Erica Boisvert: ‘There is no algorithm for nuance’

via Inman Select

Erica dishes on the economy and maintaining agent value in 2015

Are you optimistic about 2015?

An approaching year always carries a certain sense of hope and excitement, and I’m especially looking forward to seeing how work and new relationships from this year progress and grow in 2015.

The economy?

Yes; the economy has slowly, but progressively, gotten better, and the U.S. is working toward once again being a balanced and stable contributor to the global economy. Watching the unemployment rate get lower, seeing mortgage interest rates hover below 4 percent and knowing that the Federal Reserve is cautious about raising rates, which have effectively been around zero since 2008, leaves me feeling confident that slow and steady will win the race. Things are not as secure as we really need them to be, but we appear to be on the right path toward stabilization, which does leave me feeling optimistic about 2015. Also, with a presidential election on the horizon, it’s safe to say that things will continue to progress slowly and the Fed will proceed with caution.

The housing market?

The housing market has been fairly volatile in the recent past, but in late 2013 and into 2014 it feels as though things are getting back on track. Even with a little lull from the fall extending into winter the market is better now than it was a few years ago and appears to continue to get better.

Your success?

I’m very excited for a successful year … working with The Boutique Real Estate Group allows me the amazing opportunity to work with, and learn from, industry leaders. Whether it’s the introduction of the latest technological advancements, Raj Qsar stretching our company’s reach globally and teaching us about out-of-the-box market preparation for our client’s homes, or our in-house staff reminding us to build and nurture relationships, they all lend to our “boutique” culture of approaching real estate differently and effectively — and, as a result, thriving.

What are you worried about?

My worries tend to be more personal; will I connect with the right people?

How much do you fret about global events?

The global economy is such a force to be reckoned with and has so many constantly changing facets that it can be overwhelming … I don’t know that I worry about global events as much as I try to maintain a working knowledge of what’s occurring. Am I worried that the European and Japanese markets are set to tank? Yes. But I’m hopeful that the right people, who are much smarter than I am, are already addressing the potential problems. So, I tend to concentrate more on what I can do to affect positive change — I can make sure my clients are realistic and setting the listing price of their homes in a way that makes sense in their local market while still achieving their personal goals, and in the instance of buyers, I can work diligently to find them a home that is responsibly set within their budget while still allowing for future growth in their real estate portfolio.

Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?

It seems that “stability” is the name of the game … rates will move, they will respond to the climate set on Wall Street, but will there be drastic changes in either direction? Probably not. It seems that the Fed is set to keep rates low going into 2015 while we concentrate on maintaining the strength our economy has gained up to this point. 2016 going into 2017? Now, that’s a different ball game.

Will home prices appreciate next year?

As long as we stay the course, homes will most likely see a gain in 2015 … some homeowners have seen gains already this year.

Will agents be more productive next year? Why or why not?

Agent productivity is such a subjective thing — agents who are producing now will continue to do well; agents who are learning and implementing strong strategies now will do well next year. Personally, I plan on being massively productive, and my goal is to triple my numbers from this year.

Will the portals play a bigger role next year?

It will be interesting to see how Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia will play out in February; the industry impact could be dulled as the company experiences growing pains, and it’s possible that newer strategies will be implemented later in the year leaving the largest changes to occur in 2016. However, the portals will always play a large role — potential buyers and sellers are interested in the ease of use of these products that seem to offer tons of information freely at your fingertips.

What will be the biggest source of real estate leads next year?

This is still a word-of-mouth market; the biggest source of leads will always be current clients.

Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business next year?

Our company is growing at an amazing pace, and it’s quite a ride! It is my intention to grow with The Boutique and triple last year’s business.

What is the biggest challenge for the industry in the coming year?

Maintaining agent value is a main concern for me. It is easy for consumers to get caught up in the portals, to jump online and do some quick research and feel like they have good working knowledge of the local area. But it falls to our shoulders to show our clients that, actually, quick and easy is not the order of the day; websites like Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com, etc., cannot give an all-encompassing value estimate. There is no algorithm for nuance; there is no way to measure the subjective nature of home selling or the emotion involved on the consumer level. It is up to us to ensure that clients are aware of our value by sharing our comprehensive market knowledge, anticipating their needs and exceeding their expectations in every transaction — and by offering them the personal touch that these websites cannot give.

