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Real Estate Forecast For 2019 Shows A Dip, But A Nice Rebound On Horizon With Still Low Loan Rates

real estate forecast

Despite all the uncertainty hovering over the economy, one real estate forecast for 2019 points to a silver lining for home sales this year and especially the following year.

One place where we like to review housing forecasts is the Mortgage Finance Forecast from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

After all, these people need to have their fingers on the pulse of the market as much as Realtors. If there aren’t many mortgages being underwritten, there ain’t going to be many home sales either.

But their outlook is promising.

Real estate forecast 2018 vs. 2019

For example this is how they see existing homes sales (including condos) per quarter for 2019 compared to 2018 (in thousands)

  • Q15,387 vs. 5,507 last year
  • Q2 5,553 vs. 5413
  • Q35,641 vs. 5,273
  • Q45,659 vs. 5,275 forecast, official tally not in

There’s an upturn predicted for EVERY quarter except for the first one.

The forecast for 2020 looks very promising, where sales are predicted to take off like one of Elan Musk’s rockets.

(Ironically, the innovator has plans to send his massive Space X rocket to Mars the first years of the next decade. Sure shows an optimistic spirit. That enthusiasm might just catch on, since we know much of the economy is driven psychologically. Just saying).

The 2020 forecast for Total Existing Homes Sales (in thousands) is very bullish.

  • Q1 – 5,701
  • Q2 – 5,732
  • Q3 – 5,707
  • Q4 – 5,722

See the bump. The MBA says home sales will be 5,387,000 these first few months but predicts growth upward to 5,701,000 in the same period in 2020.

That’s cause for optimism.

To sum it up, here’s the total forecast for existing home sales per year in the next few years:

  • 2018 – 5,367,000 
  • 2019 – 5,560,000
  • 2020 – 5,721,000
  • 2021 – 5,848,000

That’s a very nice picture indeed.

2019 mortgage rates will increase slightly, but are still incredibly low

The outlook for mortgage rates which affect home sales is optimistic as well.

In 2018, 30-year fixed mortgage rates ranged around the 4.5% rate and trended upward.

For 2019, here’s the prediction from the MBA:

  • Q1 – 4.8%
  • Q2 – 4.9%
  • Q3 – 5%
  • Q4 – 5%

For 2020, the mortgage economists predict a slight bump averaging 5.1%.

Sure, many people start to panic when they see mortgage rates increase.

However, when you put a 4.8% interest rate in perspective for the rate in the past 40 years, it’s still a blessing with a big “B” for home buyers.

According to Freddie Mac, in January 1982, mortgage rates for 30-year fixed home loans were as high as 17.5%.

Ouch. Talk about burdensome monthly payments.

For decades mortgages rates hovered in the 7% to 9% range.

They finally broke into the 3.8% range in 2012.

Show that chart to any Millennial who might be concerned about mortgage rates going up.

Just point out, folks, “you ain’t seen high mortgage rates” like we used to experience in the old days.

The mortgage and real estate industry probably need to do a concerted effort this year to remind consumers how these mortgage rates are still at bargain basement levels.

A few decades ago, this writer remembers when his father told him about the 4% mortgage rate he paid in the 1960s. Wow, did that sound incredible compared to the 10% rates that were prevalent at that time.

Who would have ever thought incredibly cheap rates would drop to those levels again?

But they have. Millennials weren’t around in the 60s so they don’t realize just how good they got it.

One role of a real estate professional is to remind them.

Learn about lead gen and other upgrades

Sure, the real estate business had a nice boom going for a few years. A slowdown is inevitable. The market ebbs and flows just like the tide.

The tide might go out a little in the next few months. But the loan experts who monitor and forecast the markets closely see improvements coming quickly thereafter.

According to the MBA, keep your eye on the immediate horizon toward mid-summer. The winds are going to be blowing favorably and those home sales are going to be picking up once again.

One more point – when things slow down, business people tend to pull back on their marketing efforts. But McGraw Hill once conducted a study that found those businesses that stepped up their marketing efforts in a downturn actually did better than those who buried their heads in the sand.

And when the economy recovered, those aggressive companies were already up to speed and able to go full throttle

If you want  input on some smart real estate and mortgage lead generation, social media and other marketing strategies for 2019, contact the experts at Home Junction.

