By Ryan Fitzgerald
With more than 2.5 million blog posts being published every day, it can be difficult to sort through the noise. Now that the year is coming to an end, I thought it it would be helpful to organize some of the year’s best real estate articles into one large round-up post for you.
I reached out to some great real estate blog authors to ask them to summarize their article in five to 10 sentences, and I’ve also summed up a few articles that I really liked as well, and I’ll tell you why. My hope is you will find these articles as valuable as I did. So without further ado, let’s dive in:
1. The Ultimate Home Seller’s To-Do Checklist
By Andrew Fortunate, real estate agent, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Selling a home can be stressful for everyone involved. As real estate professionals, we typically forget that our clients have no idea what they are doing when they are preparing their home to sell. We assume they know what to do. Rather than wait for them to ask, we send them a Home Seller’s Checklist.
This checklist makes it easy on sellers, and they are always appreciative. It makes things less stressful for them.
It’s a lot like cooking. If you’ve never made the meal before there is a good chance you wouldn’t know where to start — you probably wouldn’t even be sure what ingredients to buy. This checklist will allow sellers to follow your directions and check things off as they go.
2. Understanding Solar Power When Buying or Selling
By Bill Gassett, real estate agent, MetroWest, Mass.
Without a doubt, solar power has become increasingly popular and with good reason. Solar power is environmentally friendly and saves home owners lots of money on their utility bills. As you can image, there are many of solar companies fighting for the rights to install solar power onto many people’s homes.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation when it comes to what adding solar power will do to home values. If you ask most solar power companies, they will tell your there is an instant return. In fact, you might even hear that solar power will instantly add tens of thousands of dollars to the market value. Folks, this is wrong!
If your clients are considering adding solar power to their home, they should do it for the energy savings. Solar companies want you to believe solar panels will add value to a home, but that is simply not the case at this point.
@kaboompics, 2016. pixaby.com
3. Are You Searching for a Home or Bigfoot?
By Debbie Drummond, real estate agent, Las Vegas
I wrote this article because it is so important for buyers to establish realistic expectations in their home search. If you’re on a budget, you need to figure out whether a home with a pool is available in your price range. Or if you want a huge home, you may have to choose an older home to be able to get it at a price you can afford. Homes vary from one market to another. One of the biggest disappointments buyers find when moving to Las Vegas is most homes don’t have large yards. The buyer who wants at least half an acre is going to find they’re rare here and they don’t come cheap.
4. Fannie Mae HomeReady Loan Guide
By Tony Mariotti, real estate professional, Los Angeles
In 2015, Fannie Mae added a new mortgage program, HomeReady, to their “low down payment” conventional loan program quiver. It’s a 3 percent down payment, conventional mortgage for low to moderate-income borrowers with good credit. What makes HomeReady really unique is that its guidelines allow non-borrower income — in certain circumstances — to count as qualifying income. Meaning, income from roommates, boarders, and family members who will not be listed on the deed or note can still be factored into the loan approval. Each type of income has it’s own rules which are covered in the full article.
5. Mortgage Overlays
By Luke Skar, real estate professional, Madison, Wis.
What are mortgage overlays?
With the mass amount of information available about different mortgages, we wanted to provide some useful tips to real estate professionals as well as other mortgage lenders about mortgage overlays.
To be brief, a mortgage overlay is an extra rule or requirement put in place by a lender on top of the established guidelines. These overlays can be in place with any mortgage program including Fannie Mae loans, FHA loans, Freddie Mac products or either the VA or USDA home loans. Specific examples of mortgage overlays, along with a deeper understanding of how the overall mortgage market works, will paint a better picture for you.
The purpose of the overlay is to decrease the risk to the lender. Even though the customer may meet all of the parameters of a specific loan, the lender may impose an additional guideline. This is usually based on its own experience dealing with certain class of borrowers. Understanding the overlays will help you get a better feel for which kinds of loans can get approved as well as what type of items to look out for in the future.
