Monthly Archives: April 2016

LOCAL REALTOR® AWARDED CRB DESIGNATION

CRB Certified Real Estate Brokerage ManagerAlexandria, VA, 4/26/2016 — Maxine W. McLeod Miller, an Alexandria member of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty, was awarded the coveted CRB (Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager) Designation conferred by the Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (CRB). The Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (CRB), an affiliate of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, is the professional organization for brokerage management. The Council is dedicated to providing quality professional development programs, products and services that continually enhance the management productivity and profitability of its more than 7,000 members. The CRB Designation is recognized throughout the industry as the highest level of professional achievement — a symbol of excellence in brokerage management. The most successful brokerages are owned or managed by professionals having the coveted CRB Designation. The Council awards the CRB Designation to those individuals who successfully complete the requirements and demonstrate excellence in real estate brokerage management. Candidates must complete academic and professional courses covering such topics as finance, marketing, training, recruiting, and strategic planning.

Maxine W. McLeod Miller is the managing broker for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty at 300 N Washington Street, Suite 100 in Alexandria. She is a member of the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS (NVAR) and the Virginia Association REALTORS (VAR).  Maxine serves her association by volunteering her time serving on the Grievance Committee at Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS and the Information Management Committee at Virginia Association of REALTORS.

The Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (CRB) is the central source for brokerage management information and education and is the voice for real estate brokers and managers within the industry. Members are at the forefront of new developments in brokerage management. For more information, call the Council Services Department at 800-621-8738 or visit http://www.crb.com

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Use the power of “magic showing moments”

By Laurie Moore-Moore, Founder

The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing

Recently, I had an “Aha! Moment”– one of those times when the light bulb flashed and my understanding of something clicked to a new level. Here’s what happened, I had an opportunity to interact with the wonderfully outrageous South Florida home builder, Frank McKinney.

Just to set the stage for you, McKinney’s personality is as big as the 60,000+ square foot spec mansions he builds. He bills himself as a real estate “artist,” and there is no doubt that he is the force behind some of the Florida’s most interesting mansions priced in the double digit millions.

McKinney, who designs his homes in a tree house office, is a master of creativity.  On each property homepage, you’ll find a countdown-to-completion clock ticking away.   His new homes have theatrical “unveilings” (rather than grand openings) and draw hundreds of invitees who pay to preview the properties.

Here’s the light bulb that went on for me. We all know the importance of effective staging. But “McKinney’s marketing approach moves past staging and aims at creating a desire to live in the home from the time the prospect pulls up in front.  He works to take staging and showing and turn it into a powerful selling experience.

First, he considers when and how the prospect will arrive at the house. He tries to schedule showings at a time when the home will show to best advantage. If sunset is spectacular from the poolside terraces, he wants the prospects to experience those views.  Then, with the use of strategically placed cones, he influences exactly where the prospect and agent will park.  He blocks the drive so they are forced to approach the home in the most desirable way.  The prospect sees the full expanse of the front yard, takes in the dramatic architecture, sees the guest house which appears to be floating in a lagoon, smells the freshly cut grass and feels the marble pavers underfoot.  Anticipation heightens with the approach.

When the door opens, a memorable front door experience begins. While McKinney builds-in many of his front door magic moments — including in one recent home, a “water floor” that curves into an arched aquarium wet bar with exotic fish overhead — you can stage your own memorable front door openings by being creative. It’s the concept that’s important.  McKinney carefully furnishes and stages the home so there is a pleasant surprise or positive feature around every corner. He appeals to multiple senses using music and scent.  He has chocolate and champagne waiting. Prospects are qualified in advance, so McKinney has even been known to hand them the keys and suggest they spend the evening at the house (giving new meaning to the old puppy dog close!).

His goal is to open “the window of desire” for the home and close the deal.  What’s sitting by the front door on departure?  A contract.

McKinney’s sales track record would indicate that this approach works. He tells the story of meeting buyers after closing to walk them though their new multimillion home and demonstrate all the features.  His buyers asked, ‘Can we see the upstairs now, Frank?”  They had purchased based on only seeing (and falling in love with) the main floor.

In short, McKinney’s showings are designed to be memorable experiences that result in sales.  How can you do that with your listings?  Your homes don’t have to be multimillion dollar extravaganzas for you and your sellers to make every showing a memorable experience. This is turbo-charged staging.

Think about the questions McKinney must ask himself with every property.  What times of day does the home show best?  How can I take advantage of that?  What approach to the house is most favorable?  How can I enhance that approach? Where should prospects park?  Can you create a WOW the moment the front door opens? How can you keep the positive impressions happening?  What about sound and scent?  How can you stage to best highlight the lifestyle(s) the home represents?

