Winning Agent http://www.winningagent.com Sales That Work Mon, 15 Dec 2014 23:52:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 How to Make the Most of Holiday Downtime http://www.winningagent.com/make-holiday-downtime/ http://www.winningagent.com/make-holiday-downtime/#respond Thu, 11 Dec 2014 02:13:01 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=4040   It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s. If you’re not taking some planned time off, chances are you’re spending time in the office. Maybe you’re on desk duty or maybe you’re just feeling guilty about that steadily growing stack of paper on your desk. Well, guess what? You can make this normally dead […]

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 How to Make the Most of Holiday Downtime

It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s. If you’re not taking some planned time off, chances are you’re spending time in the office. Maybe you’re on desk duty or maybe you’re just feeling guilty about that steadily growing stack of paper on your desk.

Well, guess what? You can make this normally dead week into a major period of productivity. Here’s how:

  • Start a thank you list
  • Get in touch
  • Volunteer to help someone
  • Review your social media
  • Conduct a performance review

Now, put away the Angry Birds, shut down Facebook, turn off your email, and let’s see what we can accomplish in your business during this dead week.

  1. Start a thank you list. Make a list of everyone you can think of who has helped you in any way during the past year. Maybe you’ve already said a verbal thank you or sent an email. Be different this time—send a handwritten note, mailed with a real postage stamp. Maybe even get a supply of Happy New Year cards and write your notes on those. The end result? You’ll make at least two people feel good—yourself and the person who gets your note. You can never over-thank someone for a favor. 
  2. Get in touch. Yes, this means picking up the phone, not sending emails. Touch base with colleagues you haven’t seen, former clients, vendors, and others in your network. If you think there might be an unresolved issue with any of these, acknowledge it, do what you can to make amends, and start the year with a clean slate. You can even include family and friends in this effort—the niece whose birthday you forgot, the high school chum you haven’t talked to in months. You’ll feel lighter when this project is complete. 
  3. Volunteer to help someone. Perhaps your colleague down the hall has a showing or an open house scheduled but her granddaughter is dancing in The Nutcracker at the very same time. Take over for her. She’ll never forget your kindness, believe me. We all have those times when we are torn between family and work responsibilities. The stress isn’t good for your health. Doing a favor for someone else is. 
  4. Review your social media. How you use social media has a big impact on your personal brand. Google your own name. Find out what’s being said about you online. Maybe it’s nothing, but if it’s something that needs your attention, do it. Delete or cancel accounts you’re not using. Make a list of Tweets, Facebook posts, and blog topics you can start using as soon that ball drops on New Year’s Eve. You might even write a few ahead, so you don’t let this important part of your strategy drop in the post-holiday rush. 
  5. Conduct a performance review—of yourself! What were your goals at the beginning of this year? How many of them did your reach? What derailed you or got in your way? What do you need to recreate for the coming year? The purpose of this is not to beat yourself up or feel bad for what didn’t get done. Congratulate yourself for what you did accomplish. Celebrate your successes, large and small. Then use what you’ve learned to design a plan for 2015.

Yes, this does bring us to the age-old topic of goal setting. According to research conducted by Harvard University and others, fewer than 10% of business people have goals at all and only 3% write them down. So if you write down even one or two, you are way ahead of the game.

In order to be effective, goals must be SMART. This is an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-sensitive. Some examples:

  • Specific: increase my sales by 10% over 2014. Not specific: Improve my listing strategy.
  • Measurable: If your goal is Specific, it will also be measurable. You’ll know if you’re on track for a 10% sales increase.
  • Attainable: Exercise 30 minutes a day, three days a week. Not attainable: Run the Boston Marathon (unless, of course, you are already a marathon runner).
  • Realistic: This means you feel both willing and able to work on the goal. In your mind, you may want to be president of your firm. But are you willing to do what it takes to get there? Do you even know the steps you’ll have to take?
  • Timely: This simply means you can attach a “by when” to your goal. Will it take you three months, five years, or somewhere in between? Open-ended goals are seldom achieved.

There you have it. You took what could have been a wasted week of fooling around and kicking back and turned it into a road map for your future. Good for you. And Happy New Year!

