Business ResourcesResources for your real estate business.
A new resource from NAR gives associations and members a tool to help homeowners who are struggling to meet their loan obligations due to COVID-19. The Protect Your Investment brochure offers guidance on working with trusted professionals like REALTORS® and housing counselors at HUD-approved agencies. The brochure also provides information about payment options offered by lenders and tips for avoiding scams.
April is upon us. This time of year is usually a flurry of spring market activity. It’s also a time when we reflect on the ways people are shut out of the housing market, and commit to expanding housing opportunity, with our annual observation of Fair Housing Month.
This year is different. Because of measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, activities outside our homes have slowed or stopped. But crises like these remind us that despite our differences, we are all very much the same. Viruses don’t discriminate. Many of us are in similar circumstances, trying to figure out how to work from home while also homeschooling our kids. Despite these challenges, we’re also finding new ways to strengthen our communities, by getting groceries for an elderly neighbor or buying a gift card to support a local restaurant and its employees.
This quiet time is an opportune one to reflect on how we are all bound together. Coronavirus threatens us all. But the virus will also hit certain members of our communities especially hard. Whether due to losing a job without savings to fall back on, increased unpaid caregiving work, the threat of evictions or foreclosures, xenophobic threats or violence, or difficulty accessing necessary services, communities of color, people with disabilities, and women face even greater burdens now. We must ensure that, as we confront the pandemic, and as we recover, that we all do so together.
As we stay home, REALTORS® can and must rise to the challenge. Fair Housing Month emphasizes education, reflection, and discussion—meaningful efforts we can still undertake while practicing social distancing. This year, NAR is presenting Fair Housing Month @ Home – curated lists of books, videos, podcasts and other resources for you to educate yourself throughout the month. Read, watch, listen, think, discuss – and strengthen your fair housing knowledge and leadership.
WAYS TO OBSERVE FAIR HOUSING MONTH @ HOME
1. Host a Fair Housing Book Club
The NAR ebook library has added a number of fair housing titles recommended by NAR’s new Director of Federal Fair Housing Policy, Bryan Greene. Read them on your own or host a book club on Zoom or another social meeting platform. A list of recommended fair housing titles, along with book reviews, videos, and discussion questions, here.
3. Listen to a Fair Housing Podcast
Check out Bryan Greene’s list of recommended fair housing podcasts here.
4. Read Fair Housing Journalism
Investigative journalists have done incredible work uncovering housing discrimination and explaining the history of segregation in America. Later in April, NAR will add recommended fair housing journalism to the Fair Housing Month @ Home page.
5. Check out Fair Housing nonprofit organizations
Learn about local and national Fair Housing nonprofit organizations and the work they do to support equal access to housing. Later this month, NAR will add a list of leading fair housing organizations to the Fair Housing Month @ Home page.
6. Take an online Fair Housing Training
Later this month, NAR hopes to make available a practical, real-estate focused online training on how implicit bias may inadvertently influence your interactions with consumers. Using specific examples from a REALTOR’s day, the training will help you avoid thinking traps that can lead to unintentional discrimination.
Questions? Contact Bryan Greene.
Have you wondered what goes in to writing a successful bio? Writing a bio can be hard, many of us have been putting it off “until we have time”. Well, here is the time! Covid-19 has many of us staying home and working on our marketing plans. What better place to start than with a strong bio? Last week FAAR Academy hosted a class called Bio for Success taught by Matthew Rathbun, check out these great tips or watch the recording of the webinar below!
A strong bio is important because not only will it allow your potential clients to connect with you, it will help them find you. The majority of buyers will google real estate agents before they pick one and especially before they meet with them. Having a great bio and utilizing search engine optimization will help your name show up higher in searches across the internet.
Use “you” attitude when writing your bio. A great way to connect with clients is to show them the lengths you are willing to go to serve them and the experiences you have had that will help them. Keeping your buyer in mind, even when writing your bio is a great way to connect with future clients.
Write Different Versions
Making multiple drafts of your bio will save you time. One bio should be a full bio of a few paragraphs for your homepage. Your second bio should be about one paragraph so you can share it on multiple pages. Your third bio should be just a couple of sentences to share on social media. Saving all three of your bio drafts in one word document can save you time for each time you start a new account!
Check out these great tips and more so you can write a successful bio:
On Friday (4/10/20) Sherrie Shaw with Universal Title shared tips on how to hold a successful virtual open house. Check out these great tips from the FAAR webinar:
Setting Up Your Virtual Open House
- Select a good date and time for your virtual open house.
