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Community Outreach Committee

CCAR’s Community Outreach Committee: Serving Collin County

Sometimes it is a simple act of selflessness that stands out in one’s mind. Brandon Hern witnessed such an act.

“My oldest son donated all his savings to help kids at his school afford books. When I asked him why he so quickly donated all his savings, his response was simple. ‘Dad, they need books right now more than I need toys.’”

Brandon Hern“What attracted me to that Committee was purpose. A sense of service has always been my core driver in life, and this Committee is geared towards finding creative ways to support Collin County residents in times of need.”

—Brandon Hern, Community Outreach Committee Vice-Chair


Hern joined the Community Outreach Committee a little more than a year ago to do the same thing: Help people. The Community Outreach Committee was established to implement and support outreach programs in Collin County. Members of the Committee organize events like toy drives and a pancake breakfast to raise donations for local non-profit organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Collin County. In addition, they raise funds for the North Texas REALTORS® in Action Foundation, which implements outreach programs to aide local areas impacted by natural disasters. This includes providing charitable donations, volunteer work, education, and charitable housing initiatives.

Realizing the value of volunteerism, Hern encourages his two sons, ages 4 and 10, to participate in several events the group organizes. Last year, the trio was involved in the Relay For Life of McKinney-Allen.

“What attracted me to that Committee was purpose,” said Hern, a CCAR Affiliate member and loan officer for Integrity Mortgage Corp of Texas. “A sense of service has always been my core driver in life and this Committee is geared towards finding creative ways to support Collin County residents in times of need.”

If you are interested in being a part of the Community Outreach Committee, click here to complete the Committee Volunteer Form.



Habitat for Humanity to Open Larger ReStore in Plano

South Collin County Habitat for Humanity ReStore
The store staff and volunteers have put in extra time transporting the items over from the current location in anticipation of the new store. According to Manager Christine Martin, the community of Plano has been supportive in donating items and time.

Coinciding with its 10th anniversary in Plano and Earth Day, the South Collin County Habitat for Humanity ReStore is relocating to a larger facility.

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are non-profit home improvement stores and donation centers that offer a vast array of new and gently used items and building supplies at discounted costs. These donations range from appliances, tools, and furniture to electronics, home décor, and building supplies.

The current ReStore occupies a 10,000-square-foot facility located at 1400 Summit Ave. in Plano, in which 75-percent of its space is sales floor. The new 18,000-square-foot facility will be located at 2060 W. Spring Creek Parkway, Suite 402 in Plano. In addition to having a larger, more accessible facility, the new site will boost a sales floor of 90 percent, will be forklift-able, and will offer more new and close-out items, in addition to gently used donated items. Parking will also be ample with hundreds of parking slots available, instead of the current 20 spaces.

“The proceeds from the ReStore helps Habitat for Humanity build more homes for low- and moderate-income families in Collin County. We currently have over 200 families on a two-year waiting list needing help.” — Christine Martin, manager of South Collin County Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Upon entering into the store, there are two sectioned spaces that will house antiques and new or barely used furniture.

“The new location of the Plano ReStore is expected to provide much needed visibility for the South Collin County Affiliate, help obtain more sponsors, increase community involvement, and provide a perpetual income stream for future projects,” said ReStore Manager Christine Martin.

According to Martin, the staff will be able to focus on what they can do and who they can help in the new location, rather than primarily focusing on warehouse sales.

“The working poor, seniors on fixed income, disabled vets, and challenged individuals are our direct beneficiaries,” Martin said. “Indirectly, the 2,500 to 3,000 volunteers per year in our area doing all the work of building and repairing and operating the ReStore and much more also find they have benefited.”

The local Habitat for Humanity organization operates the Plano ReStore. The items in the ReStore can be used in the homes Habitat helps build or repair. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit the South Collin County cities of Plano, Allen, Wylie, Nevada, North Dallas, Richardson, and Fairview.

“The proceeds from the ReStore helps Habitat for Humanity build more homes for low- and moderate-income families in Collin County,” Martin said. “We currently have over 200 families on a two-year waiting list needing help.”

