Keith and Kinsey's Real Estate Update


New Brokerage – Great Rock Realty
March 23, 2013, 6:09 pm
Filed under: Business, Real Estate | Tags: , , ,

Great Rock Logo TallWe’ve been slacking on blog posting lately. That is because we’ve been swamped! I think the last 6 weeks have been our busiest ever, and in addition to that we started our own real estate brokerage. I (Keith) made the transition to Great Rock Realty 5 or 6 weeks ago in to get things started. Kinsey just transferred her license over on Friday.

Great Rock Realty is now officially open and ready for business! In fact, we’ve already got two properties under contract as Great Rock Realty. Our website isn’t quite done yet, but it should be ready in a couple more weeks.

Our clients probably won’t notice much of a change with this move since we’ve always been fairly independent, even while working other brokers. Our goal with the new business is to provide the same great service, help more buyers and sellers, donate more money to charity, and eventually bring on other quality agents to do the same.

You will continue to see our personal branding as Keith and Kinsey Real Estate. This has become our recognizable personal brand. Great Rock Realty will just replace the roll that Keller Williams had played for us in the past. So, don’t be surprised to see both logos on signs around town.

We will continue our charity program with 10% of our commissions going to the charity of our clients choice. As we add agents and grow our new business, we will also donate 10% of Great Rock Realty profits to charity.

It’s been a lot of work to get things set up, and we are excited and looking forward to this new challenge and adventure. Thanks to all of our clients, family, and friends who have been very supportive in this move.

On a side note… 6 weeks until the baby is expected! 🙂 We’ve got lots to get done!

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Choosing a Lender
January 9, 2013, 11:37 am
Filed under: Real Estate | Tags: , , , , , ,

Your lender will be one of the most important people involved in your real estate transaction choosing them wisely is important. Just like agents, not all people within one organization operate the same. One loan officer at your bank may be horrible to work with and another may be great.

I always suggest people start looking for a lender one of two ways:

  • Ask you real estate agent who they recommend? Realtors have worked with many different lenders, and they know who has done a good job in the past and who hasn’t.
  • Ask your friends who they recommend? Your friends, family, or coworkers who have been through the buying process may have worked with somebody they really liked (or didn’t like).

So, how do you know if this lender will be good to work with? Here’s a few things to look for and pay attention to when talking to a lender:

  • Responsiveness is a key necessity in a lender. I’ve worked with lenders who wouldn’t respond to their clients questions for 4 or 5 days. This makes the buyer feel extremely insecure and freaked out through the home buying process. Find someone who responds at least within 24 hours when you call or email them.
  • Knowledge is another must have trait of a good lender. There’s a million different loan programs out there, but after talking through your situation, your lender should be able to give you guidance on what loan program best meets your needs.
  • Honesty is extremely important too. Of course it’s tough to tell if somebody is being honest with you in the first conversation you have with them. Although, your lender should be able to give you general guidelines about closing costs, fees, and rates. If you ask them questions about these things and you start to get the used car salesman vibe, run away. No offense to car salesmen, but you know what I mean.
  • Deadlines within your real estate contract must be met by your lender. So, you want somebody that is prompt and organized to meet these deadlines. Usually if they fit all of the characteristics above, they’ll come through with your deadlines. Of course, there can be snags in underwriting that aren’t your lenders fault, but a good lender will advise of those potential snags ahead of time.
  • Local lenders tend to be better to work with. It usually feels like somebody cares more about what you need, when you can actually sit down face to face. People get loans all the time without ever meeting their lender, but it’s good to know you have the option. It’s much nicer not dealing with a national call center.

Lastly, there’s the question of should you go with a broker or a bank lender. There is definitely a place for both.

