Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Do You Know What Your Time Is Worth?

As a luxury real estate marketing professional it is important to constantly improve the way you run your business.  Inefficiency in any business is equal to amount of time wasted.   In financial terms this is known as return on investment or ROI.   First, you have to establish what your hour is worth.  Then, keep a diary of all the things you do in a day and note the time you are spending on doing these items.  What is your return on the time you spent doing that cycle of action?  Could some of these items be delegated to someone else whose hourly rate is considerably less than yours?

Which items produce actual income?  Those are the cycles of action that lead to a listing/sale.  One of our clients has trained her assistant to shoo her out of the door on a daily basis.  They both know that when she steps out the door to get a cup of coffee or have lunch, she will invariably run into someone who has a listing or a referral or a clue as to what may be for sale, or who is in the market.  The longer she is out of the office, the more listings she gets. 

Recently, we spoke to another one of our clients who plays golf regularly.  This 4-5 hour activity (three times a week) has landed him several sales and listings in a month.   Another is an exceptional tennis player, and he plays at the club in his marketplace and in all the local tournaments. This enjoyable activity leads to sales and listings. 

Busy work and all the other minutiae that need to be done should be executed by someone who is good at it, and you should do what you are good at, which is bringing in the business. Delegating can be the springboard to increasing your business as well as increasing your discretionary time for yourself and your family.   Do we practice what we preach?  Absolutely, we have a virtual assistant and a local one.  We have found that we are happily getting a great ROI on the time we spend working. Do you know what your time is worth?


  This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Photos courtesy of Ron and Alexandra. 


Luxury Real Estate Branding: Achieving Authenticity in Your Brand Signal

Luxury real estate marketing professionals who are bent on gaining or sustaining market leadership should constantly be on the lookout for people and companies in other fields who achieve top-of-mind status in their product or service category. It is a way to stay inspired rather than get complacent or spend too much time focused on your competition.  

The British recording artist and songwriter, Adele, is a shining example of achieving top-of-mind status in the recording industry while staying authentic. This week Adele became the first solo female artist to have three singles in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, and the first female artist to have two albums in the top 5 of the Billboard 200 and two singles in the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously.

Adele won awards in all six of the categories in which it was nominated at the Grammy Awards in 2012. Previously, Beyoncé Knowles was the only artist to won six awards in a single night. Adele has also broken the record for the longest number one album on the charts by a woman in Billboard history. She beat Whitney Houston's record for the soundtrack of The Bodyguard.

What is most remarkable about Adele is that she needs no quirky costumes or costume changes for that matter; she needs no gimmicks, or special effects or grand production numbers with dancers to sell-out her concert performances internationally.  She does not use her sexuality to beguile her audience. Her voice, her lyrics and the arrangement of her songs are pure. She strikes a raw emotional chord while demonstrating extraordinary artistic expression.  This chord reverberates and resonates, like an undeniable truth inside the souls of millions of fans who confirm that she has a fresh, distinct talent that they have not experienced before.

Adele has become a “one-woman-brand”, a brand that stands for authenticity. She does not hide behind her music.  She does not have one persona on-stage and another off-stage. She is genuine and her audience knows it.   

Now that Adele has declared this brand signal and the media has broadcasted it to all ends of the globe, her biggest challenge is to consistently stay true to her authentic signal.  Sustaining market leadership can be even more challenging than achieving it in the first place.  That is why it is so important to constantly watch for evidence of excellence in market leadership:  to stay inspired and not get complacent.

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Photos courtesy of Ron and Alexandra. 


Ocean House Condominiums, Miami Beach

 


Luxurious Ocean House
By Camille Rabbat

Located in Miami’s popular “South of Fifth” neighborhood (SoFi), Ocean House Condominiums is a boutique, courtyard-style development that occupies one of Miami’s most prime and pristine waterfront settings. Sildy Cervera, a proud South Beach resident, General Manager and Director of Sales for Cervera Real Estate (South Beach), remarks that “Ocean House offers a sophisticated level of luxury and style while maintaining a great balance between the peaceful daytime atmosphere and the exciting, energetic nightlife Miami is known for.” The Caribbean-like climate “quickly draws you toward the beach,” Sildy adds.  “You can enjoy the white sand, the cool and clear Florida water, along with a countless number of outdoor activities and other happenings the Miami area has to offer.”

Ocean House also offers its residents an array of amenities—a spectacular pool, Jacuzzi, state-of-the-art gym, and tranquil spa—along with sunset yoga classes, a convenient hair salon, and a gourmet outdoor kitchen. Residents also enjoy exceptional beachside and concierge services. Golf courses and Miami’s world-famous cultural, dining, shopping and nightlife choices are close at hand as well. These diverse offerings, matched with South Beach’s vibrant location, make Ocean House a hub that attracts people of all ages and walks of life. 

The SoFi district of Miami has been ranked among the five most desirable areas in the United States. With area sales of ocean-front properties increasing 20 percent, Sildy is pleased to report that Cervera Real Estate had an excellent year in 2011. The area also has seen a boom in business start-ups, along with career opportunities for business professionals.