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StudioPress’s Pro Plus All-Theme Package On Sale http://www.winningagent.com/studiopresss-pro-plus-theme-package-sale/ http://www.winningagent.com/studiopresss-pro-plus-theme-package-sale/#respond Thu, 27 Nov 2014 17:18:31 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=4047 StudioPress has a great deal going with their All Pro Package. Get the Pro Plus Package Save today by picking up access to all of StudioPress’s current themes and all themes they ever produce in the future (does not include third party themes). Just an FYI – even though I sell my own theme, I have the Pro […]

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StudioPress has a great deal going with their All Pro Package.

Get the Pro Plus All-Theme Package

Get the Pro Plus Package

Save today by picking up access to all of StudioPress’s current themes and all themes they ever produce in the future (does not include third party themes).

Just an FYI – even though I sell my own theme, I have the Pro Plus Package. It is an amazing resource for both WordPress users and developers…

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Happy Thanksgiving From Winning Agent And A Sweet Recipe http://www.winningagent.com/happy-thanksgiving-winning-agent-sweet-recipe/ http://www.winningagent.com/happy-thanksgiving-winning-agent-sweet-recipe/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:37:51 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=4001 It’s one of my favorite times of year – Fall and Thanksgiving. We work so hard during the year, and so many of our holidays, and even vacations, are filled with buying. But not Thanksgiving; its a time to sit back and enjoy a well earned rest, to be thankful for those that are in […]

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I would like to wish you and your family  and friends a Happy Thanksgiving

It’s one of my favorite times of year – Fall and Thanksgiving. We work so hard during the year, and so many of our holidays, and even vacations, are filled with buying. But not Thanksgiving; its a time to sit back and enjoy a well earned rest, to be thankful for those that are in your life and those that have gone home. And perhaps, most importantly, to thank God for giving us the opportunity to live and grow.

A Healthier Caramel Sauce from MommaHealth.comHere is a wonderful recipe for a Healthy Caramel Sauce. I’m sure you will enjoy it just as my family and I have. One little secret about it is that my wife came up with the recipe. You see, I have a large appetite for sweets, and she has a rather large desire for her husband and kids to be healthy…so we sort of met in the middle. :-) I think we leaned a little bit more on my side…

Take a look at the Caramel Sauce recipe

Please share and let us know if you tried it…and of course, once again, Happy Thanksgiving…Go hug a family member today!

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AgentPress Listings Search Results changed after WordPress 4.0 Update http://www.winningagent.com/agentpress-listings-search-results-changed-wordpress-4-0-update/ http://www.winningagent.com/agentpress-listings-search-results-changed-wordpress-4-0-update/#respond Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:28:25 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3946 So, you’re rocking along on your Winning Agent Pro or other Genesis child-themed web site, proud of yourself that you’ve kept everything up to date. Recently though, you have noticed something different — now when you use your AgentPress Listings search the output has a large shaded box at the top with the bolded letters […]

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search-results-for-agent-press-listings

So, you’re rocking along on your Winning Agent Pro or other Genesis child-themed web site, proud of yourself that you’ve kept everything up to date. Recently though, you have noticed something different — now when you use your AgentPress Listings search the output has a large shaded box at the top with the bolded letters “Search Results for:” You don’t recall this being there before; what happened? Well, I noticed it too and began my search with two questions:

1. What happened?
2. How do I fix it?

So, what happened?

Apparently, there were some WordPress core changes to wp_query after the latest WordPress 4.0 “Benny” update. Now I do not pretend to know all the inner-workings of wp_query, other than to know it’s the main engine that powers “the loop”, or the query string the code uses, that retrieves your posts to be displayed. After retrieving the posts, then WordPress decides which template will be used to display the page output. On the previous link you can read in detail about how templates are chosen if you desire, but the bottom line is unless your theme or another plugin supplies an archive-listings template for the listings custom post type, you are now defaulting to search.php in the Genesis core framework. This template includes the display of the shaded box “Search Results for:” at the top of the page. OK, mystery solved!

So, how do I fix it?

The solution is two fold: First, make sure you get the latest version (minimum version 1.2.2) of the AgentPress Listings plugin. Second, create an archive-listings template for your site to find and use instead of letting it default to search.php.

The Plugin

There was a little hiccup when version 1.2.2 of AgentPress Listings was released, so you wouldn’t have received an update notification on your Dashboard. To correct, you can delete the existing version, if it’s older, and replace it with the updated one – you won’t lose any of your listings.

The Template

This is easier than you think. Although, one cautionary note: If you’ve never edited or added a file to your site before, I recommend reading this post for some tips: Editing Your WordPress Site 101.

