Turning Static Images into Strategic Profit

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the value of a product video could very well be worth a thousand leads. James McQuivey of Forrester Research says the value of a one-minute video is 1.8 million words. That’s the equivalent to 3,600 text pages. In other words, if you write an average of one page of text for the Web per hour, it would take you 150 days to achieve the impact of a one-minute video. Continue reading

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Residential Housing Off to a Slow Start in Fourth Quarter

Following a strong summer, the final quarter of 2016 has been weaker than the previous months for the Atlanta residential real estate industry. Fortunately, 2017 is looking mighty bright. The Cal-Culator, which rose 0.2 last month is staying stagnant at 7.7 as Atlanta saw decreases in home prices, sales and inventory. However, many positive predictions about 2017 is bringing optimism and confidence to buyers and sellers. Continue reading

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The Benefits of Work-Life Balance and Company Wellness Programs

Ping pong tables, telecommuting, gyms and yoga classes were foreign concepts in the workplace 50 years ago. So why, in today’s age, should you care so much about providing employees with a space that caters to employees’ health and wellness and offers a host of entertainment features to foster a better work-life balance? Today, a dedication to providing work-life balance is an absolute necessity for companies that want to grow and be a major player in their industry. Increased productivity, improved engagement and higher levels of satisfaction are just a few benefits derived from a healthy work-life balance. If you’re still not sold on blurring the lines between work and life, read below:

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Millennial Attraction

To attract and retain talent from the nation’s largest living generation, employers need to promote a strong corporate culture, which quite often is attributed to fostering a good work-life balance. According to Inc., the number one question millennials ask about when job hunting is a company’s culture, followed by perks and benefits. Forbes reports that employers who are most successful procuring and keeping millennial talent are those that promote a good work-life balance. Plus, offering work-life policies in your organization is one of the best ways to boost revenue. Why? If you don’t have a culture that fosters a good work-life balance, you may be looking at pricey turnover. The Center for American Progress found the average cost of employee turnover is 21 percent of an employee’s annual survey.

Productivity

Hopefully, most people know by now that sitting in front of a computer for the entire work day is not the way to optimize productivity. Productivity is a byproduct of a refreshed and energized brain. Most people simply don’t perform their best when they are stressed or fatigued. Offering work-life policies offers employees the support they need to be productive and thrive. Benefits include reduced stress, more energy, less time off from illness and improved morale. One study shows that employees who feel like they have a good work-life balance work an astonishing 21 percent harder while another study found that an effective work-life balance increased productivity by 10 percent.

Healthier, Happier Employees

Did you know that one-third of workers report high levels of stress? While it goes without saying that stress can reduce productivity and increase employee turnover, stress is also an extremely costly concern for business owners. For example, it’s been found healthcare expenditures are nearly 50 percent higher for workers who report high levels of stress. Furthermore, “insurance claims for stress related industrial accidents cost nearly twice as much as non-stress related industrial accidents.” By adding fitness and entertainment features to your office, you can reduce employees’ stress levels and reduce healthcare costs.

“In short, by having balance between employee’s professional and personal lives makes for a happier, healthier, and less stressed workforce since they’ll be less likely to get depressed, get sick, and develop serious medical conditions like a stroke or heart attack,” according to Inc. Promoting a healthy work-life balance for your employees can greatly impact your business. Companies that establish a reputation for promoting a work-life balance are very attractive to prospective employees. These companies tend to have employees who have greater loyalty and higher employee retention rates, which in the long run correlates to less time and money training employees.

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Cal-Culator Spikes Due to Positive News in Georgia’s Housing Industry

Last month’s Atlanta residential real estate index remained stagnant as a result of falling home sales coupled with rising home prices. This month, we’re excited to share that the Cal-Culator has risen .02 to a 7.7 triggered by positive news regarding delinquent home rates, home prices, construction spending and mortgage rates. Continue reading

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Southeast Mortgage Unveils New Corporate Headquarters Equipped with Progressive Work-Life Balance Amenities

Georgia’s largest non-bank lender, Southeast Mortgage, has unveiled the firm’s new transformative headquarters, located at 3575 Koger Boulevard in Duluth, Georgia. The 31,000-square-foot office space that boasts a host of work-life balance amenities exemplifies the firm’s culture and dedication to employee health and well-being, serves as a reflection of the firm’s commitment to clients and their trusted partners, and functions as a conduit to attract and retain talent. Continue reading

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The “Sort of Hot, Sort of Not” Atlanta Housing Market

Among last month’s positive and negative headlines about Atlanta and the nation’s housing markets, the one that may have best defined the Atlanta market, published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, read: “Odd housing market confounds buyers, agents.” The article went on to say, “metro Atlanta housing is an odd market these days: sort of hot, sort of not.” Because of this conundrum, defined by falling sales and high prices, the Cal-Culator, Atlanta’s residential real estate index, will remain at its last month ranking of 7.5. Continue reading

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Empowering Your Clients to Improve Their Credit Scores

As we’ve reported previously, poor credit is one of the major deterrents facing millennials as they embark on the journey to homeownership. NerdWallet found millennials cite “insufficient credit score or history” as their biggest obstacle to getting a mortgage. Of course, low credit scores don’t just affect millennials. Poor credit can be a challenge for every demographic, however, potential borrowers shouldn’t get discouraged. Though it’s ultimately the responsibility of the borrower to improve their credit score, an experienced, knowledgeable housing professional can play a powerful role by encouraging hopeful buyers and leading them in the right direction to make the necessary changes to improve their current credit situation. Continue reading

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Atlanta Real Estate Index Sports Small, but Significant, Increase

After a stagnant month in June for the Cal-Culator, the Atlanta residential real estate index has risen 0.1 to bring the index to a 7.5. Gains in supply, home prices and regional trends contributed to the increase. Continue reading

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What You Need to Know About Millennials and Homeownership

Rising rents across the country are becoming a challenge for residents with a growing number of renters, 50 percent, spending more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent – a number economists with The Wall Street Journal view as “financially burdensome.” Inflation-adjusted rents rose 7 percent from 2001 to 2014, while renter household incomes fell 9 percent, creating affordability challenges for many renters. More than 21 million households are burdened by how much they pay in rent, up from fewer than 15 million in 2001. Even Atlanta, a traditionally less expensive rental market than most cities, is squeezing out lower and middle class renters.