Sildy sums it up neatly by saying that Ocean House and South of Fifth, coupled together, make this location “without a doubt, the place to be!”


50 Top Luxury Real Estate Markets in the USA: Sun Valley, Idaho

 

Author Ernest Hemingway completed For Whom the Bell Tolls while staying in suite 206 of the Sun Valley Lodge in the fall of 1939. Olympic medalists including Gretchen Fraser, Christin Cooper, Picabo Street, and Muffy Davis have all called Sun Valley their home. Today, Sun Valley, known for its extensive cross country ski trails, is a serious contender to become the Official Olympic Nordic Training Site. It is also considered by many to be a top winter resort, a summer getaway, and simply a wholesome place to raise a family.

According to Jed Gray, “Sun Valley is the finest ‘private’ ski resort in the world because it is uncrowded.  There are no “weekend warriors” here.  Celebrities and high-profile business people are not hounded by the media. It has a rural feel with a tight knit sense of community”.

Alpine Touring is a popular winter sport in Sun Valley.  It is a form of skiing in which athletes make their way up the mountain on their skis that have special bindings and ‘skins’ that keep them from sliding back.  At the stopping point, the skins are removed and the skis are used to descend the hill. Eeva Pregitzer, a fan of the sport, shared this experience, “Recently, some friends and I ascended a nearby hill just to view the magnificent full moon from the top of the hill.  It was a wonderful way to commune with nature, with like-minded people who enjoy Alpine Touring and also get a great workout”.

The summer season in Sun Valley draws even more visitors than in winter. According to Tom Heinrich, “It’s not just about the great outdoors. Sun Valley has a vibrant arts community that offers a variety of opportunities through dozens of presenting organizations. Local and nationally known artists are represented in our art galleries, through concerts, theater productions, dance productions, opera, symphonic performances, film festivals and lectures.

Alex Higgins adds, “We have a writer’s conference in August, for example, that is usually sold-out well in advance.  It is a community of readers and well known writers who get together to discuss ideas in fiction, nonfiction, journalism, poetry, and filmmaking”.

In Terry Palmer's opinion, “Mountain biking in the summer is the best in the world. There are nearly 28 miles of hiking and biking trails on beautiful Bald Mountain alone”. Suzanne Williams said,  “Sun Valley is the only place in the country that offers an outdoor symphony each summer for free for three weeks, supported by donations. It is like the Hollywood Bowl with the magnificent backdrop of the mountains”.

In Sun Valley, black diamond runs in the winter are matched by challenging links in the summer. Elkhorn Golf Club was the last collaborative effort between the well-known design team of father and son Robert Trent Jones Senior and Junior. Mike Murphy says, “The back nine follows a creek and has a water hazard on every hole but one. With over 100 sand traps and bunkers, Elkhorn can be a very challenging course”.

More and more, Sun Valley is gaining a reputation as being a great place to raise a family because there is so much for kids to do here. Tom Drougas mentioned that, “Dollar Mountain now has a world class Terrain Park with more than 40 features including a new half pipe, 20 new rails & jibs, a Cross Course with rollers, jumps, and berms.  It is fun and challenging for skiers and riders of all ages and skill level. Plus, all Terrain Park features are included in the cost of a lift ticket”.

Sue Englemann says, “Kids thrive here because the schools are terrific and people are genuinely happy here. The Sun Valley Ski Academy offers promising athletes access to world-class coaching, training, and competition along with an outstanding college-preparatory program for locals as well as boarders. My daughter’s school does four camping trips each year. They actually build and live in ice caves for two nights. It gets the kids out of their comfort zones and builds character”.

We asked Dick Fenton to express what is unique about Sun Valley. He said, “In our small mountain village, that is so rich in culture, you can find true balance. There is an extraordinary balance of community, resort and recreation here”. 

 

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Photos courtesy of Ron and Alexandra. 

 

 


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Posted by: Camille Rabbat
Posted on: 2/28/2012 at 10:20 AM
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A Day in the Life of Lee M. Medick: Luxury Realtor Wired for Success

Las Vegas, Nevada took one of the hardest - if not, the hardest - hits when the housing bubble burst. While some Las Vegas real estate businesses went under, Lee M. Medick and her high-end boutique firm, Luxe Estates Collection, stayed afloat. "When markets are tough, that's when I increase my print exposure," Lee told us in an exclusive interview. "In troubling times, people like to hold something in their hands. There's something tangible about flipping the page and seeing the beautiful photos - it's the tactile magic of print."

duPont REGISTRY™: Give us a snapshot of the high-end market in Las Vegas and how it is changing.

Lee M. Medick: When the country's economy began its freefall, Las Vegas braced itself as elegantly as it could while its housing market took a showgirl stage tumble. Now, four years later, Vegas is rebounding. Homes are on the market fewer days. We're seeing cleaner offers and quicker closes. In the $1M+ home market, it's mostly cash. With inventory lowering and savvy investors gobbling up inventory, the time to buy is now. I can't emphasize this enough.