6. Staging Your Home to Sell
By Karin Carr, real estate agent, Atlanta
I wrote this article because when clients hear the word “staging” they usually think of hiring someone who will charge them a hefty fee and bring in their own furniture. I wanted to show people how they could prepare their home to sell without breaking the bank. This is something I can leave with potential clients on listing presentations or direct sellers to if they need help getting their house ready for the market.
With content marketing, the idea is to put lots of valuable information out there with no real expectations of the potential client. They can read the blog posts I write and get all this information for free and without being badgered by anyone. After seeing my articles and videos over and over they feel like they already know me by the time they ask for my help.
I have tried cold calling and quite honestly, I’d rather poke my eyeballs out with a fork than call random strangers for two hours a day. I prefer to give value first and when potential clients contact me they often say, “I feel like I know you already! I’ve seen so many of your videos and have read all your articles.” Would you rather have a warm lead like that who doesn’t even interview any other agents, or cold call someone and try to convince them they should meet with you? It’s a whole different conversation!
7. How to Become a REALTOR®
By Jeff Knox, real estate agent, Dallas
The process of becoming a real estate professional can be confusing and daunting. A lot of real estate education sites exist, but Jeff Knox has broken down the best educational providers and, in addition, has included great expert advice from some of the top real estate professionals around the nation on how to take the next steps after getting your real estate license. Here is a guide on how to become an agent for those who are thinking about getting into the industry.
8. Reasons Why REALTORS® Will Be Needed FOREVER!
By Joe Samson, real estate agent, Calgary, AB
It has been predicted by many people that more and more real estate agents will be going to be out of business due to advancements in technology and access to resources online for consumers. Within the last 10 years, the real estate industry has gone through some major changes of how a real estate transaction is being handled. However, the most underlying responsibility of a practitioner has not changed at all. In fact, it became more evident that there is an even greater need for a caring and hard-working real estate professionals.
This article highlights that home sellers and buyers need the advice of real estate agents more than ever. The abundance of information that is available today often cripples the average person and confuses them when they’re simply trying to make good choices. The number one responsibility of a REALTOR® is to educate their clients about the real estate transaction and things that they need to watch out for to avoid costly mistakes.
9. How to Sell Your Home for Top Dollar
By Nathan Garrett, real estate agent, Louisville, Ky.
When it comes to selling a home, your main objective is to net the most amount of money as possible in the shortest amount of time. In this article and infographic, we uncover a list of easy-to-follow tips that will hopefully help home owners achieve this real estate goal.
There is a lot that generally goes into the process, and at first it can be very overwhelming. To help a potential seller get started, we decided to put together this list to help. Hopefully, these tips will give your clients a general idea of where to begin. That way, your time and money is best well spent.
10. From Renter to Homeowner
By Dustin Brohm, real estate agent, Salt Lake City
Since I work with quite a few first-time home buyers, and those seeing their third or fourth homes, I have noticed there is a big difference in how renters and homeowners think and approach the home buying process. It only makes sense, right? If you’ve been renting your whole life, how are you supposed to have the perspective and knowledge of someone who has bought a few different homes?
Most things the soon-to-be-homeowner will just pick up along the way, by experience. However, there are some things that renters need to know before starting the home buying process. They don’t want to make an avoidable mistake, and they certainly need to know what new expenses will be in their future. It’s important that renters are properly prepared to become homeowners, so the experience is enjoyable and special.
11. The Beginner’s Guide to Buying Rental Properties
By Seth Williams, real estate investor, Grand Rapids, Mich.
When I buy rental properties, my goal is to find deals that will make every one of my invested dollars work hard.
I want every penny to work overtime, producing as much revenue as possible while simultaneously paying off any debt associated with the property. When you buy properties with this goal in mind, there is basically no limit (mathematically speaking) to how far you can grow your net worth and personal income.
There are many, MANY aspiring investors who struggle in this area, because they don’t know where to find a legitimate, profitable rental property. One of the biggest issues is the inability to analyze and evaluate a rental property the right way. There is no proper set of expectations about what a rental property should produce, and why investors buy them in the first place.
