Prepare to see a lot more green in 2017—and not the kind you get from a scratch-off.

Pantone recently revealed next year's Color of the Year, a "zesty" yellow-green named—what else?—Greenery. The hue, which immediately brings to mind The Land Before Time, will crop up in home decor and housewares, from accents and furniture to paint.

The "refreshing and revitalizing shade," as Pantone's color experts describe, "is symbolic of new beginnings," as in capping off—let's just say it—a crazy year. The experts also tout it as "life-affirming, emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality." And dinos.

As we enter 2017, many REALTORS® will start to examine how to increase their sales and productivity in the new year. For many, this means upgrading their real estate website or switching to a new website provider. However, this isn't 1999, and having a large online presence doesn't come overnight. We'll examine the best routes to having a great internet presence and the realistic timeframes and expense you can expect. When we talk about online presence, this article is about organic rankings and not about social media presence.

Caveat before we begin: if you are going to try and compete in the online game in 2017, you must be 100 percent committed to it. Anything less will not cut it. If you don't have time to be 100 percent committed to building your online presence, you might as well stop reading now and try and figure out a different approach to building your business.

If you're still with me, keep reading...

In real estate, agents focus on stories. Whether it’s the seller’s memories in their old home or the buyer’s hopeful dreams in their new one, agents use these emotions to connect with their clients. While Instagram was once thought to be a social network that was only for pictures of fancy food and artful lattes, 85 percent of top brands now have profiles, and 60 percent of the 400 million active users log in each day, making it the second most-engaged social network second only to Facebook.

When Instagram released major updates back in August, users were introduced to Stories, a photo-sharing opportunity similar to Snapchat. Stories allows users to create a string of pictures and videos viewable to their followers for 24 hours. With the popularity of Stories increasing, Instagram has created additional features to make the platform even more unique.

1. Include links to other pages.
In the real estate world, arguably, the most important update is the addition of website links to a picture or video in the Stories feed. When it’s launched, this feature will only be available for verified accounts, meaning those owned by popular public figures, brands, or celebrities. However, it’s important to know about so you’ll be ready when it’s rolled out to all users. By giving viewers access to a URL, posters are able to direct their followers to a specific landing page. Plus, your images won’t be cluttered, since the link will only appear if users click “see more” at the bottom of the screen.

Housing markets in the U.S. overall continue to progress, supporting the best year in homes sales in a decade, as indicated by Freddie Mac’s Multi-Indicator Market Index® (MiMi®) value, which stands at 86—a market on the “outer edge of its historic benchmark range of housing activity.” The MiMi value, which has climbed back up 45 percent since its all-time low in 2010, is still trailing its high of 121.7.

“The National MiMi stands at 86, a 5.6 percent year-over-year increase, but still below its historic benchmark normalized to 100,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac deputy chief economist. “The purchase applications indicator is up nearly 19 percent from last year, indicating strong housing demand and a market that’s poised to close out the best year in home sales in a decade.

“National home prices have surpassed their pre-recession nominal peak with about half of states still below their pre-recession peak,” Kiefer continues. “Factoring in low mortgage rates and modest income gains, house prices still have some room to run, as indicated by the MiMi payment-to-income indicator which is nearly 33 percent below its historic benchmark.”

Mortgage loan originations have risen just shy of 1 percent since this time last year, totaling over 1.9 million to a $502 billion dollar volume in the third quarter, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q3 2016 U.S. Residential Property Loan Origination Report. In response the election outcome, and subsequent rate increases, refinance originations grew 16 percent, while purchase originations shrunk 11 percent, as well as HELOC originations, down 6 percent.

“The nominal increase in overall originations compared to a year ago masks divergent refinance and purchase loan origination trends during the quarter,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. "Refinance originations increased 16 percent compared to a year ago while purchase originations were down 11 percent and home equity lines of credit (HELOC) originations were down 6 percent. Uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the presidential election may have kept some would-be homebuyers on the sidelines while the prospect of rising interest rates following the election may have prompted many homeowners to refinance to lock in low interest rates.”