“Habitat for Humanity is a Helping Hand Up, not a hand-out. Homeowners who cannot qualify for a normal mortgage must put in 400 “sweat equity” hours in their project or help others with theirs, and then pay back the cost minus interest over an agreed upon period of time,” she explained.

South Collin County Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Throughout the space, the artwork of local artists and members of Collin College Spring Creek Campus’ Art Club can be seen in the form of painted murals.

In anticipation of the new store, a VIP Reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Thursday, April 20 from 4-8 p.m., in which all CCAR members are invited. The Grand Opening is planned for April 29-30 from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Family festivities will include prize giveaways, cultural dance performances, martial arts performances, cheerleading and drill team performances from local colleges and high schools, chair massages, henna artists, and face painting. For more information, visit www.planorestore.com or call 972-424-0791.


Collin County TREPAC-Supported Candidates

Each year, the Collin County Association of REALTORS®, in accord with the Texas Association of REALTORS®, interviews local candidates seeking election to public office across Collin County. This year, REALTORS® interviewed over 45 candidates seeking office.  The questions asked by our REALTOR® volunteers during the interviews ranged from taxes to immediate real estate issues and heavily emphasized private property rights and home ownership. The Texas Association of REALTORS® Political Action Committee (TREPAC) supports the following candidates for the May 6 Municipal Elections as recommended by your local REALTOR® volunteers:


Steve TerrellSteve Terrell, Allen Mayor

Terrell, who was appointed Mayor since 1997, has been a resident of Allen since 1980 and Allen business owner since 1986. Under his leadership, the city gained the Allen Station Park, Celebration Park, numerous neighborhood parks, the Don Rodenbaugh Natatorium, Allen City Hall, five Fire Stations, 50+ miles of hike/bike trails, the Allen Library, the Edge Skate Park, the Senior Center, Watters Creek Golf Course, Allen Event Center, The Old Stone Dam redevelopment, the Heritage Village, and the Train Depot.

“I want to see government run like a successful business. The city has 97,000 customers (residents), and I want them to receive quality services in the most cost-effective method possible. The citizens of Allen expect this level of service. Long range planning, coupled with citizen input and board recommendations, make it possible to prioritize and budget for future upgrades and needs.”

Community Involvement:

  • Mayor’s Committee
  • Voting Representative: NCTCOG  and Dallas Regional Mobility Committee
  • Board of Directors: North Texas Commission and Medical City Plano/Frisco
  • Board Member: NCTCOG 9-1- 1 Advisory committee and Regional Transportation Commission
  • Advisory Board: Allen Chamber of Commerce, Collin County Meals on Wheels
  • Charter Member Allen Noon Lions Club
  • Member: Allen Noon Rotary Club, Allen Masonic Lodge #1435, Heritage Guild
  • Friends of the Allen Public Library, Christ the Servant Lutheran Church
  • Donor to: Friends of Scouting, Foundation for Allen Schools

Shirley Mangrum, Allen City Council Place 2

After moving to Allen in 1984, Mangrum has spent countless hours in volunteering within the City of Allen and in different organizations. She has served on several boards, including the Planning and Zoning for the City of Allen.

“We have some great and exciting things happening in Allen! With the continuing growth at the Villages of Allen, Allen Outlet Mall and the success of Watters Creek, it is only a matter of time before we see Allen continue to grow more by seeking out great developers for our 121 corridor and along highway 75.  I look forward to working with the City Council, Allen Economic Development Corporation and City Staff to ensure we continue to bring in quality commercial and retail developers.”

Community Involvement:

  • Member of Allen Rotary Club
  • Leadership Allen Graduate
  • Leadership Allen Alumni Board
  • Kids First Committee
  • Special Olympics Committee
  • City of Allen Planning and Zoning
  • Board member: Allen Public Safety Recovery Fund
  • Recipient of Outstanding Volunteer for AISD


Jeff Cheney-FriscoJeff Cheney, Frisco Mayor

Cheney is the owner of Frisco’s top producing real estate agencies, The Cheney Group. In 2007, he was elected by the citizens of Frisco to serve on City Council and re-elect in 2010 and 2013. He has also served five times as Mayor Pro Tem.

