cause neurological symptoms?

According to the preliminary data shared by the Henry Ford Health System, we’ve learned that:

“COVID-19 is neuro-invasive, meaning the virus itself can invade the brain and nearby nerves. Something as simple as loss of smell, which is a symptom of COVID-19, indicates a neuro invasion because the nerves that are responsible for smell are in direct connection with brain. The virus can induce a large-scale immune response and that immune response can cause a cytokine storm, which is an excessive mobilization of the immune system.”

As a busy real estate professional, this type of workflow disruption can clearly cause underlying professional anxiety, especially considering that our daily roles require us to be master multitaskers and solvers of seemingly all problems. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Below are our 10 tips for returning to work post-COVID-19.

1. Up your communication game

Internally: Brokerage, support staff and teammates

This may seem like a no-brainer (no pun intended), but take a few moments at the beginning of each week to check in with your broker, support staff and team. Let them know where you’re at in your recovery, and share with them some of the hurdles you’re currently facing.

Even if you’re typically super private, giving those who support you the opportunity to better understand where you’re at in the healing process will give them the information they need to prioritize their asks of you.

Externally: Clients and social media

First and foremost, make sure you’re following your state-mandated guidelines regarding quarantine timeframes, and certainly don’t go out into the field to meet with clients until you meet the requirements for both your state and brokerage. (Those terms vary state to state and brokerage to brokerage.)

Some of you may choose to keep your struggle with COVID-19 private, while others may be more public about their journey. Whichever path you choose, even though your No. 1 priority needs to be about health and safety, you also want to make sure you’re sharing a tone of reassurance to your clients.

You’ll want to clearly convey to onlookers that you are now healthy, safe to be around and fully capable of fulfilling their needs. If you plan to conduct in-person meetings, take the time to revisit your COVID-19 safety plan, and regularly share and reinforce your protocols on social media to reassure everyone that you’re taking the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe.

If you’re working exclusively in virtual world, be sure to regularly share what no-contact services you currently have available, and give specific examples about how this mode of online service has been successful for your clients over the past year.

2. Adopt coworking and delegation strategies

Now that you’ve got your communication dialed in, you’ll want to consider what areas of your business do you tend to get overwhelmed by easily. Is it posting on social media? Entering data into the MLS? Setting up direct mailers? Reviewing contracts? Scheduling inspections?

Take inventory of the things that require the most time, and look to see who in your office you can partner with to ensure your clients’ needs are always met in a timely manner. If you don’t have access to teammates, consider utilizing a platform, such as BrokerAssist, to gig out some of the parts of your business that tie you down.

Another option is to delegate out non-real-estate-related tasks to a virtual assistant. Popular platforms used by many agents are Fiverr or Upwork. Services such as these are typically very affordable. Even when you’re 100 percent back in the game, you may continue this practice of delegation once you realize how incredibly helpful hiring a virtual assistant can be.

3. Practice time-blocking

Getting back into the flow of things post-COVID can be really overwhelming, especially if you spent a lot of time on bed rest and had experienced an interrupted sleep schedule.

Ease some of your own anxiety about feeling nonproductive or forgetting something by using your calendar app to book appointments for yourself throughout the day. For instance, you might schedule coffee and emails (8 a.m. to 9 a.m.), clients calls (10 a.m. to 11 a.m.), contract review (1 p.m. to 2 p.m.), social media (3 p.m. to 4 p.m.), etc.

Also, try to challenge yourself to accomplish at least one difficult task each day. By setting this healthy boundary with yourself, you’ll be less likely to wrestle with relapse exhaustion. Moreover, you’ll be productive enough that you’ll find yourself caught up in no time flat.

4. Move around, and change your scenery

One of the biggest challenges of jumping back into work mode is the strain that staring at a computer screen can place on your eyes. One of the easiest hacks to avoid eye fatigue (which, by the way, often leads to headaches) is to set an alert on your phone that reminds you to take a break every hour.

Whether it’s walking to the other side of the house and looking out the window for a few minutes, or physically taking your laptop with you and working from a different part of the house for a bit, these small scenery changes not only give your eyes a temporary break, they also trick your brain into thinking you’re doing something new and exciting.

Also, consider adding some plants to your workspace. Even the simple act of rearranging plants on your desk can work in a pinch as well. (Personally, I love to mix in some colorful flowers in mini vases all over the place to create a happy and fragrant perspective-changer!)

5. Integrate daily stretching

Don’t worry; I’m not suggesting that you should shirk your career responsibilities and suddenly turn into a hardcore workout Barbie or Ken. However, since the brain fog element is typically partnered with headaches and neck stiffness, during one of your hourly mini breaks, roll out your yoga mat, and stretch your limbs for a few minutes.

Simple stretches can not only aid in your recovery process, but they may also help you fight off future sickness as well as generate an immediate improvement in your overall feeling of wellness. (That said, always make sure to consult your physician through your recovery process). 

One of the most user-friendly resources I’ve found during my own recovery process was provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Kim Barker, M.D., associate professor in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, shared some really great tips and short videos on simple stretches anyone can do from home that will aid in your post-COVID recovery process.

If you’re not a big fan of traditional stretches, head over to your doorway, extend your arms to the top of the door frame, and bend into a stretch. Or maybe just alternate hanging your heels off a bottom stair while holding onto the sidewall or rail. Even little stretches like these will help boost your productivity while increasing your overall mobility as you continue the healing process.

