December 2012 home prices are expected to rise by 7.9 percent on a year-over-year basis from December 2011 and fall by 0.5 percent on a month-over-month basis from November 2012 reflecting a seasonal winter slowdown, CoreLogic said today.
Excluding distressed sales, December 2012 house prices are poised to rise 8.4 percent year-over-year from December 2011 and by 0.7 percent month-over-month from November 2012, according to the CoreLogic Pending HPI.
Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased on a year-over-year basis by 7.4 percent in November 2012 compared to November 2011. This change represents the biggest increase since May 2006 and the ninth consecutive increase in home prices nationally on a year-over-year basis. On a month-over-month basis, including distressed sales, home prices increased by 0.3 percent in November 2012 compared to October 2012. The HPI analysis shows that all but six states are experiencing year-over-year price gains.
Excluding distressed sales, home prices nationwide increased on a year-over-year basis by 6.7 percent in November 2012 compared to November 2011. On a month-over-month basis excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 0.9 percent in November 2012 compared to October 2012. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.
“Housing was one of the past year’s biggest surprises. Even without significant gains in income, housing mounted an impressive recovery in 2012,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Mark Fleming. “While the economy is strengthening, there is more to be done. For example, concerns remain around structural unemployment and the falling labor force participation rate.”
Highlights as of November 2012:
- Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Arizona (+20.9 percent), Nevada (+14.2 percent), Idaho (+13.8 percent), North Dakota (+11.3 percent), California (+11.1 percent).
- Including distressed sales, the five states with the lowest home price depreciation were: Delaware (-4.9 percent), Illinois (-2.2 percent), Connecticut (-0.5 percent), New Jersey (-0.5 percent) and Rhode Island (-0.3 percent).
- Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Arizona (+16.5 percent), North Dakota (+12.9 percent), Nevada (+12.6 percent), Hawaii (+11.6 percent) and Idaho (+11.6 percent).
- Excluding distressed sales, this month only two states posted home price depreciation: Delaware (-3.5 percent) and Alabama (-2.2 percent).
Many real estate agents today create temporary relationships with home buyers and sellers. Agents provide transaction services, take buyers from property search to home closing; or take sellers from property listings to home closings. But when the closing is completed, most agents hand over the house keys and move on to the next hot prospect. It’s the nature of sales.
Some agents keep in touch with past customers by sending trinkets, jam, calendars, anniversary cards and holiday greetings. But too often, past customers are neglected as a prime source for future transactions.
When you neglect or ignore a happy, well-treated, well-served customer, you give up a great deal of hidden value in the form of client goodwill. Immediately after a successful real estate transaction, a satisfied customer is prepared to become your client for life. A customer becomes your client when you pro-actively provide products and services distributed throughout the years in between transactions: newsletters, information reports, market alerts, product discounts, seminar invitations and other useful information about your local housing market.
You now have a long-term, professional relationship with these home owners or sellers. They’re impressed that you treat them well and fairly, even though the transaction is complete. You become their real estate agent – the name they know and the professional they recommend.
Indeed, past clients recommend you to family, friends and neighbors, generating quality referrals and prospecting leads. And expect these well-maintained clients to buy or sell more real estate using you as their “insider” authority. The goodwill factor stays with happy clients years after the sale, when you reach out and maintain interest and contact.
Now, this sounds good in theory, but you don’t have enough time to provide services to past customers. You have to cut expenses, generate and convert leads so that you generate income today, not five years down the road.
Not to worry, the client approach gives you the best of both worlds. You focus on making money today, while obtaining clients for tomorrow. You do both because the time and cost of client management is insignificant when weighed against the benefits you derive.
Agents continue to use traditional marketing channels such as online lead generation services, postcards and mailers, open houses, local newspaper advertisements, local real estate listing hand-outs and telemarketing to focus their near-term activity on converting leads to customers and fulfilling customer transactions.
Now let’s look at the client-based approach. Growing a client business is based on the concept of “self generating” referrals and leads, accomplished by creating a large network of exposure points, which, in turn generate more referrals and leads naturally, organically.
For example, an agent who conducts a seminar on foreclosure sales to an audience of 100 people creates an exposure point because once the seminar is over, the power and reach of your expertise and authority spreads by word of mouth – the best advertising an agent has.
One hundred seminar attendees now have a favorable opinion of the agent. Each tells family, friends, neighbors and colleagues about the agent. In turn, some of these people tell others and your reputation grows virally. A one-hour seminar creates a self-generating process of referrals and leads.
