Remodeling Real Estate for the Future

Most of us wake up every morning knowing what we need to do and how we’re going to get it done. But do we ever think about why we do what we do? Well, at HomeSmart International, they think about it every day. In fact, “the why” is what drives the company; it’s the reason for its creation, and the compass that guides its fast-paced growth across the country. What exactly is HomeSmart’s “why?” The success of its brokers and agents.

Founded in 2000 by Matt Widdows—a former frustrated real estate agent who developed his own systems to compete, grow and succeed—HomeSmart has grown to 13,286 agents and 123 offices nationwide with a formula that provides high-level service, support and value at the lowest possible cost to brokers and agents. The proprietary technology and end-to-end solution HomeSmart delivers at minimal cost, along with the efficiencies and profitability of a flat-fee model, has driven an increasing number of brokers across the country to join what they refer to as the “HomeSmart movement.”

“Greatness comes from setting ridiculous expectations, then finding a way to make those expectations normal and deliver on them,” says Widdows. “And sometimes you have to misbehave and go against expectations in order to improve and innovate.” This philosophy—and the ability to deliver on it—is exactly what has attracted brokers to the HomeSmart model and culture. Here, four brokers from various corners of the U.S. share their “why” for joining HomeSmart…and why they’re never looking back.

Don_Jim_MarkJim Sparkman, Mark Farrow and Don Sturgeon
Owners, HomeSmart Realty Group
Salem, Ore.

Maria Patterson: When and why did you join the HomeSmart brand?
Don Sturgeon:
We were all considering leaving our previous brokerage to start our own company. Jim stumbled upon HomeSmart, and we decided this model was the future of real estate. The 11 agents who were part of our teams came with the three of us on October 14, 2013.

MP: You grew pretty quickly right out of the gate—how did you manage that?
When the three of us joined forces, it sent ripples through the market. People didn’t know anything about HomeSmart, so there was a lot of buzz. Then, it was just a matter of going out and talking to agents who we thought would see the value of a fee-based model. All they knew prior was the traditional brokerage that offered high splits and high desk fees.

MP: As top-producing agents, why were you attracted to the HomeSmart model?
Mark Farrow:
Our agents increased their compensation by a little over 30 percent with their first transaction. With the first deal they closed, they saw a big difference.

MP: So it’s the flat fee that’s the biggest draw?
We never lead with the fees. It’s always about the level of service we provide. Agents have 24/7 access to the principal brokers, cutting-edge technology, great offices, ongoing training and continuing education, all for a low transaction fee.

MP: How do HomeSmart’s services help you and your agents become more profitable?
Jim Sparkman:
The agent services offered by HomeSmart International add a layer of service that we are physically unable to provide at this large of a brokerage without increased overhead and manpower.

DS: HomeSmart’s Centralized Services provides me with an assistant who can handle a lot of time-consuming tasks, like making cold calls to agents. This was especially important when we opened a second office in Portland where agents hadn’t heard of HomeSmart.

MP: How does HomeSmart keep you ahead of the curve in terms of technology?
HomeSmart is constantly working to stay ahead of technology. There is a real commitment by corporate to not get complacent.

JS: With the end-to-end technology that HomeSmart provides, we have a paperless platform unlike any of our competitors, and the ability to streamline the transaction. We also have online marketing tools built into the same platform.

MP: Overall, what makes HomeSmart a better choice than the traditional real estate model?
Traditional real estate companies are stuck in a paradigm and a mindset that makes it difficult for them to make the necessary adjustments. It’s hard to turn the Titanic away from an iceberg. HomeSmart has remodeled and refurbished the traditional brokerage to operate with agility.

Dean_DetonnancourtDean A. deTonnancourt
HomeSmart Professionals Real Estate
Warwick, R.I.

Maria Patterson: Tell us why you made the change to HomeSmart.
Dean deTonnancourt:
Having been in the real estate industry over 28 years now, my career satisfaction comes from sharing my experience with associates, and helping them achieve unlimited levels of sales success. HomeSmart allows me to do that. It’s a franchise that provides national support along with local flexibility.

