American Apartment Owners Association
Question: My landlord told me in a letter that they were planning to remodel my kitchen and bath and that I would have to vacate for two weeks while the work is done. My family can’t afford a hotel, and we don’t have family in the area that can put us up for two weeks. Can my landlord force us to move out while the remodeling work is done?
Answer: The landlord’s right to enter once the unit has been turned over to you is very limited, under California Civil Code section 1954.
The landlord can enter to (1) do repairs that are necessary or requested by you, (2) in emergencies, (3) if they believe that the unit is abandoned, (4) to show the property to prospective buyers and (5) with a court order. In every other circumstance, you control access to the unit. It follows that the landlord may not tell you to vacate simply to accommodate his or her remodeling plans.
The landlord can ask, however, and you may agree if you can negotiate terms and conditions that make the inconvenience worthwhile. At the very least the landlord should offer to refund the rent for the days you have to vacate the apartment.
If the landlord cannot persuade you to cooperate, the landlord would have to wait until the end of your tenancy under a lease before doing this work.
But if you are a month-to-month tenant and live in a unit not covered by a rent-control law, the landlord may simply terminate your tenancy with a 30- or 60-day termination notice to proceed with the work. So if you like the apartment and want to stay, it is probably in your interest to try to work something out with the landlord.
In Los Angeles, rent-control ordinances apply to most multi-unit living quarters built by Oct. 1, 1978, including apartments, condos, residential hotels, mobile homes and lots containing more than one single-family home.
For tenants of those rental units, landlords must pay temporary relocation costs if a major repair or remodel is planned. The tenants must continue paying rent and can be evicted for refusing to allow access for repairs or improvements.
Under all of these circumstances, the best path forward would be to ask to sit down with the landlord to understand his or her wishes, to discuss the impact on you and your family, and to agree on a plan that honors everyone’s needs. If the notice you received was in written form, make a written response indicating that the landlord’s request is problematic for you, but that you are willing to sit down with the landlord and discuss the situation.
If your conversation with your landlord doesn’t go well, you may check to see if there are community mediation services in your area and ask for their help with this conversation. Many programs are free or very low cost and provide an excellent alternative to escalating in court.
The post When the landlord wants to remodel but the tenant doesn’t want to leave, who wins? appeared first on AAOA.
Before finishing his doctorate in entomology, Dr. Mike Merchant worked in the 1980s as a pest control specialist in Seattle. He keeps a blog – “Insects in the City” (say it out loud and you’ll get the pun) – specifically dedicated to the topic of urban pest control. Recently, he wrote a post recounting his frustrating time toting a sprayer full of toxic chemicals to treat a “well-entrenched German cockroach population” that infested a large public housing complex.
At the time, his arsenal consisted of powerful sprays and dusts that he applied directly to cockroach hiding places, requiring residents to prepare in advance by emptying cabinets and clearing spaces. However, these chemicals proved tantamount to a large-scale game of cockroach whack-a-mole as their repellant properties sent the insects scurrying between units in the complex.
Aside from bed bugs, cockroaches serve as one of biggest deal breakers for any apartment resident or prospect. No matter how fastidious the general upkeep of your units or grounds, the insects persist as a penetrating symbol of filth and negligence. Cockroaches also present real health risks, especially for children for whom the pests contribute to higher asthma rates and asthma-related morbidity according to “The New England Journal of Medicine.”
Now serving as the urban entomology specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Merchant writes that we luckily “have much better tools for cockroach control today” as compared to his time battling the bugs in Seattle.Cockroaches take the bait
Headed by Tulane University, a team of researchers recently published findings in “The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology” on the efficacy of containerized and gel baits for eliminating cockroach infestations in an inner-city New Orleans apartment community. In addition to the effects of baiting in a multifamily environment, the study, funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Healthy Homes Technical Studies, also focused on 102 children diagnosed with asthma who were known to live in apartments with cockroaches.
Of the affected homes, researchers treated half with baits, and the rest were either left untreated or the owners managed their own treatments. Researchers placed either Maxforce® FC Magnum or Advion® gel baits – all available through do-it-yourself pest control retailers – behind kitchen appliances, the back corners of kitchen cabinets and inside bathroom vanities. As cockroaches took the baits, sites were re-treated, and progress was monitored for 12 months.
