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

Interviewed by Matt Askland, Cardinal Financial

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

-2014. 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, 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.

 

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

-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.

 

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

-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!

 

How do you survive the summers/slow times?

-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.

 

How do you stay engaged with past clients?

-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!

 

What is your recipe for a successful open house?

-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.

 

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

-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 Agents: 5 Great Ways To Get Involved with Your Community

I’m a firm believer that getting involved in your local community and volunteering your time is beneficial not only for your mind and body, but also your business. There’s a sense of connection and community that occurs when you surround yourself with other like-minded charitable people — that quite often — results in the deepening of relationships with existing clients, as well as the fostering of new ones.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “people do business with people they know, like and trust.” Volunteering is a great way to network and meet new people, but more importantly, when the effort is genuine, can result in new business opportunities and referrals.

If you’re a real estate agent and you’ve been thinking about donating your time and service but aren’t quite sure how to get started, here are five ideas to consider:

  1. Rotary International not only offers help locally and worldwide, but membership offers tremendous networking opportunities. The Rotary motto is “Service Above Self” and Rotary is an organization of over 33,000 local clubs serving their communities around the world.
  2. Hands On Phoenix partners with a wide range of community service organizations and government agencies to put volunteers to work where they are needed most – tackling issues like homelessness, hunger, education, animal welfare, environmental challenges, and more.
  3. Kiwanis International offers volunteer opportunities to help enhance the physical, emotional, educational, and social wellbeing of our children. Click the link to to see what opportunities are available in your community.
  4. Smaller groups that cater to different ethnicities may be ideal for the agent who specializes in a certain ethnic market. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, for instance, can help you get in touch with local groups that offer help to the Hispanic community.
  5. Hyper-local volunteer opportunities like coaching a community athletic team, volunteering at a local school in your farm area, your church or community theater groups are also great ways to donate your time while meeting new people.

The important part is to think about what’s important to you. What are you passionate about? Then, reach out to that organization and ask how you can help. Making the time to start giving back will come back to you tenfold. In the words of Bryant McGill, “Giving is the master key to success, in all applications of human life.”

I hope you find these ideas helpful. We would love to hear about other ways you are volunteering your time and service to your local community, and how the act of ‘giving back’ has impacted your business. Feel free to comment below or share your stories with me via email at matt.askland@cardinafinancial.com.

To learn more about Cardinal Financial and our charitable work here in the Valley, please visit our Community & Charity page.

 

 

End of the Year Goal Planning

 

As the end of year approaches, many begin looking to define their next year’s goals. Recent studies show that about 3% of adults have clearly written goals and accomplish 5 to 10 times more than those who do not. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction, it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. As someone who has been actively business planning for 10+ years, I can personally attest to the power of the physical act of writing down a goal. It helps clarify the things you truly want to accomplish; and by writing it down, you no longer have an excuse to forget about it.

We reached out to a few West Valley agents to get their take on this subject, but most do not participate in goal planning. Those that do say it’s propelled their business to new levels and can’t imagine not using it. Below is what Karen and Mike Baron from Infinity and Associates shared with us, followed by my personal goal planning steps.

‘Goal planning has always been a part of our business model. We do goal planning throughout the year, on a monthly basis, and have five year and long-term goals that we aim for. We use a white board to look at different scenarios. Before starting real estate, we read “The Millionaire Next Door” and have based part of our finance and goal planning strategy on that. Use a day planner and actually write everything down on paper! Review it weekly and train your brain to say it to yourself out loud. Have lists and check items off, and even if you don’t do something because you decided it wasn’t necessary, at least you didn’t forget about it.  We started using the Panda Planner for tasks and goals and it helps us to understand life balance.

Now here is what I do for year-end goal planning. First things first, to accomplish your goals, you need to know how to set them. I’m sharing three steps that will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.

 

Step 1: Set Your Goals

Identify clear, concise and SMART goals that motivate and excite you – SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. In more specific terms, your goals should be clear and well defined, include precise figures and dates, are possible to achieve, are aligned with the direction you want your personal and professional life to take, must include a deadline and, last but not least, must be written down so that they inspire you to take action.

 

Step 2: Create a Business Action Plan

Now that you’ve identified and written down your goals, it’s time to put a plan in place to achieve them. To get yourself into the business planning mindset, start by conducting a review of your current or previous year. Some great questions to ask yourself: What did I accomplish? What are some roadblocks or challenges that got in my way? What opportunities did I miss? What did I learn? It is important to review what worked last year and to know your basic numbers (i.e. average days on market, listing to sale ratios) before you begin planning for the year ahead. Once you know your stats, begin writing down the individual tasks you need to carry out to achieve your objective, and in the order you need to complete them. Keep this list close by so that you can easily mark off tasks as you complete them.

