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Last week, Househappy participated as a Start Up Alley exhibitor at Inman News’ Real Estate Connect conference. Here are 5 takeaways from my first trip to Real Estate Connect:

1. “Partnerships” seemed to be one of the overriding themes throughout the conference. Nikki Field from Sotheby’s International Realty demonstrated this best during a panel discussion when she talked about “teams, partnerships, and alliances” and how they can ultimately help a broker or agent sell real estate. More and more, I am seeing real estate professionals embrace this concept and implement it in their daily business with great success.

2. Another trend I heard repeated was the importance of brokers/agents learning to think globally. A significant number of real estate professionals understand the power of advertising their listings to a global market––according to one broker, 73% of their sales last year came from international buyers.

3. Inman’s CEO Summit was one of my favorite experiences at Real Estate Connect. It’s unusual to find a forum in which the heads of industry can come together in such an intimate setting. Not only were there great presentations (including one from The New York Times own Andrew Sorkin), but there was also a cocktail hour immediately following which fostered even better connections within the group. (Plus, as an appreciator of design and architecture, I truly enjoyed getting to check out The New York Times building first hand––see pics below).

4. One of the recurring topics in the real estate industry is leveraging new and relevant tech advances; Start Up Alley provides an opportunity for brokers and agents to preview these options. As an exhibitor, we couldn’t have asked for a better venue in which to introduce Househappy.

5. Overall, a week at Real Estate Connect reinforced my belief that Inman News is vital to the real estate industry. Inman regularly produces forward-thinking content that attracts a high level crowd to their events. To keep the industry moving forward, we need people to continue to address the big issues; Real Estate Connect provides a venue for real estate professionals to discuss relevant topics and encourage each other to push the status quo.

Were you at Real Estate Connect NYC? I’d love to hear what you learned or what your favorite part was! Comment or tweet us @househappyinc.

Also, check out some of the photos from our trip below.

All the best,

Kevin McCloskey
Founder & CEO

Every January, Park City, Utah draws in tens of thousands of movie fans to attend the annual Sundance Film Festival. This influx of nonresidents creates a huge opportunity for real estate agents to up their game and attract potential buyers.

Park City is the lesser-known Hollywood ski town when compared to Aspen, Colorado; however, many celebrities choose Park City because they can keep a low profile there. Celebrities from Michael Jordan to Katherin Heigl own homes in this ski town.

While many locals see the Sundance Film Festival as two weeks of crowded restaurants and paparazzi, real estate agents see the festival as a boost in business. They find ways to turn the thousands of nonresidents who visit into potential buyers––especially those who are looking for an escape from Hollywood.

“I love Sundance. I have sold so many homes through Sundance. At least one person will fall in love with Park City. They may not buy that week but they come back,” says Paul Benson, an agent at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, who sold three homes for a total of $27 million last year to people exposed to Park City through Sundance. Mr. Benson says the potential buyers aren’t just in the entertainment industry, they are also the investors and the corporate sponsors. He hosts dinners and events to get to know them.

According to a study by the University of Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research, of the more than 30,000 nonresidents who attended Sundance last year, some 40% said they would return to Utah during the following year.

As far as the real estate market in the Park City area goes, nearly 70% of homes are second homes. The average price for a single-family home in 2013 was $929,000 up about 6% from the previous year, according to the city’s department of economic development. Last year, 34 homes sold for over $4 million and the number of building permits for new homes was up 50%.

In the end, wining and dining festival attendees seems to pay off for real estate agents.

Source: WSJ

Photo: World Ski

8 Mortgage Tips for 2014

Househappy —  January 17, 2014 — 2 Comments

mortgage-ratesEarly 2014 might be a good time for buyers and homeowners to grab a low mortgage rate. If you keep your finances in order and act quickly, you will still have time to grab a great mortgage deal.

These 8 mortgage tips from MSN Real Estate can help you with your decisions in 2014:

1. Document your finances. With the new mortgage rules going into effect this month, lenders will be extra diligent when underwriting loans. Make sure to keep records of your finances, including bank statements, tax returns, W-2s and other assets you own. Lastly, be ready to explain any unusual deposits to your accounts to help close your loan faster.

2. Lock a rate as soon as you can. Rates will likely increase during the year with the Federal Reserve reducing the pace of the economic stimulus program. If you are planning to get a mortgage, lock in a rate as soon as you are able to.

3. Refinance now – if you still can. Those who are still paying more than 5 percent interest on their home loans might still have an opportunity to refinance at a lower rate. It doesn’t hurt to try. Talk to a loan officer and have them look over the numbers.

4. Buyers, use your bargaining power. Lenders lost a big portion of their refinance business when mortgage rates increased. This year, they will give more attention to homebuyers thus creating more competition. Buyers should take advantage of bargaining power and should shop around for the best deal and look beyond the interest rate on the loan.

5. Learn your rights as a borrower. Mortgage borrowers will get more new rights as consumers when the new mortgage rules go into effect this year. Make sure to be aware of your rights so you don’t run into any problems.

6. Take good care of your credit. If you are planning to get a mortgage, make sure to monitor your credit history and score until your loan closes. For the best rates, keep your credit score around 720 or above.

7. Don’t overspend. Lenders won’t want to give you a loan if you have little money left over at the end of each month. Try to keep your debt obligations below 43 percent of your income.

8. Consider alternative mortgage options such as ARMs. Depending on your plans, and how long you think you will keep your house, there are many different mortgage options. Rates on adjustable-rate mortgages can be as much as one percentage point lower than on fixed-rate loans. Although if you don’t know how long you plan to keep your home, a fixed-rate loan may be the better choice.

This article can be found in its original form on MSN Real Estate.

