Are you taking advantage right now of every tax break that is legally available to you? Probably not. The genius, Albert Einstein, is attributed to  saying about taxes, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.”

Are you trusting your tax advisor to provide you with all the tax saving benefits available to you? As experienced as many tax advisors are, most largely do a great job of recording the history that you give to them.  It is far more uncommon to find an accountant that provides you with insight about tax breaks that you are not already taking.

Let’s explore some Tax Saving strategies and benefits – recommendations to put you in the driver’s seat and potentially put more money in your pocket, legally.

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A real estate agent called complaining that he spoke with one of his buyers who wanted to see a property he found online. When the agent went to check the listing out, he was shocked. The commission stated was for $1.00. Being the professional that he was, he went to show the condo. He sent me a copy of the MLS sheet and lo and behold it was true. Then I contacted the listing agent thinking perhaps they were new and had made an error. Nope, she said, it was correct. The commission was one dollar.

 

Was this an isolated incident? No, the stories came pouring in from other agents. Another real estate agent showing buyers in a community where home prices start at $500,000 experienced something similar. The commission for the transaction broker was 3%. If you were a buyer’s agent, then the commission was only $1.

 

Now my curiosity was triggered to find out how many homes were for sale offering 1% or $1 commission. I searched multiple counties in one MLS in Florida, the results found 256 properties offering 1% commission with prices ranging from $25,000 to 12 million.  Two were offering $1.

 

As more and more real estate agents build teams with agents that specialize in working with buyers, this concept can be hurtful. The 1% is often split multiple ways. The commission could be split with the head of the team along with the brokerage. That coupled with franchise fees, transaction fees, errors and omissions insurance along with business expenses could have your commission end up being less than 50% of the 1%. Then when you subtract taxes, the net income gets even lower.  For many, this may not a profitable business model depending on the price of the home for sale.  1% of $50,000 is a lot different than 1% of 10M.

 

What Would You Do in This Situation?

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Remember the famous childhood rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me?” Well, think again. In today’s digital age, words matter, and more importantly, what people are saying about you can make an impact on your business’ reputation.

 

What are people saying about you?

When was the last time you searched your name to see what came up? Take some time today to search your name on different browsers such as Google, Firefox, or Safari if you are a Mac user.

 

Why is knowing your business footprint important?

According to NAR statistics, 99% of Millennials search online websites compared to 90% of Boomers.  Whether you receive a large amount of your business from referrals or friends, rave reviews and testimonials can catapult you to the top. They can also create strength and value as to why clients should choose YOU.

 

A 2018 survey reveals how consumers search and what is important to them. Here are some key statistics from the survey:

  • 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34)
  • 91% of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 80% of 18-34-year-olds have written online reviews – compared to just 41% of consumers over 55

 

3 steps to getting testimonials with ease.

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At his moment in time, how many emails are in your inbox?  Today, one woman said 20,000 emails, and she just ignores most of them. 20,000 may sound extreme, yet many people have thousands of emails in their inbox.  We are talking about the number of total emails sitting there, not just the read ones.

An attorney I work with is completely up to date with all his emails.  His wife had only 22 emails in her inbox. That is a rarity.

As business people, and in our personal lives, the number of emails we get each day can be daunting. A disorganized inbox can hurt our business and productivity.

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We hear this over and over as professionals. The first offer is the best offer – especially when there are no other offers on the table. This viewpoint has withheld the test of time. What remains to be proven is whether this perception is the truth or a tale that we have all accepted as true.

 

Not Taking The First Offer Cost The Seller $10,000

Your listing becomes active in your market and a few days later, an offer is received. You, as the agent, are excited about presenting it to the seller after thoroughly reviewing it. “Wow, that was fast,” says the seller, “Why don’t we wait, since this came so quickly, and see if we get a higher offer from another buyer. Someone else will also want my home and be willing to pay more.” But does another offer come? Nope. When this property finally did sell, it was 3 months later. The offer was less, and the seller accepted it. She ended up netting $10,000 less than had she accepted the first offer. Ouch!

Sound familiar? Many sellers think that the Realtor just wants to sell the property fast and make their commission. But while that may be true of some, most Realtors have the sellers’ best interests at heart.

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When buyers are searching for properties online, photos and property descriptions are vital to gaining exposure and showings. The same is true when agents are searching for properties to show their clients. But should the descriptions for both audiences be the same?

The answer is no, because you are appealing to two different needs, with different perspectives when viewing the information.  Let’s review the best way to communicate with each audience.

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Our smartphone is our constant partner. It is always with us. Although there is no formal agreement, “till death do us part” is not an unrealistic relationship when it comes to our smartphone. We use it to connect with our clients, friends, family, leads and just about everyone. It’s our GPS. It’s our news outlet. It’s our even our source of entertainment. When we go to sleep, it is next to us on our nightstand or not too far away.

In today’s age, we spend an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes on our mobile devices daily, and that number is growing.  We check it on average 47x per day.

As Realtors, we are in the communication, marketing and high-tech business. And when it comes to our business, our smartphone is our primary device for communication. (Many believe that we must be available for an immediate response when requested or suffer the loss of a client.) But as great as our smartphone is, it also has drawbacks. Technology addiction—a compulsive relationship with our mobile devices, social media and the internet—is one of the biggest threats to our health and relationships. And this addiction is not relegated to one age group.

What can you do to liberate yourself from your smartphone and still be considered accessible, professional and a top performer? Good news! Here are 6 steps you can take.  They work! Give them a try. Think of it as falling in love again with your life and creating an outstanding new year, beginning now. Continue reading

Smart Homes and Green Homes are growing in demand in many parts of the country. Yet, when people think of a Smart Home, some may think it is the same as a Green Home.  Yes, they work beautifully together, but they are actually different. This article will highlight each and show you the key features that buyers are looking for now.

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When speaking with a seller about a pre-listing home inspection, many times you get push-back: “Why,” they ask, “doesn’t the buyer pay for it?” Yes, the buyer does pay for the home inspection after their offer is accepted. However, by then, it may be too late. When problems with the home remain unknown until the buyer’s inspection, it puts the seller at risk of losing the sale or having to accept a much lower price.

Whether it is a new or older home, having a pre-home inspection should be a MUST, not a maybe. Does this mean the seller has to fix everything found on the inspection report? No, it only puts the seller in the position of choosing those items they are willing to fix, or not fix; the seller may choose to credit the buyer some repairs at closing as part of the negotiation. The main goal of the pre-listing home inspection is for the seller to be aware of the actual state of the home, and not get caught by surprise.

Here are four inspection items that could potentially put your sale at risk.

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Halloween is right around the corner and ghoulish conversations regarding real estate are bound to come up. Here are some common questions and helpful advice for dealing with Haunted Houses and the like. 

 

Did you hear what happened?

A real estate agent was telling us the shocking story that happened after a closing. Finally, following months of searching, his buyer fell in love with a home, placed an offer, and the condo closed with no problem. Shortly after closing, keys in hand, the new owner stopped by to take measurements for her new furniture, which was expected to arrive in a few days. As she was walking out, a neighbor showed up and said, “Are you sure you want to move in? The previous owner slit her throat in the bathroom and bled to death.” The new owner freaked out and called her agent right away. The agent said he was aware that the previous owner had died. No details were asked beyond that as there appeared to be no cause for concern. However, now the new owner feels very uncomfortable moving in and places the property back on the market that week with the same agent.

This once-hot property that sold in less than 30 days, now sat without any offers. Why? Every time an agent brought a buyer, the neighbor stopped by and told them what happened. The potential buyers got spooked and ran. This home sat vacant and lonely until finally someone said yes….a year later. Continue reading