Tuesday, April 26, 2011

6 Reasons to Reduce a Home's Price

The longer an overpriced home sits on the market, the more likely buyers will begin thinking something’s wrong with it. Help your clients avoid a long wait for the right offer by branding, printing, and hand-delivering a free article detailing 6 reasons to reduce your home’s price from the REALTOR® Content Resource.

That’s just one of five free articles to help sellers get their home sold that you can hand deliver (or post to your blog, Web site, e-newsletter, Facebook, or Twitter). You can also search the REALTOR® Content Resource by keyword or topic for other topics ranging from home improvement and maintenance to taxes and finance.

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The REALTOR® Content Resource is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS®. With it, you can download free home ownership content from HouseLogic to your marketing materials.

Is This Really a Buyer's Market?

With falling home prices and higher inventories, most of the public views real estate as a “buyer’s market,” in which buyers hold more of the control and sellers will more eagerly accept lower offers just to sell.

Not so fast, say buyers and sellers. More buyers are finding the sellers in the driver’s seat.

Buyer Young Hammack gave up looking for homes for a while after being outbid on three properties in California. "It's a false buyer's market," Hammack says. "If you think prices are cheap, wait until you start putting offers in."

Many sellers may be unable or unwilling to lower their home prices — mostly because they may be underwater on their mortgage — so buyers are increasingly finding lower offers than list price denied. Buyers, on the other hand, may be reluctant to agree to a deal if they don’t feel like they are getting it at a deep discount, industry insiders say.

Traditional buyers also are finding even buying a foreclosure can be difficult as they’re increasingly outbid by investors who are willing to pay cash.

"There's a shortage of attractive inventory," says Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin Corp. "Customers just keep getting outbid on the houses that they want."

Real estate professional Steve Capen with Keller Williams Realty in St. Petersburg, Fla., says that the homes most in demand among buyers often don’t require much repair work and are located in good school districts and choice neighborhoods near transit hubs.

"What's selling is the cream of the crop, and they sell fast," Capen says. "If it's not cream of the crop, it's getting hammered."

Source: “Buyers' Market? Stressed Sellers Say Not So Fast,” The Wall Street Journal online (April 25, 2011)

Friday, April 8, 2011

4 Ways to Save on Your Cell Phone Bill

A potential $39 billion merger between two of the nation’s largest wireless carriers--AT&T and T-Mobile--could lead to higher cell phone bills, according to some experts.

Here are some cost-cutting measures to consider making now:

1. Use a family plan. You may want to find some “family” to add to your smartphone plan to start trimming your bill. AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, as well as other carriers offer family plans that aren’t just limited to those in your family. You can essentially add anyone to your “family” and still take advantage of the savings. Here’s the potential savings by bulking your plan: AT&T smartphone individual plans (which include voice, unlimited messaging and data) start at about $75 per month. A family plan that covers three users for similar features costs $145 a month--about $48 per person. A family of five? The monthly cost is $40 per person.

2. Trade in old phones. Don’t just dump your old cell phone in a drawer. Web sites such as GreenPhone.com and CellTradeUSA will let you trade your old phone for a new one. While you may have to pay a small upgrade cost, you’ll still save in having to buy new.

3. See if you qualify for a discount. Check to see if you qualify for a discounted cell phone plan if you’re a member of a national group such as AAA and AARP. Also, some wireless carriers even offer business discounts that you can apply toward your personal plan.

4. Free texting and video calls. You can curb your texting fees by using smartphone apps. For iPhone users, try Textfree With Voice; Android users might try chompSMS. (Note: These services only work with other smartphone owners who have the app.) You can also save by using video calls: iPhone users can save on calling minutes by using FaceTime video calling, and Android and iPhone users can video chat for free and also save on calling minutes by using Skype.

Source: “Here Are Smart Ways to Cut Cellphone Bill,” Orlando Sentinel (April 3, 2011)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Watch Your E-mail: 3 Spam Survival Tips

A massive security breach from Epsilon has potentially exposed the e-mail addresses of millions of customers at major banks, hotels, and stores to hackers. Security experts are warning the public that you may be at greater risk of getting spam in your e-mail inbox that will try to trick you into revealing your personal information.

Consumer Reports recently offered some spam survival tips in dealing with the Epsilon fallout:

1. Never click on an embedded link in an e-mail. Very targeted phishing attacks are expected from this latest security breach, experts warn. Security experts have warned that spammers have been creating official-looking e-mails from such banks as Citibank that try to direct customers to click on an e-mail link and update their online account. By doing so, you may be providing hackers with your personal account information. If a company is trying to contact you about important changes to your account, instead go directly to the company’s web site from your browser or contact the customer service phone number.

2. Protect your personal information. Remember: Legitimate companies will never ask customers for your personal data--such as Social Security numbers or credit card information--via e-mail. 

3. Update your anti-virus software. Spam also has a good chance of carrying viruses, malware, or even giving spammers the ability to capture everything you type, such as your account information. Make sure you have anti-virus software that is up to date to protect you from the latest viruses.

Source: “6 Tips for Surviving the Epsilon E-mail Fiasco,” Consumer Reports Online (April 5, 2011)