Let’s get started. Using a text editor, create a new file and copy/paste the following to your file:

Save the file with the exact filename:

archive-listing.php

Last step is to connect to your site via FTP and navigate to your wp-content/themes folder and to the folder of your active theme. Drop your shiny new file in the folder of your active theme. That’s it! Go to your site, search on your AgentPress Listings search widget, and now the shaded box should be gone.

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Google Has Introduced Mobile-Friendly Tags – Is Your Website Going To Pass The Test? http://www.winningagent.com/pass-google-mobile-friendly-test/ http://www.winningagent.com/pass-google-mobile-friendly-test/#respond Sat, 22 Nov 2014 20:05:51 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=4009 If you have used Google Search on your mobile phone and ended up going to a page that was clearly not designed for mobile devises, google feels your pain. Google has started to add the “mobile-friendly” label to their mobile search results. And I have to say, it is about time. Here is an example […]

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Does your website pass the Google Mobile-Friendly Test? It Better!

If you have used Google Search on your mobile phone and ended up going to a page that was clearly not designed for mobile devises, google feels your pain. Google has started to add the “mobile-friendly” label to their mobile search results. And I have to say, it is about time.

Here is an example of what the search results will look like:
What does a search look like for a google mobile friendly website

Google determines if a page is “mobile-friendly” if it meets a selected group of criteria as seen (detected) by it’s Googlebot. The criteria are:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

So how can you tell if your site will pass the test? Google has provided a Mobile Friendly Test you can use.

A quick word for those using the Winning Agent Pro theme that is built on the Genesis Framework. As you can see by the above image, we are fully compliant without any errors. When Carrie and I developed the theme, one of our first priorities was to ensure that it was not only mobile ready, but looked fantastic on a full array of mobile devices. We wanted your website to make you look not just good, but awesome!

So how important will this “mobile-friendly” Google thing be? I personally believe that sometime in the near future, if your site is not mobile friendly, you will not rank well, if at all, in mobile search. Now, this is my opinion, but it is based on not only sound reasoning, but Google’s own quote.

“We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”

So what does this mean for your website if it’s not mobile-friendly? The short answer is – make it mobile friendly, and soon. Why? Because for most websites, especially those built for client interaction, mobile traffic is nearing a third of total traffic. Include tablets, and you are nearing 50%. All of that traffic could cease to exist for you as Google begins to rank searches using the metric of “mobile-friendly”.

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, the good news is we can do that for you with our newly enhanced special offer, which is at an incredible introductory price. Please take a look at how much it includes - you could be up and running in as little as 5 days!

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Why This Winter Is the Perfect Time to Sell a Home http://www.winningagent.com/winter-perfect-time-sell-home/ http://www.winningagent.com/winter-perfect-time-sell-home/#respond Thu, 20 Nov 2014 02:17:01 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3980 OK, we’ve read the weather reports. It’s the coldest winter since the Pilgrims landed. Snow everywhere. Why would any sane client want to sell their home now? And why should you put time and effort into getting that listing? Here are a few reasons why, along with some tips for getting the job done quickly […]

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Why the winter may be the perfect time to list and sell your home

OK, we’ve read the weather reports. It’s the coldest winter since the Pilgrims landed. Snow everywhere. Why would any sane client want to sell their home now? And why should you put time and effort into getting that listing? Here are a few reasons why, along with some tips for getting the job done quickly and easily.

  1. There’s less competition. Everybody else reads the weather reports too, and some of your fellow Realtors may feel it’s not worth the effort. But you’ve got a business to build. There are people who have to sell, no matter what the time of year or the weather. They’ve been relocated—did you know that more people get job transfers in January than in any other month? Perhaps they have financial issues, or they want to move to where they haven’t seen a snowflake since the Hoover administration. Whatever the reason, sellers are out there waiting for you to find them. Go for it.
  1. The pond is smaller. And what Realtor doesn’t want to be the biggest fish in the little pond? You might have fewer showings, but you’ll attract more qualified buyers. You’ll have more time to negotiate the best deal for your clients. A buyer might have thirty homes to choose from in June, but now there are only ten that fit their wish list criteria. If they are serious buyers, they will choose one of those ten. It could be yours.
  1. You can look pretty. During the holidays, the home you’re listing can be the equivalent of the Queen (or King) of the prom. Thanksgiving suggests pumpkins, horns of plenty, scented candles, and a fire in the fireplace. Christmas offers even more opportunities—the gorgeous, sparkling tree, the smell of cookies and gingerbread baking, stockings “hung by the chimney with care.” Potential buyers will picture themselves in this scene come next holiday season and they will want to be there.