Then, there’s the question of how you get the buy-in and cooperation of your seller.  The reality of today’s market is that some homes are selling.  Successful sales are generally the homes which have proper pricing, effective staging, and creative marketing. If your seller understands this and YOU can create magic showing moments, the probability of sales success rises.

Consumers See Interest Rate Increase from Opposite Angles

Real Estate News

Prospective homeowners express concern over increase and perceived effect on real estate decisions and lifestyles; existing homeowners stand indifferent to rate boost

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, part of the HSF Affiliates LLC family of real estate brokerage franchise networks,  released results from its 2015 Homeowner Sentiment Survey indicating a significant split in the way real estate consumers perceive the Federal Reserve’s anticipated raising of its benchmark interest rate and the subsequent impact on mortgage rates.

Existing homeowners expressed indifference to the notion of a lift in mortgage rates as a result of the Fed’s action. By contrast, 62% of prospective homeowners – a survey group composed mainly of millennials and Gen-Xers – said rising mortgage rates would make them feel anxious about their current financial situations.

It’s been nearly 10 years since the Fed raised its benchmark rate, which stands near zero as part of the Fed’s effort to stimulate the U.S. economy. Accordingly, mortgage rates, which move in response to the fed funds rate, have hovered at or near historic lows for years. Yet in the survey, 67% of prospective homebuyers categorized the level of today’s mortgage rates as “average” or “high.”

“The Fed is seeing more people going back to work and with the expectation of job growth for America it feels comfortable with its intent to raise rates,” said Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices President Stephen Phillips. “But the reality is that an entire generation of first-time buyers has never experienced a meaningful rate increase; this is a new and unfamiliar phenomenon to them.”

Should mortgage rates rise in response to a boost in the fed fund rate, many prospective homeowners said they would have to alter their home searches and 51% would adjust their savings pace. In addition, exactly half of prospective homeowners believed they would experience more difficulty affording their ideal home. Current homeowners, whose ranks are mostly Boomers and Gen-Xers, said that increased mortgage payments would mean more personal sacrifices in areas such as family vacations, home improvements and shopping.

Fed policymakers have said the pace at which they’ll raise interest rates will be gradual – an increase of a quarter of a percentage point is typical. A similar rise in mortgage rates would add about $43 a month to a hypothetical $300,000, 30-year mortgage with a 3.75% rate, explained Gino Blefari, CEO of HSF Affiliates. “A bump in mortgage rates has more bark than bite,” he said. “The average American spends about twice as much every month on coffee[1].”

A majority of current homeowners (59%) and half of prospective homeowners believed interest rates are holding steady. Lower interest rates remain the top reason why many survey respondents view the current housing market favorably.

Respondents also identified factors they believed are driving U.S. real estate forward. Increased residential construction and increased construction in urban areas offering more housing choices closer to work topped the list. Respondents also indicated that the housing market is benefiting from an increase in millennial buyers and by a boost in housing inventory; the latter factor has hamstrung real estate in many markets since the downturn. (See Homeowner Sentiment Survey results from September.)

“As always, our agents and the industry as a whole must take great care to educate buyers and sellers about the real estate process, which includes mortgage rates,” said Blefari. “A Fed rate increase may grab people’s attention, yet the cost of borrowing money to buy a home remains historically low by all measurements. From our perspective, even though we can’t predict the future, it looks like mortgage rates will remain attractive, and that’s good for consumers and the real estate market.”

The full survey details are available upon request.

 

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Consumer Sentiment Survey Methodology

Interviews with 2,502 respondents were conducted online by Edelman Berland in November 2015. The respondents captured were either current homeowners (individuals who currently own a home as a primary residence) or prospective homeowners (individuals who are looking to buy a home within the next six months). The margin of error is +/-2.2% for current homeowners and +/- 4.4% for prospective homeowners.


Real Estate News

About Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and HSF Affiliates LLC

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, based in Irvine, CA, is a real estate brokerage network built for a new era in residential real estate. The network, among the few organizations entrusted to use the world-renowned Berkshire Hathaway name, brings to the real estate market a definitive mark of trust, integrity, stability and longevity. Visit www.berkshirehathawayhs.com.

 

Irvine, CA-based HSF Affiliates LLC operates Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Prudential Real Estate and Real Living Real Estate franchise networks. The company is a joint venture of which HomeServices of America, Inc., the nation’s second-largest, full-service residential brokerage firm, is a majority owner. HomeServices of America is an affiliate of world-renowned Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

[1] According to a National Coffee Association study.