We have a giant array of proven marketing tools that consumers want such as:

  • Home Value Widgets (Automated Valuation Models) and plug-ins that are very effective for lead generation)
  • Real Estate Data APIs that can supply a vast amount of hyper-local data from school information, school attendance zones, recent property sales, market trends, neighborhood demographics, local amenities and much more. Great fodder for social media posts.
  • Geo-spatial boundary information and mapping capabilities
  • WordPress real estate themes that are search-engine enhanced to optimize content and Google and Bing rankings
  • WordPress real estate plug-ins to add super features to any real estate website
  • MLS API services and feeds that are fast, accurate and updated regularly to provide the latest listing info
  • SEO services to help improve free organic rankings for targeted keywords

It costs nothing to speak with one of our experts. The phone number is 858-777-9533.

But that call to learn the latest advances in real estate technology could just be the difference that gives your firm a competitive edge in 2019, and puts you in a great position for the rebound predicted to come.

 

 

 

WordPress Real Estate Themes Can Help Your Website Stay Mobile-Fast And Google Friendly

wordpress real estate themes mobile

WordPress Real Estate Themes should get a quick look by brokers and agents for one simple reason.

Speed.

On the web, speed sells

For Google, speed is one of the critical factors that they will reward websites with better rankings for real estate related searches.

And where do you need to be speedy? Think mobile devices.

In recent blogs we talked about the big switch to mobile taking place in the webisphere.

According to BrightEdge research from last year, 57% of online traffic now happens on mobile devices – smartphones and tablets.

Only 43% is seen on traditional desktops.

For Realtors, they have to know mobile is big. When people are on the hunt for homes, they check their mobile devices regularly, even dozens of times a day.

Therefore if you want their business, and this is more than half the market, your website had better be mobile-friendly.

The text needs to be readable. Navigation needs to be easy to use. Images load correctly.

Not just on iPhones, but on Android phones. Not just on  cell phones, but on tablets too.

In previous blogs we mentioned this in detail and how WordPress Real Estate Themes are coded to be mobile friendly.

WordPress developers constantly provide updates so the software keeps current with mobile needs.

Therefore, the first goal of every broker and agent is to be sure their website is mobile-ready. If not, consider WordPress Real Estate Themes.

Before we go to the second goal, which is just as important, here’s a number to keep in mind.

That number is 3.

Because here’s the second challenge. Not only do you need a mobile-friendly website, it needs to load quickly.

In fact not just quick, but hyper-fast.

Here’s the reality – Google researchers found that on average a consumer will abandon a mobile page if it doesn’t load in around 3 seconds.

What they also found is that many major websites that you would think would have their mobile-act together, were taking way too long to load.

Google sees from their visitor data that this is how web users are surfing. So Google is putting on a big push for mobile speed and in fact, they are warning major companies they had better get their mobile act together.

For one, Google is rewarding fast mobile websites with higher rankings.

Don’t be deceived into thinking that if your desktop site is fast, your mobile website will also be fast.

These are two different animals and Google is treating them as such. In fact, Google reported in the past two years they have developed separate and specific algorithms just for mobile websites.

As we pointed out, since more traffic is now mobile, you don’t want to be left behind in that race.

Check your mobile website.

Here’s a tool from Google to see if your website is mobile-ready.

https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

Here’s a tool from Google to check out the Page Speed of your mobile website (and your desktop for that matter).

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

WordPress Real Estate Themes can help you be mobile-first

With Google’s new emphasis on mobile-first, it would be wise for brokers and agents to re-evaluate how they are going to keep up with this paradigm shift.

Many of you might think – “Geez, I just got my desktop website where I want it to be and now you tell me I have to focus on mobile.”

Yep. Well, we are not telling you this, Google is. (And most assuredly, so is Bing).

When you re-evaluate your Internet strategies, this might just be the time to take a look at WordPress Real Estate Themes.

The beauty of WordPress is that this platform is the leading content-management software in the world.

Nearly 30% of all business websites now use WordPress.

Secondly, experienced developers such as Home Junction already have pre-coded WordPress Real Estate Themes.

