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Branding With Your Name in Real Estate? Come On, You Can Do Better

Brand Building

Successful branding let’s your consumer know what you do in a memorable way.

by Bernice Ross
Key Takeaway:  Branding with your name is a blunder because most people won’t remember it. It’s better to let people know what you do.

Effective branding is at the heart of virtually every successful business, yet it is a rarity in the real estate industry. If you’re branding your business with your name, it may be time to take a different tack.

Over my 30-plus years in the industry, I’ve been affiliated with several of the major brands in the business.

The standing joke in Coldwell Banker is that people often think that they’re in the banking business. At Century 21, a common question is “Are you the people who have the great deals on car insurance?”

And by the way, exactly what does Re/Max and ERA stand for? (Real Estate Maximums and Electronic Realty Associates.)

Effective vs. ineffective branding

The challenge in each of these examples is that the branding doesn’t meet the three simple criteria for having an effective brand. An effective brand does each of the following:

  1. It’s memorable
  2. It immediately brings the product being sold to mind.
  3. It identifies a specific target market.

Here are three examples of effective branding from outside of real estate that are easy to recognize:

The ‘Uncola’

7Up’s tagline, the “Uncola,” is easy to remember and specifically targets people who want something other than a Coke or a Pepsi.

‘The ultimate driving machine’

You may not know what the letters BMW stand for, but its branding has stood the test of time. The reason? The tagline tells what its product does — it gives you the “ultimate” driving experience. Referencing what the product does is much more effective than branding with only a name.


This is a superb example of strong branding — one word that says exactly what the product does: provides “flicks” (movies) on the “net.”

In terms of real estate brands, the one that best fits the criteria above is relatively new — NextHome. This brand describes exactly what it does in a single word: find your next home.

The least effective brand in the business: Your name

In contrast, the most common type of branding in the real estate industry is based on people’s names. This is the least effective approach to branding because virtually everyone has difficulty remembering names.

The reason is that every day you are constantly bombarded with names of people you meet, names in the news, plus thousands of product and place names. The reason you have trouble recalling names is due to “interference.”

To illustrate how interference works, you can probably easily remember what you had for dinner last night. On the other hand, it’s highly unlikely that you remember what you had for dinner a year ago.

The reason is you have had 365 dinners since then. The memory of all these other dinners “interferes” with the memory that you are attempting to recall.

Complicating the situation even further, even if the customer remembers your name when they do meet you, memory research shows that we forget 70 percent of what we have learned within the first 24 hours after learning has taken place.

People remember functions, not names

If you were to meet me at a social event, and I introduced myself as Bernice Ross of ABC Realty, chances are you will remember the “blond lady who sells real estate,” but you won’t remember my name.

Furthermore, if you work for a brokerage such as Coldwell Banker or Keller Williams that use two names in their branding, the consumer is more likely to remember the brokerage brand because they see it on every just listed card, for sale sign, business card, newspaper ad and web page that the companies’ agents send out.

How to create a memorable brand

To establish a memorable brand, make sure that you reference “homes,” “real estate” or “properties” as well as niche or a specific geographical area that you serve.

For example:

  • Phoenix Probate Real Estate Specialists
  • Westlake Waterfront Properties
  • Richmond Historical Homes by Sally Agent

Sample URLs could be www.WestlakeWaterfrontProperties.com or RichmondHistoricalHomes.com. If the URL is not available, choose a different brand.

Be sure that the URL you choose references both your geographical location as well as your specific niche.

Branding is the most effective when you use the brand on all of your marketing materials. Consequently, your website, your cards and each advertising piece you send out should contain the same branding.

(Some real estate regulators have started to crack down on the wording that can be used in individual agent and team branding, so check the law in your state before proceeding).

The good news about owning your own brand

If your company is purchased or goes out of business or if you decide to change brokerages, having your own brand allows you continue to market without losing momentum.

In contrast, if you are relying solely on your company’s branding, you would have to start your branding efforts all over — this translates into lost income.

Remember, the key to successful branding is to let your consumer know what you do, where you do it and who you do it with!

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

via Inman News




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Top 10 Issues Facing the Real Estate Industry in 2017

Biggest Issues in Real Estate

The No. 1 challenge? Polarization and political uncertainty.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Political uncertainty affects trade, consumer prices, home prices and mortgage interest rates.
  2. Big baby boomer and millennial populations (who want different things in their homes) are causing generational disruption and housing mismatch.
  3. The proliferation of real estate technology is also going to have a big impact on consumers, agents and brokers.