  • Bank (and credit union) lenders are usually great to work with for somebody who is in a strong financial position to buy, and they often have the best fees and rates. Shop around for the best rates and fees.
  • Mortgage Brokers on the other hand are great at figuring out how to get the deal done if somebody is border line on a loan. They have a full arsenal of loan options available to them, and can sometimes make loans work that bank lenders can’t. Their fees and rates can sometimes be a bit higher, but if you’re not willing to shop around, they do the shopping for you potentially saving time and money.

In summary, there’s a lot to think about when choosing a lender, but take your time, ask for referrals and make a good choice.  If you are in the Madison area, there are some great lenders that we recommend on our web page.



Setting Your Goals For 2013
December 30, 2012, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Business, Life | Tags: , , , , ,

Well, here we are at the end of another year! It’s a great time to look forward to the coming year and think about what you would like to accomplish in 2013. It’s also a great time to look back and see how you did on your 2012 goals.

If you aren’t a goal setter, I encourage you to try it. Goals are a great way to improve your life. The difficulty is most people don’t set goals in a way that force them to stick to them. Most people just have some rough ideas in their head of things they want to accomplish, and most of the time they never follow through. There are 5 key things that will help you follow through with your goals:

  1. Write it down. Without your goals in writing, they will simply slip away as ideas and dreams.
  2. Have someone hold you accountable. If you have a friend or family member that knows your goals ask them to check in on you occasionally to see how you are doing.
  3. Make it measurable. Without a way to measure your goal you don’t know when you achieved it. This is the difference between saying I want to lose weight, and I want to lose 10 lbs. The 10 lbs gives you something to go by.
  4. Give it a timeline. Without a date to achieve something by, you’re not pushed to make it happen. To add to item 3, you might say, I’m going to lose 10 lbs by the end of March.
  5. It must be realistic. Make goals that push you a bit, but make them realistic. For example if you are starting up a new side business, maybe making a $30,000 profit in your first year is achievable, but making a million is not. Setting an impossible goal will just end in discouragement.

If you read our year end summary you already know that we had many great accomplishments in 2012 and we met and exceeded most of our 2012 goals. There are only two goals that I failed at. One was running a half marathon, though I got close with an 11 mile run. The other was the number of volunteer or charity events we wanted to participate in. I could make lots of excuses like a foot pain that’s been driving me nuts, or just the simple lack of time due to moving, building a house, and a busy business.  …but in reality, it’s more just lack of planning and focus in those two areas, and that I can only blame on myself.

I’ll be honest, I’m having a bit of a hard time coming up with goals for 2013.  The main reason for this is because we have a baby on the way. I know this will drastically change our lives and time commitments. My primary goal is to be a great Dad and husband, but that’s a little hard to measure or put a timeline on (if anyone has ideas on that let me know).  So, I’m setting some goals in other areas of my life that I think are realistic and achievable, yet challenging with a new baby to come. Here’s a few:

  • Get my real estate broker’s license – This is a step above a licensed agent.  Every agent must work under a broker’s supervision. Ultimately this could lead to starting our own brokerage, we’ll see.
  • Match our sales volume of 2012 – We had a phenomenal 2012 with sales up 149% over 2011 (even though our goal was 25%).  So, I’ll be happy just to match last year!
  • Stay (get) fit – I’ll admit I was pretty up and down with my workouts in 2012. There were some weeks where I just never made it to the gym and others that I kicked some butt. So, I’m going to allow myself some up and down but shoot for an overall average. So, we’ll say run 200 miles for the year, and workout 100 times a year. That’s an average of 2 workouts a week and 3.8 miles per week.
  • Charity events –Whether it’s Salvation Army bell ringing, a day working on a Habitat for Humanity house, or a charity run, our goal is to participate in 8 events that benefit charities. This one we failed at last year (I think we did 5 or 6), but we’ll try to make it happen this year.

Post in the comments a few of your goals, and we’ll try to help hold you accountable! Have a great new year! Bring on 2013!