The fact that a client-based approach creates self-generating referrals is a bonanza for today’s ambitious agents. According to a recent survey conducted by HomeGain, real estate agents believe that referrals are the most effective marketing strategy to acquire new clients.
Clients Eventually Generate More Business
If you keep clients for life, they’ll ultimately naturally generate more commission income for your business practice, while you are focused on generating short-term customer business. Here’s why:
A meaningful percentage of an agent’s book of clients will eventually purchase a trade-up or trade-down property, organically generating more business for the agent and agency.
A percentage of clients will eventually purchase a resort property, giving the agent the referral fee from another agent in a different location.
A percentage of clients purchase investment properties, giving the agent all of these transactions.
Satisfied clients refer their agent to family, friends, and neighbors, growing the agent’s client base. This word of mouth exposure expands on its own as the agent continues to provide advice and counsel.
And finally, serving a large number of clients in a relatively small community gets the agent recognized as highly credible with a solid reputation.
Simply stated, clients are worth more than customers-over time.
“At a 4 percent cap rate, all you need is rates to bounce by 100 basis points and you are going to wipe out an investor’s equity”
–Matt Galligan, CIT Real Estate Finance
Of the top 180 metros in the country, 44 doubled the amount of multifamily construction in 2012, according to a study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting that was released toward the end of last year.
To quote the study, “Among the major markets, the growth is staggering.”
I checked in with Lesley Deutch, a John Burns vice president, who worked on the report.
One has to look closely at the data, Deutch said, because smaller markets are included and, on a percentage growth basis, they can distort the picture.
For example, Bend, Ore., saw only two multifamily permits in 2011, but issued 120 in 2012, so the percentage of growth looks astronomical. The same would be for cities such as Huntsville, Ala., Pensacola, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., all of which had fewer than 30 permits in 2011, but more than 100 in 2012.
This isn’t to say some larger markets weren’t showing extraordinary growth.
Durham, N.C., saw multifamily permits increase more than 400 percent in 2012 compared to 2011; West Palm Beach, Fla., close to 250 percent; and such cities as Charlotte, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., Austin, Texas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Fort Worth, Texas, Raleigh-Carey, N.C., Atlanta, Ga., and San Jose, Calif., more than 100 percent.
In terms of number of permits issued in 2012, Austin and Atlanta led the pack, issuing almost 5,000 permits in 2012; and then came Charlotte and San Jose at about 4,200 units.
“In certain markets, we are seeing more multifamily construction than single-family construction,” Deutch said. New York leads that group, but there is always more multifamily than single-family built in New York. Nevertheless, this list is a long one, including such markets as Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Miami, Denver, Chicago, Columbus, Baltimore, Daytona Beach and Newark-Union, N.J.
One of the big reasons for the growth, Deutch said, “is that banks are starting to loan again to multifamily. There is a lot of private equity out there because lenders realize how strong the sector is. The banks were a little nervous at first, but they opened up their lending windows for multifamily.”
Despite all the construction, “rents are still going up,” which is a positive signal for lenders, Deutch said.
With good times abounding, one would think the multifamily lending market would all be on the same wagon, but that’s not the case.
At the end of 2012, the National Multi Housing Council and National Apartment Association issued a white paper outlining key principles to stabilize financing for the multifamily sector.
The white paper makes a number of key points: the industry supports a return to a system dominated by private capital; private capital-only finance distorts the market because it mostly plays in the high-end side of top-tier markets; and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac even out the market.
One of those private lenders in multifamily is CIT Group Inc. of New York, and Matt Galligan, group head of CIT Real Estate Finance, said his company expects to do $150 million in lending to the multifamily market in 2013.
Although CIT Real Estate does new-construction financing, Galligan has been focusing more on refinancing B-quality apartments with experienced developer/owners that are trying to upgrade to A.
“We like the fact that these apartments might trade at a 6 percent or 7 percent cap rate (capitalization rate, or rate of return on an investment property based on expected income property will generate),” Galligan said.
To which he added, “If you are going to be building new units, those are going to be Class-A; and that is where the competition is, and cap rates are at 4 percent,” which is a small return that could be endangered if mortgage rates rise even a small amount, say, 100 basis points.
Despite private equity back in the multifamily lending game, to some extent Fannie and Freddie have been the dominant players, setting mortgage rates low.
Galligan doesn’t trust the two GSEs, and believes they should not be in the multifamily market.