[Inman News] DENVER — Every year, the Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) surveys its members to discover what the most pressing issues facing the real estate industry might be.

Yesterday, at the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) conference in Denver, CRE chair Scott Muldavin unveiled a list of the 10 challenges the industry will face.

“As real estate agents, we’re all futurists,” said Muldavin, pointing out that purchasing a home, securing a mortgage and even signing a lease are all activities that require some thought about the future.

In a departure from previous years, Muldavin started the list with the item that CRE members think is the most pressing one for the industry to face right now.

1. Political polarization and global uncertainty

“Today we’re going to start at the top because political polarization and global uncertainty is an issue that permeates almost all the other issues,” Muldavin explained.

He noted that resurging nationalism, threats to the European Union and the possibility of war with Iran or North Korea — plus uncertainty relative to trade deals — are all contributing to this challenge.

“There are a lot of unintended consequences,” he noted.

Political polarization and global uncertainty have a particular impact on trade, so port, gateway and coastal communities might find themselves with economic or other problems that they haven’t yet had to tackle.

Add to that the fact that the consumer price index, home prices and interest rates are all rising, mortgages are less affordable and communities are increasingly polarized, and you can see how this issue would affect homeownership on an individual and national scale.

2. The technology boom

“One of the biggest booms today is actually the boom in applications,” said Muldavin, noting that in 2011, $186 million was spent on real estate tech applications, and that number had ballooned to $2.7 billion in 2016.

“This move is going to change every aspect of buying, selling and managing real estate,” he said.

Technology will affect home sales in the following ways:

  • Robotics has come alive — and that means your job might not be safe, which could have an impact on the number of households that can afford to buy a home.
  • Autonomous vehicles are coming sooner or later — Muldavin thinks sooner — and that’s going to mean buildings and parking garages are probably due for some redesign, and builders need to start thinking about that now.
  • Consumers are coming to expect growing sophistication from service providers who leverage technology, so those service providers better be ready to deliver.
  • Smart home devices are becoming increasingly popular.
  • Wireless access and bandwidth are key for residential properties.
  • New modes of transportation and new transportation models could be a boom for the suburbs.

3. Generational disruptions

The two biggest generations in the United States — millennials and baby boomers — have very different challenges and varying priorities and needs when it comes to housing, and that gets especially squirrelly when the two groups need to share living spaces.

This means that office, public and residential living spaces should be designed with the demands of both groups in mind, whenever possible, to meet the needs of this side-by-side generational workforce.

And while young renters and buyers have income limits and are marrying and moving to the suburbs later in life, older owners are downsizing and selling so they can move back to the cities.

4. Retail disruption

“This is not exactly a new issue that the retail markets are having a problem,” said Muldavin.

“Between 1970 and today, malls grew at twice the rate of the population.” He noted that the United States has 40 percent more retail space than Canada, five times more than the United Kingdom and 10 times more than Germany. That’s…a lot, especially when you combine it with the wonders of shopping online.

So is it any surprise that so many retail storefronts are closing up shop?

“Retail’s not dying,” assured Muldavin, “but people like experiences” — so current retail stores might be converted to climbing gyms, offices or what Muldavin calls “omnichannel” stores.

And this will all roll up to impact residential real estate; properties within walking distance will be within high demand, and retail disruption can be a residential value determinant, so it’s unwise to ignore it.

5. Infrastructure investment

“Infrastructure is a long-term problem relative to our competitiveness,” said Muldavin, and it’s another one we can’t ignore — it won’t fix itself and it’s only going to keep deteriorating.

He discussed the the infrastructure plan outlined by the Trump administration and said it would push funds into public transportation and other important infrastructure projects.

However, infrastructure projects of this scope are typically taken on when unemployment is relatively high — which it is definitely not right now; we’re at an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in the U.S., the lowest since 2001.

So where are those infrastructure workers going to come from, and how much will they need to be paid?

There are commercial opportunities for fund management, plus advantages for ports and communities that support global transportation routes, and more infrastructure likely means more jobs (and therefore more money to buy a home), better access to housing and work and other necessary places, improved utilities, improved delivery of goods and more.

