Now is a Great Time to Refinance

 

 

With mortgage rates still trending low, we’re seeing a huge uptick in refinancing applications – almost 2.5 times more than this same time last year, according to Mortgage Bankers Association. If you bought your home within the last two years and have been considering refinancing, now is a great time and here’s why:

  • Home loan interest rates are still at their lowest point since 2016.
  • Buyers who took on a mortgage over the last year and a half are more likely to have a higher interest rate as 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages offered through 2018 were around 4.54%, according to Freddie Mac.
  • Black Knight estimates that roughly 10 million borrowers could save at least 0.75 percentage points by refinancing

 

Shorter Loan Term

If your current interest rate is around 4.5% or higher, there is a strong possibility that refinancing could help you lower your monthly expenses and shave five years off of your current loan term and keep your monthly payment the same. (See graphic below. Savings based on a $250,000 loan amount.) For those considering refinance as an option, be sure to speak with your mortgage adviser about loan-origination fees as those fees could potentially outweigh the savings.

 

Cash-Out Refinance

Have you been dreaming of a new kitchen or adding square footage to your home, but worried that a new cash out mortgage payment will kill your monthly budget? With today’s rates, not only can you borrow for less, but your new payment is likely to be less than your existing one simply because of the lower interest rate.

Ideally, when it comes to cash out refinancing, we recommend putting that cash toward something that improves your home’s overall value versus spending it on new living room furniture, clothing or a Caribbean vacation. Other great options are to pay down high interest credit card debt or put the extra cash towards your family’s emergency fund in the event of an unforeseen hardship.

 

Whether you’re looking to lower your monthly living expenses, shave time off of your mortgage or do a cash-out refinance for home improvements, we wouldn’t recommend waiting. Speak to your mortgage adviser today and find out if refinancing is the right option for you.

 

 

Why You Need An Appraisal

It’s finally happened — after months of searching, you’ve found your dream home. It’s the perfect size for your growing family, the kitchen was just remodeled and there’s a huge deck for entertaining. And best of all, the seller accepted your offer!

As we near your closing date, your lender will want to verify the home’s value with an appraisal. This might sound nerve-wracking, but don’t worry: Appraisals protect you from overpaying.

Let’s dive into appraisals to demystify the process:

When do you need an appraisal?
If you’re taking out a mortgage to buy a new home, the lender will require an appraisal. The appraiser gives an independent estimate of the property based on recent sales data of similar homes.

When your mortgage amount matches the appraised price of the home, you know that you have a good loan-to-value ratio — and aren’t paying more than you should be.

What does an appraiser look for?
An appraiser will physically measure the home’s square footage and visually inspect the entire property. They’ll note things like:

  • Floor plan functionality and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Age of the house and its overall appearance
  • Value of any recent updates or remodeling
  • Size of the lot
  • Desirability of the surrounding neighborhood

After comparing all of that against similar nearby homes sold within the last 90 days, the appraiser arrives at your home’s value.

What if it’s valued for less than you expected?
Let’s say you agreed to buy the property for $250,000 but the appraisal came in at $225,000. Your lender won’t approve a loan for more than the appraised price.

If you still want to buy the home, a lower price can be negotiated with the seller or you can challenge the appraisal and pay for a second opinion.

Another option is to walk away. This may not sound ideal, and it will probably be hard to do. But the goal is to get you the right home at the best price.

If an appraisal comes in low, we’ll discuss all the options available to make sure you don’t overpay.

Are you ready to find your dream home? Reach out today to get started.

 

 

Change The Planet Week

 

Dear Friends, Clients, Partners & Family,

Every year I forget how hot it actually gets here in Phoenix, and then, like clockwork, it hits me. Is anyone else ready to welcome back those cooler fall temperatures? Well, while we’re waiting, I wanted to share a project that I’ve been passionate about recently – and I hope it sparks something in you too.

In the past, I’ve mentioned an organization – The CORE – which is now like family to me. Being part of a mentor group has been instrumental in my professional growth and something I highly recommend looking into if you want to grow your business. A few years ago, we decided it was time to start giving back to our communities. They created ‘Change the Planet Week’ to encourage people to donate their personal time and labor to make a difference in their neighborhoods.

Between my involvement with the Chandler Compadres and now The CORE, I have made it a priority to give back to local organizations like these, and I’d like to ask the same of you. This year, Change The Planet Week begins on September 8th. During this week, I’m asking my friends, family, partners and colleagues to give a few hours of your personal time and labor to a cause of your choice and share your experiences on our Facebook Group page (search for Change the Planet Week). It would mean the world to me and will hopefully inspire others to give of their time too.