So you don’t have to build a real estate website with photo galleries, lead forms, listing pages, etc. As you may know, building a website from scratch can be costly and usually takes longer than anticipated.

Creating a WordPress real estate website can be done quickly.

WordPress real estate plugins instantly add great features

Next, because WordPress is open-sourced and so popular, there are literally tens of thousands of plug-ins (like Smartphone apps) out there to enhance a website.

Home Junction has developed a whole set of WordPress real estate plug-ins that are geared for home shoppers.

Those plug-ins include feeds for School Data, Recent Property Sales, Home Value Estimators and many others. All specifically made for Realtors.

In this technological era, things change. Fast.

Samsung just introduced a new foldable phone that looks like a regular smartphone…but then can be opened up to display a screen that is tablet size. (If you ever watched “Westworld” on HBO, you had to know these devices were coming).

Consider pre-coded, mobile-ready WordPress Real Estate Themes so you can keep up with these changes in the web world because these changes will be coming at you fast.

 

 

 

 

WordPress Realtor Sites Enable Agents To Quickly Optimize Photos Of Neighbhorhood Amenities

wordpress realtor sites images

WordPress Realtor sites can give brokers and agents a BIG EDGE when it comes to using neighborhoods to sell a home.

In a recent blog, we talked about how some agents are using the latest apps to help educate and persuade prospects about a particular community.

Using an Uber or Lyft app, agents are arranging for drivers to take prospects on a tour of a community, making sure they view all the top amenities.

A real estate agent shouldn’t take the chance that when potential buyers drive around a community, they will miss a key amenity, like a school or a park, that could influence their decision.

They are doing the same with apps such as Open Table to make reservations for prospects at popular local restaurants, to give them a flavor of the town.

After all, neighborhoods sell.

We also talked about being sure to tap into hyper-local public data providers such as Home Junction that gather and store massive amounts of information that is important to home buyers – school databases, market trends, graphs showing changes in home prices, demographics, boundaries, crime statistics, etc.

WordPress Realtor sites are best for uploading photos

But here’s another key fact- neighborhood images sell.

In addition to home listing images, why not add a bunch of photographs about key neighborhood amenities on your website?

And one of the best platforms to do this quickly and easily is with WordPress Realtor sites.

Why are WordPress Realtor sites such a big deal?

Three words – ease, speed and SEO (search engine optimization for rankings).

Let’s start with ease.

WordPress is the most popular web platform in the world.

Why? It’s not because it’s a big complicated thing like a Facebook or Amazon website.

It’s because it’s easy to use. No coding required. Ready right out of the box.

The platform was first designed to make it easy for the average person to start a blog.

All they had to do was sign up and they could start loading content.

Today, that sounds like a given. But when WordPress first started, it wasn’t.

As you can imagine, such an easy tool like this caught on like wildfire.

WordPress became so popular, that the developers decided to provide the basic coding in their platform for businesses.

Boom. Millions of business adopted this platform. Some of them include Bloomberg, Variety, MTV News, The New Yorker and Tech Crunch.

Naturally, something this popular and effective should be adopted by the real estate business as well.

That’s why companies such as Home Junction have created WordPress Realtor sites specifically for brokers and agents.

They can set up a broker or agent in just a week with a fancy real estate website with an incredible amount of bells and whistles – lead generation forms, massive photo galleries, neighborhood data, etc.

The beauty of a WordPress Realtor sites is that once they are set up, it’s easy for the broker or agent to add information. They don’t need a coder. A webmaster. They can do it all themselves.

Agents can upload new listings, photos, etc. with basically the same ease as loading a post on Facebook.

Load images quickly on WordPress Realtor sites

But back to selling the neighborhood.

With WordPress Realtor sites an agent can easily add a bunch of images on their website that sell the neighborhoods they are targeting.

Maybe XYZ neighborhood is located near an incredible park. Put those images up on the website.

Maybe the Happy Caddy Golf Course has a prestigious clubhouse. Put those images up on the website.

When talking to home buyers, don’t just send them a link to a property. Send them a link to a photo gallery showing all the neighborhood amenities. That’s powerful.

Research shows that when people look online for homes, they spend more than half their time looking at images.

Now let’s talk about speed.