“As proven by my tenure on Frisco City Council, I will continue my commitment to giving Frisco Police and Fire departments the resources they require to keep our community safe. I was proud to support the construction of Fire Stations 7 and 8 as a Council priority, even in the midst of an economic downturn.  We also worked to establish SAFER, a partnership with FISD, which earned the prestigious ESRI President’s Award. Situational Awareness For Emergency Response (or S.A.F.E.R.) is a unique program that gives Frisco firefighters, EMTs, and police officers immediate access to school building information — including ‘real time’ video – while heading to campus emergencies at any of the district’s schools.”

Community Involvement:

  • Budget and Audit Committee Chair
  • Frisco’s Technology Committee
  • Mayor’s Youth Council Liaison
  • Frisco Education Foundation Board Member

Tim Nelson-FriscoTim Nelson, Frisco City Council Place 5

An officer in the United States Army Reserve and a real estate entrepreneur and investor, Nelson has lived in Frisco for 12 years. As a Soldier and businessman, he has visited five continents, over 25 countries, and most of the United States. Through his travels, he has experienced some of the best and worst that national and local governments have to offer. Nelson believes successful governments are comprised of individuals that make strong, effective and sometimes difficult decisions in a timely manner.

“My goal is to become a true representative of the people. I’ve developed many strong relationships over my 12 years in Frisco. Most importantly, I listen to what is happening in my neighbors’ lives and understand what is important to them. I reach out to all that have an issue or concern whether I agree or disagree with their opinion. My goal is to champion the will of the people and find compromise and consensus among the council. Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety and security of those that choose to live and work in Frisco.”

Community Involvement:

  • Frisco Charter Review Committee
  • Smith Elementary PTA
  • Hillcrest-Lebanon HOA Board of Directors
  • Heritage Association of Frisco
  • Frisco Veterans Advisory Committee
  • FISD Independent Study Mentorship Program Mentor
  • Boy Scouts of America


Harry LaRosiliereHarry LaRosilierePlano Mayor – City Council Place 6

Plano’s Mayor since 2013, LaRosiliere works to protect the quality of life citizens work so hard to achieve. His passion for the city and commitment to lasting infrastructure, great neighborhoods, first class parks, outstanding local schools and protecting the suburban fabric of the community has helped make and keep Plano the best place to live, work and raise a family.

“The opportunity to serve as the Mayor of Plano is a privilege and honor that I enthusiastically embrace. I am fully committed to helping Plano maintain its position as a vibrant work center and desirable family-friendly city – a City of Excellence.”

Community Involvement:

  • Advisory Board Member of CASA of Collin County
  • President’s Council at Texas Health Resources
  • Plano Metro Rotary Club
  • Plano Chamber of Commerce
  • Vice Chair of Transportation and Advisory Board member for U.S Conference of Mayors
  • President of MetroPlex Mayors Association
  • Regional Transportation Council

Kayci PrinceKayci Prince,  Plano City Council Place 4

Prince, who grew up in Plano, has been working for a local hospital for the last ten years as a marketing and public relations professional. Prior to that, she worked in Congressman Sam Johnson’s office. A graduate of Plano West Senior High School, she went on to Southern Methodist University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs with a minor in Political Science. She later received a Master of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M Commerce.

“Great people are the heartbeat and core of any great community, and Plano is full of great people. In order to remain a vibrant city, we must continually work to keep our citizens engaged and invested in our community.”

