Feb. 8: Do online platforms create more leads for agents?

Rob Chrisman

Rob Chrisman began his career in mortgage banking – primarily capital markets – 31 years ago in 1985 with First California Mortgage, assisting in Secondary Marketing until 1988, when he joined Tuttle & Co., a leading mortgage pipeline risk management firm. He was an account manager and partner at Tuttle & Co. until 1996, when he moved to Scotland with his family for 9 months. See more


Survey says:


According to results from the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey, online real estate platforms produce few listing leads for real estate agents. Approximately 2,000 real estate agents nationwide were asked whether inquiries resulting from potential home sellers using online platforms such Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com are a valuable part of their business strategy.


A large number of respondents reported that it’s uncommon to find potential home sellers via these online platforms. An agent in Florida said potential home sellers uncovered via online platforms tend to consume time without producing good results. “They typically resemble ‘tire kickers’ wanting to get an idea of what they can get for their home but are not ready to list,” the agent said. In addition, many agents raised concerns about home price information listed on online platforms, warning that the prices are often inaccurate or out of date. Of course, the survey also uncovered some agents who have seen their business boosted by online platforms. “I get a large portion of my listings from people that search on Zillow and see that I have more sales than other agents they show,” said an agent in Maine.


On the flip side, Realtors with for sale listings appear to have success utilizing online platforms to reach potential buyers. “I believe that having my listings on these platforms is important to reach buyers as these seem to be the most popular sites for them to get info about available homes,” said an agent in California. You have to have homes to sell in order to attract buyer right? Most agents continue to rely on mailings, advertising and personal contacts for listings,” said Tom Popik, research director of Campbell Surveys. With that in mind, marketing dollars should be focused on what works in your market. The social media world is still growing and attracting more and more people. Some may be slow to jump on the train but they will get there. Be sure to utilize some advertising expense in social media, the internet really is King after all.


If you would like more information on the survey, contact John Campbell at Campbell Surveys at (202) 363-2069 or jcampbell@housingpulse.com.



In the world of Buyers, what are the rules as related to mortgage interest and/or points?


IRS.gov states, in general, home mortgage interest is any interest you pay on a loan secured by your home (main home or a second home). The loan may be a mortgage to buy your home, a second mortgage, a line of credit, or a home equity loan. You can deduct home mortgage interest if all the following conditions are met:

You file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).

The mortgage is a secured debt on a qualified home in which you have an ownership interest. (See Secured Debt and Qualified Home).
In most cases, you can deduct all of your home mortgage interest. How much you can deduct depends on the date of the mortgage, the amount of the mortgage, and how you use the mortgage proceeds. A bit ambiguous? Absolutely.


The term “points” is used to describe certain charges paid, or treated as paid, by a borrower to obtain a home mortgage. Points may also be called loan origination fees, maximum loan charges, loan discount, or discount points. You generally cannot deduct the full amount of points in the year paid. Deducting mortgage interest expense, like the majority of the tax law, is even more complicated than it reads. Once again, as a general rule, you must satisfy five requirements, which can best be phrased as questions, before deducting mortgage interest. Who paid the mortgage? Who is listed as the borrower on the mortgage? Who has legal title to the house? Is the home secured by the residence? What are the limits on deducting personal mortgage interest?


Needless to say, there are a variety of complications when attempting to answer these questions, to be honest, it actually creates more questions. For instance, if mom and dad purchased a home for you but you live in and pay the mortgage does that automatically qualify you to take the deduction for the mortgage interest that you paid? What constitutes an “equitable” owner of a house?  If you and your roommate own a house together, should you pay the mortgage out of joint or separate bank accounts?


So what do we take away from this lesson? When it comes to answers on tax filing, all the mind-melting possibilities of income, deductions, negatives, and positives are best left to the professionals!


Speaking of taxes and the IRS, here is another interesting tidbit:

The number of Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship has gone up, up 560% from its Bush administration high. The reasons that Americans renouncing citizenship is at an all-time high can be over family, tax and legal complications.


Dual citizenship isn’t always possible, some countries make citizens pay a fee to hand in their passport. Some countries have no fee, but America’s $2,350 fee is more than twenty times the average level in other high-income countries. For those living and working in foreign countries, it is almost a given that they must report and pay tax where they live but they must also continue to file taxes in the U.S.


Even if a foreign tax credit can be claimed on their U.S. returns, it generally does not eliminate all double taxes. Foreign banks are sufficiently worried about keeping the IRS happy that many simply do not want American account holders. Still, leaving America can be costly. To exit, you generally must prove 5 years of IRS tax compliance. Guess what, it is a capital gain tax as if you sold your property when you left. Long-term residents giving up a Green Card can be required to pay an exit tax too.



A man and a woman were having a quiet, romantic dinner in a fine restaurant. They were gazing lovingly at each other and holding hands.

The waitress, taking another order at a table a few steps away, suddenly noticed the man slowly sliding down his chair and under the table but the woman stared straight ahead.

The waitress watched as the man slid all the way down his chair and out of sight under the table.

Still, the woman stared straight ahead.

The waitress, thinking this behavior a bit risqué and that it might offend other diners, went over to the table and, tactfully, began by saying to the woman, “Pardon me, ma’am, but I think your husband just slid under the table.”

The woman calmly looked up at her and said, “No he didn’t, he just walked in the door.”





(Copyright 2016 Chrisman LLC. All rights reserved. Occasional paid job listings do appear. This report or any portion hereof may not be reprinted, sold or redistributed without the written consent of Rob Chrisman. To subscribe please visit www.knowledgeforrealestateagents.com.)