Vermont Joins Efforts to Attract Relo Buyers

Several states and cities have been offering relocation buyers financial incentives—including paying off student loan debt—to move there. Now Vermont joins the list.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott recently signed a bill into law that will give certain people who relocate there from another state up to $10,000 to cover moving expenses. The money is part of a grant program aimed at attracting tech workers and revitalizing the state’s aging work force. Those who take part in the program must be full-time employees who work remotely for a business based outside of Vermont, and they mu st become a full-time resident of Vermont in 2019.

“If you are working for a tech company, you’re not necessarily wedded to the office,” Sen. Michael Sirotkin of Chittenden County, which includes Burlington, Vt., told The New York Times. Vermont is in close proximity to Boston and New York, and Sirotkin, the main champion of the bill, says he hopes the incentive will attract those who want “to get out of an urban environment into a more rural environment, those who are maybe paid well and don’t want to leave their job. Hopefully, it works.”

The grant money will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. About $125,000 will be available in 2019 for the program. Qualifying workers will receive up to $5,000 per year for two years. By 2020, the program is expected to receive up to $250,000. Applicants can start issuing requests Jan. 1.

Vermont officials announced another effort to attract more workers to the state two months ago with a Stay-to-Stay initiative. The program was launched with the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing to get tourists to relocate to the state.

Vermont has 16,000 fewer workers living in the state than in 2009, Scott says. “That’s why expanding our workforce is one of the top priorities of my administration. We must think outside the box to help more Vermonters enter the labor force and attract more working families and young professionals to Vermont.”

Other cities and states also have been trying to lure more people willing to relocate:

  • City officials in Hamilton, Ohio, have launched “Relocate to Hamilton,” touting $5,000 to help pay student loans.
  • In Grant County, Ind., civic leaders are offering $5,000 toward buying a home.
  • The Chamber of Commerce in North Platte, Neb., is offering up to $10,000 to move to the town for a job.
  • In 2016, the state of Maine launched an ad campaign called “Visit For a Week, Stay for a Lifetime” to try to get more people to call Maine home. Those who visited Maine on vacation and then moved there could be eligible to get their vacation expenses recouped.

Source: “Move to Vermont. Work From Home. Get $10,000. (Or at Least Something),” The New York Times

How to Capture ‘Serial Switchers’

A brand’s ability to create “positive, emotional experiences that drive customer loyalty” has a direct correlation to repeat business, according to a recent report from NewVoiceMedia. And bad service resulted in the loss of an estimated $75 billion for U.S. companies last year. “Customers want and expect more than ever before – because that’s what we have we taught them,” says customer service expert and business coach Shep Hyken.

Real estate isn’t immune. According to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Profile of Buyers and Sellers, which surveyed close to 8,000 homeowners who had bought or sold in the previous year, only 12 percent used an agent that they had worked with in the past to buy or sell a home.

Customers are becoming what NewVoiceMedia calls “serial switchers,” always on the hunt for better service. “We promise our customers that we will deliver amazing service, and we may. But, whether or not we do is for the customer to judge,” Hyken says. “And, here is where that judging gets interesting. They are no longer comparing us to our competitors. They are comparing us to the best service they ever received from anyone.”

The main reasons customers switch is because they feel underappreciated, Hyken says. Making that emotional connection and staying in contact with past clients is the biggest change broker-owners and their agents can make to ensure their clients are happy and use them to buy or sell again in the future. In fact, the NewVoiceMedia report shows that 86 percent of customers who had an emotional connection with a company or someone in customer service were willing to do business with that company again.

Source: “$75 Billion Dollars Is Lost Due to Poor Customer Service,” May 2018, Shep Hyken; “Serial Switchers Swayed by Sentiment: How Bad Emotive Customer Experiences are Costing Brands Billions,” NewVoiceMedia

Realtors® Conference & Expo Coming to Boston, Nov. 2-5

REALTORS® Conference & Expo: Ready, Set, Go!

This is a rare opportunity to attend the REALTORS® Conference and Expo in our neck of the woods! This year’s conference will be held in Boston on Nov. 2-5! The conference is NAR’s premier event, with hundreds of exhibitors, cutting-edge technology and educational sessions, and a chance to network with REALTOR® professionals from all over the nation! This high-energy, action-packed event is a can’t miss!

What’s the secret to earning more money in real estate? Attending the 2018 REALTORS® Conference & Expo, Nov. 2-5 in Boston, MA. Attendees make two times the average real estate income, so you’ll have the chance to network with some of the most successful pros in the industry!

This year’s event will help you get ahead of the pack!

November 2-5, 2018 / Boston Convention & Exhibition Center / Boston, MA

  • 100 education sessions
  • 400+ exhibitors
  • 20,000 total attendees

REGISTER       //        BOOK YOUR HOTEL        //       GET THE CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

10 Ways Your Expertise Justifies Your Commission

Everyone wants to feel appreciated, and you’re no different. You want your clients to see the value you bring to the transaction, but many real estate professionals are timid about tooting their horn to prospects and clients. You don’t want to come off as self-important, but you do want to educate customers about what you do—and most importantly, why you’re worth a commission check. Particularly in this digital age, where face-to-face communication is becoming scarcer, you might hear some of these aggravating comments:
  • “You made what off the sale of that home? It must be nice to ride around all day and make money.”
  • “I can save a lot of money if I don’t use an agent. That’s 6 percent more cash in my pocket. How hard can it be?”
  • “You can show me some homes, but I’m not going to sign an exclusive agreement with you. I’ll work with whoever brings me the best deal.”
  • “I’ll consider using you to sell my home if you’ll cut me a break on the commission.”