“They are subsidizing the multifamily lending business, causing all sorts of wildness. People are flooding the market because of below-market rates.” Galligan said. “Either do something with the GSEs or crank rates up by 200 basis points. If these things are being underwritten at a 4 percent cap rate, you now have yields at 2 percent. Then all you need is a little bit of vacancy or a decrease in reserves and you have problems.”
When I told Galligan about the John Burns numbers, he was more concerned than thrilled.
“Fourty-four markets? Let’s make the assumption there are 12 primary markets in the country, that leaves 32 other markets with a lot of new construction,” he said. “You are probably going to need $1,200 to $1,500 a month in rent to make new construction work, which is harder to get to in secondary cities. And there’s competition in those cities already. Maybe your product steals market share, but it is going to force a glut.”
He added, “At a 4 percent cap rate, all you need is rates to bounce by 100 basis points and you are going to wipe out an investor’s equity. That’s been our concern.”
Nest Learning Thermostat image via Nest.com.
It certainly comes as no big surprise to anyone that the heating and cooling systems in our homes consume huge amounts of power, and typically account for the lion’s share of our utility bills. So anything we can do to conserve on the amount of power these systems use will help lower those bills each month.
Programmable thermostats are one of the best ways to do that. Using internal computer circuits that raise and lower the thermostat set points at various times during the day in accordance with our occupancy and habits, they help keep the furnace or air conditioner from running when it doesn’t need to.
Programmable thermostats have been around for decades, but it’s only been recently that they’ve caught up with the Internet and smartphone age. Now they’re more intelligent than ever, and, used correctly, that can translate into even more energy savings.
Nest Learning Thermostat
One of the most talked about thermostats on the market today is the Nest Learning Thermostat. You probably don’t think of “attractive” when you think of thermostats, but this one definitely is, with a small round shape that glows blue when it’s in cooling mode and orange when it’s in heating mode.
Beyond its appearance, there’s the lack of buttons. Adjustments are done with the outer ring, and you see programmed settings on a screen in the center of the thermostat. As you make the various adjustments throughout the day, the Nest “learns” your habits, and programs those habits into its circuitry. Soon, it’s set up a temperature schedule that meets your specific lifestyle.
The Nest also has sensors in it that detect when no one is home. It switches into Auto-Away mode, automatically turning itself down to save even more energy. In that mode, the face switches to black. As additional motivation, there’s even a leaf symbol that appears periodically to show you when you’re saving more energy than what you’d originally programmed it for.
There are currently two generations of Nests. The first generation retails for around $198, and works with about 75 percent of the heating and cooling systems. The second generation retails for $250, is 20 percent thinner, and is compatible with an estimated 95 percent of systems. Both generations offer Wi-Fi remote control so you can control your thermostat remotely from your smartphone, laptop or tablet.
This thermostat takes programmable to a whole new level. At around $295, it’s not cheap, but with the flexibility it offers you should have the opportunity to recoup that investment within a couple of years on average.
The Ecobee is rectangular, so it looks a bit more like a conventional thermostat, but with a full color screen and animated icons it’s pretty cool, and very easy to program and adjust. It offers connectivity to the Internet, as well as control through a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. It offers 365-day scheduling, free over-the-air software upgrades, and downloadable system reports. It’s compatible with most types of heating and cooling systems, including heat pumps, and can also be used to control humidifiers, dehumidifiers and ventilators.
Hunter Universal Internet Thermostat
At less than $100, this is a more affordable option, available from most home centers. Installation is quick and easy, with clear instructions. Everything you need except a screwdriver is included in the box. Once installed, it has an Internet gateway that connects to your router, and allows Internet access to the thermostat.
You can program the thermostat from your smartphone, tablet or computer. As with the other programmable thermostats, you can call it to change settings from a remote location, making it perfect if you’re delaying getting home from work, or for situations such as warming up the vacation home before you get there. It will also send you email alerts for low batteries and when it’s time to change the filter.
As with any technology, none of these thermostats are perfect. Online reviews from actual users of all of these thermostats are mostly positive, but they do indicate some compatibility issues and software glitches in some instances. Not all thermostats are compatible with all systems, and while they’re all OK for do-it-yourself installation, depending on your skill level you may still need the help of a pro to get them installed and operating correctly. And, of course, there’s always a learning curve involved.