Things change in neighborhoods. New schools get built. Cool restaurants open. Old retail areas are knocked down and replaced by exciting new stores.

All of these amenities are great tools to use.

With WordPress Realtor sites, a broker or agent can be one of the first in their marketplace to display photos about neighborhood changes.

Say a Whole Foods is under construction down the street. Take a photo. Put it up quickly on your WordPress Realtor site.

Blast a link to the page with that photo out on social media – Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Many,  many people are going to be interested in a new Whole Foods, Dick’s Sporting Goods store, or even a new yoga studio.

The big advantage here is that you are the first agent to get this information out to home buyers.

Its’ like being the local newspaper or TV station that breaks a story.

People are going to be interested in your particular social media posts more than others (which is not easy since 91% of agents report they use social media).

Let’s talk about SEO. If an agent keeps loading interesting posts about a neighborhood, that is going to attract the attention of people in that neighborhood.

Attracting people to your website gets the attention of Google and Bing. Their algorithms are set up to measure this. The thinking behind this strategy is that if this website is posting relevant information that is attracting visitors, then it must be a good website. Google and Bing will then reward that website with higher rankings.

It gets even more complicated.

Say for example a Whole Foods is opening up in your town. An agent posts some photos of the Whole Foods store under construction with some text about the new store. Google and Bing will index that story in their search engines.

When local people start to hear about this Whole Foods store opening up and they do a search on Google and Bing, guess whose website is going to show up higher in the Page 1 rankings? That’s right. That agent’s website.

Same goes for the Happy Caddy Golf Club. If many people visit those pages with those clubhouse images on there, then Google and Bing will push that website higher. Many of those visitors are likely prospects to move into that golf community. An agent has the advantage in that they are going to visit their website FIRST before any others.

Amazing how a few images can possibly result in a million dollar sale. (Conversely with listings, think about how you can show a seller how you market their golf course community better than others).

If an agent is able to do this on a regular basis, people are going keep looking at their posts for new updates. Over time, that’s going to give that agent top of mind awareness as the agent who knows the marketplace.

Talk about local knowledge.

As a broker or agent, you need all the help you can get in selling homes.

Use the easy image capabilities of a WordPress Realtor sites and put those pictures of neighborhood amenities working for you as well.

 

 

How Real Estate WordPress Themes Can Help You With Organic Versus Paid Rankings

real estate wordpress themesWhen it comes to appearing on the front page of Google (or Bing) the value of real estate WordPress themes is critical.

Here are the strategies to consider.

Some people may scoff at the value of ranking naturally on Google when a home buyer conducts a search (referred to as Organic Listings).

They might say, “Oh, that’s no big deal. I can just pay a few dollars for pay per click advertising and make my way right up to page one, no problem.”

Yet, there are issues with that way of thinking.

For one, a real estate broker or agent has to pay for that click. And as most people are finding out when buying the most desirable keywords, eg “homes for sale in (your town),” those clicks ain’t cheap.

This is why Google is a bazillion-dollar company that has literally ripped ad dollars right out of the pockets of all those local newspapers that used to dominate real estate marketing for so long.

In fact, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, only 1% of homeowners look at newspapers for properties. More than 50% look to the Internet and as know, about 90% of them use search.

And as you know, nowadays they can look at Google from their smartphone, their iPhone, their tablet, their laptop and even their watch.

Folks, this is where the action is. This is the battlefield for all those consumers. This is where the fish are swimming.

So how are you taking participating in this arena?

Pay per click ads? Sure, they work. They can also get you to the front page of Google the next day.

However, you seriously should consider a strategy to increase your organic rankings as well.

Why? Because research has shown that organic rankings deliver solid results.

In one study, it was shown that organic results were more than eight times more likely to be clicked than pay per click ads.

There are two reasons for this.

  1. Credibility – Google ranks a website based on a number of factors. Those factors include content, site speed, links to the site, relevance, etc. So when a real estate broker ranks high on Page One for certain search terms, many consumers know that this company must be a reliable source of the answers they are querying about.

That high ranking is a seal of approval from Google.

