From The Desk Of Zack

Your ‘Code’ to Mobile Marketing Success

| By Michael Russer from Realtor.org

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a crop of young, willing, and able future buyers who seem to have their heads buried in their smartphones. Their phone is their world, but they prefer texting to talking. How can you get their interest — and their business?

QR Codes to the Rescue

QR (Quick Response) codes were invented in Japan by a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp. to help identify car parts. Once people recognized their flexibility of encoding links to the Web, they took off in Japan and other East Asian countries. (This is perhaps unsurprising, as mobile Web access is much more common in that part of the world than in the United States.) In fact, you will find QR codes plastered on billboards, signs, storefronts, and just about any place you look in all the major Japanese cities.

Think of the QR code as a two-dimensional barcode that can contain many different kinds of information and present that information in many different ways. QR codes can be read instantly from any number of free smartphone apps. The opportunities for real estate marketing are nearly endless since one of the main uses of QR Codes is to embed URLs that when scanned will take the phone user to wherever the URL was pointing (i.e. your Web site, listing detail information, etc.) They effectively turn anything they are printed on into an active and track-able hyperlink.

You can start your search for free QR code reader apps for your smartphone (by smartphone type) at these places:

There really are only two issues to consider when incorporating QR codes into your marketing:

  1. How to create them
  2. Where to place them for maximum exposure and impact.

Create QR Codes Instantly, for Free

If you do a Google search on “QR code generators,” you’ll find dozens of sites that will create them for you at no cost. My favorite is a site called BeeTagg QR Generator, which allows you to create any number of QR codes in different formats for free.

When you first land on this page, you can enter the URL of the page you want your code to go to and choose the type of code it generates. (Make sure you have the QR Code icon selected and uncheck “Optimize size.”) Then just hit the “Go” button, and you will instantly see your code with download options like this:

Now, this next part is very important. Of the six different download options shown, there are only two you will typically work with. Select Gif if you plan on placing the code on a Web page or e-mail, and Eps if you plan on using it in print.

GIF images are the smallest file sizes for this kind of image and are ideal for placement in Web pages. However, they are not good for print or other media because they don’t scale well. That is, they get blurry or pixelated if you try to blow them up beyond their original size and will become unreadable by the smartphone apps. The EPS file format is ideal for print media because it can scale to any size (including 16-foot billboards) without any loss of fidelity.

Where to Use QR Codes for Maximum Impact

In addition to placing a page-specific QR code on every page of your Web site, you can incorporate them into your marketing in many innovative ways. Here are just some ideas that came out of a recent brainstorming exercise for QR code use:

  • Put them on your sign riders pointing to your Web site with the details for that listing. (Note: Make sure the QR code on the sign rider is at least 10″ x 10″ so it can be scanned from the comfort of a prospect’s car.)
  • Publish a print ad with a QR code pointing to a YouTube video of you walking through your latest listing.
  • Put a QR code decal on your car that points to your Web site, or better yet, an irresistible offer on your Web site. (Again, make sure it is at least 10″ x 10″ so it can be scanned easily by other drivers.)
  • If it is winter, develop a QR code on the sign rider and link it to photos or a video of the house when the landscaping is in full bloom during spring or summer.
  • Sponsor a local team and put the QR code pointing to your Web site on their uniforms.
  • Give away T-shirts with QR codes on them that point to your site.
  • If you send out calendars each year, put a QR code pointing to your Web site on every page.
  • Conduct a QR code open-house “scavenger hunt.” Put a code in print or Web ad for a series of open houses where the code on each home maps you to the next one. Participants have to read them all to get to the prize at the final house — a great idea for a broker open tour.
  • Put a QR code pointing to your Web site on the back of your business card.