Within three months of the study, cockroaches began to disappear. In his own breakdown of the results, Merchant wrote, “By the end of the study, none of the baited homes had evidence of cockroach activity, compared to a 20 percent infestation rate of the untreated homes.”
Overall, intermittent low-toxic insecticidal baiting resulted in greater pest control compared with routine spraying of potentially harmful insecticides.Residents can breathe a sigh of relief
More importantly, children residing in homes that received the insecticide bait had significantly reduced asthma morbidity, fewer asthma-symptom days, improved lung function and less health care need.
Additionally, the researchers suggested in their conclusion, due to the wide availability of cockroach baiting solutions, that communities may be able to skip costly professional intervention in favor of having maintenance personnel place cockroach baiting systems themselves.
“Study staff had no experience in insecticidal baiting; therefore, it is our belief that with minimal instruction, targeted placement can be performed by homeowners.” But they did note that this hypothesis would require additional research.
However, Merchant cautioned that multifamily regulations in some states, his home state of Texas included, require licensed pest control professionals to administer baiting for cockroaches. Thus, unlicensed property management staff should leave treatment to a professional.An ounce of prevention
One part of the Tulane study drew increased attention from both the researchers as well as Merchant in his interpretation of the data. Even the untreated, “control” apartments saw a nearly 80 percent reduction in cockroach activity in what these professionals attributed – at least in part – to “study effects.” With researchers coming in to monitor cockroach activity, many of these residents began keeping tidier homes, not leaving dirty dishes out overnight, etc.
Along with serving as the single best preventative measure for cockroaches, Merchant also explained that cleanliness around communities further assists with the effectiveness of baits.
“Research shows that cockroaches that do not have ready access to food and water become stressed and are more susceptible to baits and our other control measures,” he said.
The post Dealing with Creepy Crawlies: Cockroach Management in Multifamily appeared first on AAOA.
“Eviction” is a term that has become increasingly familiar to Americans over the past decade as one of the most visible symbols of poverty and economic misfortune. But research by social scientist and ethnographer Matthew Desmond shows that the reality of eviction is more complicated than traditional narratives might indicate.
Notably, Desmond says, eviction can actually serve as a cause of poverty, rather than an effect.
“One of our studies shows eviction can cause higher rates of job loss,” said Desmond, a professor at Harvard University, whose work received support from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate. “Prior to that, I thought it was the other way around—that job loss causes eviction. It certainly does in some cases, but we have stronger evidence showing that eviction leads to job loss.”
Desmond said eviction can destabilize people who were already in economically vulnerable positions. “It causes folks who didn’t have great jobs in the first place to lose those jobs,” he said.
Work by Desmond and his team of researchers has proven influential in the social science world, as have his methods for gathering and analyzing data on a topic where reliable information can be difficult to find. His research team draws on state-level data, court records, police reports and personal interactions. Desmond spent months living in a trailer park and inner-city apartments to meet families experiencing poverty and affected by eviction.
The team’s work in Wisconsin led to the creation of the Milwaukee Area Renters Study, a synthesis of data that sheds light on the causes and consequences of eviction.
The researchers are currently expanding their work to other areas of the country, and the MacArthur Foundation recognized Desmond’s efforts by naming him a 2015 fellow.
Evictions were once rare enough in the United States that they could draw protests from neighbors trying to prevent them, Desmond said. Today, he says, “low-income families are used to the rumble of the moving truck,” making evictions more important to study now than ever.
Q: Could you describe the focus of your research on evictions?
A: We’ve reached the point in America where most poor families spend most of their incomes on housing costs, and evictions have become commonplace for low-income families. One of the most surprising things that I learned through my research was just how prevalent eviction is. One in every eight renters in Milwaukee is evicted every two years—that was shocking to me.
A big part of our research has been cataloguing the consequences of eviction. We’ve established findings that link evictions to job loss, to higher rates of depression, to much higher rates of material hardship, and to relocation into worse housing and neighborhoods. It seems to affect folks in a lot of different dimensions, which supports the case that eviction isn’t just a condition of poverty—it’s actually a cause. To really understand poverty, we have to understand that a lack of affordable housing is a big part of the story.