6. Snack on healthy foods

Another challenge for busy and healthy real estate professionals on the go (or just consistently buried by workload), no less those recovering from COVID-19, is finding the time to eat.

As rudimentary as it may seem, according to, with a little bit of preparation, we can continue our healing process while working, gain mental clarity and prevent relapses by equipping ourselves with healthy snacking options that can assist in the anti-inflammatory process.

Instead of grabbing popular go-to snacks — think: granola bars, buttery or cheddar-like crackers, popcorn and coffee drinks — consider stocking your kitchen with hard-boiled eggs, avocados, toasted chickpeas, black bean soups, hummus, nut butters, almonds and even dark chocolate squares.

7. Don’t forget your vitamins

This is the part of the article where I realize I probably sound like a total mom — “Don’t forget to take your vitamins, kids!” But seriously, consider consulting with your physician about adding vitamins (as well as the recommended dietary dose) to your recovery plan. 

There’s some evidence to support the practice of adding a variety of immunity boosting supplements (like vitamin D, B, C, elderberry, melatonin and zinc) into your daily routine. In fact, if you were using any of these during your treatment phase, don’t forget to continue the process during recovery phase as well, if your doctor recommends it.

Just because you’re starting to feel better doesn’t mean your body still doesn’t need those extra nutrients to keep on fighting. Pro tip: Consider talking to your physician about shifting your melatonin intake back to before bedtime so you don’t make yourself drowsy during the workday.

8. Try mini meditations

During one of your daily breaks, consider a quick meditation. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated. It can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on something that brings you joy. You could also tune into a meditation playlist on your music streaming service. (However, I’d recommend focus or energizing music versus relaxing. You don’t want to fall asleep!) 

There’s also an iPhone app called “Smiling Mindthat you may find useful. It’s a free meditation app developed by psychologists and educators that offers a wide variety of simple meditation programs for all ages. It’s particularly useful if your anxiety is virus-related.

9. Get some fresh air

This is probably one of the easiest solutions to ward off fatigue, brain fog and anxiety, but for some reason, this easy practice is the one we, as real estate professionals, tend to forget to do most often.

According to The Joint Chiropractic, simply stepping outside to breathe in some fresh air (or somewhat fresh, as I live just outside Los Angeles, and my air is likely less awesome than most of yours), quickly energizes, boosts our mood, increases oxygen flow to our brain and instantly brings clarity to even the foggiest of minds.

Oh, and guess what? Even a little bit of movement outside can help build up our immune systems. Even if it’s raining or cold outside, grab your galoshes, your umbrella or your winter coat, and reap the benefits of good ole Mother Nature for a few minutes here and there throughout your workday.

10. Be kind to yourself

Last but not least, give yourself the room to be less than perfect. You might find that tasks that used to take you an hour to complete now take you three. Or maybe your creativity or problem-solving skillsets feel sporadic or completely nonexistent.

Instead of getting super flustered and beating yourself up, consider tracking every little thing you accomplish during the day. From the moment you wake up, until the moment you go to sleep, make a note of every time you complete something new (you brushed your teeth, made the kids breakfast, responded to 10 emails, completed a contract, scheduled social posts, did digital door-knocking, returned phone calls, ate lunch, checked the mail, did a load of laundry, took out the trash, loaded the dishwasher, texted clients, sent out thank-you cards). 

Whatever it is you did, use your talk-to-text feature on your cell phone, and record your mini wins into the notes app on your phone. This simple practice of noticing everything you accomplish — big and smallwill help you shift your mindset and recognize just how much you actually do in a day. You’ll be surprised. 

Over time, it will help you shift and adjust your daily habits when you’re trying to figure out where your time is best spent and where your time has gone. I use this trick often, and I promise you — it really works!

In conclusion, whether you choose to adopt one or two of these strategies, or you decide to make a total overhaul and adopt them all, don’t forget to regularly pat yourself on the back for your courage and strength in fighting off this virus.

Take the time to thank your body daily for working hard to fight off COVID-19, and for keeping you strong and healthy. For most of us, no matter how difficult some of our post-COVID workdays have been or will be, it’s helpful to keep in mind that this is just a temporary side effect that will eventually fade in time.

Stacey Soleil is a marketing and technology director with WEST, a Williston Financial Group Company, in California. Connect with her on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Katie Lance <![CDATA[Revamping your social media? 5 absolute necessities for 2021]]> 2021-01-21T23:43:54Z 2021-01-23T10:00:28Z If you're in the throes of revamping your social media strategy and are wondering what to focus on, look no further. Here, social media expert Katie Lance gives her top social media tips for 2021.

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If you’re revisiting your social media strategy this year, you’re probably curious about the most important things real estate agents and brokers need to focus on.

In my latest video, I shared my best advice for how to make the most out of your social media strategy. These are five things that I predict are going to make a huge impact in 2021. 

Tip 1: Get on camera

It’s time! Time to get on camera, whether it’s YouTube, IGTV, Instagram Stories, Facebook or all of the above. Done is better than perfect — start with where you are at. The agents and brokers who embrace getting on camera consistently are going to connect with their communities better and attract more business.

Looking for inspiration? Check out RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos’ channel. I love that he publishes his podcast content here, providing really valuable business, real estate and life lessons. Todd Sachs with Sachs Realty is another great example. I love the video interviews and YouTube Live sessions he hosts. 

Just getting started? Check out Realtor Jen Sylvester. The first few videos she produced this year are helpful and super relevant to her audience. She’s already getting great feedback on them.

