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Friday, January 25, 2008

My story at John L. Scott

Wow… This company has been an amazing foundation for me. In 2001 I found myself working at Alaska Airlines, on the night shift, looking for tickets to non-rev (fly free) the upcoming weekend. I was discouraged because I had put in over 6 months and everyone in my family got to use my fly free benefits except for me. It occurred to me suddenly. I needed a job that paid enough for me to buy my own ticket. Almost instantly, I called my supervisor over and let her know of my intentions to resign. I left that night and the next morning signed up for Real Estate school.

I got through school, took my tests and began the interviewing around town. It was interesting because there was a wide range of offerings. Small brokers that offered me a job, I think. It was kind of like, sure come on over, we’ll be here in the morning too. They never actually closed the deal with me, so I was worried about them coaching me on how to close a deal. Larger operations, with the Oldsmobile’s In the parking lot and chain smokers huddled around the entrance engaged in conversation. Great first impression huh. I just never really saw a class act that made me excited to join.

I did find placement with a new home builder in a new community in Meridian. I thought I hit the jackpot. I did when it came to the great homes I got to represent. It did not occur to me until later that it would not be very easy for me to get guidance and leadership with a sales manager that lived in McCall. Within a few months I became depressed and thought maybe I shouldn’t have had such high hopes in my new career.

I was ready to throw in the towel, in fact, I had new business cards printed. I intended on going to work for my brother-in-law. Everyone who worked for this builder was interviewing with John L. Scott and would be under new leadership. I was hesitant because my real estate experience had not been too good thus far. My darling husband told me that I would regret leaving the industry not having REALLY tried it out. I agreed to give it a shot.

Immediately, I got the support and encouragement I needed to succeed. I had a sales manager that inspired me and led me to become passionate about selling and learning. Because of Ronda Conger, I read about 50 books a year (I always call her my little OPRAH). I got a fire that was contagious. The passion was there all along. I just needed the right leadership to help me recognize my potential. I was pushed and challenged and given the right tools I needed to succeed.

After growing into the industry I branched out further and had more opportunity. I have always felt encouraged and supported in my personal and professional growth. Owners of JLS, Craig Groves and Bob Bass, have made opportunities when we thought there were none. They have given me resources that sealed the deal. They have kept our team on task, realistic, and a notch above the other brokerages. I was floored when I saw this week that JLS has 18% of the listing inventory for new construction. No other traditional brokerage was even in the double digits.

The past 6 years with the company has offered me an education unparalleled. I have had the opportunity to travel all over to attend NAHB and PCBC conferences and attend continuing education classes. I have brought new homes, new cars, travelled to Mexico, Europe and stateside. I never could have reported all of the wonderful things that my family and I have enjoyed had I not worked at JLS. My life has been blessed tremendously.

During this “market condition,” we have been experiencing in the Treasure Valley, I get to come to work and surround myself with the best in the business every day. I would highly encourage anyone looking at a career change or looking for new leadership to interview at JLS, 323-4000. You too can have all the tools and people you need to succeed. Great leadership is the difference between enjoying your work and doing it well and HAVING to go to work every day.

Posted by Bob Bass at 1/25/2008 5:39:00 PM

KTVB Story
In 2007, home sales across the Treasure Valley dropped 33 percent from 2006.
Marc Lebowitz with the Ada County Association of Realtors says the figure should be taken with a grain of salt.

The Ada County Association of Realtors claims although numbers are down from last year - it was still an average year in home sales. Homes sale numbers across the area were the 5th best ever. "2005 and 2006 spiked higher than anything we have ever seen," he said.

Lebowitz says 2007 turned into a year of opportunity for the first time home buyers across the area. "The sales of homes in the $160,000 to $300,000 mark in December of 2007 were 30% greater than in July of 2007...where everything else is trending downward that is trending up."

Another changing trend in 2007 - Lebowitz says fewer investors purchased homes.

"People buying homes in 2007 bought them to live in they wanted to make this there home, this is a great place to have a family," he said.

As for 2008, Lebowitz says with interest rates at an all time low, spring will be a good time for people looking to buy a home.

"We continue to see the inventory decrease and we continue to see sellers becoming more realistic so I think it continues to be a strong market for buyers," he said.