QR Code Best Practices

Now before you go all-out with QR codes and start plastering them on every available surface (digital or otherwise), here are some best practices that will help you get the most out of these little boxes:

  • Tell them what it is: Since QR codes are still very leading-edge in this country, it may be a good idea to provide additional info that explains to less technology-capable consumers just what they are. Here’s an example of what shows up on every page of my Web sites that include QR codes:

  • Just click on the link in the image above and see how it takes you to a page that fully explains what QR codes are and their benefits to the consumer.
  • Point to something worthwhile: Make sure that whatever your QR code points to provides real value to the consumer. Ideally, the landing page has a specific call to action and lead-capture mechanism.
  • Make sure your QR codes are readable: Make them big enough for the context they will be used. This means about 175 pixels x 175 pixels for Web pages and e-mail, 10″ x 10″ for outdoor use (sign riders and car decals), and huge for billboards. Test them on your own to ensure they work correctly.
  • Track your QR code traffic: You can easily track site traffic generated by visitors scanning QR codes. If you are using a basic Web analytics program, such as Google Analytics, it’s easy to track QR code traffic by adding a bit of text after the URL you’re pointing to before generating the code. Here’s an example:
  • The highlighted part of the URL was added before generating the code, and will separate the traffic coming in from that source. Your analytics package will show any traffic specifically coming from people scanning the QR codes in your print ads. There is nothing magic or special about the text that comes after “/?source=”; you can make it anything you want — just make sure there are no spaces and that it effectively describes where the code was embedded.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Is this thing really necessary for my business?” If you want to be a leader in your market and really catch the attention and business of up-and-coming buyers, then yes, it is.

Implementing QR codes is not about being a geek. It’s about staying up on things that matter to your customers and serving them in the way they expect. That’s more than a good technology or marketing strategy — it’s good business.


GEEK TIP: Here’s a quick shortcut you can use to place a QR code on any page of your Web site (with the code pointing to that page) just by including the following Javascript in your HTML code where you want the QR code to show up on the page:

<script id=”qr_code” src=”http://s3.amazonaws.com/dakno-qr/qr.js”; type=”text/javascript</script>

The resulting QR code will point to the page it’s on. Unless you are comfortable working with HTML code, it’s probably better to give this to your Web designer to implement.


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HUNTSVILLE MARKET CONTINUES TO GROW

Realtor.com. has released numbers of the top searched markets in AL and Huntsville along with other cities are making their way up the list. Huntsville ranked No. 143 among the most-searched real estate markets during May. Along with them were Metro Birmingham ranked at No. 105 and Mobile ranked at No. 108. While some big areas of AL such as Birmingham and Mobile are finding cash buyers & high priced luxury homes, it appears that Madison County is also seeing some increases slowly as well. With the tornadoes that hit the region we are seeing an increase in rentals right now while people rebuild. What is keeping the market growing though you wonder..

Well, lots of credit can go to the increase of residents from the BRAC moves. Read more on the apartment occupancies here.

Randall Griffin, the CEO of Corporate Offices Trust, states to all real estate investors after to talking to representatives in Washington, “Buy a lot in Huntsville!” He states that he bases his predictions on more military-related growth. He reports that the next round of BRAC-like actions is expected in 2015. As of March 23, 2011, more than 4,500 jobs have moved to Huntsville due to BRAC. It is estimated that by 2015, more than 20,000 jobs total will be moved to the Huntsville area through BRAC and BRAC-like actions. With these actions, the Von Braun Complex will add 800,000 sq. ft. to accommodate thousands more employees, the Redstone Arsenal is adding a 400,000 sq. ft. building for headquarters, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center is adding 1,841 acres on Redstone Arsenal, two hotels, numerous restaurants, grocery stores, and an amphitheater.

With the economy on the rise and more people moving in to the Huntsville area, the real estate market will be in high demand. “This year, Huntsville has already seen a 10% increase in the real estate market and proves to be on a more solid foundation,” says Van Wales, Operations Manager for Pearson Homes.

According to GoSection8.com, there are currently 146 tenant leads looking for various properties in the Madison County areas. According to the 2010 US Census Bureau, Alabama only has a 2.9% vacancy rate. The US Census Bureau also reports that Alabama has a 73.2% home ownership rate which is in the Top 10 in the nation.