Tip 2: Be a storyteller

It can’t just be all about your listings — I can find those facts anywhere. Tell me the story of how you got into real estate or a story about your client. Be a better storyteller, and your engagement will skyrocket as you cut through the noise of social media. Looking for ideas for stories? Here are a few to spark your creativity:

  • Who was your most memorable client, and why?
  • Who was the first buyer you represented? What about the first seller?
  • How did that experience affect you? What were the lessons you learned?
  • How long have you been in real estate?
  • What are the lessons you’ve learned over the years?
  • How did you get into real estate?
  • What is the thing that you love most about real estate — more than anything else? What drives you crazy about real estate?
  • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Who gave it to you, and why?
  • Where was your first listing?
  • What do you remember about your first sale?

Tip 3: Embrace Instagram

Instagram is growing by leaps and bounds. The biggest mistake I see Realtors make is missing out on all the real estate available — it’s not just about the feed. Embrace IG Stories, Reels, Guides, IG Live, IGTV and more. I can’t tell you how much my Instagram has exploded, and I think it will continue to do that in 2021 and beyond.

Looking for inspiration? Check out Realtor Roy Powell. I love that he showcases his listings in a unique way. He highlights interesting things he sees as he’s out and about and utilizes IG Live for virtual open houses. You really get a sense of who he is through his feed and Stories. 

Another great example is Amy Karol. I love following her Stories and her Reels. Her content is fun and inspiring, and she has a great way of showcasing her life and business in a really interesting and creative way.

Tip 4: Repurpose content

Work smarter, not just harder. In 2021, people are not seeing all of your content. You have to repost and repackage your content to get maximum exposure. Catch people at different times of the day. I challenge you to repurpose each piece of content at least five times.

Here is an example of a few things you can do with one video you create:

  • Upload to YouTube.
  • Upload to your Facebook business page.
  • Share it to your personal Facebook profile.
  • Tweet the YouTube video two to three times over the course of a few days.
  • Transcribe the video, and turn it into a blog post.
  • Share the YouTube link to LinkedIn.
  • Create an Instagram Story about the video.
  • Edit the video to create smaller “bite-sized” pieces of content.
  • Pin the YouTube video to a board on Pinterest.
  • Take the concept and content of the video, and recreate it as an IG Reel.

Here is an example of how we did this recently with a video with Lee Arnold (one of Inman’s ambassadors):

Tip 5: Show up – relationships are everything! 

You can’t outsource relationship building. You have to show up — don’t be a drive-by liker. Invest time into your online community, leave meaningful comments, share other’s content, and build others up. It will come back to you! 

Katie Lance is the author of #GetSocialSmart and founder and CEO of Katie Lance Consulting, a social media strategy firm and founder of the #GetSocialSmart Academy. She’s been recognized by Inman News as one of the 100 most influential people in real estate and is a featured keynote speaker at many industry events. Katie is also is the author of the best-selling book, #GetSocialSmart.

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Andrea V. Brambila <![CDATA[Capitol rioters could face penalties under this NAR policy]]> 2021-01-22T20:15:55Z 2021-01-22T17:39:56Z Realtors convicted of a "felony or crime involving moral turpitude" may be subject to discipline under membership rule.

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Members of the National Association of Realtors who participated in a violent siege of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month that resulted in five deaths won’t face any discipline under the Realtor Code of Ethics, but may face sanctions under the trade group’s membership rules.

NAR has been tight-lipped about possible penalties for any of its members who participated in the insurrection. So far, two real estate agents have been arrested in connection with the violent assault: Klete Keller, a former five-time Olympic swimming medalist for the U.S. and a current commercial real estate agent, and Jenna Ryan, a Frisco, Texas-based residential broker.

According to the federal complaint against Ryan, just before entering the U.S. Capitol, Ryan filmed herself saying, “y’all know who to hire for your Realtor. Jenna Ryan for your Realtor.” She also bragged about her home selling skills on camera during the riot.

Keller was charged with knowingly entering a restricted building to impede an official government function, disorderly conduct, and obstructing law enforcement officers, while Ryan was charged with knowingly entering a restricted area without permission to do so and impeding or disrupting the orderly conduct of government business.

Not against the code

After the riot, NAR told Inman, “NAR has consistently provided that its Code of Ethics does not apply to criminal activity.” The 1.4 million-member trade group said last week that participating in the Capitol riot did not violate its new ethics policies against hate speech unless a Realtor directed hate speech toward a protected class while doing so. This week, NAR said, “[T]he events taking place at the Capitol on January 6th would not be subject to discipline under the Code of Ethics, unless such hateful speech was proven to be used by a Realtor.”

Indeed, there does not appear to be any article in the Realtor Code of Ethics that condemns violations of any law that is not real estate-related. That means there is nothing in the code that prohibits any of the behavior for which Keller and Ryan have been charged or of other, more serious charges such as seditious conspiracy or even murder or rape.

Nonetheless, in searching through NAR’s Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, Inman found a policy that local associations can use to discipline Realtors that have been convicted of crimes.

The manual states that disciplinary action may be taken against a member “[o]n a member being convicted, adjudged, or otherwise recorded as guilty by a final judgment of any court of competent jurisdiction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.” The manual does not define what qualifies as a “crime involving moral turpitude.”