This blog post is intended to show you exactly what steps I go through in analyzing a deal, what my expectations are, and how I ensure my (or my client’s) return on investment will be something they can be proud of.
I’m a pretty big fan of “on-the-job training,” so I figured the most practical way to show you this process would be to use a real life example I dealt with just a few short years ago.
12. How to Crush it on Pinterest in Real Estate
By Kyle Hiscock, real estate agent, Rochester, N.Y.
Fittingly, one of the best articles of 2016 refers to one of the best social network for real estate agents, Pinterest. Pinterest can be an incredible tool for real estate professionals if used properly. It can drive insane amounts of traffic back to a real estate website.
This article provides some excellent Pinterest tips for real estate professionals. The article is packed with not only reasons why Pinterest should be a part of a real estate professionals social media strategy, but also some great tips for using Pinterest effectively in real estate. If you’re wondering how Pinterest could impact your business or how you should be using Pinterest, you must check out these excellent Pinterest tips.
13. 13 Things Buyers Need to Know in a Seller’s Market
By Angela Duong, real estate agent, Tremonton, Utah
Across the country, there are many real estate markets experiencing a seller’s market. Homes have been receiving multiple offers within a day, and some even hours after being listed on the market. There are many home buyers getting upset and frustrated with the way things were going. They are losing to other buyers during the multiple offer situations. Or at times, they didn’t even get a chance to see the home because it was under contract before they could schedule a showing.
The seller’s market prompted Angela Duong of MADHomesUtah.com to write up an article for the home buyers. This article gave 13 tips of what needed to be done in order to win in a seller’s market: from making sure the home buyers were already pre-approved to making the decision if buying in a seller’s market is really in the buyers best interest. When you find your market has become a seller’s market, have this article ready to share with your home buyers to give them a heads up on what they should be thinking about in order to get the home they are looking for.
14. Instagram for Real Estate
By Kelvin Krupiak, Easy Agent PRO
One trend in social media marketing relates to the massive increase of people are using Instagram. This blog post goes into detail on the best ways to generate leads via Instagram. After examining 41 different real estate professionals’ profiles, we were able to pinpoint 41 different strategies that agents and brokers are using to build their real estate business on Instagram. If you’re not already using Instagram for marketing, you should check out our article for inspiration on things you can do to get going.
If nothing else, you may enjoy some of the photos agents are posting!
15. Home is Essential to Well-Being
By Chris and Karen Highland, real estate agents, Frederick, Md.
This blog post is about our participation as a brokerage with a non-profit called New Story, (building homes for $6,000 in impoverished areas). It has become one of my favorite articles that I’ve written. It has reminded me that a real estate blog is not only a tool to explain real estate concepts and show yourself as the local expert, but it’s also a tool to express who you are as a business person. Your values, your ethics, and what you think — even your “big why”— are important aspects of your business that you should be communicating to potential clients. If you work consistently to create good content, you become a thought leader in the industry — even if it’s in a small pond, like in our market. So why not put your thoughts out there, let people know what you think is important?
16. 5 Killer Multiple Offer Strategies
By Justin Culley, real estate agent, Cottage Grove, Minn.
For would-be home buyers, competing against multiple offers to win the home of your dreams can be a very stressful time. It can be especially difficult if you’re not adequately prepared with the right multiple offer strategies. Now, if you’re working with an experienced agent who’s been down this road before, then you shouldn’t have to worry too much about what those strategies are and which one(s) might be best to employ in a given situation. That being said, not all agents are created equally. Some have much more experience with heated negotiations than others.
Here in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) real estate market, and in many other markets throughout the United States, we are experiencing a “Seller’s Market.” Our buyers are shopping for his or her next dream home in a seller’s market, when inventory levels are drastically low and there are not enough houses available for a large number of potential buyers. This often leads to homes selling much quicker than normal and at a much higher price. The price is commonly inflated due to multiple offers coming from multiple buyers. Basically, it all boils down to the basic economic principle of supply and demand. If demand is high and the supply is low then prices go up.
