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Learning to protect your online identity

house real estateLast year, hackers targeted a number of retailers to compromise shoppers’ financial and personal information. A recent hack of a health insurer possibly jeopardized policy holder data. And Krebbs Security (krebsonsecurity.com) reported on February 15th about an investigation being conducted by the Defense Contract Management Agency of a possible hacking.

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Get to know before you have to owe

house real estateFor many, August 1st will be like any other summer day.  However for those in the lending and real estate industries, August 1st is when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) new lending, closing disclosures and rules go into effect. 

“Know Before You Owe” is a project that began before the official opening of the CFPB (which officially opened July 21st 2011), and undertook the remaking of mortgage disclosures to make them more consumer friendly. 

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And this just in about fair housing

house real estateApril is designated as Fair Housing Month.  The timing for the commemoration is not arbitrary, but is the memorialization of the passing of the Fair Housing Act, which was enacted April 1968.  According to HUD (hud.gov), “HUD hosted a gala event in the Grand Ballroom of New York's Plaza Hotel” to celebrate the first year. 

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Putting "Sexy" Back In Real Estate

house real estateThe go-go market of almost ten years ago was unique.  The wealth aspect of the market seemed to have an effect on almost anyone who owned property; there was somewhat of a carnal attraction that had many home owners seeking more property and turning renters into home owners.  It was no surprise that home ownership rates swelled to historic highs.  Those who sold their homes or cashed out on their equity found themselves wealthier; while those who didn’t sell were happy to know their “paper wealth” was rapidly growing as home values realized monthly double digit gains. 

At that time, the attraction to real estate for many seemed to be instinctive; the flirtation between home buyers and real estate may have been about a future of happy living and financial growth and security.  Well, the sex appeal of real estate has worn off and seems to have been replaced by a “meh” attitude; probably indicating a lack of inspiration and/or interest. 

Trying to regain the attention of home buyers, some agents have tried to re-establish real estate’s sex appeal.  And it has been purposeful to attract home buyers by pairing homes with items that elicit carnal desire; listings are surrounded by exotic cars, modern art, and even sexy models have been credited to facilitate sales of luxury properties. 

An April 2011 report by Julie Rose of WAFE 90.7 Charlotte (Realty Firm Uses Sex Appeal To Sell Luxurious Homes; wfae.org) described a photo shoot of a luxury home where, …”a blonde in tight jeans arches her back and tips a wine glass to her glossy lips. Her date leans closer, admiring…”  But as Rose sates, “She's lovely, but she's not what you're supposed to be looking at…”  You’re supposed to be attracted to the kitchen features that seem to be a backdrop behind the model.  However, the real estate agent interviewed said that the idea was to give an idea of what the home’s potential could offer. 

Not all agents are on board with this technique, some have characterized the sexy advertising as “cheesy” and distasteful.  One agent was quoted by Rose as saying, “It's definitely gonna make someone stop and look at it. But once they're in the listing looking at the pictures, I think they're gonna focus a little more on the models rather than focusing on the home. And I think the bottom line is you want people to focus on the home.”

Sex appeal marketing is just a new take on selling a lifestyle.  Lifestyle marketing has been the cornerstone of luxury real estate for years.  For example, pairing fine art with luxury real estate has become commonplace; homes and condo projects have incorporated art collections to sell the lifestyle.  In fact, the premier art show, Art Basel, has become the focal point to not only sell fine art but high end real estate as well (Luxury Property Brokers Raring To Pounce On Wealthy Art Lovers At Miami Art Basel; November 28, 2013, Forbes.com).  And for gear heads who want their homes built around their supercars, Miami’s über luxury Porche Design Tower will open in 2016.

Want to convey a lifestyle about your home?  Before you hire models, consider talking to your agent about focusing on the things that made you enthusiastic and energized about your home.  Chances are that the buyer of your home will be attracted to it the way you once were.

Dan Krell is a Realtor® with RE/MAX All Pro in Rockville, MD. You can access more information at www.DanKrell.com.

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Relief and uncertainty in short sales

house real estateAlthough we’ve come a long way, the housing market is still feeling the effects of the financial and foreclosure crises.  Consider that the CoreLogic's October National Foreclosure Report (corelogic.com/about-us/news.aspx) indicated that there were 41,000 “completed foreclosures” (the total number of homes lost to foreclosure) during October, which is a 26.4 percent reduction of the 55,000 recorded during the same time last year; and about 65 percent lower than that of the peak during September 2010. 

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Get the lead out after the end of the year

house real estateBeginning January 1, if you own a rental property in Maryland that was built before 1978, you must register with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).  The new law extends the existing registration requirement for homes used as rental units built before 1950.  The registration fee is $30 per unit, and must be renewed annually prior to December 31st.

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