Community Involvement:

  • Plano Metro Rotary Club
  • Collin College Foundation Board of Directors,
  • Christie Elementary PTA member and volunteer,
  • Plano Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee,
  • Plano Chamber of Commerce

David DownsDavid Downs, Plano City Council Place 8

Downs has lived in Plano at various times since 1972 and for a total of 24 years. He has personally fundraised for various agencies and organizations over the years during his terms of service on boards or as part of programs to benefit those less fortunate or suffering from illness. In 2004 he was diagnosed with an aggressive malignant form of Melanoma and caught it early enough to eliminate it.  The experience led him to work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and raise tens of thousands of dollars through various endurance events.  Eventually this led to the completion of an Ironman Triathlon, which helped solidify his belief in preparation and perseverance.

“It’s been truly an honor to serve the City of Plano residents these past 3 1/2 years.  We’ve accomplished so much to improve our City in areas of need and re-establish Plano as the place to live, work and play.  Each year the accolades continue to roll in, reaffirming the vision as well as the decisions being made to implement that vision.”

Community Involvement:

  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • Plano Youth Leadership
  • Leadership Plano
  • CASA of Collin County
  • Art Centre of Plano
  • Parks & Recreation Board
  • Planning & Zoning Comission
  • Collin College Education Foundation
  • Collin County Healthcare Foundation
  • District Chair for Northern Lights District BSA
  • Children’s Advocacy Centre


Eric HogueEric Hogue, Wylie Mayor

Hogue was elected as the 45th Mayor of Wylie, Texas on May 10, 2008, and is currently serving his third term. Previously, he served the City of Wylie for over ten years: Seven years as a member of the City Council and three years as a member of the Wylie Planning and Zoning Commission. During his time in office, Hogue has been actively involved in the construction of Wylie’s Fire Station 3, the Wylie Municipal Complex and the City Wylie Public Works Facility, and the remodel of the City of Wylie Public Safety Building, Founder’s Park, Community Park, and the Wylie Senior Citizen Recreation Center, as well as improvements and expansion of FM 1378, East Brown, and West Brown streets.

Community Involvement:

  • Chairman of the Board for the Birmingham Land Trust
  • President of the Governing Board for the Texas School for the Deaf
  • Member of the Board of Trustees for Baylor Scott and White Lake Pointe Medical Center
  • Honorary Board Member of the Children’s Chorus of Collin County, Texas
FHA Buyers and the Appraisal Process

FHA Buyers and the Appraisal Process

by Vaughn Kerkorian of Kerkorian Residential Appraisals, REALTOR®/Lender Committee

It is common to hear that sellers are shying away from considering a purchase contract when the buyer is securing an FHA mortgage. Often the sellers may be led to believe that the FHA application process for the borrower is difficult, an FHA loan is a “loan of last resort,” or the FHA appraisal process is so cumbersome that very few properties will ever appraise to the contract price. In addition, there may be so many conditions on the appraisal report that the transaction may be scuttled.

Not considering a buyer with an FHA financing option could limit your buyer pool. Not all buyers are cash purchasers, have sufficient funds for a qualifying down payment, or are considered eligible for conventional financing. FHA financing options increase the buyer pool for your clients.  Remember, the appraisal contingency clause within an FHA purchase contract can be negotiated. FHA eligible properties include single family residences, townhouses, manufactured housing, 2-4 multifamily, and approved condominium projects.

To save time, consider the following tips to increase the efficiency of the FHA appraisal process:

  • Appraiser will need full access to every room, including access to the attic and/or crawl space and all attached or detached buildings.
  • Ensure appliances that are conveying are functional; an appraiser must observe that they are operational.
  • If a septic system is present, provide the location of the septic box portal and leaching field.

Be aware of the FHA Minimum Property Requirements (MPR), which are the general requirements for FHA-insured homes. These consist of:

  • Safety: The home should protect the health and safety of the occupants.
  • Security: The home should protect the security of the property.
  • Soundness: The property should not have physical deficiencies or conditions affecting its structural integrity.

In addition to existing properties, the FHA sets standards for new properties. The FHA Minimum Property Standards (MPS) refers to regulatory requirements relating to the safety, soundness and security of new construction dwellings (proposed, under construction, less than one year old, and 100% completed).