(To be real, Google’s search algorithms are not 100% reliable. That’s why many times you will see some dumb results for certain searches. In addition, there are still a bunch of what are referred to as “black hat” practitioners who try to manipulate rankings using strategies that Google has deemed to be in violation of their terms. Generally, those people make it to Page One rather quickly, but they generally don’t stay there. Google literally has an army of programmers sniffing out sites that try to game the system illegitimately).

  1. Consumers Now Know the Difference Between Organic and PPC – one issue in the early days of the web, including Google’s early days, was that it was difficult to determine which websites showed up in the natural organic rankings and which websites showed up based on the dollars they were paying per click.

Many a consumer dug into the rabbit hole of a pay per click advertisement thinking it was a natural ranking, only to find out the website was sketchy and trying all sorts of ways to manipulate them, like trying to capture their contact information for example. Many lead generation sites, that don’t actually offer a product or service but sell lead information, practice this strategy.

Google’s motto is “Do No Harm.” So they have gotten better at identifying their paid listings as paid. This is admirable since they are a public company beholden to shareholders.

In addition, consumers over the years have gotten better at identifying which listings are organically ranked and which ones are advertisements.

Here’s the point. Every real estate broker and agent should have some sort of organic strategy. That’s where a lot of the treasure is buried.

Real estate WordPress themes give you an edge

In this day and age, if you are going to be serious about organic rankings, you really should have a web platform that is one of the most popular and effective platforms for Google rankings.

That platform is WordPress.

WordPress was started as a simple way for bloggers to blog, and get their blogs to appear for web searches. It became so popular in fact, that the developers of WordPress created a version for business websites.

This is how the marketplace reacted. Just like everybody and their brother started working on apps once the iPhone was released, much of the same happened to WordPress.

Unlike the iPhone, WordPress is an open platform. That means developers are free to develop products for this platform. And they did. There are now thousands of themes and plugins for business people to choose from.

Many of them are excellent and can help you create a fantastic site without any custom coding and long time delays. But some are schlocky and poorly coded.

Home Junction is one of the reliable developers of real estate WordPress themes. The company didn’t start overnight and has a long track record of developing websites specifically for Realtors.

Brokers and agents can choose from real estate WordPress themes that really make home photos pop and provide easy navigation for visitors to find the information they want.

In addition, Home Junction has developed a slate of real estate-related plugins that can equip an agent with an incredible array of real estate market data, maps, home sale charts, boundaries and other features, all integrated into an MLS listing with their proprietary IDX applications.

WordPress coding is Google-friendly

Which brings us back to organic listings on Google.

If you are going to be serious about organic rankings, get out of that clunky old website.

Get into a website with the most user-friendly, search engine friendly design that makes it easy for a broker or agent to add keywords and content that they want to rank for on Google.

Sure, we get it. Perhaps you will never be able to rank in the top three for this keyword phrase “homes for sale in (my market).”

But with real estate WordPress themes, you have the ability to try different ranking strategies. With the right mix of keywords and content, perhaps you can rank in the top three spaces for “homes for sale in XYZ subdivision” which you are farming.

Or “equestrian homes for sales in (my market).”

The volume of search for those keywords might not be that high. But luckily, you are not selling wind chimes to these web searchers, you are selling homes in the range of $500,000 plus or minus. Just a few inquiries every month can yield incredibly big results.

We’re not dissing pay per click. Go ahead and buy that keyword phrase “equestrian homes for sale in (my market).”

But studies show you will do better with organic.

So don’t ignore organic, embrace it. In some form.

You can easily be on your way with one of the most Google-optimized content management systems in the world. With a site created specifically for marketing properties – a real estate WordPress themes from Home Junction.

 

WordPress Websites Give You Advantages When It Comes To Real Estate Lead Generation

real estate lead generationWhen it comes to real estate lead generation, hopefully you are not doing the following.

Somewhere buried on your website, is a little tiny box (or even worse) just a link, that says, “Sign up for our newsletter.”

No, no, no, no.

Let’s get real for a second when it comes to real estate lead generation.

Those email subscribers a broker or agent captures is one of their most valuable assets, if not the most valuable asset they own.

This is the digital age. People visit search engines looking for properties and then review real estate websites. The days of a hot prospect walking into an office are gone for the most part.

