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Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS® (LBAR) announced today that its 2,400+ members will be provided full Agent Pro access to the RealSatisfied customer satisfaction platform for collecting evaluations of their performance. LBAR becomes the first REALTOR® association to provide this level of account access to its members.

"LBAR is pleased to partner with RealSatisfied to provide our members with the most comprehensive customer satisfaction platform available,” said Larry Freels, 2015 President of LBAR. "LBAR strives to be on the forefront of technology so we are pleased to offer this benefit to our membership. LBAR recognizes the consumers desire to measure and gauge the performance of their Realtor.”

RealSatisfied, a performance evaluation and customer satisfaction platform designed exclusively for the real estate industry, sends customer satisfaction surveys to both home buyer and seller clients on behalf of REALTORS® at the close of transactions. Reminders to send a survey will be triggered automatically at the end of every transaction via an integration with the RealSatisfied API and the LBAR Real Estate Transaction Standards (RETS) feed, scheduled to go live April 1, 2015.

"The decision to provide Agent Pro accounts to all LBAR members is a testament to their leadership’s commitment to their members and their faith in our platform,” said Jeff Turner, President of RealSatisfied. "Throughout the decision process, the focus of the LBAR team was fixed solely on providing value to members through quality client feedback. The leadership at LBAR never wavered from that and we’re excited to have been chosen to deliver that value.”

The tools include easy-to-use widgets for LBAR members to publish client recommendations on their own websites or share those recommendations automatically to Realtor.com® (Realtors® only). They can also share to their social networks, and provide third party validation of customer satisfaction. "In addition to the quality of information provided to our members,” said President Larry Freels, "we were impressed with the how easy the platform is to use and how simple they have made sharing the customer satisfaction data and testimonials. Their approach to data ownership is refreshing and one that we support.”

About Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS®

As the region’s leading advocate for homeownership, Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS® (LBAR) understands the value and joy of owning a home. LBAR represents more than 2,400 REALTORS® located in Anderson, Bath, Bell, Bourbon, Clark, Clay, Elliott, Fayette, Franklin, Harrison, Jackson, Jessamine, Knox, Laurel, Menifee, Montgomery, Nicholas, Powell, Rowan, Scott, Whitley, and Woodford Counties. Visit www.lbar.com or call 859-276-3503 for buying and selling resources and real estate listings. For additional information please contact Elaine Hangis, LBAR Chief Executive Officer (859-276-3503 or via e-mail, elaine@lbar.com).

About RealSatisfied

Based in Sydney, Australia with operations in Australia, United States, Canada and Singapore, RealSatisfied is the 3rd party customer satisfaction and performance evaluation platform for the real estate industry. Founded in 2010, RealSatisfied provides a turnkey solution to enable real, actionable feedback and performance ratings from clients. To learn more about RealSatisfied, visit www.realsatisfied.com.



Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS® (LBAR), a leading MLS with coverage area in the Bluegrass Region, announces the launch of their mobile app, LBAR Homes, which works on all major mobile devices and is available to download for free from major apps stores, including iTunes and Android. The public can download the app to their phone or tablet device to view all homes for sale or rent in the Bluegrass Region.

LBAR’s mobile app, LBAR Homes, uses Smarter Agent Mobile’s patented GPS technology, to locate the user and display listings in the immediate area. Users can also search by address, city, or zip code to see property details for all homes for sale or rent in a specified area, including price, square footage, estimated mortgage, taxes, features, maps, pictures, and more. The "Advanced Search” feature lets users select a price range, property type, and the number of beds and baths to help them find just what they’re looking for. If a user has questions or wants a tour of a property, the "Contact” feature within the app connects the user to the respective listing agent by phone or email.

Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS®, partnered with Smarter Agent Mobile, the leader in mobile real estate app development, is able to offer clients and prospects a mobile house-hunting app available across all carriers and on all major mobile devices and tablets such as iPhone, Android, and iPad.

"Close to half of all internet usage now originates from a mobile device. It is imperative, not just for an Association, but to any company’s success to have a public facing mobile presence,” stated Linda Wiley, president of the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS®.

Consumers can simply visit their app store and search for LBAR Homes, go to app.lbar.com to download the mobile real estate search, or text LBAR to 87778 to send LBAR Homes mobile app to their mobile device.

About Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS®

As the region’s leading advocate for homeownership, Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS® (LBAR) understands the value and joy of owning a home. LBAR represents more than 2,100 REALTORS® located in Anderson, Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Jessamine, Montgomery, Nicholas, Powell, Scott and Woodford Counties. Visit www.lbar.com or call 859-276-3503 for buying and selling resources and real estate listings. For additional information please contact Elaine Hangis, LBAR Executive Vice President (859-276-3503 or via e-mail, Elaine@LBAR.com).

About Smarter Agent Mobile

Smarter Agent Mobile is now the most popular app suite used by well-known real estate brands. Our cloud-based SaaS mobile platform powers leading national franchisors, 3000 brokers and 20% of the agents in the United States. Over the past year, our enterprise customers connected with 3,500,000 unique app users that logged into their apps over 25,000,000 times and viewed 1 billion photos.

Click here for a PDF of this release.

Click here for more details on the app



Purchasing a home is one of the most important decisions in a person’s life and deciding on a particular house comes with many options. Forty-five percent of recent buyers used open houses as a way to narrow down their choices and find their dream home. Buyers in the Bluegrass will have the opportunity to do just that on April 20 and 21 as Realtors® hold open houses all weekend long as part of the Realtor® Nationwide Open House Weekend.

“Spring is typically a busy season when it comes to home buying, and to kick-off the season Realtors® throughout central Kentucky are taking part in Realtor® Nationwide Open House Weekend,” said LBAR President Al Blevins. “This event is a great way for buyers to get an idea of what they can afford and what kinds of homes are available in the local market. It’s also a chance for sellers to market their home and attract potential buyers.”

“Buyers need to have a clear idea of what features are important to them and know where they are willing to compromise;” said Blevins. “That is where visiting open houses can be helpful. Also, working with a Realtor® can be a real asset. Realtors® visit hundreds of homes with buyers each year, and have a unique understanding of what buyers value in their local markets. Their expertise and knowledge can help you achieve the dream of homeownership.”

Visit www.LBAR.com for more information on homeownership and the Nationwide Open House Weekend.

A big reason for owning a vacation home is rest and relaxation, but it’s not all fun and games. Opening and closing a vacation home takes time and money. Plan to spend a day before the season starts to open your vacation home, and another day at season’s end to close it down.

Specific tasks, such as draining off pipes or turning on utilities, will depend on climate, as well as when and how the vacation home is used. A beach cottage has different requirements than a mountain cabin. If you don’t live nearby or don’t want to do the work yourself, be sure to budget for a property manager or local caretaker.

Opening a vacation home

When it’s time to visit your vacation home for the first time, or start renting it out for the season, you’ll need to get it ready. A ski chalet might require you to shovel snow and chop firewood, while a summer retreat by the shore might call for cleaning patio furniture and staining the deck.

Rainy days are some of the best days to learn about houses and neighborhoods.  Why?  Drainage issues are the number one reason for foundation issues on a home.  Foundation issues are one of the most expensive repairs a seller or buyer can face when selling or buying a home.

Most of us do not go under our houses and crawl around the crawl space to keep track of our foundation.  I certainly am not interested in that job.  However, keeping an eye on your crawlspace, especially on a rainy day, can prevent repairs down the road.  Making sure that the crawlspace is "dry as a bone" is one of the most comforting feelings one can have after a little El Niño month.

The first step to protecting your foundation is making sure gutters are clean, water is flowing, and more specifically water is flowing away from your home and foundation.  Water standing around the foundation of your home will certainly penetrate and eventually deteriorate the soil enough to cause settling and/or concrete deterioration.  Proper drainage can be as simple as installing downspout directional tubes and as complicated as installing a french drain.  If you are going to install a french drain, be very sure you know what you are doing.  It is not as simple as digging a trench.   The proper slope is absolutely critical to a proper french drain.  I have seen several homes where a owner was taken by surprise to realize the french drain that they had built actually placed more water at the foundation.

If you, or your inspector are not under the house on a rainy day, there are ways to look for previous water issues.  Look for efflorescence on the concrete walls of your basement or foundation.   The white, powdery looking lines, marks are evidence that water has been in contact with the concrete and has left some minerals behind as evidence.   This does not necessarily mean that there is water pouring down every rainy day but it is the first flag to further investigate.

At this point, the home inspector will also make note of any cracks seen in the concrete under your home.  There are different types of cracks, varying descriptions, and related repairs to said cracks.  Realize that the property inspector is not a foundation expert and will state in the report that an "appropriate professional" should take a look.  Foundation inspections can be the death of deals because structural experts never make light of anything.