You know all the reasons you’re valuable, but this list is a resource you can provide customers. It’s part one of a three-part series designed to help you bust common misconceptions about your profession, drawn from our book, 31 Reasons Your Real Estate Agent Is Worth Their Commission. We’ve grouped our points into three value-building categories, beginning with knowledge.

  1. You have better information to assess a home’s value. Homes listed with a licensed full-time real estate agent sell for nearly 26 percent more than FSBO listings—even after factoring in the agent’s commission—according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Why? Mainly because you have intimate knowledge of the local market and what price it will support. Homeowners may have an idea of what price they want to ask for, but that figure is often not in alignment with market fundamentals. You have the professional training to assess your clients’ situations and position their home to sell for maximum value.
  2. You know where the system is broken. Full-time agents know where the traps lie in a real estate transaction. Appraisals, for example, are a big setback when they come in lower than expected. You know when it’s the product of a misinformed appraiser and when to seek a second opinion. Also, some federal regulations have put sellers at a disadvantage when it comes to appraisals, and your knowledge of how to work around them can save many deals. You go the extra mile to provide appropriate comps to appraisers, helping to shape their opinion on pricing and maintain an upward trajectory of home value.
  3. You’re a professional dealmaker. Common sense might dictate that a professional salesperson’s talents are applicable to any industry, but nothing is farther from the truth. The average consumer can’t sell a vehicle as well as a professional car salesperson. The same goes for houses. A natural salesperson might be able to win the confidence of a buyer, but are they prepared for the next step? You can earn a client’s trust, but you also know how to handle contracts, negotiations, etc. Your clients need that expertise to keep a deal from falling through.
  4. You’re trained to haggle for the best deal. Negotiating is generally done on the back end, when the details of the transaction come to the surface. In order to keep a deal together, you sometimes have to play hardball—especially when the opposing side drags its heels, potentially harming your client. Negotiating takes a lot of practice, which you’ve taken the time to master. It’s difficult to hone these specific skills in any other industry.
  5. A Google search won’t teach your clients what you already know. The real estate business is a closed, esoteric system. Your customers could search online for the answers to any state or national real estate test, and it still will not give them the full knowledge you possess. Buyers and sellers might be able to glean the basics of filling out a contract—but then what? Even if they could find every answer to every possible question, how long would that take? Google is indeed an incredible gateway to knowledge, but it is no substitute for the hours, days, and years you’ve spent applying your knowledge to real-life scenarios.
  6. You do most of the thinking for your clients. The brain is a muscle, and when muscles are overused, they get sore and need recuperation. You can supply peace of mind—literally—to your clients by handling the most taxing parts of a transaction for them. And that’s worth every penny of a commission. Your clients don’t need to tax their brains in an attempt to gain knowledge or information you already have. You can let them focus on their bottom line while you engage with those who want a piece of it.
  7. When you make money, your clients benefit. You might make a $30,000 commission on a million-dollar home, but you don’t keep all that money to yourself. Some of it goes back to your clients in the form of rewards for loyal customers, gas and meals when taking customers out on a day of showings, not to mention marketing expenses such as MLS fees, Google ads, listing photography, signs, and open house events, all to help sellers find a buyer for their home. You put your money where your mouth is.
  8. You’re properly trained. It’s not possible to do what you do at your skill level without the proper training it takes to understand all the nuances of the industry. Not only are you properly educated and licensed to conduct business, you are required to take continuing education courses to keep your skills in line with current trends. Would your clients make that kind of commitment?
  9. You have an eye for what sells. Staging is a key factor in selling a home for its full value. You know which improvements or repairs will bring maximum return on investment for your clients. You keep up with home style trends in order to make a property stand out and catch buyers’ attention. You’re skilled in portraying a story with listing photos, and you know how to highlight the attributes of a home and properly address the drawbacks.
  10. You work in an age-old industry that has weathered ups and downs. The REALTOR® brand has been around for more than 100 years, and you are carrying on a legacy of continually putting systems into place to help consumers, set industry ethics standards, and find better marketing solutions. You’re backed by industry leaders who lobby for better training and laws that protect the client from fraud. And in the end, your clients are better off because of it.

Act 250 Conference Slated for May 24 in S. Royalton

Act 250: What’s Next?
This important conference will provide insights into Vermont’s signature land development regulation, and highlight the challenges and opportunities for improvement. The event will be held on Thursday, May 24 from 8am-3:30pm at the Chase Center, Vermont Law School in South Royalton. Early-bird registration is $40 by May 3. Late registration is $50.

The conference is presented by the Vermont Planners Association, Vermont Law School, Vermont Natural Resources Council, and VTDigger.org, in collaboration with the Natural Resources Board and the Commission on Act. 250: The Next 50 Years.

