Retain and Attract More Talent
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Your ability to retain or attract talent gives you a competitive advantage. But how do you do that effectively? Agents are now looking for more benefits and strategies that will help them stand out from competitors and make more commissions.
One way to retain business is to offer your agents a retirement solution that is exclusive to them. This helps your agents achieve two important objectives: saving for their own retirement and becoming more disciplined with their personal finances, given that they work in a field where saving is made more difficult due to unpredictable fluctuations in income.
What does a retirement plan that is exclusive to agents look like? It needs to have characteristics that are familiar to agents. It needs to help them grow financially. It needs to be cost-effective, self-managed, and flexible. Most important of all, it needs to allow investments that agents are familiar with—real estate.
A retirement plan that will help agents maximize their savings
Most people, including agents, are turned off by the idea of saving for retirement because they are unfamiliar with the investments—stocks, bonds and mutual funds—typically available from banks and brokerages.
There is another option that allows them to save for retirement by investing in what they know—real estate. This option is a self-directed Real Estate IRA.
Besides being able to invest in real estate, self-directed IRAs allow agents to save on their taxes. A self-directed SEP IRA (Simplified Employee Pension IRA) allows agents to put away up to 25% of their income or $53,000 (2016 limits).
Your agents also can use their knowledge of Real Estate IRAs to grow your business. Investing in real estate with an IRA is not much different than with personal funds but there are rules to follow. Once your agents become familiar with the process, they can assist their clients in doing the same. This helps you grow your business.
The AgentIRA
A self-directed AgentIRA gives brokers the flexibility to decide how involved they want to be in their employees’ or agents’ retirement strategy. Unlike a 401(k) Plan, the AgentIRA Program establishes an individual IRA for each agent. The agent is in control of how much or little they contribute to their IRA per commission check—the classic “out of sight, out of mind,” approach to saving.
Brokers are using the AgentIRA Program to retain talent and provide a solution for agents who are not prepared for the future.

Get More Production From Your Lead Generation
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We’re deep into the third quarter of the year, and you know what that means; it’s time to ramp up your lead generation. While many agents succumb to the temptation to take their foot off the gas at this time of year, the most successful agents apply more pressure to the pedal and focus on generating the leads that will carry them into next year. Set your business up for lasting success with these tips.
Plan for success. Planning your day ahead of time allows you to hit the ground running when you turn on your computer in the morning, instead of wasting time thinking about what you need to get done. One of the biggest complaints agents have is they simply don’t have time. If you want to succeed, you make time. List your top two priorities—one of which should be lead generation. This will ensure you have the time to generate those leads.
Prioritize your people. Who are the clients who have referred you the most? These are the people you should communicate with the most. After all, their business and referrals are the lifeblood of your business. That means call your top clients first, deliver their pop-bys first and write them personal notes most frequently. The more you connect with them, the more likely you are to stay at the top of their minds so they can refer you.
Delegate. It’s hard to find time to generate leads when you’re bogged down by tasks that take up a large chunk of your time. Try to delegate time-consuming tasks, such as stuffing envelopes with marketing flyers and filing paperwork to your assistant. This will give you more time to generate leads.
Schedule “wiggle room” into your day to handle the unexpected. It’s still essential to serve your clients, and there are times when emergencies pop up. However, when you have to divert your attention from the task at hand to put out a fire, chances are you won’t return to it later. When you build wiggle room into your day, you know you’ll handle the issue later on, and you’re less likely to abandon your lead generation to deal with it right away.
Track your progress. Tracking not only provides perspective on how close you are to reaching your goals, it also helps you see what’s been done and what still needs doing. Plus, it provides helpful motivation on those days when you may not feel like picking up the phone.
Lead generation is an essential part of your business, and when you work by referral, those leads come from the relationships you build with your clients. The more you stay in touch with your top clients, the more referrals you get to people just like them. Build a database of clients you love to serve by staying on top of your lead generation. Remember, the best time to sow the seeds for future business is now.