Also, with the tornado victims in recovery and rebuilding many are looking for rental homes to be in now. Another good note is the sudden interested interest in a ‘safe room‘ in properties, especially in the areas hit the hardest from the tornados. A good note for any rehabbers out there . Adding a safe room could increase the value of the home, appeal to buyers in the area and help you to sell the property faster. Check out these articles on safe rooms :

 

 

 

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Zack’s Tip of the Week… What to Avoid in Real Estate Investing

I hope you have been getting alot out of these email I have been sending you. I know they are short, but I write when I have good idea and think about something I just went through.

Keep your eyes open for more great tips from me. . . .

For beginners, real estate investing is never a walk in the park. It has a lot of risks. There are numerous companies that sell property investments for novices but the question would strike you with the trust that they impose. This is a beginner’s investment guide for one to realize the things that he or she needs to say “no” to and what should be regarded as false reassurances.

Tip 1 – Scout the area

Before investing in a property, you must first asses the area. Does it have every inch of it being desirable for a family, a couple or an individual to live in or is it what your investor is looking for? For beginners, you must first try to settle on the ones that’s “safe”. Ignore those that have risks attached to it. Stick to the properties with good reputation. Areas having good reputations will not cover any mortgage therefore looking for an area where figures do stack up is more appropriate. You have to be very careful with individuals and companies who indulge in selling properties that looks ancient or having lots of deserted houses or was known to be an area having illegal activities like drug trafficking and so on. These kinds of properties are fine but if you don’t have any kind of background yet, stick to the safest areas offered.

Tip 2 – Trust no one

Ask yourself this – do I have the money to afford the property of my choice? Commissions come in huge packages. Individuals or companies have ways of creatively getting your attention and dodging you into agreeing with their offer. Some of the truths are hidden lies that often make you think that you can afford a particular property where in fact, it will lead you to bankruptcy. If you think you can’t afford the property, don’t accept the offer. Turn it down. You will have a certain gut feeling about this, rest assured. Don’t be easily swept with seemingly wise words and sweet nothings. Follow your own pace. However, pushing yourself to achieving your goals will lead you in achieving learning and development.

Tip 3 – Ask

Don’t be afraid to pop out a question especially for those who are saying so much. If an agent or a certain individual offers you something, ask the person if he or she has invested in the property that he or she is offering. If they have, then, it proves that the property is and will be a good investment. But if they haven’t invested in anything that they claim, pop another question. Sometimes, what companies and agents offer will speak for themselves. Think, if what they offer are so fantastic, then why haven’t they invested on it? Until they have satisfied your questions, might as well turn down the offer.

Tip 4 – Be on your guard

There are a lot of people who will go into such lengths such as fooling other people for their benefit. You shouldn’t be fooled by what companies claim about property masters or gurus for these may lure you into believing nothing. In real estate investing, you have to always be on your guard to avoid certain decisions that can lead you into a predicament.
Following these simple tips will definitely guide you into having a more profitable and risk-free deal. These tips will give you a head start.

Until Next Time,

Zack Childress
Real Estate Coach

www.AutomatedRealEtateSystems.com
www.REISuccessCoaching.com

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10 REASONS WHY TO HAVE A MENTOR

Many people remain on the fence about hooking up with a mentor or coach in their lives and their businesses. We have done some digging and found 10 great reasons why you should have a mentor.

1. The structure provides automatic accountability

We have found that our students often prepare for their meetings. They attack the assignments and have everything ready so that they can get the right answers when needed. The mentors and coaches help to keep them in check with their to-do list and on course.

2. They may ask you questions that you may never ask yourself

They say that two heads are better than one and they are right. Sometimes having that educated and well verse person in your corner helps when you are planning and attacking your goals. They can point out the things that you may have missed and ask you the questions that you don’t think to ask yourself.

3. You can learn to reflect

A mentor does not have an alternate agenda except to help get the most out of you. So you never have to worry about any other side-effects as you discuss your life and work issues. That in itself will let you open up and reflect on things at a level that you have never seen before.