Q: Could you expand on the idea that often when you’re evicted you wind up living in a much worse place?
A: This is one thing I saw by following families over time. After their evictions, they’d move into places with no water, with stopped-up plumbing, with cockroach infestations, with no locks on the doors. We know from public health research that those kinds of housing conditions are linked to asthma and depression. I think one of the reasons we find eviction is related to depression in mothers, even two years after it happened, is because it’s an incredibly traumatic process that gets under your skin.
Q: What are some of the other effects of eviction? Can it harm your work or education status?
A: When you go through an eviction, it really takes over your life. A lot of the families that I spend time with, their kids would miss school for long periods for the same reason farm kids 100 years ago would have: their homes have more pressing problems than them getting to school. So eviction does have consequences for school stability and absenteeism.
Q: You’ve talked about how one of the toughest challenges for on-the-ground research in this area is asking people whether they have been evicted. How did that affect the ways in which you conducted your research?
A: Part of the issue was just realizing that there was a problem. We’ve had material hardship studies since the ’80s that have asked the eviction question, and they always came back with really low numbers—1 percent or 2 percent. Then you look at the court records and you see much higher numbers and you think “What’s going on? Where’s the disconnect?”
Spending time on the ground, living in communities affected and alongside families affected by eviction and talking about what they’re going through led me to realize we’d been asking the question the wrong way. That led to the creation of a new survey instrument, where we’d start off by saying “This is what an eviction looks like. Have you been evicted?” Then we asked things like “Did you move because your landlord told you to?” or “Did you move because you thought you were going to get evicted?” These really broadened the question and we got much higher numbers.
Q: For a sociologist or ethnographer studying poverty, is there a big database with helpful data available?
A: No. You really have to hustle for the data. There’s no national database that has solid numbers on eviction. The American Housing Survey is incorporating the work we did in Milwaukee into its next iteration, which is great because in a few years we will have solid survey data on eviction. One thing we’re doing is collecting eviction records from all over the country, but I’ve got to tell you—it’s tough. Some states store those data at the state level, so we now have records going back to the mid-’90s for Nebraska and Hawaii, for example. In other states, it’s not even stored at the county level; judges keep those data.
Q: Has your view of eviction changed throughout your research?
A: There’s kind of a baseline assumption about eviction—that someone loses a job or gets addicted, then they get evicted. The reality is that there is a non-trivial number of families that are just at risk of eviction every day. They’re paying 70 to 80 percent of their income on housing and just a little thing can lead to eviction. There’s evidence that shows that a lot of folks get evicted over relatively small sums of money. I think that the inevitability of eviction in the lives of the poor is something that I’ve come to accept as a reality for people below the poverty line.
The post Social scientist discusses the realities of eviction appeared first on AAOA.
Purchasing your first rental property is a big step for any investor. It’s one of the largest assets you can buy, and with a little bit of time and effort, it can be a great way to generate passive income. But before you become a real estate mogul and start building an empire, you should start with the basics. Knowing how to find a house, get a mortgage and fill it with good tenants are all essential aspects of purchasing your first rental property.
Let’s take a look at the steps you’ll need to take to purchase your first investment property, as well as the challenges you may face along the way. While purchasing a rental property is similar to buying a primary residence, there are some unique differences that you’ll need to consider. With these tips and tricks, you’ll have the information you need to make the process as smooth as possible.Is an Investment Property Right for You?
Buying a rental property isn’t for the faint of heart. Not only do you have to consider the mortgage and the operating costs, but you also have to think about the tenants, who can either make or break your investment. There’s usually more risk involved with owning a rental property than investing in the stock market. After all, if you managed to get stuck with bad tenants who don’t pay rent on time, your returns aren’t just reduced – they’re nonexistent. Sure, the stock market may only be pulling in 4% to 5% annually, but you can count on that with some level of confidence. You’re taking a bigger gamble with an investment property.
But with a bigger gamble also comes the opportunity for a bigger reward, and this is especially true for investment properties. In 2016, the average gross yield for rental investors was 9.4%, which is slightly down from previous years but still significant. For some context, the average annual return on the Dow Jones over the last 10 years has been 4.8%. That’s nothing to write home about.