Love Your Home Sweepstakes

Have you heard the news?  Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’s $50,000 sweepstakes last year was such a huge success they decided to give away even more money this year!  That’s right, in addition to giving away a $50,000 grand prize, they will also be giving away $2,500 a week to one lucky winner in the Love Your Home Sweepstakes.

love your home sweepstakes

Now through 5:00 p.m. ET on June 17, 2016, enter for a chance to win $50,000 to update your home so you can Love It or List It. Plus, one person will win $2,500 every week.  For more details or to enter the contest, visit http://www.loveyourhomesweeps.com or read the fine print and complete rules.

Shock of the New Chic

Complex Consumers: Why Your Old Marketing Won’t Work In Today’s Luxury Market

In decades past, luxury consumers were a primarily homogenous group with ostentatious style and a taste for status-setting items with luxury labels. Today, however, these values are all but obsolete. Luxury consumers are more varied, diverse, numerous, and complex than ever before, and thus less receptive to old marketing and branding tactics such as regionally- and demographically-targeted messaging. Market research shows that the “new” luxury consumer—in all of her instantiations—demands a fresh approach from luxury brands and service providers.

Out With The “Old” Luxury Consumer & In With The New

Although the new luxury consumer does not fit into one box, there are a few sentiments and traits that are growing across the board.

  • Global. The luxury consumer exists everywhere, and the Internet makes most products and services available to people from all corners of the world.
  • Sophisticated. Compared to past generations, today’s luxury consumer has more refined tastes and thinks more about the impact of their consumerism. These sophisticated shoppers are more educated about their options when making a buying decision.
  • Demanding. They expect their high-end vendors and service providers to be ever-accessible, as well as near-superhuman in their ability to predict the consumer’s needs and concerns.
  • Concerned with sustainability. The luxury market is not immune to eco-conscious consumers and business practices.
  • Shopping across all channels. Although today’s luxury consumer tends to communicate online, don’t assume that they’re doing all of their buying on the Internet. The in-person, in-office experience still matters.
  • Diverse. In age, race, socioeconomic background, taste, and expectations.

Luxury Experiences

One of the most important changes in the luxury consumer is the shift in interest from luxury “things” to luxury experiences. “Shock of the New Chic,” a recent research article by BCG Perspectives, reports that “newly affluent buyers tend to amass tangible goods that show off their wealth. Those who have acquired the ‘things’ they want tend to move on to one-of-a-kind experiences that they can share with others.”

Across all levels of affluence, the interest in luxury experiences is growing, from free-diving with hammerhead sharks to attending art auctions with other community members. American Millennials, for example, generally place much more stock in shared experiences than the elder and wealthier Baby Boomers. BCG’s 2013 Global Consumer Sentiment Survey showed that 29% of Chinese consumers prefer enriching experiences to products, while 51% of American consumers said the same. Today, experiential luxury constitutes 55% of luxury spending worldwide, and sales of luxury experiences now outstrip sales of high-end products.

How to Adapt & Improve

Here are 3 ways that luxury service providers can change their “business as usual” to embrace the changing trends and demographics within their market.

  • Offer luxury experiences. Real estate professionals should expand their services and offer luxury experiences to clients and prospects. This might mean organizing exclusive events, hosting community meet-ups for high-net-worth individuals, or throwing soirées featuring local luxury brands and products. Think of creative, on-brand ways to enhance your clients’ experience and enable them to “live” luxury, rather than just live in it.
  • Enrich your sales process. Research shows that, to excel with today’s consumer, all aspects and stages of your service should be top-tier. “Turning sales activities into deluxe experiences in their own right is nothing new,” according to BCG’s research. “But the practice is reaching new levels of excellence across a widening range of luxury segments . . . and across all channels.” Ask yourself how you can enhance your sales experience in the office, online, and everywhere in between. One digital option in real estate is to provide an easy method for clients to track the selling or buying process via a sleek smartphone app with push notifications. With a customer service interface that is branded and personalized, clients feel cared for and informed.
  • Test out new “experiential” business models. Over the past decade, the luxury market has seen a proliferation of businesses based on “sampling” luxury items or experiences, sometimes through rental or subscription models like those of Bag Borrow Or Steal and Birchbox. BCG noted that, “Although some see such businesses as democratizing luxury—perhaps even diluting the participating brands—the new model clearly resonates with consumers, especially Millennials.” In other words, it’s time to second guess the old assumption that exclusivity begets luxury.

Market research and statistics shed light on the luxury consumer’s ongoing transformation, and there is mounting evidence that it’s time for big changes in the luxury industry. BCG Perspectives stressed that, although luxury brands historically put less stock into research than their mainstream counterparts, “the formulas for success have become much more complicated.”

– from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing