Multiple Listing Service firms, REALTOR® Associations, and real estate brokers understand the value of offering a transaction management solution.

 

As these organizations head into their annual budget and planning cycle, many will be taking a fresh look at their current transaction management solution. That’s because the transaction management landscape is rapidly changing.

 

More than one leading transaction management software provider has changed ownership in just the last year.

 

The transaction management landscape, as a result, is in flux. That makes now a good time to revisit your transaction management solution. You need to make sure that for the long term, your organization’s goals and objectives are aligned and not in potential conflict, because of new ownership.

 

Here are three reasons you may want to revisit your current transaction management solution:

 

Trust: At the foundation of any strong business relationship, especially one that delivers an essential service such as transaction management, you have to trust your partners. You want to make sure that you understand the company behind your transaction management solution.  What are their long-term goals? Are your business purposes aligned, or are there areas of potential conflict? What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with a firm that may be owned by a giant conglomerate? Has the company culture remained the same, or is it changing – and is that good or bad for you? Are you still dealing with the same people, or have they changed too? Consider all the things that may have changed when assessing your relationship today. These are essential questions to ask, as they can impact trust.

 

Support: We know from NAR research (“Real Estate in the Digital Age” report, 2018) that almost half of real estate agents and brokers (45%) don’t use a document management system. That creates both opportunities and challenges for the universal adoption of a transaction management solution. A transaction management system must provide more than a great interface. Just about all the major transaction management solutions today are pretty easy to use. But for many agents and brokers, using a transaction management system for the first time can be daunting. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. So, if there is not a bastion of support behind the rollout and ongoing use of your transaction management system, you could turn off many agents and brokers right upfront. Getting the back is even more difficult, superior support can mean all the difference in the world, from the rollout to being highly available – and accessible – to answer questions. If your transaction management solution does not come with a world-class customer support service and rollout team, your agents and brokers are missing out. Providing better customer support is what enables higher adoption of transaction management systems – and agent and broker satisfaction.

Transparency: We all know that in the software world, a free solution is rarely the best solution. Some transaction management solutions are built on this business model. Knowing upfront what the real costs will be is vital. Agents and brokers, like most of us, want to know the bottom line and not be fooled by thinking they will pay “X” when they end up paying “Y.” Or worse, adopt a free solution, only to find they need to pay to use the features they need. Transparency helps truly compare solutions when you look at a transaction management solution.

 

For example, we use a matrix at Form Simplicity to illustrate the benefit that our transaction management offerings provide, what’s included, and what is not. And transparency is more than just honest pricing and fully disclosing the features you get for what price. Transparency also includes how a firm provides customer service support, as well as sharing its goals and objectives to make sure you understand what you are buying.

 

Florida Realtors owns and operates the leading transaction management solution Form Simplicity, and the number one tech support service in real estate: Tech Helpline. Form Simplicity is the only transaction management solution created by Realtors, for Realtors, and is still owned by Realtors. We leverage our collective strengths in support and transaction management to serve Realtors throughout Florida and hundreds of thousands of agents across the U.S. better.

 

When you rethink your transaction management solution and consider the three factors of trust, support, and transparency, we think you’ll find Form Simplicity coming out on top.

 

One of the real estate industry’s most popular and advanced paperless transaction management solutions, Form Simplicity, recently released its newly redesigned application to more than 200,000 REALTORS® nationwide.

 

The update to Form Simplicity is more than just a designed facelift. The changes improve transaction productivity and speed up agent and broker workflow.

Continue reading

There are many types of fraud prevalent today in the real estate industry. Property fraud or “house stealing” is a white-collar crime that if left undetected can lead to a variety of issues. Property fraud can happen when a scammer files fake deeds and/or makes it appear as if it is their home when it is not theirs to sell. Along with deed forgery, identity theft and mortgage fraud are top in line for the hottest home crimes happening today, as seen in FBI’s news releases.

 

Let’s look at what types of properties are at the highest risk.

Continue reading

A house delivered directly to your buyers and placed on-site that is energy efficient and spectacular. This is one of the top growing housing trends for 2019. Why? More and more people care about living in a healthy home that is eco-friendly and safe. Safe meaning the ability to withstand the type of climate where you reside.

Real estate professionals know it’s important to be well versed in the options available for their clients. When you are the source of information, it builds trust and value in what you bring to the real estate experience.

Say goodbye to previous conceptions of a pre-fab home. Pre-fab is short for prefabricated. It is a term used to describe any building or dwelling that is manufactured off-site, in a home building facility, and then transported to the home or building site to be set on a foundation.

Most people think of pre-fab as mobile homes or double-wide trailers.

Today’s pre-fab house is aesthetically designed, cutting edge and in many cases lower priced than traditional homes built on-site.

