May 5 2015

Why Home Prices are Heating Up

Why Home Prices are Heating Up

Weather is not the only thing getting warmer this summer, so is the housing market. Starting in 2012, home prices started to rise, and by 2013 we saw double digit growth. While 2015 is at a slower pace than that of 2013, prices are still growing.

In the current market, it is common to see bidding wars and offers above asking price in many local markets. San Francisco’s current average median listed price is $1,099,000, yet 74% of homes are being sold within two months of being placed on the market. Some markets are exceeding prices of that during the housing boom, like Denver and Dallas. This may become an issue if home prices continue to rise while incomes and inventory stays stagnate.

Why are home prices increasing? The answer is simple: supply and demand. There are more homebuyers then homes available to purchase and current homeowners are not selling. In a normal real estate market, homeowners sell their homes to be able to move up or to downsize, creating inventory for first-time homebuyers. With little inventory of resale homes on the market, we see price increases in both resale and new homes for sale. 

Current homebuyers may be cautious to sell their homes for two reasons. One, they may be afraid they will not find a suitable new home available for purchase. Or, two, their current home may still be underwater or have low equity due to the housing market crash in 2008. Either way, without inventory on the existing side of home sale, first-time homebuyers are being shut out from the market.

Even if homeowners start to flood the market with “For Sale” signs, home builders are still not keeping up with demand. Builders are hesitant, and last year only one million new homes were built. A normal market will see around 1.6 million new homes.

When you combine rising prices with low inventory, you may have a formula for another housing bubble. Like in 2008, this new market is inflating from over demand and low supply. However, a major difference is, unlike the poor lending habits in the early 2000’s that allowed buyers to take on loans they could not afford, this market is backed by mortgages homebuyers can actually afford to pay off. Only time will tell if supply will be able to meet demand and if home prices will even out to a healthy market that both homebuyer and shoppers will benefit from.

March 30 2015

Home Sales Up 3% Making Spring A Great Start for the Housing Market

Home Sales Up this Spring

The housing market is in full bloom this season with pending home sales already up 3% in February. According to the National Association of Realtors, signed home contracts are up 12% from a year ago and the highest they have been in two years.

Chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun, said, “Pending sales showed solid gains last month, driven by a steadily-improving labor market, mortgage rates hovering around 4 percent and the likelihood of more renters looking to hedge against increasing rents.”

The only thing currently slowing down the market is low inventory. Lack of homes available for purchase is making for a highly competitive housing market and is increasing home prices. So far we are on track for a great home buying season!

March 24 2015

Are You Ready for the Millennial Homebuyer?

It has been predicted that the millennial generation (those born from 1980’s – early 2000’s) are going to dominate home purchases in 2015, even over baby boomers. This generation is starting to shape how real estate marketing is going to look moving forward.
Millennials are dependent on technology. They are the first generation to have computers in classrooms, own a cell phone before a driver’s license, and some were even placed in front of iPads before they entered first grade. So it is no surprise that when it comes to looking for a new home, the first thing they will do is reach for the Internet.

Home Builders:

Millennials are smart and will do their research before hopping in a car to find new communities. Advertising on new home directories is a great way to be found and build a brand that homebuyers can trust.
Using social media will also drive traffic and leads to your website. Use this platform to advertise any real estate seminar or fundraiser you are hosting. If you have any blogs about your new community’s events or phase release, social media is an inexpensive way to target your audience in the ZIP codes that are beneficial for you to promote that blog.


Millennials will not only be searching for a new home online, they will find their realtor online as well. This makes it more important than ever for realtors to have a website, and not just the one their brokers give them. They will need an up-to-date website that is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate.

First impressions are everything and your website is the first contact a realtor and potential homebuyer will have. Millennials have become accustomed to fresh content and clean designs. Nothing says you are out of touch with today’s market then having a site with photos taken 10 years ago and your last blog post done around the same time. What realtor do you think a 30-something home buyer will flock to when having a choice between these two websites?