In this article, I equip the buyer with five of the best and most successful multiple offers strategies that you can use to beat those other would-be buyers and win that dream home. Buying a home can be a very emotional process with lots of twists and turns, especially when competing against multiple offers. Make sure you’re setting up your buyers up for success.
17. Selling a Rental Home
By Alexis Craig, real estate agent, Lansing, Mich.
Everyone likes to teach you about how to buy rental properties, but very few people teach you how to sell. The wrong exit strategy could leave you or your clients with a large bill from Uncle Sam or your personal finances torn apart because your rental produces a negative cash flow.
First, understand the reasons your clients need to sell. Is it because of a bad deal? Just tired of managing rentals? Either way, you need to create what I call an offload-loss strategy. This is when you sell the rental property as quickly as possible when certain conditions are met.
18. A Dozen Reasons to LOVE Being a REALTOR®
By DJ Morris, real estate agent, Jupiter, Fla.
This blog post seemed to resonate the most with my audience and has gotten the most views, likes, and shares on social media. One of the key takeaways being a real estate agent is such a great profession is that it’s well suited for those who consider themselves a “people person.” Secondly, the real estate business is filled with independent contractors who have the flexibility to run and control their schedules and time away.
There isn’t a salary for real estate pros, and the money coming in can fluctuate drastically from month to month — these factors should be considered before you dive in and get your real estate license. However, for me, personally, there are many things that I love about having a career real estate, and you’ll learn all about them in this blog post.
19. How Can I Sell My House Fast?
By Lynn Pineda, real estate agent, Coral Springs, Fla.
@geralt, 2016. pixabay.com
“When a homeowner decides that it’s time to sell their home, they usually want to sell their home fast and they don’t want it to languish on the market for months on end. With this in mind, I find that one of the first questions that a home seller will ask me is: ‘How can I sell my home fast?’”
As a Southeast Florida real estate agent serving customers from Coral Springs to Boca Raton, I want my real estate articles to be a huge benefit to my readers and customers, which is why I thought this article would be the perfect topic of discussion. I knew that this frequently asked question needed to be answered. I jumped right in with my reader’s end goal in mind to tell them just how to make it happen.
20. Real Estate Professionals Who Help With Selling Your Home
By Paul Sian, real estate agent, Cincinnati, Ohio
When it comes to selling a home, it takes a team of professionals to get the house from initial listing on the MLS to the closing table and sold. When a seller chooses a professional real estate agent to help list his or her home for sale, they are not only going to work with you, the agent, but will also be working with a number of other professionals like the appraiser, home inspector, mortgage lender, and title company. If some of these professionals go missing at some point during the home sale process, it is very likely that the home sale will grind to a halt.
At the very start, you will be the one guiding your clients through home staging tips, preparation for the sale, and pricing suggestions. Without a you, the seller is faced with doing everything alone, or perhaps relying on general advice from websites on how best prepare a home. For such a large dollar value transaction, putting all their trust into the internet for advice may not get the seller’s home sold. So, in this article, I introduce potential sellers to the real estate professionals who will help ensure that a home is sold successfully.
21. 5 Seller Mistakes that Could Sink Your Home Sale
By Justin Havre, real estate agent, Calgary, AB
Selling a home is something most people do at one time or another — and it may seem like a simple thing, but we as real estate pros know it’s not.
In this blog post, I share five BIG mistakes that can put the brakes on a successful sale, or at the very least, cause the home to sell for much less than it should. Factors such as listing price and flexibility, upgrades prior to selling, and of course, following (or not) the advice of your agent before and during the sale, can all have a major impact on the selling process. Mistakes can be avoided if one knows beforehand what actions to take, and what to avoid when selling.
22. First Time Home Buyer Tips
By Gary Ashton, real estate agent, Nashville, Tenn.
Love is a splendid thing — especially for first-time home buyers when they find that “perfect” home. But love can be deceptive, leading you toward a home-buying hardship.