In general, I like what these thermostats have to offer. I like the additional control options, particularly for vacation homes, and the flexibility of smartphone control. But do a little homework when selecting the right model for your home and your lifestyle. Make sure it’s compatible with your system, and that it has the features and operating modes that you like.
As bankers, real estate agents and others in the housing industry absorb thousands of pages of mortgage rules issued in the past week, they’re still waiting to see if U.S. regulators will set a minimum down payment for home loans.
Regulators including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve drew protests in 2011 when they proposed a rule requiring lenders to keep a stake in mortgages with down payments of less than 20 percent. Bankers and consumer groups said such a requirement would shut creditworthy borrowers out of the market.
The so-called Qualified Mortgage rule issued by the CFPB requires lenders to verify borrowers’ ability to repay their loans and offers legal safe harbor for lenders who follow guidelines for safe mortgages. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Now, regulators say they expect to release a final version of that so-called Qualified Residential Mortgage rule in the next few months. Together, the QRM rule and additional measures governing underwriting and servicing released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the past week will fundamentally reshape who can lend and who can borrow because banks will probably make only those loans that conform to the new standards.
“I have consistently warned of the regulatory tidal wave to come and it’s finally upon us,” David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association said during a speech in Washington on Jan. 16. “These changes will impact business operations and the future of mortgage access for years to come.”
Stevens said his organization has received hundreds of e- mails and telephone calls from members trying to understand the new regulations, which were mandated by Congress in response to lax underwriting standards before the 2008 financial crisis.
The so-called Qualified Mortgage rule issued by the CFPB Jan. 10, weighing in at 804 pages, requires lenders to verify borrowers’ ability to repay their loans and offers legal safe harbor for lenders who follow guidelines for safe mortgages.
The CFPB offered strong legal protection for loans on which borrowers’ debt payments are no more than 43 percent of their income. Points and fees for such mortgages can’t be more than 3 percent of the total loan amount. Loans backed by the government through Fannie Mae (FNMA), Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration automatically qualify for legal protection for the next seven years.
The CFPB stopped short of adding a requirement for a minimum down payment. Now the six regulators drafting the separate QRM rule, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission, must decide whether to include such a requirement — and whether to make it less than the 20 percent they originally proposed.
Down payment size “is the major credit-risk driver in mortgages that was untouched by the QM rule,” Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics in Washington, said in an interview.
Defining safe loans as those with a 10 percent down payment, instead of 20 percent, “is the politically expedient course to take,” Petrou said.
Others, including Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, are calling for a down payment requirement as low as 5 percent and a continued role for private mortgage insurance to hold a share of the risk on loans with less than a 20 percent down payment.
Meanwhile, there are many unanswered questions about the impact of the rules already released, Stevens and other industry participants say. Bankers say they worry that the QM rule could prevent borrowers from obtaining so-called jumbo mortgages, which are larger than the $729,750 ceiling on FHA-eligible loans or the $625,000 ceiling on loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
In addition, it’s unclear what will be included in the provision capping fees at 3 percent of the loan amount, and what will happen if mortgages originated in good faith are later found not to meet underwriting standards.
The CFPB yesterday also released 1,600 pages of regulations setting requirements for mortgage servicers, including new limits on foreclosures while borrowers are simultaneously negotiating loan modifications.
The regulations, which apply to servicers who handle at least 5,000 loans, also require clear mortgage bills that warn consumers before their interest rates adjust. The servicing rules and the QM rule are scheduled to go into effect in January 2014.
The servicing rules’ complexity could lead to unintended consequences that will need to be addressed as soon as possible, Stevens said.
“I’m concerned we’re going to force a second correction in the housing market by creating a regulatory clampdown on fully sustainable homeownership because too many people haven’t really dissected the deep nuances of these rules,” he said in an interview yesterday.
Mortgage credit is already tight. Borrowers whose loans closed in 2012 had an average credit score of 748, which would place them in the top 37 percent of Americans, according to Ellie Mae (ELLI), a Pleasanton, California, company that provides software for the mortgage industry. Those buyers made down payments averaging 21 percent. The interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.9 percent in 2012, Ellie Mae said.
Still to come from the CFPB are new rules governing loan officer compensation and regulations governing simplified loan documents.
International regulators are phasing in new capital standards mandated under the Basel III accord by 2019. Those will require banks to hold more capital against certain mortgages.
The full impact on lending will only become clear once all the rules come out, and the most restrictive rules will determine the scope of the market, said Tim Rood, a partner in Washington-based consulting firm Collingwood LLC.