What to Consider When Moving to a New State
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Relocating to a new state offers the opportunity to start fresh and experience a life you may not have otherwise planned. But, like anything new, moving can present its own unique challenges, from organizing what to bring and discard, to deciding where to enroll the kids in school, to ensuring everyone remains happy and positive. Truly, the devil is in the details.

But because deciding where to move is the easy part, it's wise to cobble together a moving checklist to ensure you're not excluding any items to make your new house a home. Check out these helpful tips that will make your out-of-state move as seamless as possible. 

Create a Checklist and Budget

Getting organized is one of the keys to a successful move. The best way to start is by creating a checklist. For example, in addition to packing and arranging moving services, you will need to:


  • Change your address and phone number

  • Update your billing and credit card information

  • Update your insurance policies

  • Obtain a new driver's license and plates

After creating this checklist, organize it chronologically into a calendar. For instance, you might start sorting through your belongings and research moving companies two months before your move, order moving supplies six weeks ahead of your move, and start packing and scheduling moving services a month ahead of time. Real Simple provides a sample calendar checklist that you can modify.

As you develop your checklist and calendar, you should also start planning a budget for the items on your list. Moving out of state can be expensive — as much as $8,000 to $14,000 if you're moving across the country, according to Updater.com. Items to include in your budget include:


  • Moving company expenses

  • Costs for unpacking and assembling appliances

  • Vehicle transportation costs

  • Post-move costs for security deposits and furniture

Before Your Move

Your checklist should include a number of key items you need to complete before your move. These include researching the cost of living in your new state, scheduling moving services, conducting a home inventory in deciding what to keep or discard, and packing. You may also need to take care of arranging transportation for plants and pets, collecting important documents and paperwork (insurance and school records), and canceling utility services at your old home and activating them at your new home.

Finding the Right Movers

Choosing the right movers can make the difference between a smooth moving experience and a big hassle. Interstate moving companies are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which requires them to comply with regulations for registration, a unique Department of Transportation number and insurance. This information should be posted on their website. You can read moving company reviews and receive quotes at MovingCompanyReviews.com. When considering moving companies, find out if they will subcontract your move, which might mean some of your belongings arrive at different times than others.

Post-Move Follow-Up

After moving into your new home — surprise! — there are a few more items to check off your list. Some of the more high-priority items include getting acclimated and set up with your new job, finding new local healthcare providers and registering your car. DMV.org provides an online map to discover motor-vehicle registration and license plate requirements for any state. You should also make it a habit of become familiar with local traffic and safety laws in your new home state, which you can research on driving-tests.org.

Finally, start laying down some social roots by checking out community events and getting to know your neighbors. Soon, with any luck, your new house will start to feel like a home.


Changes to the Closing Disclosure Form
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Since the October 2015 implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ‘Know Before You Owe’ mortgage initiative, REALTORS® have raised red flags over challenges in gaining access to what’s known as the mortgage “closing disclosure” form, or CD. The CD is delivered to homebuyers in advance of their closing and contains important financial information related to their purchase. Unfortunately, many lenders have chosen to withhold this document from real estate agents since Know Before You Owe went into effect, despite a longstanding tradition of sharing similar information.Earlier this year, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau announced that it was considering changes to Know Before You Owe – also known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure, or TRID – including a clarification of the rules regarding sharing the CD.
Recently, the CFPB made good on that promise when it announced a proposed rule on TRID, and stated in their announcement that the Bureau understands that it is usual, accepted and appropriate for creditors and settlement agents to provide a closing disclosure to consumers, sellers and their real estate brokers or other agents. The National Association of REALTORS® believes this announcement marks significant progress for consumers, as well as for its members. Giving REALTORS® access to the CD would strengthen consumers’ understanding of their mortgage and home purchase by helping agents continue to provide expert advice to their clients.
REALTORS® have reported challenges gaining access to the Closing Disclosure ever since TRID went into effect, despite a long history of access to the substantively similar HUD-1 that is replaced. The CFPB acknowledged that concern by making it clear that it is appropriate and accepted for creditors and settlement agents to share the CD with consumers, sellers and their real estate agents. This is a significant victory that will help REALTORS® continue to provide the expert service their clients have come to expect. We appreciate the CFPB’s willingness to reconsider the TRID-related challenges our members face and will continue to monitor the progress on this important issue in the months ahead.

