Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Keller Williams Realty Announces Numbers for 2010, Continued Growth During Real Estate Downturn

Company Launches eEdge Industry’s First Lead-To-Close Business Solution Today

AUSTIN, TEXAS (February 21, 2011)–Keller Williams Realty reported today at its national convention that it ended 2010 with 79,315 associates, 701 market centers (offices), and associate profit share up 7.2 percent, with its agents receiving $34.6 million dollars back. Since the inception of the profit sharing program, the company has given back over $304 million in earnings to its agents. Additionally, CEO Mark Willis shared in his annual State of the Company address to more than 8,000 convention attendees that, since the real estate market’s sharp downturn in 2005, the company has grown 30 percent in agents, 40 percent in market centers, 21 percent in closed units and 11 percent in closed GCI.

“Keller Williams agents have outpaced the market in every way, through productivity and profit share. As a company, we are better off now than we were before the shift–and we have our associates to thank for that," said Willis.

The growth of the company can be attributed to the growth of its agents. Agent productivity continued to rise with units closed up 6 percent from December 2009 to 2010, while comparably, the NAR membership as a whole went down in closed units 4.8 percent. Overall the company’s associates saw productivity year on year percentage increases across the board in listings taken (up 13 percent), contracts closed volume (up 9 percent) and contracts closed units (6 percent).

“These numbers are the most important to us because they are proof that our agents are succeeding, making more money and growing their businesses. They are truly breaking through," Willis added.

Willis also did the honors of “turning on" the industry’s firstcomplete lead-to-close business solution, eEdge, during his address. This unique tool is now available to every Keller Williams associate at a fraction of the cost they would normally pay with functionality to build their leads, database and sales. Additionally, with the company-wide paperless transaction system, consumers can expect a faster, more seamless closing process.

“We want to thank our associates and their unwavering commitment to the growth of their businesses and leading the way in the industry in technology," said Mary Tennant, president and COO of Keller Williams Realty. “Keller Williams Realty wouldn’t be forging ahead with such an important product like eEdge without the support of our agents and their vote!"

In addition to reporting positive growth and technological advancement, the company received many accolades in 2010 including:

· Entrepreneur magazine, No. 1 ranked real estate franchise on the 31st Annual Franchise 500 list

· J.D. Power and Associates, highest in overall satisfaction ratings from home buyers among the largest full-service real estate firms for the third year in a row

· Inman News, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board Gary Keller named one of the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Real Estate

· Training Magazine, highest ranking real estate franchise on the annual Training Top 125, #47 Overall

Source: http://www.kw.com/kw/pressrelease.html?pressReleaseId=183

Friday, February 18, 2011


Key Points for NAR External Communications

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) welcomes the Obama Administration’s call for an orderly transition from the current form of the secondary mortgage market to a new structure that would enable Americans to achieve affordable, sustainable mortgages. The Administration’s desire to engage stakeholders in any final plan is a positive step forward; NAR wants to serve on any advisory panel that will study the consolidation of federal incentives for housing. NAR has been representing the interests of homeowners for more than 100 years and our goal is to bring their interests into this debate as well. REALTORS® want to help design a secondary mortgage model that will serve homeowners today, and in the future, and ensure a strong housing market and full economic recovery.

A pillar of NAR’s GSE Recommendations is that there can be no restoration of the former secondary mortgage market with entities that take private profits and push losses onto the taxpayer. The new system must involve some government presence, outside of FHA, USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to ensure a continued flow of capital to housing markets during economic downturns when large lenders flee the housing market.

There are areas within the Administration’s plan that do not coincide with the recommendations set forth by NAR and its members. The following addresses the areas of concern to NAR, as well as those issues on which NAR and the Administration agree.

General Comments:

The housing and economic recoveries are still very fragile. Time is required for the housing sector to stabilize and recover before drastic, yet needed, changes are required. Many have indicated that it is their intention to “do no harm”, as a transition from significant government participation within the housing market takes place. Therefore NAR believes that:

Policy-makers and academics must put aside their political disdain for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and focus on the importance of the secondary mortgage market and the positive role it has played in enabling Americans to achieve sustainable homeownership and upward mobility in American society.

 Despite their obvious shortcomings and mistakes, the GSEs have long played positive and valuable roles in mortgage finance. It is important to remember those elements and preserve them in the mortgage finance system so future generations can enjoy the same advantages of predictable payments from a 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are going away; however, key elements of the role they played must remain in order for the U.S. to have an efficient and affordable reformed mortgage finance system.