First-timers often make mistakes, and are more prone to being led astray by their emotions (as any buyer can). How much can we spend? Where and how do we look for a new home? And what does home ownership really cost? All great questions that are easily answered in this article offering top tips for becoming a first-time home owner.
23. What Affects My Mortgage Interest Rate?
By Kris Lindahl, real estate agent, Blaine, Minn.
Are your clients planning to buy soon? Then they should pay attention to those rising mortgage interest rates!
The mortgage interest rate will likely have a big impact on how much home your clients will be able to afford. It might even have a bearing on whether or not your clients are approved in the first place. Mortgage interest rates are influenced by many factors, with some factors being entirely within your clients’ control, while others are not. So, when it comes to buying a home, location is important, but paying close attention to, and understanding mortgage interest rates is equally critical for your clients.
24. Are Tiny Homes a Wise Investment?
By Anthony Gilbert, real estate agent, Snoqualmie, Wash.
We’ve all seen the reality TV shows with new buyers falling in love with their cozy and efficient spaces. But, are “tiny homes” really worth the hype? Are they a wise investment, or a financial misstep? These tiny homes aren’t necessarily cheap. In fact, depending on the construction, and if they’re movable, not only can they be vastly more expensive to build on a square foot basis, but maintenance is of concern as well … not to mention, resale value. Whether the move to a tiny home is a lifestyle choice, or a financial decision for your clients, all prospective tiny home buyers should weigh the pros and cons before proceeding.
25. Tech Trends to Embrace in 2017
By Lee Davenport, real estate trainer, Atlanta
If you’re not already embracing tech changes in the real estate industry, you need to start now or you will be left behind. Between drone photography and video marketing, the world of real estate marketing is moving at an incredible pace, and Lee points out where it’s headed.
Virtual reality is going to be a technology that allows consumers the convenience of not having to leave their house in order to walk through someone else’s home. There are a number of businesses coming out with VR tours and other types of 3D imaging that allows buyers to walk through homes that may not even exist yet.
Big data and smart home technology are another couple of trends that Lee points out as being innovations that agents should embrace. The article is spot on. For all you techies out there — drop us a comment below with some of the technology you’re using today to improve your business!
26. User Experience the New SEO
By Erica Christoffer, manager, Broker to Broker for REALTOR® Magazine
This article is near and dear to my heart because of the accuracy by which it details how important user experience is to SEO, even though no one wants to admit it (especially most SEO gurus). Erica does a great job going into detail on what is most important for user experience.
User experience is a constantly evolving and never-ending for those who market their businesses online. You should constantly be testing your website, and put yourself in the shoes of the “user.” Would you use your own website to search for homes, or would you go to a national website instead? Be honest with yourself.
If you can provide value to your users/potential customers that another website cannot, you can be sure they will be back to your site
27. 10 Deadly Home Buying Pitfalls
By Kevin Vitali, real estate agent, Middlesex, Mass.
It’s fairly easy to make a mistake when buying a home. Whether it’s your first time or your fifth time, a home is a large investment so you want to make sure you avoid all the likely buying mistakes. This will significantly reduce the chances of you regretting the investment, or worse, buying a money pit.
In his article, Kevin touches upon some of the most common home buying mistakes and what consumers need to watch for.
28. 5 Kitchen Design Trends
By Melissa Dittman Tracey, contributing writer/editor at REALTOR® Magazine
In Melissa’s article, she points out that when you’re looking for ideas to improve your home, it only makes sense to look at what builders are using in their model homes.
In the kitchen specifically, look at materials that work well together. In this case, Melissa points out that contrasting materials can help make the colors pop along with some decorative lighting. Adding more transparency, storage, and more drawers rather than doors are all a part of the trend happening in model homes. Using glass doors instead of cabinet doors can showcase what the homeowners are passionate about.
Ryan Fitzgerald is the owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, N.C. Connect with him on Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest.
Source - Realtor.org