How has the web changed the buying and selling of high-end properties?

First of all, 92 percent of the buyers in today's market have researched their home on the internet and have a good knowledge of the market before they pick up the phone. This allows me to better understand their requirements, including the neighborhoods and specific properties that will fit the family's lifestyle. Today's home buyers are smart. They typically come to me with three or four homes in mind. This allows me to be efficient. My client's time is valuable. Everyone wants a smooth process. The more efficient I am, the more confidence I instill.

What do you say to a home buyer who is on the fence about making an offer?

I usually start by saying, "Let's step back and look at the big picture. What do you want in a house?" Homes are an emotional purchase. So I start with an emotional appeal - why I think this a great house for them. But then I back up emotions with facts, facts, and more facts by providing statistics that reveal why they are in a strong position to make an offer. I know it's emotional for the buyer, but I see their concerns as an asset. I want to be sure I am making the best deal for them. Statistics put things in context. Every seven years, for example, markets take a dip. Understanding the market - the cycles - can help buyers feel more confident about making an offer.

What do you say to sellers who want to price their home too high?

This is a delicate issue. I might say, "If you had approached me three years ago, and we were having this discussion about the value of your home, you would have been spot on. However, I need to show you similar homes in your market, what they have sold for recently, specifically in your neighborhood." Then I'll walk them through the original listing prices and what the final sales prices were for those houses. When you know the local market, you can set expectations for what the market will bear. Here's something I live by: List to sit on the market, or to sell now!

What questions and concerns do prospective clients typically bring to you, and how do you win their confidence?

Again, it's a blend of the emotions and logic. When I am talking to a prospective buyer or seller, I always sprinkle in a few of my recent sales to validate what I say. Right then, I put my clients at ease.

What new approaches does it take to be a successful luxury Realtor today?

Luxe Estates Collection has developed a team approach pulling exclusive high-end Realtors and combining their talents to best service the $1M+ market. With our top-producing agents worldwide, Luxe Estates Collection offers buyer/celebrity representation, an e-marketing guru, a professional writer, a commercial development specialist, and a contracts-and-negotiation veteran.

You've been highly successful at marketing yourself and your firm. What is your strategy?

Exceptional homes require exceptional marketing. A real estate firm needs to stay relentlessly consistent with its message, online and in print. Marketing is all about repetition and looking for the unique selling proposition. If you keep visible with a strong messaage, then you're going to get a call when a prospect sees the ad and the timing's right. When markets are tough, that's when I increase my print exposure. In troubling times, people like to hold something in their hands. There's something tangible about flipping the page and seeing the beautiful photos - it's the tactile magic of print.

Why do you advertise with the duPont REGISTRY™?

Because the duPont REGISTRY A Buyers Gallery of Fine Homes® works! Last month, a client called and wanted me to list his home. When we got together, I asked him what prompted his call. He showed me a copy of your magazine and thumped it down on the table. "I love this magazine," he said. "And I want you to list my house."

This is one great reason to love the duPont REGISTRY™, but there's more to it. To sell luxury homes, I need to reach beyond the Las Vegas market. I need to find the wider audience, nationally and internationally. With the duPont REGISTRY™, the research and homework are done for me. If I want to hit a specific luxury market, I know the magazine will get in front of the right people. That's very important. I also like the fact that the duPont REGISTRY™ thinks outside the box. You take the homes magazine to luxury car and boat shows. Celebrities read it. It goes into locker rooms and airport lounges.

In the end, it's the return - the bang for the buck - that keeps me coming back to the duPont REGISTRY™. When you are looking at a beautiful ad, you can get lost in the moment. That's powerful. On the internet, there's a lot more competition for a prospect's attention. Of course, I also do online advertising to complement our ads with the duPont REGISTRY™.

Thinking about how you have built your business, what are you most proud about?

Luxe Estates has a strong reputation. We're respected in the industry. In recent trying times, we've perfected our unique business model. We're a boutique real estate brokerage - our mission is the quality, not quantity, of listings. For international coverage, we take a team approach. We can pick up the phone and call someone in Chicago or Cancun. I uniquely package and show the homes I represent. I know everything there is to know - even the invisible things like the air filtration systems.

I just picked up another celebrity listing. We discussed what sells, what doesn't sell. It was all very straightforward, and we got along fabulously. That combination of personal attention and local knowledge is what builds the relationship - and ultimately builds the business.

What keeps you motivated when times are particularly tough?

I love my job. Every day the phone rings, it's a thrill. My motivation is a result of the power of positive thinking... that's where it all starts.

Luxe Estate Collectionslee@luxeestatescollection.com


Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Does Your Website Have a Privacy Policy?

The Privacy issue continues to be a hot topic and one that has brought the warring factions of the Congress together.  Just yesterday, web firms have agreed to install a "Do Not Track button",and today's headline in the Wall Street Journal is "Tech Giants agree to Deal on Privacy Policies for Apps."