FHA does not require the repair of cosmetic or minor defects, deferred maintenance, or normal wear if they do not affect safety, security, or soundness. Examples include missing handrails, cracked window glass, damaged drywall, defective floor finish or carpeting, and defective paint surfaces built after 1978. As with a conventional loan, FHA would require further inspection if there is evidence of termite infestation, inoperative or inadequate plumbing and heating or electrical systems, leaking or worn-out roofs, foundation damage, drainage problems, or potential structural failure.

Click here to access the HUD / FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook. CCAR REALTOR®/Lender Committee will gladly highlight why sellers and buyers should not be hesitant with FHA financing options.

For questions about this article or other lender topics, please contact your REALTORS®/Lender Committee at realtorlender@ccar.net.

Jonna Fernandez

Jonna Fernandez Named CCAR’s New Chief Operating Officer

Jonna Fernandez has been named CCAR’s new Chief Operating Officer (COO). Having served as Communications Director since 2007, Jonna accepted the position vacated by the retirement of former COO, Steve Haid. In her new role, Jonna will continue to apply her vast knowledge and experience in REALTOR® association leadership, as well as communication.

“Jonna is so deserving of this promotion. She is always open to accepting new challenges, and I know she will far exceed all expectations,” says Mary Leidy, Chief Executive Officer. “She is a vital team member, who we all love and respect, and she is committed to CCAR and supporting our members’ success. I’m happy to say she will continue to oversee our CCAR communications as well!”

Jonna began her career with CCAR in 2007, having previously served in public relations and communications roles for the higher education and nonprofit sectors. Under her leadership as Communications Director, CCAR has implemented key branding strategies that have made the association stand out as a source for professional and reliable real estate information in North Texas. Her media relations work has garnered CCAR and its members local and national coverage, enhancing the REALTOR® image and promoting the protection of private property rights. In addition, she has led the complete redesign of CCAR’s member and consumer websites on two separate occasions, and established the Association’s decade-long social media presence.

“I’m honored and excited by the opportunity to serve as Chief Operating Officer of this great association. CCAR has a fantastic team of talented and skilled individuals, who I am truly privileged to have the opportunity to work with each and every day,” says Fernandez. “Our association is also blessed to have one of the most dynamic membership bases around, and I look forward to continuing to serve our members and helping them succeed at all levels.”

Jonna has a bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communication from Doane University and a master’s degree in Public Relations from the University of Denver. In addition, she received the REALTOR® Association Certified Executive designation from the National Association of REALTORS® in 2015. She is also a graduate of CCAR’s Texas REALTORS® Leadership Program, Class VII.

A native Coloradoan, Jonna has resided in North Texas since 2003. Married to her husband, Dedrick, for 13 years, they have two children. Outside of work, Jonna serves as Co-Leader of her daughter’s Girl Scout troop, sits on several church committees, and volunteers for Plano ISD at the district and campus levels.

REALTORS® tax deductions

How Real Estate Agents Can Pay Less Taxes

by Greg Roberts, chair of CCAR’s REALTOR®/Technology Committee

Real estate professionals can deduct many expenses unavailable to other professions. The key is to know what you can deduct, and to have a system in place that helps you keep track of your deductions.

Every year, too many real estate agents fail to take thousands of dollars of eligible expense deductions because they are unaware of, or fail to properly document the expenses. An excellent system to help you lower your taxes by maximizing your deductions is Taxbot.

This product was developed by Mr. Sandy Botkin to be your IRS compliance partner. Botkin is a bestselling author, CPA, tax attorney, and former IRS trainer. Taxbot will teach you about the numerous deductions available, and provide you with the tools and resources to document your deductions. The Taxbot system can also help you avoid common tax mistakes and reduce your chances of being audited.

Texas Association of REALTORS® (TAR) members can currently purchase Taxbot on the TAR website for a 50% discount off of the normal subscription fee. You will also be upgraded to a premium membership that includes unlimited access to a tax hotline, audit assistance, and reviews of past tax returns. So, for only $9.99 a month, you can lower your tax bill by learning what to deduct, and obtain a system that will help you easily document your deductions.