Now that you know why winter can be your selling season, here are five useful tips to pass on to your clients as they prepare to welcome potential new owners.

  1. Keep it clean. If you live in the snow belt, make sure your sidewalks and driveways are kept clear. Shovel every day if you need to. And beware of melting and freezing sidewalks—a definite safety hazard. Have some sand ready to sprinkle and make sure your railings and steps are in good repair. What to do with all that extra snow? Build a welcoming snowman in the front yard! 
  1. Keep it warm. Wandering through a cold house is not going to warm the hearts of your potential buyers. When you have a showing scheduled, keep the heat at a reasonable level (at least 72°) and light a fire in the fireplace before potential buyers show up. Have a place near the front door to hang wet coats and scarves. 
  1. Keep it festive. Have a holiday-themed welcome mat at your front door and a pretty wreath hanging on the door to go with it. Indoor decorations should suit the home and your family’s lifestyle. If there’s no room for a gigantic live tree, try garlands and tabletop arrangements. If there are small children in the home, keep toys and other childish items out of the way. Scented candles add warmth and the smell of baking cookies can warm even the heart of Scrooge. 
  1. Keep it light. A dark house has the same psychological effect on buyers as a cold house. Use lighting to show off the home’s best features. Lamp light is softer and warmer than ceiling lights. If you have late day showings, be aware that the sun goes down at 5 p.m. or earlier on winter days, so be sure the porch and exterior lights are on too. 
  1. Keep it safe. The holidays are prime time for burglars. If the presents under your tree are visible from the outside, make sure the security system is turned on when the open house or showing is over. Open houses are prime targets for thieves. As a Realtor, you can’t be in every room at once and it gives them a great opportunity to “case the joint,” as the saying goes. Don’t let anyone see you when you reset the alarm system either.

To the savvy Realtor, there is no “bad” time to sell. Some seasons may be more challenging and may take a little more creativity and ingenuity than others. But if you and your seller work together, you can cover all the bases and put together a deal that’s a winner for all concerned.

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Trust Me! Building Or Losing Trust In Client Relationships http://www.winningagent.com/building-trust-losing-trust/ http://www.winningagent.com/building-trust-losing-trust/#respond Thu, 13 Nov 2014 01:00:23 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3908 Trust Me! Two Words That Cut Both Ways in Client Relationships We actually know Realtors who have this two-word motto printed on their business cards or displayed on a plaque in their office. But do they live it? How do these two little words impact their relationships with clients and colleagues? It’s a double-edged sword: […]

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Trust me how to build or lose trust with your clients

Trust Me! Two Words That Cut Both Ways in Client Relationships

We actually know Realtors who have this two-word motto printed on their business cards or displayed on a plaque in their office. But do they live it? How do these two little words impact their relationships with clients and colleagues?

It’s a double-edged sword: either you are building trust or you’re losing trust. You are hardly ever running in neutral.

Here are four ways to build trust and four ways you can lose trust. Some take time, some can happen in an instant.

How do you rate on these important factors?

Building Trust

  1. Say what you do, do what you say. Among other things, this means keeping your word. If you promise to deliver a client’s counter-offer in person at 8 o’clock at night in a driving rainstorm, you do it. (You don’t foolishly place yourself in danger, of course, but there are ways you can accomplish the goal or make alternative arrangements.) You always tell the truth, no matter how tough it might be. If you blew the counter-offer by not showing up, admit it and do what you can to make amends.
  2. Honor your intuition. Instinctively, you know the right thing to do in almost every situation. Do it, regardless of how uncomfortable or personally risky it might be. People will respect you when they know you’re consistently committed to doing the right thing. Mutual respect builds trust.
  3. Operate on shared goals. When you’re working with a client, make it a point to know their goals for the transaction up front. You have your goals (making the sale, closing the deal) but your ultimate goal should be a happy client. Essentially, that’s what your client wants too—a happy new home, or a happy bank account from a profitable sale. See yourself as part of the client’s team. Real team players trust each other.
  4. Follow through. In other words, see the transaction through to completion. Don’t drop the ball halfway through and expect a colleague or team member to pick up the pieces because you didn’t complete the paperwork or file the appropriate documents. One of the big problems we all have is over commitment. Before you promise to do something or show up somewhere, think about what you are saying and make sure you can deliver.