“Particularly in an environment as heightened as this one, you’re going to regress to the lowest common denominator from the credit perspective,” he said. “Whichever of these standards is the most conservative is the one that you’re going to adhere to.”
DEAR BENNY: I offered full price — $168,000 — for a home in foreclosure. The bank came back with a refusal and a new sales price of $240,000. That is $72,000 over the asking price. Is this legal? –Marie
DEAR MARIE: Yours is an interesting question. I need more facts, such as (1) how and where was the price advertised at $168,000? and (2) did you have any contingencies in the sales contract that you presented to the bank?
In order to have a legal and binding real estate contract, three things are needed: (1) offer — typically, the buyer makes an offer to the seller, which can be accepted, rejected or countered; (2) acceptance — the seller accepts the offer; and (3) valuable consideration — usually, this means money, such as the earnest money deposit that accompanies the sales contract.
However, consideration does not always require money. For example, if one party refrained from looking for any other house or put their own house on the market based on the fact they believed they had a contract to buy another house, that can also be considered “consideration.”
In a real estate transaction, the seller will list the property with a broker for an agreed upon price. If a buyer presents an offer at that price — with no contingencies — the broker may be entitled to a commission under the terms and conditions of the listing agreement.
But the seller is not obligated to sell at that price, even if that’s the listed price. The listing agreement is a contract between the seller and the broker but is not considered an offer that can be accepted by a buyer.
The best example: If a large department store advertises a TV set and the price accidentally is shown at $1, the courts have consistently held that this is request for an offer but is not an offer that can be accepted by the public, and therefore not binding on the department store.
By analogy, the bank did not make you an offer for $168,000 but simply requested that you make an offer. Since the bank did not accept your offer, there is no contract and the bank does not have to sell to you at that price.
I think it is reprehensible conduct on the part of the bank, but, in my opinion, not necessarily illegal.
DEAR BENNY: What are your thoughts on placing residential rental properties into a charitable remainder trust (CRT) to be able to collect the rents and have the income offset by the charitable donation write-offs over the years allowed and sell the properties at a later date to avoid capital gains? Would you know what the requirements are as to how much must be retained in this type trust for the charity? Are there pitfalls to be aware of placing property into a CRT? –Jame
DEAR JAME: Thanks for your kind comments; I try to provide information on a wide area of real estate, and always welcome reader questions and comments.
The biggest downside to these trusts is that they are irrevocable. Taxpayers put property into trust out of their control and receive an income stream at a fixed percent. The donor gets a current deduction for the value of the charitable remainder gift going to the charity, which is calculated based on the age of the donor.
Any income to the property would be reportable by the trust (and I believe not taxed since it is a 501(c)(3) with a few exceptions). When the property is sold, there is no tax to the charity. So low-basis properties are good for donating to CRTs.
So CRTs are good when someone has charitable intentions, has low-basis property, wants an income stream and can use the charitable deduction.
The downside is you cannot revoke the trust and get at the principal. Although there are brokers out there willing to buy the income stream, it is at a great discount. There are also complicated rules and regulations that need to be followed to prevent the CRT from being disqualified.
There are several types of CRTs including CRUTs (unitrusts), CRATs (annuity trusts) and others.
This just scratches the surface. You really should consult an estate lawyer and a tax accountant for specific information relating to your specific situation. Additionally, I am writing this column before the end of the year, and the so-called “fiscal cliff” is still very much on the minds of all of us. So, the laws may change as of the beginning of 2013.
In any event, it is clear that Congress is going to do something with the tax code, so don’t do anything drastic yet.
DEAR BENNY: We are refinancing my house with a new first trust. We have a HELOC and the new lender wants me to pay that off. Why is this necessary? We really want to keep the HELOC on the books just in case we ever need the money. –Tonee
DEAR TONEE: A HELOC (home equity line of credit) is a second trust. (In some states, they are called mortgages.) If the first trust is paid off, the second automatically falls into first place. The new lender must be in first place, and that’s why you are being asked to pay it off.
However, many new lenders (depending on the amount of equity in your house) will allow you to keep the HELOC. You will have to sign what is known as a “subordination agreement,” whereby the HELOC will be subordinated (put in a lower position) to the new first trust.
I suggest you ask your new lender if it will allow you to arrange to subordinate your HELOC to the new loan. If not, you either have to find a new lender who will be willing to allow the subordination, or you will have to pay off the HELOC and after closing on the refinance find another bank to make you that HELOC loan.
