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According to a 2011 year-end survey of 1,000 RE/MAX real estate agents, housing’s vital signs are gaining strength. The majority of RE/MAX agents surveyed say housing prices will stay the same or increase in 2012. Read more on this insightful survey and about some of the latest news and tech tools important to your business in this month’s REtrends from Real Estate magazine.

This is a Test…a Mobile-Site Test
This past November, Google announced an important initiative in support of the mobile movement: GoMo, a free online resource for retailers and other businesses looking to go mobile. This new resource allows businesses to come to a website, enter their own URL and see how their site displays on a mobile device.

Then by answering a series of questions, they provide feedback on what can be done to enhance the experience for consumers. In support of the GoMo initiative, Mobile Real Estate, LLC (MRE) introduced its own tester and series of questions designed specifically for the real estate industry.

The MRE mobile-site tester allows brokers and agents to see where they can improve their site’s overall mobile experience as it relates to real estate consumers. Test your real estate website by visiting www.testmysitenow.com.

Mortgage Rates Reach Record Low
Last month, Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, showing mortgage rates easing to new, all-time record lows for a variety of mortgage products, helping to keep homebuyer affordability high. The average for the 30-year fixed mortgage rate was below 4 percent for six consecutive weeks at the time of the survey. The survey concluded that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.89 percent, with an average 0.7 point for the week ending January 12, 2012, down from the week prior when it averaged 3.91 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.71 percent.

Auctions Heat Up Down South
According to PropertyAuction.com, the number of auctions posted on its site almost doubled in 2011. From January to September last year, 99,924 residential, commercial and land auctions have been listed. Compare that with 52,404 during the same time period in 2010. And it’s not just foreclosed homes.

The CCIM Institute reports that auctions are gaining popularity as an effective sales strategy for all types of commercial real estate, as well. Auction activity does vary from state to state, however, with the Southeast ranking consistently high. In Florida, in particular, the foreclosure rate only strengthens the number of real estate auctions, and Georgia, according to PropertyAuction.com, led the number of auction posts during that 2011 timeframe with 12,080 auctions.

Agent Survey Shows Hope for 2012
According to a 2011 year-end survey of 1,000 RE/MAX real estate agents, housing’s vital signs are gaining strength. The majority of RE/MAX agents surveyed say housing prices will stay the same or increase in 2012. Projections are the strongest for the Southern U.S., where 49.6 percent say prices will stabilize and 26.7 percent anticipate an increase. Agents in the Northeast see the biggest challenges, with 47.5 percent concluding that prices will decrease, 44.6 percent expecting prices to remain at 2011 levels, and only 7.9 percent anticipating an increase.

According to a release from the company, nationwide, RE/MAX agents reported a 10.7 percent increase in their home sales in 2011, and project an increase of 29.3 percent in 2012. Asked to measure the strength of home sales, 62.1 percent of agents predict good to very good sales in 2012. Agents also reported that 52 percent of closings were significantly delayed in 2011, with bank procedures cited as the cause in 23 percent of the cases, followed by financing and appraisals.

Other findings of the RE/MAX Market Insights survey, conducted Dec. 7-19, 2011, among randomly selected agents, include:
• Market bottoming out: Thirty-nine percent said their markets have already hit bottom; 34 percent say prices will stop dropping in 2012; 27 percent say prices will reach their lowest point in 2013 or beyond.
• Distressed sales: RE/MAX agents project that 20.3 percent of their home sales in 2012 will consist of foreclosures and short sales. That compares with 17.1 percent in 2011 and 15 percent in 2010.

Pin Down Your Marketing
According to Mashable.com, one of the break-out social media hits of the year was a site called “Pinterest.” This by-invitation-only social networking site was one of the top 10 most visited sites in 2011, says a Mashable report. A December 2011 report by Experian Hitwise reported the site’s total number of visits for the week ending Dec. 17, 2011 at 11 million…almost 40 times the amount in the comparable period six months before.

Pinterest allows users to post photos and links grouped by category—referred to as “boards” or “pins”—and then invite others to view, follow, comment on and “repin” their collections. According to Pinterest, members use the site for planning weddings, decorating their homes, mapping out a trip, categorizing recipes, artistic inspiration and countless other ideas.

The Pinterest possibilities for real estate professionals are abundant. Consider a “backyards” board highlighting great landscaping in your community, including a few homes that you’re currently listing. How about a “my first home” board featuring great photos of your happy clients in the various stages of sealing the deal and moving into their very first home? The potential is only as limited as your ability to think creatively. To start using Pinterest, visit pinterest.com and request an invitation.

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