Destroying Trust

  1. Be inconsistent. If you’re Little Mary Sunshine one day and Cruella Deville the next, your clients will find it hard to communicate with you, let alone trust you. If you say one thing and do another, if you promise one thing today and something else tomorrow, trust
    will disappear like snowflakes in July.
  2. Control information. Control over information gives people a feeling of power. Sharing information about the transaction in process—the good, the bad, and the ugly—may be momentarily uncomfortable but your client will respect your openness, and together you can develop a strategy to solve whatever problems may arise.
  3. Tell the whole truth. Withholding bad news may work in the short term, but ultimately it will come back to haunt you. Lay all the cards on the table. Of course as a Realtor, you are obligated to disclose things like material defects of a property. But there may be other “gray area” factors that could negatively affect the transaction. Be up front about it, because ultimately the client will find out anyway.
  4. Tell tales. Oh, we all love to tell stories, don’t we? It’s easy to brag about the deal of the century you just closed, or the terrible client you just dumped, but these tales have a way of showing up again in the most embarrassing way. Talking behind someone’s back is a relationship-killer. Even if you have had a bad experience, it’s best to keep it to yourself. Nothing positive can come from sharing this type of information.

So where do you fit on the trust factor scale?

Thinking back over your most recent transactions and client relationships, would you say you are building trust or destroying trust? If there are specific instances where you know you’ve destroyed trust with a client, develop a plan now to make it right. If there are actions you can take to build trust, start today.

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3 Steps To Protect Your Web Presence http://www.winningagent.com/3-steps-protect-web-presence/ http://www.winningagent.com/3-steps-protect-web-presence/#respond Tue, 11 Nov 2014 01:17:01 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3845 You’re a Real Estate Agent. Your days are filled with buyers, sellers, inspectors, contractors and closings. You know you need to improve your web presence or if you just starting out, you need to get one. With so many options to choose from, where do you start? If you read my last post about Winning […]

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Protect Your Web Presence Image
You’re a Real Estate Agent. Your days are filled with buyers, sellers, inspectors, contractors and closings. You know you need to improve your web presence or if you just starting out, you need to get one. With so many options to choose from, where do you start?

If you read my last post about Winning the Search Results Battle – you can probably guess what’s coming next. Here are three steps to protect your web presence:

1. Own Your Digital Hub. Your website is your digital hub, the home base for your entire online presence. It contains links to your social media pages and third party portals. Those sites contain links that point back to the content created on your website. There are a lot of options for websites today. I believe strongly that your website should be a self-hosted site powered by WordPress. You should use a domain name you own and control. WordPress is open source, so you won’t have to contend with propriety software or have your content held hostage later on by a provider. Self-hosted WordPress is not the easiest option, but in my opinion it is the best one for building and protecting your online presence.

I’ve got a friend that is a real estate broker, and everytime she wants to update one of her sites, she has to pay the software vendor to make that change. Needless to say, she’s not happy about that. Her content is trapped. She continues paying every month for the site, but doesn’t own it. She can’t freely move it or modify it. Don’t make that mistake. Own your site. That’s why I recommend using the Winning Agent Pro theme to real estate agents. It’s designed for the industry, easy to edit and portable.

2. Be Controlling. Be in control of your website. Some brokerage firms provide websites for their agents as part of their service offerings. If it’s a WordPress site – that’s great. What you are looking for is a site that you can take with you if you ever leave that firm. The last thing you want if you leave, is having your site deleted or not being able to take it with you. You’ll spend more time and money adding content on your site then the initial cost to build it. It’s valuable – so make sure you get to keep it.

You can still take advantage of any site your firm provides – just don’t make it your home base. The original content you create should be on your own site. A site you control. This is also true for third party portals, blogging sites, etc. If you write a post on a third party site, be sure to reference content from your website somewhere in the post.

3. Protect your site. Make sure your website is being backed up daily and updates are applied when available. Managed hosts do this very well. Many shared host providers offer free backups as part of the hosting package. If your site is hacked or you accidentally delete something, backups are crucial.