MP: How do you overcome the common perceptions about flat-fee companies?
The perception of the flat-fee compensation model is “low fees, low service.” This is far from the truth, as we offer all of the services other companies offer, yet we remain dedicated to the associate retaining more of their hard-earned income. HomeSmart provides technology and marketing tools for our associates on a national level, and locally, we provide education, broker support and state-of-the-art facilities.

MP: Tell us about the support you receive in terms of technology.
Our sales associates have access to their own Agent Panel, which provides tools and technology that allow them to organize their transactions, as well as market themselves to the consumer in creative ways. Fully customizable individual associate websites including consumer-focused MLS searches and tracking, video marketing pieces, as well as fully customizable marketing pieces within our Design Center, are all available to our associates.

For the broker, HomeSmart provides technology that allows us to manage all details of our operation. Our Broker Panel allows us to seamlessly track our paperless transactions and ensure proper file compliance. Most traditional brokerages utilize several systems, making it time-consuming and prone to errors since the systems in most cases are not linked to each other.

MP: How do economies of scale help you grow?
The HomeSmart structure and compensation model foster organic growth. Since our associates are treated like true business professionals and retain more of their earnings, they are the voice of the company. Associates at other companies are hearing about us directly from our associates, which validates our value proposition. We find ourselves responding to inquiries almost daily.

MP: How does being part of HomeSmart allow you and your agents to be more profitable?
HomeSmart created a compensation model that rivals the competition with an affordable flat-fee plan that was not previously available in our marketplace. Our associates are not paying the high commission splits that many competitors collect, allowing them to increase their retained earnings.

MP: What is it about your brokerage that helps attract and retain agents?
I always say that “culture is not found in a company, it is found in people.” The key to a company’s long-term success is to attract great people and foster a sharing-based environment, ultimately providing mutual success.

Randy_RectorRandy Rector
HomeSmart Evergreen Realty & Associates
Irvine, Calif.

Maria Patterson: You had a large, successful firm in Orange County. Why make a change?
Randy Rector:
Back in 2010, we were about 700–750 strong. In order to grow to the next level without overhead killing us, we had to find a system. We had companies from around the nation coming in and pitching us products, but we had to somehow figure out how to integrate these products. We needed a system to make us more efficient without adding bodies, which in flat-fee models, is the death of the model itself.

MP: So how did you find out about HomeSmart?
We were at the National Association of REALTORS® conference in Anaheim and HomeSmart also had a booth. We met Matt and the next week, he called and said he’d like to come out and talk with us. What caught my attention about HomeSmart was that they had some real high-level technology—exactly what we had tried to build in 2009. We needed to find a way to streamline our back office and make us more efficient. From a cost and compliance standpoint, you have to make sure you have oversight on agents as you grow and multiply offices. In January 2012, we went to see Matt, and we were blown away by what he created that allowed him to run 3,600 agents with no staff. We joined in October 2012.

MP: How did that change the course for your company?
Being part of HomeSmart has made us more efficient, so we are able to serve our agents better. We went from 750 to 1,150 agents and ranked in RISMedia’s Power Broker Report Top 500 with the same two admins processing the transactions. And we are in compliance with the Board of Real Estate. They looked at our software and said, “This is perfect. We’ve seen every major and small brand, and none have this.”

MP: How did becoming part of HomeSmart help you attract agents?
In a flat-fee model, the core of the business is recruiting. HomeSmart’s Centralized Services allows us to pay a small fee and receive a myriad of services, from email marketing to a dedicated person making 100, 200, 300 calls a week. I don’t care what brand you are; it’s really hard to grow a brokerage and wear all the hats—recruiter, motivator, trainer, compliance officer. I can take that off my plate and concentrate on my agents, because all of this is being done for me.

MP: What makes HomeSmart stand out the most?
Hands down, it’s the proprietary software—no one in the nation can touch it. If you’re looking to scale your business, the tools, the ability for it all to be in one system and the support we get from HomeSmart corporate is bar none.

Roger_AbeRoger Lee and Abe Hamideh
HomeSmart Realty West
Carlsbad, Calif.

Maria Patterson: When did you first learn about HomeSmart?
Roger Lee:
Abe and I were flipping properties, and while it was fun, it wasn’t creating a future for us. A recruiter from HomeSmart called us one day and enticed us to go to Arizona to look at the systems and technology. We definitely thought this model could work in San Diego.