Asked about this policy, NAR spokesperson Wes Shaw told Inman via email, “The provision to which you are referring relates to a membership qualification, not an obligation under the Code of Ethics. Local Realtor associations maintain membership qualification criteria that provide qualifications for Realtor membership, as well as extensive procedures in place for their enforcement which ensure protection of the due process rights of all individuals involved.”

Shaw added,”It’s the local association’s membership qualification criteria, and they may be subject to discipline. Realtors have a set of obligations under the Code and a set of obligations as a result of their membership.”

Examples of discipline included in the manual are: a letter of warning or a letter of reprimand with a copy placed in a member’s file, an education course, a fine not exceeding $15,000, suspension of membership and termination of membership.

‘Just SCREAMS unethical’

The vaunted preamble of the Realtor Code of Ethics, which begins “Under all is the land,” mentions Realtors standing against practices that might bring dishonor to the profession.

It reads: “[Realtors] identify and take steps, through enforcement of this Code of Ethics and by assisting appropriate regulatory bodies, to eliminate practices which may damage the public or which might discredit or bring dishonor to the real estate profession. Realtors having direct personal knowledge of conduct that may violate the Code of Ethics involving misappropriation of client or customer funds or property, discrimination against the protected classes under the Code of Ethics, or fraud, bring such matters to the attention of the appropriate Board or Association of Realtors.”

The preamble also says, “The term Realtor has come to connote competency, fairness, and high integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in business relations.”

But according to the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, the preamble is “aspirational” and ethics complaints cannot be filed against a Realtor on the basis of it. When a Realtor files an ethics complaint against another Realtor, they must cite one of the code’s 17 articles.

NAR has always held that what distinguishes a Realtor from a non-Realtor licensee is its strict code of ethics. That the Realtor Code of Ethics says nothing about violations of non-real estate-related laws, even those that involve violence, may be a surprise to some Realtors.

“Participating in an insurrection just SCREAMS unethical to me,” Andrea Morgan, a Realtor broker at Atlanta Intown Real Estate Services, told Inman via Twitter.

While some Realtors and members of the public have called for agents to lose their licenses as a result of participating in the Capitol riot, NAR has pointed out that state governments control licensing rules, not NAR. In response, Morgan said, “I think it’s factually correct & ethically weak. NAR created the code of ethics as a means of distinguishing Realtors … from licensees and to establish a baseline level of ethical behavior.”

Laryn Callaway, an agent at Launch Real Estate in Arizona, told Inman via email, “It would seem that upholding the law *generally* is at least implied in our Code. The public needs to trust us.”

Asked whether NAR considers violations of the law generally or the actions of those who laid siege to the Capitol specifically ethical and why its code of ethics doesn’t address criminal activity, NAR’s Shaw said, “The Realtor organization remains committed to ethics, integrity, and respect for the diverse viewpoints of our membership.”

He added, “The Code largely exists as a set of ethical obligations in addition to what may be required by local, state, or federal laws. We continue to stand with federal law enforcement as they work to thoroughly investigate the events of January 6th and ensure all those accused of breaking the law are prosecuted to the fullest extent.”

By contrast, some trade organizations, such as the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, consider conviction of a felony grounds for automatic expulsion from membership in their code of ethics. Disabled American Veterans, which has one million members, and other veterans groups have already said that they will expel members who participated in the Capitol riot.

Realtor by day, insurrectionist by night?

When promoting ethics changes against hate speech in November, NAR leaders made clear that the changes were proposed in large part to protect the Realtor brand.

Matt Difanis, chair of the Professional Standards Committee, stressed that the Realtor brand is not something a member can shed like an overcoat after leaving the office. He praised NAR’s “That’s Who We R” ad campaign, which highlights Realtors’ community leadership, but said that “high profile instances of bigoted hate speech” happening outside of real estate transactions were threatening that image.

“If we end up with Realtors who become late night keyboard bigots saying it’s outside the confines of the real estate transaction and those get shared and those go viral, ladies and gentlemen, that — for that news cycle  — that becomes who we are,” Difanis said.

In a blog post, real estate consultant Rob Hahn said Jenna Ryan’s case is a “test” for NAR because of the new ethics policies’ emphasis on protecting the Realtor brand, including the policy against hate speech, Standard of Practice 10-5.

“If the rationale for 10-5 was to protect the Realtor brand, then no, NAR cannot refuse to do anything about Ms. Ryan because her actions were ‘outside of 10-5,’” Hahn wrote.

“At a minimum, NAR will have to condemn her actions in the strongest language possible, then immediately move for a new SoP 10-6 or some new thing that would let them punish Ms. Ryan and others like her.

“You cannot claim with a straight face that you put 10-5 into place to protect the Realtor brand, then ignore what Ms. Ryan and others are doing to the Realtor brand in half of the population and kick the responsibility over to the government.”

NAR declined to comment on Hahn’s assertions. In a comment on the post, Austin, Texas, broker Robert Griffice noted that Ryan openly bragged about participating in criminal conduct.

“As a NAR member, I do not want to associate with nor be a part of an organization that allows admitted criminals as members,” he said. “It’s as simple as that, conviction or not.”

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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Veronika Bondarenko <![CDATA[How do you serve a client who just won the $731.1M Powerball lottery?]]> 2021-01-22T17:11:44Z 2021-01-22T17:11:43Z On Thursday, a lottery ticket sold in a convenience store in Lonaconing, Maryland, became the fourth-highest jackpot in Powerball history. Odds are, the winner's going to need an agent.

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How do you serve a client who just won the Powerball lottery?

