SOTM 35: Is Now the Time to Buy Real Estate?

January 29, 2020
With interest rates hitting their lowest point in years, is 2020 the time to lock in a new 30-year mortgage? On today’s show, we compare current loan rates with the relatively high price of homes on the market and discuss whether or not it makes sense to buy. We also share tips on video marketing, talk about how texting has changed customer service, and cover takeaways from this year’s Inman Connect.
Listen to today’s show and learn:
  • Is now the time to buy? [1:26]
  • Builders’ confidence reaches an all-time high [4:27]
  • Advice on video marketing [5:39]
  • How to personalize video for real estate clients [14:30]
  • How customer service has changed [15:50]
  • One Realtor’s off-color comments on the death of Kobe Bryant [17:20]
  • Takeaways from Inman Connect [21:44]
  • How to break through your goals.
  • Plus so much more.
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Paul: Real Estate Rockstars, welcome to the State of the Market. I’m here today with Scott Cotto. Scott Cotto is an office manager so he has that experience, a few years as an office manager, but also has a real estate team that did up to 125 yields a year. He got a lot of experience with us today on State of the Market. One of the things on everybody’s mind, of course, is, “Hey, it’s 2020. Is now a good time to buy a house?”

Scott Cotto: It’s a great question. I think it depends, but in general, absolutely, especially depending on who you follow, what economists, they’re saying that interest rates are still going to stay 30-year fixed, below 4%.

Paul: Right. One of the things we see, I like that you to say it depends because they’re like, “Hey, we need a one-handed economist,” because they go, “Oh, well, on the one hand, and they sell us great stuff, but on the other.” How do we figure that out? One of the things we did is we looked at about six of the top forecasters for the real estate market. One of the things I did was look back and see, “Hey, how did these folks do forecasting before?” The answer’s like, “Uh, pretty good.”

Generally, people started off very optimistic in the beginning and then it kind of tapers off. We’ve been seeing that for years. Things are looking pretty strong with all of the folks, all of the experts saying that Federal Reserve’s going to keep things light and not overheated. The world banks have all been reducing their rates so the likelihood is that rates will stay under 4%. I’ve been seeing forecasts between 3.6% at the low end and 3.85%.

Scott: That’s right. Then in addition to that, change in home prices they’re saying as high as 4.1% in increase and as low as– Some speculations have it at 1.5%. Again, still a healthy market.

Paul: Yes, still a healthy market. One of the things too, and I like when you said it depends, it really depends on everybody is always going to need to buy and sell homes. You’re going to have divorces, you’re going to have people change jobs, that sort of thing, but definitely, these sorts of things are going to have an impact for sure.

Scott: Absolutely. One other comment, Paul, I wanted to make too. They’re talking about the low interest rates will also continue to encourage renters to pursue homeownership. There’s a lot of renters out there and as long as the rates stay below 4% I think we’re always going to have the demand. The question is, is are we going to have the supply?

Paul: Right. At the end of the day, people are buying– They’re buying a payment, right? There’s two things that make out a payment. One is the interest rates and the other is the housing prices. We’ll see a little modest increase in housing prices, but then again, we’ve got the lowest interest rates in history and quotes I was giving you before were really 30-year fixed. That’s a big deal for sure.

That’s pretty much the outlook. One of the other things we can talk about is housing starts and they’re predicting a real steady flow of housing starts still, not overblown. It’s going to create a lot more inventory, but we do see more people chasing less inventory. People are staying in their homes longer. There is a little bit compressed rate of the inventory.

Scott: Another interesting point, if I could add to that, they said the builders’ confidence has reached an all-time high since 1999. The housing starts like you mentioned and permitting activities continue to increase, which is another good sign.

Paul: Right. I think all in all, to wrap it up, we are looking at some modest housing price increases. We’re looking at a good steady flow of sales and interest rates will remain low. I would say, yes, if you need to buy, 2020 is a good time to buy for sure.

Scott: Agree.

Paul: One of the things I’m glad we have Scott with us because Scott, I’m always looking at what are people’s superpowers. One of Scott’s superpowers is marketing. When I look in the news, I see everybody is talking about marketing. One of the things is that it goes without saying the new trend, a new trend. If you’re not doing video, you’re lost. Now, I know you do a lot of videos. Tell me about doing video.