“The losers are going to be rural areas, water, electrical grids, parks — anything that doesn’t have a direct public source,” Muldavin said.

6. Housing: The big mismatch

“Affordability is a big issue, but in Cleveland you can still buy a house for $80,000,” Muldavin noted. “So affordability’s not a problem everywhere. The places where jobs are being created, you have huge affordability issues. What they really need to do is get jobs moving to where we have housing that’s affordable.”

This is just one example of the big housing mismatch. Others include:

  • Boomers want large apartments for their downsizing plans while developers have been building much smaller units for millennials.
  • There are far too few starter homes to meet demand in most markets.
  • The poor demand for old, large homes in the suburbs can also hinder move-up or downsizing buyers seeking a change.

7. Lost decades of the middle class

Middle class wages haven’t grown in 20 years, Muldavin noted.

“We have a real challenge in this and it has significant implications for real estate relative to homebuying.”

Is it any surprise that homeownership rates have dropped? Muldavin said that they’re forecasted to go even lower — to 60 percent or below. “We’re not expecting a homebuying boom,” he said.

8. Real estate’s emerging role in health care

Is anyone in the U.S. (aside from perhaps pharmaceutical companies) happy with the state of health care? Muldavin noted that we spend $3 trillion on health care every year in this country, and our outcomes rank 50 out of 55 developed countries surveyed. “We’re not getting a lot done,” Muldavin said, “and real estate has a key role in turning this around.”

That includes both increased health care infrastructure — urgent care centers, ambulatory care centers, clinics and other health care-related locales are popping up to help alleviate the burden from hospitals — and buildings themselves can help enhance and promote our health.

There are programs that can control carbon dioxide and lighting levels, for example, to promote alertness and align with circadian rhythms for better sleep.

9. Immigration

“The problem with immigration and the polarization is we don’t have a comprehensive strategy,” said Muldavin.

There are, of course, implications of toughening the borders against immigration:

  • It blocks access to skilled workers.
  • It impacts innovation.
  • It hampers multifamily development, rents and home sales.
  • It impacts home and rental unit size, as immigrant families are often larger.
  • There will be fewer new household formations, fewer renters and fewer buyers.

10. Climate change

Muldavin explained that whether or not you believe in rising sea levels and climate change, it’s going to affect real estate — because new scientific algorithms might convince other people that your property will soon be (literally) underwater.

“It doesn’t even have to be true for it to affect real estate,” he said.

Muldavin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area by the water, and he explained that his big concern is less about his property and more about how he gets there (and leaves).

“If the access road floods now, I can’t get to my house today,” he said. If it gets worse….

“Even if it’s wrong, the perceptions can affect values a lot,” he said “and particularly for baby boomers when your home is such a huge part of your equity and investment, are you going to take a huge risk and not sell or move?”

By AMBER TAUFEN Staff Writer, Inman News

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Explaining the Appraisal Process to Clients Early is Crucial


It all starts with reasonable pricing, knowing the comparables and advising clients properly.

Inman.com — After a seller and buyer reach a “meeting of the minds,” meaning that they have agreed to a price, terms and conditions so that a sale can move forward, most purchase agreements provide each principal a number of opportunities to re-visit the agreement.

When a problem arises, they can negotiate the issue, renegotiate the purchase offer (specifically, the purchase price), or they reach an impasse that could end the process.

Generally speaking, there are two major events or “contingencies” that stand between two relatively happy parties agreeing to transfer a deed. The two are the property inspection and the mortgage approval.

The property inspection usually occurs within the first week or so, and the appraisal usually occurs within weeks of the proposed settlement date, which makes an appraisal problem tougher on the parties as they are more invested in the process concluding successfully.

The mortgage approval involves a number of activities centered on vetting the buyer and appraising the property. The need for an appraisal is premised upon the concept that a loan is an investment in a buyer.

The lender earns fees for being in a position to make the loan and attempts to protect its investment by making sure that the property is “worth” the risk associated with making a loan to a person who may at some point (for a variety of reasons) become unable or unwilling to continue making the monthly payments to repay the loan.

In addition to whatever has happened to the actual market value of the property compared to the amount loaned, the process of taking the property back is a costly one.

Appraisers evaluate property based on a number of criteria, and the “value” they attach to a specific parcel is based on comparable activity. It is a snapshot that is a moving target.