On Thursday, a lottery ticket sold in a convenience store in Lonaconing, Maryland, became the fourth-highest jackpot in Powerball history.

The winning amount, $731.1 million — or $546.8 million if paid in a lump payment before taxes — is large enough to completely transform a life. And although the winner has not been identified, people who rake in large lottery sums typically turn toward real estate as their first investment — and to real estate agents for advice on how to spend their loot.

Meghan Barry

Rick Knudsen, who won the $180 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2014, used it to buy a home in Southern California’s Yucaipa Ridge and expand it into an 800-acre ranch. He also bought houses for his five kids but later sold the ranch after finding it to be too much upkeep and not the right fit given the incompatibility of its high elevation and his son’s heart condition.

“Those who lived a more moderate lifestyle often say ‘I don’t really need this much money, maybe I can buy a house for my mother,'” Meghan Barry, president of the Seattle-based broker network Who’s Who In Luxury Real Estate, told Inman. “You often see celebrities and sports stars come into a lot of money and then crash and burn with their finances but I think real estate’s always a good way to go.”

If the client’s goal is to propel themselves into the kind of ultra-luxury lifestyle that had previously seemed like the stuff of dreams, large windfalls can cloud judgment and convince winners they have more money than they do (federal taxes on Powerball winnings could bring that number down to just over $340 million.) Barry advises immediately enlisting a financial planner in order to see how much you have after all the taxes and unexpected expenses are paid. Even with amounts much smaller than the Powerball jackpot, agents who receive an excited call from a client who unexpectedly came into a lot of money should remind them to figure out their finances with a professional before committing to a major purchase.

Once finances are figured out, it’s usually a good idea to diversify — a large main home, a vacation property in a place you love to visit and an investment apartment in an expensive city would be sound investments, according to Barry. In celebrity-laden cities like Los Angeles, there are numerous listings over the $100 million mark (including a spec mansion that stretches across five acres in Bel Air that developer Nile Niami is offering for $350 million) but those may not be the best choice even if affordable to a newfound millionaire.

Aaron Kirman

“You can easily buy a ranch for multiple hundreds of millions of dollars… but that usually encompasses a whole lot of land and a whole lot of responsibility that comes with it,” Barry said. “If you’re looking for a home, ease of access and this sort of luxury lifestyle, I think looking at multiple properties is definitely the way to go.”

Agents lucky enough to score such a client will need to figure out what it is they want. Aaron Kirman, a Compass executive who deals in high-end Los Angeles properties, told Inman that Powerball money would present the winner with a lot of options — a good agent will know of the upwards-of-$100-million listings that regularly appear in the city but also find alternatives that could turn out to be better investments. (In Los Angeles, the property taxes on a $100 million property would add up to around $720,000 a year alone.)

“You could buy a trophy property for $300-$350 million, you could buy five homes at $100 million or you could buy a lot of homes in the $30, $40 and $50 [million range],” he said. “It depends on what somebody is looking to do but certainly spending that kind of money is certainly not very hard given that we have so many amazing properties in the city.”

A $110 million listing in Goleta, California held by Aaron Kirman.

Another key element for agents to consider is whether the client is looking for a residence for themselves or investment opportunities to make sure the winnings stretch as far as they possibly can.

If the goal is investment, agents could raise the option of a property in a city like New York or San Francisco. Because the pandemic has pushed many homeowners of those cities and into less crowded suburbs, prices on luxury apartments have dropped. And because a 30 percent drop on a $2.5-million apartment is still unattainable for most, those who can afford one now will likely see the value grow significantly with time.

Often, however, a client who came into money may not be interested in the kind of high-flying lifestyle such a windfall can buy. They may be more interested in a ranch, a larger home in their own city or the ability to take care of family members for life. In such cases, good agents will stay well-informed of different properties and be able to do the research necessary to find the best option for their client.

“What’s really great about real estate is that it’s never simply an investment and it’s never simply a way to park your money and see it grow,” Barry said. “It’s something that you can enjoy.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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Lillian Dickerson <![CDATA[December home value growth shatters records: Zillow]]> 2021-01-22T16:47:34Z 2021-01-22T16:47:34Z Typical U.S. home values rose 8.4 percent year over year to $266,104, the highest annual increase seen since January 2014, according to a new report from Zillow.

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This year’s holiday market defied expectations as homebuyer demand continued through December, lifting U.S. home values by 8.4 percent year over year to $266,104, the highest annual increase seen since January 2014, according to a new report from Zillow.

Zillow determines “typical home value” based on the Zillow Home Value Index estimate for any given region, which is a weighted average of the middle third of homes in that region.

The U.S. saw a 3.2 percent home value growth over the last quarter, the greatest growth that Zillow has seen since it began tracking the Zillow Home Value Index in 1996.

The Sun Belt in particular saw robust growth, especially in Austin, Texas, where home values grew 5.3 percent from the quarter before. Phoenix, Arizona; San Diego, California; and Salt Lake City, Utah; also all saw significant growth at 5.1 percent from the previous quarter.

Jeff Tucker | Photo credit: Zillow

“The housing market ended 2020 with an exclamation point, as home values rose sharply near the end of the year at their fastest quarterly rate on record,” Senior Zillow Economist Jeff Tucker said in a statement. “Sales are taking place at a rapid clip as momentum gathering in the market since June is still pushing forward at full force and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Although prices are skyrocketing, record-low mortgage rates keep bringing buyers to the table by keeping monthly payments in reach.”