In addition, you have more influence over your investment property than you would the stock market. For example, even if you bought every bottle of Diet Coke in your local grocery store, you probably wouldn’t be able to affect Coca-Cola’s stock price (at least not noticeably). There are so many factors at play. When it comes to the stock market, you’re riding a wave that’s already in place.
With an investment property, though, small changes – such as a new door or some minor improvements to the kitchen – can improve the likelihood of wooing good tenants at higher monthly rents. With investment properties, not only are you riding the wave, but you own the wave. It’s a great choice for that investor who wants a more hands-on opportunity.How to Get a Mortgage for an Investment Property
A big question for people buying a property, whether it’s an investment property or a primary residence, is “How much house can I afford?” Start by looking at a mortgage calculator to get an idea of rates and monthly payments, and then you can get preapproved to see how much money you qualify for. Make sure that you tell your home loan expert that you’re interested in buying an investment property, which has different rules than a primary residence.Get Preapproved First
One of the biggest pitfalls that home buyers of any kind make is searching for a property before securing financing. Let’s say, after months of searching, you find the perfect rental property. But by the time you get preapproved for a mortgage, the house is already under contract with another buyer. Get preapproved now and have the ability to jump on a good deal at a moment’s notice.
Another problem with searching before being preapproved is that you don’t actually know how much money you qualify for. It would be heartbreaking to be looking at houses at one price range, only to find out that you qualify for less. Getting preapproved allows you to make an educated decision about the investment property you plan to buy.Agency Loans for Investment Properties
For an investment property, you’ll likely use an agency loan, which means the loan would be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. In most cases, you won’t be able to get an FHA or VA loan for an investment property. The exception to this would be if you purchase a multiple-unit property and plan to live in one of the units and rent out the others. If you’re planning to go this route, you should start by talking to a Home Loan Expert.Requirements for Purchasing an Investment Property
The agency loans available to you will either be a fixed-rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). Both of these options have specific requirements when it comes to the down payment and credit score.What Credit Score and Down Payment Do You Need to Buy an Investment Property?
For a fixed-rate mortgage, the minimum credit score requirement on a single-unit investment property is 620, and it will require a 20% down payment. If you have a credit score of 720 or above, however, you are only required to put down 15% on a single-unit investment property.
For an adjustable rate mortgage, the minimum credit score is 620 and will require at least 15% down on a single-family investment property.
If you’re interested in purchasing a multi-unit property, reach out to a Home Loan Expert to discuss the requirements and options.Other Requirements to Qualify
Other than the down payment, the requirements for a rental property are somewhat similar to that of a mortgage for a primary residence. You’ll still need to follow the 2/2/2 rule: provide two years of tax returns, two years of W-2s and two months of bank statements to your mortgage company, as well as have your assets verified.
Your mortgage company will also want you to have six months of mortgage payments in reserve in order to give yourself some buffer room in the event that you go through an unexpected financial challenge.Why Should I Get a Mortgage for My Investment Property?
If you have the means to pay for an investment property in cash, getting a mortgage could still make sense for your situation, especially if you’re planning on getting multiple investment properties. For instance, let’s say that you have $100,000 sitting in the bank. Your first option is to buy a house in cash for $100,000. While you will get a larger cash flow on that investment, it ties up all of your cash in a single place.
If, however, you get a loan with 20% down, you could potentially purchase another house or two at the same price with the remaining $80,000. While your immediate cash flow is lower, these returns will grow in the long-term, especially as rents increase and the mortgages get paid off. You’re building assets at a quicker pace when you go with a mortgage instead of cash.
In the event that you purchase an investment property in cash, there may still be beneficial loan opportunities for your situation. James Milne, a product manager at Quicken Loans, explains that “a large percentage of investment properties in the U.S. are owned without a mortgage, so there is plenty of opportunity to free up cash or take out equity to improve a property. A cash-out refinance is a great option for these clients.” This option can help your investment work for you.How Do I Determine the Potential ROI for My Rental Property?