We have supported many organizations in the past. This year my team and I are working with Save the Family to get an apartment ready for a new family. We are excited to do something new and this should be a great team building exercise.  Are there any organizations you enjoy volunteering at or giving your time to? Send me an email and let me know.

I truly believe that it only takes a few hours of time spent giving back to your community to make a huge impact, and who knows, together we may just Change the Planet! What do you say? Will you join me? I hope the rest of your year is a success and look forward to speaking to you soon.

Matt Askland

 

Fixing Ugly Isn’t Easy

 

Have you ever dealt with a collection company before?  Would you rather bang your head against the wall?

Recently, our team was called upon to help a client fix an “ugly” situation on their credit report to improve their terms with a home loan refinance.  The collection only totaled $250 but, it had a huge impact because everything else was paid perfectly.  You may wonder why this particular collection had a larger impact on this particular client’s strong credit report vs. someone who notoriously has late payments on their report.  That’s a great question…..however the answer is, “it’s just an ugly reality.”  Believe it or not, if you pay your debt in full but negotiate the wrong type of letter from the creditor, your result in regards to credit improvement could still be costly.  We coached our client on what to say and what documentation they would need with the exact verbiage required to improve their overall credit rating.

The result:  we were able to improve our client’s credit score by 107 points and reduce their monthly mortgage payment by over $100 per month for a one-time $250 payment and a patient phone call.

The long term savings in this situation saved the client thousands!  If you have an ugly credit situation, call us so we can help you! As always thank you for your continued support!  Without your ongoing referrals we would not be where we are today!

 

Helping Your Clients Build Their Wealth

 

If you’ve seen one home valuation tool, you’ve seen them all, right? At least that’s what I thought until I recently came across a new asset management tool that not only provides home valuations, but also provides detailed wealth management tips and statistics that my clients have found invaluable. Moreover, this tool has helped to build and strengthen my database by keeping my clients engaged and better informed.

Introducing Homebot
Homebot is a true home valuation and wealth management game changer. With this unique automated tool, you can build lasting relationships with your clients as their go-to expert, maximize your new purchase clients, and drive repeat and referral business.

How does Homebot work and how is it different?
Firstly, it is a free revolutionary home valuation tool that delivers a monthly digest to your clients that contains their personal financial data, as well as provides actionable home wealth information. From personalized calculations to help your clients save money and pay off their loan earlier; to customized refinancing scenarios and real-time savings; to advanced market rental data and monthly cash flow calculations for potential vacation home rentals. The options are endless and the feedback we’ve received from our clients currently using Homebot have been tremendous.

Evidence of Success
Just this past month, we successfully helped two families pull cash out of their homes to make improvements. This was a direct result of the loan-to-value calculations they received via Homebot in their monthly digest. No matter what your client’s needs are, this tool will help them effectively manage their most important investment.

While Homebot continuously works behind the scenes to create current data for your clients, it’s even more powerful when you use your client list to gain insights into their interest rates, estimated equity, and purchasing power. The customized market analysis that your client receives is not like anything you’ve seen – it offers detailed information about how to use their equity position to achieve both short-term and long-term goals. In addition, with Homebot’s timeline-style activity feed, you can get to know which of your clients are most engaged in their Homebot digest with behavioral insights.

You can also use HomeBot as an engagement tool by importing your prospect list, giving valuable insights to renters and first-time home buyer prospects. Take this tool a step further and place the HomeBot form/widget directly onto your website to capture new leads from prospects who are curious about their home value, rental potential or market conditions. When a person fills out this form, they will see their own home report and the lead is automatically added to your HomeBot database.

What Agents are saying about Homebot
Below are a couple of reviews from local Valley agents that are using HomeBot and the success they’re seeing within their sphere:

“I’ve tried handfuls of automated home value tools over the years and they all have downfalls, but what I love about Homebot is that it is a tool that doesn’t just give home values. It actually shows my clients why the value matters and what can be done with the equity. I’m passionate about helping my clients build wealth and generational wealth through real estate, and this is the first tool that seems to supply that guidance to the average homeowner.”  -Ben Graham, Graham Group, Revelation Real Estate

“Looking for a great way to stay in touch with your clients and keep them up to date on the home values and choices they have? HomeBot is one of the key touchpoints I use for my clients. Homebot allows them to view at-a-glance, where they are with their equity and refinance options, and ultimately helps their lender and I work together on a financial plan to get them where they want to go.” -Beth Cooke, Keller Williams Sonoran Living

How much does Homebot cost?
It’s actually quite reasonable, especially if you partner with your preferred lender. If you’re an agent and don’t have a preferred lender that offers Homebot, give me a call and we’ll be happy to assist. If you’re a lender reading this, we highly recommend taking advantage of this incredible tool. To learn more about Homebot, feel free to visit their website at https://homebot.ai/.