Scott: Wow, video. Where should I start? I think I like to follow Tom Ferry and he’s saying video’s the way. If you’re not doing it now, you’re already behind the eight ball. Statistically, I think there’s probably about less than 10% of us agent-wise who are actually shooting video content. I’ll take it down– I started out just doing a lot of Instagram stories, just as we talked about telling our story, sharing our story with the world, and then that translated into systems and processes with how we follow up with our leads or agents or clients shooting videos.

I think people want to see the authenticity. They want to judge you. They want to comment, they want to see your professionalism, your mannerism, your appearance, how you style your hair. Before they even get to see you, they’ve already know who you are and they’ve already decided that they want to do business if they set the appointment with you. Then you could go into all kinds of videos. We do all client appreciation parties. We document all of that through video and then we tell a story through it which attracts a specific audience and attracts more business opportunities for us still.

Paul: One of the things, I like to give our listeners to take away and that’s just this. It’s very basic and that is .1 I would say is just do it. We were joking about it a little before we started and that is it’s like, “Hey, bad video is better than no video.”

Scott: That’s right.

Paul: Like, “Hey, just shoot that video.” Another thing is I started videos by doing using a company called BombBomb. One of the things about that is it’s allowing me to shoot individual videos. Instead of shooting these big production, “Hey, here’s a commercial thing,” it’s a quick BombBomb, it’s got my logo on it. I’m like, “Hey, Scott, I really appreciate your hard work on this one thing,” or if you’re setting out to a client, you’ve been working on congratulations on that home purchase, that sort of thing. Individualized, “Hey, happy birthday.” Individualized videos. You just shoot them one after the other after the other and definitely, definitely, not perfect, man. I never do it a Take 2 on that. Never. [crosstalk]

Scott: I’m glad you brought that up. That’s the best piece of advice that someone gave me was, “Shoot the video, don’t watch it, and just push send.” That’s it because the damage going to shows the authenticity. It humanizes us and if we make a mistake and we trip over our words, they go, “You know what? I can relate to that.”

Paul: Absolutely. One of the things that, again, was a tip that you were giving me because I do these wealth-building videos and I go into the studio. I’ve got the green screen, I’ve got the professional and it looks really good. I’m like, “Hey, I want high production value. I want it to look good. I want it to sound good. It’s edited.” I may stumble on my words a little bit, but people relate. To pull out the iPhone, “Hey, it’s Paul Morris. I’ve got some advice for you today, and this is another real key to really any outgoing messaging.” That’s making it about them. Don’t make it about you. Nobody’s interested. “Hey, I’m Paul Morris. I’m a great realtor. I’m going to do X, Y and Z.”

No, it’s got to be about, “Hey, did you guys know that Topanga has the chili cook-off this year and they’ve got two bands that are playing and it starts at whatever time. They sell out early. Make sure you get your tickets early. Wow.” Now, it’s like, “Hey, Paul’s got some information that’s interesting, unique, and I’m good to go.”

Scott: The message just wouldn’t be the same if you were to type that out into a blog. Nowadays, nobody has time– Who has time to read that? Let alone, do you have time to document all that in a newsletter?

Paul: Right. I’ll go with the .3 and that is consistency. Start off small. If you want to do, like, “Hey, I had this idea, I’m going to do wealth-building Wednesday, do it every single Wednesday.” That’s a tough gig. Start out doing something once a month. If you want to go to twice a month, then at least your audience can count on that once a month promise and you’re making good on your promise. It’s also telling your clients, “Hey, I’m to do something. I’m actually going to do it. The way that I treat this video, this video blog, is the same way I’m treating the marketing of your house. I’m consistent and I’m on it.”

Scott: That’s interesting. Consistency brings back your audience for Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Paul: Again, just sort of tips is just be brief, say, “Hey, this is what I’m going to say. Hey, I’m going to give you a tip on what’s great to do this weekend.” You go, “Hey, here’s 1, 2, 3 things,” and you go, “Hey, Paul Morris, just let you know what’s great to do this weekend,” done. Okay. I love it, I love it.

Paul: Talk to me some more about marketing. One of the things that you’re very good at is creating that personalized message. That’s a message not to a wide swath of people. How are you personalizing your messages to your real estate clients?

Scott: Wow. Like we talked about video, I think it’s knowing your audience, knowing your clients. Social media plays a big part in that. We spend a lot of time in social media, liking and commenting because we are genuinely curious about what’s happening in our clients’ lives, big events, babies, weddings, hopefully purchasing a home or selling a home through our services. Again, sharing those experiences. The eyeballs that we get from that brings referral business, repeat clients from their friends and family. Then sometimes, it goes into direct messages.