Some states such as California require that websites have a privacy policy. Luxury real estate buyers are usually privacy minded and guarded, when it comes to divulging personal information.  We have included a privacy policy in our websites and the websites whose designs we oversee.  They are written in plain English and not Legalese and are easy to understand.  We find that our web visitors do read that page.

As a luxury real estate marketing professional having a Privacy Policy engenders trust between you and your website visitors.  If you don't have one, stay ahead of the curve and add it to your website.  If you do, make sure you don't need to hire an attorney to understand it.

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Photos courtesy of Ron and Alexandra. 


Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Pruning to Insure Your Success

What are the sweet spots in your business?  What are the most fruitful aspects of your luxury real estate marketing practice?  What is working to produce results consistently?  These are the questions that can get you focused on what works and know what needs to be discarded or pruned from your winning formula.

Once you are aware of the fruit bearing sources of your business, it is important to strengthen these sources.  A business can be likened to growing a fruit tree.  You need to prune and feed a tree in order to produce a healthy and bountiful crop.  The main reasons for pruning a tree are increased productivity, health and aesthetics.

It is crucial to your success to prune all those unusual solutions and business practices that that has not borne fruit—the time wasters.   Think of your luxury real estate practice as a money tree.  You need to eliminate all crossed branches that are at cross purposes to your success. 

Pruning may be a horticultural practice, but it truly does apply to marketing luxury real estate. Are some of your clients draining your energy and your resources by distracting you from those activities that bring you the best results?  It may be time to prune some of those toxic clients. If you are a broker, is it time to prune the dead wood in your office, the non-producing agents on your team?  These questions may sound harsh, but it is the health of your business and your own health that is at stake here.

Without pruning you cannot see the orchard through the trees!  Pruning lets in the light and allows for better air circulation which prevents disease as well. Your luxury real estate marketing practice should be a thing of beauty. It should be healthy and it should be bountiful.  Let in the light!

 

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Photos courtesy of Ron and Alexandra. 


Luxury Real Estate Marketing Trends: Eco Friendly Packaging in 2012

One of the important trends to take note is that many companies are considering alternative methods of packaging their products.  For instance, the photo above shows eco Vino, a chardonnay from Mendocino County.  The eco-friendly package (recyclable) contains the equivalent of 2 wine bottles.  I asked my friend Walt (the wine expert at our local Trader Joe’s) if the wine was good.  He said absolutely and added that this packaging was perfect for picnics, outdoor concerts (no glass is allowed). 

Here is their mission statement as stated on their website.

“At ecoVINO, we proudly source responsible vineyards that practice organics, bio-dynamics and sustainability to bring you the purest, cleanest, highest quality wine available. We focus on varietals that pair effortlessly with your favorite foods while maintaining functionality at the family picnic to the biggest dinner parties. Lastly, the result is beautiful, friendly wines that are as easy on the palate as they are on the planet.”

Other luxury vendors are rethinking their packaging.  A few years back gourmet biscotti and other cookies were packaged in beautifully decorated reusable tins.   This trend is coming back, because the vendors are realizing that the luxury buyer is more than ever conscious of considering the environment.

Whether you are a luxury real estate marketing professional or not, why not have your listing presentation printed on beautiful recycled paper? It will definitely show where your values are.

  This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Photos courtesy of Ron and Alexandra. 


Making the Grand Entrance

In this age of oversized garage doors, the front entry door has taken a back seat. Add value and style with a new front door.

Drive down almost any block of beautiful homes and you will discover that the front door has almost disappeared from view in many neighborhoods. “Nothing adds more welcome than a well designed door,” notes Neal Fiske of TriplePoint Design-Build in St. Petersburg. “It should be elegant and yet overwhelming.”

Mark Leek of DoorPro Entryways in Tampa suggest that the front door is the most important door in the house. “It not only sets the style but should reflect the architecture of the house,” he adds. On how many homes do you see the inappropriate door style-like a Victorian on a ranch house?

Ed bailey of Artistic Doors in Tampa whose custom doors have changed the personality of a house insists that a well-designed entry door creates curb appeal and sets the tone for the rest of the house. For example, craftsmen style and more contemporary doors make a vast difference when fitted to a similar style house. However, a great door is not just about good stylish looks. It should have strength and longevity as well.

In 2012, the Florida Building Code will change to include higher wind ratings and this will affect not only windows but exterior doors as well for new and replacement construction. This may be a good time to really look at your own door with better scrutiny.

There are new doors that resist the elements better than older ones. Popular in the high-end luxury homes, wood doors, which has natural warmth and beauty, requires maintenance over its lifetime. A new generation of wood doors now has options to enhance the durability and lifespan in areas where inclement weather can be a factor. The new Simpson WaterBarrier technology is available in over 200 of their wood door designs. “The secret is a one-piece overlay over the exterior which helps them withstand direct exposure; the result is the beautiful look of real wood on the inside of the door with the protection of WaterBarrier on the exterior,” says Brad Loveless, Marketing Manager for Simpson Door Company.