2017 promises to be an interesting year in real estate. Facing the millennial effect, interest rate questions and economic changes, it’s important for REALTORS® to devote time investigating both their state and local real estate trends, as well as the national factors, determining 2017. Below are four promising trends that will shape the market this upcoming year.

Millennials Rising from the Basements
As millennials get older, they are increasing homeownership rates faster than in previous years, according to research from Fannie Mae. Millennials have overtaken baby boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. and many of them entered their post-college years during one of the toughest economic periods in decades. For years we have heard the joke about the number of them living at home with their parents. For a while this was true, but the economy has improved now and with jobs seemingly more abundant, millennials are coming to the real estate market.

Distressed sales - including bank-owned (REO) sales, sales of homes actively in foreclosure, and short sales - accounted for 12.9 percent of all U.S. single-family home and condo sales in Q3 2016. According to ATTOM Data Solutions' Q3 2016 U.S. Home Sales Report, these numbers are down from 15 percent in the previous quarter and down from 15.9 percent in Q3 2015 to the lowest share of distressed home sales since Q3 2007, when distressed sales accounted for 12.3 percent of all home sales.

The peak in share of distressed sales was Q1 2009 at 43.9 percent of all U.S. single-family home and condo sales.

The report also shows that all-cash purchases accounted for 25.9 percent of all single-family home and condo sales in Q3 2016, down from 27.4 percent in the previous quarter and down from 29.2 percent in Q3 2015 to the lowest level since Q3 2007, when all-cash purchases accounted for 24.3 percent of all home sales.

Signs of improvement continue in the national mortgage market, with the second quarter of this year ushering in the highest year-to-year growth in near and subprime originations and the third quarter seeing delinquency rates fall, according to TransUnion’s recently released Industry Insights Report.

Originations overall, the Report shows, grew to 1.99 million in the second quarter of this year, up 3.7 percent from last year. Near prime originations grew to over 262,000 in the second quarter, up 5.7 percent to its highest level since the recession, while subprime originations grew to approximately 64,000, up 10.9 percent. The delinquency rate (60 days past-due) dropped by 8.4 percent in the third quarter.

According to a recent survey of U.S. millennials, SMS, or text messaging, is the obvious choice for customer engagement, with texting cited as the most preferred communication channel for receiving notifications from businesses. While 72 percent of millennials note they text 10 or more times a day and 31 percent cite they text more than 50 times a day, the leading factor in millennials' preferences for texting is its ability for two-way communication with businesses, an aspect which provides convenience, speed and ease of use.

OpenMarket, a leader in enterprise mobile engagement, polled 500 U.S. millennials, ages 18-34, on their use of SMS communications with businesses, with a focus on two-way texting capabilities. The research aimed to understand not only what communication method millennials prefer—SMS—but also why and how they're utilizing the channel with businesses. The results revealed that the mobile-friendly age group is highly accessible to businesses through SMS, with over 83 percent of millennials polled citing they open a text within 90 seconds of receiving it. In addition, 60 percent of millennials want to be able to text their preferred businesses, but currently they're only receiving five or fewer messages a week from companies, with 20 percent noting they don't receive any texts from businesses at all.

A bill proposed in Trenton (No. A4305) would require soil testing to determine lead content prior to certain home sales.

Excerpt from the Statement on the bill:

This bill requires that sales contracts for individual lots of residential property include a requirement for the seller to conduct a soil test to determine lead content. The requirement only applies to the sale of individual lots of at least 2,500 square feet of pervious outdoor space, and so long as the seller is not a board of education, county, municipality, or other agency derived thereunder. For properties under this bill's jurisdiction, closing of title on the sale shall not occur unless the buyer and seller each have received and signed either (1) a copy of the soil test results, (2) a certification that the soil test results have been delivered to a certified soil testing laboratory, and results are pending, or (3) a certification that the buyer is opting out of soil lead testing.