 

 

 

Realtor Q & A: Max Dewitt, East Valley Expert with Realty One Group

Q&A With Max Dewitt, East Valley Expert with Realty One Group

Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into real estate?

A. I was born and raised here in the East Valley. I am a fourth generation Arizona native, and my son (and daughter on the way) makes it five generations! I graduated from ASU and then failed out of medical school, got divorced, had a quarter life crisis and wound up in real estate in 2014. I met my wonderful wife in 2015, have been married for three years and we have a little girl on the way. We love to get outside and honestly, we love to work. We get to be together and help people we care about and even find ways to get our son Waylon involved. He probably knows more about this business than most agents. My wife (who is also an agent) and I together average about one house a week, and approximately 50 homes a year. We have eight agents that make up The Steadfast Group. In 2018 we did 108 homes sales and about $32 million in production.

Q. In hind sight, is there anything you wish you had done differently as a new agent?

A. Be more assertive. I had a lack of confidence when I first started out, and in my opinion, I lost out on opportunities as a result of that. I also built a custom home that I couldn’t sell. These mistakes cost me time and money and were a huge learning lesson.

Q. What does a typical day look like for you and what are your hours?

A. Normally I’m up at about 5:30am. I leave the house between 7am and 8am, take Waylon to school, get to the gym, then to the office for a few hours. I wish I was better at keeping a set schedule, but I find some of my most productive days are when I can make time for an unexpected showing or meet a new client. My days tend to be pretty long. I’m usually working through transactions with my wife or sending emails after our son goes to bed, but I make it a priority to find time to dedicate to my wife and son throughout the day. This business is stressful, and if you care about your clients, it’s hard not to work. So often, your own life gets neglected. Being able to really maximize the family time we have together takes discipline but it’s worth it!

Q. How do you survive the summers/slow times?

A. Every year is different. During slow times I focus on my marketing. For example, I like to send CMA’s to those that may be ready to sell. We usually come up with a good list of new clients and prospects.

Q. How do you stay engaged with past clients?

A. We like to keep it basic. We focus on interpersonal relationships and try our very best to follow the “golden rule.” I send holiday cards, thank you cards, and postcards with seasonal messaging, and I take it one step further and have extras printed to hand out as necessary. I always take time to personally and sincerely engage on social media. I like to host client events like Easter egg hunts, movies, shoot out competitions, etc. I always post these on social media as that’s great for referral business. My repeat clients and referrals amount to about 90% of my business. I don’t do any farming and I stay as far away from Zillow as I can!

Q. What is your recipe for a successful open house?

A. My agents do the open houses. We always advertise on social media and go door to door and invite the neighbors. We utilize the open houses to network the neighborhood and always use 20 signs.

Q. What Valley area do you anticipate being the next hot spot?

A. I like watching the freeways grow and tend to focus on those specific areas. I also use that as an opportunity to educate potential clients, which helps them make informed decisions on the neighborhood they want to buy in.

Real Estate Direct Mail

Are you looking for a summer project? A direct mailer should be at the top of your list.

While direct mailing may not yield a vast number of sales in a short period of time, it can result in a steady flow of clients listing with you because they first saw your name in a postcard or brochure that had arrived in their mailboxes.

As a matter of fact, at least one realtor had executed an extensive postcard campaign and continued to get clients from it for five years after sending the last postcard.

But how do you do this? And does the benefit really outweigh the costs? Fair questions to be sure but rest easy, if you are willing to invest a little extra time and money into the process, you will likely be reaping the benefits of your labor for years to come.

Postcards – The typical realtor postcard will tend to feature a generic but nice looking house, the agency logo or mascot and a picture of the agent doing the mailing along with some contact information.  These are certainly well and good.

Such mailings get your name and number out there and a number of recipients may well put it in their junk drawer for later reference. But that generic approach does not really draw much attention to you or provide a compelling reason to act sooner rather than later.

Get creative with different designs and catch phrases to encourage those potential clients who may be riding the fence on whether or not to enter the housing market to get off the fence and jump in.

Here are a few examples to try:

Get the deal of your dreams in today’s buyer’s market! – Couple this with a picture of someone sleeping.  Include a thought bubble filled with a picturesque home with a big yard for better effect.

This can be directed at apartment complexes filled with first-time buyers or starter neighborhoods with young and growing families.