Learn more

ACBOR Supports UVM Children’s Hospital

ACBOR members made a difference by supporting the UVM Children’s Hospital during the 2018 Big Change Roundup!

The Big Change Roundup is the largest signature event for the UVM Children’s Hospital This event is an important fundraiser, but also brings the entire North Country together to help pediatric patients and their families. In 2017, the event collected and counted 2.35 tons of change. EVERY DIME makes a difference!

ACBOR members helped raise nearly $500 during this year’s event! Thanks to everyone who participated!

For more information about the Big Change Roundup, click here.

Overcome Client Misconceptions About Home Valuation Tools

Jamie McCurdy wanted to sell her house in Houston quickly so she could move back to her home state of Missouri to be closer to family. McCurdy wasn’t concerned with making a big profit on the sale—after all, it was December 2013, and the local market was still trudging through the recovery of the last housing downturn. She just wanted a short timeline to close. So she researched home values online and was satisfied to list her 2,280-square-foot ranch-style house according to what the internet said her home was worth. Zillow’s “Zestimate” and other automated valuation models valued her home at $189,000. But her real estate agent, Penny Brockway, RSPS, broker-owner of Brockway Realty in League City, Texas, flinched at the figure.

Brockway wanted to respect McCurdy’s wishes for a quick sale, but given that the three-bedroom, two-bath home sat on 10,000 square feet of land, she knew AVMs were undervaluing her client’s property. So Brockway further researched local market data using the Realtors Property Resource®, including comparable listings, home upgrades and special features, and neighborhood dynamics. She found that most homes in the area sat on 7,000 to 9,000 square feet of land and didn’t have comparable features, such as a tiered deck, spa, and detached two-car garage. “Her house had everything,” Brockway says. “Beautiful wood floors and plantation shutters. It was really at the high end in the neighborhood, and I knew we could get more money.”

To McCurdy’s surprise, Brockway suggested listing the home for $227,000—$38,000 more than McCurdy envisioned. “I’d only been in the house for a year, and the market at the time was improving but not great yet,” McCurdy says. “I didn’t think it would sell for that price.” Brockway would have to ease McCurdy’s concerns and dissuade her of the common misconception that AVMs provide an accurate price point.

It’s an ongoing issue agents continue to face: How do you convince sellers that you are a better resource for accurate market data than third-party real estate sites? “These sites are basically for entertainment purposes only,” says Tim Harris, cofounder of Tim and Julie Harris Real Estate Coaching. “Agents need to approach every single seller with the assumption that the seller is looking at these sites, and they have to prepare accordingly.”

In order to do that, agents must be educated on the hyperlocal stats that matter most to a client’s sale and present a detailed price analysis that covers items AVMs don’t. “The Zestimate or any of these other AVMs aren’t going to take into account the intricacies of the area or the upgrades on the home, and a prepared agent can show a seller how those variables affect price,” Harris says. That will go a long way toward building trust with clients, which is essential if they are going to feel comfortable accepting your guidance and advice. “The consumer has to have more confidence in the agent than they do the internet. To build this confidence, agents must to be able to present a detailed CMA with a high level of authority.”

After Brockway supplied a more detailed market analysis, McCurdy realized she could potentially leave thousands of dollars on the table. “Once I considered the information Penny brought to me, I realized I had to put a little faith into my agent,” McCurdy says. They eventually compromised on the list price, putting the home on the market for $220,000. Six days after listing, a buyer offered the full asking price.

“I definitely didn’t expect it,” McCurdy says. “I thought we would still have to come down from the asking price, and here was a full-price offer.” The transaction closed soon after, and McCurdy pocketed $30,000 more than she thought she would on the sale. “I’m really happy Penny provided so much information on the value of my home. I was able to put faith in my agent, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

It wasn’t difficult for Brockway to take control of the narrative of her client’s home value with the right information, she says. “I always make sure I’m prepared ahead of time and bring my laptop with me when I meet a client. I think that’s really important,” Brockway says. “It’s important to me that I take care of my clients, and getting them the most money for their home is part of that.”

The Most Common Contract Contingencies

Seventy-four percent of contracts in the first month of the year contained settlement contingencies, according to the January 2018 REALTORS® Confidence Index survey, conducted by the National Association of REALTORS®.

The monthly survey, based on responses from more than 3,500 REALTORS® about their latest transactions, examines what real estate pros are seeing most often in contracts. The most common contingencies are home inspection (58%), appraisal (44%), obtaining financing (43%), having clear title (11%), and selling a current home (5%).

Nine percent of agents reported encountering no problems that threatened to delay their deals. The most pressing problems that agents say they faced in ushering an on-time settlement were the following:

  • Issues related to obtaining financing: 30%
  • Appraisal issues: 16%
  • Home inspection/environmental issues: 19%
  • Titling/deed issues: 11%
  • Issues in buy/sell distressed property: 4%
  • Contingencies stated in the contract: 10%
  • Home/hazard/flood insurance issues: 2%
  • Other: 24%

Source: “REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey: January 2018,” National Association of REALTORS® (2018)