Climbing interest rates and the 2015 market

via Inman

A real estate outlook for 2015

The Boutique Real Estate Group.

Are you optimistic about 2015?

Absolutely. We’ve come a long way since just three years ago in 2011, when home values were slowly rising again, and interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage were just starting to dip below 5 percent. Now, buyers are still enjoying low interest rates, and the sellers who bought their homes after 2006 are finally starting to see a buildup of equity in their homes. This positive trend is projected to grow toward 2015 and 2016.

The economy?

CAR recently came out with the 2015 California Housing Market Forecast, showing that unemployment rates have been steadily decreasing from 7.4 percent last year to about 6.2 percent this year. Next year’s projection for unemployment is predicted to be near 5.8 percent. With falling unemployment rates, we’ll also see a rise in real disposable income: A change of about 2.6 percent more in 2014 than 2013, which should continue to rise through 2015. This means more savings and purchasing power for those who have been saving and planning to purchase a home in 2015.

The housing market?

Here’s the deal: People who bought in 2013 wished they purchased in 2012, and people bought in 2014 wished they purchased in 2013. So what will the buyers for 2015 tell their 2014 selves? Buy now! Why? Four really good reasons: Prices will continue to rise; interest rates are projected to increase; either way you are already paying a mortgage or rent; and if not now, then when? On the other hand, sellers are also enjoying a positive trend in home values and, if priced correctly, will typically sell in three months or less. Overall, we should see the real estate market stabilizing in 2015, with growing home values and higher interest rates.

Your success?

No matter what year it is, I’m always optimistic about my success. To me, success is not only about the growth in my sales, but also the growth in the relationships I nurture and maintain with my clients, and the business lessons I learn throughout the year. This coming year will mark my third year in real estate, as well as the third year I’m truly happy with my career!

What are you worried about?

I’m worried for my buyers who may be priced out of their price range if they don’t take advantage of the current home values and low interest rates. I saw this happen to a handful of my buyers from 2013 onto 2014, where they wanted a number of bedrooms at a certain budget, but due to the rise in interest rates and home values, they could no longer afford the home they wanted and had to extend their lease for yet another year. I predict the same may happen to the current buyers who decide to stay on the fence about their home purchase as values and interest rates will continue to rise.

How much do you fret about global events?

Quite honestly, I don’t have time to fret too much about global events. However, I will add that the recent change in government in China has lead many Chinese investors to move their assets from China to America, effectively driving up all cash sales and home values.

Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?

Up, up, up!

Will home prices appreciate next year?

Yes.

Will agents be more productive next year? Why or why not?

Since the market is stabilizing, I believe active agents will continue to be productive, while agents who work part-time may see a drop in their sales compared to this year. We saw this happen with production volume in 2013 to 2014 as home values and interest rates continue to rise.

Will the portals play a bigger role in real estate next year?

Today’s buyer will most likely do research on the community and home they are thinking about purchasing prior to contacting an agent. This means they are less and less dependent on their portals for information. The only upper hand we have as agents is being even more knowledgeable about the communities where we work to help our clients differentiate between the facts and myths they read online.

What will be the biggest source of real estate leads next year?

Client referrals and online marketing, like ZTR, our brokerage-based website and in-house seller capture sites.

Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business this year?

Being part of The Boutique Real Estate Group always challenges us to think differently and discover different ways to stand out amongst the hundreds of other agents in our community. Personally, I’m planning to team up and collaborate on more marketing strategies with other professionals in the industry. It’s always a good thing to grow your network!

What is the biggest challenge for the industry in the coming year?

The challenge next year will be removing the idea anchor of previously lower interest rates for many current buyers. Since many buyers this year will trickle onto next year, buyers may have the feeling that they “missed the boat.” But in reality, interest rates will only continue to grow. As for sellers, many homes currently on the market have started to face a bit of competition this year with all of the new developments in Orange County. Although hundreds of new homes will be hitting the market in 2015, nothing beats a low HOA and no Mello-Roos!