Perhaps, the most important decision is what the door is made of. Beside wood doors, which are generally more traditional in style, high-tech alternatives of fiberglass composite and steel doors have popular design choices. Fiberglass is a smart choice for harsh or humid climates as it is virtually maintenance-free. Many mimic the look of wood and can be stained or painted to match the other outdoor details. Steel doors are the most durable and they do not warp or crack. The new generation of steel door is also the best choice if security is an issue.

If you’re considering a glazed entry door, you’ll have many glass options to choose from, including clear, etched, beveled, leaded and many others with ornamental glazing. Low-e-window glazing is a popular option but if you are concerned about security; look into laminated glass that is designed to resist break-ins. The fastest growing category in front doors, vented sidelights, offer the ventilation consumers want without the inconvenience and obstruction of storm doors or sliding screens. A new alternative from Therma-Tru for their Fiber-Classic Oak Collection Smooth-Star Collection now allows you to let in light and fresh air into your home without sacrificing energy efficiency or style.

Some homes directly on the water are lucky enough to have two front doors, adds Neal Fiske of TriplePoint. “The front door on the road is about security and street presence. The water entrance is all glass, although these days the glass may be high impact and laminated.”

Not quite ready to make a door change? Lucianna Samu, color expert for Benjamin Moore Paints, suggests that the creative use of color can add life to an old door. And do not just pick one color but three instead. A low contrast door and trim combination can enhance details of a door. Select a color and then step the next colors up or down so the color mixture pulls your eyes beyond the door. Neighbors will think you have a new door. And you will never tell!


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Posted by: Camille Rabbat
Posted on: 2/21/2012 at 5:26 PM
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Marketing Luxury Real Estate: Focus is Your Crystal Ball

As a Luxury real estate marketing professional, have you taken the time to focus upon the source of your bona fide leads, i.e., those leads that have actually converted to sales or listings? What percentage of your overall sales volume comes from knocking on doors (cold calling), referrals, open houses, website leads, sign calls, your blog, networking (online or offline) or from some other source?  By focusing in this manner you can strengthen what is working, and also spend less time and resources on those things that do not produce strong results. Focusing can empower you to predict the future of your business. Focus is your crystal ball.

Focusing can also lead to discovering new ways to attract more business by finding alternative approaches that can yield more desirable results. By staying focused you have access to more solutions.  Your focus actually attracts answers that may be right under your nose. Being focused prompts you to ask better questions because you know more clearly what it is that you need to know. The need to know literally draws out answers from your environment and from people who have the answers or know where to find them. 

Sometimes it seems that the answers to your most pressing questions are eluding you. But, once you get clear on what you need to know, the answers are sure to come your way.  That is, unless you spend your time doubting yourself or the power of focus.  If you get frustrated because your answers are not showing up as fast as you want them to you might want to consider just chilling out for awhile.   It takes a mental state of relaxed focus and openness for the best answers to show up in your crystal ball.


 This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Photos courtesy of Ron and Alexandra. 


Mortgage Common Sense in a Bad Economy

 

Qualifying for a Mortgage Loan

The three Cs determine if you are qualified and the interest rate you are quoted:

Credit Reputation- everything from the borrower’s credit score and history of mortgage or credit delinquencies, to the status of credit card accounts.

Capacity- includes monthly debt payment to income ratio, cash reserves, whether you’re salaried or self-employed and the type of loan product – fixed or adjustable rate, along with 30-year, 20-year or 15-year terms.

Collateral- takes into consideration the amount of down payment, property type, such as single family home, condo or multi-family, and property us

 

Some read estate experts are predicting that 2012 will be a year of opportunity for homebuyers. But is that true? As banks develop stricter rules on credit eligibility, many people are finding it more difficult to qualify for a loan. According to the Florida Realtors Association, trouble securing a mortgage was one of the prime factors in limiting a customer from purchasing a new home.

                As banks develop stricter rules on credit eligibility, many people are finding it more difficult to qualify for a loan. According to the Florida Realtors Association, trouble securing a mortgage was one of the prime factors in limiting a customer from purchasing a new home.

                And what about refinancing? Even with interest rates at record lows, does it really make sense to refinance?

                In these challenging financial times, it can be difficult to know which direction to turn for advice on home mortgages. According to Cathy Pirtle, vice president and sales manager for SunTrust Mortgage, the outlook for the housing market in 2012 is definitely a little more positive. With interest rates as low as they are and real estate both available and affordably priced, Pirtle says the timing might be excellent for qualified individuals to purchase a home.

But in today’s economy, who is qualified?

                It all comes down to “the three Cs,” says Pirtle. That’s credit reputation capacity and collateral. All three factors not only determine if you’re qualified for the loan, but also the interest rate you are quoted.

                Credit reputation refers to everything from the borrower’s credit score and history of mortgage or credit delinquencies, to the status of credit card accounts. Capacity includes monthly debt payment to income ratio, cash reserves, whether you’re salaried or self-employed and the type of loan product – fixed or adjustable rate, along with 30-year, 20-year or 15-year terms. Collateral takes into consideration the amount of down payment, property type, such as single family home, condo or multi-family, and property use.