Which leads me to my next observation.  I have seen both sellers and buyers decide not to complete a foundation inspection because it "costs too much".  Depending on where the home is located (on the valley floor or on the side of a mountain) foundation inspections can range from $500 to $3000.  However, the average home price in the Santa Clara County is $632,000 and all homes  face the risk of some shaking during their lifetime due to seismic activity.  If you really like the house, make sure it is as structurally sound as it can be.  If you really want to sell your home, understand the cost of fixing foundation issues.

Rain is a good thing.  Our earth needs it but our foundations don't.  If your agent encourages you to see houses in the rain, recognize that they are not crazy.  All we need is an umbrella and maybe some rain boots and we are set to find the right house for you.

See article on Trulia.com

Buying a home is one of the most exciting things you can do. Of course, you may think I would say that because I'm a real estate agent, but it's true. When I bought my first home, I was so thrilled that I danced with my cat and slid across the hardwood floors in stocking feet.

Read more at: http://homebuying.about.com/od/buyingahome/qt/coping-with-home-buying-stress.htm


Low interest rates and falling home values have made home ownership make more financial sense than renting in most major cities, according to Trulia’s Summer Rent vs. Buy Index.

Trulia found that buying a home is cheaper than renting in 74 percent of the country’s 50 largest cities. Trulia compared the cost of buying and renting a two-bedroom apartment, condo, or townhouse in the nation’s 50 largest cities. 

Buying a home particularly in cities plagued by foreclosures proves to be much cheaper than renting, according to Trulia. Below are the top five places where buying beats renting by the most, as well as the few cities where renting may make more sense. 

Top 5 Cities Where Buying Beats Renting

1. Las Vegas

2. Detroit

3. Mesa, Ariz.

4. Fresno, Calif.

5. Arlington, Texas

Top 5 Cities Where Renting is Cheaper Than Buying

1. New York

2. Fort Worth, Texas

3. Omaha, Neb.

4. Seattle, Wash.

5. San Francisco, Calif.

Source: “Home Ownership Beats Renting in 74 Percent of Major U.S. Cities,” Trulia (Aug. 16, 2011)

Read this article in REALTOR Mag

Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here's why it pays to work with a REALTOR®.

  1. Navigate a complicated process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multipage settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
  2. Information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
  3. Help finding the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.
  4. Negotiating skills. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
  5. Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
  6. Someone who speaks the language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
  7. Experience. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you have done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.
  8. Objective voice. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, homebuying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll every make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
This column is addressed to every home seller in America. Your obvious goal is to get the highest possible price for your home.

I'd like to share a little-known process about how you can get more showings per day than all the competition on your side of town. Also, I'm offering some tips on how to get more qualified prospects per day -- and there is a difference.

It has to do with your pricing strategy.

One strategy is to price it right and sell it.

Read more at: http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/davidfletcher/real-estate-pricing-tips-sellers

Create a home inventory before disaster strikes to make filing an insurance claim a smoother process.

Experiencing a theft, flood, fire, or other casualty loss is devastating enough. Now imagine trying to list from memory for your insurance claim every single item that was damaged or destroyed. The task becomes less daunting if you create a home inventory in advance and keep it in a safe place.

Creating a home inventory can be done with pencil and paper alone, but a digital camera and camcorder make the job easier. Set aside enough time to review your insurance policies, dig up receipts, document your possessions, and figure out where you’ll store your records. One day should be sufficient.


Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/create-home-inventory-insurance/#ixzz1SqCW2yM7

Read this at REALTOR.org: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2011/07/19/top-6-real-estate-iphone-ipad-and-android-apps

Real estate mobile apps continue to be a growing market. So which real estate mobile apps rank the highest? Inman News recently released a special report showing the most popular real estate apps across several platforms, including the Android, iPhone, iPad, and BlackBerry.

Inman News based its app ratings and rankings from TopAppCharts.com, Apple’s App Store, the Android Market site, and the BlackBerry App World site. Here are some of the apps that emerged as front-runners for the iPhone, Android, and iPad.