At the annual level, Phoenix saw the greatest home value growth, which rose 15.3 percent from December 2019. San Jose, California, was close behind with 15.2 percent annual growth, followed by Salt Lake City, Utah (13.2 percent); Seattle, Washington (13 percent); and Austin, Texas (12.9 percent).

Meanwhile, month-over-month home value growth across the nation remained at 1.1 percent, the same rate it was in November.

Looking at the rental market, rents are continuing to show signs of recovery from a national low of $1,728 reached in October. Between November and December, rents modestly increased by 0.2 percent to $1,740. Over the course of 2020, the rental market only saw annual rent growth increase by 0.8 percent in contrast to December 2019 when rents rose 3.5 percent annually.

Some larger markets that had been experiencing steady rent declines over the course of the pandemic started to see growth again in December, including in Washington, D.C. (up 0.2 percent month over month in December); Boston (up 0.4 percent); Los Angeles (up 0.2 percent); Chicago (up 0.2 percent); and San Jose, California (up 0.6 percent). Zillow’s data showed that the rental market recovery appears to be a widespread trend, with 77 of the largest 100 metropolitan statistical areas showing positive monthly rent growth.

Homes for sale continued to leave the market quickly during December, spending a median time of 14 days on market, only one day longer than lows seen during the fall. Pending sales were up 21.7 percent compared to December 2019 even though available inventory was down 26.6 percent from the same time last year.

Even with home prices rising, low mortgage rates have made homeownership affordable for many buyers. According to Zillow, mortgage rates listed by third-party lenders on the site hit an all-time low of 2.63 percent on December 18, but since then have been on an upward trend.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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Patrick Kearns <![CDATA[It’s official: Home sales in 2020 soared to highest level in ages]]> 2021-01-22T18:04:30Z 2021-01-22T15:49:18Z Just as the real estate industry suspected, existing-home sales surged in 2020, up 5.9 percent from the year previous and to a level unseen since the Great Recession, according to new data.

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Despite the early days of the pandemic effectively halting the real estate market — and the global health and humanity concerns that continue to persist — U.S. existing-home sales in 2020 soared to a level not seen since before the Great Recession.

Lawrence Yun | NAR

Existing-home sales in 2020 finished the year up 5.9 percent from the year prior, with 5.64 million total existing-home sales, the highest number since 2006, according to data released Friday by the National Association of Realtors. 

“Home sales rose in December, and for 2020 as a whole, we saw sales perform at their highest levels since 2006, despite the pandemic,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “What’s even better is that this momentum is likely to carry into the new year, with more buyers expected to enter the market.”

Total existing-home sales continued to gain momentum into the end of the year, climbing 0.7 percent from November to December and finishing 22.2 percent ahead of last December’s total.

Yun believes the existing momentum will continue to carry into 2021.

“Although mortgage rates are projected to increase, they will continue to hover near record lows at around 3 percent,” Yun said. “Moreover, expect economic conditions to improve with additional stimulus forthcoming and vaccine distribution already underway.”

Prices also soared to historic highs, climbing 12.9 percent year over year to a median price of $309,800. It’s the 106th straight month of annual price gains.

One of the main reasons prices continue to rise is the lack of inventory on the market, which hit a new record low in December 2020. At the end of the month, there were 1.07 million housing units for sale, down 23 percent from a year ago. Unsold inventory was at 1.9-months supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.0-months supply in December 2019 and the lowest level since NAR began tracking the data in 1982.

With such low supply, homes are flying off the market. Existing-homes typically sat on the market for 21 days in December 2020, down from 41 days in December 2019.

Recent Construction data shows that builders are far outpacing last year’s construction levels, but the inventory problem may take years to solve, Yun said.

“To their credit, homebuilders and construction companies have increased efforts to build, with housing starts hitting an annual rate of near 1.7 million in December, with more focus on single-family homes,” Yun said. “However, it will take vigorous new home construction in 2021 and in 2022 to adequately furnish the market to properly meet the demand.”

The inventory and affordability challenges have led to disproportionate growth in higher-priced tiers, according to Joel Kan, the associate vice president of economist and industry forecasting at the Mortgage Bankers Association. December average loan sizes were the highest ever recorded in the company’s weekly market survey.

“More acute affordability challenges will emerge if inventory stays this tight and home-price growth continues to accelerate,” Kan said, in a statement. “This, in turn, would be especially challenging for first-time homebuyers, who make up a third of all home sales.”

Email Patrick Kearns

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Lillian Dickerson <![CDATA[Boston home atop Underground Railroad hits the market for $10.7M]]> 2021-01-22T18:03:54Z 2021-01-22T15:01:07Z The 1827-built property is an impeccably preserved Federal-style home in Boston's Beacon Hill, and it contains a bunker that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad.

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“Beautiful and classic, exactly what Beacon Hill embodies,” is how the listing describes an impeccably preserved Federal-style home in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood that’s just hit the market for $10.75 million.

The 1827-constructed property at 28 Chestnut Street was built by a “housewright” (what we now call an architect) named Jesse Shaw, who was reportedly a relative of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the Union army officer who led the first all-Black regiment in the Civil War, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry.

The Shaw family was known in Boston as a prominent abolitionist family, and one of the listing’s features makes testament to this fact: a bunker, accessed through the property’s full basement, that was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home includes a two-car garage nestled beside a private deck, all just a few blocks from Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden. An eat-in kitchen, family room and formal dining room all sit on the first-floor level of the home. Meanwhile, the home’s upper floors contain the home office, a master retreat, the additional four bedrooms, a home gym, living areas, a music room, and a sizable library with original detailing.