                The type of loan you are seeking will also play a role in any discussion about qualification. Conventional loans, FHA loans and VA loans all have their own variables in requirements, says Pirtle. “There is no one rule of thumb.”

                When it comes to refinancing, there are just as many factors to consider. It is never a one-size fits-all approach. “We work one on one with people to review their current mortgage and help them determine the true benefit to refinancing,” says Pirtle.

                That includes looking at how long the homeowner expects to retain the home, whether there is an opportunity to reduce the term of the loan and where they can get the most significant savings.

                If refinancing doesn’t make sense, Pirtle suggests the option of making an extra payment each year or setting up a bi-weekly payment plan if the lender offers that type of program.

                When Lisa Langer, of BB&T Private Wealth Management, advises her clients, she looks at the big picture, taking into consideration all of their financial needs, not just their current mortgage situation.

                For example, she says, a client may be paying over a four percent interest rate on their mortgage right now, but it may not make sense to refinance, depending on their personal and professional goals. And for some people, it might make more sense not to refinance, but to liquidate some of their investment holdings and pay off the mortgage altogether.

                But before any of those decisions are made, she advises clients to consider issues ranging from how much cash will be required at the closing, to what the appreciation of the home will be over the period of the loan versus the interest they could earn by investing that money instead.

                Cash flow is one of the biggest determining factors, says Langer. “Someone who is very entrepreneurial may need access to immediate cash for new business ventures that come up,” says Langer. “Maintaining a mortgage on their home may be more practical rather than paying it off because having available cash is more important to them.”

                The bottom line is every financial situation and every client is unique, says Langer. Before making any decision on refinancing or obtaining a new mortgage consult a trusted advisor.

 

Is Refinancing the Way to Go?

It is never a one-size fits-all approach.

There are many factors to consider:

How long the homeowner expects to retain the home?

Is there an opportunity to reduce the term of the loan?

Where can the most significant savings be obtained?


Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Food for Thought: Is Free Really Free?

A few years ago we discovered a  company that gathers information about wealthy people and sells it to product and service providers and also charities who target high net worth individuals. Our interest was to see if there was a beneficial application for luxury real estate marketing professionals. 

The information they gathered about the wealthy is all public information. However, what is unique about their service is what they do the information.  They correlate the data using proprietary algorithms and are able to develop profiles on high net worth individuals (approximate net worth, likelihood to invest, donate, buy a second home or refinance, etc.) that would not be obvious if you just looked at the information piece-meal.  It is this sophisticated level of correlation that offers vendors and service providers added value when they pay for the service.  

This value proposition disturbed us because we felt that it was an infringement of privacy, even though all of the information was public. So, we discontinued our investigation into the company. 

Fast forward to Google’s announcement that they are about to  correlate the personal  information that they glean across the multiplicity of their platforms, i.e., Google +, You Tube, Gmail, its search engine, etc..  Given that the majority of Google’s revenue is derived from advertising, their intent is to deliver extraordinary value to advertisers, a value that is superior to that of their closest competitors.  

What they are saying to consumers is this correlation of personal information will provide a better user experience. After all, when you subscribe to Netflix, and rate movies in their system, they are able to make video recommendations based on your personal preferences. You may like the user experience on Amazon when they tell you people who purchased the same book you just bought “also liked” another book. This gives them a way to “up-sale” you (increase the amount of the current transaction). But, you may consider that there is value in getting suggestions.  This then, becomes  a value (theirs) for value (yours) exchange. There is no pretense of “free”. 

But, is this the same type of correlation of information that Google is now about to do?  Google is not just correlating information based on products you have purchased or videos you either purchased or expressly told the system that you like. It is also factoring in many, many more layers and dimensions of your personal preferences and personal information.  On top of all that it is factoring in your age and your current geographic location (based on your mobile devices), for example,  so that it can send you ads that are relevant to local vendors and service providers.

Are you comfortable with this?  You are giving your permission to all of this correlation of your personal information because you have opted-in by default when you sign in to you your Google account.  You do have the option to opt-out, but the onus is on you to take the action to do so, every step of the way which may represent an inconvenience to you.  You are given access to some wonderful applications, media, and tools for free.  But is free really free? 

Apart from any direct benefit to you, your preferences, buying patterns, web-surfing sequences, etc. is valuable information to Google because it helps them understand and predict others who have similar consuming profiles that you have.  This is yet another layer of correlation that factors into the ads that are selected to be displayed to you, ads that Google is being paid for not you.

Before subscription TV, which is brought to you via cable or satellite, TV was free. But, was it really free.  You paid for this with your time and attention as you also watched advertisements.  But, the networks did not collect information about your TV watching habits.  Through market research performed by companies such as Nielson, the networks were able to determine how many viewers were watching which shows.  The more viewers the more money they could command for their ads.

Today, you pay for cable or satellite service and you pay for the advertising with your attention unless you mute the commercials or fast-forward through them if you have recorded the program.  You have a choice to pay attention to ads or not. But, your cable or satellite provider does not know what programs you watch or record. They have no idea who in your family is watching the programs that are viewed on your TV.   