Tired of throwing money away? Stop renting and buy now! – Put this over a picture of a landfill, possibly with a bulldozer pushing piles of money around.

With a little help from Photoshop, this should be easy to accomplish. Clearly, this is directed at apartments and neighborhoods with a lot of rental properties.

Time to move up! – Include an image of a ladder.  A close up or a wide angle shot with a family climbing up it.

Maybe even with that picturesque house at the top. Again, this is marketed mostly to the starter neighborhood.

Sell high and have something left over. – The picture possibilities are endless here.

You can use a stack of bills changing hands, images of various kinds of vacations, from the beach to the mountains, a new car (parked in front of a home to minimize confusion) or even a new larger home.

These ideas can be marketed to many people from starter neighborhoods to retirees.

It’s a seller’s market.  Move now and pad that nest egg! – The image here could be a bird carefully arranging hundred dollar bills around its nest. Send this one to older couples likely looking to downsize now that the kids have moved on.

These are just a few ideas. You can mix up the designs, change the fonts (just don’t do anything too elaborate), alter color schemes and more to suit your taste and keep things fresh.

In fact, if you are planning on doing postcards over an extended period of time, make sure that you do change this up a bit just to avoid repetition.

The big thing to remember is to always have your name and essential contact information (website, email, phone number) on the card.

You can also include postcards that feature recent listings to encourage people to buy or even postcards with recently sold homes.  Target these to the neighborhoods the homes were sold in to show that you know the area and can succeed in it.

This should help people to get off the fence a little sooner.

Newsletters – One other option is to use a newsletter format.

These can include recent listings, reports on the local market, profiles of local business that specialize in home improvement or tips on home upkeep and what to do to sell a home.

Whichever option you choose, or if you use both, make sure that you are keeping the focus on the customer and include your contact information so that when your marketing material has inspired someone to sell or buy, you are easy to reach and ready and willing to help.

If you have additional questions or would like to learn brainstorm some more direct mail ideas, give us a call today at 480-759-1500.

Have a great summer!

Matt

 

How To Stay Calm In the Midst of Chaos

 

I hope everyone has had a great 2019 so far and your lives, families and businesses are all thriving and doing well.  Every year about this time many of us find ourselves in the midst of Chaos that we call the Real Estate & Mortgage Industry.  This craziness usually runs through the Summer and we have a resting period around August. This letter was supposed to go out in April and you’re sitting here reading this in May. That pretty much sums up my current work life.  Recently in my business mastermind group the question was proposed, “What does Success Look Like to you?” Heavy question, right??  Here are my thoughts.

When I answered what Success looks like to me, what came to mind was obviously influenced my current state of mind within my business. My response was “Well today its arguments, long hours with a lot of overtime expenses, high blood pressure and the occasional tear… or three.” Half the group was laughing, and the other half was looking at me like a deer in headlights.

There are many ways that we can measure success.  I had written a few months ago about the success I/We had in raising a lot of money in for the community while I was the chair for Rock The Cause for Kids. I expressed how it affected my business, but we raised a lot of money (just shy of One Million) so it was very easy to say that it was a HUGE Success.  Now we are smack dab in the middle of the buying season.  Rates are low and will remain that way all year (per the Feds) and consumer/buyer confidence is up.  This leads to the Chaos of business we have today.

My team came to me in one of our Daily Team Meetings and said, “Matt, we need you to make a call and get us an extension on Client X.”  My response was layered with frustration and disappointment, but I knew I had to make that call.  BTW – We NEVER close late!  That’s our thing!  Fannie Mae put out a stat in the last year or so that said the 60-70% of Mortgage Loans originated in the US close late, but that’s not us. We do not close loans late EVER. After I hung up the phone with my Realtor Referral Partner sat there and thought about the last time I had to make that call.  Honestly, I still can’t remember when I had to do that. It’s literally been years.  My team and I have closed 100’s of loans over the years together. We will move mountains to ensure we close every loan on time every time and we pride ourselves on that.

So what does Success Look Like to me?  It looks like a Duck!  In the Midst of Chaos (picture duck legs going 100 miles an hour under the water), make sure you show you have it ALL under control (picture floating like a Duck on top of the water). That deal we closed late was a very tough deal and the client and referral partner love us still.  My team, in the midst of Chaos did everything they could do to close a tough loan on time. Outside of this tough deal, our loans close 100% on time.  Not remembering the last time I had to make that call…….That’s what success looks like to me!

I truly believe I have the best team around.  If you’d like to share what success looks to you, I’d love to hear it.  Shoot me a message….