When that precious prospect visits a brokers or agent’s website, do everything you can to retain that connection. Start a relationship. And you can do that by capturing that prospect’s email (and contact information).

The key point is, there should be multiple points on an agent’s website for real estate lead generation.

One of the best platforms to maximize leads is a WordPress platform, the most advanced web platform in the world.

And the best way to optimize a WordPress platform is a company such as Home Junction that is experienced in creating websites with plenty of real estate lead generation features.

The big advantage of WordPress real estate websites is the ease in which lead capture forms can be added and moved around a site.

Real estate lead generation strategies

Here are some strategies provided by Home Junction that go beyond just the “Sign Up for the Newsletter” notice.

  1. Home Estimator Tool – Everybody loves this tool – it creates an opportunity for a homeowner to find out “how much is my home worth.” Who doesn’t want to know that? Now local agents can provide this tool just like the big national portals. Add an email capture box somewhere along the path for when a person uses the tool and checks out the value of their home.
  2. Save Favorite Listings – People come to the site. They search for the particular type of property they want to buy. They find several listings that match their criteria. Give them an opportunity to save their searches. (Remember, one important aspect of real estate lead generation is to offer something first to get something in return).
  3. Email Alerts – Offer to provide updates to prospects by integrating your IDX with your email list so that consumers can know when prices change on their favorite listings or when those properties are taken off the market.
  4. New Listings Notification – In addition, offer to provide prospects via email when your IDX detects new listings that match their search criteria.
  5. Social Sign-Ins – Allow prospects to sign onto your website and see the information they saved by using their Facebook or Google Plus accounts.
  6. Forced Registration – This option for brokers and agents allows them to require a web visitor to fill out a registration form before they can access pages or data. Maybe it’s to use the Home Estimator Tool, or its perhaps for some valuable real estate data (also provided by Home Junction) such as Recent Property Sales, School Data, Demographics, etc.
  7. Offer a Content Upgrade – another idea is to offer EXTRA content for an email signup. Again, real estate data providers such as Home Junction have access to tons of relevant content. Perhaps hold some of that precious content back and offer it in return for an email registration.
  8. Newsletter Subscriber – Offer to send them this valuable data on a regular basis if they become an email subscriber. (“Want Local Market Updates Every Month? Sign up here!”)

The best practice for real estate lead generation is to a) make it easy for people to enter their email without requiring them to answer a bunch of questions and b) make sure the real estate lead generation form is not an annoyance, but something that consumers want to fill out.

Everybody knows pop-ups are bothersome. So perhaps place an “exit” pop-up on the page that people will see only when they are about to leave the site.

Another option is to have an email registration box appear as the web visitor scrolls down the page.

It’s also very important to allay any privacy fears. Assure people you won’t be using their email for any other purpose or to sell to third parties.

Be sure to let people know how often they will receive an email if they do register.

And be sure to let them know how easy it is to unsubscribe.

Placement of the real estate lead generation box is key. Moving the signup box to the top of the page or on a popular data page can result in a big boost in email signups.

As we said, every signup is precious. These are your prospects. You worked hard to bring them to your website – either through advertising, or search rankings or your social media posts.

With a WordPress website, as we said, it’s easy to relocate the real estate lead generation forms on a page. Making a move that increases a 5% signup rate to 10% is huge. That’s DOUBLE the number of prospects you will generate by just making a simple design change (and WordPress is all about simplicity).

Design is another key factor

Experiment with the form. Take colors for example. Red and blue are effective colors for email signups. Move the text. Change the headline.

If you have a form on one page that is not performing well, maybe change the color. Again, if the registrations jump from 3% to 6% you just DOUBLED your real estate lead generation strategies for that page.

Again, this is easy to do with WordPress real estate websites.

Since the internet started back in the 1990s, there have been a ton of gimmicks that have come and gone.

But one of the tools that has remained a staple for successful real estate marketing is email. In fact, building an email subscriber list has become a top priority for most businesses in all types of categories.

By the same token, the competition to capture a visitor’s email is as intense as ever.

Don’t take this strategy for granted. Get the best platform for making changes to a website- WordPress. (Here are some additional ideas for increasing lead sign-up rates).

Hook up with an experienced WordPress web company such as Home Junction to get the most out of your real estate lead generation strategies.