Repeatedly indicating that the government’s participation in the housing market draws capital away from other, “more productive”, sectors precludes the fact that housing accounts for 15% of our Nation’s GDP, that 2.5 million jobs are generated when there are annualized home sales of 5 million, and that with every home purchase, up to $60,000 is pumped into the economy for furniture purchases, home improvements, and other related items.

 The proposed plans seem to foster policy that allows home prices to continue to decline due to reduced credit availability which is counter-productive economically.

NAR Concerns

Proposed GSE Reforms:

NAR’s Statement of Concern- Cutting back significantly on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s involvement in the mortgage market will (1) reduce housing access and affordability for those who are able to become homeowners (2) create higher profits for America’s big banks, (3) create more too big to fail banks, leading to greater consumer risk and taxpayer exposure, and (4) hurt the economy and hinder job creation and growth.

Ultimately winding down the GSEs – NAR has consistently indicated that the GSEs need to be reformed, and private capital brought back to the secondary market. However, REALTORS® believe that government participation is required in the secondary mortgage market to ensure the continual flow of mortgage capital to all markets in all economic conditions. Shuttering the GSEs without a mechanism for seamless government participation in the secondary market during economic downturns will increase the likelihood of a future housing finance system failure.

Proposed increase in down payment amount - Increased down payment requirements will place a burden on families in many markets, but especially high cost urban ones. Saving for the down payment has long been cited by survey results as one of the top barriers to home purchases. A ten percent down payment will be problematic for many first time buyers and even for repeat buyers relocating to higher cost markets from less expensive markets. This change, coupled with the proposed drop in FHA limits and the imposition of FHA income limits, will mean that first time home buyers in higher cost metro markets will have to pay significantly higher private capital costs or delay their purchases despite having the incomes necessary to carry the costs of a home purchase with a lower down payment FHA or conventional loan with adequate PMI.

Additionally, the eventual QRM thresholds will add an another barrier if LTV limits for QRMs are set above the affordable down payment level and lenders are unwilling or unable to offer conventional products that don’t meet the QRM test.

 Proposed decrease in loan limits - High cost areas will be negatively impacted as the cost of capital to the consumer will increase significantly. Though the experts have stated that the receding of government involvement in loans up to $729,500 will spur private capital to the market place, evidence to that effect is very limited. The current jumbo market is nearly non-existent due to the stringent constraints placed on potential home buyers by private capital.

Increased guarantee fees (g-fees) for the GSEs – Just as increased down payments will increase the cost of mortgage capital to credit worthy homebuyers, increasing g-fees will become an additional burden for potential home buyers. NAR has long pushed back on the GSEs and FHFA to reduce their risk-layering to encourage more lending. We understand that prudent underwriting is required; however, this over-correction has become more costly and is prohibiting consumers who can afford home payments from participating in the market. Any further risk layering will exacerbate qualified, credit worthy homebuyers’ inability to participate in the purchase money market.

Winding Down the GSEs Portfolio – NAR has advocated for reduced portfolios of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; however, full eradication should not be the goal for a new secondary market entity. Outside of using their portfolios to increase profits, both companies have used the portfolios to house product that cannot be securitized (e.g. multi-family loans and pilot project mortgages). Shuttering this important tool will rid the secondary market of an incubator to test innovative home purchase or refinance products, as well as prevent multi-family users from having access to affordable lending products.

Narrow Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) safe harbor - If the regulatory agencies establish a QRM that is significantly tighter than current credit standards, it would mean that millions of creditworthy borrowers would be deemed to be higher risk borrowers. As a result, they would be eligible only for mortgages with higher interest rates and fees and without the protections required by the statutory QRM framework that limit risky loan features. Additionally, a narrow QRM definition would prohibit many potential first-time homebuyers from buying a home if the definition includes an excessively high minimum down payment requirement, it would also adversely impact repeat buyers and refinancers if the QRM includes exceedingly high equity requirements.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


In some markets, sales were the worst ever these past few months—According to Case-Shiller the leading Real Estate think-tank: “While the composite housing prices are still above their spring 2009 lows, six markets—Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Portland (OR), Seattle and Tampa—hit their lowest levels since home prices started to fall in 2006 and 2007, meaning that average home prices in those markets have fallen beyond the recent lows seen in most other markets in the spring of 2009.”

This may make buyers a little lax. I can’t tell you how many times Connie Rice & Partners in Greenville, SC has heard: “We’re going to wait for the prices to go down even more..for the bottom of the market.” And if you’re a seller, your immediate reaction might be to hide like an ostrich for a while.