As for sellers - Lebowitz offers this advice.
"Listen to your realtor, be realistic," he said. "Understand your priorities and motivations if you need to sell quickly then you are going to need to be flexible."

The Ada County Association of Realtors says in 2007 the average home sat on the market for 56 days.

In 2005 and 2006 the average was about 30 days.

But in 2003 and 2004 homes averaged 75 days on the market.

Lebowitz adds over the past five years, on average the value of homes in the Valley have increased by about ten percent each year.

He says the exception was from 2006 to 2007, when he says the area saw a decrease of less than two percent.

Posted by Jenna Englund at 1/25/2008 5:33:00 PM

I just saw an Oprah rerun last week. I talked about the importance of “going green”. If everyone left their receipt instead of tearing it off, it would leave a big pile of mess long enough to wrap around the earth in just one day...I was stunned by the impact of something seemingly so small.

I learned this Monday that John L. Scott has a vision and mission to evolve into a more eco-friendly company. We have committed to focusing our efforts on digital campaigns and moving towards excluding the waste that results from hardcopy...or print advertising This will not happen overnight, but it is exciting to know that the company that has taken such great care of me for the last 7 years in my career, is also taking an active approach to take ownership of the Earth.

Posted by Jenna Englund at 1/25/2008 4:20:00 PM
Tuesday, January 8, 2008

John L. Scott Agents,

Here is an interesting article regarding a trend towards utilizing in-house lenders you trust in today's market.

Issue Date: RESPA News Monthly
January 2008, Posted On: 1/7/2008
Headline News


Agents now favoring in-house lenders, survey says:

It appears that there has been a dramatic shift in the way agents view lenders, as a new survey is reporting that the mortgage market turmoil of recent months has prompted a significant number of real estate agents to recommend the lenders owned by their own brokerage firm over large national lenders.  This survey puts an interesting new spin on a controversial topic that was heavily debated both in state court and in the court of public opinion last year.

The recently completed national survey by Campbell Communications questioned agents about how the ongoing mortgage crisis has impacted the home purchase market. It also asked agents to rate individual lenders on their performance in the current liquidity-challenged lending environment. 

A market in transition

Agents reported that more than one-third of home purchase transactions over the last three months have either been postponed or failed. A hefty 13 percent failed for mortgage-related reasons, according to respondents. 

The new study highlights the problems the real estate sales industry is having adjusting to a mortgage market that is very much in transition. Not surprisingly, real estate agents attributed a sharp jump in mortgage-related problems with home sale transactions to both a tightening of underwriting standards and elimination of many previously popular mortgage programs. 

One agent complained about “lenders who don’t know what they are doing” and “wasting time trying to get approval on a loan product that the borrower will not qualify for anyway.” Another agent noted that some transactions fell through because “loan programs disintegrated during the closing week,” leaving borrowers to start over with other lenders and other programs. 

When asked for the specific reasons behind mortgage-related home sale transaction failures, respondents identified “credit score too low to qualify” as the biggest problem by far, followed by “insufficient income to qualify” and “insufficient downpayment.” 

The new favorite

One of the most noteworthy developments emerging from the study centers on recent changes in mortgage recommendation practices among real estate agents.

According to the survey results, about 40 percent of respondents indicated they have modified their mortgage recommendation practices in light of the ongoing shakeup in the mortgage industry. Among those altering their practices, the most common change was to more frequently recommend a company’s “preferred mortgage provider.” 

This trend is in sharp contrast with past surveys of real estate agents conducted by Campbell Communications that showed very little loyalty to in-house or affiliated lenders. 

The latest survey found that respondents rated mortgage providers owned by their own real estate brokerage firm or their franchisors more highly than they did large national lenders. Specifically, firms like Weichert Financial, Coldwell Banker Mortgage and ERA Mortgage were found in the top half of rated lenders while Bank of America, Countrywide Home Loans, Chase Home Finance and Washington Mutual came in the bottom half. 

Previous debates

Notably, the issue of agents favoring in-house lenders has often been viewed negatively, as in the case of Grady v. Coldwell Banker Burnet, in which two homeowners brought suit against their real estate agent for allegedly steering them to their affiliated title provider, despite the fact that they allegedly could have gotten a lower rate elsewhere.  