Although fireplaces are scattered throughout the house, the listing description notes that one in the home’s master bedroom will be especially welcome “for those chilly New England winters.”

[Inman Slideshow]

In addition to its storied past as a stop on the Underground Railroad, the property also has a more carefree side to its history: the home’s first-floor living room was initially designed as a speakeasy, complete with an entrance out onto bustling Chestnut Street.

“Steps [away] from Charles Street with boutiques, restaurants and the Esplanade and a quick jaunt to Boston Common/Gardens and the ability to enjoy all Beacon Hill has to offer,” the listing description reads.

The property is represented by Beth Dickerson of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty.

Update: An earlier version of this article stated that the listing agent was a member of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, but she is an agent with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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Mauricio Umansky <![CDATA[Make your buyer’s offer stand out! 3 tips for winning]]> 2021-01-21T23:36:22Z 2021-01-22T10:00:22Z In a pandemic-era market, the competition is tough — which means that helping your clients craft a strong, irresistible offer is more important than ever. Here are a few tips to remember.

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Despite the uncertainty that comes with a global pandemic, as we all know, real estate markets across the nation have experienced unprecedented activity over the past year.

With inventory continuing to be limited in highly competitive markets, helping your client craft a strong offer is essential to compete in 2021. Whether it’s a first-time purchase or the fifth, I’ve shared three tips to help make your client’s offer stand out from the competition.

1. Show that your client is a serious buyer

First things first, aside from price, it’s essential to showcase to the sellers that your client is serious about purchasing their property. Be sure to have your clients go the extra step and get preapproved, which is a stronger option than being prequalified. A preapproval letter provides a strong indication that your clients are both ready and qualified to move forward with the purchase.

In addition to providing a preapproval letter from their lender, work with your clients to determine creative ways to make an offer even more competitive. Take a look at fees that can be split or covered by the buyer, or consider waiving other costs that might help sweeten the deal.

In situations where there are multiple offers on a home, making an effort and taking these extra steps — like being willing to split or cover some additional costs — can really help an offer stand out.

2. Shorten the timeline

Educate your client on what an “option period” is, and consider the length of time that might be realistic for their situation and this particular investment. Decreasing the length of the option period — while maintaining a realistic period to conduct the home inspection and do other due diligence still — is reassuring for a seller.

An offer that gives less time for clients to back out of the deal is much more favorable. It also shortens the period of time for closing, which is often beneficial for a seller who might be needing to close by a certain date. Ensuring your clients’ flexibility and ability to work with the seller’s timeline can help them give a leg up on the competition.

3. Limit the conditions of the deal

By limiting the contingencies to be met to execute the deal, your client’s offer will have a lower perceived risk than other offers. Because contingencies allow buyers to back out of a sale with no consequences, be sure to list ones that really matter to your client. Some contingencies that ask too much can be deal-breakers, especially when a seller is presented with multiple offers.

There’s one last thing to remember about sellers as they consider all the offers they receive on their property — they’re always looking to maximize price while determining the most qualified buyer.

The price is one of the biggest factors in getting your offer accepted in a competitive market, and your client should be prepared to put a maximum value on their offer from the get-go. For more tips on successfully navigating a red-hot seller’s market and multiple-offer situations, here are a few resources:

Mauricio Umansky is the founder and CEO of The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram.

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Byron Lazine <![CDATA[The Real Word: What did the 2020 migration study reveal?]]> 2021-01-21T23:27:57Z 2021-01-22T10:00:10Z Watch Byron Lazine and Nicole White give a real estate agent’s perspective on industry-related topics. This week, they'll discuss United Van Lines’ migration study, Greg Hague’s new venture and 2021’s real estate events.

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Byron Lazine and Nicole White are two agents in Connecticut who give us their thoughts on the week’s news every Friday in “The Real Word,” a weekly video column on Inman.

Moving and relocation company United Van Lines released its 2020 National Migration Study, which shows the top 10 outbound and inbound states. So, where are people moving to and from, and were the results surprising?

This week on The Real Word, Byron and Nicole discussed these pandemic-era moves, what surprised them from the report and what met their expectations. The duo also chatted about migration patterns in their local market of Connecticut.

In other news: Greg Hague, who was formerly working to “Stop Zillow,” started a new venture called 72 Sold. The service uses “coming soon” to list a home for 72 hours before allowing showings.

So, the question is: Is this a positive approach that drives up the price, or does it do the opposite by discouraging other buyers from even putting in an offer? Byron and Nicole weigh in. “[Hague] has a strategy and a duplicatable formula to getting these homes sold in 72 hours,” Byron said, with Nicole later adding, “I will say, I think for the seller, it’s a great, great thing.”

Marketeer of the week

Inman released a comprehensive list of virtual and in-person real estate events taking place in 2021. This year’s calendar is what earned the spotlight on The Real Word.

Want to nominate a “marketeer of the week”? Drop your thoughts in the comments section below, or shoot us an email.

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Brad Inman <![CDATA[EXp Realty CEO Glenn Sanford is the billionaire next-door]]> 2021-01-23T13:17:46Z 2021-01-22T10:00:00Z Underneath the soft veneer lies a savvy businessman, an imaginative technologist and a financial whiz — a triumvirate of skills that accounts for his success.