Giving Challenge – Commit to Charitable Giving
December 24, 2012, 11:25 am
Filed under: Business, Life, Money | Tags: , , , , ,

I love the Holidays, It’s a time of year when people seem to be happy to give and help others. In fact, we’ve rung bells for the Salvation Army at Millers & Sons Supermarket twice in the recent weeks, and I’ve been amazed at the generosity of people in our small town of Verona! Although, this spirit of giving, doesn’t always seem to continue year round.

At Keith & Kinsey Real Estate we’ve made the commitment to donate 10% of our commissions to the charity of our clients choice. We started the charity program in 2010 after the earthquake in Haiti, and it’s been a hit with our clients. It always makes us and our clients feel good to know that people get help as a result of every closing. Even so, sometimes it’s easy to loose site of the real spirit of things. My wife recently emailed me a picture of another real estate agent’s business card which said, I donate 10% to XYZ. For a split second my reaction was one of spite, thinking she copied us and used it to market herself. However, that initial reaction quickly turned to delight realizing, she copied us and more charities are getting more money! 🙂

I started thinking… What if more businesses did this? What if more individuals did this? Would it every be possible for charities to replace government programs? Could it lead to the cure of certain diseases? Could it help the next generation?

My point here is not to boast or market ourselves based on our charity program. Instead, I’d like to encourage others to make the same commitment in the coming years. I challenge you to commit a portion of your income to charity. Lets see if we can change the world together.

If you need help deciding what is a worth cause to give to, Charity Navigator is a great place to research charities. They have a rating system that is based on the efficiency and performance of each charity, and they show financial information for most charities.

Acts 20:35 It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you.

Luke 6:38 For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure.

Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will never want

Related posts:

Making a Difference Through Charity



How Does A Buyers Agent Get Paid?
December 10, 2012, 2:27 pm
Filed under: Real Estate | Tags: , , , , , ,

Many first time home buyers stay away from buyer’s agents because they think it will cost them money. Well, the opposite is really true; a buyer’s agent will likely save you money. How, you ask? Well, most often the buyer doesn’t pay the agent, and the buyer gets the benefits of an agent’s knowledge, expertise, and negotiating skills. See our post about the benefits of a buyer’s agent for more info on how they can help.

So, how does the buyer’s agent get paid? With the typical sale, a seller pays an agent to list the property for sale. Within the listing contract this listing broker says they will offer a specified percentage of their commission to a buyer’s agent, if there is one. So, the seller is paying a commission to the listing broker, and the listing broker is paying a commission to the buyer’s agent. This is the way most deals work.

Where the buyer needs to be careful is with FSBO’s (For Sale by Owner) and lower commission MLS deals. It’s becoming more and more common that FSBO sellers are willing to pay a buyer’s agent, but it needs to be written into the purchase contract. Also, many buyer agencies contracts will say that the buyer’s agent gets paid a percentage of the purchase price or the MLS offer of compensation (what the listing agent is offering), “whichever is greater”. When you sign a buyer’s agency agreement, make your agent cross out the “whichever is greater” portion. If you sign an agreement to pay the greatest of 3% or the MLS offer of compensation and the listing agent is only offering 2.5%, you as a buyer could be on the hook for the extra 0.5%. These instances are rare, but you need to be aware of them. We’ve actually never had a buyer pay us any portion of our commission out of their pocket.

As a buyer, having an agent work for you through a transaction rather than for the seller, at no cost to you, is a no brainer.



The Fiscal Cliff – How Does It Affect Real Estate?
November 28, 2012, 6:43 pm
Filed under: Income Property, Money, Real Estate | Tags: , , , , ,

There’s been a lot of discussion in the news about the fiscal cliff lately. In case you aren’t already familiar, the fiscal cliff is a combination of several laws which would result in tax increases and spending cuts starting in 2013. So, how does any of this relate to real estate?

The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 is one of the tax breaks that is set to expire at the end of the year. Generally, if debt is forgiven or canceled, this can be considered income to the borrower because it’s money they borrowed that they no longer have to pay back. So the borrower could be taxed on the amount of debt they were forgiven. This act excludes forgiven debt related to foreclosure, short sale, or loan modification of a primary residence from being taxable.

