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5 Important Tips for REALTOR Safety

Today’s Guest Blogging topic is: REALTOR Safety
With: Sonia Figueroa, BROKER @ Century 21 Affiliated 

My passion has always been about real estate especially helping those that don’t have a clue about what home buying is all about. I embarked on my real estate journey 13 years and still going strong as if it were just yesterday that I started.

I never thought about safety in my last 12 years but this last year my perspective completely changed. I was in 3 major life threatening incidents that nearly killed me, literally. All three of them happened while on the job and it made me think of how dangerous my job can be.

The first incident was being attacked by a pitbull that nearly chewed my leg off, the second was a drug deal gone wrong in a vacant building while I was showing it. I was heading up to the second floor when I had a gun pointed at me and lastly my real estate office was robbed while I was inside. They three teenagers took my purse and the receptionist belongings as well.

I finally had it and decided to choose my own destiny by getting my conceal and carry license. My story was featured on NBC and the Chicago Tribune.

Now I feel safe at all times, I know this is a big deal for many and some choose not to use a firearm. Just know that when it comes to your safety you should at least use something like pepper spray.

In the 2017 Realtors report, 25 percent of men and 44 percent of women said they had experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information. Don’t let fear dictate your life.

 

Here are my 5 quick tips for realtor safety:

1. Be mindful of your environment

Be aware of your surroundings. We get carried away with our daily routines and never even know what’s around at times. Is there someone that looks suspicious in a car? While you are texting in your car who is next to your vehicle? How many people are watching you walk into a house? These are just some questions on why you should be mindful when showing a home especially going into a vacant house. Take a quick pause throughout your day and check out what’s around you. Don’t ever walk with your head down.

2. Comfort Level

As realtors we meet people for the very first time without knowing their background. If the first phone conversation you had with this person makes you uncomfortable do not meet them by yourself at the property. Ask that person to meet up with you a local coffee shop, at your office somewhere in a public place first.

While you are talking to this person take notice of unusual behaviors. Is he or she asking odd questions or lingering a little too long? Don’t be afraid of being impolite. Trust your gut if someone or something is making you uncomfortable.

If you must meet with client for the very first time at a property take another realtor or your broker with you. Let them know that for safety reasons we work in tandem.

If can’t take your broker with you or another teammate then its good practice for any uncomfortable situation, threatening or not, to have friend who knows where you are and knows you would only call if you needed help. Call your friend and say an agreed upon phrase that lets them know you need help before alerting the potential threat. They can then send help without alerting the threat that you are privy to the situation.

 

3. Daylight savings time- Schedule

Keep showings during the daytime when at all possible. As we change our clocks the day turns into night very quickly. Someone is less likely to try something during the day and people are more likely to witness any suspicious behavior. When possible, rearrange your schedule — if you know you are dealing with previous clients, schedule those appointments in the evening. Keep new clients and open houses during the daylight.

4. Safety Apps

If you are not the kind to get a firearm or pepper spray then at least have some safety apps on hand. Here are some that I recommend.

Watch Over Me – Watch Over Me greets you with a screen that presents two statements, ‘Watch Over Me While I…’ and ‘For…’, followed by two buttons. For each statement you fill in an action (‘walk home’, ‘walk to my car’, ‘take a cab’, ‘meet someone’, or add a new event), and a time frame (hours and minutes). Watch Video

bSafe – bSafe has some of the same features as Watch Over Me—for instance, it allows you to add contacts (it calls them Guardians) who can follow you when you’re on your way home. Watch Video

StaySafe – StaySafe is centered on a timer that you set when, for example, you go out for a run. If you don’t check in safely when your timer is up, the app notifies your contacts. StaySafe sends your GPS location via email or SMS, and you can add the details of your trip or event so your contacts know that they’re receiving an alert because, say, you haven’t checked in from your typical 7 p.m. jog. Watch Video

 

5. Methods to Defend Yourself

If you do find yourself in a scary situation, make sure you learn de-escalation techniques and implement them into the situation. These can include simple self-defense techniques to deter the threat and allow you time to get away. It can also mean not showing your anger or fear in a situation until you can alert someone to help.

These steps are so simple, but could be the tools to saving your own life when necessary. I know from experience that these situations are more common than you might think.

Aside from self defense classes, firearms and pepper spray there are other items that are not common to the public.

There are also cute kitty keychains are not toys, but are in fact a very serious defense weapon. The design has been around for years, but the technology has gotten better. They are now made of an ultra-tough plastic material that is very hard to break, which is exactly what you need should you ever have to use this device.

A personal alarm on a keychain can also be used as a panic alarm or medical alarm.

No one has the right to take away your feeling of safety in the workplace. For that matter, no one has the right to take away your desire to go out there and be the boss! By implementing this safety checklist, we can take back our business and our lives.

More about the Author:

Sonia Figueroa is a Broker in Chicago with Century 21 Affiliated. Sonia been in Real Estate for the last 12 years and loves every minute of it.  She loves helping people realize the dream of homeownership and prides her self on creating long lasting relationships with her clients. She was born and raised in Chicago earning a Bachelors Degree in CIS and an Associates Degree in Computer Science. She is the Queen of Facebook Live and uses her vast expertise on Social Media Marketing to grow her business. 