J.D. Crowe, President of Southeast Mortgage

J.D. Crowe, President of Southeast Mortgage

“We’re not the little city in the south anymore. It’s much more expensive, especially the rental market,” said Valerie Bernardo, director of housing for the city of Atlanta.

Despite the aforementioned rising rents, millennials are having a tough time converting to homeowners from renters. Curbed reported in March that first-time homebuyers make up 32 percent of all buyers, the lowest percentage since 1987. However, the majority of millennials want to buy a home, according to Fannie Mae, for financial reasons and lifestyle reasons.

There’s a huge opportunity right now for real estate professionals to appeal to millennials who are considering homeownership if they have a broad understanding of the market they are trying to break into and knowing what is potentially holding millennials back. Here’s what you should know:

It’s Not Just About Student Debt

Although we all keep hearing that student debt is the factor inhibiting millennials from receiving the keys to their castle considering the fact that student debt has sky rocketed 56 percent in the past 10 years – an average of nearly $29,000 per borrower. However, according to NerdWallet, student debt may not be the deciding factor holding millennials back from homeownership. In fact, data reflects that homeownership actually increases for each successive level of education, even if debt is increased.

Millennials can still qualify for loans if the debt isn’t insurmountable. Fannie Mae data shows over half of young renters have debts of less than $10,000. NerdWallet’s mortgage calculator arrived on a debt-to-income ratio for millennials of 37 percent, including property tax and homeowner’s insurance, which is just above the high end of the range that guides many lenders.

Strict Credit Score Requirements are a Major Deterrent

A third of millennials aren’t meeting the industry standard credit requirement of 620, according to NerdWallet. However, other financial factors are working in favor of millennials and other hopeful homeowners. Credit standards have been easing in recent years and have yet to tighten, despite rumors. Interest rates have remained roughly flat at historic lows and median mortgage payments in December were still $380 less, on average, than before the housing market’s collapse.

Millennials with less-than-perfect credit do in fact have options such as Federal Housing Administration loans that allow applicants who have lower credit scores and small down payments to qualify for a loan, and some lenders are offering conventional loans with 97 percent financing.

The Solution

Curbed said it best when sharing advice on how to help millennials achieve homeownership: “It’s better education and a real estate industry that does a better job of explaining the options available to Millennial homeowners.”In a Fannie Mae survey, nearly half of 18-34 year olds didn’t know what lenders expected of them and 73 percent were unaware of lower down-payment options.

“Millennials — and first-time homebuyers in general — should never just assume they can’t afford a home,” said NerdWallet Mortgage Manager, Chris Ling.

By taking the time to understand millennials’ homeownership challenges, and taking the time to educate them and address their concerns, you may find yourself with a new, large group of clients ready to sign.

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Housing Inventory Curbs Atlanta Housing Growth Despite Continued Gain in Home Sales

Thanks in part to single-family home sales’ biggest gain in 24 years, last month’s Atlanta residential real estate index rose 0.3 to 7.4. This month, the Atlanta market showed improvements in home sales and home prices. However, without the impressive record-shattering statistics and the lack of housing inventory, the Cal-Culator will remain stagnant for the month of June.

calculator june 2016Housing Areas That Could Use Improvement

On June 29, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published “It’s not just you, Atlanta’s home shortage is worst in nation,” revealing the city has the scarcest inventory of any major market in the U.S, resulting in higher prices and quicker sales. Atlanta counties’ housing inventory fluctuations range from a 25-percent decrease in inventory from May 2015 in Paulding County to a 4-percent decrease in Fulton County. Virgent Realty estimates Atlanta inventory is at a five-year low for active inventory on the market. However, one county’s inventory has actually risen 2.4 percent: Forsyth.

Housing Areas That Shined in June

The Atlanta Realtors Association’s most recent Market Brief found residential sales increased 3.4 percent from the previous year. Yearly price increases in Atlanta counties range between a 1.9 percent change in Cobb County to a much more staggering 15.7 percent in Paulding County.

“May sales results continue to show a healthy increase in both closed units and average sales price. Coupled with the April adjusted sales figures now reflecting a sales increase of 6.7 percent over the same time last year, the overall Atlanta market seems to be experiencing healthy growth and absorption of existing inventory,” said ARA President Lane McCormack.

National Association of Home Builder’s Housing Market Index increased a respectable four points in the South from May to June, while also increasing one point from the previous year. After the Western market, the South is leading the nation in market confidence. The HMI is based on a monthly survey of NAHB members designed to take the pulse of the single-family housing market. The survey asks respondents to rate market conditions for the sale of new homes at the present time and in the next six months as well as the traffic of prospective buyers of new homes.

Lastly, CoreLogic found foreclosures decreased 15.8 percent year over year and foreclosure inventory decreased 3 percent from March 2016 – representing 54 months of consecutive year-over-year declines.

“The recovery in home prices and improved labor market have contributed to the drop in seriously delinquent rates. Over the 12 months through April, the CoreLogic Home Price Index for the U.S. rose 6.2 percent and the labor market gained 2.6 million jobs,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic.

The next Cal-Culator will be released August 9, which will hopefully reflect positive movement after a month of stagnation.

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