Texas House Bill 2385

Texas House Bill 2385 Addresses “Required Use”

by CCAR’s REALTOR®/Lender Committee

REALTORS® can make a difference in the current legislative session by eliminating a practice in our industry that regularly harms consumers. Texas House Bill 2385 addresses what is known to regulators as “required use.”

“Required use” is widely used by volume or national builders to require the use of their mortgage and title companies. Here is how it works:

Your client goes to a new home build site and enters into a contract to purchase land and build a home. During your client’s build, the builder of the home offers an incentive of $15,000 towards kitchen upgrades (various incentives can be used), so long as the client agrees via contract to use the choice or owned lender or title company of the home builder. Later, when it is getting close to finalizing the mortgage and title issues, the client must use the lender or title company that they signed to use through the incentive, regardless if the actual market rate at this time is much less. At this stage, the incentive becomes a penalty, as the client must pay the $15,000 if the client decides to use a better market rate from a lender or title company that is not the choice or owned lender/title company.

Although the “required use” issue is viewed as a Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) violation, neither the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) nor the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has had the resources to redress.

There is a history of Texans asking for “required use” oversight and enforcement at the state level. Legislation in the same spirit of HB 2385 was sponsored in the past, but was withdrawn because in March 2009, HUD indicated that the Department would begin to enforce the “required use” provisions nationally. Unfortunately, a lawsuit dissuaded HUD from moving forward in enforcing the provisions (see National Association of Home Builders, et al. v. Shaun Donovan, et al., Civ. Action No. 08CV1324, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division). Today, CFPB oversees the “required use” provisions. Like HUD, CFPB has not taken any action to enforce.

Numbers don’t lie: Choice or owned title and lenders capture approximately 80% of their perspective mortgage and title business. In comparison, REALTOR® in-house mortgage companies struggle to capture 15% of their perspective business because there is no incentive penalty. HB 2385 helps ensure consumers have a choice in their mortgage or title business, up until they close without a penalty.

Examples of “required use” and the consumer:

  • A buyer was offered a $22,000 discount on the price of a home for using an affiliated lender, but the interest rate offered by the lender was 0.5% higher than the market rate and the origination fee charged by the affiliated lender was higher.
  • A buyer would be required to make a higher earnest money deposit and would lose a $2,000 “closing incentive” if the buyer did not use the builder’s affiliated lender.
  • A $3,000 incentive is promised on the purchase price and $6,000 towards closing costs, if the buyer used the affiliated lender, which charged an interest rate that was 1% higher than the market rate and carried additional fees.

How can you make a difference? The REALTOR®/Lender Committee is encouraging you to contact your State Representative and Senator to ask them to support House Bill 2385.

As always, if you have a question or comment about anything related to lending, please contact us at realtorlender@ccar.net.

Steve Haid

Chief Operating Officer, Steve Haid, Set to Retire

“I’ll miss my work family and the parade of members that come by my office every day. I’ll miss my conversations with the Team Directors who come to bounce ideas off me or just to talk over an issue they are facing. I’m pretty sure I’ll miss the fast pace that happens at CCAR every day.”

—Steve Haid

Since 2012, Steve Haid has served as CCAR’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). Prior to that, he served in various capacities for CCAR since 2004, including MLS Director, and the Director of Education, Communications, Member Services, and Information Technology. However, on March 31, Steve will say good bye to CCAR as he begins a new phase of life–retirement.

“I joined CCAR because I saw it as a great opportunity to stay in real estate, but in a management role,” he said. “I have been in management most of my adult life, except for the six-and-a-half years I sold real estate. I used to come to the Association offices periodically for committee meetings, events, and to pay dues. Every time I was there, the CEO at the time, Randy Wright, would try to get me to join the team in various capacities. Finally, when he offered me the MLS Director position, I jumped on board.”