4. Discover the “real” problem and get help to solve it

Sometimes we keep messing with symptoms rather than attacking the real problems. I have found time and again that I discuss a particular problem with my mentor and actually we end up solving the “real” problem. Solving the “real” problem will in turn solve the symptomatic problems that you first set out to solve.

5. You may escape from “short-term thinking

The mentor helps once again to keep you on track to your goals and help you get to them. They can assist you from viewing just the short term thinking like how to make the quick buck and actually work towards building your business.

6. Get a “responsible” alternate perspective

You may have other avenues where you can get alternate perspectives on a particular topic or issue. However, when a mentor provides an alternate perspective, there is a dose of responsibility that comes packaged with it. In other words, your mentor has a higher stake in the outcome than your peers and friends do.

7. Get into the “thinking” habit

Most often, you get carried away and practice “thinking on the go” – meaning you will think while you are engaged in doing something. Mentoring will put a stop to that and start you on a “thinking” path. I am sure none of us will argue on the importance of the need to think.

8. Get ready to welcome new possibilities

While everyone around you may be trying to “fix” things with you, your mentor will look at how you can capitalize on your strengths. Rarely can you claim to be aware of all your strengths. Even if you do, you may not be making the most of them. A mentor can work with you to ensure that you are spending most of your time in the areas of your strengths and also take care of other things (where you are not that good) by putting a suitable structure in place.

9. Learn to be in balance

Mahatma Gandhi said, “One man cannot do right in one department of life when he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.” While you may know this, chances are that you may be neglecting several other parts of your life. With your mentor’s help, you can be assured of living a more balanced life.

10. Get help to distinguish yourself in the marketplace

Unless you distinguish yourself, you will be part of the commodity crowd. Not doing anything about it will only erode your value in the marketplace. Distinguishing yourself is a journey and not a destination. What is special today will no longer be special tomorrow. Your mentor can act as a catalyst here to help you rise above the commodity crowd quickly. If you are smart and disciplined, with or without a mentor you may succeed. Why not increase your odds by engaging with a mentor?

 

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7 WAYS TO GENERATE LEADS AND MAKE MONEY USING FACEBOOK

A few years ago it was enough just to be on Facebook. That alone might have made you stand out. Nowadays, however, everyone–from your fiercest competition to your dear old Aunt Susie–is on the social networking giant, so it’s imperative that you maximize your presence. Here are seven ways to stand out among the sea of site users.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

1. Most of us have a profile page on Facebook but it shouldn’t end there. You should have a page for your business as well. Having a business page will allow your existing clients to stay in touch with you and also refer you more easily to their friends and family. In addition, people who are interviewing you to choose you as their business partner may also “check you out” on Facebook. It allows them to see you on a different level and connect with you more personally.

2. After you have created your business page, take the next step and create a page that is specific to a niche or specific target market or a specialty you service. For example, if you are experienced in working short sales, create a page like Knoxville Short Sales. On this page, post what is happening in the industry, the short sale process or learning about the HAFA program.

3. Invite your friends to “Like” your page. Once you have 25 friends, you can create a branded Facebook domain name. Just go to www.Facebook.com/Username to your name page. This will create an easy to remember name like www.Face-book.com/AvoidForeclosure

4. Once you have your page created, convert it to work like an additional website. Create a welcome page that looks and feels like your brand and your website strategy. Include clickable sections and calls to action that get the visitor over to the lead generation elements in your website. Include buttons like “Search Properties Now,” “Hot Property Alerts” or “Foreclosure Deals.” New friends or leads that you send to your Facebook page will land on this page first, which is why it can be a powerful lead generator for your website.

5. Now that you have your page and an easy-to-remember domain name, focus on “waving the flag” and driving traffic to your Facebook page. Add your Facebook domain name to every single marketing element you use in your business. Whether it’s your business card, postcards, listing flyer, magazine ad or your website, don’t forget to include it with your contact information.