Top 6 Free and Paid iPhone Real Estate Apps

▪Zillow Real Estate

▪Realtor.com Real Estate Search

▪Trulia Real Estate Search

▪LoopNet Commercial Real Estate Search

▪Property Evaluator

▪Real Estate Calc

Top 6 Free Android Real Estate Apps

▪Zillow Real Estate

▪Realtor.com Real Estate Search

▪Trulia Real Estate Search

▪Craigslist Browser

▪Real Estate 114

▪Real Estate by Smarter Agent

Top 6 Free and Paid iPad Real Estate Apps

▪ Zillow Real Estate Search

▪ Realtor.com Real Estate Search

▪ Trulia Real Estate Search

▪ Property Evaluator

▪LoopNet Commercial Real Estate Search

▪ Property Flipper

See all 100 top iPad apps, Android foreclosure apps, iPhone photo apps, BlackBerry apps, and more at Inman News. (http://www.inman.com/reports/mobile-apps)

Source: “100 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Real Estate,” Inman News (July 2011)



HOME OWNERSHIP MATTERS
TO PEOPLE…TO COMMUNITIES…TO AMERICA


Why Home Ownership Matters!

TO PEOPLE…

  •   Home owners are happier and healthier and enjoy a greater feeling of control over their lives.
  •   Owning a home is one of the best ways to build long-term wealth. Historically, a home owner’s net worth has ranged from 31 to 46 times that of a renter.
  •   Home owners are free to redecorate, renovate, and modify their homes as they wish.
  •   Most home owners enjoy stable housing costs—a fixed-rate mortgage payment might not change for 15 to 30 years while rent typically increases 3 % a year.
  •   Home owners can typically deduct mortgage interest and property taxes on their federal individual income tax return.

TO COMMUNITIES…

  •   People who own homes vote more, volunteer more and contribute more to their neighborhoods.
  •   Home owners do not move as frequently as renters, providing more neighborhood stability.
  • In turn, this stability helps reduce crime and supports neighborhood upkeep.
  •   Children of home owners do better in school, stay in school longer, are more likely to participate in organized activities and spend less time in front of the television.

TO AMERICA...

  •    67% of American households are owner-occupied. America is a nation of home owners.
  •    Home owners pay 80 to 90% of federal individual income taxes, contributing to federal programs that benefit all Americans.
  •    Every home purchased pumps $60,000 into the economy for furniture, home improvements and related items.
  •   Housing accounts for more than 15% of the national Gross Domestic Product, a key driver of our national economy.
  For these reasons and more, home ownership is the American Dream!


As REALTORS®, we know all this. But not everyone does.So spread the word: Home Ownership Matters! For more information and data on the points above, see REALTOR.org/Homeownership

Studies show that home ownership has a significant positive impact on net worth,
educational achievement, civic participation, health and overall quality of life. That’s why,
for more than 100 years, REALTORS® have helped people find their piece of the American Dream.

Now, with some questioning whether home ownership is still good for America, it’s more
important than ever to stand up for home ownership... in your community and in the nation’s capital.

Find out more about why Home Ownership Matters, how the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is standing up for it, and how you can help spread the word, at REALTOR.org/homeownership.

In case you weren’t reachable by Commerce Lexington last Thursday or were on vacation, like I was, a new ranking for Lexington was announced by Forbes.com for the Best Places for Business and Careers. Press release excerpt as follows:

Lexington, Kentucky has been named the 9th Best Place for Business and Careers among the 200 largest metro areas by Forbes. The metrics included costs (business and living), job growth (past and projected), income growth, educational attainment and projected economic growth, as well as quality of life issues like crime, cultural and recreational opportunities as well as net migration patterns, and finally the percentage of subprime mortgages handed out over a three-year stretch and the number of highly ranked four-year colleges in the area.

VIEW THE FULL RANKINGS LIST HERE

LEXINGTON’S METRICS PAGE

People love rankings, and we here at Commerce Lexington are no exception. It isn’t every day that Lexington is rated more highly than everyone’s favorite go-to model city, Austin, TX. I’ll admit to just a little bit of pride in that regard. Austin, TX has a lot going for it and a lot of great people and businesses as well that contribute to its reputation. Unfortunately, the grass is often greener on the other side, and those of us in Lexington tend to forget that we have a lot going for us as well – not in the least our fantastic people and businesses.

I know that rankings can be a cause for joy and also skepticism. Lexington has racked up its fair share of rankings in the short time I’ve been Research Director. Some of these rankings are more than a little eyebrow raising (Best Metros to Test New Products anyone?), but in general, what they sometimes lack in statistical rigor, they often make up for in free publicity and chances to reflect positively on how great Lexington truly is.

