Sales Continuing to Climb

New home sales in May were the strongest in two years. This could suggest a modest housing recovery for the battered real estate market.  In late June, the Commerce Department said that sales of new homes increased by 7.6% in May from Aprilto a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $369,000, which is the best pace since April 2010. This is significant because that was the deadline for consumers to take advantage of the $8,000 housing tax credit. Sales aren’t the only signs that things are getting better in the housing market – builders across the country are building more homes. Inventories of new homes are near all-time lows. But it’s not just new homes that are doing well. In Miami, a mini-condo boom is taking place as investors from overseas are looking to put their money into good real estate investments.

At NAR Midyear in Washington, D.C. in May, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun personally told me that the first quarter of 2012 was the best quarter we have seen for transactions in five years. In April, prices rose in most of the country. The Case-Schiller Index reported that U.S. home prices rose by 1.3% for the month. Record low interest rates and fewer bank-owned properties being sold helped with sales volume and appreciation. So does this mean that it’s time to prepare for another housing boom? Many experts say not to get excited yet.

Most experts agree that things are indeed getting better for housing. This is great news for homeowners and real estate professionals. These same experts also warn not to get too excited yet, as the recovery process will be long and slow. There are many other factors that will come into play in the coming months: the Presidential elections, interest rates, the European Crisis, and China’s reported slowdown are just a few factors that could cause a setback.

Additionally, this year has been the strongest year for real estate sales since 2007, which is significant for homeowners, buyers and real estate professionals, because this stability and confidence can drive a real estate market up. With the controls that have been put in place to prevent future housing crashes, things are looking very bright for the housing market.

What do you think? Send us your two cents below in our comments.

An Easy Way To Share Property Photos!

Real estate professionals are always looking for new and conveinent ways to share property videos with their clients, contacts, and friends. With today’s technology, it’s easy to record video from your mobile device. However, trying to share that video with someone is sometimes a bit more challenging. The files are usually too big for text or email, and posting a video to YouTube might not be the best solution when you want to share a property video with someone. So what can a real estate professional do that is quick, easy, and free? I suggest SocialCam, a new social video app for smartphones that can make sharing video content with clients easier than ever.

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The Facebook Effect on Real Estate (Eager for Public IPO)

Facebook is finally going public, and that’s good news to many real estate professionals in Silicon Valley. As the hype has been building regarding the Palo Alto giant’s initial public offering, many sellers have held off until the flood of Facebook millionaires hits the market in the next few weeks.

The last few months have been tough for Silicon Valley real estate professionals. There has been an extreme shortage of properties for sale because many sellers have indicated that they want to wait until the Facebook IPO launches, so that they can be a part of the feeding frenzy of fresh-faced millionaires looking to spend their newly found money. Look for a lot of sellers to test the waters in the next few months to see what they can get for their home.

Sellers in Silicon Valley "like" the Facebook Effect on Real Estate

This region has without a doubt been the hottest place for real estate in the United States for a while now. Just how hot is it? Homes in Silicon Valley are selling at a brisk pace and getting multiple offers, with some homes getting as many as 50-60 offers in a weekend. Tear down houses that are less than 1,000 square feet are selling for over $1 million and getting multiple offers. The same size house that sells for about $200,000 in Seattle or Los Angeles is selling for more than five times that in Silicon Valley. It’s an amazing phenomenon, but is it another bubble? Most experts don’t think so.

The Silicon Valley has been home to the world’s tech industry for many years. With tech giants Google, Apple, HP, and Facebook calling the area home, plus many other mid to large players in the region as well, it will be a hot hub for real estate for some time. Silicon Valley has become the mecca for tech startups and talented programmers. The only problem with the region is that with prices going up so fast, it’s pricing out entry and mid-level executives. This is good for communities just outside of Silicon Valley,since it will cause a rush in real estate there as well from people who work in the Silicon Valley, but can’t afford to live there. All in all, it’s could be a record-breaking year for real estate in this region of Northern California.

The Facebook IPO could do more than put more money in people’s pockets. It may cause a surge in real estate prices in Silicon Valley. It already has done this, but look for prices in this region to go much higher by year’s end. This is one place in the U.S. that is not feeling a housing slow down. It’s actually the exact opposite here.  Give us your thoughts below!


Are You On Branchout Yet? You Need to Be

Real estate professionals tend to look for the next best thing in social media and technology. They’re often looking for that competitive edge to be a step ahead of the rest. If you’re a real estate professional who is looking to expand your network, you need to join BranchOut, a professional social network that is free to use and very unique because it uses the Facebook platform to operate.

BranchOut is a very young company, less than two years old, but it has made a huge splash in that time. It now boasts more than 25 million registered users and is the 25th most popular app on Facebook. It also just secured $25 million in private equity financing, so there are a lot of people who believe in this company. Here’s why YOU should be one of them:

BranchOut is like LinkedIn in that it’s a social network aimed toward professionals. It’s a great place to look for a job as well as reach other professionals in an effort to expand your network. What differentiates BranchOut from LinkedIn is the fact that BranchOut is built almost exclusively on the Facebook platform. This means that users don’t have to leave Facebook to access their professional network. With more than 800 million users, Facebook is, by far, one of the most popular social networks available. Branchout currently has 25 million registered users, which is great, but think about how big it can become by piggybacking on the Facebook platform — it could be huge. Zynga, the gaming company that gave us Farmville and Mafia Wars, is a great example of how Facebook can catapult companies into success. After building its business exclusively Facebook’s broad shoulders, it went public last year — now, its stock is up more than 50%! BranchOut has the ability to be just as big.