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With a warm and confident smile, eXp Realty founder Glenn Sanford gives off a nerdy, awe-shucks vibe. The 53-year-old Gen Xer has a twinkle in his eye like a character out of the 1992 movie Wayne’s World. He lives in Bellingham, Washington, where the town’s motto is “The City of Subdued Excitement.” 

But underneath the understated veneer lies a savvy businessman, an imaginative technologist and a financial whiz — a triumvirate of skills that accounts for his success.

Earlier this week, eXp announced a two-for-one stock split. Shares soared more than 20 percent after the announcement. Today, the company is valued at $6.8 billion, bringing Sanford’s net worth on paper close to $2 billion, and that of his ex-wife, Penny Sanford, almost $1.5 billion. 

Something quite personal helped Sanford gain entry into the residential real estate billionaire club.

He purportedly has been motivated by a drive to “beat” Gary Keller, his former mentor who snubbed Sanford a dozen years ago by not including him in an elite Keller Williams mastermind group. Keller also allegedly would not allow Sanford to buy a KW market center.  

Those slights, some observers say, served as personal motivations for Sanford in growing his empire. Agents are flocking to eXp, with many of them being peeled away from Keller Williams. Sweet revenge.

What attracts agents to this rather unique brokerage? 

A generous 80-20 commission split — and even a piece of the 20 percent, if the agent brings in other agents. That ongoing upstream revenue source eats away at eXp’s net income. But that has not bothered Wall Street investors because the agent and revenue growth rates have been staggering.

eXp is a growth story with a momentum stock, jumping from a split-adjusted 73 cents a share five years ago to $97 today — a 100X return. During that same period, Zillow shares saw a 7X return.

If an agent bought 10,000 shares in 2016 for $7,300, those shares would be worth almost $1 million today. EXp is minting real estate millionaires, and that is helping the company build its agent network. Further, it enjoys a cult-like culture, something that’s happened before in real estate — think of the yellow jackets at Century 21 in the 1960s and 1970s, the RE/MAX juggernaut in the 1980s and 1990s and with the Keller Williams rock-and-roll growth curve in the last 12 years.

Why? Agents often find themselves alone in the world and many of them need a company that not only delivers the goods but also gives them a bigger vision to follow. Plus, Sanford has proven that an office is no longer critical for creating a connection and loyalty to the mothership. 

Sanford is more complex than what meets the eye

He learned a lot at the knee of his father, a stock broker who made a business out of reverse mergers — shoving companies into the shell of an existing publicly traded but dormant or sputtering business. Often they were Canadian penny stocks. Sanford worked with his father early in his career, learning the ways of publicly-traded companies.

Fast forward a dozen or so years and Glenn used those lessons to take eXp public by putting it into Canadian penny stock company Desert Canadian LTD. Often these stocks can be “pump and run” operations that attract speculative investors with little to no transparency as to how the companies operate.

Think of it as a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) before there were SPACs.  Now, what was once the underbelly of Wall Street has gone mainstream. 

Sanford’s financial engineering has paid off

Sanford has used shares of stock over the last 10 years to attract agents to join his growing enterprise. Three years ago, eXp started trading on the more reputable Nasdaq exchange. (Before, it traded on the OTC, the over-the-counter penny-stock exchange.)

Sanford also made sure he controlled the fate of the company. Together with his ex-wife, he owns more than 50 percent of the enterprise, so he can do more or less whatever he wants with company decisions. It is not too much different than the control Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink exercise over Zillow or Mark Zuckerberg over decisions at Facebook, though each of those companies did so by issuing two classes of stock. None of them have such a large outright stake in their companies, as Sanford does.

What he finds himself in command of today is an online platform with one owner and one simple business model. Most importantly, it scales. As a broker, Sanford controls his own destiny. No middle tiers of authority, territories or market centers to deplete or confuse his control over the company.

He also has that unique capacity to see around the bend. Sanford was one of the first people to build a successful team under KW. He was also one of the first successful expansion team builders and mastered SEO in the early days of the internet to capture leads.

He is the only big real estate company CEO who can write software code.

eXp acquired Virbela, the 3-D, fully-immersive, cloud office environment, for $11 million in 2018 after becoming its largest customer. COVID made that bet a sure thing. Now, the company is licensing the platform to other companies and government agencies. And like the cloud computing business boom at Amazon and Microsoft, this could be an entirely new source of revenue for eXp.

There is also a pony in the company’s plan to go global. By offering much better commission splits than typically found in other countries, eXp can expand internationally quickly, much like the franchise giants did in the 1980s. But even easier with its virtual platform, reducing the friction around office locations and branding.

The only thing that could trip up this amazing growth story is if the growth were to stall. Then the eXp empire could take a hit or even come tumbling down as the incentive for agents to stick around would be diminished. The eXp narrative depends on growth. For now, the booming stock is something many agents want in on. They watched technology companies grow and make many millionaires and even billionaires, but not agents. 

They have been left out in the cold, even though they are doing most of the work that created these online tech giants. Agents have no upside in the equity of these companies. KW mastered revenue sharing, but eXp has added the equity wrinkle for agents. A booming stock market has made the offer even more attractive. And agents buying eXp shares has helped boost the stock, creating a virtuous cycle.

Before eXp, Sanford tallied a few business wins, but he also started many companies that went nowhere. His story is about how all of these varied experiences came together to make eXp.

I guess it is not a surprise that he has a new side gig as CEO of Success magazine. It’s a quirky move, but then Glenn is a quirky guy.

Email Brad Inman

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