DEAR READERS: There is good news for members of the military. On Aug. 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012. This is a comprehensive act that covers a number of issues, ranging from bringing immediate Department of Veterans Affairs health care to Camp Lejeune veterans and their families who have been diagnosed with a water contamination disease to dealing with a traumatic brain injury.
It also extended the time that banks and other mortgage lenders are prohibited from foreclosing or evicting service members due to late payments from nine to 12 months after military service.
Originally, when Congress enacted the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), it provided protection to military personnel against the entry of default judgments and gave the courts the ability to stay proceedings against military debtors. But because in the past few years, thousands of service members and their families have been evicted from their homes or foreclosed upon, Congress extended the protection time to give returning servicemen an opportunity to bring themselves current on their loans and/or to challenge improper foreclosures and evictions.
For more information, type in “Honoring American Veterans Act of 2012” into your favorite Internet search engine.
Make Sure Your Listings Can Be Seen on All Devices
A lot of people like to search for homes whenever it is convenient, which may mean they are standing in line at the store, riding the bus, or sitting on their couch. Depending on where they are they may not be viewing listings from a computer, but instead they are looking on their smartphone or tablet. If your website or listing isn’t optimized for these users, chances are they won’t look at your listing for very long. Pages that haven’t been optimized are make it difficult to see pictures, read descriptions, click on links to other homes, or navigate menus. Majority of people prefer something that works simply and smoothly, and if it doesn’t, they aren’t going to bother with it. If you make sure that the listings on your site are viewable for mobile users, you will in turn get more people viewing your listings.
Mobile Optimized Sites
Of course, if you post your listings on other sites like Trulia, you know that your listing can be seen on either their site or app using a mobile device since they keep everything optimized for you. However, if you have your own site or your company has a site, you should consider making your site viewable on several different devices. When you are creating the mobile version of your site, there are a couple things you can do. You or your web developer may want to include some coding to your site that will recognize if a user is on a smartphone or tablet. Once the code determines the device they are using, it will redirect them to the mobile version of your site. This will make it much easier for potential buyers to navigate your site and listings. Of course, there is always a chance that your site may glitch which is why you should always include a way for the user to go to the desktop version of the site. Add a link to the full desktop version of the site on the mobile page so users can easily get to it and you should add a link to the mobile version of your site on the desktop page in case the redirect code doesn’t work. This will give your viewers several options to see your site.
A photo is worth 1,000 words, especially when you are trying to sell a house. If your visitors aren’t able to view your photos, or other media you have for your listing, chances are they will not be calling you about that property. Changing the size of your photos and how they are displayed on your site will let them be seen on different mobile devices without a problem. Images that are still the original size are normally large files that can slow down how fast a page downloads on a mobile device. Try to keep images that will be seen on phones or tablets to 500×500 pixels or smaller. Another thing that can affect the download time is the image’s file type and quality. When you upload a picture, you should save them as both a PNG and a JPG or GIF then you can use which ever file is the smallest. Something else to worry about is if you use flash to display any of your photos, or even your contact forms. Devices like iPhones and iPads can’t display flash pages. Instead, you can use HTML5 which is supported on devices like iPads, iPhones, or even Android phones.
Cursors vs. Fingers
While some tablets and phones can use a stylus, others simply use a person’s finger to navigate the screen. This is a big change from small cursors that new ultrabooks and computers use. Since a finger is much larger than a cursor you need to take that into consideration when setting up the mobile version of your site. Make text and picture links a little larger than they would be on a desktop so there are easier to select. You should also add in more white or empty space between links to prevent the user from clicking on multiple links at one time or the wrong link all together. If a user is unable to navigate through your listing, or keeps accidentally clicking a link they don’t want, they will move on to something easier to use.
After all of the work that you put into getting your listing together, you want to make sure it actually works. Testing your page on different devices lets you know that someone on an iPhone is seeing the same thing as someone on a Samsung Galaxy. With all of the different types of devices that are on the market, you want to make sure they can see your listing no matter the display size or operating system. You can simulate the different views and operating systems by using sites like CrossBrowserTesting.com. Of course, the best way to test it out is to try out different devices.
These few things will help make sure the people will be able to view your listings no matter what device they use. Whether you show your listings on different housing websites and/or your own personal realtor site, you want people to be able to see pictures of the house, read details about it, and request information quickly and easily. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, most users won’t mess with it for very long before moving on to something else.