This case garnered much attention not only for its view of affiliated services, but also for the fact that the suit claimed that the agents’ referral practices violated their fiduciary duties to their clients. It was recently denied class certification, although the plaintiffs’ attorneys plan to continue pursuing the issue. 

This issue again arose when P. Wesley Foster, CEO of Long & Foster Real Estate, sent out a memo to all of the company’s agents commenting on their use of outside mortgage providers and encouraging them to instead recommend the company’s in-house mortgage lender to clients. The memo garnered Long & Foster some flack in the court of public opinion, as some agents took the memo to the press, saying that they viewed it as a form of undue coercion. 

Nevertheless, as the new study shows, it appears that the practice is flourishing more than ever, and could signal future growth in the affiliated business arena. 

The new study, “How Agents View Lender Relationships in Stressed Markets,” was sponsored by Inside Mortgage Finance. More than 2,400 agents responded to the survey and passed qualifying criteria for analysis.

Posted by Bob Bass at 1/8/2008 5:20:00 PM
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Well, Well, Well…school is back in session and we will all be racing to the office today to catch up on tasks we may have put off over the Holliday’s. The upset Seller, the lost Buyer, the loan information we needed to get in…which all needs to be dealt with today. O’ the intensity of today’s buyers and sellers, what should we do? As I was driving in I couldn’t help but reflect on the events of the last few weeks. The stories told and the movie watched. A Christmas Carol, Elf, and even the story Tortoise and the Hair were all viewed or discussed. I think I even had a dream about Jimmy Stewart running the streets of Boise in the snow. No matter what time in history, human events take place and people respond to life in the same way. The trials and tribulations of human nature, they never seem to change. Wow. So, naturally I always relate these ancient tales to our daily lives.

Sometimes, we do set our sights too high or expect to reach them in an unreasonable short period of time. In this market we need to map out a more intelligent route. It's not usually all Super Highway between where we are and where we want to go. There are often plenty of other roads leading to and from I 84 and you shouldn't drive 70 mph on a narrow two-lane country road. We don’t drive to Bogus at high speeds.

But, what better place than in this market to slow down and enjoy the scenery? When the market was in a feeding frenzy, we needed to drive as fast as possible. We had to catch and write as many transactions as possible. How easy life was. Now, that it has cooled we need to experience the process of the listing and buying transactions differently. We shouldn't overlook them because they are now too hard. We shouldn’t avoid taking listings because the sellers are too whiney and belittling. We shouldn’t complain when the buyers want to see thirty homes, and in the snow. Strangely enough, the things we see and experience allow us to prefect and practice our techniques. We will become better Realtors. We now have the opportunity to communicate more with our sellers. We have the opportunity to step up and provide a greater level of personal service; we can now fill the void of our competitors because of their lack of communication and service and get more listings. What a great opportunity we have to develop relationships while in a car with someone for three to four hours. Believe me, relationships will be created…life long relationships. O, can you just imagine all the referrals. Often times those two lane country roads lead us to change our path or even our destination. Enjoy the new experience and profit from it.

Ignore the worry-warts and over-negative-doom Sayers who want pick apart everything in order to justify their own existence. Don’t listen to Dr. Gloom. Ignore those individuals who want know why it's taking you so darn long to get there. There is no time limit on success in this market. You'll get there when you get there, and you’ll get there by doing business, by generating activity daily. You’ll get success by building your listing inventory, doing price reductions, focusing on the price points where the market is selling. Most of all, you’ll get the success in this market by over-communicating with your buyers and sellers. Take on your client’s challenges and solve their problems, no matter how unpleasant it appears. You will be rewarded in the long term. This market will change soon, and if you have completed the tasks laid out with your manager you will taste sweet success. Your success will taste best when washing down a process of experiences, pleasure, and pride in one's work.

“With the right attitude, you'll find small successes every day to keep your outlook positive and your life moving forward. When you make it clear that you are in the driver's seat and enjoying the trip, others will find themselves wanting to get on board.” A life long client once told me in the early 80’s “I have the Dinero, if you have the Camaro”. Happy motoring!

Posted by Bob Bass at 1/1/2008 5:11:00 PM
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