USHUD People Pleasers
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The vast majority of real estate agents and a great number of loan officers are in the business because they want to help people. We are in the sales profession but we are also many times “people pleasers”. This personality trait is wonderful for those that we are pleasing but when someone is not happy we too often take that as a slight against ourselves and our ability to please people. The unhappy person could be unhappy for a number of different reasons that have nothing to do with us but we take on that baggage as if we were the sole reason for their discontent.

People pleasers are wonderful, caring individuals and the label should not be seen as a negative. People pleasers are not wimps or soft, they are just putting other people’s needs ahead of their own. It is a trait to be admired especially in a world that is full of people that think only of “I” and “my needs”
USHUD sees people pleasers as the ones that make us feel good when we are at a low point in life or drive out to help us out of a jam when we thought we were alone. The world is a better place because of people pleasers and we should reward them with our loyalty and try as best we can to return the kindness that they share with others.

A word to the people pleasers from USHUD: Don’t take it too personally when someone cannot be pleased. We are living in a giant world with millions of different people and we cannot make everyone happy. People will bring their own baggage to the situation and they don’t often tell us about it unless we ask.

“Have you had a bad experience with someone recently?” is a fine question and can open up doors of conversation that may have been only a mystery before.
They will often tell us about a car buying experience where they felt taken advantage of or some other episode that has made them question their judgment and therefore become more skeptical towards the next person that they meet that is in a similar relationship. Realizing the issue and talking about it and letting them know that we understand and even sharing a similar experience can work wonders in getting over the difficulty. Then we can get back on the road of being a people pleaser and finding out how to please the person faster and with less friction.

USHUD understands that people pleasers don’t generally want to ask this type of question as they feel that it is prying or none of their business and that goes against their nature. The truth is if we want to please them we have got to understand where they are in their own life experience.  

USHUD and How Real Estate Pro’s Can We Work With All The Distractions
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Daily life will drive by and kick us square in the head if given even a slight opportunity. If we acknowledge this in advance we have a better chance at dodging life’s big boot. Spouses, children, errands, car repairs, cable repair people are just examples of the thousands of distractions that we face constantly. Add to that maintaining some semblance of a social life and the picture becomes quite complicated.

These distractions are all necessary to life but how can we better balance and stay in control of the crazy life that we lead? The answer is an airtight schedule.
Many of us have chosen the real estate profession because of the lack of schedule that our job allows. The difference is that with a completely open schedule USHUD realizes that sometimes we allow our time to be filled with things that don’t make us happy or produce income.

An airtight schedule that we create ourselves is the best way to stay on track without having to think about it all the time. Without having to weigh one thing against the other every time something pops up that is not on the schedule. Airtight does not mean that it is not that there is no flexibility. It just means that you have a schedule that you can refer to in the cases when a phone call comes in and someone is asking for something that is not a priority on our schedule. Our schedules are something that we deviate from as little as possible and return to as quickly as possible.

As real estate professionals we don’t have the hassle or luxury of having an overseer that thrashes us with a large stick in order to motivate us. We are our sole source of motivation and direction. We are answerable to ourselves only. People who have bosses and are answerable to them are fortunate in many ways as they have a schedule dictated to them and expectations set for them. We have neither and we often suffer because of it. We suffer because we are seen to have all the free time in the world while in reality we just have no structure. Lack of structure does not equate to absolute freedom it just means that we are only answerable to ourselves and our clients. Unfortunately people on the outside looking in just see the freedom and don’t realize the responsibility or the balancing acts we are performing every day. USHUD does and we feel it is important that we take care of our priorities and not allow others do it for us.

Our clients do not provide freedom. Our clients are extremely demanding as buying or selling a home is a very stressful time in someone’s life. In fact the demands on our schedule are so great that sometimes we forget that because we don’t have to answer to anyone we begin answering to everyone. This is the plight of many real estate professionals and is a hard habit to break.