Photo: Total Mortgage

For the last 18 years, Real Estate Connect has been one of the leading real estate technology events in the industry. The semi-annual event is produced by Inman News, alternating between New York and San Francisco, and is an opportunity for industry leaders to network, discover the latest technologies, and look to what’s ahead for real estate.

Househappy is excited to announce that, not only will we be attending January’s Real Estate Connect 2014 at the Grand Hyatt New York, but we will be participating as a Start Up-Alley exhibitor––an opportunity open only to “young, cutting-edge companies.”

“Start-Up Alley companies are creating new solutions to address some of the real estate industry’s biggest challenges,” said David Stein, president and general manager of Inman News. “Real Estate Connect gives these innovators the unique opportunity to showcase their products to thousands of industry leaders.”

Last year’s San Francisco event boasted the largest attendance in 10 years, and we look forward to the opportunity to introduce Househappy in such a large forum filled with some of real estate’s leading thinkers and innovators. If you are planning to attend RE Connect, we encourage you to come by the Househappy booth (exhibit #S20) during AgentReboot on January 14th or Start-Up Alley from January 15th-17th to say “hello” to the Househappy team including:

  • Kevin McCloskey, CEO/founder
  • Robyn Woodman, Business Development
  • Justin Boucher, Operations

We will also be attending the Property Portal Watch event January 13th-14th at the same location.

If you will be in New York City in January, we’d love to connect with you beforehand––introduce yourself in the comments below, find us on Facebook, or tweet us @Househappyinc.

Looking forward to seeing you all next month!

Photo credit: Inman News

Home for sale in Seattle, Washington, via Househappy

As the housing market slowly heads toward the path of recovery, both real estate professionals and homeowners are becoming more optimistic. However, there are still a few bumps along the way that will need to be solved as the sector struggles to get its footing yet again.

Real estate consultant Scott Muldavin has outlined what he believes the top issues affecting real estate currently are.

Interest rates are cited as the top issue affecting real estate. Since rates were historically low for so long, now that they have been on the rise, capitalization rates are likely to follow, which could make people weary about investing in real estate.

Population ages Muldavin noted because there will be a greater demand for senior housing as the population gets older. This will require a change in size and availability and greater medical care services and facilities.

The capital market resurgence has positively impacted real estate. Credit is less restrictive for the commercial sector and while underwriting remains a challenge for residential markets, affordability still remains high.

Echo boomers represent 80 million Americans, which will provide a high demand in the future for housing. This segment of the population prefers an active urban lifestyle, rely on public transit, and often choose location over size – suburbs are catching up, Muldavin notes, with better mass transit and new bike paths.

Climate change and more extreme weather patterns such as Hurricane Katrina and Sandy will continue to have a strong impact on coastal homes and properties.  In these areas they will have to deal with changes in code and zoning standards as well as paying higher insurance premiums.

Major global events can also impact real estate markets. Such events include acts of terrorism, war, the global debt crisis and economic downturns. Muldavin notes that these need to be considered because their impact is often great.

Natural gas and oil production is on the rise in the U.S. and while it is creating job opportunities it is also contributing to climate change and environmental degradation.

Globalization is another issue cited by Muldavin and how the economies of other countries will continue to have a great impact on the U.S. economy and real estate market.

Technology in the future will continue to impact office spaces. Muldavin said “Many people are replacing physical items with electronics and free or virtual products, such as e-books and smartphones enabled with cameras, GPS and flashlights. This means businesses will continue to require less retail space, so I believe the trend in the future will be for fewer and smaller stores,”

Lastly the impact of the internet on brick-and-mortar retail stores also continues to be a growing issue as the increase in internet sales is expected to double by 2020.

This article appears in its original form on AG Beat

Househappy headquarters in Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District

Househappy is very excited to announce that we have secured an additional $1.5 million in series A financing led by Jeff Greenberg, Senior VP Electronic Media and Director at Skechers.

“I could not be more proud of the progress we have made in the 7 months since our launch,” said Kevin McCloskey, our CEO/founder. “Our team has been working hard to build a product that we believe in. This new round of funding will allow us to maintain that forward momentum and continue building.”

The capital is in addition to the $1 million seed round Househappy.org received previously from angel investors. It will be used to expand our growing team and further development of our products and services for buyers, brokers, and sellers.

In addition to his position with Skechers, Mr. Greenberg is the founder of G9 development, a luxury real estate development company located in Manhattan Beach, CA. He will also serve on Househappy’s board of directors.

“In our line of work, we are constantly using real estate search platforms,” he said. “When I was introduced to Househappy, I felt like it provided solutions to a lot of what was missing from the existing sites…I expect big things from Househappy and I am looking forward to being a part of it.”

For additional information, please see our press release

Now that the housing market is recovering, million dollar homes are selling faster than ever; And while sellers may have downplayed certain features during the great recession, it is once again acceptable to promote those “extras” that make your luxury homes unique.

According to experts, the most desirable trends right now are marble, impressive windows, and wine cellars:

Listings for luxury properties with wine cellars have risen 30% over the past two years. Marble baths are up 78%; oversized windows, 56%; floor-to-ceiling windows, 39%; marble floors, 30%; ceiling windows, 37%; gyms, 28%; private elevators and tennis courts, each up 24%. Home listings with panoramic views and ocean views are both up 18%. In contrast, the number of listings featuring hardwood floors and plantation shutters each fell by 13%. Listings for barbecues and hardwoods were down 13%.

These trends let sellers and brokers know what to emphasize when selling a luxury home. Using certain keywords or highlighting specific features may help your listing stand out to potential buyers.

This post can be found in its original form on MarketWatch

Photo credit: iStock