Markets rise and markets fall so the durability of a given appraisal is not guaranteed. Results from years ago or for purposes other than a sale may be worthless when considered in the present day.

When attaching a marketing price to a listed property and when determining how much to offer a seller, the future appraisal should be given some consideration as no one wants a sale to fail, especially given the timing of the appraisal.

The appraised value is interesting as it purports to suggest a specific whole dollar amount to the “value” of a parcel. I am not an appraiser and respectfully suggest that two or more appraisers will arrive at different valuations.

Further, I would respectfully prefer to see that a sale price was either acceptable (meaning at or below the appraised value) or not rather than seeing a specific number when the value exceeds the offered price.

I have had sellers ask if they could raise the price!

Obviously if a house does not appraise, the parties do need to know the amount to see if they can work it out. As objective as it is meant to be, the result is subjective in that the parties want to still do business but may lack the resources to complete the process.

It all starts with reasonable pricing, knowing the comparables and advising the clients that the appraiser typically has what appears to the final say!

Agents should take time to explain pricing and the appraisal process early in the sale, so that no surprises occur later.

Thank you Inman.com.

via Andrew Wetzel… an associate broker with Long and Foster Real Estate in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

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10 Reasons Why Mortgage Investors Are Rejecting TRID Loans


The other shoe has dropped: With thousands of loans closed under the new regulatory regime now making their way to the secondary market, investors are refusing to buy them due to compliance problems and loan document errors.


*With thousands of loans closed under TRID making their way to the secondary market, investors are refusing to buy them due to compliance and documentation issues.
*The majority of infractions are minor and technical in nature, such as failing to include an agent or broker’s contact information or inconsistencies among forms.
*The biggest sticking point on the real estate side of the transaction appears to be the use of third-party authorization forms to give agents access to a consumer’s Closing Disclosure.
*Anticipating delays and adding extra days to the transaction timeline is one way agents can hedge against roadblocks.

With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID), or “Know Before You Owe” rule now in effect for four months, it’s no secret that the sweeping change to the mortgage application process has impacted homebuying for all parties involved. Reports of compliance issues are quite common.

In December, Moody’s Investors Services released a credit outlook report in which its analysts estimated that several third-party firms found TRID violations in more than 90 percent of the loans they audited.

The reasons why investors are rejecting these so-called “defective” or “scratch-and-dent” loans may surprise you, as some of the infractions are minor and technical in nature, according to two of the nation’s top RESPA compliance attorneys.

A roundtable seeking answers…

Marx Sterbcow, managing attorney of the New Orleans-based law firm Sterbcow Law Group, and Rich Horn, the former CFPB attorney who helped write the TRID rule and now has his own firm in Washington, D.C., teamed up to publish a list of the top 10 reasons mortgage investors are rejecting TRID loans.

The list was discussed last month on a cross-industry trade group conference call involving the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Real Estate Services Providers Council (RESPRO), the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and others.

“The liability and risk environment were already high before TRID, and TRID has done nothing but escalate it,” said John Campbell, a research analyst at Stephens Inc. “If lenders and private investors aren’t willing to take on the risk of buying potentially tainted loans — loans that could put them at future risk one day — then the market loses funding sources and liquidity. There’s a grace period from the GSEs (government-sponsored enterprises) which helps, but that’s just one side of the market.”


Here are the 10 reasons investors are refusing to purchase TRID loans, according to the attorneys, as well as some tips for how agents can help prevent these issues from happening.

Top 10 reasons investors are rejecting TRID loans

1. The Loan Estimate (LE) and Closing Disclosure (CD) bear the same date.

Under TRID rules, a creditor may not provide a revised LE on or after the date the creditor provides the consumer with the CD. Because the CD must be provided to the consumer no later than three business days before consummation, the consumer must receive a revised LE no later than four business days prior to consummation.

2. On the CD, title fees aren’t being input properly.

The regulatory text requires a space between “Title” and a hyphen, followed by “Settlement Agent Fee.” Some forms erroneously say, “Title-Settlement Agent Fee,” when they should say, “Title — Settlement Agent Fee.

3. Page 5 of the CD is missing certain contact information, such as the real estate agent or broker’s license number.

Some lenders preparing the CD are leaving this information off the form because it isn’t necessarily included on all sales contracts, which vary by state.