When looking for a great investment property, the first question you need to ask is “Can I actually make money?” If the answer is no, it’s obviously not a great investment. To see how much money your property could potentially make, you’ll need to consider the return on investment (ROI). The ROI can be calculated by first finding the property’s net annual income. This is the rent money that’s left over after you’ve paid the taxes, insurance, property management fees, expected repairs (plan to spend 1% of the property value on this), potential vacancy periods, HOA fees (if applicable) and any utilities that aren’t going to be covered by the tenant. To find the ROI, take the annual income and divide it by the amount you spent on the property. For example, if the net annual income is $7,500 and you spent $100,000 for the property, your ROI is 7.5%.
Use this calculation to see if each rental property is a good potential investment.What Makes a Good Investment Property?
When scanning neighborhoods for your first rental, there are a few specific requirements you should be looking for. In a nutshell, you want a house that requires low maintenance, has limited vacancies and allows you to have a good rent-to-value ratio.No Fixer-Uppers
One of the biggest mistakes that new real estate investors make is buying a fixer-upper. If the ad says the property “needs a lot of TLC,” just move on to the next house. I’ve fallen for this one myself once and managed to get an “amazing deal” on a house that was missing interior walls, required new plumbing throughout and had a basement that flooded on a semi-monthly basis. There are few worse feelings than realizing that your cash cow is actually a money pit.
The exception to this rule is, of course, if you’re knowledgeable about home repairs. If you have extensive handyman skills (or know someone who does), you may be able to deal with these extensive repairs better than I did. But as a general rule, it’s going to be less of a headache to just purchase a house that’s already in workable condition. And they’re out there. So in the meantime, do your best to resist the allure of a fixer-upper.No Vacancy
If you don’t have paying tenants, your investment property’s not good for much. You want to make sure that your property is attractive not just to any tenant – but to good tenants who pay on time and don’t shove their Cosmo magazines down the toilet (speaking from experience).
Depending on your location, some places just tend to have lower vacancy rates, such as San Jose, Calif., and Fort Collins, Colo., which were both rocking a 0.2% vacancy rate in 2016. You can do some research on the neighborhood you’re looking at, but when it comes right down to it, spend time driving around the streets near your potential property. Simply looking at the level of care given to the houses in the surrounding area can give you a good idea of which houses are vacant and which are not.The 1% Rule
A big question from new investors is “How much should I rent a property for?” Seasoned investors sometimes use the 1% rule, which states that the rent each month should be at least 1% of the purchase price. For instance, if you purchased a house for $100,000, you would need to charge – at the very least – $1,000 for rent. This, of course, isn’t always true for investors, and some will settle for a slightly lower return.
In order to make sure that a potential property can receive that kind of return, check out Zillow, which offers an estimated monthly rental price – called a Rent Zestimate – that will allow you to get a good idea of the rent amounts in the area. It’s not a perfect measurement, and in my own experience, you can usually get a higher amount of rent than what’s listed, but it does give you a ballpark number.Are You a Landlord?
When you start buying investment properties, you need to take some time to think seriously about your ability to manage your properties. It’s a tough job being a landlord – tougher than most people think – and I’ve seen many an investor become overwhelmed by the time it takes to be a good landlord.
Fun fact: Be on the lookout out for this kind of investor. They sometimes burn out under the weight of their landlording duties and just sell their whole portfolio at once. It’s usually a good time to swoop in and buy.
But the point is that not everyone is cut out to be a landlord. It’s an intense and time-consuming line of work, especially if you already have a day job. For this reason, I highly recommend getting a management company to do this work for you. Sure, you’re probably spending 9% to 11% of the rent on this service, but they will take care of the tenants’ needs and collect the rent. And in the unfortunate event that a tenant needs to be evicted, they’ll help handle that process, too. Time is often more important than money, and letting go of this stress gives you the freedom to pursue additional investments.Keeping Track of Repairs
Since you’re making income from this investment property, you’ll be expected to pay income taxes, but the good news is that rental properties offer some great tax benefits. Whether you’re hiring someone to make a repair, paying interest on the mortgage or simply driving to your property, there’s a wide range of potential deductions. Words of wisdom: You’ll need to make sure you keep track of these expenses – which means receipts – on the off-chance that the IRS comes knocking. To get the full value of your investment property, you should be making the most of your tax deduction opportunities.