6. Ever notice the ads on the right-hand side of Facebook and also how those ads seem to relate to you? This is target marketing in action. Run Facebook ads that drive traffic to your main site or specific landing pages that focus on lead capture. When running these ads, you can hyper focus down so those ads will only appear to those who share certain interests or in a certain age bracket or geographic area.

7. Track your lead generation and conversion stats on what works. When running ads on Facebook, you can see the percentages of “click troughs” and see which ads generate the most interest. Also look in the back end stats of your website and track how many hits are coming from Facebook. This will allow you to know where to focus and continue your marketing efforts.

– From Huntsville Realtor Magazine

 

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Foreclosures off 30% this year

By Zack Childress Real Estate Investor, Investing, Automated Real Estate Systems, Automated Wholesaling Systems

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — On the surface, the foreclosure crisis seems to be easing. The number of foreclosure notices filed during the first three months of 2011 fell 27% compared with the first quarter of 2010, according to a report from RealtyTrac released Thursday.

Only 681,000 properties got hit with some type of filing — a notice of default, a scheduled auction or a foreclosure sale — during the quarter, one for every 191 households.

There were 215,046 borrowers who lost their homes, down 17% year-over-year.

That improvement was in sharp contrast to other recent housing market metrics, with sales of existing and new homes very weak and home prices still sliding.

“The nation’s housing market continued to languish in the first quarter, even as foreclosure activity fell to a three-year low,” said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO.

The explanation for this contradiction is that the foreclosure improvement has been artificial, fueled by banks reacting to paperwork processing issues — the infamous “robo-signing” scandal — by cutting back on filings until they can clean up their procedures.

According to RealtyTrac spokesman Rick Sharga, without the cutback there would have been 900,000 filings during the quarter instead of 681,000. There would have been 280,000 to 300,000 bank repossessions instead of 215,000, he added.
Houses: What a million dollars buys

Fewer homes were repossessed even though banks are modifying fewer loans to make them more affordable. Hope Now, a coalition of servicers, community groups and mortgage investors working to stem foreclosures reported last week that its members had modified 87,000 loans in February compared with 110,000 in December 2010.

Hope Now’s director, Faith Schwartz, said fewer mods hardly means that the foreclosure crisis is clearing. “In the midst of all the disruptions, it’s difficult to pinpoint a trend,” she said.

The big positive that Schwartz cites is the significant month-over-month drops in both new foreclosures and in the number of borrowers who are 60 days or more late with payments. If fewer borrowers are entering the foreclosure process, fewer should eventually lose their homes.

On the other hand, said Schwartz, the severity of the delinquencies is increasing, with these borrowers falling 527 days past due, on average.

In New York and New Jersey, according to Sharga, it’s more than 800 days now between when a typical delinquent borrower first receives a notice of default to when the home goes to a sheriff’s sale.

“It’s likely that most of those are not making any mortgage payments” during that period, he said.

The drop in foreclosures is widespread. RealtyTrac reported that filings dropped in each of the 20 hardest-hit metro areas. Year-over-year declines reached as high as 59% in Cape Coral, Fla., for the quarter. Even in Las Vegas, ground zero for the mortgage meltdown over the past few years, filings fell 8%.

Nevada, Arizona and California continued to rank as the states with the highest foreclosure rates. They came in 1-2-3 both for the quarter and for the month of March. The Fourth Horseman of the Foreclosure Apocalypse, Florida, has dropped down in the standings, to eighth place for the quarter and ninth for the month.

Las Vegas is once again the highest ranked metro area in per-capita foreclosures. One of every 31 homes absorbed a filing during the quarter, about six times the national norm. Modesto, Calif. (one in 46), Stockton, Calif. (one in 47), Vallejo. Calif., and Phoenix (both one in 48) filled out the top five.

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Real Estate investing tip…

“Well, real estate is always good, as far as I’m concerned. “-Donald Trump

Keeping with what Mr. Trump stated, real estate investing is one the pillars of wealth creation in the world today. The last time I looked at the Forbes list of 400 richest Americans, I could still count over 31 Real estate tycoons listed as billionaires.