NAR is working with its state associations to educate agents on this issue and possibly include this information on all sales contracts. The attorneys noted that if an individual is not required to have a license number, you can leave that cell blank. You should be using your license identification number, not your NMLS identification number, which is typically only obtained by lenders and brokers.

4. The CFPB’s Office of Regulations stated in a webinar that if the alternative CD is used, there is no place to show subordinate financing on the alternative CD, and there is no requirement to do so.

Essentially, each transaction will have its own cash to close, and the settlement agent has to figure out the “master” cash to close.

5. On page 1 of the CD, the title company’s “file number” is not included.

This is the settlement agent’s file number “for identification purposes.” The CFPB has stated that it “may contain any alpha-numeric characters and need not be limited to numbers.”

Settlement agents are advised to use any number that they assign to the file in their own systems to identify it, and it may contain both letters and numbers.

6. Failure to meet legal disclosure requirements.

For example, the lender or bank sent the loan file to the investor with a copy of an executed, third-party authorization to release the nonpublic, personal information (NPPI) form to real estate agents, giving them access to a borrower’s CD.

Such forms are viewed as “insufficient” in the secondary market because they do not meet the disclosure requirements of some laws, including Regulation P and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Some state real estate associations, such as those in Louisiana and Texas, have created their own authorization forms, but Sterbcow cautioned that investors are rejecting them.

7. Some settlement agents are not providing sellers with the CD, or are providing the HUD-1 or ALTA Settlement Statement instead.

Those forms cannot replace the CD under the TRID rules.

8. Lenders are reporting that their settlement agents still do not understand the simultaneous issuance rules.

Therefore, they are getting estimates that do not comply.

9. Incorrect use of the “Optional” designation.

This designation is used for insurance, warranty, guarantee or event-coverage products disclosed under the “Other” category, such as optional owner’s title insurance, credit life insurance, debt suspension coverage, debt cancellation coverage, home warranties and similar products.

10. Fee names on the LE and CD do not match.

The attorneys cautioned that a title company or settlement agent can change the fee names if circumstances change, but those fee names should remain the same on both forms from then on.

Advice for agents

Although agents may view this list and think most of the errors don’t apply to them, Ken Trepeta, RESPRO’s president and executive director, painted a picture of how these issues may play out and impact the entire housing industry.

“If lenders can’t sell the loans to investors, they may go out of business — particularly small- and moderate-sized mortgage lenders and banks that cannot portfolio loans,” Trepeta said. “So there will be fewer options for consumers, and credit could be constrained.”

In addition, “if investors are nitpicking technical issues, it is just going to slow down the process further as people double- and triple-check everything before they allow a transaction to close,” Trepeta said. He anticipated this happening, and in his previous role as director of real estate services for NAR, he advised agents to add 15 days to their transaction timeline.

“It is also why I said people should not wait until closing to address issues, because every little thing is going to be scrutinized, and getting approvals for changes will take time and every change will require an approval,” he said.

“So everything needs to be done right the first time, even though there are cure provisions. Because of buybacks, robo-signing and all the lawsuits in the past, we are now in an era with zero tolerance for even minor errors or deviations.”

NAR President Tom Salomone agreed, adding that anticipating longer closing times “is still an important practice as the industry continues to adapt” to the TRID rule and new closing process.

“December’s existing-home sales are a reason for cautious optimism that the work to prepare for Know Before You Owe is paying off. Nonetheless, our data continues to show longer closing timeframes, and that remains a cause for concern,” Salomone said.

In particular, the sixth item on this list — concerning the use of third-party authorization forms to give agents access to a consumer’s CD — seems to be the biggest sticking point for the real estate side of the transaction. Trade associations are attempting to work with the CFPB to get some guidance on this issue.

Samuel Gilford, a spokesman for the CFPB, said the bureau is aware of the concern, but noted, “These privacy concerns existed before the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule and are governed by Regulation P, which was not changed by that rule.

“In general, real estate agents and their clients have historically been able to negotiate these legitimate privacy concerns, and we expect they will continue to do so,” Gilford said. “We would note that Regulation P contains various exceptions from prohibitions on sharing personal financial information, and continue to listen and gather information about whether the purposes expressed by residential real estate brokerages and their agents would meet any of those exceptions.”

Loan Estimate

via Amy Swinderman, Inman News