- 9 AM is about the time most people have started their day.
- 12 PM is when people are on their lunch break
- 5 PM and later is after work when people are winding down and checking out social media.
- Set up your open house as a Facebook event on your business page.
- Pro tip: Use hashtags in your event description. These can be things that are features of the home or area! #FrenchDoors #HistoricCommunity #FreshPaint
- Have an outline script to keep you on topic.
- Plan for your virtual open house to be about half an hour.
- Pro tip: Start your showing a little early to make sure all your equipment is working.
- Make a walkthrough video before you go live in case something with your live walkthrough goes wrong. This allows you to still have something to post.
During Your Open House
- Get people involved!
- Hide an object in the home and have people take a screenshot when they find it. Have participants email the screenshot to you to be entered in a drawing for a gift card or prize.
- For best recording results consider investing in a gimbal to stabilize your phone while you record.
- Present yourself as a professional.
- Dress like you would for a regular showing. You never know when you’ll run into a mirror.
- Make sure you smile throughout your showing. Even when the camera isn’t on you, people can hear a smile.
- For safety, ask someone else to come with you to the showing. You’ll be marketing this event and telling people exactly when and where you’ll be. Having an accompanying party will help keep you safe.
Right now, we are looking at adapting. As we adapt to our current situation, we’re designing the future of real estate. The normal we build today could be our next normal. Many of these technologies and techniques will be relevant long after this pandemic has passed. Good luck with your next virtual open house!
Watch the whole webinar here.
Locked in with Kim Episode 1
The Economy After Covid-19: A Local Perspective
Public Policy Director Kim McClellan interviews Curry Roberts with the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance.
Locked in with Kim Episode 2
Top Mortgage Questions to Keep Asking
Public Policy Director Kim McClellan interviews Tim Murphy with C&F Mortgage
Locked in with Kim Episode 3
Food Bank Services in Great Need
Public Policy Director Kim McClellan interviews Elizabeth Gilkey with the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank
Locked in with Kim Episode 4
Downtown Businesses Adapting to Covid-19 Difficulties
Public Policy Director Kim McClellan interviews April Peterson with Main Street and local business River Rock Outfitters.
Locked in with Kim Episode 5
Commercial Real Estate Chugging Along
Public Policy Director Kim McClellan interviews Ben Keddie, CCIM on the current state of the commercial market.
Locked in with Kim Episode 6
Sick of your 4 walls? Explore new possibilities for you and your clients with K Hovnanian Homes
Public Policy Director Kim McClellan interviews Jennifer Sloat of K. Hovnanian homes.
Locked in with Kim Episode 7
Phillip Blake of MBH Settlement Group shares top tips for your transactions!
Public Policy Director Kim McClellan interviews long time Affiliate Marketing Partner, Phillip Blake
Locked in with Kim Episode 8
David Cooper, CEO of Thurman Brisben Center shares how you can give back to fight homelessness in our region
Looking for a way to give back to the community? Give your $20 for 2020 to the Fredericksburg REALTORS® Foundation at faarmembers.com/foundation and help support groups like the Thurman Brisben Center! The needs are ever increasing and the Foundation has already given $3,000 in emergency funding—help us give even more!
Locked in with Kim Episode 9
NSWC Federal Credit Union shares tips for financial success
Get the top financial tips with Laura Gilchrist and Stephanie Lyles from long-time Sapphire Affiliate Marketing Partner NSWC Federal Credit Union.
Locked in with Kim Episode 10
Rene Daniels with Spotsylvania Schools
No Mom and Dad, you are NOT screwing up your kids with homeschooling. Hear the comforting words from straight from Spotsy schools!
Locked in with Kim Episode 11
Universal Title’s Dynamic Duo
Pam Godfrey of Universal Title Stafford and Sherrie Shaw of Universal Title Fredericksburg show the way to smooth settlements!
Locked in with Kim Episode 12
Bugs didn’t get the stay-at-home order?
PermaTreat has you covered! Mat Loveall shares how business continues.
Locked in with Kim Episode 13
Kim interviews Paddy Osborne with Regarday
Put your listing’s best foot forward with incredible footage from FAAR Affiliate Marketing Partner, Regarday!
Locked in with Kim Episode 14
Listing need some TLC?
Call Tim Liddy with Charden and get that home in tip top shape at NO COST to the seller until the home closes!