Your web presence is an asset and worth building and protecting. It’s an investment, not an expense. By nature, we want to see expenses decrease, and investments grow.

The psychology of how you think of your website will determine what you put into it. Your website goal is to drive more leads to your real estate practice. That’s why you have a website.

Start writing and watch your practice grow.

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What’s Included In A Mortgage Payment? How To Explain It http://www.winningagent.com/whats-included-mortgage-payment/ http://www.winningagent.com/whats-included-mortgage-payment/#respond Thu, 06 Nov 2014 04:30:11 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3860 If you haven’t gathered already, the lending business has come up with its own lending vocabulary.  When you prepare to buy your first home you’ll hear terms you’ve never before heard.  Mortgage lenders use this terminology each day, every day, with abandon. After all, it’s their business and their lingo.  One of the most used […]

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How to explain PITI

If you haven’t gathered already, the lending business has come up with its own lending vocabulary.  When you prepare to buy your first home you’ll hear terms you’ve never before heard.  Mortgage lenders use this terminology each day, every day, with abandon. After all, it’s their business and their lingo.  One of the most used terms is “PITI.”

What is PITI?

PITI stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance, and is used to calculate your (another lender term) housing debt ratio, sometimes called a front end ratio.  A housing debt ratio is a number arrived at by dividing PITI by the borrowers’ gross monthly income. Lenders have predetermined housing debt ratio guidelines they use when approving mortgage loans.

For example, if PITI is $4,000 and the borrower’s income is $10,000, then $4,000 divided by $10,000 = 40%.  The housing debt ratio in this example would then simply be “40.”

Rent is one payment.  Yet PITI is a collection of many. Let’s break these down and take a closer look.

Mortgage loans are amortized over a fixed period for, say, 30 or 15 years.  When you hear the phrase “30-year fixed rate mortgage” it means not just that the rate is fixed, but that  it will be paid off, or amortized, in 30 years.

Mortgage-Payment-PITI-Calculater-300x225Each monthly mortgage payment in these loans consists of two items; principal and interest.  The principal portion goes directly to pay down the principal, or the initial loan. The remaining amount is interest; the amount that goes directly to the lender who issued the loan.  Yet so far “PITI” is missing two more components, taxes and insurance.

Taxes, or more specifically property taxes, are typically paid once or twice per year and paid to various governmental agencies.  Some homeowners pay their taxes on this schedule, yet for purposes of calculating home affordability; this annual tax bill is divided up into monthly installments.

Homeowners insurance, paid annually, is also divided by 12 to get a monthly amount to conclude the PITI definition.  Note: most lenders require a form of homeowners insurance often referred to as HO6 for condo type properties.

But, there can be more.

Most mortgage loans where the loan amount exceeds 80% of the value of the home may also include private mortgage insurance, or PMI.  Still other government-backed loans such as FHA carry their own version of PMI, called MIP, which stands for mortgage insurance premium in the case of FHA. With FHA loans you pay this MIP regardless of the amount you put down, and you pay it for the life of the loan.

PMI is a separate insurance policy paid by the borrower, which protects the lender in the event the loan goes to foreclosure.  The “insurance policy” pays the lender for approximately the difference between 20% down and the actual down payment.  For instance, if a home sells for $500,000, then 20% down would be $100,000.

If the borrower only put down $50,000 and borrows $450,000, there might be a PMI policy in favor of the lender for the difference between $100,000 and $50,000.  PMI is not always a requirement, yet when it is, this monthly payment must be included in the PITI number.

What else?

If the property is a condo or is a member of a homeowners association which has annual or monthly dues, then this amount must also be included.

Still, other times a second mortgage is used to help purchase a house and has its own principal and interest calculation as well. This too is included in the total PITI payment.

So how does all this look when put together?

If we had a 30 year fixed rate mortgage on a $400,000 note at 3.75%, the principal and interest payment would be $1,852.  If property taxes were $4,000 per year the monthly tax amount would be $333.  Now add an annual homeowners insurance premium of $2,000 and the monthly insurance would come to $167.

mortgage-payment-239x300So far we have:

P&I      =  $1,852
Taxes  =       333
Ins.      =       167
Total       $2,352

Now let’s say there’s a $100 per month homeowners association due.  The payment would read:

P&I     =  $1,852
Taxes   =      333
Ins.      =       167
HOA   =        100
Total       $2,452

For those that have always paid rent each month the breakdown of PITI is surprising.  Yet to a lender it’s one of the most important numbers used when approving your home loan.  So get to know your new friend: PITI!