HomeSmart is a well-oiled machine that lets franchisees scale up without having to accumulate more manpower.

MP: You grew your agent count really quickly that first year—what was your secret?
To make it within the first year, we knew exactly how many agents we needed to have to get out of the red, and we had to do it quickly. The systems in place allowed us to focus on recruiting and building the company. We currently have 548 agents and three offices.

Abe Hamideh: It was an easy sale. Because of all the systems, marketing tools and support HomeSmart offers, we had all this firepower and agents were amazed. They had never heard about HomeSmart, and when they saw what we had, they thought it was too good to be true. But they soon realized it was the real deal.

RL: In addition to the maximum commission fee plans, we have the biggest value proposition they’ve ever seen from any other real estate company they’ve worked for.

MP: So it’s more than the flat-fee model that attracts agents…
A lot of agents come to us because they’re attracted to the flat-fee model. But then they see our value proposition, and then they start telling their friends. We often get three to five agents from the same office.

RL: Besides the maximum commission, they get a fully staffed office, conference rooms to meet with clients, and broker support. They see the technology package, a full CRM, and marketing tools like YouTube videos for listings and a full-on printed listing presentation. Most agents have to shop around to get tools. We give them everything all in one shot.

MP: How does the HomeSmart system pave the way for easy growth?
[At press time], we have 548 agents and 13 people on staff. We could go to 700 or 800 agents and not have the need to add another person. In less than five years, we’ve grown to be ranked in RISMedia’s Power Broker Report. The HomeSmart system enabled that.

MP: Please describe your recruiting strategy.
Our own agents help us so much in that department. They’re our biggest endorsement. We’ve already hit the 100 mark on boomerang agents—agents who thought the grass was greener somewhere else and then came back to us. They become our biggest cheerleaders and recruiters.

For more information, please visit www.homesmart.com.

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com.

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The Best Cities for First-Time Homebuyers

Affordability is at the forefront of the minds of first-time homebuyers, who are contending with climbing prices and fierce competition. There are other considerations, however, that are important for first-time buyers, as well: cost of living, property crime rate, and utility costs, to name a few.

A recent assessment by WalletHub weighed these and other factors to identify the cities best suited for first-time buyers:

  1. McKinney, Texas
    McKinney, located in Collin County and part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, scored 68.32 in the assessment.
  1. Frisco, Texas
    Frisco, located in Collin and Denton counties and part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, scored 68.2 in the assessment.
  1. Allen, Texas
    Allen, located in Collin County and part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, scored 68.15 in the assessment. Allen has the second-lowest property crime rate of the 30 cities ranked.
  1. Cary, N.C.
    Cary, located in Wake County and part of the Research Triangle, scored 67.98 in the assessment. Cary has the fourth-lowest property crime rate of the 30 cities ranked.
  1. Norman, Okla.
    Norman, located in Cleveland County and part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, scored 67.64 in the assessment. Norman has the fourth-lowest cost of living of the 30 cities ranked.
  1. Lincoln, Neb.
    Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska, located in Lancaster County, scored 66.61 in the assessment.
  1. Richardson, Texas
    Richardson, located in Collin and Dallas counties and part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, scored 66.32 in the assessment.
  1. Boise, Idaho
    Boise, the capital of Idaho, located in Ada County, scored 66.26 in the assessment.
  1. Thornton, Colo.
    Thornton, located in Adams and Weld counties and part of the Denver-Aurora-Bloomfield metropolitan area, scored 66.04 in the assessment.
  1. Murfreesboro, Tenn.
    Murfreesboro, located in Rutherford County and part of the Nashville metropolitan area, scored 65.97 in the assessment.

Source: WalletHub

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Home Price Change Expectations Flat

Many homeowners have enjoyed a return to positive equity in recent years, with home prices on a consistent upward trend in most markets. How high will values go?

Potentially not much further, according to consumers in the June 2017 Survey of Consumer Expectations by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who held firm on their expectation of a 3.5 percent change in prices—the same expectation given in May.