Locked in with Kim Episode 15
Featuring Fred Parent’s Megan Walsh
Need some tips on keeping the kids entertained? Get the scoop from the region’s premier family magazine, FredParent! View the Magazine at https://fredericksburgparent.net/
Despite significant concern over the impact of COVID-19 on the local real estate market, March numbers show increases in sold volume, median price and units sold. FAAR Board Member Linda Fosdick remarks, “Our Lake Anna market enjoyed a robust spring. Even at the outset of the COVID-19 virus, our clients were still actively looking at properties with our Realtors® being very creative to accommodate them while practicing safe social distancing.”
Sold dollar volume was up in March 30%, jumping from approximately $157 million last March to more than $204 million this year. The increase in volume was fueled by a more than 20% increase in units sold and a nearly 9% increase in median sold price. There were 601 properties sold this year compared to 499 last March with a median price holding steady from February at $316,000 compared to $290,000 in March 2019.
Days on market, the time it takes from when a listing enters the market until it receives a ratified contract and is removed from active status on the multiple listing service, fell more than 25% with houses averaging 41 days on the market in March 2020 compared to 55 days in March 2019.
Overall active listings were down more than 18% this March compared to last year and new listings coming on to the market were down over 6%. Prospective buyers have 1,191 homes to choose from right now, with 998 new listings coming onto the market. “With the stay-at-home order, we are now seeing a relative pause in showing activity,” continues Fosdick. “However, we are actively engaged with our clients and continue to provide them market information. We have numerous homes ready to list as soon as the restrictions are lifted. We are confident that our clients are poised and prepared to take action as soon as they get the all clear.”
The commercial real estate market is also in flux while investors wait and watch for the extent of the virus’ impact on people’s health and the duration of the government-enforced shutdowns. Locally, commercial brokers are reporting closings still taking place and properties still going up on the market. Some contract timelines are now elongated due to market conditions and social distancing, but many businesses are doing their best to keep pushing forward, looking ahead to the light at the end of this pandemic. Comments former FAAR Board Member and commercial Realtor® Ben Keddie, “Admittedly it’s hard to say with much certainty at this point to what extent the Commercial Real Estate market will be effected, as no one has a playbook and truly everyone is impacted by this. The Federal Government seems poised to stop at nothing to get the economy back on track. Exactly how that stimulus takes shape and the expediency with which it hits the streets will help determine the extent of the damage on the business community.“
The Association is encouraged by the continued robust activity in the real estate market and thanks its more than 1,700 members for quickly transitioning a very hands-on business to one done almost exclusively online in the wake of social distancing requirements. 2020 FAAR President Drew Fristoe states, “The Association and its members are doing their part to flatten the curve and beat this virus. The FAAR office is closed and the staff is working remotely to serve our members. Instead of hosting in-person meetings and classes, we have shifted nearly all of our programming to an online format so that we can continue to provide great education and information to our members. Our members are still showing houses, closing deals, and serving clients and doing it all while following social distancing guidelines and employing the latest digital technology. The Fredericksburg-area real estate market is open for business!”
If you use a SentriLock lockbox, there is a key step you should take to reduce the possibility of viral contamination through the use of the lockbox. That step involves thoroughly cleaning the lockbox. If you are a listing agent, you should clean the lockbox each time you exit the property, as a courtesy to others entering your listing. If you are a showing agent, you should clean the lockbox before entering the property. Regardless of which model of SentriLock lockbox you own or you encounter during a showing, the process is generally the same.
You will need:
- Rubber gloves
- Antibacterial wipes, or antibacterial spray with a clean cloth
Note: During this crisis, you should keep a supply of rubber gloves and antibacterial wipes in your vehicle at all times. This is key to helping to protect yourself, your family and your clients.
Here’s how to properly clean the lockbox:
1. Put on rubber gloves for this process.
2. Remove an antibacterial wipe from its container and use it to thoroughly clean the lockbox keypad, sides, rear, and bottom.
3. Use a second wipe to clean the doorknob, the lockbox shackle, and the keyhole on the entry door.
4. Use your SentriKey® Real Estate mobile app to open the key compartment and thoroughly wipe the door key. While holding the key in one hand, use the wipe to clean the key compartment before placing the key back into the storage bin.
Hello FAAR Members,
While the FAAR building remains closed, the office is open for business, virtually.