Even though the NAR (National Association of Realtors) is fighting hard to extend this act, I’m kind of torn on my opinion. Part of me says, we absolutely need to prevent people who have lost their home from being kicked while they are down and taxed on their debt forgiveness. Although, the other part of me says without this act we would have fewer people strategically foreclosing (walking away for convenience or part of their financial plan), which I don’t agree with. Maybe this act could be revised to provide incentives for short sales instead of foreclosures? This may prevent some strategic defaults while still helping those that are really trying to work with the banks.

Capital Gains Taxes are also set to increase from 15 to 20% on January 1st. I’m somewhat indifferent on this topic too. As real estate investors, lower capital gains taxes are beneficial for my wife and I in the long run. Although, I also understand the need for the government collect more than they spend, and I don’t think this is such a terrible place to squeeze more money out of tax payers. This will however, raise expenses for investors who are helping to revitalizing distressed properties, which could have a negative impact on a recovering market. So, I’d prefer to delay the increase a year or two or slowly raise it back to 20% over a period of a couple years.

The Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction is also a discussion item. Currently mortgage interest is a tax deductible item. Although, law makers are threatening to trim deductions allowed related to mortgage interest. Again the NAR is fighting to keep this tax deduction around. I think we all realize that this tax deduction is an incentive for home ownership and taking it away could slow (if not severely damage) the recovery of real estate markets. Although, I don’t think it would have much market affect if they set a lower maximum allowable deduction or eliminated the deduction for second homes. I’m probably the only Realtor and real estate investor that you will ever hear say this…  but I wouldn’t mind if this tax deduction was reduced over time and eventually disappeared. Why? because I don’t think our government should dole out rewards for having debt. Debt and the willingness of the American people to overspend is what got us in this mess to begin with.

What are your thoughts on the fiscal cliff? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts?

 



The Golden Rule – How Does It Relate In Business
November 15, 2012, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Business, Life, Real Estate | Tags: , , , ,

Most of you have heard of The Golden Rule; “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As far back as I can remember this rule has been engrained in my brain. I don’t know whether my parents taught it to me or if I learned it from a Sunday school teacher way back when, but it stems from Luke 6:31 and Mathew 7:12 of the Bible. Ironically our pastor spoke about this a couple weeks ago after I had written half this blog. In any case, I’ve discovered how useful the Golden Rule is in business, in life, and in relationships.

In real estate, and any business for that matter, challenges arise, and mistakes happen. Often when a complication arises in a business transaction somebody ends up getting pissed off, defensive, disrespectful, or blaming. I’ll admit I’ve been guilty myself a time or two. However, you’d be surprised at the number of times I’ve had another agent yell, cuss, or even hang up the phone on me (I can say I’ve never done that). That kind of reaction never solves anything.

I always try to put myself in the shoes of the person on the other side of the deal. I ask myself if I were them, what would I do? …and If I were them, what would I want me to do? After all, a transaction must work for the people on both sides, or you’re not going to reach a deal.

This thought process not only helps a lot with the respect factor, it can also help with negotiations. You can negotiate hard while still being respectful, and treating others how you expect to be treated. In fact, if you can be friendly, helpful, and find out what the other party really needs it will almost always result in a better deal.

In other respects treat your clients how you would want to be treated as a client too. The reason most businesses fail is because they don’t meet the needs of the customer. A business is profitable when their product or service is valuable to the consumer. Provide your clients with the service or product you would expect and your business will be perceived as valuable.

This golden rule works well for our real estate sales business, our rental business, our marriage, and life in general. It’s Gods rule and words to live by. It’s not about you, it’s about others. The rule of business is the same as life and the path to success requires you treat others the way you wish to be treated. Doing the right thing is the key to integrity.