Despite the continuous cycle that drives housing, there’s one commodity, arguably more valuable than any other, relentlessly in demand while in an ever-present glut. That’s information.

“As a real estate professional, if you are not helping consumers clear a path through this dense information jungle, you’re leading them — and your business — astray,” said Brett Johnson content expert with RISMedia Content Solutions.  The solution? Learn how to use high-quality content for four very specific strategic purposes. Here they are:

Earn Repeat and Referral Business. Maintaining relationships with past clients is key to repeat and referral business, but unless clients have demonstrated an interest in your services, engaging in follow-up conversations can be a challenge. You can make those conversations pertinent by sharing timely and topical information in a personally branded email.

“It doesn’t have to be all about real estate. Consider topics ranging from homeownership and health to pets and pop culture,” said Johnson.

Nurture Leads. Not every lead is ready to act in the next month, or even the next year, so it’s important for real estate professionals to have a system that maintains connections long-term. Ongoing communication is essential, but weekly market reports will mean little to those without an immediate need for your services.

A survey released by the NAR shows that real estate like-kind exchanges remain an important tool in the way that real estate professionals do business.

Like-kind exchanges, also known as Internal Revenue Code Section 1031, give individuals and businesses a tax deferment on gains after they get rid of one property, as long as the proceeds are reinvested in a similar property. These types of exchanges are available to individuals, partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies and trusts.

The 2015 Like-Kind Exchanges: Real Estate Market Perspectives Report found that NAR’s commercial and residential members believe these tax provisions are necessary for gaining and disposing properties, and helping to fuel the country’s economic and job growth.

The average real estate professional made $1900 less last year than in 2013 because home sales declined and Realtor membership increased. The 2015 National Association of Realtors Member Profile also found the average Realtor is older than ever.

“After gradually climbing for three consecutive years, the decline in existing-home sales in 2014 resulted in a slight reduction in business activity and income last year since home sales didn’t surpass year-over-year levels until October, which is likely the reason the typical member had 11 transactions last year versus 12 in 2013,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

“Slightly fewer transactions resulted in the median gross income of a Realtor falling to $45,800 from $47,700 in 2013,” he said.

Last year continued the recent trend of more new members to NAR. NAR membership at the end of 2014 stood at 1.1 million, up 5.5 percent from 2013. Although median years of experience in real estate remained at 12 years for the second straight year, more members (17 percent) reported they have been in the business for two years or less (13 percent in 2013).

As home prices rise, more homeowners are regaining equity. During the first quarter of 2015, about 254,000 properties regained equity, according to CoreLogic’s latest equity report.

That now brings the total number of residential properties with a mortgage that have equity to about 44.9 million — or 90 percent — by the end of the first quarter 2015.

Master bedroom walk-in-closets and laundry rooms are the top features that builders are most likely to include in a new home this year, according to a survey of builders conducted by the National Association of Home Builders.

“Both features speak to improving organization and storage characteristics of new homes,” according to NAHB on its Eye on Housing blog.

Greater energy efficiency amenities also were ranked higher, with low-E windows coming in No. 3 on the most likely amenity list on new homes. Energy Star-rated appliances and windows as well as a programmable thermostat also ranked high.

The following were ranked as the most likely features and amenities to be included on an average single-family home in 2015:

  • Walk-in closet in master bedroom
  • Laundry room
  • Low-E windows
  • Great room (kitchen/family room/living room)
  • Energy Star-rated windows
  • Ceiling height on the first floor of 9 feet or more
  • 2-car garage
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Granite countertop in the kitchen
  • Central island in the kitchen
  • Bathroom linen closet
  • Front porch

Many homeowners who have lingered on the sidelines for years are finally ready to stake a for sale sign in their yards, boding well for purchase activity for the remainder of the year. Sellers are encouraged by increased job and income growth, according to Fannie Mae’s most recent 2015 National Housing Survey.

The share of Americans surveyed who say now is a good time to sell reached a new high in the latest survey, increasing three percentage points to 52 percent. It’s the first time the metric had crossed the 50 percent threshold in the survey’s history.

The number of Americans who say they expect home rental prices to rise in the next 12 months also reached an all-time survey high, at 59 percent.

Jumping In

“With an increase in housing supply from those ready to sell, combined with higher rental cost expectations, more potential home buyers may be encouraged to leave the sidelines,” according to Fannie Mae’s survey.

The limited inventory of homes for sale that has plagued many markets has been putting upward pressure on home prices. It may also be signaling an increasing advantage to sellers. Also, renters are facing rising costs.

“Together, these results point to a healthier home purchase market, with more renters likely to find owning to be more cost-effective than renting and more sellers likely to put their homes on the market,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.

February 2013 (with updates through to 2015) — This entry discusses the Federal estate tax and certain changes brought about by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.


The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 ("American Taxpayer Relief Act") was signed into law by President Obama on January 2, 2013. The American Taxpayer Relief Act modified and made permanent certain provisions of prior Acts that dealt with the Federal estate tax: the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 ("EGTRRA"), which was set to expire on December 31, 2010, and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the "2010 Tax Act"), which extended and modified provisions of EGTRRA, and which was set to expire on December 31, 2012.

Beginning in 2002, EGTRRA gradually reduced the Federal estate tax rate and increased the amount of the Federal exclusion in steps. Under EGTRRA, in 2010, the Federal estate tax would have been repealed entirely. Under EGTRRA's "sunset" provisions, the pre-EGTRRA 55% estate tax rate and a $1 million exclusion were scheduled to return in 2011.

The 2010 Tax Act revived the Federal estate tax for decedents dying after December 31, 2009. However, the maximum tax rate was lower (35%) and the exclusion amount was higher ($5,000,000) than the amounts that would have been applied under the scheduled EGTRRA expiration. The $5 million basic exclusion is adjusted for inflation after 2011. These rates and exclusion amounts were scheduled to expire on December 31, 2012.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act provides for a maximum Federal estate tax rate of 40% for decedents dying after December 31, 2012, and continues the $5 million basic exclusion, plus inflation adjustments, for tax years after 2011. Unlike the prior laws, these rates and amounts are not scheduled to expire.

Although the following could apply anywhere along our open bays, marshlands and/or estuaries, we'll pretend it actually occurred along the Metedeconk.

The house and land were picturesque, material suitable for a New Jersey Shore vacation postcard.  The property was purchased in the late 1960's for cash.  The owners, now empty nesters, decided to sell and accordingly listed it with a local Realtor.  Soon thereafter an offer, sizeable in amount, was tendered and much to the delight of the sales agent involved it was accepted.  The closing process was expedited to accommodate the anxiousness of all parties involved especially the buyer who constantly had visions of parking his power boat next to the 16 foot dock extending into the Metedeconk.

And then the bad news arrived!