Real Estate Site Example One

Real Estate Site Example Two


Once a millennial partners with a realtor, please do not bombard them with emails. Millennials are smart and will most likely send you listings they are interested in seeing. They count on up-to-date new home directories and MLS listing sites to do research on homes that meet their needs. Once they find a property they are interested in they contact their Realtor on homes they would like to see.

Millennials have no problem being upfront with you during their home buying process; however there are some things they may keep to themselves. To be the best Realtor your millennial client, listen to the unsaid things they may be afraid of telling you. This, along with your great looking website, will impress them and make you the rock star real estate agent they need!

March 13 2015

Quick Tips for Home Builder Marketing and the 2015 Home Buying Season

Home Builder Marketing

As home buyers begin to search for new homes online to prepare for the home buying season this summer, it is important to have your marketing ready for action. Now is the time to capture your spring leads before your competitors do.  Here are some quick and easy tips for making your home builder marketing ready for spring.

Knowledge is Power:

Not only will great content on your site help with your internal SEO, it is also an import tool for showing your homebuilder expertise to potential home buyers. Using blogs, email campaigns and social media are simple ways to show off your knowledge on home building and design. This includes creating a weekly blog post and promoting it on your social media profiles and email campaigns.

Make sure your blog posts are not self-promoting, but informational to home buyers. Create topics that answer home buyers questions like, “When is a Great Time to Buy a Home?” or “How to Start the Home Buying Process”. When you promote the blog within social media and your emails, show just an excerpt of the post with a link to your website. This will increase traffic to your homebuilder website and hopefully some home buyer shopping as well!

Capture and Use Your Leads:

Capturing leads from your website and having a CRM system in place to make sure your sales team is in constant contact with those leads is a must.

Catching leads can be done in several easy ways, with the most simple being the “interest list” or “contact us” form on your community landing pages. Note: always make sure to test that your lead forms are working properly, especially heading into the home buying season.

Another fun way to gain leads is to offer prizes or contest (a great blog post and social media topic as well). Home buyers on your site may be more willing to give out their contact information for a contest or prize giveaway.

Now that you have your leads, it is important to utilize them. Have a CRM system in place, as well as a sales follow up process ready. There are some great home builder CRM systems out there, for example, Lasso Data Systems, which allow you and your sales team to easily manage your leads.

Make sure your sales team is well trained and in constant contact with potential home buyers by phone calls AND emails. A good rule of thumb is to always follow up a phone call with an email or vice versa.

Warning: Your Website MUST Be Mobile Friendly!!

While 90% of home buyers begin their search for a new home online, tablets and smart phones have started leading in device searches. Because of this, home builders have started to integrate a mobile friendly website as a user friendly interface. BUT on April 21, 2015, Google will be releasing an algorithm update, known as “Mobilegeddon”. This update will hurt any home buyer’s website search rankings that are not mobile friendly!

User-Friendly Home Builder Website:

Here is another area that will not only help your SEO, but may increase your leads as well. Make sure your website is easy to use for home buyers. Many times the builder is used to their website and finds it easy to navigate; however the home buyer may beg to differ. Ask a family or friend to explore your website and get their input.

March 12 2015

Survival Guide to the Home Buying Season – 5 Tips for Your Dream Home Hunt

Survival Guide to the Home Buying Season

Signs of spring are starting to arise; buds on the trees are sprouting, birds are singing…. and “For Sale” signs are starting to pop up on lawns across the country. Before you know it, house hunters will crowd the streets and the bidding wars will begin as the weather and home buying season heats up.

Here are 5 tips to help you survive the hunt for your dream home this spring.

Your Dream Home Hunt Tip #1: Know Your Market
Knowing your local housing market can save you a costly mistake. Perhaps there is a high demand for townhomes in your market or nearby new home communities are placing a premium price over resale homes. The quicker you know the value of the local housing market, the quicker you can make the smart home buying purchase.