This is another perk of using a management company. They’ll keep track of all of your rental expenses and send them to you in a nice document during tax season. Once again, the amount of time this saves you is worth the money.Getting Started
While there are many variables to consider when purchasing your first investment property, you should start by doing your research. Look at housing prices and neighborhoods and begin saving for a down payment. And when you’re ready to dive head first into the real estate game, you can start by getting preapproved for a mortgage.
Do you have more questions about buying your first investment property? Let us know in the comments below!
Existing home sales in the U.S. soared to a 10-year high in January to kick off the real estate market’s new year on a strong note, according to a report published Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors.
Sales last month – encompassing single-family houses as well as condos, town homes and co-ops – jumped 3.3 percent over the month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of nearly 5.7 million. That’s the highest level the economy has seen since February 2007 and is up a healthy 3.8 percent over the year.
“Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month, as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home,” Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist, said in a statement Wednesday.
January’s sales broadly exceeded the expectations of analysts, many of whom expected a slight pullback after strong real estate performance in November and December. Samuel Coffin, an economist at UBS Investment Bank, described housing transactions in the fourth quarter of 2016 as having exhibited “exaggerated strength” that was unlikely to be sustained in January.
But sound economic fundamentals – such as low unemployment, rising wages and consistent job gains – and unseasonably warm weather, particularly in the Northeast, are believed to have helped bolster the housing market’s momentum last month.
“Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate and deteriorating affordability conditions,” Yun said.
Indeed, housing activity throughout the U.S. has been plagued by an inventory shortage that has driven up prices and is believed to have priced certain lower-income homebuyers out of the market. The National Association of Realtors estimated housing inventory ticked up slightly last month but was ultimately down 7.1 percent from the number of available homes on the market a year ago.
The group also said available properties that sold in January only stayed on the market for about 50 days, down from 52 for those sold in December and from the 64 days the median existing home was on the market in January 2016.
And with limited options and a competitive sales environment, prices have soared. The association estimates the median sale price for an existing home last month clocked in at $228,900, up 7.1 percent over the year.
“While strong price gains are positive for owners of homes and help to reduce the number of homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the market value of their home, it is negative for affordability,” David Berson, senior vice president and chief economist at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., wrote in a research note Wednesday. “We have concerns that continued supply constraints in the housing market will allow outsized house price gains again in 2017, especially hurting potential first-time homebuyers.”
The post Home Sales Hit 10-Year High Despite Price, Inventory Problems appeared first on AAOA.
As rising home prices, slow new home construction, and demographic shifts push homeownership rates to 50-year lows, the U.S. is increasingly a country of renters—and landlords.
Last year, 37 percent of homes sold were acquired by buyers who didn’t live in them, according to tax-assessment data compiled in a new report published by Attom Data Solutions and ClearCapital.com Inc.
That number may include second homes, or properties acquired by investors who seek to fix up old homes and resell them at a profit. But it’s also a strong indication that landlords are playing a larger role in the U.S. housing market.
In the years following the foreclosure crisis, Wall Street drove a rise in the share of homes purchased by landlords, as private equity firms bought thousands of cheap homes. In 2012, institutional investors accounted for 7.8 percent of home sales, according to the report.
Rising home prices led big investors to curtail their purchases, and the share of homes acquired by institutional investors fell to 2.9 percent last year. But as Wall Street backed off, smaller investors picked up the slack, aided by tools developed to help big investors find, finance, and manage rental properties.
Smaller investors—particularly those who have already paid off their mortgages on the homes they live in—see rental properties as an attractive way to save for retirement.
To some extent, they’re focusing their resources on cheaper markets, because the profit margins are better at lower price points, said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom Data Solutions.
In Seattle, where the median home price was $414,000 at the end of last year, the annual share of sales to non-occupiers peaked in 2013, at 23 percent. But in cheaper Dallas, where the median home price was $201,000, the share of homes sold to people who don’t live in them nearly doubled over the last 12 years.
Whether the rise of the rental landlord is a positive development is an open question, said Blomquist. “On one hand, landlords are filling a need that exists because of the low homeownership rates. They may also be crowding out folks that want to be homeowners but can’t compete with investors.”
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