Be Like a Duck!  Wishing you a great 2nd half to 2019!

Matt Askland

Great News for Interest Rates | Is Now The Right Time to Buy A Home?

IS NOW THE RIGHT TIME?

Are you thinking about buying a house, but not sure it’s the right time? Trust us, we get it. Buying a home is a huge decision with many factors to take into account, such as neighborhood, school district and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms to name a few. However, the biggest question in most people’s mind is, ‘How much house can I really afford?’ That answer has its own set of factors, with one in particular being the Interest Rate (cue the ominous music). But we have good news. Actually, we have REALLY good news (drumroll)…

THE BIG NEWS

Last month, the Federal Reserve officially announced that there are no plans to raise interest rates in 2019. With the current rates still historically low, and holding steady, there is no reason to wait to begin the search for your dream home (champagne pop and confetti)!

Even better, mortgage rates haven’t been this low since February 2018, almost 14 months ago, and Freddie Mac reports 30-year fixed rates were down to 4.28% in March 2019. This rate was only available a few months ago by taking out a fifteen-year fixed or adjustable rate loan, which for many buyers, is not a very feasible option. Thirty-year fixed loans were close to 5% just this past November and that rate was still considered historically low, so a potential rate in the low 4’s, in our opinion, is definitely worth taking advantage of if you can.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

Firstly, a lower rate equals a lower payment. A lower payment means you could potentially get more home or buy in your dream neighborhood, or have additional funds to decorate your new home.

Bottom line. With current interest rates holding steady and the news from the Federal Reserve, 2019 is definitely the year to consider taking the leap and making that long awaited purchase. It’s an investment that will continue to pay off in dividends for many years to come.

If you have additional questions or would like to learn more about what loan programs would be right for you, give us a call today at 480-759-1500.

We would love to help you turn hope into a home!

How To Win in Real Estate… Long Term

We sat down with Jason Crittenden of Realty One Group for part two of our video marketing series. Jason is a multi-million dollar producer ranked in the top 1% of agents in the United States and an East Valley expert. His video marketing practices have been so instrumental in propelling his business to the next level that he started his own video marketing company, Permanent Estate Media. Below, he shares a little about his views on real estate videos and the importance of incorporating it in your overall marketing strategy.

There are a lot of ways to do a lot of things; of that I have no doubt. You can build a business calling expired listings and FSBO’s. That works, but it’s not very fun.

You can build a business by holding mega open houses three to four times a week. That really does work! But again, not very fun.

You can pay third party platforms to provide lead generation, and that can yield some success, but like the others, is definitely not fun.

For me personally, the way to build a business in real estate has, and always will be, with referral business. There is no better feeling than hearing prospective new clients call and say, “John told me I should call you.”

Besides referral business, what other business should you be intentional about pursuing? Are you leaving money on the table? The answer, if you’re not doing consistent video, is absolutely!

Here’s why. A couple of years ago, I committed to producing 4K ultra HD cinematic listing videos for all of my personal listings. It was a Christian decision, to be honest. I believe all humans deserve the best service, regardless of how much they are paying me. From mobile homes to mansions, we spent money on producing the best quality photos and video for every listing.

However, like many principles, they sometimes have unintended consequences. I started getting more calls from strangers asking me to list their home, and to help them buy a house. Where were they coming from? How did they find me?

What I found is that these clients were seeing my listing videos on Facebook or Zillow and thinking “I want that kind of agent representing me.” I was starting to gain a reputation as a professional in my space, all because of a commitment to deliver high quality video. What started out as just a video for marketing my client’s listings, quickly turned into brand growth and recognition for my company.

As a bonus, when I went on these “cold” listing appointments, I never lost when going up against other agent interviews. When sellers listed their home, they always listed with me. Why? Because the other agents showed up with just the standard listing materials: comps, numbers and photos. The sellers saw my listing presentation and professional videos and in their mind, there was no comparison. All three agents are charging the same commission, but only one agent (me) is spending money on high quality videos and photos that will sell their home faster and for top dollar. Choosing me was a no brainer for the sellers.

Bottom line, video marketing has been a game changer for my business all because of the decision to shoot quality cinematic videos for every listing. I went from $250K in GCI to $500k in just two years and you can too. What I’ve learned is that the investment of $20-30k a year in production costs yielded $200-$250k in new business. That’s more than 733% ROI.

The overall takeaway is if you make the investment in your clients, your business will undoubtedly flourish. I’ve experienced it firsthand in my business and know the same can happen for you.

Jason Crittenden – Jason Crittenden Team at Realty ONE Group and CEO of PERMANENT ESTATE Media