Week in Review: Things We Liked from the Week That Was

Maybe it seems self serving, but to me the biggest news of the week is that we have doubled our size with the new affiliation of Metro Brokers! With this one partnership, we have added 28 office locations and nearly 2,300 agents. Wahoo!

Moving on to other news… Historic low mortgage rates and government incentives have lead to a “now is the time to buy” mentality. One such demand is from people who flip houses, a practice that pretty much ceased to exist after the housing bubble burst. The rising demand, coupled with the fact that housing inventory is down will prove beneficial as the market begins its slow and steady climb to equalizing.

As we all know by now, the government is doing its best to make homes more affordable with the tax credits, pressure on mortgage companies and other financial incentives. Government incentives have dragged down costs and given people every reason to stay in homes and yet, according to a recent survey, Americans now rank credit cards as a higher repayment priority than mortgages. With people more worried about paying off a credit card than their home it begs the question: what happened to the American Dream of owning a home?

Once upon a time, owning a home was the first priority when it came to paying the monthly bills. Owning a home carried a deep sense of responsibility. I don’t mean to say there are no longer people who care about their home and this dream, but so many factors, from mortgages far exceeding home values and the changing price of inventory, have made the dream not nearly as glamorous. Today’s American Dream, for many people, is renting. With renting, people get amenities they could not afford otherwise, whether it is a pool or living in a popular neighborhood, and rent has been on the decline in cities across the U.S. With all these factors, the U.S home-ownership rate has charted its biggest decline in more than two decades, falling to 67.6 percent as of September.

In more upbeat news, Advertising Age delved into what it takes for a person to be a proven, trusted brand. My take away: it takes time and work. Most people, outside of the real estate industry, typically let their “day jobs” get in the way of developing a successful personal brand. But, for us, our brand is our day job and it is important to put in the leg work to establish ourselves as a brand in order to be truly successful. Part of this includes understanding your consumer first and providing value. Hispanics, for example, are avid downloaders of digital content. So, if there is a large Hispanic population of in your area, this may be something to consider as you develop yourself as a brand.

The power of social networking was proven yet again this week as Google announced plans to include results from sites like Twitter and FriendFeed, as well as headlines from news and blog posts published just seconds before in live searches. This signals the importance social media has in our everyday lives, as a Twitter post now seem to be just as relevant as a New York Times article.

Lastly, a tip on how to make our lives easier: the Read it Later iPhone application, which lets users tag a blog or article of interest you can’t read right away so it can be easily located later. At your convenience, you can then read that article, either by recalling the Web site or without even leaving the app platform. What will they think of next? An iPhone app to do grocery shopping? (Hey, I can dream can’t I?)

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