Working insane hours combined with a demanding personal life gives us a cocktail for exhaustion and frustration. Balance is what is needed and the best way to create true balance is to use an air tight schedule so that we can share it and get more accomplished without making us feel as though we have let someone down.

USHUD How Taking a Vacation Reduces Taxes
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If we are going on vacation we could always sit through a sales presentation of a time share or expand our knowledge by attending a sales presentation of some sort. This means that we may be able to write at least a portion of the vacation on our taxes. This is not meant to be tax avoidance post but a way to fold some educational information into a vacation and be able to write off the expense. Some of this has been tried by USHUD agents and the results were not great as the spouse or loved one of the real estate agent is not always pleased with our trying to wrap work into a vacation. Truly romantic vacations rarely involve listening to someone else’s sales pitch or attending a conference.

When we can manage, it is because we have not overwhelmed ourselves prior to the vacation. If we have overwhelmed ourselves we should think about the time that we need to recharge our batteries and not how to save a little on our taxes. But when we can do both we should be taking advantage of one of the reasons we are independent contractors. Independent contractors are able to take advantage of tax laws that allow us to write more off on our taxes because we incur more expenses while doing our jobs than the traditional hourly or salary employee.

Would we not write off the expense of our cars? Our office expenses? Of course we would. USHUD believes that we should be writing off other things that are possible which includes travel expenses. We should of course always consult with our accountant before taking the write off or planning on taking the write off.  There is no reason to generate a higher bill than we can write off if we don’t have to and there is no reason to ever take a write off that we shouldn’t. Audits are about as much fun as having teeth pulled. By asking our tax person we can save ourselves a lot of money and headaches.

USHUD Taking Time Off
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Time off of work is never more important than it is now. Thankfully there are also benefits from the connectivity we have now when it comes to taking time off that comes with the being so easy to reach. We are not robots or vending machines. We do not and should not stay plugged in 24/7. It may seem for a while that we are just doing our jobs but in actual fact we are less able to do an effective job if we are exhausted and overworked. Humans were not designed to take the amount of information and demands of our time that we are constantly subjecting ourselves to in the real estate profession.

Weekends and holidays are often worked by agents that are either just starting out and even veterans get caught in the trap of being too busy working to remember to enjoy their lives. This life balance is essential to creating a healthy and happy client base and keep our families and ourselves happy as well. A happy home life is important to not just our families but for the clients that we serve. If we are struggling with our spouse because of our demanding schedule we are less likely to be able to hear the needs of the client and therefore less able to assist them to the best of our ability.

Real estate is not too different from being an emergency room doctor. We are not always able to control the flow of work that we have coming at us. Writing offers, responding to emails, home inspections and all the rest of the things that we do that we did not schedule into our weeks take a toll on us and we need to take a serious look at how many hours we are working and how many hours of those that we work are truly effective. This way we can start to understand that we are not always needed just because someone or something thinks they need us. Some things can be handled by others and still others don’t need to be handled at all. USHUD believe that a balance between work and recreation is critical to being successful over the course of

The benefit of being connected is that we can tell all of our clients at once that we will be out for a period of time. USHUD doesn’t believe that we need to communicate what we are doing (vacation, staycation or whatever) an email that just provides our schedule is far more effective and telling people that we are going on a vacation is not always seen in the best light. If the average home owner looks for a home for no more than 90 days this means that we are very likely to communicate to someone that only knows us for 25% of the year that we are taking our quarterly vacation, and we all know that isn’t the case.

Then we need to set our voice mails to let anyone that calls that we are on vacation. We don’t need to answer every call and when we are on vacation USHUD believes that we shouldn’t be answering the phone at all. We are on vacation and deserve the time off. We need the time off and nothing disturbs the time that we need off to more than a panicking client with a problem that we can’t solve while we are on vacation. Our stress levels go up and our vacation mode is completely destroyed.

Auto responders are also a wonderful tool to let people know why we are not responding to their emails. A simple “Out will be out of reach until the 24th of this month. I will respond to your email as soon as I can. Until then please feel free to contact my associate Frankly Helpful at 800-880-8584 and he will get back to you before then” is great and need not say “I’m taking a vacation that I deserve so leave me alone for a second please?” even though we may feel that way at times.