The cable and satellite companies may be able profile your household based on correlating your geographic location, the number of TVs you have connected to their service, the type of bundled entertainment packages to which you subscribe.  But, this is minor league compared to the mega-media of Google and Facebook.

Facebook is another “free” media that derives the majority of its revenues from advertising based on the correlation of your personal information.  With an IPO about to be launched thousands of enthusiastic fans and would-be investors are going to sanction this type of media advertising. A tidal wave of agreement is going to validate this model.

Unlike the company that gathers and correlates public information about high net worth individuals, the information that Google and Facebook gather and correlate about you is your private information.  The specificity of information about you is unprecedented. 

We are not trying to buck this current, just question it. Nor, are we here to pass judgment on Google or Facebook or their users. These are extremely valuable services. We are simply here to dispel the notion that you get Google and Facebook for free and also to propose an alternative idea.

What if you had the choice, like you do with your TV, to pay a subscription fee for the use of Facebook and/or Google services, even Google search, and not receive any ads whatsoever, with the understanding that they cannot use or correlate your personal information?  We would appreciate your opinion.  Would you pay (value for value) for such a subscription?  We would!


 This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Photos courtesy of Ron and Alexandra. 


River Meadows Ranch Chosen for the HGTV 2012 Dream Home Location

River Meadows Ranch- Home of the 2012 HGTV Dream Home

In the heart of Heber Valley is River Meadows Ranch in Midway.  River Meadows Ranch is just 45 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City and 20 minutes from Park City.  The valley is spectacular and the community breathtaking with the average lot size 1.5 acres, and estate lots up to eight acres.  Rockworth Companies, the development company of this community, features 39 lots offering state park and Provo River frontage, with both existing homes and lots for sale.

Property buyers that have a taste for the great outdoors will fall in love with the community as the valley offers nature and its spectaculars at its best.  There is fly fishing, boating and water sports on the Provo river, world class golf at Soldier Hollow Resort, The Homestead, and Wasatch Mountain, and skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing at Sundance Resort, Deer Valley, Canyon Resort, and Park City Mountain Resort.

To gather an idea of the area, picture the majestic Wasatch Mountains as the back drop and the Provo River running through the development.  The area is so beautiful that it has been chosen for the HGTV 2012 Dream Home Location, which will award one lucky winner a modern, 4,000 sq. ft. three bedrooms, four and a half baths home on two and a half acres with the Provo River running through the backyard.  This scene is not uncommon for River Meadows Ranch, as its lots are breathtaking, and the homes that exist, are fabulous.

For property and homebuyers that are interested in one of the most beautiful areas in the nation, River Meadows Ranch is a fabulous choice and one that will definitely provide a lifestyle that is exemplary and unimaginable as you are in the heart of some of the most beautiful scenes in the nation.

Search for more Park City Homes For Sale.

 

 

  This blog posting has been provided by Ben Fisher, an agent at  Summit Sotheby's International Realty in Park City, Utah. He services Park City Real Estate  http://www.parkcityluxuryrealestate.com  as well as Deer Valley http://www.parkcityluxuryrealestate.com/deer-valley.php. He specializes in online marketing for luxury real estate clients.



The International Allure of Miami

Miami is an incredibly beautiful city known throughout the world for its commerce, cultural diversity, music, and arts. South Florida’s central business district is located in Miami, emitting a profusion of lights over neighboring South Beach. With its sun kissed sand, art-deco hotels, and exhilarating night scene, South Beach poses as the face of Miami’s international allure. Latin beats, Jazz, and subtle down tempo music fill the streets from Lincoln Road to 1st street. A flourishing art scene functions not only to inscribe a sense of aesthetic wonder but also brings people together, generating a network of artists, enthusiasts, and connoisseurs. And of course the beach, with its endless stretch of golden sand meeting the blue and emerald Atlantic, sets the stage for all of these developing activities taking place in this culturally diverse milieu.

 

Lincoln Road:

Let’s begin our tour of South Florida with a stroll along Lincoln Road, replete with street performers, outdoor dining, shopping, restaurants and an eclectic mix of Miami natives and out-of-towners. Running north and south, Ocean Drive features side-by-side Art Deco architecture, exemplifying the ambiance we’ve come to recognize as distinctly “Miami.” South of 5th street, the South Beach scene heats up-hotels and beautiful lofts are situated within walking distance of fine dining as well as swanky lounges, bars, and clubs.

Developments in South Beach and the surrounding Miami area signal the area’s growing, changing, trend-setting and culturally vibrant character. Diane Lieberman of South Beach Investment Realty emphasizes the value of Miami’s creative influences, including the Art Basel exhibition, the MoCA museum, and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. The Design District’s Wynwood Art Walk offers monthly opportunities to gallery hop while imbibing cocktails in the company of other connoisseurs and enthusiasts.