Sometimes, if they don’t want to respond on a public forum, but now, we’re getting direct messages from Instagram and Facebook in general about, “Hey, I saw this post that you did with this one client, and I noticed that they were able to get into a house. Here’s my situation.” It’s a great conversation starter that I think a lot of people are starting to catch news on on how social media works.

Paul: Got it. Let me ask you this, Scott. I watch a lot of people and you do great on your social media for sure. What about the comments that I always hear people say and that is, “Customer service is really a hands-on gig. Hey, you know what? I do a lot of social media, but pick up the phone.” What do you think about that?

Scott: Well, in our profession, it is still a contact sport, the phone is always there. However, if you remember, I would say just four years ago, we weren’t sure whether or not a text message was considered a contact. Nowadays, statistically, text messages are outweighing phone conversations. We can actually conduct business while people are at their nine-to-five jobs or wherever they are because they almost prefer– We always ask permission which goes back to customer experience. “How would you like to be communicated to?” Would you, believe or not, a lot of people say via text. That’s where we take our conversations to. If they like voice, then we continue down that path on voice to voice.

Paul: Okay, I get that too. I get that because I might want to interact with you, but, “Hey, I’m going to send a few messages. I’m going to go do a few things. I’m going to come back,” conversation is still alive where if I’m on the phone, I’ve got to drop everything. That’s pretty cool. Turning to news of the weird or whatever, I was even wondering whether we should hit on it or not, but I think we both saw the article. We’re out here in LA, people are mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant. Then you get a realtor, a realtor out on social media. We won’t say what brand, but you got a realtor out on social media making some off-color comments already. What do you got to say about that? You’re a big Lakers fan.

Scott: I am. Wow. I think it’s the rules of– There’s a couple of things you never really talk about in a public– Religion maybe might be one for me, I have my own beliefs, but it’s just I think that’s one of the discussions where you just keep it to yourself or not. Opinions on who Kobe was as a person? At least allow the time to mourn. There’re so many families involved in it, not just Kobe. Let’s not forget the other kids, the other parents.

Paul: Oh, yes, super sad. Here’s the thing. I look at it as a business owner, a brokerage owner, and it’s tough when you got a big salesforce and you really got to take ownership of your whole salesforce. We have a zero-tolerance policy on that. I did a podcast with a phenomenal realtor and he was talking about never compromising on his commission and how do you do that or the scripts for that, all that sort of thing. Underpinning that is that we’re professionals. We are professionals. You want to be a used car salesman and you want to act that way, then you should probably have your commission cut, but comport yourself as a professional.

It’s an opportunity to show empathy as an industry when anything like this happens. I’m glad that the big firm that employ that person said, “Hey, we’re going to deal with this swiftly,” because we all have to carry that mantle of realtor really protecting probably a family’s biggest transaction. We deserve to be compensated for that on one hand, on the other hand, we’ve got to be professional about it, you know?

Scott: You always talk about this too, Paul, which is just self-awareness. It’s being self-aware.

Paul: If you don’t have that right, what do you have?

Paul: Well, I don’t know, Scott, that’s pretty good. It’s pretty good wrap on the State of the Market. Inman Connect is going on right now and I had been watching some of this stuff come in and one of the things I just see more and more and more of is just tailored marketing. That’s why I wanted to get into marketing and do the State of the Market with you because you’re such a video expert. Staying abreast of that of the latest thing, blogs, blogs are done, people insist on print ads out here in LA because it’s so old school, but I got to tell you, it’s not the wave of the future. I appreciate you coming on with me talking marketing and then also, just “Hey, 2020, man, it’s a great time to buy a house.”

Hopefully, that information we’d given to the Rockstar Nation about interest rates, you can just Google it and you can see, we’ll attach some show notes also, but all the top economists are saying the same thing with interest rates. That is they are going to stay historically low and therefore, now is a great time. I watch it go up and down, like in micro pieces, even the scare with the latest virus outbreak in China, that pushed the rates down a little bit. If you can catch that, okay, great, but here’s the thing.

This year, good year to buy lock-in 30 years because when you lock in to a 30-year all-time low, as interest rates creep up and up over time, it’s like the bank writing you a check. It’s like a subsidy if you can lock into that. My advice is go for it. I know that we’re not at the bottom of the market, we’re closer to the top for sure, but let’s take advantage of the interest rates while we got them.

Scott: I agree. Well said.

Paul: All right, Scott, thank you very much for joining us and thanks, Rockstar Nation. Really appreciate it.

Scott: Appreciate you having me, Paul. Thank you, Rockstar Nation.

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