Speaking of statistical rigor, I’ll formally introduce the research portion of the ranking story. A little history: Lexington was rated the #5 Best Place for Business and Careers by Forbes in 2008. Lexington was also rated the #33 Best Place for Business and Careers by Forbes in 2009. So how does Lexington go from #5 down to #33, back up to #9? Forbes doesn’t publish the recipe to their ranking secret sauce on the website, but they do give us a bit of insight on what makes up the overall ranking:

Forbes Ranking Criteria

I’ve highlighted a couple boxes in green because I think they provide the most insight as to what happened from 2008 to 2010. We’ll get to that in a second. First, I noticed that Forbes has been changing their formula slightly, adding two new categories in 2009, Job Growth Projected and Subprime Mortgages. We did well in the Subprime Mortgage category, not well at all in the Job Growth Projected category. Our poor rank in projected job growth (one of the green boxes) and a poorer than average score in the Income Growth category (the other green box) are probably the key factors that dragged our overall rank down in 2009.
Forbes also added a new category in 2010, Economic Growth Projected. We didn’t do as well in this category either, which probably kept us out of the top five. You’ll notice that our income growth and projected job growth rebounded quite nicely, especially the projected job growth. So how does Lexington go from #151 to #32 in the course of a year?

The answer (in my humble opinion) is the “Projected” in Job Growth Projected. To quote a famous economist, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” Our metro region sustained some heavy job losses in a few critical areas in late 2008 and early 2009, most memorably in the automotive supplier industry. I think the uncertainty of the mounting recession along with the uncertainty of the automotive industry made job growth projections more than a bit daunting. As you can tell, however they projected the job growth for our metro region, they took the worst case scenario.

A year later, albeit with high unemployment, Lexington never truly saw the sky fall. In fact, in a lot of instances, we are a metro region that is poised for growth in the recovery phase of the economy due to our diversity of industry, the presence of the University of Kentucky, and our highly educated population (among many other attributes).

It is certainly difficult to predict what next year will bring, but my core belief is that the things that make Lexington great will continue to shine through for years to come, no matter what ranking we get from Forbes or anyone else.


Click here to link to the original article on the Commerce Lexington site.

As a part of the Nation Open House Weekend, hundreds of Central Kentucky REALTORS are holding Open Houses on Saturday AND Sunday, April 10-11!  

From the home page of LBAR.com, select Find a Property. Then select Open House Search. Once you are in the Open House Search, choose to view the property type you are interested and change the date range to April 10-11. 

Be on the look-out for the blue balloons with the REALTOR "R" on them! Wherever you see them, you'll know that is an open house. Have a great weekend and happy house hunting!

To offer buyers the convenience of touring dozens of homes for sale in one weekend, The Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS® and their clients will be hosting open houses April 10-11. It’s the first-ever statewide open house weekend and it’s being sponsored by the 9,600 plus member Kentucky REALTORS®.

“It’s a home shopper’s dream,” exclaims Anthony de Movellan, LBAR President. “For the serious buyer, the opportunity to tour dozens of homes in one weekend is a real time saver. Others who didn’t think they could afford a home may be drawn into the market by affordable prices and low interest rates. It’s a win-win!”

The Kentucky Open House Weekend comes just before the April 30, 2010, deadline for the federal homebuyer tax credit. Homes need to be under contract by April 30, 2010, and closed by June 30, 2010, in order for buyers to take advantage of up to $8,000 in tax credits.

“This event offers people a convenient way to see as many homes as they want in one weekend and gives our members a chance to be part of this fantastic effort to match buyers to their sellers,” says de Movellan.

de Movellan adds that the weekend will be a fun way to attract buyers and help them learn more about what is available in the local housing market. Blue balloons, featuring the REALTOR® “R” in white, will denote those homes that are part of the statewide open house campaign. Balloons will be on display simultaneously at open houses from Pikeville to Paducah.

For more information, visit www.LBAR.com or call 859.276.3503

As the region’s leading advocate for homeownership, Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS® understands the value and joy of owning a home. LBAR represents more than 2,000 REALTORS® located in Anderson, Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Garrard, Jessamine, Montgomery, Nicholas, Powell, Scott and Woodford Counties. Visitwww.lbar.comor call 859-276-3503 for buying and selling resources and real estate listings.

Beginning next week, the Web site of the Jessamine County Property Valuation Administrator's office will offer new features to users. Starting Monday, the site atwww.jessaminepva.com will offer new technology, sketches, photos and GIS (geographic information system) maps. 
 
Important forms will also be available to download for the convenience of users. There will no longer be a charge for accessing sales or detailed property information. And users will be able to obtain detailed information about their Jessamine County properties.

In this special edition of the President's Podcast, 2009 NAR President Charles McMillan announces that Congress has answered our call to extend and expand the homebuyer tax credit.

Click here to listen.