Although Haid said the organization allowed him the opportunity to grow professionally and try new things, working with the various people he encountered was the best reward. “CCAR’s staff is amazing, and even when one person leaves, we hire another great person to join our family,” he said. “We now have around 7,500 members and Affiliates, and I have personally enjoyed working with many of them. I am blessed to have made many friendships in the real estate industry that will last far beyond my last day as an employee. Every day at CCAR is a new adventure, and it really is like being a part of a big family.”

Among his many accomplishments, Haid made the REALTOR® Store the principal source of non-dues revenue for CCAR and negotiated equipment leases and health plans that have saved the association money. “I think my most significant achievement is being a calm presence for our employees who often endure stressful situations,” he said. “All of our employees know that they can come to me with a difficult problem, and I will either talk them through it or completely take it off their hands. I believe my management style fits perfectly in the family culture that Mary Leidy, our Chief Executive Officer, has developed over the years, and it has been wonderful to be in that family.”

Upon retiring, Haid intends to travel to visit family members and become more involved at his church. He also plans to spend time woodworking and fly fishing, as well as playing music, singing, and performing in community theater.

All CCAR members are invited to join us on Tuesday, March 28 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the CCAR Banquet Room, for a retirement luncheon to honor Steve’s career and wish him well on his new adventure. Please click here to RSVP for the luncheon no later than March 24.

REALTOR® social media tools

3 Tools Every REALTOR® Should Use to Increase Sales

 Janet DeBusk Hensley
Knoxville, TN REALTOR® Janet DeBusk Hensley’s website highlights elements that make her a top contender, including her experience, client testimonials, and finance tools to assist buyers and sellers.

Nowadays, it is simply not enough to just be a good REALTOR®. In order to garner more customers and more sales, it is imperative you stay at the forefront of the real estate industry. In order to do so, utilizing technology is vital. Here are three tools that can help you elevate your REALTOR® game and break away from your competitors.

1. ESTABLISH A SOLID WEB PRESENCE. You’re probably saying to yourself, “I already have a web presence.” Yes, you are listed on your realty company’s website with other members. Yes, your properties are listed in the MLS database. Go past the obvious. As a REALTOR®, you are your own brand. Buyers and sellers who choose you, do so because they trust you will guide them as they undertake the most important financial decision of their lives. More than likely, they researched several REALTORS® and asked their friends for referrals before they selected you. Having your own website puts the focus solely on you and the properties you represent. It provides you with an opportunity to toot your own horn and flex your realty muscles. In addition, if your site utilizes search engine optimization, the more likely it is for people to find you and access your website due to its increased visibility and ranking.

Houston-based Jamele Mason has over 3,500 followers on his Instagram page. In addition to eye-catching photography, Mason includes his handle in case others repost his images.

2. BECOME MORE SOCIAL AND VISUAL WITH INSTAGRAM. “There is definitely a movement to use more technology in real estate,” said Steve Haid, CCAR Chief Operating Officer. “There are apps for almost everything.” As social media apps ramp up to an all-time high with no signs of slowing down, more REALTORS® are going where people are. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and yes, even Snapchat, have millions of users. For the visual-minded individual, there is no better format than Instagram. Using Instagram has its advantages. It allows you to instantly communicate with interested parties and analyze your reach. During an open house, you can tease potential buyers with short, digestible videos of the property. You can highlight features that may be easily overlooked, like that impeccable crown molding, backyard landscaping, or picturesque bay window. There are, however, several things to be wary of. Always keep your personal account separate from your professional account. A good camera phone or one of the latest crops of point-and-shoot cameras will do. If interested parties can imagine themselves living in the house, even before they set-up an appointment, you are a step closer to it being sold.

drone3. TAKE IT TO ANOTHER LEVEL. Drones aren’t just for hobbyists. Once limited to commercial real estate photography, residential REALTORS® are seeking the aide of professionals to capture high-definition aerial photographs and videos from different, often times hard-to-capture angles. Prospective buyers can gleam a lot of information from drone photography and videos. They can view the entire property and the land it sits on and they can view the neighborhood and nearby amenities, among other benefits. It is important to note that according to the Federal Aviation Administration, all unmanned aircraft (including drones) must be registered or the individual will be heavily fined.