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The Stress of Self-Improvement and How to Stop It http://www.winningagent.com/stress-self-improvement-stop/ http://www.winningagent.com/stress-self-improvement-stop/#respond Thu, 30 Oct 2014 01:16:31 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=2244 10 Tips for Reducing Stress NOW! If all this self-improving and stress relieving is getting on your nerves, here are seven ways you can avoid it altogether.

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How to stop the stress of self-improvement!

“Be all you can be!” the Army shouts. “You can have it all,” the latest self-help guru promises.

“10 Tips for Reducing Stress NOW!” Oh sure, if you have 30 minutes a day to meditate, an hour a day for yoga, five minutes every hour for deep breathing, time for a walk before dinner, and oh yes, be sure to go outside and play with your dog—pets are great stress relievers.

Right. If all this self-improving and stress relieving is getting on your nerves, here are seven ways you can avoid it altogether.

  1. Accept what is. If it’s pouring down rain and you have a major open house scheduled, you have two choices: either reschedule or make the house warm and welcoming with a hot beverage, fresh baked cookies, and a fire in the fireplace. Crying through the rain will only make you feel worse and won’t help your attitude with potential buyers. There are some things in life you just can’t change, including the weather. There’s a reason why “Go with the flow” sounds so peaceful.
  2. Accept what is, Part 2. Sure, if you were five years younger, five inches taller or five pounds thinner, if you made a little more money, improved your health, your marriage or your wardrobe, then all would be well. Here’s an idea: accept yourself exactly as you are right now. Give thanks for what you have. By accepting what is, you’re giving yourself the space and permission to enjoy the now without forever focusing on that elusive illusion that “someday” you’ll get all your ducks in a row and your life will be perfect. Ducks are disobedient creatures and they hardly ever line up in a row the way you want.
  3. Define self-improvement. We’re not suggesting that you sit around in your jammies, eat pretzels and bon bons, and give up on your life. But neither do you need to jump on the bandwagon of every new book, TV show, seminar or retreat that comes along just because everyone else is doing it. Instead, define what self-improvement means to you. When you identify that, you can start using your energy for doing what you want. Notice if your ideas about self-improvement make you feel happy and energized, or leave you with a sense of frustration and emptiness. Not feeling free to be yourself is the most stressful experience you can have, so drop the “shoulds” and all the stress they imply. I’ve made it a rule in my house that we are not to use the word should – try it and you will be surprised at how often you say it to yourself.
  4. Do one thing at a time. We all need goals in order to stay motivated and keep our lives on course. But multiple, competing, or enormously challenging goals can leave you exhausted and going nowhere fast. You’re probably not going to get married, have a child, finish your college degree, and increase your sales by 20%, all in the next year. Maybe not in this lifetime. If you want to finish your college degree, create a plan and start taking small, manageable steps in that direction.
  5. Stop reading. One very successful therapist who was turning 80 said she had found a great use for all the self-improvement books in her library. She put them into two large bags and used them for weight lifting practice. Her muscle tone improved and so did her stress level. Here’s the thing: no one has the answer. The latest #1 title on Amazon will not fix your life. Even if you buy into the latest, trendiest new life management plan, you’ll eventually give up on it and end up feeling like a failure because you tried yet one more thing that didn’t work.
  6. Start procrastinating. Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether! Don’t make snap decisions about what to do about your job, your children, your bank account, or your life. If you’re tempted to grab onto the next new thing, hit the pause button. If somebody calls with something you absolutely must do or some event you absolutely must attend, tell them you want to think about it. Wait a day. Better still, wait a week, or a month. Then let your spirit, your internal voice guide you to a decision. When it feels right, go for it. By then you’ll be doing what you want to do for all the right reasons.
  7. Please yourself. Self-improvement and self-care are not synonymous with self-ish. Taking on clients you don’t feel comfortable with, going places you don’t want to go, volunteering for causes you don’t support out of guilt or obligation—just say no. Trying so hard to please everyone that you sometimes you forget why you are even trying is a sure way to sentence yourself to self-imprisonment, not self-improvement.

Becoming a better person is a worthy goal and something we all strive to do in one way or another. Becoming a better person at the expense of your own mental and spiritual well-being is a price too high. Don’t pay it.

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