 

Step 3: Track & Measure Your Results

How do you know if what you’re doing is yielding positive results? Using a suitable tracking system – whether that be a simple tracking form or a CRM platform to record your results – will allow you to track your progress and make necessary corrections throughout the year.

 

I hope you found these points helpful. By following these three steps, I’m confident you can set goals with certainty and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do.  If you’d like a copy of the forms I use for my personal and business goal setting, please email me at matt.askland@cardinalfinancial.com and I’ll be happy to share them with you. Good luck!

 

 

Four Benefits of Owning a Home

 

It’s a major responsibility, but owning a home comes with some big-time benefits – one being peace of mind. Here are a few other benefits to owning versus renting:

You’re Building Up Equity Every Month

What is equity? It’s the amount you sell your home for, minus the money you still owe on it at the time of sale. The amount you owe reduces each time you make a mortgage payment. Your principal payment increases each month, too, meaning that as time goes on, you’re paying more toward the actual loan amount versus interest. Equity in your home is typically lowest at your first mortgage payment and highest at your last payment.

It’s Cheaper to Own a Home Than Rent – In the Long Run

Buying and owning a home may be a little overwhelming at the very beginning because of interest rates, mortgage payments and the paperwork that goes along with it. You may think it’s easier – and cheaper – to rent a house, but it’s really not. After a while, your interest rate will decrease. Plus, each month that you’re making a payment, you’re putting money toward your own home, not sending hard-earned cash into a landlord’s pocket.

As a Homeowner, You’ll Enjoy More Stability

Owning a home actually brings much freedom and a sense of independence. The house belongs to you and you can do whatever you want to it. You don’t have to worry about a landlord hiking up your rent at the beginning of a new year or risk being kicked out of the house. Any improvements that you wish to make benefit no one else but you! Plus, if you have kids, you’ll have to worry less about having to switch school districts on-the-fly because you won’t have to worry about being asked to vacate.

Improvements Are Made for Your Own Good

Let’s talk about this a bit more. Once you a buy a house, you’re no longer restricted by a landlord’s guidelines or requirements on paint, decor or design. You get to decide what type of construction, design or maintenance professionals you’ll hire to work on the home. Any improvements made to a rental are enjoyed by you for only as long as you’re living in the home. Once you leave, your updates will benefit the next renter.

Are you you in the process of looking for a new home? Give us a call today at 480-759-1500 to discuss your options!

Tips & Tricks For A More Organized Move

Moving into your new home is an exciting milestone. It’s the start of an all-new chapter in your life, but moving can also be highly stressful. With a little planning, you can take the frustration level down a notch (or five). Here are some clever and efficient ways to organize your move.

  • Make a list. Before starting the packing process, take a moment to imagine how you want your new home to look. Make a list of things you currently own that you don’t want or need, to move into the new place. Donate or sell what’s usable and get rid of the rest.
  • Pack smart. Use press and seal bags or containers. Buy a roll of stretch wrap to protect your valuables from getting scratched or battered during transport. Vacuum seal your out-of-season clothing for easy storage in the new house. Use wheeled suitcases to move heavy items like books.
  • Start with the easiest and most important stuff. Before things get busy, pack and set aside valuable documents, sensitive financial information, jewelry, electronics and computer-related items. All of these objects should be specially packed and cared for, and doing so at the very beginning will prevent any mishaps (and misplacements!) down the road.
  • Create a labeling system. This can sometimes be more helpful than a personal assistant! Employ a hybrid color-coded and numbered list system to keep track of what’s in your boxes. Keep written record of what’s in each colored and numbered label. This way, you won’t need to search forever for that one thing at the new house. Instead, you can dive right in.
  • Always pack a box of essentials. This box should get you through the first day and night in your new home. Use a clear, plastic bin to easily differentiate between the rest of your stuff. A few things that you may want to include in this “essentials” box are: A minimal set of dishes, towels, sheets, tea kettle or coffee maker, phone charger, hair dryer, toilet paper, light bulbs, one or two rolls of trash bags, paper towels and much-needed tools like box cutters.

I hope you guys found this article and some of these tips helpful. If you have any other tips for an organized move, I’d love to hear about them.  Feel free to let me know in the comments below!

Matt Askland

 

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.

 

 

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