Your Dream Home Hunt Tip #2: Have Your Laptop Charged and Your Car Gassed Up

A great place to start and narrow down your search for a new home is online; about 90% of home buyers began their home buying process on the Internet. Online directories are a quick way to find a home in the location you want, with the right size and the price range you are searching for. This saves you time and money instead of driving to several communities that may be out of your price range or don’t offer a floor plan that fits your needs.

Once you narrow done your search, it’s time to enjoy the warm weather as you visit each property. Make sure and hit the road running when you find a home that is the perfect fit. They don’t call it a home buying season for nothing. Inventory goes quickly during the warmer months and you will not want to miss out on placing a bid on your dream home.

Your Dream Home Hunt Tip #3: Take Advantage of the Low Mortgage Rates NOW!!!!
We may never see mortgage rates this low during a home buying season EVER again. In fact, rates are so low that in many neighborhoods, monthly mortgage payments are lower than rent! The longer you wait to purchase that dream home the higher the chances interest rates will rise and along with your mortgage payment. It has been predicted that we should see rates remaining low through spring.

Spring home buyers will also benefit from the Federal Housing Authority new lowered annual insurance premium that went from 1.35% to .85% of a home loan for those who make a low down payment. This should save home owners on average of $900 a year.

Your Dream Home Hunt Tip #4: Your Dream Home needs a Dream Team
First things first: make sure you have completed the mortgage application and know the amount you are prequalified for before you even start to shop. Once this is done and you found a home that was built for you, make sure you have a professional home buying team in your corner to avoid those costly bidding wars we see during this season. You will need a realtor, lender and inspector all ready and at your disposal for when that times comes to place a bid on your dream home.

Your Dream Home Hunt Tip #5: Winning the Bidding War
Ok, you did your research on the local housing market, you narrowed down your home search online, your dream team is ready and at your side and you finally found the home of your dreams up for sale… but now you are stuck in a bidding war with another home buyer. Here are some ways to help you win that war, without bidding more than you can afford.

One bidding war strategy that does not affect your pockets is a contingency clause. Are you willing to forego any contingencies in the terms of the contract, like home inspection or appraisal contingencies? Warning though; forgoing any of these is a risk to the home buyer. For a safer route, you can always add an escalation clause to the offer. An escalation clause is a set amount you are willing to pay over any other bid on the same home. Say you add an escalation clause of $1,000. If another home buyer places a bid for $200,000, your bid will automatically be $201,000.

There are little ways you can win over the seller as well. See if the seller has a close date they are aiming for and let them know you will make that deadline.

Now you are ready to swing into spring’s home buying season and find your dream home!

February 17 2015

The 10 Things Home Builders Expect to See 2015

Home Builders Outlook for 2015 - Multifamily Building

When 2014 came to a close, the National Association of Realtors reported sales of pre-owned homes fell short from 2013 totals. Yet, new home sales increase by 1.8%. Even though price gains slowed for previously owned homes, builder confidence remained high for the last 2 quarters of 2014.

Why are builders so optimistic with such unclear signals? Simply the data between pre-owned and new construction are showing a housing market that is shifting from a rapid recovery into a more stable market. Here are the 10 expectations of home builders for 2015 for this new stable market:

1. Builders Shift to more Affordable Homes
During the recovery, home builders switched their model to building fewer homes then selling those homes at a more expensive listing price. This was mostly due to the cost of land being out of reach to many home builders. Now that the recovery is over and land is more obtainable, home builders are going to try and push past the average sales mark of 450,000 per year to 500,000 in 2015. To do this they are going to need to sell more homes at a less expensive price. Having lenders willing to give out home loans to those with credit scores below 640 will help home builders reach this goal. The average home buyer will be able to afford the product the builder is offering and, in return, allow builders to meet their goal.