In the same vein, you have individuals in your city and state who have made their fortune and hold their wealth in real estate investments; however, before you begin investing in properties you need to understand these critical success factors….

Clarity is important

How you start depends on what you want to achieve:

  • Are you looking at wealth accumulation within a short time frame (3-7 years)?
  • Are you investing for the Long term (retirement)?
  • Do you want to be a Full-time investor and derive all your income from your real estate investments?

    Develop critical success traits

    The next thing that is important is you develop the success traits of a real estate investor.

    Five main traits are important for success:

    • Competency in your niche, this means you know about the basics of real estate, at the minimum. When you are good in the real estate niche you decide to invest.
    • Control over your emotions. This is important if you are going to stay in the arena for the long haul because there will always be difficulties in the real estate market. The difference between a novice and a professional is the ability to ride the eye of the tiger without getting into the belly of the tiger. Being a real estate investor takes guts and you need to have them if you want to become wealthy.
    • Comprehension. This means know your market cold. You understand who your customers are, what they are looking for, and why they want to deal with you. If you lack the key trait of insight into your market, you are doomed to fail
    • Consistency. This means you have focus and discipline to take action daily and weekly until you accomplish your goals.
    • Integrity. You stay true to your principles, because integrity is important in real estate. This means you are trustworthy to your bankers, investors, and tenants.

    Knowing enough vs. Knowing it all

    I think it’s important to have an understanding of real estate investing; however, you don’t need to know all about real estate investing to start. One thing that I think is important for an investor is to know enough about the basics. How to analyze properties, how to get financing, and how to assemble your real estate team. That is it.

    Let’s recap how to succeed in real estate investing…

    • You need to understand why you are investing in real estate.
    • You need to develop critical traits for success as a real estate investor.
    • You need to choose the right tactics to match your investing objectives.
    • You need to know enough about what you want to achieve

    This is how I have applied myself to real estate investing. Moreover, it has helped me transform my losses to wins. As a result, I have enjoyed positive cash flow from my properties.

    By: Bryan Holmes

     

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    ZackChildress.Com Reborn!

    Hey guys! Welcome to the brand new look to ZackChildress.com. Hold on tight because there is tons of new content flying your way!!!

    PrintShare/Bookmark

    Welcome To The New A.R.E.S. Site!

    Hey Everyone,

    I just want to thank each and every one of you guys for sticking around while we were building and redesigning this site. We have some awesome and amazing plans for this site! So welcome and take a look around! More information will be coming along!!

    Thanks!

    Zack Childress

    CEO OF HUNTSVILLE’S ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS ANSWERS 10 PRIME QUESTIONS ABOUT REAL ESTATE IN HUNTSVILLE & MADISON ALABAMA

    Found this inside the Huntsville Times Newspaper. Check out what this guy has to say about the development in Huntsville & Madison.

     

    HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — When Oscar Gonzales was named the CEO of the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors in 2008, he called Huntsville a “diamond in the rough” and “probably one of the bright spots in the country.”

    In the following three years, Gonzales has helped lead Huntsville’s real estate market through the uncertain economic times, adding to the belief that Huntsville is one of the nation’s foremost cities of its size.

    Gonzales is considered an “industry icon,” in the words of Broker Agent magazine. Realtor magazine has called him one of the 25 most influential people in real estate nationally.

    He’s the founder of Gonzales Group, a Houston-based business consulting firm focusing on multicultural marketing and business strategies for housing and related industries. His comments about the housing market have been published in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other national publications.

    Recently, Gonzales addressed some questions about the local real-estate market for BusinessFirst.

    During the last couple of years, the housing market has not been as robust as we are used to in Huntsville and Madison County. How does it look for the spring and summer?

    For spring and summer home sales looks promising. We have seen a consistent increase in home sales over the past year. Pending home sales are also on the rise which is a strong indicator of what actual sales will be in the next 30 to 60 days. We have experienced some months where the numbers appear to have fallen significantly by comparison. Those were the months where the home buying tax credit from the previous year influenced sales and skewed the numbers.