- Contact Lori or Barbra regarding new member applications, purchase of lockboxes, keys (app. not a key card), store purchases and transfers. Purchases have to be prepaid. Drive through pick-up is available by appointment only.
- FAAR now has the virtual meeting feature called ZOOM. Committee chairs can hold their meetings with ZOOM. Contact Lauren for instructions on how that can happen. The April Board of Directors meeting will be held via Zoom.
- Education classes are planned for after June 10 to be compliant with the Governor’s order. CE and PL classes will be offered in the classroom and via ZOOM. The May 21 Town Hall is still on. The event, a discussion of housing options for seniors, is planned as a virtual event. For education matters, contact Barbara Castillo.
- Lauren and MacKenzie are sending out resources that are helpful to members from NAR, VR and other important entities. Contact Lauren or MacKenzie regarding posts, Updates and the website, faarmembers.com.
- Contact Pat Breme for all other matters of concern
In the works-
Locked in with Kim– a virtual, 5 minute chat with FAAR affiliates, area elected officials and community leaders. Public Policy Director Kim McClellan is holding virtual interviews, from her home, on topics related to Doing business/life in a pandemic reality. Kim’s first interview is April 10. Look for Locked in with Kim in emails, social media and the website.
The Board of Directors are the policy makers of FAAR. They are looped in to all the information from our major vendors and NAR and VR. During these very challenging time, the Board continues to make decisions in the best interest of the association members.
A laugh, please…
We all need a bit of humor, so please send Lauren a photo or short video on what you are doing to keep busy while quarantined at home.
While we hear this comment every day, from all areas of business and community, its truth rings clear, We are in this together!
-Pat Breme, RCE, CIPS
Chief Executive Officer
Staff Contacts for Services
For questions regarding Membership or Lockboxes, contact
Lori Hillard-Wehr, Membership Services Director
For questions regarding Education or DPOR credits contact
Barbara Castillo, Professional Development Director
For questions regarding faarmembers.com or Zoom, contact
Lauren Zuza, Communications Director
For other issues or concerns, contact
Pat Breme, CEO
We appreciate your patience during this time and apologize for any inconvenience. Stay healthy, FAAR members!
President Drew Fristoe discusses mortgages with Lender Scott Hine in light of the COVID-19 virus.
The NAR FAQ is now available at the bottom of this post. Please direct any questions regarding this program or any others to FAAR Public Policy Director Kim McClellan.
The Treasury Department released the application for the SBA 7(a) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, which you can access here. It also released a summary guide of the program for borrowers, here.
Small businesses and sole proprietors can apply beginning this Friday, April 3; independent contractors and the self-employed can apply beginning next Friday, April 10. Applications go directly to SBA lenders, which you can find through the SBA site here.
This is a new program created by the CARES Act to provide small businesses (500 employees or fewer), sole proprietors, and the self-employed/independent contracts who are impacted by COVID-19 with loans of 2.5x their average monthly payroll expenses (up to $10 million) to cover payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities for an 8-week period during the crisis. Employers who maintain payroll levels of at least 75% of their average and the same number of employees are eligible for loan forgiveness. You can learn more about the loan program in NAR’s CARES Act FAQ document and the CARES Act Summary.
There are still some questions as to if a small business should include independent contractors in its employee numbers and payroll costs; what we know for certain is that independent contractors can apply for their own 7(a) PPP loans. We are seeking clarity on that question from the Treasury and the SBA and will have the answer soon.
NAR will be posting a SBA-Program specific FAQ focusing on the 7(a) PPP loans and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which you can apply for here. (Businesses can apply for both, but the funds cannot be used for the same purposes, and the $10,000 advance grant is not forgiven if you also receive a forgivable PPP loan.)
February continued the local real estate market’s trend of increasing sales volume and median price coupled with decreasing days on market FAAR Board Member Randy Walther states, “The market was active for February continuing a strong winter season. My office was...
January kicked 2020 off to a swift start in the local real estate market echoing sentiments heard from Realtors® across the region that the spring market is starting earlier and earlier in recent years. Sold dollar volume was up 38% year-over-year, going from...
The Virginia Realtors® released the 2019 4th quarter homes sales report highlighting a strong economy, robust real estate market, and shrinking inventory. Access the full report and share it with your sphere!
The 2019 real estate market posted significant gains in total sold dollar volume and units sold, experienced modest price appreciation, and saw seriously increased competition with low inventory and very low days on market. The year closed out with a total sold...