Architects are leading the way nationally and all over the world in designing pre-fab homes that are custom built to individual needs and tastes.  A pre-fab home in most cases is no longer a cookie-cutter approach to homebuilding.

 

Here are the Top 3 Pre-Fab Home Trends Being Built Today

Continue reading

More and more homeowners and buyers are looking for ways to save on the costs involved in the daily and monthly upkeep of their homes.  Realistically, this applies to all of us!

This checklist is great to bring with you and provide to your clients to help them plan and meet their goals when purchasing their new home.

These items are at the forefront of importance for today’s buyers looking to increase their home’s efficiency. The checklist below can be used as a resource and as a value proposition for you as their real estate professional.

 

Benefits of these Top 5 Tips:

  • Increase your customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Achieve higher referral rates
  • Show an understanding of the home systems to the clients
  • Save deals by knowing solutions to overcome potential pitfalls or by having the resources available to guide them effectively

 

Tip # 1 – Lighting

The savings involved in choosing the right light bulbs and lighting in one’s home are significant. There has been a lot of controversy over CFL bulbs and their mercury content so for the purpose of health savings and lighting efficiency, let’s look at LED bulbs. LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes) have gone down in price and offer up to 25000 hours per bulb. Yes, your clients may not be in the home as long as the lightbulb, yet the savings can be significant. Also, some companies offer a 3-year warranty on each bulb purchased. The LED lighting can also be purchased dimmable, meaning the lighting can be adjusted brighter or softer.

According to Energy Star, each LED bulb purchased can save the owner $80.00 on their electricity bill over the course of its lifetime.

 

Occupancy Sensors

This is a great tool, especially with children. What has become common in many commercial offices is now available in your home. The Department of Energy claims that you can save up to 30% off your home’s electricity use with an occupancy sensor.

What is an occupancy sensor? It replaces the lighting switch in a room and is activated by a motion detector. The light goes on when you enter the room and turns off when you leave.

When I was a kid, my parents used to charge us $5.00 a piece if we left the light on when we were not in the room. The electricity bill was large as there were 6 of us. This was a financial incentive to turn off the lights that I remember to this day – wish that the occupancy sensors were available then!

 

Tip # 2 – Electronics

The average home owns 24 consumer electronics that utilize about 12% of the household energy consumption. Homes can benefit from utilizing smart power strips.

Many electronic devices continue to use power even when turned off, but it is highly impractical to unplug all devices when not in use. The best way to save electricity consumption on your bills and to protect your electronics from the effects of storm surges are with electronic power strips.

 

Activate Sleep Mode on Your Equipment

Along with the use of a power strip, make sure that you utilize sleep mode on your printer and computer when you are not using them or turning them off. Before purchasing, look at the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure this feature is available.

 

Tip # 3 – Appliances

Many clients look at the appliances from an economic standpoint: If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Appliances do have a timeline on efficiency as the newer models of refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves are continually being updated.

Client Experience: A client saw a condo and fell in love with it including the appliances which were 15 years old and in perfect working order. Six months after her purchase, she replaced the refrigerator and dishwasher. From these two replacements, she saw a drop in her monthly electric bill by 40%. Of course, that is not guaranteed for all appliance replacements, but what this example demonstrates is the cost of one or all new appliances can significantly reduce your electricity bill. Plus, newer appliances can increase your homes’ value when ready to sell.

When shopping for new appliances, look for ones with the Energy Star Label, which is designated by the US Environmental Protection Agency to help people save money and protect the environment.

 

Tip # 4 – Heating and Air Conditioning

Heating

  • Look at the age of the water heater. Check out energystar.gov for the latest models for solar, tankless and the highest energy star rated heating/boiler units on the market today.

Air Conditioning

  • Look at the age of the system. Consider changing unit if it is at least 12 years old.
  • Change the filter monthly. This can save you anywhere between 5 to 15%. Letting the dirt build up on the filter can wreak havoc on the system or worse if there is no filter at all on the unit because it was not replaced. If the owners are renting the unit, put required monthly filter changes into the lease.
  • When doing inspections and before closing, make sure that the filters are in place and clean. Many owners who are not residing in the unit fail to maintain the filters.
  • Have annual inspections to make sure everything is working efficiently. Don’t wait until something goes wrong.

Programmable Thermostat

This is one of my favorite items. If you purchase a smart thermostat, then you can monitor the temperature of your home with your mobile phone while you are home or away.

Making this simple change from a manual to a programmable thermostat offers many benefits. Having a consistent temperature at all times in your home can make a big difference to your wallet and your comfort when at home and away.

This helps when you also have people at home that like to change the thermostat frequently as you can monitor it at all times and teach them how to keep it comfortable and efficient.

Make sure the programmable thermostat you purchase is compatible with your HVAC system. If you are not sure, please contact a professional.

 

Tip # 5 – Clean and Safe Water

Most tap and well water in the United States contains a fair amount of contamination from industrial and environmental pollution. On top of that, many homeowner communities are adding fluoride and chlorine to their systems in addition to what the municipalities are placing in the water to disinfect it.

In one community in Florida, they put notices out that to the residents when the water is being treated. When you turn on the shower, you can smell the tremendous amount of chlorine, as if you are in a swimming pool. After a few days, the smell starts to dissipate, yet what are the potential long-term effects?

Many homeowners are ok with using the water filter in their refrigerator or buying bottled water for drinking use. Over the long term for both health and sustainability reasons, check into a whole house water filtration system.

The benefits of a whole house filtration system can be a great option for multiple reasons:

  • Clean, safe filtered water is now available from every water source in the house for all members of the household and your pets
  • Healthier showers & baths = softer hair and skin
  • Extended life of water-using appliances and household pipes
  • Softened water with scale-free showers and spotless glasses
  • Softer, brighter and longer-lasting clothing

 

Using this list as a guide and putting some or all of the above items into effect can help your clients when purchasing their home. It is also great for current homeowners and your past clients.

It puts money in their pocket now through the savings on their utility costs and later…when they sell their home.

 

Written for Form Simplicity by Janice Zaltman, a Realtor, LEED AP, Marketing Coach and Writer with more than 20 years of experience in the sales, marketing and media fields.

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.

Continue reading

Form Simplicity Moving Deals and Moving Offers

Moving into a new home is always one of the most stressful times in one’s life. Home buyers have many decisions to make during the months leading up to buying a new home as well as the three months following the move. There are movers to hire, utility services to call, appliance pricing to do, and furniture selections to make. These are just a few of the multiple decisions facing home buyers as they look for moving offers along the way.

REALTORS® provide their clients with a bevy of expertise. They research properties, execute marketing plans, offer financing advice, the list goes on and on. However, when it comes to purchases needed for the new home itself, home buyers are often left to their own devices.

Moving Statistics
According to a 2016 New Mover Report, home buyers start their purchasing decisions, other than buying the home itself, up to three months prior to moving into their new home. For example, three months prior they will begin thinking about if they are going to purchase cable, or instead, if they should cut the cord completely. Ultimately, they end up making the decision one month prior to moving.

The top three sources, cited in the report, for new movers’ purchasing decisions come from 1) the vendor itself from driving around the neighborhood 2) friends and family referrals and 3) Internet searches. Nearly 71% of new movers made major purchasing decisions around the time of their move, with furniture topping the list as the most expensive purchase followed closely by appliances. Continue reading

florida realtors 100This week, Realtors throughout the Sunshine State will assemble in Orlando for a meeting that is literally 100 years in the making. “Celebration100” is the Florida Realtors® annual Convention & Trade Expo, taking place Aug. 24-28, 2016, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando.

It’s going to be a convention for the ages, from a 100th Birthday Party celebration featuring America’s number one private party band “Party On The Moon,” to the General Session featuring Jay Leno, the 22-year host of “The Tonight Show,” who is considered one of the greatest stand-up comics of all time.

The schedule is jammed-packed with three days of courses, meetings, and educational sessions that will explore the hottest topics of the day. The complete schedule with times and locations is online here.

Meet Us at the Expo
You’ll find our Tech Helpline Internet Café onsite, where you can check email, get technical help from one of our experienced Tech Helpline analysts, or ask the Tech Helpline experts about Form Simplicity, MLSAdvantage, IDX or Florida Living Network.

At the Form Simplicity booth, we can demo the broker tools for you or answer any of your questions. For a little recreational fun, challenge one of our staff members to a foosball table or arcade game.

You’ll find both our Form Simplicity and Tech Helpline teams in the foyer in front of the Sebastian Ballroom where the Trade Expo is located.

Continue reading

CARMLS members save time with Form Simplicity feature.

We are happy to announce a new feature available to members of Cooperative Arkansas MLS (CARMLS). Members now have the ability to import MLS data directly into their forms in Form Simplicity. This feature eliminates the need to type the data manually or multiple times. And to access the MLS import function, members must be logged into either Form Simplicity or CARMLS.

In the MLS, the user may access the import feature from a general search or a specific search.

In Form Simplicity, the user may locate the MLS Import feature in the Content tab of the active transaction. Members may learn how to import MLS data into an active transaction by logging into their account, selecting ‘HELP’ from the menu at the top of the page, and accessing the Knowledge Base.

Serving over 3,000 members across 19 boards, CARMLS is the largest MLS in Arkansas. Similarly, the Northwest Arkansas Board of REALTORS® and Ft. Smith Board of REALTORS® in Arkansas also have use of the Form Simplicity MLS import feature, and it is available for their respective members.

The Arkansas REALTORS® Association provides Form Simplicity’s Ultimate Edition to all its members; it is an included benefit.