Branchout is a hot, new Professional Networking Site

As a real estate professional, you know how important LinkedIn is to your business. You use it all the time to network with mortgage professionals, Realtors, home inspectors, other agents, and potential clients. If used correctly, it can be t’s a powerful tool for generating business. BranchOut can offer the same result for you, and it can be done from the convenience of your Facebook page.

Although BranchOut isn’t as large (or profitable) as LinkedIn yet, it has the potential to be. As a real estate professional, you don’t want to be the last one to know about a marketing tool that could establish new leads and expand your network. That’s why if you’re not currently using BranchOut, you should. It’s free and can be created when you’re logged into your Facebook account. Don’t wait until your competition steals your clients away; get on this network now!

The Top 10 Smart Device Apps for Real Estate Professionals – Updated!

In my travels, speaking to real estate professionals across the country, I’m often asked,” What are the best real estate apps?”  It’s a valid question. The answer is; that the top apps are constantly changing as new apps come on the scene. I recently presented my latest edition of the Joe Sesso, Top 10 Smart Device Apps at a national convention. These apps are great, and most of them are for both Android and Apple devices. Some are even available for Blackberry. In case you missed it, here they are:

  1. Real Estate App: I love this app. It offers great graphics and it’s easy to use for consumers and professionals! Best of all, it’s free. Consumers and real estate professionals can search nationwide over four million homes on the market.  They can search by maps, zip codes or cities. This is a must have app for everyone.
  2.  Zite: Zite is an online magazine that is custom tailored to the user, and it gets smarter the more often that you use it. This free app asks you what your interests are (real estate, architecture, gadgets, etc.) then provides articles for you to read and enjoy. You can easily re-post these articles on Facebook or Twitter. It’s also interactive, so it asks you if you liked the article or not. It also asks if you want more articles on certain people, places or topics. If you indicate “yes,” you will see more articles about what you want. This is truly an amazing app.
  3.  Evernote: This app is your day planner, calendar, to-do list, and goal sheet all in one. This free app enables you to create lists, record voice memos, and share ideas with friends and social networks (although you don’t have to). The best part about this app is that you can sync all of your devices to it. I can record a voice memo on my phone and then listen to it from my Mac or PC at night. It’s that amazing. This app will keep you on the ball.
  4.  Real Alert App: This is the first app that I’m mentioning that costs money, but this app can literally save your life. It costs only $1.99, but this app is worth so much more. Real estate professionals are concerned about their safety, and this app helps them stay safe. You can open this app and call 9-1-1 with one press of a button. You can also contact friends easily and locate nearby hospitals. It also provides a form to fill out and share with your colleagues of suspicious characters you may encounter. This can be very useful. This app is a must for any real estate professional.
  5.  Genius Scan App: This free app turns your phone into portable scanner. Now you can scan contracts, forms and other important documents and e-mail them to mortgage brokers, clients and attorneys quickly and easily. This app will save you lots of time, as well as miles on your car.
  6.  iMovie & Clesh Movie Apps: iMovie (for Apple) and Clesh (for Android) are great for making video tours of properties. They’re also great for video blogs for real estate professionals. These apps cost money, $4.99, but they are amazing for the price. These apps enable you to record video, edit, piece snippets together, add text and credits, and import music from your library to give your video more spice. I was able to record a video tour, edit, add text and music and upload to Youtube and Facebook in about 20 minutes. It’s professional, but easy-to-use. That’s why I love these apps.
  7.  Everyblock: This app is for people who live in or around big cities. Everyblock is only in about 15 markets nationwide at this point, but this app is great for getting local news and information. If you’re a real estate professional looking for ideas to post to your blog, Everyblock has it. You can share these articles with your followers and friends and increase your social influence on Twitter and Facebook. This is a free app.
  8.  Instagram: This company has been in the news a lot lately. This app has been one of my favorites for almost a year now, but apparently Facebook loved them as well. They just bought Instagram for $1 billion dollars. Not bad for a 15 month old company. This free app is awesome and is available on both Android and iPhone. It can transform even the most amateur photographer into a pro. Real estate professionals can make their listing photos stand out by using one of Instagram’s photo enhancers. This is a must have app – and it’s fun as well.
  9.  Photosynth: This is another free photo app that is great for real estate professionals. Designed by Microsoft, this app works on iPhone, Android, and Windows platforms and enables users to make panoramic photos with their phones. It has built in stitch assist that can literally stitch two adjacent photos together. It’s perfect for those large panoramic shots you want to use in your real estate business.
  10. Mortgage Calculator App: This free app is great for any real estate professional. It can help determine monthly payment, rent versus buy options, and how much a person can qualify for. This is a must have if you work with clients.

There it is: My Top 10 Smart Device App List for the first half of 2012. There will be other lists, so be sure to look for my newest list in the coming months. In the meantime, use these apps to help your business run more efficiently and possibly even save time. They can also make life more enjoyable, in my opinion – so give it a try for yourself!