    There was an early overbuild of high-end housing based on the BRAC decision in 2005. Is there still a surplus of homes on the market?

    I wouldn’t say there is currently an over built high-end housing inventory. When you look at the pricing strata in any market, the higher-end segment tends to experience longer days on market by comparison. The key to managing housing inventory is knowing what the consumer wants, needs and expects in a home and keeping those dynamics in check before you build. The builders and Realtors in our area have done well in monitoring this.

    Are sales of existing homes improving now that buyers may be looking for bargains?

    Sales of existing home sales have been consistently improving but it’s not being driven by bargain house hunting: that doesn’t really drive our market. We have a sound housing market that doesn’t accommodate the “bargain market” dynamic like you see in some markets where foreclosures and short sales make up a majority of sales. Homes in Huntsville/Madison County have always been a bargain. You can get a lot of house for your money here and my colleagues around the country agree that’s the case in Huntsville … they’re just a little jealous.

    As new residents move here to take BRAC jobs, what effect is this having on the housing prices?

    Home prices are market driven. A home will sell for what the market will bear regardless of the inward or outward migration patterns you see in a community. In Huntsville/ Madison County our median home prices fluctuate seasonally rather than in reaction to the market changes. Our median home price growth has been steady and has not fluctuated wildly as we saw in markets like California, Nevada or Arizona.

    What is the average number of days on the market for a house? How has that changed in the last couple of years?

    We tend to hover around the 90-day mark but that changes based on time of year and demand. Within the city and county we see areas that experience shorter days on market than others which is influenced by multiple variables such as proximity to work and commute times, lifestyle, etc.

    What price range of homes are the most active?

    The $300,000 and below home pricing strata are the most active. Many families are astute enough to not live beyond their means. Many qualify for a higher-priced home but elect to not push the high end limit for several reasons such as maintaining a lifestyle and the overall uncertainty of the nation’s economic recovery.

    Has the tightening of credit affected home sales?

    Lending has become one of the bigger challenges of home buying. Data from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae show requirements to obtain conventional mortgages have been tightened, with the average credit score rising to about 760 in the current market from nearly 720 in 2007. For FHA loans the average credit score is around 700, up from just over 630 in 2007. Sales would be stronger if mortgage lending would return to the normal, safe standards that were in place a decade ago before the lax lending standards became the norm.

    What kind of new trends are you seeing in home construction in our area?

    Without a doubt homebuyers want a home that is energy efficient and earth friendly.

    Perhaps the most exciting and most important trend in home design is the increased sensitivity to the environment. I commend the builders in our area; they are in tune to this consumer expectation and for the most part exceed the minimum requirement for eco-friendly housing. Other trends we see are flexible floor plans, outdoor living space and accessible home design.

    We hear more people, especially young professionals, talking about wanting to live in or near downtown? Are there signs that point to new or existing areas being revitalized or redeveloped for those buyers?

    Absolutely. Community revitalization and redevelopment is one of the most exciting things to watch transpire in a community and I get to watch it unfold down the street from my office. The Five Points area and Blossomwood are two communities that immediately come to mind. They are undergoing revitalization which is being driven by young professionals and families who are creating a community that fits their lifestyle. They are accommodating “smart growth” which concentrates growth in compact walkable urban centers and advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use with a range of housing choices. Their actions can contribute significantly to the future economic well being of Huntsville’s downtown.

    In your opinion, what is the five-year outlook for housing in Huntsville?

    Our overall economy is bench marked against the housing industry both locally and nationally. Our market will continue to experience steady and solid growth and our median home prices will grow at a 1-2 percent increase per year, which is good for new arrivals to our area and for those folks that currently own a home. When home values grow steadily, new arrivals don’t experience over-inflated housing markets and current home owners preserve the equity they have in their homes: this helps to protect our most valuable investment.

    By Curtis Coghlan, The Huntsville Times

     

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