Diane also credits Miami’s New World Symphony, a first-rate orchestra that provides free Wallcast concerts to park-goers. By synthesizing its ever-changing natural beauty, arts, and entertainment venues, South Beach has successfully marketed itself as not only a great place to live, but also as an oasis where influxes of new buyers are thriving and enriching the local scene.

 

Miami Ocean House:  

Established in 1896, Miami is best known for its 15 miles of fabled beaches, beautiful people, and year-round sunshine. Of course there’s more to its charms than that. The city has a booming art scene, authentic music and food, many vacation apartments, and a variety of historic architectural styles. As Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner of Cervera Real Estate Services, says, “The biggest perks of living in the area are the weather, the fact that the city is easy to get in and out of, and the multicultural people who live throughout Miami.”

This subtropical city is home to 150 ethnicities who speak more than 60 languages, making up a population of close to 2.5 million people. It’s no wonder this popular destination is so well known for its authentic music and cuisine. According to Alicia, “Someone could go around the world with the variety of cuisine this city has to offer.” All these different cultures add to the color and life of this city, providing a broad world view for residents and tourists alike. Miami has the world’s largest collection of Art Deco architecture. A perfect example is Ocean House, a restoration of the former Walburne Hotel. This condominium is a classic example of Miami modern architecture, influenced by the Art Deco and Streamline Modern periods. The property exterior retains many of the design details of Miami’s Art Deco history, while the interior marvelously blends the past with contemporary touches, including an opulent pool deck, cabanas and full beachfront luxury amenities. 

Alicia’s favorite thing about Ocean House is “how it makes people feel at home while still providing them with a relaxing tranquil place to get away.” She adds that “it’s neatly nestled in a friendly, pedestrian neighborhood that’s literally four blocks away from Ocean Drive.” Today, the property exudes the charm and beauty of the old Walburne Hotel, while eclipsing it as the ultimate South of Fifth oceanfront residential address. A multi-million-dollar historic renovation makes Ocean House a residence like no other, in a place that is the envy of South Florida and far beyond.

 

Villa Magnolia:

Art isn’t always a painting or a sculpture. A masterpiece can be a home, steeped in unparalleled appointments and furniture. Such is this 12,879 square foot palatial estate, designed like no other. Resplendent and lavish, customization abounds. “Nothing is left untouched,” says Jill Hertzberg of The Jills, one of the listing agents.

“From Lalique faucets to matching-grain Macassar Ebony throughout, the home is filled with exquisite finishes,” adds Jill Eber, Hertzberg’s partner at The Jills.

Villa Magnolia sits on 200 feet of wide waterfront, offering a front-row seat to dazzling sunsets, dripping with breathtaking, fiery hues that blanket the sky. Electric gates open to reveal a majestic neoclassical home towering above verdant foliage, giving the property a dose of South Florida’s tropical ambiance. The rotunda foyer features a soaring 40-foot ceiling, curved marble and a striking two-sided staircase. The rest of the home is as luxurious as the grand foyer.

“This is the finest and most unique home in South Florida,” says Howard Marcus who is co-listing with The Jills. High end details include hand-crafted stone throughout the interior and exterior; specialized European paint finishes; 15-foot coffered ceilings; a third-level rooftop entertainment area and sun terrace; temperature-controlled 850-bottle wine room; a magnificent, large kitchen with a built-in 750-gallon aquarium in the eat-in breakfast area; art-filled living and dining rooms; a media room with a 10-foot screen; and a glass and granite elevator. Two infinity-edge pools, one right off the master suite, and a wide-open waterfront view create an ambiance befitting the South Florida lifestyle.


Marketing Luxury Real Estate: Is Power Schmoozing for YOU?

Have you ever wondered  how it is possible that certain luxury real estate marketing professionals can earn a massive income with just a basic website that is not well optimized to appease the Google Gods and  logging into Facebook only occasionally, if at all?  Marketing luxury real estate is more of a people business than a technology business.  And, these agents get that point loud and clear. They excel at the art of the in-person Power Schmoozing, the ultimate social networking skill, in our opinion.

With all of the hoopla over social networking and internet marketing too many very capable luxury real estate marketing professionals have gotten distracted, lost their perspective and have lost sight of their priorities.  Online schmoozing and blogging, when done right, can be effective.  But, how much time does it take in your day? How much time is the right amount of time for YOU?  This is something that you must ask yourself, personally.

In luxury real estate marketing, mega-incomes do not just happen. You need to consistently expand your sphere of influence if you want to expand your referral base. There is no getting around this.  However, If you are more shy than gregarious online schmoozing  and blogging may fit your personality better than a round of golf with highly connected friends. 

Recently, the WSJ reported that the game of golf is losing 1,000,000 players each year.  They referred to “time-squeezed, electronically-addicted” business people who think four hours or more is too much time away from the pulse of their business. But, how much time are you spending online?  It may be worth your time to measure the effectiveness, in terms of referrals, between online schmoozing and blogging and in- person power schmoozing.  Then, set your priorities accordingly. You may be surprised with the results.

 

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Photos courtesy of Ron and Alexandra.