2. Say Good Bye to Investors, Hello Us Normal Folk
Great news for those looking to purchase a home in 2015 they actually plan on living in. The home buying process is going to get much easier for those looking to buy their own homes as investors leave the market and lenders make it easier to be approved for a home loan. While inventory stays low, it becomes harder to find a cheap bargain on home sales. This makes the investors and cash buyers back out of the market. Creating a healthy real estate that benefits both seller and buyers.
3. Interest Rates will Rise…?
The Mortgage Bankers’ Association predicts that interest rates will increase by 5% by the end of 2015. Yet in 2014, we heard the same prediction and at the end of the year the average rate for a conventional 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was only at 3.93%.

4. A Slow Growth in Home Price
There was a slow growth in 2014 when it came to home price increase and this trend is to remain the same in 2015. Unlike 2013, where we saw a 10.8% year-over-year price increase due to high inventory and investors, 2015 will bring a slow release of homes for sale and the exit of many investors. This new market will take away any dramatic increase in the average home price and will bring it to a nice slow and steady upward pace.

5. Affordability will Decrease
While a growth in home price may be slow, incomes will increase at an even slower pace. According to home affordability will decrease up to 10% in 2015 and with homes currently just undervalued at 3%, there is not much room before homes will be overvalued, making homes less affordable for those seeking to buy.

6. Millennials – The Next Generation of Homebuyers
Millennials (35 years in age or under) will surpass Gen X (those 35-50 years old) and will become the largest group of homebuyers by the end of 2015. Millennials have been delaying purchasing a home since this generation is known to wait longer then Gen X to get married and have children. While these two key factors are now approaching their desires, the decision to buy a home is becoming their main focus.

7. Rent Increases
In 2015 while Millennial will plan to buy a home within the next 5 years, they will need to save up for a down payment, making them look to renting until they can afford to purchase a new home. This will increase rent prices as Millenial’s dominate the renting market. In fact, it is forecasted that rent will rise 3.5% in 2015. However, this may push some of those Millennials to become home buyers. “As renters’ costs keep going up, I expect the allure of fixed mortgage payments and a more stable housing market will entice many more otherwise content renters into the housing market,” says Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. The trend of increased rent will also increase the demand for more developments of condos and townhomes.

8. Multifamily will be in Demand
It’s predicted that more people are going to try and sell their homes in 2015. If this trend develops, it will flood the market with pre-owned homes and will make the low inventory of new homes available spike in price. This will push builders to meet the demand of Millennials by building multifamily housing (a more affordable option for new home buyers). Last year we saw a boom in multifamily development and it looks like 2015 will continue in this trend.

9. Foreclosure will Drop
In 2014, each passing month saw a dip from the previous year-over-year average in foreclosures. The trend is at a steady pace and we plan to see foreclosures at pre-disaster level within 2015.

10. The Essentials
In 2015, the real estate market will be driven by economic essentials: incomes, job growth and household growth. Gone are the days when homebuyers will be concerned about national economics and will now be more focused on their present family/personal economic status.

August 18 2014

New Homes Directory is Making Big Waves in the Building Industry

New Homes Directory is making big waves in the building industry and is no longer seen as a small fish in the competitive sea of digital marketing, but is now swimming right alongside brand names like and Trulia. In addition, New Homes Directory seems to be taking the lead in delivering the best qualified traffic to home builders.

Recently O’Neil Interactive released a study on the web traffic a builder receives from digital marketing companies. The study broke down which sources deliver the most traffic and the quality of the traffic that source provided. The study showed that had produced the most volume of traffic to builder sites over New Home Guide,, New Home Source, Trulia and Zillow. Of course more is not always better. Builders want to see high quality traffic, not just volume. Again the study showed that was the leading digital marketing company! Check out the O’Neil Interactive video on what digital marketing sites are best for new home builders:

April 17 2014

The Home Buying Season

New Home Sales in Spring

On your mark, get set, sell those homes! Spring is here and so is the beginning of the home buying season. During the months of April through July, the home building industry sees the most number of home sales. The combination of warmer weather and kids out of school during vacation, home buyers are on the prowl for their new home. Not to mention most homes buyers do not want to move their kids from one school district to another and wait till the school year is at a close to uproot.