Greenville and the surrounding burbs of Simpsonville, Greer, Taylors and Travelers Rest are certainly included in this factor however Greenville County as a whole did not overinflate the way the above huge cities did. Oh sure we have our depreciation, but it’s much smaller than the horror stories you hear coming out of Florida and California. Our job growth is still in the black and we’re still seeing very qualified buyers coming for the best deals in decades.

But all may not be so negative—in fact, it might be just the opposite. For one, Case-Shiller numbers, when they come out, have a lag time of several months. So many things happen between those months. You’ll hear our Keller Williams agents and Connie Rice team say: “it’s a different market now even within the past few months.” Things change daily in this industry. And some positive things have happened.

For one, strong consumer holiday-shopping numbers. The stock market has risen some and the extension of the tax cuts have made some a little less nervous to spend their money. And, while unemployment is still a problem, there is some good jobs news as well. Huge businesses are staking their ground in Greenville and Laurens Counties. It’s a trickle, not a gush. But a little can go a long way.

It’s because of reasons like this—increased consumer confidence and slight lessening of fear—that we’re seeing some movement in the market. But some believe prices will go no farther down. That is not the case. We have not seen the bottom of the price points. But we HAVE seen the bottom of interest rates as low as they were in past years. The government can no longer artificially hold down the rates and expect to pay its astronomical debt. Part of it is psychological: If people see the financial and retail markets go up it can create more interest in buying more expensive items, like homes. It’s normal for a buyer to start rationalizing things this way: If the economy’s starting to improve, this house is going to wind up costing much more at some point. I’d better get in the door now, so I don’t miss the boat. Yes, you’d better. Because the rates will go up soon and that house you’re waiting on to drop the price will cost you more down the road because the interest will be higher. It’s a fact. Rates have gone up nearly a point in the past month alone and are trending upward with no end in sight.

Yes, there are still plenty of problems. Not just astronomical unemployment, a high number of foreclosures, a amazing amount of inventory on the market, especially in the 250K and higher range, mortgage rates that are anything but friendly. But these factors are THE sign to get off the fence and buy while the getting’s good!

For instance, when interest rates go up uniformly over time as they have been, people develop a bite-the-bullet mentality, thinking: “I’d better buy now even though they’re high, because it doesn’t seem like they’re going down any time soon.”

This mentality—of getting in before things move up—is something to strongly consider if you need to sell. Get your home ready and call a professional home inspection to address major problems that could be make or break deal breakers for buyers. And just as importantly, talk to our team and learn how Connie Rice and her team of expert and top Realtors can market your home best in this current market.

For you Buyers: Buying a home is an individual thing and very specific to your needs. We can’t say the time is right for everyone. But now is the time to check with our preferred lenders, talk to our team and learn how Connie Rice and her team of expert and top Realtors can market your home best in this current market. But for many buyers, a simple saying may very well hold true: Get in while the getting’s good.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

But I like THAT one! Why aren't we looking at IT??

Remember, we had that long discussion about what you couldn't live with or without and what you'd like to have? Well, I listened carefully. I heard what you said, and some of what you didn't say. And then I went out and searched for homes which specifically met your criteria. And I've been doing that since the first time we talked.

Some of the homes looked great when I found them online. Pictures can be very deceiving! It was only after I had previewed them, and really looked deeper, that I knew they didn't fit your needs or wants. The kitchen was in need of new appliances (you said you can't afford to buy new appliances), the closets were small (you said you needed at least one walk-in closet in the master ), there was wallpaper in many of the rooms (you said you didn't want to have to remove it),the back deck was in need of major repair (you said you didn't want to do any major repairs).

AND it's out of your price range. And there is no reason to show you a home which is more than you are approved for. I'm not going to risk getting my client into a home they can't afford. I promised I'd treat you no different than my own family. I don't want you to be house poor! And I'm not talking a little over, I'm talking waaay over. If I feel it's overpriced, and I can find comps to support a more reasonable offer price, AND it meets your criteria -- THEN I'll go ahead and show it to you. Otherwise, I'm not wasting anyone's time.

There's a host of reasons which took that home off the list, even if it's in your price range. My job, is to help you find a home which meets your needs and price range. I will not get you into the same situation that faces thousands of homeowners right now who are facing foreclosure. I can't ethically do that.

If you really want to see it, and IF it's in your price range we'll do it. And when you walk in the front door, look around and say, "No need to look at the whole house -- this isn't going to be the one.", instead of saying "I told you so", I'll show you the one that says, "Welcome home."