Contact Sonia @  773.308.5505 or you can send email her at Sonia@SeeSonia.com
Website: www.SeeSonia.com

Disclaimer: : The views, data, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Mason-McDuffie Mortgage Corp.
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Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Hit Second Highest Level in 8 Years

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Hit Second Highest Level in 8 YearsHousing markets show continued strength as the National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of existing homes reached their second highest level since February 2007. Sales of pre-owned homes increased by 4.70 percent and reached 5.55 million sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis against analyst expectations of 5.34 million sales and August’s reading of 5.30 million sales of previously owned homes.

August’s reading for existing home sales was revised downward from 5.31 million sales. Economists said that August’s lower than expected sales of existing homes may have been influenced by volatility in financial markets and concerns over mortgage rates may have kept would-be home buyers on the sidelines, but September’s reading showed that August’s dismal readings were an aberration rather than a trend.

Higher Home Sales Driven by Low Mortgage Rates

Low mortgage rates are making homes more affordable, a fact that’s reflected by current inventories of available homes. At the current sales pace, there is a 4.8 month supply of available homes as compared to September 2014’s reading of a 5.40 month supply of available homes. 

In addition to average mortgage rates hovering below four percent, industry advocates s cited stronger job markets and also indicated that a slight easing of mortgage credit standards are driving home sales. Increased demand for homes is causing home prices to rise. The national average price of a home rose to $221,900, which was 6.10 percent higher than for September 2014.

Housing Recovery: 2015 Could Show Best Results Since 2007

Lawrence Yun Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that although some economists expect home sales to cool down before the end of 2015, it’s possible that 2015 will end with the best home sales figures since 2007. Mr. Yun said characterized the housing recovery as “a slow steady process” and said “This year, it’s finally coming out.”

On the other hand, some analysts are skeptical about how housing markets can maintain their momentum into 2016. First-time buyers are losing market share in home sales, with their participation rate decreasing from 32 percent in August to 29 percent in September. First-time buyers play an integral role in housing markets, as their purchase of starter homes allows first-time homeowners to buy larger homes. First-time buyers also represent new demand for homes, which is essential to expanding housing markets.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 27, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 27 2015Last week’s scheduled economic news releases were limited as no news was released on Monday or Tuesday, but good news did arrive in the form of a dip in mortgage rates for fixed rate loans. The National Association of Realtors® reported higher sales of pre-owned homes and FHFA reported that home price growth associated with mortgages held or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady in May.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes and FHFA House Prices Rise

According to the National Association of Realtors®, June sales of existing homes reached their highest level since February 2007. Sales of used homes reached a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million previously owned homes sold against expectations of 5.42 million homes and May’s reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold. By comparison, sales of existing homes remain about 24 percent below a pre-recession peak. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® cited improving labor markets and home buyer concerns over rising mortgage rates as factors contributing to May’s reading for existing home sales.

FHFA, the federal agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices associated with sales of homes financed with loans owned or backed by Fannie and Freddie rose by 0.40 percent month-over-month in May and held steady with April’s revised reading of 0.40 percent. FHFA home prices rose by 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30 and 15-year mortgages fell while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 4.04 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.21 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate rose by one basis point to 2.97 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent, 0.60 percent and 0.50 percent respectively.

Expected reports on weekly jobless claims and new home sales were not released last week.

What’s Ahead

Scheduled economic reports for this week include the usual weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates along with the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for May and the Commerce Department’s report on pending home sales. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve has scheduled an announcement on Wednesday, and reports on consumer confidence and consumer sentiment will also be released next week.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 27, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week April 27 2015Last week’s housing related reports included the FHFA Home Price Index, the National Association of Realtors® Existing Home Sales report and The Commerce Department’s report on new home sales. Results were mixed, but suggest that housing markets are strengthening.

FHFA Home Prices Up in February, Existing Home Sales Highest in 18 Months

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose from a 5.10 percent increase in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.40 percent in February.

The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes rose to 5.19 million in March as compared to expectations of 5.08 million sales and February’s reading of 4.89 million sales of pre-owned homes.

March sales represented a 6.10 percent gain over February sales; this was the highest volume of existing home sales in 18 months. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, said that if strong sales of pre-owned homes continue, 2015 could be the best year for existing home sales in nearly a decade.

New Home Sales Lag in March

The Department of Commerce reported that new home sales fell from February’s reading of 543,000 new homes sold to 481,000 new homes sold in March. Analysts expected a March reading of 503,000 new homes sold. This was the slowest pace for new home sales since November, but year-over-year, sales of new homes were 19.40 percent higher year-over-year. The national median home price fell by 1.70 percent to $277,400 year-over-year.

Sales of new homes decreased by 33 percent in the Northeast and fell by 16 percent in the South. New home sales fell by three percent in the West and rose by six percent in the Midwest. At the current sales pace, there is a 5.3 month supply of new homes for sale as compared to a 4.6 month supply in February. Analysts said that stagnant wage growth contributed to fewer home sales.

