About Stephanie Sievers

Stephanie Sievers is Senior Editor for the Illinois REALTORS®.

Morning Minute: Closing on a home? Check out Freddie Mac’s infographic on what to expect

Image: Bigstock

If this is your first time buying a home, Freddie Mac has created an infographic that outlines some of the general steps that consumers can expect to happen on closing day and tips to help them be prepared. Find more homeownership resources from Freddie Mac.

In other headlines:

Why Mortgage Rates Keep Owners From Selling – New York Times (via REALTOR® Magazine Daily Real Estate News)

8 Signs It’s Time to Walk (and Maybe Run) Away From a Home – Realtor.com

Morning Minute: NAR takes a closer look at U.S. building permit activity

Available housing inventory has tightened in recent years and new home construction will play a role in meeting that housing demand. Economists with the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) took a closer look at building permits and compared activity levels in 2000, 2005 and 2015. Read the full analysis, “Building Permits and Inventory,” from NAR and see this interactive map NAR has created.

In other headlines:

Flood Insurance, Tax Reform Top Issues as Realtors® Head to Washington – National Association of REALTORS®

Citizenship applications soar, and that means more potential homeowners – HousingWire

U.S. housing starts fall to five-month low; building permits weak – Reuters

Enhance your market expertise with new RPR tools

Kiki Wanshura

Are you a REALTOR® looking for a few new tools to boost the market information and expertise you can offer your clients? Then check out some of the new features that have been added to Realtors Property Resource® (RPR), a comprehensive database platform available exclusively to REALTORS® that pulls in property information from around the country.

Kiki Wanshura, a regional director of RPR, outlined some of the platform’s newest tools Wednesday in the Illinois REALTORS® Conference & Expo session, “Turbo-charge Your Business with These Top 10 Tools from RPR.”

With RPR, agents can create comprehensive and customizable reports on properties for their clients. Even the fussiest buyers and sellers are impressed with the reports and all the information they provide, says Wanshura.

Some of the new enhancements include:

  • Drive Time searches – If you have a client who wants to buy a home within a certain mile radius of work or school, you can now create reports showing properties in those areas.
  • Share your RPR reports on Facebook – Consumers are on social media and RPR has made it easier to share market activity reports, neighborhood reports, property flyers and more on Facebook.
  • Google street view – Now you can not only see listing photos but also views of the street through RPR.
  • Refined Value search – Wondering how much value has been added to a property with a remodeling project? RPR has added 30 common remodeling projects so REALTORS® can plug in an upgrade and see how it affects the property’s value.



Leigh Brown: Set your real estate business apart by being consumer centric

Leigh Brown

Consumers want information on the real estate market and they are looking for REALTORS® who really connect with them and can offer them the personal touch and community expertise they won’t find scrolling through online sites, says REALTOR® and trainer Leigh Brown, the opening session speaker at the Illinois REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Collinsville.

Many consumers may not be aware of the level of professional expertise REALTORS® bring to the home buying and selling process. Successful agents are those who are consumer centric and focus their energy on providing the information and service that today’s clients want, said Brown in her session, “How to Defeat External Threats.”

Brown shared a few tips to help REALTORS® put consumers first:

  • Contact clients from your five most recent closings and ask them for real feedback on the transaction. Finding out what they liked and disliked can help REALTORS® fine-tune their efforts.
  • Be quick to respond when prospective clients contact you. Don’t let phone or email inquiries languish. Consumers will move on to a more responsive agent.
  • If you pay for an email drip campaign program, don’t rely on the stock outgoing message. Edit it to reflect your own “voice.”
  • Present a professional image whether it is in the way you dress (always slightly above your marketplace) or the way you answer your phone (always mentioning your name, your company and the fact that you are a REALTOR®.)
  • Professional listing photos are a must. Don’t skimp and think you can get by snapping photos with your phone.
  • Remember that REALTORS® offer something that online listing sites can’t – personal knowledge and expertise about the local market, community and everything both have to offer.

Leigh Brown is a partner at RE/MAX Executive Realty in North Carolina and the broker-manager of its Concord office. She is the owner of Leigh Brown Instruction and is a sought after industry speaker.

Morning Minute: More U.S. homeowners are gaining equity in their homes

Image: Bigstock

The home equity picture is improving for more homeowners as the number of seriously underwater properties fell 1.2 million in the first quarter of this year compared to a year ago, according to the Q1 2017 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report from ATTOM Data Solutions.

During the same time, the number of equity rich properties (those where the combined loan amount is 50 percent less than the estimated value) climbed by 1.4 million since last year. Illinois still ranks among the states with the highest share of seriously underwater properties, coming in third with 16.5 percent. Read more from RealtyTrac.

In other headlines:

Area home sales down 13.2 percent in April – State Journal-Register

Inventory Shortages Are Slowing Down the Market – Keeping Current Matters blog

7 Questions to Ask at an Open House That Uncover the Truth, Warts and All – Realtor.com