As we enter the optimal time for house hunting, we can expect home prices to rise and in most cases to their highest in the year. To counter act the higher prices, mortgage rates are doing their part to kick start the home buying season. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 4.34% after a two week increase.

Home builders may be feeling more confident this season as we see inventory of homes on the market increase by 10% year-over-year. High demands for new homes are on a rise and a sellers’ market is becoming evident with a drop of 114 days the average home is on the market and an increase in median home price. California is seeing the biggest inventory rise with twice as many homes for sale than this time last year. Here is to hoping we all have a great home buying season this spring!

Make sure your new homes are found this home buying season, add your communities today!.

March 11 2014

Creating the Perfect Pinterest Pin - Part Two

Pinterest Group Boards

There is a secret tip for you to increase followers by thousands… Group Boards. Group Boards are a small community of Pinners that all have access to the same board. This increases your presence on Pinterest by having your content in front of a loyal audience of a specific topic. This way you gain a multitude of followers instead of trying to reach them one by one.
How do you join a Group Board? There are three ways to get involved:

1 – Network with your corporate partners. See if any or your company’s partners already have a group board and ask them to join or if they would mind adding your pins. This is a great way to find boards that are within the same industry as you and who have similar followers you are trying to gain. For example, see if any supplier, like GE, has a Group Board you can post photos of upgraded kitchens that have their appliances in them.

2 – Start a Group Board. If you already have a board that is popular, you can use that as the back bone for creating a Group Board. This can be time consuming since you will have to manage accepting invitations from others to join as well as finding pinners to join your group.

3 – Getting invited to a Group Board may be the most difficult way, but it can be done. This consists of building relationships with board owners. To do this you first need to find a Group Board you would like to be part of. Pinterest makes Group Board owners follow at least one of your boards before they can invite you.  So make sure your boards have quality pins that make them want to follow you back.

Once you have found the Group Board you want to join and they are following you, introduce yourself with an email or message via Pinterest. Let them know you are interested in joining the group and include some of your boards that they may like in the email or message.

Once you have been invited to join a Group Board make sure you always pin relevant pins and are not pinning advertisements for your company. Your goal in the Group Board is not to sell, but to be part of the community and gain more followers.

February 14 2014

Creating the Perfect Pinterest Pin

Pinterest For Home Builders

The perfect Pinterest pin consists of three factors; visual dominating,  eye catching and mysterious. Let’s start with the visual dominance factor. Every pin should have a primary focal point that will help capture the users’ attention. How do you do this? Make sure the pin’s main focal point had a dominant appearance in size, color and density. The image’s main focal point should be larger and brighter than its counterparts and background. This is important since the layout of Pinterest has a multitude of interesting images. Most users will glance over the pins until something stands out. That is why your image must have a visual dominance within the photo that will catch the user’s eye.  You can also apply this by simply adding a border or posting a long/tall pin.

Make your pins stand out by posting things that are out of the ordinary. This does not means you need to have a brand new idea or concept; you just need a new spin on an old one. Remember the goal is to get the user to re-pin and share your pin. Your pin should make them say “I want to remember this” or “I want my followers to see this”.

Say you got the first two steps down, you are able to grab the user’s attention and they share your pin. But you are struggling to get the user to use the pins to get to your website, which is what the third factor of the perfect pin is for. You have to add some mystery. Your pins create mystery when you do not give the important information up front. For example you can have a pin that says, “10 New Kitchen Designs” but only show three kitchen photos. This makes the user click over to your site to see the remaining 7 kitchens.
To maximize your Pinterest marketing strategy, your pins must:
• Stand out within the Pinterest feed
• Motivate repining
• Drive clicks to your site

Tune in next month to find out how to get the most ROI out of your Pinterest campaign.



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