Consumers, in addition, anticipate the median inflation rate to be 2.5 percent in one year and 2.8 percent in three years. The likelihood of finding a job, based on their perceptions, grew to 59.2 percent in June, and the likelihood of losing a job shrunk to 13.5 percent. The share of consumers surveyed with improved finances over the last year soared to 34.8 percent—a record.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Home Price Change Expectations Flat appeared first on RISMedia.

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John Becker / Bald Head
Bald Head Realty

33 Pine Lane
Franklin, NC 28734

Phone: (828) 506-3719 Mobile
           (828) 369-0000 Office
           (828) 369-0009 Fax

Contact John

Macon County NC Real Estate with Specialty in Franklin & Otto
"Offering Solutions to My Clients"
Your gateway to Paradise in the Smokey Mountains of Franklin, NC.
John Becker / Bald Head, provides a superior level of informed, professional real estate service to Buyers and Sellers.


January 4th, 2013 Our first real estate dealing with John Becker (aka Baldhead) was when selling our primary residence in Franklin, NC as he was the agent representing the buyers. Not only did he present a successful contract but the offer exceeded our asking price! Since we were so impressed with his process expertise, responsiveness, and negotiation skills, in 2012 we listed and sold our second home with him. John doesn't just wait around for the "right" buyer to walk in the office he aggressively pursues perspective buyers through professional contacts, extensive Internet exposure, and local advertising. The video John produced of our home was HGTV worthy and initiated immediate interest. Just a few weeks after listing John presented us with an acceptable offer and handled all the details of the process through closing. We were very impressed with his support and communication and would highly recommend his services. If you are truly serious about buying or selling a home in this area you need a full time professional agent with local knowledge, and John Becker is by far the best choice. Graydon & Susan Smith
Sep 10, 2011 John Becker was fantastic as our realtor. He helped us look at houses for over 2 years before we finally found the house we wanted and helped us navigate the short sale and foreclosure process perfectly. At all times he was professional, honest, and responsive. Thank you John and we look forward to having you as our realtor in the future. Thanks Chip & Mary Ann Godwin Chip & Mary Ann Godwin
Wendell & Karen ‎ - Sep 4, 2011 One Saturday on a whim I told my wife I was going to talk to John “Bald Head The Realtor” about some property I come across. After a short conversation with John he had formulated a plan. I was amazed that in less than a week we were on the fast track to owning the property. During the course of the negotiations John helped us overcome many potential obstacles to owning our first property in beautiful Franklin, NC. He always responded quickly to our questions. I soon became aware that this was a man I could trust - a rare find. My wife and I will always be grateful to John for helping us realize our dream of owning our own piece of this majestic land. Wendell and Karen, Franklin, NC Wendell & Karen
Kathryn P ‎ - Sep 28, 2011 Thanks so much John for being you as you are SUPER! My Dad and I were blessed that you were the listing agent on the home we first looked at as that led us to you. And you made our whole experience one that was so darn easy and pleasant. Working with you through the whole experience of looking at both homes was a total delight. Not only do you listen, you make the rather grueling process of home shopping to be fun. Thanks so much for your good humor and grace under pressure. Your smile alone made the paper signing go faster. You surround yourself with great people, too. From your assistant to your real estate attorney...all top notch and the nicest of folks to work with in the home buying process. I know I will certainly be recommending you to others and if I ever have to do this again.....you will be the first person I call. Kathryn Kathryn Pickens
Aug 22, 2011 "We have to admit that all of this "Bald Head" business seemed a bit much at first, but it took very little time with him to come to the realization that John "Bald Head" Becker is a very serious and effective real estate broker who in our experience and opinion is simply the best. Not only did "Bald Head" give us focused attention, maintained very active and prompt communications with us but also went way beyond our expectations in anticipating and filling practical needs. We would use him again in a heartbeat and only lament that we cannot also employ him to sell our house in Raleigh. We highly recommend "Bald Head The Realtor" to you and without reservation." Bill & Pam Peterson
Hey John, What a job you did! Listed in June and sold in August, in this economy ! Thanks for all the follow up work getting it closed in such a short time. Thanks again, James and Barbara Frank Aug. 13th 2011 Jim & Barbara Frank
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