Mortgage Rates Lower, Weekly Jobless Claims

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage lenders, average mortgage rates fell across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.67 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also dropped two basis points to an average of 2.92 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 2.84 percent. Discount points for a 30 year mortgage fell to 0.60 percent; points for a 15-year mortgage were higher at 0.60 percent and average discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell from 0.50 to 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims came in at 295,000 new claims filed; analysts expected a reading of 288,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading was 294,000 new claims filed. Spring break holidays were blamed for higher jobless claims and March job growth hit its lowest in more than a year. Analysts caution against reading too much into weekly fluctuations and prefer to use the four-week rolling average to identify trends in unemployment claims.

What’s Ahead

This week’s housing related economic reports include Case-Shiller 10 and 20 City Housing Market Index reports, the customary post-meeting statement from the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and pending home sales data.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 30, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 30 2015Last week’s economic reports included reports on new and existing home sales and FHFA’s monthly home price index for properties associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. The details:

New Home Sales Surge, Existing Home Sales Drop

According to the Department of Commerce, new home sales rose in January to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 539,000 which exceeded the expected rate of 455,000 sales and the revised figure of 500,000 sales of new homes in December 2014. This was a 7.80 percent increase over December’s figure and was the first time since 2008 that new home sales met or exceeded the benchmark of 500,000 sales for two consecutive months.

Sales of new homes were close to 25 percent higher than for January 2015, and analysts said that more jobs and relatively low mortgage rates could boost the traditionally busy spring and summer home buying season.

The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes rose by 1.20 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million sales against expectations of 4.94 million sales of previously owned homes. Extreme winter weather was cited as a cause for the decline in sales.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that the average price for pre-owned homes rose to $202,600, which represents a 7.50 percent increase year-over-year. Wages are rising at an average of 2.00 percent annually and rents are rising at an average of 3.50 percent annually. This is creating affordability issues for renters and would-be homebuyers as their incomes are not keeping pace with escalating housing and rental prices. The share of first-time home buyers rose by 1.00 percent in February, but analysts said that historically the market share for first-time buyers averages about 40.00 percent.

FHFA: Home Price Index Falls by 0.30 Percent

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices for sales of homes associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages fell by 0.30 percent year-over-year in January to an increase of 5.10 percent year-over-year as compared to January 2014’year-over-year increase of 5.40 percent.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates fell last week. Freddie Mac reported average rates for fixed rate mortgages fell by none basis points with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaging 3.69 percent and the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaging 2.97 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by five basis points to an average of 2.92 percent. Discount points also fell from 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 282,000 new claims against an expected reading of 290,000 new claims and the previous week’s reading of 291,000 new jobless claims. This reading supports reports of expanding labor markets that may give would-be home buyers the confidence to buy homes.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales, Non-Farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment Rate along with regularly scheduled releases on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 27, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 31,2014Last week’s economic news included a few developments connected with housing and mortgage industries. While no economic reports were released on Monday, the rest of the week provided good news for existing home sales, home prices and mortgage rates.

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that existing home sales in September exceeded expectations and the prior month’s reading with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million sales.

Three of four U.S. regions posted higher sales of previously owned homes with only the Midwest region reporting a decline in existing home sales. Analysts said that consistent job growth and improved access to mortgage loans are two keys to improving U.S. housing markets.

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reported that home prices for properties associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages rose by 0.50 percent in August.

In a separate development, FHFA Director Mel Watt said that the agency is reviewing policies that could lessen lender concerns over requests to repurchase Fannie and Freddie loans due to early defaults or other deficiencies. This was seen as a possible solution to current strict mortgage approval requirements that are limiting access to home loans by first-time and moderate income buyers.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

After falling below four percent the prior week, last week’s mortgage rates continued to decrease. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 3.92 percent; 15-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.08 percent, a decrease of 10 basis points. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point below the prior week’s reading at 2.91 percent.

Average discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent. Lower mortgage rates help with making home loans more affordable, but analysts again noted the importance of improved access to mortgage loans for would-be home buyers.

Weekly jobless claims were higher at 283,000 new claims filed as compared to projections of 285,000 and the prior week’s reading of 266,000 new claims filed. While higher than in recent weeks, new jobless claims have remained below 300,000 for six weeks. The Labor department reported that new claims over the past month fell by 3000 to 281,000 new claims. This reading was the lowest since May 2000. Due to week-to-week volatility, financial analysts and economists view the month-to-month readings as a more consistent data source.

New Home Sales Hit Six-Year High in September

Sales of new homes in September ended the week on an upbeat note and exceeded expectations; they reached a six-year high in spite of downward adjustments to sales figures reported earlier. September’s reading was 467,000 new homes sold on an annual basis as compared to expectations of 455,000 new homes sold and August’s reading of 466,000 new homes sold.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes pending home sales, the Case-Schiller home price index reports, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) post-meeting statement and reports on consumer sentiment and consumer confidence. The Freddie Mac PMMS and Weekly Jobless Claims reports will be released as usual on Thursday.