We don’t want to check emails or phone messages while we are on vacation as it is a recipe for impacting the other people that we are on vacation with. Their time off is also important and we need to respect that so that they can have the most relaxing time possible. Take a vacation and enjoy the down time without trying to juggle work during the time away …we deserve it!

What Golf Courses Communities Do For Real Estate
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As the golf season come to a close with the PGA championship is being played we are taking a look at what golf courses like Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville Kentucky do for the local community. The American population of golfers and non-golfers get a rare look at Kentucky outside of Churchill Downs and a look at the nature that surrounds the area. We don’t get this same perceptive while watch a basketball game or any other sporting event other than golf. Golf is famous for showing the best of what the local natural environment has to offer. USHUD understands the value of golf courses to the immediate community as well as the surrounding communities. It is not that the act of playing golf is what makes the difference. It is the value of having land dedicated to open spaces which are maintained and provide a sense of peacefulness. This peace is seen in crime reports which are lower than communities without golf courses.

A golf course can be placed in the middle of a bustling city and still maintain a sense of being a peaceful and tranquil oasis that exists in a far off destination.
This is the case with several courses that were once built in quiet and unpopulated areas but as the cities and towns continued to grow the golf course was left as a single point of nature that is paid for by the members and guests of the course and not the city or state.

The Masters is located in Augusta Georgia and the course ranks as one of the most beautiful in the world while the areas immediately surrounding the famed course area is not nearly as pristine.  Congressional golf course in Bethesda, Maryland is another such example of a golf course that retains the natural beauty of the area even as it becomes developed or as some may say “over developed”
  
The natural beauty of a golf course creates a visual distinction from other planned communities and this creates the sense of lifestyle even for non-golfers. The ability to have wide open spaces with rolling green grass brings us back to our roots as human beings and allows us to feel connected to the world even when the large swaths of green grass are not completely natural. They are more of an exaggerated version of nature that balances out the homes and businesses that surround them. 

Celebrity Golf Course Homes
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USHUD follows the golf industry as the golf industry also involves real estate and the communities that are designed in golf course communities. Prior to the mortgage meltdown there were 300 +/- golf courses being built at any time. since the mortgage meltdown the average amount of golf courses being built has shrunk to about 10% of what it was. Since 2007 the golf course construction business has been impacted by the number of homes and developments that were being built. When the construction industry fell to earth following the collapse of the mortgage market.

Today homes are still being built in some communities such as Greenbrier, Kiawah Island and other highly rated golf courses that not only get exposure from the tournament play but from the celebrity golfers that buy homes in those communities. Adam Scott parks his car at his palatial home at Greenbrier, as does Sir Nick Faldo and many other celebrity athletes. Are they getting sweetheart deals because of their celebrity stature? There is no doubt about that but the discounts or perks they receive can only be offered when the course or community can afford it.

When golf courses like the Greenbrier are willing to pay celebrities $100,000 for a one day appearance to open their Casino there is no question that the same celebrities will receive a substantial reduction in the price of their home as well as financing options that are not available to the rest of us. Sir Nick, Bubba Watson and Jerry West all own vacation homes at the Greenbrier. Bubba is famously a resident of his home town of Bagdad Florida, while Jerry West was born and raised in West Virginia where of course The Greenbrier is located.

When celebrities like Adam Scott park their luxury SUV’s in front of a vacation home at a golf course community the value of all the homes in that community are increased as the rising tide lifts all boats in the harbor. USHUD understands that the celebrity status of the owner does not have to be golf related as Dan Marino owns a home on Kiahaw as does Miami Heat player Ray Allen.  Where Pebble Beach is called home by Clint Eastwood, Condoleezza Rice and Alan Shepard.

And it is not all about golf. Most people that live in golf course communities don’t even play golf. USHUD has determined that another subset plays golf less than 25 times a year and only a small portion play golf on a regular basis. Lifestyle had become more important to these residence that don’t put a premium on golf but on the lifestyle that they can achieved in a community that is built around a golf course.
And nothing says lifestyle like living next door to a well-known celebrity, even if they are rarely there.

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